The 12th November dawned bright and clear. However, ‘clear’ was not a word that could be applied to the London traffic that day. We finally met up with our cheerful little Blue Badge guide at the Shooting Star pub at Bishopsgate. After coffee we boarded the coach again and whilst travelling around an area south of the river, for the next hour she regaled us with tales of past medical practices. Of the so-called surgeon barbers (with their sharp knives!), of the chance discovery by a surgeon with a broken limb, that by making a plaster caste around the break it would heal thus dispensing with the practice of amputation. The retrieval and trade in dead bodies for medical research. We laughed at her tales of the patent medicines which were supposed to cure just about everything but in fact were made of useless cheap ingredients including mercury and so cured nothing. A certain Lydia Pink’s cure was immortalised in the song ‘Lily the Pink’.
We returned to the Shooting Star for lunch and then made a visit to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. A medical student’s paradise. Some of us may have made our way rather quickly past the hundreds of specimens in bottles but found the displays of medical discoveries really interesting. One realised that if it hadn’t been for the painstaking research and experiments bravely taken on by past doctors and surgeons, many of us would not be alive today.
Our day finished with a tea stop at the Royal Festival Hall and then back home through the traffic again. A fascinating day out with a difference.