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Friday, May 27, 2011

For the past two years I've been mistaken for a doctor on an approximately twice-weekly basis. Even yesterday, whilst sitting in on the clinic of a senior ophthalmic sister with decades of experience, I had a patient call her "nurse" and me "doctor". Which explains why I wanted to go to the Royal College of Surgeons on Wednesday. I thought I'd fit in.

I ended up on a free guided tour of the Hunterian Museum...

Frankly I haven't seen so many bottles since Lisa gave up drinking. The place is full of specimens collected in the 18th cenury by John Hunter, who did as his name suggested, and tracked down enough body parts to fill a trophy room the size of an aircraft hangar.

It's not a museum for the squeamish, but if you've ever yearned to see a 10lb tumour the size of a football, which was removed with no anaesthetic from the face of a Burley bloke in 1785, then there's no better day out in London. I also saw the skeleton of a 7'7" giant, the tooth of an extinct giant sloth, Winston Churchill's dentures and half of Charles Babbage's brain.

Babbage's BrainApparently there was a scheme launched in the 19th century to persuade geniuses to donate their brains to medical science, but having approached a few, requesting to carve them up after death, Babbage was the only one to agree. That's the trouble with geniuses: they're not as stupid as they look.

The bad news is that having split his head open, they couldn't find any discernible difference between the brain of a computer boffin like Babbage, and one of an average person like Lisa. I expect one just worked harder at school.

But despite looking through the biggest collection of internal organs since the Wurlitzer factory closed down, my favourite exhibit was this:

How does she smell..?
It's a false nose attached to a pair of glasses. Which shows that joke shops were alive and well, even in 1888. According to the museum blurb, "This false nose was worn by a woman who had lost her own as a result of syphilis. She later presented it to her physician, stating that she had remarried and that her new husband preferred her without it". Presumably because she reminded him of Groucho Marx. I expect he wanted to go down the pub and say "My wife's got no nose...", in the hope that someone would ask how she smells.


Phil's Mum said...

But what about the concert???

Phil said...

You can't Rush these things.

Z said...

I can't help feeling that he'd have preferred her without the syphilis as well. 

Dave said...

Where's the photo of Lisa's brain for comparison?