Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

June 23, 2008

Hearts, Lungs and Minds: experimental radio documentary

In the category of groovy ideas that have nothing to do with the weather ..came across this interesting piece…hurry though you’ve only 7 days to hear it.

An experimental documentary by sound artist John Wynne, who spent a year as artist-in-residence with photographer Tim Wainwright at Harefield Hospital, one of the world’s leading centres for heart and lung transplants.

Using recordings of patients, the devices some of them were attached to, and the hospital itself, the piece weaves together intensely personal narratives with the sounds of the hospital environment, exploring the experiences of transplant patients and the important issues raised by this invasive, last-option medical procedure.


January 28, 2008

History of Mesopotamian Medicine

Just in case you were wondering after the Corp Watch piece how things were in ancient days: here’s a lively bunch of links including this one, that includes the following paragraph towards the end.

 The primary center for health care was the home, as it was when the ashipu or asu were employed. The majority of health care was provided at the patient’s own house, with the family acting as care givers in whatever capacity their lay knowledge afforded them. Outside of the home, other important sites for religious healing were nearby rivers. The Mesopotamian believed that the rivers had the power to care away evil substances and forces that were causing the illness. Sometimes a small hut was set up for the afflicted person either near the home or the river to aid in the families centralization of home health care.

(from The Asclepion Prof. Nancy Demand, Indiana University)

December 30, 2007


900 years behind the rest of the world here, and due to frugal amounts of telly watching, (aside from the unmissable or I shall surely expire… 3 versions of the weather forecast) I saw one episode of House yesterday. Instant relief Mr Laurie playing an obnoxious crankpot, mais oui, how fine, but House nowt to do mit habitation, mais non, it’s another Hopital a la tele fiasco.

Thanks to the domination of sincerely mad and nothing to be learnt from them medical dramas on the tube I have lost all interest in medical matters and acquired a medical pain in my hole at the sight of white coats or get a trolley in here on-screen.

It beggars the question:
have screenwriters/television producers had an naturally high number of encounter with obnoxious doctors or are there genuinely a very high number of obnoxious doctors populating the planet? You can find out for yourself at

The point being I’d like to offer some alternative and varied occupations for successful onscreen portrayal and all of whom have the onscreen potential to be both interesting and obnoxious. (disclaimer: meant in the fictional sense only)

– bus drivers

– dental hygienists

– Greenhouse owners (specifically pushing the limits on tomatoes)

– librarians

– dinosaur egg experts

– elevator companies

 The medical confusion that evolves from these hospital dramas is intense: what! you can’t have an MRI if you’ve plates in your face? Pity they don’t tell those of us with plates that. We have to learn it from sodding House, if indeed it’s even true. And doctors complain about hyper educated patients graduated from the medical school of Google!

When I think back down the years to working in a nameless London hospital I have the most hilarious memory of being informed by one of those NHS manager types that one snotty doctor, who I’d been greeting in what was considered in those staid old days as too cheerful a manner (you know what doctors are like he’d ho-hummed embarrassed to us …)  had requested that we not speak to him.

Imagine here we are checking his patients in at the waiting area and we must not speak to him. What exactly were we supposed to do if one of them fell in a heap? The ironic thing was they were all suffering from serious illnesses and our chirpy greetings were no doubt keeping them afloat as they collected the grim news of what I think were called T Cell counts and CT scans.

Once one of the patients gave me thirty oranges (did he think I had scurvy?) another handed me a very sober looking grey wool suit (point taken, I was in a punk rock phase) another fifty quid, gloria in excelsis etc.

No doubt this is the kind of pompous nonsense (the don’t speak to me rule, not the presents) that spurned such TV shows and ruined the lives of medical students, who had to put up with his morse code style of communication.  In that context ratemydoc frankly doesn’t seem such an outlandish concept.

February 13, 2007

Medical school in the front room anybody?

Can’t be the only one out there with medical envy… not sure if it’s the white coats, the strolling about with pencils in the pocket, the pulling across of those unfortunate curtains or just the ability to stare into someone ear with intrigue on its top setting. I fancy the most likely envy is the ability of doctors to stay awake as long as they do.

 The only time I had television channels I spent the entire televisual time on Channel 42 watching those three pronged fork yokes puncturing dodgy gall bladders. I had to cut it out when one day the much younger Puffin climbed up beside me and clunked me on the nose with his plastic hammer and announced he was giving me a Rhinoplasty. Should add that I was constantly dizzy watching those procedures, but reminded myself to stick with it, since medical students pay thousands of dollars for such information and here it was gratis thanks to the TV channel trial offer on a postcard.

 It’s a grateful day when one finds handy medicine with no pictures: Andrew Cunningham writes and narrates a major new 30 part narrative history series charting the development of western medicine. Six weeks of radio programmes in this series.

Unlikely you’ll actually get any directions on how to deal surgically with bursitis, but who can miss episode 7 about fever. TV adaptions of books owe so much to the flannel patting rituals fever requires at the side of the four poster beds as the husband/ wife watches their loved one pass on from the doorway.  Even today with a packet of tylanol extra in the cupboard fever still has that threatening quality that drags you back and forth to the forehead, esp if presenting in a small Puffin. It’s rather like a politician you can’t trust exactly how it presents itself.