I accepted the invitation to visit the Bravers with mixed feelings. On one hand, I could not imagine that a person who I perceived to hate me so much could invite me for a meal. I thought he was looking for an opportunity to humiliate me. He had done that in the front of patients, nurses, his secretary and medical staff. Now, he needed to ridicule me before his family. My other mind was telling me to give him a chance. Maybe he had a different side to his character. A normal aspect outside of work. Other doctors and nurses had been talking about the Bravers’ party for days, all the people that I mentioned it to indicated they would attend.
The Bravers’ residence was an isolated bungalow in the remote part of the county. The bungalow was spectacularly rebuilt from two large farm houses that had been knocked into one. Situated conspicuously on an elevation in a four-acre land it enjoyed a magnificent view of the Dales.
Many guests had arrived by the time the taxi was able find the way to the house that seemed at first to be in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t feel at ease to go in. I stood on the front corridor hoping that someone would pop outside to have a smoke or something or a late arrival could arrive and we could go in together. There was a lot of talking and giggling going on as well as bottles and glasses making noise as they served the drinks.
“Can I have everybody’s attention?” He sipped from the bottle. “Thank you for coming to this great place. Capital of the whole world. I know you have been drinking and chatting. Do feel free to wander around the Bravers’ Castle. There is a lot to see. In a moment, I shall take you to see my neighbours! Then we shall all return for our meal. Tonight, we will be having Chinese take away. You know, Jezzie can’t cook. But she’s made a good effort to get us excellent meal from the Chinese restaurant in town.
“Neighbours? I didn’t realise you have neighbours,” I asked Jezzie, as the house looked to me to be the only one in the four-acre land.
Jezzie laughed. “Don’t mind my husband,” she replied, “He is trying to be funny. I think he should learn from you how to make people laugh. His neighbours are his animals downstairs in the cellar. He probably spends more time with them than with me. And you can’t get him out of there when it gets to his head.”
“Oh I see,” I said, wondering if that was where he was the night I was trying to phone him concerning his patient who had complications after his bowel surgery.
“Before you meet my neighbours, I guess you would like to have a tour of the Castle.” He took a large sip from his bottle of Vodka. “You see, people often wonder why we have such a huge estate. Well, when the wife misbehaves there are many rooms to hide away. Then, of course, the big garden and large conservatory are there for me to chase Jezzie around. We all trooped behind him holding our drinks as he proudly showed us round his castle. Right at the end of the main corridor was a statute that I didn’t recognise until I saw the elegant inscription, Hippocrates, the father of medicine.
“This is my great grand father,” he announced. “I can see the puzzle on your faces. Not in the literal sense. I mean, my professional father.”
And everybody laughed. Of course, I laughed too. But not for the same reason that the other people laughed. If he was the great grand son of Hippocrates, he sure missed out on the genes of this very respectable medical ancestor. The very founder of medical ethics. Primum non nocere!