Denim Sue's Wiltshire Diary
Denim Sue's Wiltshire Diary
2. 'The Doctor'

The DoctorHE village doctor is a short, plumpish, good natured widow of Jewish extraction in her fifties. She is a great believer that ill people should stay at home, an unusual concept amongst most doctors. This, combined with an ever increasing number of elderly patients without any transport, means the good doctor spends a major part of her day travelling from remote cottage to farm in an ancient and battered Fiat 127. She dispenses her own medicines and will also deliver these to people who cannot make other arrangements. Her busy schedule often results in arriving up to three or four hours later than originally arranged.

The noise from her vehicle is unmistakable on its approach and the children all rush to witness her arrival. It is always quite exciting for them to watch her trying to extricate herself from her automobile on her visits. Suzie, the eldest, issues cries of advice and encouragement which are, perhaps, somewhat marred by the hilarity expressed by the others. Red-faced and panting, the doctor usually has to sit down with a glass of wine before she can recover her composure sufficiently to attend to her business.

The good doctor is enamoured of West Highland Terriers, of which she has six or seven bitches, one can never be quite sure, and which provide the more idle of the village with their evening entertainment. Daily, accompanied by her unmarried daughter she takes her charges for their ritual exercise. As they assemble on the pavement her daughter's first task is to disentangle the leashes and unbind her mother. Slow progress is made through the village high street as the dogs insist on circumnavigating each object in their path in different ways. Each time the dear doctor has to be unwound from the three village lamp posts, the pillar box, the bus stop, and occasionally, if the spectators are very lucky, an unsuspecting passer-by.

All this changes when they reach the common. The dogs now fancy themselves as huskies and charge at full speed across the grass towing the doctor in their wake, to the accompanying cries of 'mush' and 'tally-ho' from the enthusiastic audience. The noble lady's voluminous russet tweeds billowing and her felt hat with the large feather being chased by her faithful daughter, the bitches then drag the fine doctor through the gorse bushes at the far end of the common. Their enthusiasm for immediately turning tail fells the good lady completely and she once again has to be unbound by her loyal daughter. Immediately the terriers set forth again on the return journey, enthusiastically followed by the crowd. The entertainment is repeated more or less in reverse, generally concluded by a small round of applause on the completion of the spectacle.

This event is suspended for a brief period around Guy Fawkes night. One year some vile youth threw a repeating firework at the unfortunate dogs. This appalling action resulted in the poor doctor and all the dogs becoming inextricably entwined with a broken-down fence. The doctor's daughter tried for over half an hour to release her mother, but eventually had to ask for volunteers from the assembled crowd. The stalwart villagers lifted the fence up and bore it triumphantly with the doctor and her dogs on top back to her house, where the dogs could be released from their leashes and the doctor, cheerful to the last, eventually unwound.

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