The joy of travel is that so often you have lots of time to kill (on planes, in airports, on buses etc). And for the second time I have scored a good read at an airport, just randomly browsing through books that look at first glance to be a load of crap.
Last time it was Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. This time I happened across Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis – a Scottish GP and writer, who “wanted to be geographer” and travel, at least “through the pages of an atlas” but finished up as a doctor and an anatomy demonstrator and his book is instead a travel through the human body. Or essays and comments various diseases of different parts of the body.
It takes me back to days as a student and erasable and demeaning Professor Warwick of the Anatomy Department, and the general horrors of trying to learn all the intricacies of the body.
There were of course tricks – mostly mnemonics. The one we all knew for the cranial nerves was “on old Olympus towering top a Fin and German view some hop”* (olefactory, optic, occulomotoer, trochlear, trigeminal, abducens, facial, auditory, glossopharyngeal, vagus, spinal, hypoglossal).
Francis writes with a drole humor, and had me laughing out loud as I sat on the front porch (home now) with my V and T with the mnemonic he cites for the branches of the facial nerve, that I had not heard before - “two zombies buggered my cat” (temporal, zygomatic, buccal, mandibular, cervical).
And still on the subject of books with a medical theme, my sister leant me The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson – another fascinating and entertaining read.
Take a trip!
*some of the more bawdy students used a different mnemonic for the cranial nerves, namely “oh, oh, oh to touch and feel virgin girls vaginas and hymens.”