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Mrs. M. J. Leslie "Jill Leslie" (UK)

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The Doctor Will See You Now
The Doctor Will See You Now
by Max Pemberton
Edition: Paperback

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MEDICINE, MAGIC AND MANAGEMENT MADNESS, 8 Aug. 2011
Once again, the magic of the Pemberton pen has made its mark with panache, perspicacity, perception and aplomb. This prolific, prodigious and erudite writer has produced yet more stories based on his medical career. This time, he flits between the extraordinary demands of A and E and champions elderly care, especially those with dementia, going that one step further to try to better his patients' overall welfare. (How truly shocking it is to learn of the lack of real TLC and basic care in this latter area). These multi-faceted scenarios are beautifully crafted in this latest publication (his third book in three years), imbuing his trademark passion, clarity, compassion and gentle humour.
This is true front-line NHS stuff with attendant delights and dilemmas. All human life is here and laid bare but these are real episodes in people's lives, not fiction. As always, Max Pemberton is able to weave in the personal stories of his friends and colleagues and fascinating aspects of medical history, together with the ever-changing background of NHS management and how that impinges on medical practices - not always with patients' needs in mind.
Max is a supreme storyteller, giving us insight into life as a Doctor in an NHS hospital. It is a privilege and salutary to be included on the sidelines, as our intrepid medic goes about his daily work. Enlightening, enthralling and entertaining.

Even the Dogs
Even the Dogs
by Jon McGregor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars OUT OF THE SHADOWS, 30 April 2011
This review is from: Even the Dogs (Paperback)
I wanted to like this book because I really enjoyed "If noone speaks of remarkable things" which a friend had recommended, so I was keen to see what Jon McGregor had done next. Initially, I found it hard going, not least because of the rash of expletives littering the text and the weird technique of unfinished sentences - and then, the penny dropped! I was inside the person's head - and sharing his shambolic and disordered thinking, following the finding of a dead body.
As the other shady characters who were all connected to the deceased in some way unfolded, I began to like them, in spite of their antisocial lifestyle and wanted them to be all right in the end but also knowing that this was just not going to be possible. It gave me a greater understanding of the utter desperation and craving for the next fix (or drink) that addicts experience. One of the most poignant and elegantly written chapters is that of Ant, a severely wounded soldier, who was given morphine as he was helicoptered to hospital. He finds himself lifted on a cloud, a feather-bed of pain relief and utter ecstasy - the start of a compelling need. Beautifully crafted and interwoven within this is that of the many, many processes through which the raw product of the opium poppy eventually ends up in a dealer's pocket. I also liked the switch in writing style between his friends reflecting on the deceased's life and the pathologist's factual report. Even more telling is the end where the characters bemoan their chosen lifestyle - a deep "if only" moment. And eventually one realises that these friends have already gone before.
There are flashes of humour too, not least with a little dig at social workers and counsellors. I felt this book should be a "must" for anyone contemplating working with alcoholics or drug addicts. Considering the subject matter, it sounds strange to say I enjoyed it - but I did.

Both Sides of the Sheets
Both Sides of the Sheets
by Annie Armitage
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A DISAPPOINTMENT, 4 April 2011
The title and synopsis enticed me to buy this book, not least because I had also trained as a nurse in the 1960s, though, unlike the author, did not complete the training. I also returned to the NHS years later in another profession and was shocked to see the changes in attitude and work ethos, so was looking forward to reading another's thoughts that seemed to echo mine. I was deeply disappointed. The first 66 pages tell us in a rambling and repetetive way about the treatment that the author had at Addenbrookes Hospital, which should elicit outrage and sympathy but I felt that her writing style, with its many and trite conversational scenarios, did not pack enough punch to do that. Most of the book is about her life, which was not easy by any standards, and I wondered if this whole thing was a cathartic exercise. It is not until we get to page 277 that, at last, the author reflects a little on the changes in the NHS, the effects of "Project 2000" (a profound change in nurse training, which is not fully explained) and the radical metamorphosis from starched, efficient, kindly nurses, to untidy, slow-moving, overweight and thoughtless carers. After that, it is not until two chapters before the last that the comparisons are made between "then" and "now". I also found the many misspellings, inconsistencies and word ommissions that litter the text more than irritating.
On a good note, what this book is about is a story of courage and determination against all odds, while battling with a very serious and debilitating disease, against a background of a childhood and early adulthood that could have been happier. It is a pity that the disjointed and circuitous writing style does not do it justice.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 31, 2013 1:08 PM GMT

Too Young To Get Old: The baby boomers' guide to living life to the full
Too Young To Get Old: The baby boomers' guide to living life to the full
by Christine Webber
Edition: Paperback

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LADIES OF A CERTAIN AGE, 9 Feb. 2010
For most ladies, once past the forty-year old mark, each decade and milestone bring with them a new angst: "Another Year Older Ha! Ha!"; "Another Wrinkle? Ha! HA! HA!" scream the birthday cards! Don't you just hate them! Are you overwhelmed by pessimistic thoughts of melting unnoticed into the grey, invisible mass of the silver brigade? Have you stopped bothering about your figure? Your hair? Your nails? Your clothes? Your underwear? That dratted whisker on your chin? Those blasted pelvic floor exercises? Because noone will notice? Do you feel a nobody now that you are not in full-time work, juggling six careers with running a house, as well as looking after a partner, grandchildren and elderly parents? Do you feel as if you have lost the plot and direction in life?
Are your posture and what is left of your self-esteem racing to see which will reach rock bottom first?
It doesn't have to be like that! Help is at hand!

Christine Webber is an experienced psychotherapist. This, her latest book is a riot of positive joy! A veritable mayhem of jubilation! Baby Boomers have always been at the forefront of change: they are not going to deviate now!
This is a sunny, exuberant, continuing revolution against all of the above - and more!

Meticulously researched, there is loads of really useful information, practical suggestions, ideas and tips from staying working to being healthy and feeling good about ourselves, keeping our marbles, relationships and, of course, a happy sex life.
Beautifully written in an upbeat, chatty, down-to-earth and gently humorous style, this well laid-out book is for all of us who feel we might be approaching the scrap heap.

If life begins at 40, then, with Christine Webber's help, 60 is certainly "the new 40"! We can plan to live our future as well as we lived our past - perhaps even better!
Now .. when will she write one for the chaps?

Where Does it Hurt?: What the Junior Doctor did next
Where Does it Hurt?: What the Junior Doctor did next
by Max Pemberton
Edition: Paperback

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CRACKING GOOD READ!, 22 Aug. 2009
Ever walked past people lying in the streets? Bedded down in cardboard boxes? Holed up in shop doorways? Ignored their polite plea for "a bit of change"? Avoided eye contact with drunks and crack heads? Passed them off as the detritus of the city?
Max Pemberton didn't. He went looking for them - crack-heads, bums, drug addicts, down and outs, prostitutes, the mentally ill and drunks. Undaunted, our doughty Doctor takes on the mantle of a medical Knight - not in shining armour and on a white charger - but unshaven, in ripped jeans, trainers and dirty T-shirt and on foot - in an attempt to save and treat damsels and others who are in distress. Snag is - many of them don't always want to be "saved"!

In his new book, he takes us to the seedier, bizarre side of the City, the murky shadow lands of humanity, which are but a stone's throw away from posh restaurants, dazzling shops and theatres.
He recounts extraordinary tales of his adventures with the patients and staff with whom he works at the Phoenix Outreach Project.
There are glimmers of "Stuart: A Life Backwards" by Alexander Masters as Max puzzles over the how and why of homelessness and the tenuous threads that bind these people together.

At times, I found it hard to appreciate that this book is not fiction. I also found myself wondering how I would cope in his shoes. Not half as well as he does.

"Where Does it Hurt" should be re-titled, "There By the Grace of God Go We". It is written with compassion, maturity, respect and humour. It is humbling, eye opening, questioning, extraordinary, uncomfortable and wise. It is intensely readable and educational. The characters are painted with clarity and remained in my mind, long after I finished reading.

It is a tribute and salutation to the altruistic and philanthropic work of all the people who work in this field.

If you'll pardon the pun, a cracking good read!

by Diana Athill
Edition: Paperback

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stet, 29 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Stet (Paperback)
I bought this book to learn more about writing and publishing and because I had also bought Diana Athill's "Towards the End" (not read it yet!)which was published recently and wanted to read her earlier work first.
I thought it would be rather dry and dull but I was totally wrong! It is a fascinating account of her many years with the publishing company Andre Deutsch; of personal stories of the writers that she met, many of whom needed nurturing in more ways than simply editing their work and many who became good friends. Miss Athill writes beautifully. Her prose is chatty and flows so well. This is a great read, brimming with nostalgia, humour and honesty. For more than 50 years, she enjoyed the accolade of being "one of the best editors in London": this little paper back shows why! "Stet" is a great title! Meaning "let it stand", I am sure that it will stand the test of time and remain enjoyed by many. I am now bursting to get on and read more of her work!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 30, 2010 10:51 PM BST

The Faber Pocket Guide to Ballet (Faber Pocket Guides)
The Faber Pocket Guide to Ballet (Faber Pocket Guides)
by Luke Jennings
Edition: Paperback

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Faber Pocket Guide to Ballet, 29 Jun. 2009
For anyone who is either new to ballet or is unfamiliar with certain titles, this is an invaluable, easy to read, little hand-bag size paper back to dip into for the basic story-line. In addition, there are the notes which clarify what is actually going on in the plot; a potted history of each ballet and then the "view from the wings" which gives us a glimpse of sharing the dancers' experiences in different roles. And for those who are unfamiliar with the different steps that make up the choreography, there is a useful glossary. Ballet can be enjoyed on many levels - the music; the technique and athleticism of the dancers; the scenery and lighting; costumes; stories of fantasy; abstract interpretations; pure escapism and so on. This book is also an amazing reflection of the number of roles that Deborah Bull danced and her "views" make it a personal journey. This little book can only enhance one's enjoyment of a visit. There will be only a few occasions when the ballet one has chosen to view is not listed.

Trust Me, I'm a (Junior) Doctor
Trust Me, I'm a (Junior) Doctor
by Max Pemberton
Edition: Paperback

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "TRUST ME" THIS IS A GOOD READ!, 25 Feb. 2008
Imagine you are a patient in hospital in the first few weeks of August and are visited by a young man or woman who has a stethoscope dangling round their neck, bags under their eyes, looks exhausted and doesn't seem to know what's what or where's where. He or she could have graduated from medical school in the last week and is only just finding out what it's really like to be a Doctor, working in the NHS.
In his recently published book, Dr. Max Pemberton tells us.

Here is a writer who engages the reader immediately: his gentle, thoughtful style masks a brutally honest account of his first year as a young, Junior Doctor. Generously, he allows us to share his ups and downs; his shame and embarrassments; his hopes and fears; his triumphs and successes, aspirations and trepidations and his struggles of conscience, to which principles he stays admirably true, when faced with ethical and social issues which, in medicine, crop up with uncomfortable regularity.

His book is based on a selection from a series of his columns from The Daily Telegraph for which he has been writing regularly since he graduated. Cleverly, he has re-worked them in the form of a diary, which gives flow and a continuum to the book. We share his fears and periods of loneliness, which can make the story appear bleak, especially when there comes a moment in which he and his close friends seriously question their abilities and desire to continue in medicine, but there are many moments of humour (often self-deprecating and occasionally dark - who can blame them for this way of coping!) which give contrast and levity in a moving way. There is much humanity and a real desire to understand patients beyond their apparent signs and symptoms - qualities which make a Doctor "a good Doctor".
As the book progresses, the reader can sense that he and his fellow Junior Doctors increase in confidence and skill.

Life as a Junior Doctor is governed entirely by the "pager" - that piece of electronic equipment that imposes and intrudes with regular monotony into every aspect of a young Doctor's life while they are on duty. Eating, drinking, sleeping and even going to the lavatory become secondary. It is not unknown for them to be asked literally to be in two places at once and, as Max asks, which emergency is the more urgent? Much time is spent running round the hospital, between wards and back and forth to various departments.
Pressure within the NHS is unremitting and unrelenting.

Training to be a Doctor is really, really hard: one needs to be a memory expert; a scientist; a detective; a PR agent; a counsellor; show compassion, empathy and a real interest; withstand verbal (and sometimes, physical) abuse; withstand sleep, food and fluid deprivation and above all be polite and professional with the "punters". If nurses are "Angels", then Doctors must surely be "Archangels"!

Max seeks sweet solace and much needed support from friends and flat-mates, often behind the rubbish bins outside the hospital, where fellow fugitives from the general mayhem furtively puff on their cigarettes in much needed, albeit short, breaks. Such friendships are built to last.
Unless you have experienced it yourself, the total exhaustion due to Junior Doctors' rotas is hard to imagine: I had read once about someone "sleeping round the clock" and could not believe it possible. Training as a nurse in the 1960's, I discovered for myself on my first weekend at home that it was! But this would be only a fraction of the fatigue that young Doctors experience - and they have to make crucial decisions for seriously ill patients.

As an older person, who has worked in the NHS, I felt sad that such young people should be so brutally exposed to the horrors of hospitals and illness.
I wanted to reach out and protect them! But perhaps this "Baptism of Fire" is what makes them the young, expert professionals that they are today.

As Max feels privileged to have intimate details revealed to him by patients, so we, as readers, are similarly privileged to have some insight into the huge chasm of knowledge and experience between leaving medical school and working on the wards, sporting a label on one's lapel, saying "Doctor" but not quite feeling the part.
This is not "ER", "Holby City" or "Casualty": in real life it can be grim and scary. It can also be mind-numbingly tedious - dealing with the minutiae of everyday medical matters - but each of which make up the pixels of the whole picture of total care.

Committed to the original principles of the NHS, Max also questions (as many NHS employees do) the seemingly inane, crass and unproven management decisions and tries to make sense of targets, waiting times and the obscene amounts of money that have been spent over the years on "Management Consultants". (Don't we all!)

This is an immensely readable book for all and especially for those who wish to peak behind the curtains round the hospital bed.
At the time of writing, this was Radio Four's "Book of the Week" and read, in an abridged version, by the author himself.

Max Pemberton continues to write his successful and award-winning column in The Daily Telegraph, which has accrued a large and close following.
May he continue to do so for as long as he can!


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