Monday, September 26, 2016


Those of you who managed to catch the first Chapter "The Seven Minute Cure" will be wondering: Is the Cockroach Catcher famous as Barbados is for the British Celebrities? Some even arrives by Concorde!  Used to anyway!

Well, let the truth be told, Am Ang discovered Barbados long before the celebs.  He is still very fond of it though he tends to visit when the celebs have left and he can have the beaches to himself. His favourite beach is Accra Beach

There he has seen hatching turtles marching into the ocean, the few that remains of course.

In Barbados, the Cockroach Catcher also picked up golf, the only addiction where there is no cure, no rehab. None required anyway. 

There too he rediscovered his childhood love of snorkeling and he later marveled (in his book of course) at the way mankind took the better part of two decades to come up with a new snorkel design and lamented the sluggishness of medical progress.

Barbados is also the place that has the second highest number of centenarians per capita. Is it the fish they eat, the slower place of life or is it something that we have come to avoid, sunshine?

In the end genetics probably prevail; but one cannot let what is written in one's genes dictate one's life.

“There are two futures,
the future of desire and the future of fate,
and man's reason
 has never learnt to separate them.”

J. D. Bernal

The Cockroach Catcher    Chapter 3   Barbados and Retirement

Barbados, as everyone knows, is an island in the Caribbean. We had never taken a holiday in the Caribbean and it was a shock to friends and colleagues when news broke that we were moving there. 
      It may seem ironic given my love for my work that I could give it up so easily. The truth is that the unrelenting re-organisation after re-organisation in the NHS had finally taken its toll. I first arrived on this tropical island to accompany my wife to take up a two year posting with her employer less than a week after September 11. We had no idea where the world was heading and if there was going to be any world conflict Barbados seemed to be far enough away from where those conflicts might be. We first stayed in a hotel right by the sea on one of the loveliest beaches in Barbados that to this day remains our favourite. 
      We arrived in the evening, and in Barbados when the sun goes down it becomes pitch black immediately.  Imagine the surprise in the morning when I pushed open the door to the small balcony overlooking the beach and saw the loveliest blue sea that only the white coral sand and Caribbean September sky could conspire to provide.  Pure white coral sand tinged with pink and beckoning palm trees complete with gentle surfs was a sight too much to resist.

      There is a Buddhist saying:  Better save one life than build a seven-storey pagoda.  I felt that I had done my duty as a doctor, and could now retire and let the younger generation take over. It would be dishonest of me not to mention my frustration with recent changes in the NHS – no, not changes for the better.  The havoc on my physical health together with events of September 11 were the final straw.
      I remember bumping into one of the neurologists who retired a year earlier from my hospital. We more or less started at the hospital around the same time and most years we managed to meet up at Glyndebourne.
      Glyndebourne is one of those places that started life as a private opera house. The small and intimate opera house proved too small and eventually a new opera house with much bigger capacity was built in its place. Fortunately the gardens were left relatively intact and every year from late spring to late summer operas are performed every evening with an extended interval so that patrons can have a nice champagne picnic in the grounds. Most patrons continue with the Black Tie tradition and the few dissenters just look out of place. It was during one of the dinner intervals as I was ready to open a bottle of champagne when I saw the neurologist. When he learnt that I too was contemplating retirement, he exclaimed, “There is a hell of a lot of life after the NHS, you know.”
      It was not necessary for him to have said anything as my mind was already made up. On a sunny afternoon in the beautiful setting of Sussex countryside cows grazed on the other side of the ha-ha.  How many hours do they have to graze in order to produce a pint of milk for the coffee that we nicely dressed humans consume? Is there a lesson there somewhere?
      It is not that difficult to decide that there is more to it than to continue to toil under politicians all purporting to do their absolute best. We all started off with high hopes. Hope for a better health service. Hope for humanity and mankind.
      As my first guru and mentor in England put it when I called him with the news of my consultant appointment, “You now only have your retirement to look forward to.”  How right he was.

The Cockroach Catcher on Amazon Kindle UKAmazon Kindle US

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