Politely Told to Fuck Off

Station at the London suburban settlement of Barking

Station at the east London suburban settlement of Barking

That is what PTFO stood for in the old handwritten doctors’ notes which, says Dalrymple,

in lapidary fashion told you a great deal about the patient (or sometimes the doctor).

N4N meant Normal for Norfolk,

which is not a reference to the charms of the countryside of that county.

Here again! or Not again!

told you either that the doctor failed to diagnose a troublesome or occult chronic condition, or (more likely) that the patient was a frequent attender whose visit to the doctor might have been the highlight of his or her week, and who cherished symptoms like a hobby.

LNWL stood for Life Not Worth Living.

The travails of a patient were reduced to, or summarised by, these four letters.

TATT meant Tired All The Time, meaning the patient was suffering from

a form of taedium vitae.

IG11 stood for

the madness of a patient, not in the medical or literal sense but the metaphorical one, IG11 being the postcode for Barking.

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