Harley Street paved with gold

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Harley Street: view from Cavendish Square

Iatrophobia is a serious medical condition (focal sepsis is very often present), though it is sometimes highly treatable — and at the very least can be managed and palliated — if the patient is constrained to undergo a colectomy and adjuvant frontal leucotomy along with inguinal orchiectomy and Metrazol-induced convulsion therapy.

The psychotic delusional condition of iatromisia, on the other hand, though it can be treated with the above methods — applied perforce with much greater intensity and with the addition of comprehensive salvage insulin coma therapy (Insulinschockbehandlung) — is sadly not so tractable.

Harley Street: view from Cavendish Square

Harley Street: view from Cavendish Square

Indeed, writes Dalrymple, carcinoma iatromisia is metastatising,

not among the general public, which on the whole retains its respect for and trust in doctors (a fact borne out by all the surveys), but among the intelligentsia — literary folk, journalists and so on.

This kind of people,

perhaps because their own crafts are held in such low public esteem, believe that doctors should be taken down a peg or two.

Harley Street: view from Cavendish Square

Harley Street: view from Cavendish Square

Dalrymple says there are two main charges against doctors, particularly hospital consultants:

  • they are on the golf course most of the time
  • they are making a fortune from their private practices

These two complaints, Dalrymple points out,

are not strictly compatible. Doctors are often quite clever people, but even they have not mastered the art of being in two places at once, and the only way of making money out of private practice is to work very hard at it. Doctors are not paid for a birdie three or an eagle two.

On the part of journalists and the literati, Dalrymple observes,

141 Harley Street

141 Harley Street

the primordial antagonism towards doctors is not fully rational: it is a little like anti-Semitism.

Jews, to the anti-Semite, are simultaneously

  • capitalist plutocrats
  • communist agitators

In the same way, doctors, to the iatromisiac, are simultaneously

  • incredibly lazy
  • ferociously avaricious
Crœsus of consultants: Thomas Horder, 1st Baron Horder, lords it over his patients in his consulting-room at 141 Harley Street. Note the photograph of Neville Chamberlain on the mantelpiece

Crœsus of consultants: Lord Horder at 141 Harley Street. Note the framed photo of Neville Chamberlain

How fortunes are made effortlessly from private practice

The golf course is to iatromisia

what ritual murder is to the anti-Semite: a myth to keep a hatred warm.

Dalrymple explains that

doctors as a group are better than many groups of comparable size.

Of his own professional circumstances he writes:

I am on duty one night in five, and have been for years. I do no private practice, apart from some medico-legal work. I never refuse to get up in the middle of the night to see a patient, and if I do get up, I still have to go to work the following morning, however tired I may feel. My pay is adequate, and I do not complain about it: my wife, who is also a doctor, and I live well but not extravagantly. Certainly, many people with less strenuous lives earn much more than we do. As far as I am aware, I have not lost a single patient through carelessness in all those years.

Harley Street looking north from Weymouth Street

Harley Street looking north from Weymouth Street

And what Dalrymple does

is only what thousands of other doctors do.

To be told that he belongs to

an avaricious, power-mad, privileged and lazy cabal by people whose prerogatives are distinctly those of the harlot sticks a little in my throat.

Dalrymple does not claim to love humanity,

Harley Street looking north from Weymouth Street

Harley Street looking north from Weymouth Street

but I do get up at 3am if I am required to do so. It is far, far easier and less demanding to write an editorial; I know because I have done both.

Iatromisia, he points out,

coheres with governments’ increasing fear of professions that escape their complete control. Disproportionate criticism of the medical profession by journalists and authors serves governments’ goal of a totally managed society.

91 Harley Street. At left, the chauffeur keeps the Bentley engine running, ready to take the consultant to the golf course or the bordello at any time of the day

91 Harley Street. Note the parked Bentley. The chauffeur keeps the engine running, ready to take the consultant to golf course, club or bordello at any time of day

91 Harley Street

91 Harley Street

13 Harley Street

13 Harley Street

Consulting-room at 13 Harley Street. Note the painting of a young Margaret Thatcher

Consulting-room at 13 Harley Street. Note the painting of a young Margaret Thatcher

73

73 Harley Street. Architect: W. Henry White

73 Harley Street. Architect: W. Henry White. The French Loire style, brick with plenty of terracotta decoration on a small, playful scale (Pevsner)

73 Harley Street. ‘The French Loire style, brick with plenty of terracotta decoration on a small, playful scale’ of which there are several specimens in and around Harley Street, ‘characterised by heavy curved door canopies, shallow bay windows, Tudor mullions and transomes, steep gables’. (Pevsner)

83 Harley Street

83 Harley Street

Fireplace in a consulting-room at 83 Harley Street. The consultant stands before it, delivers a homily — with the patient maintaining a respectful silence — on bowel regulation or the virtue of broccoli ingestion, then it’s off to the links, his club or his mistress's Belgravia flat

Fireplace in a consulting-room at 83 Harley Street. The consultant stands before it, delivers a homily — with the patient maintaining a respectful silence — on bowel regulation or the virtue of broccoli ingestion, then it’s off to see the mistress in her Belgravia flat, or else to the links or the club. Yes, life is good

88 Harley Street

88 Harley Street

88 Harley Street

88 Harley Street

92 Harley Street

92 Harley Street

92 Harley Street

92 Harley Street

Harley Street viewed from Cavendish Square

Harley Street viewed from Cavendish Square

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