The rest of this letter is unprintable, but alludes to the fact that a certain bodily effluent fluoresces under disco lighting ...
The best thing about being a columnist rather than, say, an occasional writer of health trivia, is that people send you letters. If you're diligent enough to answer them, you can develop a dialogue which may, in time, blossom into a timeshare in Portugal. Alas, my response rate is far from 100 per cent, partly because I'm not always sure how to respond. So if anyone can frame an appropriate reply to any of these letters, all genuine, I promise you a free sick note; or a year's supply of Prozac. Anything - I'm desperate.

"Last week, whilst contemplating the drought, I devised a meter to record the number of wees taken per average family household per day. I enclose a copy of my wee meter plus poem which is self-explanatory and easy for everyone, including children, to understand: `When you come to have a wee/See these numbers nought to three/Move the arrow once per wee/Don't pull the chain 'til it reads three/Now set the dial once more to nought -/Save water like you know you ought./But if you're here to have a poo/You really have to flush the loo.' )

I've calculated this could save 20 gallons of water per household a day - a colossal saving nationwide. But when I sent my meter to Ponsmouth Water Co, they returned it saying flushing after every use was `an important public health measure'. Do you agree? AH."

I'm reasonably clear on the science here - urine comes out sterile unless you're unfortunate enough to have cystitis, but becomes a culture medium for bugs if left hanging around. My son does quite small, dilute wees and I often leave three in the pan before flushing, but I'm someone who can really hold his water so I flush every time. My daughter's still in nappies so she doesn't count, and I haven't asked my wife what she does as we've only been married 4 years. However, what I need to know is whether it's wise or ethical for a doctor to accept a free wee-meter from an eccentric woman.

"Your review of the Bristol hospital show (15 July) reminded me of my time at Guy's Hospital ... I used to be in a group called the Singing Niggers (when it wasn't such a dirty word). We doctors would black our faces up to entertain staff and patients left on the wards at Christmas. This camaraderie is sadly lacking in hospitals now and, in my view, is the main reason why so many young doctors are disillusioned. Dr ES (ret'd)."

Did the Singing Niggers really exist, or is this man a fraud? Please help.

"I was glad to hear the Bristol Royal Infirmary has put on a show. I worked there 10 years ago and the place was dead. Then I moved down to Torbay and had a brilliant time. The junior doctors pooled together all the ash cash* and bought a boat called `The Grim Reaper', which we sailed in between ward rounds. The nursing home was listed in `Penthouse' as one of the top 10 places in the country to get some "action" and their monthly party was known as the Torbay Wart Exchange. [The rest of this letter is unprintable, but alludes to the fact that a certain bodily effluent fluoresces under disco lighting, so great care should be taken to tidy up properly after close encounters in dark corners] SB."

*Ash cash is what a junior doctor gets for persuading you to cremate a relative rather than bury them.

"As a GP, may I say how out of touch you are with grass-roots opinion when you suggest charging patients for seeing the doctor is unworkable (26 June). When I went into practice, my great-grandfather gave me an excellent guide book, `The Young Practitioner' by Jukes De Styrup, published in 1890 but still highly relevant ... eg `Patients should pay fees in proportion to the rental value of their house.' What could be more simple? For home owners, we could simply malate [?] the council tax band into a fee band without going through all the hassle of means-testing. And it would stop the bastard calling us out for no reason. Dr AD."

And Jukes De Styrup continues: "It's easy to find work amongst the moneyless poor, but it is treating the wealthy that builds the reputation. Beware of becoming a doctor who looks after the servants ... Choose premises in a good and comparatively retired neighbourhood, with a recessed entrance. In the consulting room, repelling objects such as syringes, specula and the gynaecological couch should be relegated to a dark corner, but the urinary cabinet should be given prominence, as should portraits of eminent professional trends and academic prizes."

Harley Street, here I comen

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