John Walsh: btw

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The Independent Online

We knew junior hospital doctors employ a lexicon of insulting abbreviations to describe their patients and their conditions: "NFN" on a medical file means Normal for Norfolk, while "FLK" on your son's notes means you've got a Funny Looking Kid. Now there's a new set of terms, according to Paul Keeley of Glasgow Royal Infirmary, who has compiled a list. A "Jack Bauer" means a doctor who's exhausted after 24 hours on duty, like Keifer Sutherland's character in the TV series 24. A "Hasselhoff" means an A&E patient who offers an elaborate and hard-to-believe explanation of why he's bleeding; it was coined after the Baywatch actor David Hasselhoff explained last year that he was looking rough because he'd banged his head on a chandelier while shaving. And a "MacTilt" is the annoying angle at which a Macmillan nurse tilts her head to show how caring and sympathetic she is ...



* Extraordinary to hear that the works of P G Wodehouse are having a renaissance among Russian readers. The Jeeves and Wooster TV series with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie was a big success when dubbed into Russian, and many bookshops now carry the immortal sagas about Blandings Castle, Aunt Agatha, and what Oofy said to Bingo in the Drones' Club. There's even a Russian Wodehouse Society with 3,000 members and monthly Wodehouse dinners at a Moscow restaurant called Cleopatra. "Russians need freedom and laughter very much," says one Wodehouse translator. "They had none for so long. Wodehouse encapsulates this spirit of freedom." Bertie Wooster, that spineless, fiance-whipped invertebrate, as a hero of liberty? You couldn't make it up.



* Up for auction next month are some fascinating letters which the 80-year-old Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother wrote to her dressmaker, Elizabeth Handley Seymour in 1981. What's fascinating is to find the Queen Mum whingeing about the cost of her frocks. "Would you be very kind and look through my bill before it is sent to me this autumn?" she writes, "as I thought that a few items in the last one were rather too expensive ... I shall have to get some for Australia. Naturally I want to get them from you and it would be most helpful if you could see that they are not too dear." Nice to see the old girl practising the arts of economy. But if she were to write such a letter nowadays, would her dressmaker suggest she try Primark?



* It's a bit early to break out the champagne (and it would hardly be appropriate) but all amateur boozers preparing to excel themselves on New Year's Eve should raise a cheer for the boffins at the University of California in San Diego, who have apparently found a treatment that stops liver damage and can even reverse its effects. It's a peptide which stops the formation of scar tissue around the liver by blocking a vital protein or, put more prosaically, it means you won't die just because you've got cirrhosis.

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