100 Things

1. I was born in 1985.

2. I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne.

3. I moved to Glasgow less than a decade ago, to go to medical school. It has been home since I got off the train to go to the interview.

4. As a child, I was terrified of doctors and of hospitals and of all things medical, and was quite rude to a professor of nephrology who asked me when I was ten years old if I would ever sit on the other side of his desk.

5. My ambition at the time was to be the next Enid Blyton or the next David Starkey.

6. I wear odd socks.

7. I make to-do lists because I enjoy crossing things off them.

8. I live in a flat on top of an old petrol station.

9. I live with two cats who are named after Scottish islands.

10. My accent is not and has never been Irish.

11. My undergraduate degree is in biomedical sciences from the University of Durham.

12. My medical degree is from the University of Glasgow.

13. The most important things I learned at Durham had nothing to do with my degree.

14. I am an honorary life member of John Snow College.

15. My car is pink, which startles everyone who has ever met me.

16. I worked in the public transport industry for three years.

17. I was a warden in my undergraduate halls of residence, which involved first learning how to shout and then spending two years fixing antiquated technology and calling the emergency services and working nights. This stood me in excellent stead for junior doctoring.

18. My secretarial and call centre jobs also stood me in excellent stead for junior doctoring.

19. I sing with the City of Glasgow Chorus.

20. I’ve warmed up for a concert in Professor McGonagall’s classroom.

21. I’ve been conducted by Sir David Willcocks in the Royal Albert Hall.

22. I once accidentally grew cholera. That I was capable of doing such a thing is only one of the many reasons why the universe is better off with me as far out of lab science as possible.

23. I was a ballroom dancer in my extreme youth.

24. I often wish that I were better at remembering to take photographs.

25. I spent a summer on the wall of the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art.

26. I am not remotely efficient or organised, but I put on a good show.

27. I can sleep anywhere and at any time, which generally makes me hate night shifts less than most people.

28. As a child, I collected bookmarks and had more than 300. I use train tickets and supermarket receipts to mark my place in books.

29. I was almost deported from Australia when I was eleven.

30. I’ve ridden a horse through the Arizona desert.

31. I have an unfortunate tendency to write angry letters to right wing tabloid newspapers.

32. I am not a “woman doctor”, so help me God.

33. I have always known that I would end up working in adult hospital medicine.

34. I realised that I wanted to work in Acute Medicine at the end of a fourteen hour day in a Glasgow hospital that no longer exists, and then spent several weeks trying to decide if I was going mad.

35. I would like to spend part of my career working out of the developed world.

36. I believe that voting is a responsibility as well as a right.

37. I am a Liberal Democrat on principle but am increasingly unsure of what I am in practice.

38. I have what I think is the great good fortune to live in a devolved nation. I view the devolution of healthcare, education, social services, and laws on particular issues including marriage as an excellent thing. I have also generally favoured Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom. I have complicated emotions about the outcome of the 2014 referendum on Scottish Independence.

39. I blame Aaron Sorkin for my love affair with politics and for my obsession with cadence.

40. Cocking up my A-levels was the best thing that ever happened to me.

41. I own copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Winnie-the-Pooh in Latin.

42. I’m descended from Irish Catholics and Border Reivers.

43. I almost missed my interview at Glasgow because of high winds, fallen trees, the wrong kind of snow on the line, and a power cable in Motherwell.

44. I react very badly to opioids. I have friends who would correct this to “hilariously”.

45. I became a runner in my twenties.

46. My first (and, so far, only) marathon was Brighton.

47. I’m good at living out of suitcases, but I like the part where I get to come home at the end of it.

48. I am a stupendously slow knitter.

49. I am (congenitally) missing the flexor digitorium superficialis in both hands. This is a good party trick to show orthopaedic surgeons and a terrible one to show anyone else.

50. I thrive on stress.

51. But not on sleep deprivation.

52. I enjoy subverting peoples’ expectations.

53. I would read a shopping list if Sebastian Faulks wrote it.

54. I have an old security pass of dubious legality for the House of Commons.

55. My favourite piece of choral music is the Russian Kontakion for the Departed.

56. I am very much a city girl. If that had needed confirming, the months and months that I spent traipsing around rural Scotland in the name of my medical education would have done it.

57. I have a goddaughter.

58. I don’t have a favourite book or a favourite song or a favourite film, not because I don’t but because I can’t pick.

59. I was part of a human flag in the Eurovision Song Contest 1998.

60. I value my solitude.

61. This leads to me doing things that other people find odd, like going to the cinema and the theatre and restaurants and on holiday alone.

62. I gave up chocolate for Lent every year for fourteen years. The continuous streak ended in 2012, when the beginning of Lent clashed with the middle of medical finals. A few people have suggested that I should try giving up coffee instead. Those people underestimate how much of a bitch I would be without my coffee.

63. The acknowledgments in my undergraduate thesis included Gabriel Faure, Coldplay, and coffee growers in the Dominican Republic.

64. I support an opt-out system for organ donation.

65. I cry at Milk. And Moulin Rouge. And The Spirit of the Marathon. And the end of The American President. And Titanic, still. And certain episodes of The West Wing. If you make plans to watch a film with me, it is best to come armed with tissues.

66. I didn’t always believe in hell. I think I believe in it now, but that it is a great cavernous empty place.

67. I was baptised, confirmed, raised, and educated for most of my childhood in the Roman Catholic tradition.

68. And then an agnostic for a bit.

69. And then flirted with the Church of England for a littler bit.

70. And now a really quite embedded Scottish Episcopalian.

71. I generally like but don’t understand surgeons. The feeling is entirely mutual.

72. My audio typing speed is 93 wpm, but I don’t use the proper fingers.

73. I’ve met Parveen Kumar.

74. But prefer Davidson’s.

75. If I could eat any three medical textbooks, they would be Davidson’s, a copy of the prescribing handbook for my Trust, and the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Examination and Practical Skills.

76. I once worked as a secretary for someone who didn’t believe in filing systems that used the alphabet, and spent a lot of time suppressing the urge to grind my teeth together.

77. I was the original author of a local authority’s emergency action plan in case of a pandemic flu outbreak, semi-accidentally when I was a second year medical student working on a two week secretarial temp contract.

78. My middle name is Ann.

79. I wish I had known more about saints before I had to choose my confirmation name.

80. I am constitutionally incapable of using text speak.

81. My taste in music is eclectic.

82. I don’t drink alcohol.

83. I use it enthusiastically in cooking. And it doesn’t count if its been consecrated. And it doesn’t count if it’s champagne.

84. Incense. Yes.

85. You will pry real books from my cold dead hands.

86. I speak bad German, ecclesiastical Latin, a smattering of Swahili, and about six words of Gaelic.

87. I consider myself living proof of the fact that it is possible to both survive and sort of enjoy FY1.

88. I used to not be able to go anywhere without a watch, but bare below the elbows seems to have cured me of that.

89. The concept of PBL was invented for people like me, but it is very easy to do it badly.

90. I’ve done things in the name of liturgy that have led to me being compared with Ginger Rogers.

91. There are very few problems that cannot be made at least a bit better with a cup of tea.

92. I believe that the NHS is a national treasure.

93. I have been known to name inanimate objects.

94. There is a lot of music that I want at my funeral and I frequently become irritated that I’m not going to be able to be there.

95. I grew up thinking that I would never get married because I thought that I would never be able to get married. My small part in the equal marriage campaign is something that I will always rank among the things of which I’m proudest.

96. I read fiction and history and poetry and newspapers and the back of cereal boxes.

97. Italo Calvino wrote a passage about bookshops that says a lot about me.

98. I’ve been a blogger of one sort or another since I was sixteen.

99. I turned down a place on a GEP.

100. It gets better.



  1. You should TOTALLY have got the orange one.
    My stethoscope is a boring blue and I use it to listen to people’s hearts and digestive system. The noises the human body makes inside, without anyone to hear, is amazing.

  2. Pingback: ‘Twas the week before Christmas – The Christmas Cracker « Random thoughts from Pencefn

  3. Beth, I am so glad you are doing your blog. You always make me laugh, and I am very proud of your determination, admire your character and swoon at your energy. More power to your elbows… Even if you need to be naked below them. Lots of love, Maggi. Xx

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