Theodore Dalrymple practises in 'a very remote corner' - 'somewhat lacking in sophisticated medical facilities (other than myself, of course).'
"One day a man came to consult me.
He was extremely large – what failed dieters call 'big-boned' – and very fat. He lost no time in telling me he was diabetic.
‘Do you smoke?’ I asked.
‘Like a chimney,’ he replied.
He was completely unrepentant, so refreshingly different from all those snivelling wheedlers with hangdog expressions who give you a long story about how they nearly gave up but then their budgerigar died. I got the picture at once.
‘And of course, you drink like a fish,’ I said.
‘Like a fish,’ he replied.
‘Dieting is out of the question?’ I continued, with mounting admiration.
‘Completely, I love butter and cream, and meat with fat on it, and rich sauces.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’m sure you know the risks better than I, so I’m not going to lecture you. But if you invite me to dinner, I shall come.’
That was twelve years ago. His wife was, and is, a magnificent cook.
I wish I could say the story had a happy ending, but honesty compels me to relate that recently he had two heart attacks which have laid him low. He can hardly breathe, and now he needs cardiac surgery."
Axe-wielding maniacs, 'arthuritis' sufferers and apple crumble-cooking rapists... they're all here, along with pullulating graphomaniacs, avaricious lawyers, empire-building bureaucrats and the poor, huddled masses of the slum near Dalrymple's hospital in inner-city Britain.
This is the earliest - and funniest - collection of his celebrated 'If Symptoms Persist' pieces for The Spectator.
Also includes essays from the follow up book 'If Symptoms Still