The village doctor

In our village – Soham, Cambridgeshire – many years ago we had a GP by the name of Nicolle, who was a very clever man and respected by all. When I was about five he actually removed my tonsils and adenoids in his surgery, and I remember it so well.

My father took me to the surgery in his old Model T Ford van, with me sitting in the back on a wooden plank, my grandmother’s arms about me because my mother was frightened to take the job on. I was greeted by the doctor, who told me to lie on a rexine leather bench, and then another doctor appeared dressed in a white overall. This was to be the man who administered the anaesthetic. He held a thing that looked like a tea strainer, in which was placed a wad of cotton wool, over my head and dripped a substance on to the cotton wool which I was told many years later must have been ether. Then he told me to take deep breaths and count out loud…

When I came round I was back at home lying on the settee which had been pulled up to the open fire, with all the family sitting near. After an hour or two I called for a bowl because I felt sick, but all I brought up were the tonsils and adenoids, which looked like two plum-coloured egg yolks.
Dr. Nicolle also used to set and mend broken bones, and he would lance boils and septic wounds, slice off warts and even pull teeth. If there was a sudden death he’d perform a post-mortem on the victim, carrying his litde black bag and small saw as he made his way to the address where the PM was to be performed – usually a pub.

His memory still lives on in this village, and I thought perhaps readers might be interested in this wonderful man.

Ken Isaacson