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I got a bad case of alcohol overload


© 1998 D R Fry


At the Entech 98 exhibition several hundred uninvited doctors, radiographers and assorted hangers-on descended like a plague of locusts at what became known as the Great Cockle Bar disaster of 98. Devoured all our food, drank all our drink, and then disappeared.

But this sort of behaviour would surely come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever worked providing musical entertainment for the medical profession. I’ve done many gigs for medical students, hospital balls, whatever, and carpe diem (or seize the bottle) is definitely the order of the day.

Monash Medical Students ball, 1984. I still have a desk tape of this, recorded by my favourite method - a line out of the mixer into Left on the cassette, and a live mic sitting on top of the effects rack, hidden under a black drape, running into the Right channel.

Replaying the tape in the truck provided an interesting audio experience. I can vaguely remember a bearded student, rather the worse for wear, hanging around the mixing bunker most of the evening, and listening to the tape, all of the Right channel consists of his rather tuneless singing. As the night grinds on, and he becomes more and more plastered, his singing gets worse.

I suspect he had some hidden issues to resolve, since during Robert Palmer’s Doctor doctor song he sings “Doctor doctor, gimme the news, I got a bad case of foreskin blues. Foreskin, foreskin blues...” and so on, throughout the song!

The frightening thing about medical students is that they grow up to become doctors.

That’s the theory, anyway; but do they ever really grow up?

Picture this. It’s the late seventies, and I am the sole road crew for Nat Prick’s World o’ Disco. And he has a gig at a hospital out in the Southern suburbs. The annual ball for the hospital. The place is chock full of doctors, nurses, consultants, surgeons, and to a man (and woman) they are absolutely shitfaced.

The big song of the evening was Ian Drury’s ‘Hit me with your rhythm stick’, (are you really old enough to remember that song, Dunk? Ed) which was requested regularly every ten or fifteen minutes by this raging loony waving a bottle and wearing a kilt. Whenever the song was played he would stagger around the room kicking his legs in the air yelling and spluttering ‘Hit meeee’ in everyone’s face.

“Who’s that dickhead?” I asked the organiser, who had stayed relatively sober (i.e. he could still stand)!

“Oh, that’s Dr So and so Mc So and so,” he replied, “the chief medical registrar. Enjoys a party, he does!”

Inevitably, he sprayed ‘Hit meee’ in the wrong person’s face, who took him at his word and promptly laid him out cold on the floor!

Of course, in a room full of the medical profession’s finest, help was immediately at hand for this emergency, which consisted of everyone coming up to have a look at him and then laughing themselves silly! Eventually they dragged him out into the kitchen, where he spent the rest of the night snoring peacefully under one of the benches while we loaded out.

Alcohol and doctors, like alcohol and drivers, can be a worrying combination. In a previous lifetime, when I was the proprietor of Dunk’s Disks ‘The smoothest sounds in the South’ I was suddenly struck down with a raging nose/throat/chest infection. Being on my own in the shop, I could ill afford a week off, so I thought I’d better get some urgent medical help. I locked up the shop, stuck the ‘Back in 5 Minutes’ sign out the front, and wandered down to the doctor on the corner.

“Hmm, it doesn’t look too good,” he said, peering down my throat. “I think you’ve got glandular fever! We’d better hit it on the head straight away with a penicillin injection.“

He drew back a curtain revealing a little annexe with a couch.

“Just drop your pants and wait there, and I’ll get it from the fridge.” he said.

So I dropped my pants, sat down, and waited.

And waited.

After about 5 minutes I heard voices in the doctor’s office.

Shit the silly bastards forgotten about me, I thought, so I opened the curtains and said “Hey, doc, what about that penicillin?”

Mrs Front Porch, sitting in the chair rabbiting on while the doctor scribbled her next prescription for Mother’s Little Helper, took one look at a semi naked Dunk, screamed, grabbed her prescription and ran out of the surgery!

The doctor scratched his head, opened a file and flicked through the papers inside.

“Yes, well, how is the gastric problem?” he asked.

“Gastric problem? You told me it was glandular fever and I needed a penicillin shot,” I replied somewhat tersely.

“Oh yes, the penicillin,” he said, “Ah yes, here it is. Now just bend over there,” and he jabbed a syringe full of freezing cold penicillin into my left gluteus maximus.

“You’d better come back in a couple of days for a check up to see how it’s progressing,” he said while I pulled my pants up. “Just make an appointment with the receptionist and she’ll organise it.”

He handed me the manila file he'd been studying. “Could you give her your file on your way out? Thanks.”

As I walked down the hallway of the surgery, I opened up the file. It had half a dozen sheets of paper inside. All blank!

Jeez I’m not coming back here in a hurry, I said to myself as I walked out of the door. Glandular fever my arse (no pun intended)!

He sent me a bill about a week later, but I never paid it. And then, about a month later, I read in the local paper that he’d died of alcohol poisoning!



This story first appeared in Connections magazine

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