‘Through the dear might of him’

I was in Kilmarnock on Saturday the 22nd July 2017 to explore Sidderybrae and Asloss.

In preparation for a film about the Laird who first recognised brilliance in Rabbie Burns.

In Kilmarnock Churchyard I spotted a relief of a young man on an otherwise insignificant monument. I was drawn to his representation.

Underneath the relief of James Woodburn Dunlop, who died aged “19 years and 6 months” was this quote by Milton:

“So Lycidas, sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of him that walk’d the waves”

This was poem written for Edward King,a fellow-student of Milton’s at Cambridge, and also an aspiring poet, who had drowned.

Lycidas from omphalos on Vimeo.

Pitmiddle village

On Thursday 6th July 2017, on a wet summer morning, I set off to find the deserted village of Pitmiddle, in the Carse of Gowrie, Perthshire.

What follows is a storyboard of images and text. I have tried my best not to overwhelm with explanatory text and what I present, is by no means, “a history” It is the case that all histories have gaps in them and I would suggest that Pitmiddle is no exception.


All brief quotes (within images) come from the novel “All that man is” by David Szalay, which I have just finished reading.

By the time I reached Pitmiddle my map was soaked:

This is a map from the first part of the nineteenth century:

This is how Colin Gibson, in 1955 recorded his first visit to Pitmiddle:

This is Pitmiddle as depicted on the 1st Ordinance Survey map of c1860:

And this was how Pitmiddle was described by the surveyor of 1860:

Pitmiddle survived most of a millennium and was first recorded in1172:

This was how Pitmiddle looked at the century’s turn (early 1900s):

A sketch of one of Pitmiddle’s last occupied houses:

One villager, James Smith, who died in Pitmiddle in 1860 was involved in the Napoleonic wars and whose last vessel was the HMS Semiramis:

In July 1897 some of the Longforgan  congregation went on a picnic to Pitmiddle:

This is report from the Dundee Courier of 1896:

Generations of the Gillies family lived and worked Pitmiddle. Here is James Gillies, mason and his wife Margaret Gray pictured on their Golden Wedding in 1903:

There is a lovely account of this Golden Wedding Celebration that can be read here.

James Gillies, Mason died at Pitmiddle in October 1920, aged 87 years:

Unfortunately this report below, from 1891, was overly optimistic. As you can see from the death certificate above, Mary Ellen Clark, aged 45 years, died at Pitmiddle of tuberculosis.

I came across a number of Pitmiddle villagers who had died as a result of tuberculosis, such as Betty White who died aged 36 years of age in 1862.

It is true though that those who did not succumb to the mycoplasma bacterium often lived long lives at Pitmiddle.

This is the 1930 valuation Roll for Pitmiddle (click on image for closer view). Only two houses are occupied:

In 1917 the Inchmartine Estate, including Pitmiddle and its wood, were put up for sale:

This is how David R Perry finishes his account of Pitmiddle’s history:

I find myself wondering what happened to the grandson of James Gillies after he left Pitmiddle:

Pitmiddle is a special place. I am a late visitor. 

I want to thank all of the following and to acknowledge 
the sources of material that this post contains. 

If I have inadvertently omitted any out please let me know.

Bon Hambley who has set up a Pimiddle Facebook page 
and who has been nothing but helpful to me and 
permitted me to share the old images of Pitmiddle.

Pitmiddle Village - by David R Perry (published 1988 
by Perthshire Society for Natural Sciences)

Soldiering On - a wonderful account of the Gillies family

David Szalay - "All that is man is"

Scotlands People and Scotlands Places

All maps from the National Library of Scotland

British Newspaper Archive

This beautiful aerial film of Pitmiddle from November 2014

Psychiatry Without Borders

The International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists took place in Edinburgh, the city of my birth, between the 26 – 29 June 2017. This International Congress was called “Psychiatry Without Borders”.

As a psychiatrist who has worked in NHS Scotland for 25 years I made a peaceful protest outside the International Congress.

I have previously petitioned the Scottish Parliament to consider a Sunshine Act for Scotland which would make it mandatory for healthcare workers and academics to declare potential financial conflicts of interest on an open public register.

The pharmaceutical Industry has this year increased payments to healthcare workers and academics for ‘promotional activities’ –  from £109 million up to £116.5 million today.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has, from 2015, established a voluntary disclosure system with searchable database. It remains the case that 65% of those who have received payments have opted out – and this accounts for 60% of the total payments (as reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2017;357:j3195)

What follows here are the ABPI disclosures made by some of the speakers at the 2017 Royal College of Psychiatrists International Congress.

It is important to note that it is my understanding that no speaker 
was paid for giving presentations at this International Congress. 

These declarations relate simply to the voluntary declarations
for the years 2015 and 2016 respectively.

If you click on each declaration you will get a closer view.

In previous posts I have provided as much public transparency as there is currently available  relating to the potential financial conflicts of interest of those involved with the British Association of Psychopharmacology (BAP). This Association works closely with the Royal College of Psychiatrists in providing Continuing Medical Education.

A number of those involved in BAP have chosen not to declare on the ABPI Register. For this reason, I attach the declarations given along with the new BAP Guidelines for treating dementia as Professor John O’Brien was giving a talk about these guidelines at the 2017 International Congress:

A few personal thoughts:

Well done to those who have declared on the ABPI Register.

However, it remains the case that we cannot scientifically consider the scale of potential biases that financial incentives may bring to the prescribing of medications in the UK. This is because we have an incomplete dataset. This is surprising given that we do have longstanding evidence that exposure to industry promotional activity can lead to doctors recommending worse treatments for patients.

I would like to see the College, of which I am a member, support the public’s request for sunshine legislation.

 

 

Justice must be seen to be even-handed

This is a short film about my experience of attending the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 29th June 2017.

I was there to support Marion Brown in her presentation of petition PE01651: Prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal:

However this film is based on an old petition that was being reconsidered by the Petitions Committee, that being, PE01458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland’s judiciary.

Lord Carloway was giving evidence. I was sitting right behind him. I found that I did not share his views on this subject.

This film is an edit of the full evidence session which can be watched (in entirety) here:

Credits:

‘Chasing Time’ by Dexter Britain (free, under common licence)

A Diary of Injustice in Scotland

The Scotsman – Leader comment of 30 June 2017

Painting of Holyrood, Scottish Parliament was sourced from here

Psychiatry without borders

This week the International Congress for the Royal College of Psychiatrists is taking place in Edinburgh. It is titled “Psychiatry without Borders”.

Given my concerns about the harms associated with over-medicalisation I decided to make a peaceful protest outside.

I was born in Edinburgh in 1967.

This was a home-made protest.

I have no associations with Critical Psychiatry, Anti-Psychiatry, Scientologists, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

I am simply a doctor who is interested in ethics.

I am of the view that critical thinking is an essential part of science.

I understand that biases come in all forms. However there is longstanding evidence that exposure to industry promotional activity can lead to doctors recommending worse treatments for patients.

Thank you to all who came to talk to me on the day. Particular thanks to Chrys Muirhead and her son Daniel for all their support

I waited the full day as I wanted to meet the Cabinet Minister for Health (Scottish Government) outside the International Congress. This was my experience:

More details about a Sunshine Act for Scotland can be found here and here.

The public consultation can be found here.

 

Shifting light, changing skies and sudden vistas

On the 11th June 2014 I received the above message from Alexander McCall Smith. You can perhaps imagine how this affected me.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland. One of my oldest patients helped in the embroidery of one of the panels:

 

I subsequently made this film about visiting the tapestry in Stirling castle with my family:

 

Alexander McCall Smith kindly invited me to meet with him and wrote this in my grandfather’s old invoice book for his orchard:

Alexander McCall Smith: what imagination he has alongside such a natural sense of fun. McCall Smith’s laughter is the only sort of “infection” that is healthy!  I met Augustus Basil. This was a day that I will not forget.

The following sentence comes from ‘Chance Developments’ by Alexander McCall Smith (from the signed copy that he kindly gave me):

[‘The future lies in the past’ might be one way of considering my films]

How silly it may be, but I sometimes imagine myself as the Antiquary and often stamp this (in water soluble ink) on places from the “past” that I have visited today. They are generally lost places:

I was born in Edinburgh in 1967. After studying Medicine in Aberdeen I studied Landscape Architecture with the University of Edinburgh gaining distinction in every subject and the Scottish Chapter prize.

Alexander McCall Smith describes Edinburgh in terms of the light. The very light that was shared and appreciated by James Clerk Maxwell:

“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”

Alexander McCall Smith has brought light to me (quotes from Chance Developments):

Alexander McCall Smith has a most wonderful PA. Thank you Lesley for understanding my wide-eyed self. Edinburgh’s shifting light, changing skies and sudden vistas.

But this was more than an observation, it was an experience

This is a film about Lord Lynedoch and his beautiful wife Mary Graham.

Credits: Thomas Mann, Hilary mantel (Reith lecture, 2017) and James Ross for “Beyond the Strath”

The Rounall

This is a film based on my exploration of Dupplin castle estate in Perthshire on Thursday 15th June 2017.

This film is about circles; the circles of life and the circle of consciousness that each of us inhabit. In this sense we are all narcissistic and the world has more than 7 billion realities.

Credits: Thomas Mann and Dexter Britain. The rest is by Peter.