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My memories of my parents are all very favourable. Basically I don't have anything hard to say about either of them. They were good, caring parents who gave me a very good life as a child. Dad was quiet. Mum was less quiet. Dad was very much a family man. Mum was devoted to her family too but Mum had a mission, and that was to get all the world to become Seventh Day Adventists. She had very pure intentions of trying to save as many people as possible. If she ever could be accused of doing anything wrong, it was to somewhat neglect her family due to her diligence in trying to proselytize other people. Which meant of course, that when my sister, Lesley left the church in her late teens, it made Mum very sad, but I think what made her even more sad, was when I left the church in my mid-thirties. I tended to be a person who was a bit like Mum, I didn't do things by halves so I was very active in the church. Eventually I found myself saying things that I recognised were not what a good Adventist might say or think, and at that point I decided to leave the church because I didn't want to shake the faith of those who were still believers, that's not who I am.


...I don't have a good memory, it's probably better than most but certainly not top notch. The one subject that I always felt most worried about in medical school was Anatomy. There's not much logic in a lot of Anatomy, it's just 'that's the way it is'. So there's nothing in Anatomy that makes you say 'ahh, now I understand'. I always found that once I understood, then I would remember, because I could work it out. I could deduce what I didn't know, from what I did know. I would go to the library and get out a big text book and I would read in detail around the subjects that we were having lectures on. I didn't make notes in lectures, I was listening. Not in the way to remember, but to understand.


..I'd become interested in the prescription drugs that might cause cancer, and there was a pretty strong hypothesis that had actually come from people working at this Boston collaborative drug surveillance program, that Reserpine, a then commonly used antihypertensive drug, might be causing breast cancer, and I'd gone to visit them when this was all hot. And so I thought, maybe we can do something about this in the UK. And it appeared from the work I did on a set of GP datasets, which entailed paying someone to go down and look at the records of women who’d had breast cancer and a sample of general practice patients who didn't have breast cancer, look at the GP records of both of these to see if the ones that had breast cancer had been more likely to have used Reserpine than the other side. It was essentially a very simple circle case control study, but that got me the only paper I've ever had published in the Lancet, which is probably the most prestigious science based journal in the UK.


It was very controversial. There was a chap in Boston who said it was all bullshit, but he said everything was bullshit anyways. And ultimately I think it never really was an issue that was resolved in the affirmative or in the negative, but it was carefully reviewed by IARC -the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the evidence was considered enough to suggest that it certainly might cause cancer, but by that stage it was just going off the market, so there was no point in doing anymore research on that.


..At that stage I was trying to work out where I sat with religion, and I think it was very helpful in realising that I live my life according to Christian values. Real Christian values are very simply expressed in one way, and that is, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and if everyone did that, the world would be an extraordinarily good place to be in.


As things are at the moment, there's two issues. The first is that if we don't do something about climate change, the human race is at risk of extinction, and this is a real threat. But the line I've been pushing is that we also need to work on trying to make our communities more cohesive, more caring and more capable of looking after one another, because if we don't, we may save the human race but end up with something that we'd rather not be a part of.


If I could influence the way we build up our communities and the way we treat people in diverse communities, where we put people before money and power, if it could be done in microcosm in a place like Victoria Park, I'd certainly die a happy man.

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