Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I am told my English great-grandfather was fairly well off; upper middle class or lower upper class I'm not sure which. None of this passed down to me which is why I still have to get up at 0600 to go to work. My grandfather got caught boinking one of the maids so Great Grandpa forced him to join the army where he served in Afghanistan, and South Africa before going to South America where he worked as a mercenary before escaping after his side lost; ending up in Vancouver where he re-enlisted at the outset of the First World War. He was wounded early in the war and ended up blind. The British Army with typical military logic shipped him back to Canada where he enlisted rather than England where he was from. The maid dutifully came out to Canada and married him and she was my grandmother.

So why am I boring you with my family history?

There was a phenomena in Canada in the late 19th and early 20th century called the "remittance men". These were male children of wealthy English families who had misbehaved and so were sent out to the colonies so as to not embarrass their families anymore. They were sent a remittance, hence the name. Some of them bought farms and orchards where they lived the life of country squires, many of them reverted to form and became cads,layabouts and ne'erdowells.

Okay why am I boring you with Canadian history? Mainly because the British tradition of dumping their misfits in the colonies has gone on.

Many years ago I was talking with another anaesthesia colleague and we were talking about how to improve medicine in Canada. Without any prompting we both agreed that the best thing that could happen to medicine in Canada would be to ship every Brit doctor home to wherever they came from.

Just who do I mean by Brits?

English of course. Scotsmen although I can't remember a Scottish doctor I didn't like. The Irish may think they are distinct from the other island but they too are from the BRITish isles.

Then we go to the Commonwealth. Australians are easily the most arrogant and obnoxious Brits, no one will miss them. I can only think of one New Zealand doctor who I rather like but we can't make exceptions.

South Africans even those named Botha and Terblanche are Brits through and through.

Doctors from other countries in the Commonwealth who have themselves suffered from BRITs are welcome to stay.

The British system of medical training is a much longer more apprentice-like system than the Canadian system and it takes much longer to get to the top unlike Canada where there is more of plateau reached soon after finishing training. The point is that in most of these systems once you do reach the top you are on the gravy train in a way unimagined by Canadian doctors. The National Health in Britain may be horrible (I wouldn't know I've never worked in it), however most specialists in Britain merely use it to supplement their lucrative private practice.

What we get in Canada then are those who have fallen off the slope to the peak or who don't want to climb it and come to Canada for it's kinder, gentler and more polite way of treating junior specialists. Now if I had failed in my own society and was now being given a second chance in what is a pretty decent country I would be so grateful, kissing ass and trying like crazy to fit in.

So what does the typical BRIT do? He (she) acts like a total arrogant asshole who believes that he has come here to make our lives so much better and that we should be happy to have him around. The worst is that most Canadians in health care actually believe that and give them the deference that they crave. That plus the remarks about how much worse the schools are here, how much worse health care is here, how much worse the beer is here (actually that is true) etc. And of course the plummy accents that nobody in England except the Royal Family have. I have yet to meet a British doctor with a working class accent although I'm sure lots of them get into medical school now (I met quite a few when I visited England in medical school). Irish doctors of course become more blarney the farther they get from the Emerald Isles and Aussies get more "strine".

I have traveled a bit in England, Wales and Scotland as well as Australia. I found the people there great. Take them out of their own country and they act like barbarians, well bred ones of course. Actually that describes more or less the last 2 centuries of world history.

Now I was raised in Victoria which is the last bastion of the British Empire on Enid Blyton, Winnie the Pooh, Rudyard Kipling, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and tea every afternoon after school, so I am a bit of an Anglophile but as you can see I find them insufferable.

Now I actually like quite a few BRIT doctors and I am sorry to have to write this blog. It is the 75% of them that give the other 25% a bad name.

No comments: