Dr Batty Story

Doc. Prof. Batty “story” of James as a junior doc., so about 1972/73, oft told by our mutual mate, Tom.  Here it is with a few embellishments just for a bit more fun.

As a junior doctor, James learned his trade at the feet of senior consultants, who back in the 1960s ruled largely by fear, of course. One of the eminent consultant physicians at that time was the delightfully named Dr Batty, but he was highly respected. He was a tall imposing man, always perfectly dressed in a three-piece suit with a fresh white carnation in the left lapel. He was very old school, almost a throwback to Victorian times. 

James managed one day to turn up late for a morning ward round – yes, there had been a late-night boozing session, and we’re probably talking at least till two o’clock in the morning. The punctilious Batty was horrified. Not only was James late but he was attired in a dark-blue Reefer jacket, like a flying jacket, and wearing scruffy trousers. He hadn’t had time to shave and he had mislaid his white coat. Batty took one look at the scarecrow, composed himself with a sniff of the carnation, and said from on high, “Borowczyk, have you actually had the pleasure of serving in Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force?” 

The answer was at first meek, a simple, “No, sir!” I don’t think there was a salute. In later tellings, others would say that in the fit of the moment, he added, “Yer bawzerra’ mince!” They would report that the broad Scots would have been beyond the very English doctor, but he would have perceived the defiance. Anyway, truth to tell, Batty didn’t know whether to fart or faint. 

Little wonder that I have been trying to get some confirmation of this for over 50 years! My early phone calls and messages to Dr Batty himself went unanswered. I am now left wondering many decades later if he was related to the great All Black, Grant Batty. This is probably not at all possible as the rugby player was about 17 in New Zealand at the time of the Batty-Borowczyk contretemps in Scotland. 

I also have to wonder if this embarrassing event contributed to James’s sartorial fastidiousness for the rest of his life.