Mindin’ o’ James – Doc. Batty Story

Doc. Prof. Batty “story” of James as a junior doc., so about 1972/73, oft tellt by wur mutual mate, Tom.  Here it is with a few embellishments jus’ fur a wee bit mair fun, especially considering like it’s weel inside the public domain noo.

As a junior doctor, James learned his trade at the trusty feet of senior consultants. Back in the 1960s they 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, probably at least till two o’clock in the morning. The punctilious Batty was horrified, not only at James’s lateness but also at his attire, a dark-blue Reefer jacket, like a flying jacket, and he was wearing scruffy trousers. Also he was prolly mair ‘an a wee bit peely-wally efter late drinkin’. He hadnah had time to shave and he’d 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 His 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, whate’er the 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 maistly a figment of my overactive imagination because the great rugby player was about 17 in New Zealand at the time of the Batty-Borowczyk contretemps in Scotland. 

I also have to ask myself if this embarrassing event contributed to James’s sartorial fastidiousness, his loe o’ brankie claes for the rest o’ his lang life.