The following is a transcript of the long lost and little known masterpiece written by Beatrix Potter, one that may prove of interest to some in the medical profession. Entitled ‘Mr McGregor’s Revenge’ it was written whilst Miss Potter was under the influence of a little too much Earl Grey tea, a brew which rendered her able to see into the future with a clarity unmatched by any other novelist of her day.
I was fortunate to come across a copy of the fabled apologue whilst holidaying this last week in the Lake District where it’s author spent much of her life. Unseen and unread since her death in 1943, I gladly share it with you now.
So, if you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll begin.
Peter Rabbit was in trouble – big trouble. He had ventured into Mr McGregor’s garden once too often, his predilection for root vegetables getting the better of him such that he was no longer able to heed the dire warnings issued so lovingly by his mother. It had started with a single carrot, tasted initially simply out of the perhaps understandable desire to know just how it would make him feel. But despite telling himself he could cope with, what was known to those with whom he hung out as, a little ‘Orange’, Peter soon found himself nibbling on parsnips, radishes and beetroot and lately he’d even succumbed to indulging in celeriac, that substance so loved by only the highest echelons of leporine society. But now, shivering in the damp watering can where he had hid, and listening to Mr McGregor’s footsteps as they came ever closer, the foolish rabbit knew it was far too late to follow Mrs Rabbit’s advice of just saying ‘No’.
Remembering where Peter had concealed himself before, Mr McGregor looked inside the watering can the moment he entered the greenhouse and finding the sodden rabbit he promptly shook him out on to the cold, hard, red brick floor. Whereas once he wouldn’t have hesitated to turn Peter into a rabbit pie, Mr McGregor had recently adopted a plant based diet. Even so, for a moment he tried to persuade himself that it wouldn’t be against his principles to devour the blue coated individual that cowered before him since the bedraggled creature in question was no more than the product of the bergamot influenced imagination of a young lady from a bygone age. But realising then that the same could also be said of him, he decided that, rather than spending too long wrestling with his conscience, it was probably best if, on this occasion at least, he tried to think of an alternative and less morally conflicting punishment to inflict on the one who once again threatened his chances of taking home first prize in the village turnip growing competition.
Sadly Peter Rabbit was not a particularly bright rabbit, and neither was he one known for his quick thinking. And so, when he sensed his need to plead for mercy from Mr McGregor, rather than a plan of his own, the one that he came up with was one that he recalled from a bedtime story that his mother had once told him.
‘Please Mr McGregor’, whimpered Peter, his teeth chattering as he did so on account of how cold he now was, ‘do whatever you like with me but please, please, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.’
‘Briar patch?’, growled Mr McGregor, laughing menacingly at his captive as he did so. ‘I’m not Brer Fox you know! There’ll be no briar patch for you. I’ve got a far better idea for what I can do to you than that, something so despicably horrible that after you’ve experienced it you’ll never venture back into my garden in an attempt to get your thieving paws on my artichokes!’
Peter Rabbit stood motionless, his eyes staring like the frightened rabbit he was.
‘W-what are you g-going to do with m-me?, he stammered.
Mr McGregor lowered his voice and whispered the following dreadful words into the terrified rabbits ear – ‘You, Master Peter, are going to be banished to the local medical centre where, in a forlorn attempt to deal with the ever increasing shortage of GPs you will do a day’s work as a primary care physician! And,’ Mr McGregor added, his evil face displaying the evident delight in the sheer vileness of his plan, ‘you’re going to be on call!’
And so, unlikely as it seems, Peter Rabbit arrived the following day at the medical centre and was duly shown to the room from which he would spend the day consulting. The following are just a few of the many, many individuals who sought his advice:.
Jemima Puddle-Duck came along with a particularly severe form of syndactyly characterised by extreme webbing of her feet.
Miss Moppet was sent from the nearby minor injury unit with a high temperature and the skin lesions that had resulted from the altercation she’d been involved in with Tabitha Twitchit. Peter Rabbit subsequently diagnosed her as having cat scratch fever.
Mrs Tiggy-Winkle consulted worried about what she’d tell her husband if she developed warts having kissed Jeremy Fisher in a moment of madness at her work’s office party. She was also suffering with prickly heat.
Pigling Bland’s father rang concerned about his son’s mental health. He reported that the young man in question wasn’t taking care of himself, that his personal hygiene now left much to be desired and that the place where he was now living was a pigsty.
Mrs Tittlemouse required dietary advice when blood test results revealed that, as a result of her propensity to eat large quantities of cheese, her serum cholesterol level had reached a level that was now the cause of some concern.
During a video consultation in which he divulged that he had recently frequented the hen house at Hilltop Farm, Peter Rabbit was able to confirm that Mr Tod’s widespread blistering rash was indeed chicken pox.
Squirrel Nutkin attended having come out in wheals following the ingestion of an undisclosed quantity of acorns. She went on to insist that she be supplied with an Epipen and that she should be referred to a dermatologist in order that she might undergo allergy testing.
Samuel Whiskers presented with depressed mood and low self esteem. He considered himself unlovable as a result of his belief that he’d been responsible for the death of thousands of people by his involvement in the transmission of bubonic plague.
And Mrs Rabbit presented questioning why she had been commenced on thyroxine tablets having misunderstood how it was myxoedema, and not myxomatosis, for which she was being treated. Not only was this awkward for Peter on account of her being his mother but she then proceeded to ask Peter to deal with a number of minor symptoms being experienced by Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail who had attended along with their mother in the belief that he’d have time to deal with their problems too.
At the end of the day, when the last patient had finally left, an exhausted Peter Rabbit hopped miserably home and, like so many others before him, vowed never to return again.
Other GP based stories:
To read ‘A GP called Paddington’, click here
To read ‘Bagpuss and the NHS’, click here
To read ‘Mr Benn – the GP’, click here
To read ‘Jeepy Leepy and the NHS’, click here
To read ‘The Three Little GPs and the Big Bad Secretary of State for Health’, click here
To read ‘Dr Wordle and the Mystery Diagnosis’, click here
To read ‘The Happy Practice – A Cautionary Tale’, click here
To read ‘The Scrooge Chronicles’, click here
To read ‘Jeeves and the Hormone Deficiency’, click here
To read ‘General Practices are Go!’, click here
To read ‘A Mission Impossible’, click here
To read ‘A Grimm Tale’, click here
To read ‘The General Practitioner – Endangered’, click here