The Unprofessionals

The Unprofessionals
When the worst thing happens,
That uproots the future,
That you must live for every hour of your future,

They come,
Unorganised, inarticulate, unprofessional;

They come sheepishly, sit with you, holding hands,
From teat to tea, from Anadin to Valium,
Sleeping on put-you-ups, answering the phone,
Coming in shifts, spontaneously,

Talking sometimes,
About wallflowers, and fishing, and why
Dealing with Kleenex and kettles,
Doing the washing up and the shopping,

Like civilians in a shelter, under bombardment,
Holding hands and sitting it out
Through the immortality of all the seconds,
Until the blunting of time.
U A Fanthorpe

from New and Collected Poems (Enitharmon Press, 2010)

by permission of R V Bailey

About The Unprofessionals

This poem is included in the second edition of Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors (Scottish Poetry Library, 2016). The anthology was edited by Kate Hendry; Dr Lesley Morrison, GP; Dr John Gillies, GP and Chair, Royal College of GPs in Scotland (2010-2014); Revd Ali Newell, and Lilias Fraser. A copy of the first edition was given to all graduating doctors in Scotland in 2014 and 2015, and with support from RCGPS and the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland, to all graduating doctors in 2016, 2017 and 2018. We are very grateful for the individual donations which funded the cost of this anthology, and to the Deans of the Scottish medical schools who made it possible to give the books to their graduating students.