I went to medical school in the previous millennium. Back in the days when the standard dress code was to wear a shirt and tie. To tell the truth, it didn’t matter too much what you wore as it all had to be hidden underneath the doctor’s white coat that we would wear. I probably would’ve gotten away with wearing just a collar and tie underneath my white coat. I would’ve needed to have appropriate pant legs and footwear but probably could’ve gotten away with wearing pyjamas underneath the coat. Of course, this never happened as I was as sheep-like as everyone else and conformed to the standard dress code.
Once I graduated I became braver in terms of dress sense and I started wearing cartoon ties and otherwise quirky ties. I built my collection during my travels. I bought ties in places like Taiwan, Thailand and Kaitaia. Halfway through my first year of work, I went on a clowning trip in China led by Dr Patch Adams. This was followed by a reunion with my childhood friends in South Korea. On my return, I came to a decision. I decided to retire. All of my standard ties. I would only wear my cartoon ones from thence on. Over the next 21 years, I continued to wear Disney characters, Looney Tunes, Superman, Popeye, Fish, and many more.
No matter what the fashions of the day were I did not follow them. Long after people had taken their ties off I had kept mine on. They became a personal trademark. They’ve been a good icebreaker. A doctor who wears cartoon ties doesn’t take himself too seriously, chances are he’s approachable. Patients and their family members can safely start a neutral conversation about my ties, before tackling the more serious subject matter.
I thought that I would continue to wear my funny ties forever but COVID-19 had other ideas. For the sake of patient safety, I have been wearing medical scrubs for several lockdown periods. Since August 2021 my team and I have been outfitted in grey scrubs. Yes, there had been some complaints from patients who described our outfits as drab, boring and depressing. Yes, someone did say that we made prison uniforms look good. Someone originally from Liverpool did say we looked like undertakers, but they were much better dressed.
Grey was not my choice of colour, I had wanted bright yellow, but no, grey was the colour I was reduced to. Overcast sky, gloom, many shades of, grey, grey, grey. How boring. One day my ties will return, one day my mojo will return. Until then I will have to make do with different coloured face masks. Brighter colours like orange, yellow, crimson and Christmas-themed masks. For the first time in my life, I look forward to Halloween. I have also added to my funny sock collection, the brighter and more out there the better. I’ve started wearing odd socks to draw attention to my life’s lack of colour. When will my torment end?
Black, white, grey
Is not the life for me
Colour I need