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Friday, 22 December 2006

Pushey Mothers

Last night I decided to hand deliver a few Christmas cards to some local close friends. When I dropped the envelope into Margot's letter box, I intended to dash away rather than cause inconvenience by visiting unexpectedly. Before I knew it, Margot opened the door and jostled me inside. Margot was having a family crisis,and she immediately decided she required my assistance.

Hugo - Margot's seventeen year old son, is currently preparing for interviews for Medical School. Apparently the order of preference for Margot is; Cambridge, Imperial and Kings College University. Margot informed me that not all medical schools interview - the majority choose their candidates on academic achievement alone, only the best still interview (thank God for that, I thought medicine was a vocation - silly me!).

These interviews are the culmination of over 15 years work by Margot. Hugo can now play the French Horn at Grade 8 (apparently this demonstrates perseverance, a grade less indicates fecklessness and should not be mentioned on the application form), and has completed his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award (although the outdoor pursuits part of this award was virtually achieved by Margot bearing Hugo to the summit of Snowdonia on her back). This apparently, is all ideal material for the supporting statement on the application form.

For the past two years the trolley shop at Kings College Hospital has been maned by either Hugo or (more usually) his mother. There have also been placements at the local GP, pharmacist, and St Christopher's Hospice - all engineered and sometimes attended by Margot. These activities have been organised in order to ensure that Hugo's commitment to a career in medicine stands out at interview (there are four candidates interviewed for every place).

Most recently Margot spent two days on a residential course which primes medical school candidates in Bristol, where she spent a day with an ambulance crew and even paid a sizable sum to have a 'supporting statement' written for her son's applications. During many of these 'insight opportunities', Hugo has been off playing rugby representing his school, studying for his GCSE's or playing his French horn. You know I am not convinced that Margot would not be a better candidate for medical training than Hugo, she is certainly better prepared.

I was enlisted to provide Hugo with a mock interview. For any given question he gave me a formulaic monotone and passionless reply, always including a number of 'set phrases' which I assume were provided by Margot. 'Multidisciplinary team', 'holistic care', and 'optimise communication' were all rhymed off with little or no insight into their meaning. It was a most disappointing realisation for Margot.

I wonder if Hugo would really like to study medicine? Perhaps he doesn't want to go to university at all, has his mother has ever asked him what he would like to do? I wished them luck before trekking back out into the cold night.

'Medicine is dreadfully badly paid anyway' I assured Margot, 'a much better prospect as a second income, tell him to go into the city. He can marry you a doctor daughter-in-law instead'

Never mind. He is a good looking boy - he can marry Freya!

NOTE TO SELF: Buy Freya a French horn for Christmas.

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