Excerpts from Random Musings by Alaf Khan


Excerpts from Random Musings
by Alaf Khan
A slice of life in Scotland-IV

 Some notable personalities

1. Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies were two very pretty, very vivacious and very high class prostitutes in the London of the 1960s. They provided company of all kinds to local as well as visiting dignitaries. They entertained, in all pleasurable ways, eminent friends and guests of Lord Astor in his Buckinghamshire mansion. The most famous part of Lord Astor’s hospitality was his swimming pool. His guests gladly accepted His Lordship’s condition that the two girls and the guests swim together in the nude. President Field Marshal Ayub Khan was also on one occasion Lord Astor’s guest in the 1960s, and must have relished Keeler’s intimacy in the pool in their birthday suits. Keeler, in her interview later, complemented Ayub Khan for being so manly in the nude. Mr. John Profumo was British War Minister in Harold MacMillan’s cabinet at the time. He also confessed to having tasted Keeler’s intimacy in bed. He lost his job as War Minister as well as his seat in the Commons. The scandal also caused the fall of MacMillan's Tory government.

Dr. Alaf Khan

2. Mrs. Williams at midnight (1966). ˜Doctor Khan? Yes, that’s me. I am Mrs. Williams, Prime Minister’s Secretary. For God’s sake, Evelyn; it’s no time for pulling legs. I thought it was my House Officer, Evelyn, who was up to some pranks. I am not joking, Doctor Khan. We are in Grand Central Hotel. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson) has some problem and we need help. Will you please speak to Doctor Dixon Mabon?.

Good evening Doctor Khan. I am Doctor Dixon Mabon, MP and Assistant Under Secretary of State for Scotland. The Prime Minister addressed pre-election public meetings today and now has some pain in the chest and throat. It may be nothing serious but, you know, you can never tell. We don’t want this to leak out if there is nothing serious. You know what the Press is like. They make mountains out of molehills. The tabloids thrive on gossip. Thank you Doctor Mabon. I understand. But how and why did you choose a stranger like me? Well, Doctor Khan; it is years since I gave up medicine for politics. But I had done my House Job with Dr. Rogen where, your phone operator tells me, you are now the Resident Registrar. Makes sense. I will do whatever I can, but only if you come yourself. Within half an hour Dr. Mabon and Mrs. Williams arrived. Together we did all that needed to be done and could be done. Dr. Mabon and Mrs. Williams asked if I would keep it to myself. I said I would, and did. Mr. Harold Wilson had probably overused his vocal cords addressing public meetings in his bid to retain his seat in the Commons and his tenancy of 10 Downing Street. He apparently did well with a simple antihistamine and one of the then newer oral penicillin’s. The elections were over and Mr. Wilson remained the Prime Minister. Some weeks later I got a letter from Dr. Mabon on his own behalf as well the Prime Minister’s thanking me for the prompt response to his request for medical help that night. He also wrote that he would be in Glasgow in the near future and hoped that we would meet again. And we did. 

How I wish our guys had a fraction of the common courtesy and decency that I saw in those people! 

3. Prof. Ronald Girdwood was the President of the Edinburgh Royal College of Physicians when he visited Peshawar in 1984 to assess the educational quality of our medical institutions. He met the Academic Council of Khyber Medical College before we all went for lunch in the Hotel Continental (now PC). Most of the Professors were beginning to look uneasy soon after lunch. It was time for their private clinics. One by one they shook the guest’s hand. The second senior most Professor advised the guest to have some afternoon sleep before his flight to Karachi. Now it was just the guest and I in the hotel lobby.Do you want to rest or see Peshawar?, I asked Prof. Girdwood. Hell; I can have all the sleep in Edinburgh. Can we tour the city?, said the guest. Over the ensuing four hours I took him around the inner city, Qissa Khwani, Saddar Bazaar, university campus and Islamia College. Lastly he had a cup of coffee with us in our home before I took him to the airport.

4.Prof. Anthony Toft. Tony became a personal friend after his official visit to Khyber Medical College in his capacity as President of the Edinburgh Royal College of Physicians. He was instrumental in two different ways in the rise to international eminence in pediatrics of my erstwhile student, Zulfiqar Bhutta. Had it not been for Tony, Zulfiqar Bhutta probably would not have easily overcome the hurdles that others had placed in his path. As Professor of pediatrics at Aga Khan University, Zulfie kept rising in global pediatrics till he occupied the very top international notch.

5. Is she crazy? I used to listen to the BBC Home Service on my car radio as I drove every day to Stobhill hospital in the morning. One day in late 1967 (or 1968), the anchor was interviewing a young female doctor who had just passed her MRCOG exam and was preparing to go to a remote underdeveloped area in a developing country where she would work as a gynecologist in a Christian Mission hospital. I almost yelled on hearing the names of the country and the town. Woman; are you crazy. That young lady was Dr. Ruth Coggan, daughter of the Archbishop Coggan, Head of the Church of England. She came to the Pennell Memorial Hospital in Bannu, Pakistan. In Bannu she lived and worked until her retirement. And it was in Bannu that I met Ruth in 1970 when I, against my preference, was posted as District Specialist at Bannu DHQ Hospital. We shall come to that twist later on.

(To be Continued)