Recently I went to a drinks party at the Royal College of Pathology. Being pathologists, I’d kind of expected them to be in a damp, tiled basement lined with drain gulleys, serving Bloody Marys out of the chest cavities of opened-up cadavers, in soup ladles….
Instead to my surprise the organization occupies very spacious, swish premises at one of London’s swankiest addresses, Carlton House Terrace. Good wines and scrummy canapés were served up by living waitresses, and the only cadaver in sight was a dead shark in a photograph – there for some reason I never did fathom out.
Photographs were very much the point of the event – twenty-three of them in fact, extraordinary portraits of some of the most eminent pathologists in the county, each a specialist in a different field.
Despite my having a very attractive female forensic pathologist in my Roy Grace novels, (inspired by an equally attractive real life one) the words photogenic and pathologist don’t particularly go hand in hand not even when donning surgical latex gloves… But displayed on the wall was a total revelation. 23 quite striking images from a brilliant photographer, George Brooks (check out his website).
The exhibition is open to all – check out this link for more information. Well worth a visit just to learn about how much pathology is at the forefront of medicine today – and that forensic pathology, at the centre of so many crime dramas and novels today, is only a small part of that profession.
My favourite of the photos was one that managed to be both surreal and all-too-real at the same – Dr Ben Swift, consultant forensic pathologist – and advisor to the television series Silent Witness – standing in a suit in the middle of a lake, holding a human femur in his hand.
There were about 150 pathologists there last night, and a surprisingly jolly lot they were. I’ve long maintained that the best place to learn new jokes is a mortuary – and I can now add a cocktail party full of pathologists, to that. Although I formed the conclusion that it would not be a smart place to drop dead of a heart attack. You’d have been cut open and autopsied before the paramedics had even reached the building…
And one thing is now puzzling me – what would the collective noun for a group of pathologists be? An incision of pathologists? A d’eath of pathologists? All suggestions welcome – and a signed paperback of Looking Good Dead for the best answer posted!