Posted by: billpurdue | May 28, 2013

Telling it like it is with Medecin Sans Frontieres


Band aidI am full of admiration for all those doctors and nurses who volunteer with Medecin Sans Frontieres and numerous other agencies which dispense medical aid in war ravaged or simply very poor locations throughout the world. One such person is Damien Brown, who worked in Angola and Sudan for MSF and afterwards wrote about his experiences in Band Aid for a Broken Leg: being a doctor with no borders (and other ways to stay single). These doctors and nurses have to forsake all luxuries and many things that we consider essentials to be able to live in these out of the way places often with only three or four other people who speak the same language as them.


Getting to know the customs of the local people and more importantly the ways in which the hospital staff carry out diagnosis and treatment are possibly the two hardest things Damien was faced with. There were other problems too – treating injuries he wasn’t familiar with , such as an injury from a leopard attack and putting up with local food. In spite of all this he grew to like the places he was sent to and to like the people, in spite of all their strange ways.


One incident that sticks in my mind is the passage in the book where a woman is brought to the hospital who is in desperate need of a life saving operation, but try as he might, Damien could not convince her husband to give permission for the operation to go ahead. This is a very honest account of Damien Brown’s experiences: he’s not making any political points, just telling it exactly how it was.  You can find out more in this interview for the Booktopia website.

I recommend it.


It’s not a book and not a magazine


My kind of town‘Bookazines’ seem to be quite popular these days. W H Smith is probably the best place to go and see a selection of them. Subjects covered often include railways, computers and the war (ie Second or First World wars). I came across one title – or rather a series of titles recently about Sheffield in days gone by. The series is called “My Kind of Town”. Each edition – and I think I’m right in saying that there are now 8 in all – is a nicely presented miscellany of articles about Sheffield’s past, each of them well illustrated with monochrome photos and line drawings. There are also a few advertisements, so I think this means that they can be called bookazines. I found several of them in Waterstones in Chesterfield. The series is published by Heron Publications


Social Networking for Book Lovers.


Some may say to me ‘where have you been all this time’, when I reveal that I have just discovered that there is a social network specifically for book lovers called ‘Connections’. Actually there are several other similar social networks for the bookish amongst us. I first noticed Connections when I was searching the catalogue of Notts Libraries. In the entry for the book I was looking for, there was a button marked simply ‘Connections’, so I clicked on it to find out more.


You can connect to Connections via your local library’s online public access catalogue (OPAC) , but you will need to think up a new user name and password as you can’t use your library PIN. You can create your own ‘bookshelf’, keep track of what you have read and create your own wish list and much more . You can follow what others are doing or book ‘communities’ or even particular items, so for example you can get to know when a review is written about a specific title. It all sounds wonderful and just what I need if only I had the time to devote to it.


  1. Thanks for the interesting link to the Damien Brown interview

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