Holiday letters to general practitioners

Each time I was going on holidays and the practice was closed (3 weeks of summer holidays, 2 weeks with Christmas), I informed the general practitioners of this. My colleagues Holla and Bergsma, later together with José van Ulsen, were always prepared to stand in for me and be available for emergencies, which are fortunately rare in our métier. Back in 1982 I had printed a cartoon from Current Contents in one such letter. This was a sloppy little magazine in which one could see which articles had been published in the most important medical journals. Sometimes I would add some funny (or at least intended to be funny) commentary, see the holidays letter from 1982 below. The Current Contents were published weekly, so I soon had a collection of cartoons. Some were bland or dull, of some I did'nt understand the punchline (probably related to some American issue I wasn't aware of) but there were also some fantastic ones, which you can admire in this section and elsewhere on the website.

After I sent the first letter with a cartoon and returned from vacation, there were a few notes from GPs saying that they thought this was an incredibly nice initiative. From then on, I have added a cartoon to every vacation announcement until my farewell in 2002. In some of the letters I  received after my farewell, GPs mentioned that they would not only greatly miss me, but also my cartoons.

P.S. You may have noted that the general public is showing an increasingly critical attitude towards drugs and their possible side effects. As you can see here, however, is a fitting 'solution' for overcoming any problems related to this. 


For the record, I have contacted the (presumed) current US copyright holder of the cartoons by letter twice to ask for permission to show these cartoons here (in writing, no e-mail address or phone number known), but received no response, so assume here 'He who is silent, agrees'. Current Contents has been terminated a long time ago: it lost its raison d'être when internet searches for scientific literature became possible.

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