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The Thackery T Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases

edited by Dr Jeff VanderMeer and Dr Mark Roberts

(Macmillan, 298 pages, hardback, £12.99, published 2004.)

Review by John Toon

At last! With the advent of this mass-marketed cover scanedition of the Lambshead Pocket Guide, Dr Lambshead's wisdom and candid surgical diagrams are available to qualified physician and ignorant lay-person alike!

For too long this invaluable almanac has languished in the backwaters of medical journalism, ignored by the masses and shunned by the medical establishment. (How many poor souls have fallen victim to Jumping Monkworm or Espectare Necrosis, thanks to the ill-informed attentions of so-called "doctors"?) Now Drs VanderMeer and Roberts have compiled a volume that incorporates a selection of historical material as well as the very latest research from Dr Lambshead's illustrious colleagues.

There are two types of ailment that may be expected in any such collection: diseases that afflict the readers and/or writers of such collections, and venereal diseases of the most startling kind. These are of course present, although fewer in number than one might expect, and are perhaps best left for the reader to discover. Of greater interest to this reviewer is the wealth of new ground broken by the present Guide's contributors, both well-known and recently qualified. I particularly feel that congratulations are due to Dr Rhys Hughes for his discovery of Ebercitas, the contagious infatuation with an Argentinian phonetics teacher, to whom this review is dedicated; to Dr Jeff Topham for his work on Logopetria; to Dr RM Berry for her timely paper on Wife Blindness; to Dr Alan Moore for his research into Fuseli's Disease; and to Dr Eliot Fintushel for his elaboration of the pernicious parasitic condition known commonly as "the skin".

I suppose that sceptics--there are always one or two--will remark that Dr Lambshead himself has never contributed to the principal medical journals (Intravene, Locum et al), and will suggest that the august gentleman has merely been invented to lend gravitas to the present endeavour. Let us not dignify these doubters with an answer! Let us deny them the oxygen of publicity, and instead administer a suppository of scorn and 20cc of stern reproof! Esteemed fellows, we are all sick, and Dr Lambshead has the cure.

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