It was the week before Christmas….

David Misselbrook is a retired South London GP, and is deputy editor of the BJGP.

It feels as if Boris just stole Christmas. But let’s not shoot the messenger!


It is Covid-19 that has just stolen Christmas for many of us. Many will be facing Christmas with much less family time than expected.

A couple of weeks ago, when such things were allowed, we returned from the West country after seeing our new granddaughter for the first time. Family was great, but the weather was foul. We were travelling through driving rain when the sun came out over the fields of Somerset, and a magnificent double rainbow lifted our spirits (picture above). So, in the week before Christmas, let us consider two rainbows in the storm.

Beating the pandemic

There have always been pandemics, on record from the plague of Athens of 430BC onwards. As Camus said, “They considered themselves free and no one will ever be free as long as there is plague, pestilence and famine.”1

This plague year has seen much suffering, along with immense stress put upon our profession. And it hasn’t finished yet. But it has also seen two amazing – almost miraculous – outcomes.

Firstly, as ever, doctors rise to the challenge. Hospitals were nearly, but not quite, overwhelmed. GPs changed their consulting practices, seemingly overnight, and carried on. We did what we always do. We coped, we adapted, we worked hard, often at geat personal cost. Not for transient clapping, but because – well, because we are doctors. That has meant something for the last couple of millenia, and it will mean something for a good while yet.

But secondly, this is 2020, not 1918. Yes, hands, face and space. But also DNA technology and a Coronovirus vaccine in less than a year. I am delighted to have a mildly sore left arm – I was fortunate enough to have my first Pfizer Covid vaccine three days ago. (Although retired I have volunteered for the vaccine clinics.) This is indeed a modern miracle. The medical profession, together with the whole panoply of the medical sciences, has shown us a possible way out of this dreadful year. Maybe there really is light at the end of the rainbow. We did this. Medicine matters.

Christmas BJGP Life

And the other part of the double rainbow? Well, perhaps not quite as dramatic as DNA technology and doubling ITU capacity. But BJGP Life always aims to inform, and this week to entertain you too.

We have our usual pot pourri of opinion and uplifting tales. This week two authors will be sharing how to thrive despite the stress of the job. We will tell an inspiring tale of a doctor who took up smoking (sort of) to combat Covid. We will be looking at how medicine can be like magic – really. And we will all get a bit blown away and moist-eyed as a leading GP professor sings to us, rather well, on Christmas Day.

But alongside our usual fare we will bring you some tall tales to cheer us all up. (You will be able to tell which is which, because the authors, all good sports, are the ones wearing Santa hats.) Starting with a chilling tale of daring do, through Christmas case reports to a very merry Christmas systematic review.

The weather, meteorological, political and epidemiological, outside might be frightful. But it’s going to be a great week here. We hope the rainbow of BJGP Life will make your week a little bit better too.

Then in the new year we will be striving to save the planet, to slay a few dragons, and to take us into 2021 looking for that pot of gold.

We wish all BJGP readers a happy Christmas, and definitely a better new year!



  1. Albert Camus. The Plague. 1943.


Photo by David Misselbrook.

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