Brain Surgery

Contrary to popular opinion, in most cases brain surgery is not as difficult as some people would have you believe. The 'some people' to whom I refer are predominantly brain surgeons, and as such have a vested interest in retaining the air of mystique that surrounds the subject. You might think that I share that interest, or at least that I'm loyal enough to my fellow medics not to blow the gaff. Not at all. In my not inconsiderable experience, brain surgeons are far too cocky for their own good and it's high time they were taken down a peg or two. Especially Sir Harvey Waddington, who has been lording it round my club just lately. The fact is that there's nothing that your average brain surgeon can do that I wouldn't be capable of myself, given adequate lighting, half an hour with a self-help manual and a really good Black and Decker.

But I wonder what would happen if the boot was on the other foot? What would happen if Sir Harvey had to contend with the patients who turn up in my surgery - coughing and retching and stinking up the place - just on the off chance of being able to score a sick note? I know exactly what the 'eminent' brain surgeon would do: he'd do precisely what I do and high tail it out of there pronto and spend the rest of the day on the golf course.

Good evening, my name is Doctor Adolphous Bongo, and I'm sure that you, like me, were gratified to learn that a species new to science was recently named in my honour. I must admit that I was rather less pleased when, upon further investigation, I was told that 'Bongus fungari' is a type of poisonous toadstool. Its discoverer, Dr Marcus Conk, describes it as 'an extremely noxious and malignant fungus that subsists solely on dung and gives off an unbearable aroma of rotting meat'. He goes on to explain that, given such characteristics, it was inevitable that he should name it after me.

I should point out, if you haven't guessed already, that Dr Conk and myself do not enjoy the most amicable of relationships, following a disagreement on a trifling point at a conference on biodiversity some years ago. I recall that he delivered some witty remark questioning my academic qualifications. I don't remember exactly what it was, but he seemed very pleased with himself at the time. I responded by delivering a swift, sharp crack to his nose, and he retired hurt. He has since, via the medium of the academic press, accused me of being incapable of reasoned argument, preferring instead to resort to physical violence. I replied by pointing out that I came to rely on physical violence because I reasoned that I was bigger than him, and I think it's fair to say that no one can fault my logic.

Anyhow, we were talking about brain surgery, weren't we? Now, I don't want to give the impression that cranial procedures are not without their challenges. Fixing a brain is very much like fixing a car, and just as every car is different, so is every brain. The brain of one of your proper intellectuals - like an actual professor, for instance - is a top of the range luxury saloon. Every part is precision tooled, and the whole thing is designed to operate at the very peak of its performance. Working on such an advanced machine takes years of experience and meticulous preparation. Most of my patients, on the other hand, are more easily compared to an old banger, and can usually be sorted out with one really good belt from a big hammer.

The key is in understanding just what a brain is. The best way of describing it is to say that the brain is like a big valve. A 'think' valve, if you like. Human beings are capable of producing millions, possibly billions, of random thought impulses a second - most of which are bollocks. The brain acts as a kind of filter, allowing good, sensible thoughts to pass through, and preventing the nonsense from escaping. Obviously, some brains are better at this than others, as a stroll down any high street at chucking out time will tell you. Sadly, we must accept that there will always be a significant number of people who are easily entertained by their own reflections in shop windows, and there is nothing that medical science can do about this. However, on occasion, mentalism (technical term) can be caused by an illness, a brain ache or a 'syndrome', and can usually be rectified by someone with the right knowledge, a steady hand and something sharp and pointy.

Let's just go back to our description of the brain. We called it a big valve, remember? Good, well the smarter ones amongst you will be asking what happens to all the gibberish that doesn't make it through. Normally the waste balderdash is deposited into what we doctors call a 'think tank' located in the base of the hippocampus. In due course these mentalisms are expelled from the body in the normal way when we go for a 'tinkle' - or 'slash' to use the technical term. But in a malfunctioning patient, this waste bullshit can build up and leak into the rest of the brain. It has a particularly profound effect on the speech centres.

The standard cure for this involves a centre punch, two yards of rubber matting and a plastic funnel. It's a messy process, but tremendous fun. It does, however, require some co-operation from the patient to prevent them from thrashing around. Unfortunately, people with brain disorders are rarely rational enough to submit themselves to a grinning quack clutching an assortment of metalworking tools, even if it is for their own good. Poor sods.

This is why I have developed a new procedure that can be administered without the patient's consent, or even knowledge. It is a technique that allows me to reset the delicate balance of the brain by means of a brisk tap to the base of the skull - basically I leap out behind them and bash them round the head with a shovel. It's early days yet, but my test subject, one Dr Marcus Conk, is showing great promise. After several intense sessions of 'shovel treatment' he has become timid and withdrawn, but thankfully is no longer inclined to come out with a lot of crap about fungus.

Return to Doctor Bongo's Casebook

Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2012

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