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Writings of Albert Morris
Article 61 - Voyages of surgical discovery in the holiday medication market

RIGHT; you’ve had your holidays and achieved a tan resembling a cross between hot buttered toast and a neon radish. You’ve visited more cathedrals than 12th century pilgrims and had your fill of peasant pottery and carpet-weaving villages, faded Byzantine frescos in dusty, decrepit art galleries and broken bits of Etruscan pottery in museums. If you are ever asked to visit some ruin that you wouldn’t give a second glance to at home or peer at another broken-down amphitheatre or dank, dismal, Neolithic burial chamber, you are likely to deliver a crisp but courteous negative.

Doubtless, there was the sun, sand, sea and, possibly - your lives are a closed book to me - romantic entanglements at riot-ous resorts in Cyprus, Rhodes and other crazily-cracked spots on the rim of the Mediterranean basin and elsewhere, but when the postcard sun has set behind the brochure minarets and beached gondolas, what is left, apart from holiday snaps, fading memories, depleted bank balances and lingering picturesque afflictions with names like "The Pharoah’s curse" and "Montezuma’s revenge"?

To make vacations meaningful, and leave a deep and lasting impression on the minds and bodies of consumers in the growing holiday medication and surgery market, several enterprising travel agents have breaks for discerning pill-takers, medicine-mainliners, Zimmer-pushers and users of ephedrine inhalers who are prepared to pay for operations in glamorous surgical hospitals abroad rather than face the usual NHS waiting-lists, dreary wards, depressing cuisine and anti-social bacteria.

Sunstroke Tours are offering 14 days cruising to the more sanitary Mediterranean ports on the Epidural Queen, a luxury, floating hospital/hotel, fully-equipped for operations, regular or emergency, complicated or trivial, and replete with ready-to-hand accessories so essential for the discerning, leisure-loving patient, including surgical stockings, collapsible alloy crutches, tropical liberty bodices, swimming-pool deaf-aids, self-inflating, anti-haemorrhoidal rubber-rings and, as optional extras, oxygen tents and drip-feeds in cabins.

Cutting-Edge Cruises, on the new Scalpel of the Seas, the first and last word in theatre opulence, employ the most expensive and skilled surgeons whose deft hands are only equalled by their unwavering sea legs in operations that range from traditional, "sawbones" methods to the latest keyhole techniques as used by the world’s leading surgical peer groups.

Voyaging in what is effectively an ingeniously-planned cordon sanitaire to well-chosen, comparatively-antiseptic Pacific ports, the ship is equipped to ensure, for instance, that on some enchanted evening, you could meet a stranger who could have your dodgy knuckles replaced in less time than it takes a nurse to give you a bed bath and cholesterol check or offer a dazzingly-swift but oh-so-effective, colonic irrigation conveniently between the deck quoits final (for single liposuction ladies) and the captain’s germicidal-cocktail party.

It is not all cut and stitch, nip and tuck, champers and caviare; first-class entertainment for passengers is also provided, including talks - on the first ship - on subjects like The Place of the Enema in Trans-alpine Gaul and How to Breed and Apply Leeches, and, on the second argosy, the popular Do-it-Yourself Acupuncture.

Some enterprising airlines offer fly and drive-to-hospital-bed holidays that are popular with those who want to enjoy a bit of temporary ill-health with a fun time among the medicos and, as it were, combine gin and bitters with joint replacement and maybe a nose job and breast enlargement thrown in for good, wallet-slimming measure.

Transincontinent Airways have such Sun and Surgery vacations combined with imaginatively-planned, apres-theatre entertainment such as Rum and Rumba knee-replacement dances and premier cru medicine-tastings with commentaries from joke-crammed pharmaceutical salesmen.

Most popular of the new, medicine-oriented breaks is Hypochondriac Horizons (de-parting St Pancreas) by which dedicated psychosomatics and practising patients travel in haute cuisine, Pullman-type trains to Turkey, once "the sick man of Europe" and returning by Air Linctus.

They can discuss afflictions with fellow-sufferers, show operation scars and enjoy reminders by trained staff on when to take pills: "Two white before breakfast, red-and-black at eleven, yellow ones after every meal and, before bed, the blue, remembered pills." A therapeutic good time is guaranteed to all.

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