Tales from Tweeddale Street

Written by: Alison Laurie, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness

As it is 35 years this month since I graduated and started working as a general practitioner in Vet practice, I thought that it would be fitting to commemorate this milestone in my career with a personal  trip down memory lane with some reminiscences  from my first job as a new graduate in 1983 in Tweeddale Street, Oban.

My first job was in Oban, Argyll. I arrived as a fresh faced, new graduate from Glasgow Vet School, full of enthusiasm and eager to start my new job.  When I arrived at the clinic I was given a long, gents starched white Lab’ coat, which I had to roll up at the sleeves to allow me to work, and to see my hands! I was then given that day’s surgery list. Both my Vet colleagues were heading out on farm calls in the area for the day and there was an open clinic from late afternoon into the early evening for me to cover, so I did not know what to expect. Though very nervous I managed through the days surgery list and then prepared myself for my very first consulting clinic rolling the sleeves of my now slightly soiled white Lab coat still further in nervous preparation.  My first client came in with her West Highland Terrier for an Annual Booster examination, a nice routine check, so I was quite quietly relieved. I placed her wee Westie gently on the table and just then the elderly, well dressed lady owner, Ms Spence, leaned over the consulting table, kindly touching my arm as she spoke. "And what would you like to do when you leave school?" she asked kindly.  Mortified, I gulped and answered “I am your Vet for this evening’s clinic", my bottom lip trembling. Ms Spence then laughed loudly for what seemed like forever and then she apologised profusely, she had thought that I was a young school girl seeing practice! I could forgive her for her mistake as my attire must have looked so ridiculous. I then gave her lovely little dog a thorough examination and his Booster vaccination and she was delighted and she then became a regular client of mine at my evening clinics for the duration of my time spent in Oban.

The Cleaner “Lola “at the Tweeddale Street was a real character and often doubled up as our “Receptionist” and “Nurse". “Lola” was in her eighties and she wore thick-lensed spectacles as her sight was failing. One evening during cleaning the surgery she accidentally knocked a can of Aureomycin “Purple” Spray onto the light grey linoleum surgery floor. She did not notice that the spray can had burst and had sprayed purple spray across the floor, she then placed the damaged can back onto the shelf and continued vigorously mopping the surgery floor in large, wonderful, circular swirls. In the morning when we opened the surgery for the day we were met with a kaleidoscope of colour and a unusually decorated surgery floor with those huge purple swirls evident throughout the surgery. This new decor was not able to be removed and it remained as “Lola’s floor” until I left the Oban surgery!!

I do have such fond memories of my "Oban days". It was a lovely practice to work in as my first position as a Vet and I learned a lot from my senior colleagues there, which stood me in good stead for the rest of my long career ahead.