Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Recycling a Son of the British Raj

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 4th September, 2016

Peter RamraykaI suspect the British patients who deal with doctors, nurses and other National Health Service staff from the Commonwealth rarely consider the journeys those people have made. I don’t mean just the physical move, though that may be from the other side of the world. I am thinking more about the culture shock. Working in Britain must be for many overseas NHS workers as much of a challenge as an opportunity. So it is interesting to have one man’s considered view of his own journey: Peter Ramrayka’s Recycling a Son of the British Raj (Hansib, £13.99), in his case arriving from what used to British Guiana in South America, now Guyana, with the added twist that being ethnically Indian, the author has roots that go back to the Indian sub-continent. As a child he was taught to think of Britain as the Mother Country and he followed his brother’s lead in moving here and then joining the Royal Air Force. A posting to Cyprus gave him the opportunity to travel in the Middle East, but the major part of his career was spent in hospital management and management consultancy, based in the UK but sometimes travelling on assignment to other countries including Botswana and Pakistan. For me the travelogue passages were more engaging than some of the detail of various hospital closures in south east London and north west Kent, though doubtless the latter would appeal more to fellow NHS workers, past and present. The author uses the unusual device of having an imaginary companion on his life journey: a spirit contained in a bottle, whom he addresses directly at times when he wants to explain the background to something. He also has a fondness for exclamation marks; in fact much of the narrative is amusing as well as presented in a way that is both observant yet kindly towards the nation that is now the author’s adopted home.

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