Doctor Dave by Rowan McCabe.
This portrait of a North Shields GP is part of the Door to Door Poetry project in which McCabe knocks on doors seeking (free) poetry commissions. Dave Tomson was one of his early subjects. North Shields, and its bigger sister South Shields, sit on opposite sides of the mouth of the River Tyne, east of Newcastle upon Tyne. Once based on fishing, North Shields grew and became a substantial industrial centre through shipbuilding and coal mining, but in recent decades these have died back.
There’s a doctor in North Shields
who treats his patients like his equals
and preaches power to the people,
his name is Doctor Dave.
He’s the anti-establishment GP,
the healthcare revolutionary,
Rowan McCabe is a performance poet and comedian. The content of his door to door poems comes from their subjects. Tomson is portrayed in a very different way from Eugene Smith’s photostory of Ernest Ceriani, or John Berger’s account of John Sassall (see More Like This, below), which describe caring, at times fretful, concern. Here Tomson is apparently accepting of his patients’ bad, even dangerous habits, though hopefully not so far as drinking bleach. But there are hints that this is to win their trust, not to neglect them.
- BBC interview that includes this poem (poem at 2.59)
- Full text of this poem, plus ‘I want to help raise a cool girl’ beneath this interview
- Website of Rowan McCabe, Geordie Cultural Ambassador. Watch the video about the project there.
- The door to door poetry project site
- See Rowan McCabe at the Edinburgh Fringe, 5th-27th August, 4-5pm @ Banshee Labyrinth, every day except Thursdays.
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