Friday 4 June saw a bustling event at the Wellcome including top-hats, trumpets, leeches and liquorice. ‘Quacks and Cures’ proved an entertaining and efficacious evening of enlivening anecdotes and phrenological facts.
Kat Austen has a review up at New Scientist which I highly recommend. Whilst she mentions the panel of doctors who humorously gave medical advice from their ‘respective centuries,’ as well as the panel discussion on medicine today and films of old public health announcements, I must mention the live leeches and information about how they are used even today in — surprise — cosmetic surgery!
The evening began with an excellent talk by Dr. Richard Barnett about the lost spas and healing wells of London. Hope may Spring Eternal, but I was mostly grateful that now is not then, and we are not (at least, we think,) consuming at least a portion of our own waste in the water we drink.
Richard’s talk drew from his book ‘Medical London,’ a recent favourite of mine, and a book meant not only to be read with delight but to be used as a treasure-hunter’s map for those interested in the history of medicine as it pertains to our multi-faceted city. The Medical London website has a smattering of videos describing certain walks discussed in the book: the book is a gorgeous boxed set including essays, a gazetteer, and map-pamphlets of walks so you can guide yourself through the history of our ‘Sick City.’ Medical London could not be a more perfect read for those interested in history, medicine, and/or London.