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Doctor In The House (1946)

[1]
THE large and completely unused set of surgical instruments that my father kept in his consulting-room held for the old gentleman the melancholy fascination of a hopefully gathered layette to an ageing childless wife. For twenty years he had not troubled to exercise the self-deception that he might one day come to use them. They lay in the slots of their metal trays, fitting in with each other like the pieces of a Chinese puzzle. There was a sharp-toothed circular trephine for boring holes in the skull; bone forceps like a pair of shiny pliers; a broad hacksaw for amputations; scissors with long, sharp blades; probes, trocars, and bistouries; and a row of scalpels as impotent as a line of ceremonial swords.
The instruments were in a heavy black wooden box with his name in copperplate script on its tarnished metal label. He had stowed it away some years ago at the bottom of a tall cupboard in the corner, where it had become silted over with old medical journals, out-of-date diaries, and bright advertisements from the big drug firms that he had slung in there from time to time with the vague belief that he might want to refer to them one day. Occasionally, rummaging his way through the dusty papers, he would uncover the box and light up in himself a momentary glow of frustration : he had once been convinced he was going to be a great surgeon, and the instruments were an expensive gift from his admiring mother the day he qualified as a doctor.
My grandparents were, unhappily, the only ones to share his confidence in his professional destination. The first step

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