Faculty 20th Anniversary Celebration & McGonagall’s Ode!

At the event to celebrate the Faculty’s 20th anniversary, those gathered were regaled, by the invited after-dinner speaker Professor James Drife, with the following ode – available as a podcast for best effect:

The Editor felt the Journal’s readers might like to share the experience, although nothing could compare with seeing the performance ‘live’.

When not engaged in composing and reciting poetry, Professor Drife’s day job is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.


McGonagall’s ode to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health


O what a very exciting place this is to be,

On Thursday the sixth of June, in the year 2-0-1-3

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Committee Room One,

Where over the years many mighty medicopolitical deeds have been done.


O what beautiful portraits there are on the walls,

Showing how the president’s face lights up when the portrait painter calls!

If only the Faculty also had presidential portraits, I think they would look very fine,

And when viewed as a group would not be so overwhelmingly masculine.


The rest of the RCOG is fully occupied with a course right now,

So if you want to run a busy labour ward, there are experts here to tell you how:

But if you prefer your labour ward to be under-occupied and have rooms to spare,

You should follow the guidance of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare.


For the Faculty tells people what to do with their cap, pill, condom, LARC or coil

If they wish to avoid pregnancy and parenthood and all that worry and toil,

And instead continue their careers, travel to far-off lands,

And feel free to buy new furniture, use moisturiser and eat from non-stick frying pans.


Tonight we are here to celebrate the Faculty’s 20th anniversary,

Which is why we have come from many distant places to London, NW1 4RG.

I myself have travelled from Dundee, by the new railway bridge over the silver Tay,

Which unlike the old one, has stayed up and has not been swept away.


But Professor Johannes Bitzer has had an even longer journey than mine –

All the way from Basel, Switzerland, with its historic bridge over the silvery Rhine,

A bridge that, I believe, has a chapel halfway across so you can offer up a prayer –

A feature that our new railway bridge could have done with, but it isnae there.


Tonight we also have a Liverpool delegation, which is small but select:

Meera Kishen, an ex-president, and John Ashton and David Richmond, presidents-elect.

The first RCOG president was from Liverpool, and still today if you’re feeling presidential,

Residence in Merseyside evidently remains desirable if not essential.


But there are exceptions to every rule, are there not?

President Chris Wilkinson is a Londoner and President Tony Falconer is a Scot,

And the Faculty has had presidents from Bournemouth and Southwark and all over the place,

So clearly my comment about Liverpool is not evidence-based.
For the Faculty is an international organisation, when all is said and done,

With a membership that now stands at 16,271

(Stretching alphabetically from Australia to Zimbabwe, which is many a mile)

And with Honorary Fellows in many exotic places including, as of today, Carlisle.


And also in the House of Lords, one of London’s most exclusive addresses,

For our roll-call of Honorary Fellows includes two distinguished baronesses.

Long may the House of Lords continue to play its part in the great political game:

May all the plans for reform be limited to giving it a gender-neutral name.


O how grateful we all are for that historic day, Friday the 26th March 1993,

The date of the founding, twenty years ago, of the FFPRHC!

In that same week, there had already been another advance in science and scholarship,

With the launch, on Monday the 22nd March, of the Intel Pentium microchip.


So today, both the Faculty and the Intel Pentium microprocessor are 20 years old –

A characteristic they share with three members of One Direction, or so I am told.

How marvellous to share a birthday with a successful microchip and famous boy band,

Neither of which a man of my age is able to understand.


But what I do know is that the Faculty is a major force for good in sexual health,

And that its members, fellows and friends represented here are its real wealth.

Aye, of movers and shakers, the honorary Fellows’ list is a veritable encyclopaedia

Which now includes Dr Mike Smith, known as the Big Daddy of doctors in the media.


And one other new fellow, who has never joined Mike in front of the microphones

Because other men have already done a show with the title, “Alias Smith and Jones”.

Corin Jones has been with the Faculty, man and boy, since it was called NAFPAD,

And is now retiring, which makes everyone, except Corin, extremely sad.


For Corin is the person who for this Faculty, and for over 20 years, has done the most,

And who, as this poem draws towards its end, deserves a toast!

So, to drink the health of Corin and the Faculty, let us rise, one and all,

With a big thank-you from everyone here, including your humble poetic servant, William McGonagall.


Jim Drife, with acknowledgments to the Great Bard of Dundee.