Domhnall MacAuley: Chicago. General practice, and all that Jazz

Domhnall MacauleyChicago. A compelling show. An intriguing narrative based on real events. Posters advertising the musical, with its ever changing cast, greet me like an old friend on the escalators of London’s underground as I travel to the BMJ office. My first visit to the city recently was equally enthralling. The modern glass skyscrapers, amazing art institute, jogging along the stunning lake side foreshore. I gawped, like any tourist, at the Wrigley building, the old Chicago Tribune offices, and walked the magnificent  mile, well wrapped up against the bitter winter wind. 

Oak Park.  The train shook its way past old warehouses and forgotten store yards until we arrived at the genteel Chicago suburb. Although not an architecture groupie, I was keen to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio (he of the Guggenheim museum in New York) and some houses he designed locally. It was also an opportunity see Hemingway’s home and the museum. His father was a doctor so I felt some distant medical connection.

At the cross roads, just before the railway bridge was an Irish shop. Out of curiosity I ambled in expecting the usual tacky leprechauns and singling shamrocks of American “Oirish.” But, no. This was an elegant tasteful boutique with stock that had been carefully sourced directly from Ireland. Chatting to the American owner, I discovered his wife was from Ireland. From Belfast. He named an area, a locality, a street. Her brother lived there…..I knew him well. He and his family were patients of the practice for many years. General practice. The intriguing narrative of real life. Absolutely compelling. Chicago.

Domhnall MacAuley is primary care editor, BMJ