Lives of the fellows

Patrick Raymond Montgomery

b.19 March 1922 d.13 February 1995
MB BS Lond(1945) MRCP(1957) FRCP(1972)

Patrick Montgomery was consultant dermatologist to the Wessex region, working at Winchester, Salisbury, Basingstoke and Portsmouth hospitals. He was born in Bromley where his father, a Guy’s man, was a greatly respected GP. From an early age at his preparatory school, Carn Brea, he showed an affinity for the classics - at which he excelled - and his education continued on these lines when he went to Cranleigh. When, on leaving school, his father persuaded him to pursue a medical career, he had to switch to sciences, but managed to pass the first MB in eight months. He became a medical student at Guy’s in 1941 when the medical school was evacuated to Tunbridge Wells and was one of the top brains of his year. One of his contemporaries writes: "I have a vivid mental picture of him sitting on his bed about an hour before some of his ‘sign up’ anatomy vivas - having done no previous work - with Gray’s Anatomy on one side and Cunningham’s on the other, in total concentration and quite oblivious to the din around him. After about 25 minutes he would suddenly close both books and would then ride, usually on a borrowed bike, to the anatomy department at Sherwood Park, where he would answer all questions virtually without error and get five out of five. This programme never varied and would be repeated before the next viva" After qualification he held house appointments at Guy’s and then spent two years in the RAF as part of his National Service. I cannot think of anyone less suited to the discipline of a service life.

On his return to Guy's in 1948 he spent the next ten years mostly in the skin department, first as house physician, then registrar and senior registrar, working with Louis Forman [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VIII, p.163], whom he greatly admired, and Edmund Moynahan. Dermatology was the ideal specialty for Patrick as it suited his flair for observation and his classical and contemplative mind. He became a superb diagnostician and treated skin disease very successfully. For a short period he was senior registrar at St John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin, before being appointed consultant dermatologist to the Wessex region in 1958. He worked at Winchester, Salisbury, Basingstoke and Portsmouth hospitals. Wessex soon recognized what we already knew at Guy’s, that they had a real character in their midst as well as someone who was superbly good at his job. He became a familiar figure, wearing one or other of his bowler hats, with his monocle hanging round his neck and carrying his notes in plastic bags. He was highly regarded by ermatologists, and also by his hospital and GP colleagues. Patients, and all who worked with him, became extremely fond of him and enjoyed his eccentricities. He really enjoyed his work and continued in practice until the time of his death.

During his 10 years at Guy’s he became renowned throughout the hospital for the brilliantly witty lyrics he wrote for the residents’ plays, which were one of the highlights of the hospital's social calendar. He loved words, the English language, and poetry. He wrote a great deal of poetry himself. At a convivial dinner party he was liable to astound his fellow diners by bursting into poetry, often proclaiming with enthusiasm one of his many poems. If there was a piano in sight he would be drawn to it, as if by a magnet, to sing one of his own songs or give a rendering in his typically gravely voice of ‘Does it hurt you very much, Sir?’, or else to retell the tale of ‘Dangerous Dan MaGrew’. He loved philosophical arguments, or even detailed discussions on the correct way to boil an egg. He was a kind and generous host and always an appreciative guest, and if he tested our friendship at times it was always overlooked in the long run. He loved opera and especially admired Rossini who, according to Patrick, produced the perfect union of words and music. He had a great interest in botany and the jam jars in his house would be filled with specimens of wild flowers.

In latter years he took to gardening both at his cottage in Alderney and his house in Winchester - where the front garden was so full of plants, usually with their price tags on, that it was difficult to get to the front door. Having never married, he spent his holidays with close friends in many parts of Europe, on the canals in France or at his cottage in Alderney. He was enormous fun to be with, a rare wit, and knowledgeable about so many things.

G W Scott

[Brit.med.J., 1995,311,566-7]

(Volume X, page 345)

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