On my twice daily bus journeys I am assailed by my fellow passengers’ trivial or personal mobile phone conversations. Many of these drive me to fantasise violence, if only to get a few minutes of peace.

On my twice daily bus journeys I am assailed by my fellow passengers’ trivial or personal mobile phone conversations. Many of these drive me to fantasise violence, if only to get a few minutes of peace.

If this sounds extreme, tell me you would not feel the same if you had to listen to the woman behind you crying down the phone because she was about to turn 30.

And I would also be curious to hear how readers would respond if the person opposite started plucking their eyebrows. Come summer and sandals, they’ll be cutting their toenails. 

But I digress. Occasionally among the babble of banality one overhears something actually quite interesting.

Last week I could not help but listen in on the man next to me telling someone that he had just got into medical school. When he hung up I congratulated him. A fellow passenger in front then turned round and identified himself as a fellow medical student and we three went on to chat about their ambitions.

Growing up

The man next to me said he had been accepted into medical school aged 18 but had decided he needed to grow up a bit first.

The lure of medicine was obviously strong as after various jobs he had ended up as an accident and emergency manager at a major London hospital. Coping with the effects of the 2005 London bombings, he said, had made him realise that he had grown up enough, so at the age of 30 he had applied again to medical school and been accepted as a graduate entry.

The student in front said he wanted to be an orthopaedic surgeon because he liked the thought of “breaking things and putting them back together again”, while the guy next to me felt leanings towards trauma medicine or paediatrics. His experiences in A&E clearly held fast, although he was also tempted to become a GP – presumably for the money.

All of which was quite fascinating, but what also interested me was that the manager about to become a medic said that in becoming a doctor he would “finally be able to admit what he did for a living”. How terribly telling and rather sad.