6 SEPTEMBER 1975, Page 7

Causes and cures

I am continually at war with the medical profession, especially on the question of smoking and lung cancer, and the engagements in that war usually occur when I have the opportunity of writing this Notebook. One of my contentions is that doctors have no historical sense: they forget their mistakes and bad judgements of the past and always assume an irritating and unjustified assertion that they are cold and expert scientists, far above the rest of us in clear and logical thinking based on proven experiments. I was delighted therefore, to acquire the other day The Household Doctor by Dr George Black "and other eminent authorities". The book was published by Ward Lock, but carries no publication date. Internal evidence shows, .however, that it was written after the introduction of the National Health Service. In Dr Black's mind tea, rather than cigarettes, is the main cause of most evil, but he has a splendid collection of diagnoses and specifics. Naturally, I turned to the entry under 'Writer's Cramp' to read that, "This condition is sometimes found among milkmaids, piano players, cigarette rollers and others, but the commonest by far, is that known as 'Writer's Cramp' or 'Scrivener's Palsy' ". The treatment, by the way, is "complete cessation from writing or work that causes the cramp „ There are many other splendid entries, which I Will communicate to you from time to time.