Taking the pistachio

August 18, 1995

Harold Ellis, emeritus professor of surgery at London University, has been reminiscing in the British Medical Journal about a ferocious nursing sister, "tall, majestic and Scottish", who ensured that the outpatient clinic ran like clockwork.

One day, a foreigner appeared in the usually crowded clinic and asked to see the professor, whereupon the sister instructed him to go into cubicle three and take off all his clothes.

A few minutes later, Professor Ellis was in turn ordered into cubicle three and found his foreign visitor stark naked, with a large parcel balanced on his knees.

"I am the cousin of your patient, Mr M. from Teheran," he announced.

"He has asked me to come and tell you during my visit to your country that he is very well after his great operation.

"He sends you his best wishes and he has commanded me to bring you this present of a box of pistachio nuts."

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