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Calving, Castration & Caecal Torsion: On Call With A Yorkshire Vet By Julian Norton
Steve Whitaker, Literary Correspondent
Julian Norton
Julian Norton’s window on his vocation is opened once more with the latest fascinating record of daily events in the life of a Yorkshire vet. Taken from his Yorkshire Post column, this chronicling of a year’s adventures, mishaps, joy and relief is both hugely entertaining, and, for those of us with zero knowledge of animal biology, instructive. Apropos of this last point, he is often asked whether veterinary training includes instruction on every species of animal. The short answer is no, evidently, but, as he sagely advises, a thorough grounding in anatomy gives the nascent vet the tools he or she needs to work on everything from Meerkats to Albino Hedgehogs, with much in between.

Punctuated, as always, with fabulous photos of the animals he describes, Julian Norton’s book is set in a new location. His present ‘patch’ is Boroughbridge and agricultural environs, and his remit is every bit as engaging. Still finding himself called out at silly o’clock, and more deeply immersed in cavities than a potholer, it is somehow heartening to find an early hours stoic remaining cheerful where others would cave in. Norton’s effortless writing style cheers as it entertains; he replaces prolapses at three in the morning (“Everything will be easier with the pineapple back inside the rectum”) so that you can lay in bed and read about it at a sensible time of night.

Also by Steve Whitaker...
Poem Of The Week: 'Baldanders' By Christopher Reid
Beyond the Hellespont: Great Cities Through Travellers' Eyes
So Many Elsewheres - Home On The Move: Two Poems Go On A Journey
Poem Of The Week: 'Jovo' By Igor Klikovac
Return Of The Troubadour: Simon Armitage At The Ilkley Literature Festival
And you do tend to cheer him on. His ease and natural wit with words makes of the reader a co-conspirator, or at least a bystander/eavesdropper on veterinary procedures both farming and domestic. Eventually we learn to fill in the blanks, as we do in a chapter which barely needs a title when the vet identifies the cause of a dog’s medical distress:

“Buster was a cocker spaniel, enthusiastic and eager, but his short legs had not propelled him high enough to clear the barbed wire fence”.

Not that a lacerated penis, buckets of blood notwithstanding, spelled the end for little Buster. Most stories here have gratifyingly happy endings, though in a call-out diary spanning a year, death and euthanasia are an inevitable part of the veterinary equation. Meandering too near a pylon precipitates the end for two Hereford heifers in one alarming chapter; electrocution by lightning is, apparently, a not uncommon fate for unwitting cattle hanging round in puddles near trees, and acting as conductors.

But Julian Norton’s relentless optimism wins the day in this lovely, diverting read. He brings real effervescence and heart to his recollections. No wonder, one feels at the end of his latest journey, that he has so rapidly established himself as a pillar of this North Yorkshire community.

On Call with a Yorkshire Vet is published by Great Northern Books

Calving, Castration & Caecal Torsion: On Call With A Yorkshire Vet By Julian Norton, 9th July 2019, 16:38 PM