The Launceston Examiner - Friday, April 8 2005
Madill's life, Frankly speaking By Alison Andrews
"The local GP where I grew up was also a surgeon - he was a widower and I was without
a father and so he looked out for me," Dr Madill said.
"When I was just a boy, about 15 he asked me if I would like to come to the hospital and
see him operate and I was very keen.
Young Frank Madill didn't realise at the time he'd just heard the quote that was to become
the title of his first book.
"Old Harry Cooper is going to do the launch for me, my brother is coming over from
Melbourne, too; I only have one brother," Dr Madill said.
"He and Harry are old Mates - in fact some of Harry's early shots (for his TV vet's show)
are filmed in my brother's surgery."
During a long Tasmania political career and an even longer career as a GP, Dr Madill was
renowned for his stories.
So he was surprised when he finally sat down to write the reminiscinces of an interesting
life about two years ago at how hard it was to transfer the stories to paper.
His daughter Christine Couche, a doctor of Literature rather than medicine, said that her
father's first attempts were scientific, stilted and sterile.
As her father's literary editor, she gradually coaxed the famous Madill stories on to the
paper so that the 300 pages have become a delightful social history - the humorous and
often heart wrenching experiences of a Tasmanian GP.
He was prompted to start when his mother - his only link to his father died when he was
young - had a stroke from which she didn't recover enough to tell him stories of his own
childhood and before.
"I thought that I'd write something about 200 pages long but once I started it just got
bigger and bigger and I was up to about 450 pages before I knew it," Dr Madill said.
With help from Christine, it finished a manageable 320 with sketches by local artist
and a cover and lay-out
designed by the writer.
The hardest stories to tell were the most personal about meeting and marrying his wife
Linda, Dr Madill said.
"Other people's stories were much easier to tell," he said.
Like the one about Bob Brown, the future Greens leader who came to work at
Dr Madill's nothern suburbs practice
as a young locum from Victoria, completing his rounds on a push
bike which he also later rode to and from his home at Liffey.
Dr Madill says, in If You Faint, Fall Backwards! that it was a warm Sunday afternoon when
his partner in the practice, Brian Driver, pulled up outside his Egan St home, jumped
out and rushed across the lawn to his startled fellow GP.
"We're ruined," he (Dr Driver) gasped, red in the face. "the practice is ruined."
"Were going to be ruined," Brian went on, waving his hands in the air. "Brownie has gone
to the Examiner and told them he is a homosexual."
"Good grief," thought Dr Madill, "our Dr Bob Brown?"
Both, the practice and Dr Brown successfully survived the startling 1970s disclosure,
as both history and Dr Madill have revealed.