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When I use a word, it means what I want it to mean—neither more nor less.” (Humpty Dumpty, Alice Through the Looking Glass. Lewis Carroll, 1872.)
So began a 1978 editorial published in the British Journal of Venereal Diseases, titled “Genito-urinary Medicine”. The death of its author on 19 September 2000 has deprived the specialty of one of its greatest champions.
John David Oriel was born in Devonport, England, in 1923. His father encouraged him to study law, but a childhood cycling accident resulting in a severe facial injury inclined him towards medicine. The accident also left him with a permanent scar which was the source of a slightly lop-sided impish grin that reflected the subtle dry sense of humour so characteristic of its owner.
Awarded a scholarship to the Leys School in Cambridge, David went on to study medicine at Guy's Hospital Medical School, London, qualifying MB, BS in 1947. He undertook his National Service and was with the RAF at Lyneham in Wiltshire, where he met and married his wife Joan, a state registered nurse. On discharge from military service, he worked as senior house officer at Putney Hospital, London, before entering general practice in nearby Streatham.
By the middle of the 1960s David was becoming restless with general practice, and began sessional work in venereology at St Thomas's Hospital, under the wing of Dr Claude Nicol. David's enthusiasm for the specialty was fired, and in particular an interest in genital warts. The commitment to venereology …