Wilfred Frogspawn: 1931-2014
Wilfred Frogspawn, who has died after an astonishingly short illness, will be remembered as a pioneering surgeon who revolutionised modern medicine in the way that Ronnie O’Sullivan continues to revolutionise the game of snooker.
Born slippy in Melton Mowbray in 1931, Frogspawn was a child prodigy: by three he had mastered the unicycle, by four he could talk backwards and by five he was making his own cheese. At school he was bullied on account of his precociousness, and his one massive eye, by all accounts the size of a small melon. Cowed, Frogspawn turned in on himself to such an extent that by 15 he was barely visible to the naked eye. This period of self-miniaturisation was not a happy time but it informed much of his later work.
After qualifying as a doctor Frogspawn specialised in psychological surgery. He reasoned that by tapping into the insecurities of his childhood he could explore ways of eliminating negative feelings. Much of his experimentation was carried out on the Japanese, whom he hated. In 1967 he was the first man to perform an anxiety transplant whereby anxious thoughts about a forthcoming exam were siphoned from a child’s brain and into a horse, via a microscopic hosepipe. The horse later passed the exam and attended university. This heralded a new era in medicine. In 1969 Frogspawn oversaw the first ever memory erosion during which a volunteer had the part of their brain that knew the capital of Peru removed. From there, the Brain Brush™, Head Hoover™ and Lobe Lube™ were devised. He even operated on his wife to ensure she always did the washing-up.
Despite a long and glittering career Frogspawn refused to retire. His work suffered and by his 70s he was regularly killing a patient a week through simple mistakes like not looking before he crossed the ward. Eventually he was forced out of the NHS. Embarrassingly he stole all the post-it notes and staplers from his desk, plus 50 pairs of rubber gloves. A year later he operated on himself in attempt to forget he’d ever been sacked, but the light in the bathroom was poor, the outcome being that between the hours of 8am and 12pm he thought himself Massachusetts. It was a long and cruel end to a simply wicked career. He is survived by his wife Sue, son Boo Boo and various pets.
Dr Eric Peters writes: Wilfred was a flawed genius with a huge presence and an equally huge left eye. It looked like an orange forcing its way through a sock. I can see him now, painting faces onto anaesthetised patients, or picking his nose and eating it, like a child. He was a true British eccentric whose unusual behaviour one learnt to ignore on account of his coruscating brilliance and the speed at which he could sew up a tummy. His wife, Sue, was always there by his side but now that he’s gone I’m going to make a play for her. It’s what Wilfred would have wanted.