Zombie sheep and flying cats, flying pigs and holey cows, the Village Vets have seen it all. These genuine, likeable larrikins could never have dreamed that from their early dreams of being a vet would lead them to not only working together in a thriving practice but to finding them as unlikely TV stars winning the hearts of Australians everywhere.
Village Vets is a memoir where the authors take us through their early years, from their childhood experiences growing up within a strong family unit which in turn leads to many anecdotes, some very amusing, some poignant but all heartfelt. The animal world, pets and livestock take centre stage which not surprisingly leads both Anthony and James to devote their lives to the wellbeing of “all creatures great and small.”
Anthony Bennett and James Carroll met each other at university and through their wonderful storytelling convey how much fun they managed to have between dissections and anatomy classes. Who knew that formal wear was required for the Bird exam during finals or there was such a thing as a toasted bread sandwich, a delicacy apparently.
After graduating from university they took separate paths, Anthony to rural Australia settling in Berry and James who heeded the call of travel and ventured to England taking up locum work in places he could not even pronounce.
This memoir takes on two distinct threads, with both authors taking turns to unveil and bring the reader with them on their journey into Veterinarian practice.
Anthony shows us the rolling hills and hinterland surrounding Berry in New South Wales. Here he is the rookie and on a steep learning curve with the two Geoff’s who own the practice. I found a real appreciation for the often ingenious solutions to very challenging situations, borne from years of experience that was, in turn, passed down to Anthony. Again humour prevails, sometimes very dry humour but oh so entertaining.
Meanwhile James finds himself being a locum for some rather eccentric and somewhat odd characters from as far afield as Wales, where there were only four names being ‘Jones’, ‘Davis’ ‘Williams’ and ‘Evans’ and every second farmer with one of those four names lived on a farm called Ty Coch. Not the least bit confusing. Then to the gritty inner city of London, a practice run by CJ Jefferies who was a bit of a mad professor with a liking for keys and laminated signs.
Throughout these pages are wonderful tales of the animals that came across their paths and the people who loved and cared for them. The floating Gold Fish, Winston the giant pig and Byron the guinea pig among my favourites. I found myself very involved with each case that unfolded, some very funny some very sad, others so amazing and inspiring but throughout it all the love and compassion for their charges comes shining through and despite the long hours and challenging working conditions both Anthony and James give the very distinct impression that there is nothing else they would rather be doing.
Many years ago I remember reading with great delight the books by James Herriot, the wonderful stories of a vet set amongst the rolling hills of Yorkshire. Village Vets bring the tales of Australian veterinarians Anthony Bennett and James Carroll to life in much the same way. Warm and full of life with wonderful descriptions of the beautiful countryside around them and the interesting, charming characters that cross their paths. Prepare yourself for an entertaining read.
Village Vets by Anthony Bennett and James Carroll, is available from Dymocks.
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