Xrayser: I'm no longer an angry young pharmacy owner – it's time to pass on the pen
As the contractor behind C+D’s anonymous column Xrayser puts down his pen for the last time, he reflects on over a decade of satirising current events in community pharmacy – and offers some words of advice for his successor
“Xrayser’s talking rubbish!” Those are the very words I wrote to the then C+D editor back in 2009 at the height of the swine flu pandemic, the week that my predecessor’s blog was arguing against pharmacies being distribution points for emergency antivirals.
Whoever wrote the Xrayser column then seemed, in my eyes, to have lost the drive to push forward community pharmacy and prove ourselves essential providers of accessible healthcare. The editor must have agreed with me because shortly afterwards I was asked to take over writing the weekly opinion piece.
By then, I had been a pharmacist for 25 years and had owned my business for 10, so to be offered this opportunity was exciting and a huge privilege. After my four trial pieces were deemed acceptable, I began a column spanning more than 12 years and nearly 500 articles, in which I have repeatedly ranted and obsessed about everything from red tape and demanding patients to the ineptitude of our company bosses and national negotiators.
It just shows that, despite the spotlight news and interactive investigations of C+D, pharmacists work in an environment where some things never change.
Over more than a decade, I’ve worked for four editors, every one seemingly younger and keener than the last. But they have each encouraged, supported, and inspired me. As for my ideas, the best came not at a desk but when dispensing, talking to patients or reading the latest C+D headlines. Consequently, only one of my submitted articles was ever refused publication, owing to it being considered too defamatory to the General Pharmaceutical Council.
But eventually, I realised it was time to sell my pharmacy business and move on. I wasn’t jaded – because I still loved the people, the patients and the profession, but I was tired. When I started the blogs, I was an angry young man who seized the opportunity to vent his frustration with the world of pharmacy by satirising the day job. Now, however, I actually do look like my C+D avatar – a fat, balding man with warty knuckles – so it’s time to hand over the pen.
Also, the generational gap means that the references of this child of the 60s are becoming increasingly archaic to young, modern, millennial readers. I might not have experienced my predecessor’s berating at the hand of a younger colleague, but my drive is diminished and thus the idea of the C+D writing competition to become the new Xrayser is genius.
So, to the brave person who gets to take on the role, I can only wish you well and encourage you to write freely and honestly about the absurdities of the day. The job of this blog is not to change the world, to challenge our leaders, or to bring unity.
This blog is a sounding board for every community pharmacist to know that others share in the stress and challenges they face, as well as the achievements, but most importantly to know that they are not alone in the pharmacy.
A long-running C+D contributor, the identity of Xrayser remains a mystery, but his irreverent views are known by all. Do you want to become the new Xrayser? Find out how here.