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“We need these issues to be lined up and poked with a good firm satirical stick now and then”

09 August 2019, at 9:00am

One thing that can keep you going through difficult days is a sense of humour. Many stressful and apparently bleak situations can have a humorous side if viewed from just the right oblique angle. Laughing at yourself or the situation you find yourself in can be a real boost for your morale, even if it is along the lines of “One day I’ll look back on this and laugh.” The news is often depressing, and it seems to make no sense why people do the things they do in the world. However, watching Have I Got News for You or Mock the Week, or listening to the News Quiz, can bring a new perspective and lighten the mood at the end of yet another week of watching the world trying to self-destruct.

So how about the veterinary world? What about when breeders bring you grief, or clients want it all right now but don’t want to pay for it? Or when the Royal College disciplines someone and you think “there but for the grace of God go I”? The employment crisis, emotional stress and over-work... the list is endless. We need these issues to be lined up and poked with a good firm satirical stick now and then, and we need this to be done in public so we can all have a good laugh at those things. If we all laugh together, it helps us realise “it is not just me who feels like this”

Luckily, there are a few veterinary satire groups around, mostly working on Facebook, and their many thousand followers can laugh, together, at the things that make them angry, upset or just damn frustrated at veterinary life. One popular satire Facebook group is “The Raptured Spleen”. The group is anonymous, but lurking in a secret corner of the internet I managed to find the editor. In the online equivalent of them wearing dark glasses, a trilby hat and trench coat and sitting on a bench in Hyde Park smoking a Gauloise, they agreed to meet and we traded some emails; these are edited down and presented below.

“The Raptured Spleen is a small group of writers from the vet and nurse community, producing comedy and satire aimed at the wider veterinary profession. We have a few aims – firstly just to share a smile around our colleagues. I used to write for another group... and after that closed, we were blown away by the wave of support from throughout the profession – people commented how it brought some light and humour to their darker days, and I really felt a kind of responsibility to continue. We’re all aware of current well-being issues in the profession – and it’s actually a hell of an impact for our colleagues if we can kick out some smiles each day. Some of our stuff is very visual, really strong, and we aim for a couple of posts each day.

“A secondary aim is to shine a light on some situations using satire to make some ‘sharp and blunt’ points, to quote our tagline. You’re more likely to find the RCVS, CEOs and surgeons as humour targets, but it’s a firm principle of the Spleen that everyone takes a turn as the hero and the victim of gags. Good satire can make a point in a funny quip or picture that a speech or an article would struggle to achieve. We can react to RCVS disciplinary decisions, Crufts parades or CEO speeches with a funny angle, but also to make a serious point, articulate what people are feeling – we read all the comments, and we’re really chuffed when we’ve rep-resented a common view on a serious situation.

“Thirdly, through our ‘SplenicMasses’ posts, support of comments and Sunday quizzes, we’re keen to get other people into writing comedy. It’s that well-being thing again – you come up with an idea, out it flies, you find you’ve made people laugh. It’s a kick for the writer, undeniably, and we really want to share that.

“We have a chat room to share and polish gags – it’s amazing how sometimes a rewrite, switched format and a tighter edit can make a gag flow far better or come across more successfully, and we take a fair bit of pride in that. We’ve been going a couple of months and have over 5,000 fans from 45 different countries, mainly the UK. Check us out, pick a favourite gag and share it... and if you fancy a shot, send us some stuff – if it makes us smile, we’ll make it fly!”

Find a good veterinary satire group online and follow them. It will shine a little humorous light into your darkest day, raise a smile when you are feeling low and failing all that, just make you laugh at something you see every day but never realised was funny – until somebody shines a light on it and it becomes clear that everyone sees the humour.