No time for slippers and cocoa

Sex & Alcohol in Retirement, by Alan Rose

Sex & Alcohol in Retirement, by Alan Rose

First published in What's On

When Dr Alan Rose retired he set up the first gender clinic in the UK and worked as an expert witness in drink-driving cases. He reveals his exploits in his book Sex & Alcohol in Retirement, writes Nick Elvin

For many people, retirement is an opportunity to take things easy, perhaps spending more time with the grandchildren, visiting far-flung corners of the world, or pursuing sporting passions on the golf course or riverbank.

But when Dr Alan Rose retired from his medical practice and research 20 years ago, little did he expect such a busy life to follow – a period he writes about in his book Sex & Alcohol in Retirement.

The book tells how the Mill Hill resident helped set up the London Gender Clinic, the first clinic in Europe to offer parents the ability to choose the sex of a planned baby.

Alan, 85, says he did not envisage the media furore that surrounded the opening of the clinic in Park Road, Hendon in 1993.

“I didn’t really expect it because there were already many clinics running in America, and we only had one here,“ he says.

Media attention began when the clinic contacted the Hendon & Finchley Times about the cost of advertising and the paper sent a reporter to investigate the clinic. Soon, Alan was being interviewed by media all over the world, and the headlines were often sensational.

He adds: “The press were a bit unfair. One thing they avoided saying anywhere was that we had rigid guidelines, which we followed.“ However the newspaper coverage had a positive effect on business.

“It was unbelievably good. I couldn’t have asked for better publicity and the phone never stopped ringing. But when the press lost interest, the customers dried up.“ The London Gender Clinic eventually closed. However, Hong Kong-born Edgware resident Peter Liu, with whom Alan had set up the business, asked him to help found a clinic in the colony. He agreed to assist him for a few months.

“I said I’ve always wanted to work in Hong Kong, so I said yes. There was uproar there too when it opened. But we didn’t do anything outside the law.“ Before his retirement in 1990, Alan, devoted much of his career to medical research. His work also made him an ideal expert witness in drink-driving cases.

The second part of the book describes this work. He says: “There are many reasons why you can be over the limit and can get off. I think I was the first person to use hiatus hernia as a defence. There was a man who had suffered from cancer, and had had his oesophagus removed, so he suffered from constant regurgitation (acid reflux).“ The condition means that stomach contents reflux into the mouth, and this could lead to an artificially raised level of alcohol on the breath when blowing into a breathalyser.

Now in his mid-80s, Alan still appears as an expert witness. He says there are some defendants who are are less than honest with him regarding medical conditions, but the truth will always come out in court.

He adds: “I have to go by what they tell me, and if it’s a bag of lies then, so be it.“ Sex & Alcohol in Retirement is published by Trafford Publishing

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