When Mark Allen, the acting editor of
World Medicine, asked me to run a fortnightly column, it
needed a name. At that time there were columns with names like
Predator and Scavenger, whose authors had resigned in the
management shake-up there. So I thought it would be amusing to have a
less macho name, echoing these, and came up with Ruminant,
implying the idea of chewing over current events and spitting them
out. I suggested we might have some kind of cow, or better still a
camel, as the header.
In the event, the staff cartoonist came
up with a wonderful cartoon dromedary seeming to embody intelligence,
stubbornness and a supercilious disdain which actually moulded the
character of the column as it developed.
Accordingly, Potiphar, as I came to call
him, became a sort of alter-ego not only in the Ruminant
columns, but in later journalistic and creative projects.