#28 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Easier Said than Done”

This story takes place during the first series of “Doc Martin.” It imagines what might have happened between Martin and Louisa during the early days of their acquaintance. The Coast Path, following some beautiful, unspoiled sections of coast, runs nearly twelve miles between Port Isaac and Padstow, providing hikers with long and short scenic options.


by Karen Gilleland © 2015

Louisa zipped up her blue, lightweight jacket as she walked toward the harbor. The twilight sky was beginning to twinkle with stars, and a breeze played with her bangs and ponytail. She noticed P.C. Mark Mylow, handsome in a red pullover and black slacks, sipping beer at a table at the inn.

“Evening, Mark. Lovely weather.”

“’Another beautiful day in paradise,’ as the saying goes, although our new ‘Doc’ would probably disagree.”

“Why do you say that?”

“He was down this way a while ago. Seems to carry a black cloud about with him. Peggy Benton, Mrs. Willard’s daughter, asked when her mother could be released from hospital. All he said was, ‘I’m not in the office, am I? Make an appointment.’”

Tipping his glass toward her, Mark added, “He’s hard to figure. People are grumbling that we should have brought in a friendlier doctor.”

Louisa grimaced. She’d been on the committee that had chosen Martin Ellingham and had voiced a similar opinion at the time. Now that he was here, she felt obliged to defend him.

“He’s used to the big city. He needs time to adjust to village life. Don’t take his attitude personally.”

“Yes, but–” Mark kept his eyes on the table.

Feeling uneasy, Louisa said, “I’d better go. I’m about to walk a little ways up the Coast Path.” Pointing toward the top of the rise jutting out over the harbor, she added, “I want to get back while it’s still light.”

She waved and started up the hill. When she reached the surgery, Martin was walking down the steps.

“Hello, Martin.”

“Louisa.” He started to walk off, but stopped and turned. “Were you coming to see me for a medical complaint?”

“No, I’m just walking the hill.”

“Ah, I was about to do the same thing.”

“Would you like company?”

He hesitated, finally said, “I walk pretty fast.”

Louisa felt her face flush, and she said quickly. “You go on then. I take it slow and easy.”

Martin nodded and strode off. She took a deep breath and reminded herself of what she’d said to Mark. Don’t take his attitude personally.

 But she did take it personally and felt rebuffed. She walked much more slowly than she’d intended so that she wouldn’t catch up to him if he stopped.

Passing other hikers on their way back to the village, she greeted them with a smile, butport isaac the feeling of rejection still rankled. At one of the overlooks, she sat down on a bench and gazed at the harbor, at last relaxing and enjoying the quiet.

She sat there longer than she realized. By the time she stood up to leave, lights were flickering on in the houses below. I should have brought a torch, she thought as she picked her way down the dark path.

Suddenly she stumbled on the uneven surface, skidding down on her hands and knees. She stood up, but the sharp pain in her ankle caused her to cry out. Ouch! She stepped gingerly on her left foot and exclaimed again.

Light from a torch flooded over her. “Are you all right?” asked Martin.

“No,” she snapped.

“What happened?”

“I tripped. I think I sprained my ankle.”

“Here, lean on me. I’ll check you out at the surgery.” He took her arm, and she limped along beside him, feeling like a child on the way to the principal’s office.

They didn’t speak until they were inside the building. He helped her up on the couch and took off her shoe. “Nasty sprain,” he said and wrapped her ankle in an elastic bandage. He took out a pair of crutches from the closet.

Still feeling resentful, Louisa slid off the couch and murmured, “Thank you.”

Martin handed her the crutches and went to the cabinet. “Here’s something for the pain. Take one tablet every four hours. You’ll need to keep your leg elevated for several days.”

He walked outside with her and said, “I’ll drive you home.”

Louisa wanted to refuse, but her ankle throbbed. She slipped into the front seat grudgingly. When Martin stopped the car at her house, she saw his hands tighten around the steering wheel. He sat still, looking out the window. Finally he spoke. “It was kind of you to offer to walk the hill with me.”

Surprised by the words and the softness of his voice, she didn’t say anything.

“I didn’t mean to offend you.” He seemed to be struggling with his thoughts.

“During all the years when I was a surgeon in London, I never had a patient die during an operation. I saw each patient only once after surgery, for a post-op exam. It was important to maintain an objective distance.”

He paused, still looking out the window. “Life here is very personal. I treat patients all day long. I run into them at the harbor, when I’m shopping,” he turned toward her, “or out walking.”

Pushing open the car door, he continued, “Occasionally, I know there’s nothing that I, nor anyone else in the medical profession, can do to save a person’s life. Yet I run into that person or his family in the village.”

His words sent a pang of guilt through her, and she shivered. “That must weigh terribly on you.”

Glancing over at her, he shrugged and stretched his leg out of the car. “It’s the reason why I sometimes need to walk things off, alone.”

Before she could respond, he stepped out of the car, walked around and opened her door. His words lingered in the air, touching her heart. As he leaned in, his face close to hers, she whispered, “I understand.”

His eyes held hers a moment, and then he helped her out of the car. Taking her keys, he opened the door, and she stepped inside.

“Would you care for a cup of tea?” she asked.

“No, thanks.” He started to leave, but turned backed. “Would you like me to fix you a cup?”

“I don’t think so. I’ll go to bed and read. The doctor told me to keep my ankle elevated.”

She smiled and thought his eyes twinkled as he said good night.

Obeying doctor’s orders, Louisa kept off her feet. She was grateful to her friends for bringing in meals and shopping for her. After four days’ rest, she declared herself well enough to walk outside.

As she hobbled down the road, Mark Mylow, in the police car, hailed her. “Louisa, can I give you a lift?”

“Thanks, but I seem to be doing okay.”

“Did you hear about Mrs. Willard?”

“No, what?”

“She passed away last night, I’m sorry to say.”

“Oh, dear. What happened?” Louisa pictured the petite, white-haired woman who used to sell homemade jams.

“She went to see the ‘Doc’ Monday, the day you sprained your ankle, in fact. He put her in the hospital. Nothing they could do. I’m on my way over to see the family.”

“I’m sorry. Please pass along my condolences and let me know about the funeral.”

Mark nodded, waved and drove off.

Louisa sat down on a bench and closed her eyes. Thoughts crammed her mind. Mrs. Willard dropping off a jar of her delicious strawberry-lime jam. Martin confiding how hard it was to practice in the small village. Her eyes began to tear. She wasn’t sure if she was crying for Mrs. Willard or for Martin.

Around six the next afternoon, she decided her ankle was healed enough to return the crutches. She used them one final time, walking up to the surgery. The door was locked, and she walked around to the kitchen and knocked.

“Louisa, come in. How’s your ankle? You shouldn’t have walked this far.”

“My ankle is much better. I wanted to return the crutches. Someone else may actually need them.”

“Take a seat. I’ll put them away.”

When he returned and sat down at the table, she said, “I heard about Mrs. Willard. I’m sorry.”

“Well, she was eighty-one. She told me she’d had a good inning.”

He stood up and said, “I’ve just made tea. Would you like a cup?”

“Thank you. That would be nice. White, please, one sugar.”

Pouring the tea, he asked how she’d been managing.

“My bottom got a good work out,” she said, describing how she had to sit to go down the stairs. He looked so uncomfortable at her remark that she laughed at him, and his face flushed.

The telephone rang, and he went into the surgery to answer.

“Sorry,” he said, coming back into the room. “Emergency. I have to leave. I’ll drop you off at your house.”

Instinctively she knew it would be a long time before they would again share such a companionable moment, and the deep feeling of disappointment stirring within her jarred her spirit. She managed to smile and say she understood.

He picked up his bag and followed her out to the car. At her house, he reached for her keys and unlocked the door.

“Thanks for bringing back the crutches. I’m glad you don’t need them any more.”

She was about to tiptoe up to kiss him on the cheek, but he turned quickly and hustled into the car. She stood at the doorway, watching the car drive away. For a long moment, she wondered why she felt such closeness to this man who never made any move to show his feelings toward her.

I need to forget about Martin, she told herself, resolved. As she entered the house, the voice in her head taunted, Easier said than done.


 “Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#27 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “All that Glitters”

This story features the “Doc” and Wanda Jean Blanchett (#10 “Dead Handsome” and #24 “Unwrapped Christmas Gifts”). It also recalls Dan Swanson (#3 “Dignity and Courage”) and Trenton Collingsworth (#20, “Badge of Honor”). I like writing about Wanda because she’s the only villager who can rattle the “Doc.” Should you visit London, be sure to tour the incredible, new Globe Theater, brainchild of American film director, Sam Wanamaker.


 by Karen Gilleland © 2015

Martin looked up from his desk, surprised to see the teenager, dark, curly hair cropped close around her face, brown knit sweater wrapping her tall, frail frame.

“Wanda Jean, what’s wrong?”

“I’m fine, ‘Doc.’ Our class is going to London to see a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theater.”


“My teacher’s asked for a medical release, because I’ve been absent so much.”

Martin stood up and walked toward the door. “I’ll get your notes.”

He came back, reading her file. “Sit on the couch, please.”

Listening to her heart, he said, “Your heartbeat is weak, but no more than usual.” He put the stethoscope away and sat down. “How are you coping with the pain from the fibromyalgia?”

She shook her head. “Been worse lately.”

“Hmm. I’ll look into some different medicine.”

“Whatever.” She hopped off the couch and took a seat across the desk from him.

He pulled out his prescription pad. “I don’t see any reason why you can’t go to London. I’ll write you a note.”

“Doubt if a note will make any difference.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I don’t think much of Mr. Crenshaw, and I’m not exactly bashful about saying what I think.”

Amen to that, he thought.

“Besides, who wants to see ‘The Merchant of Venice’ anyway?”

“A production at the Globe Theater is special. You’ll enjoy the play.”

“We have to stay overnight. That means sharing a room with three other girls,” she snapped back. “There aren’t three other girls in the class I want to share with.”

Fiddling with the prescription pad, Martin said, “That’s not a medical condition, is it?”

“Mr. Crenshaw wants a guarantee I won’t get ill.”

“Ridiculous. You can’t be serious.”

She sat up straight in the chair, glaring at him, spitting out the words, “Don’t call me ridiculous.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 12.56.36 PMSurprised by her anger and perplexed by the feeling that he had let her down, Martin sat silent. Finally, he pushed the pad away and said, “Come back tomorrow. I’ll have something sorted.”

“Fine,” she snarled, stood up and stalked out.

Martin dialed a hospital in London. “Mr. Dan Swanson, please.” Several minutes passed before he heard a voice.

“Swanson here.”

“Martin Ellingham, in Portwenn. Need a favor, Dan.”

“What can I do?”

“A teenage patient is supposed to go to London with her class. She suffers from fibromyalgia, but that’s in hand, sort of. The bigger problem is her weak heart, caused by rheumatic fever. Her teacher is afraid to take her along.”

“Where do I come in?”

“I’d like to assure him that, should Wanda become ill, you will go wherever necessary and treat her immediately.”


“Dan, as I recall, your student, Trenton Collingsworth, followed me around for an entire week. Chances are, the girl won’t need any help at all, but, as insurance—“

“How confident are you that she won’t need help?” Dan cut in.

“Umm, maybe seventy-five percent.”

“Not confident at all, then. Well, I do owe you. Collingsworth came back with a different attitude after that week with you. Fill me in on her condition.”

The two men talked awhile. When they finished, Martin typed out a letter on the computer, slipped it into an envelope and handed it to Morwenna. “Give this to Wanda Jean when she comes in.”

On Saturday, the sun sheltered behind a steel sky at the harbor. Martin noticed the girl on a bench, bundled in a heavy coat, knit cap pulled over her hair.

“Wanda Jean, is everything sorted about London, then?

“No.” Her eyes stayed on the boats drifting in the gloomy harbor.

“Why not?”

“Mr. Crenshaw says he can’t take responsibility for my safety.”

“But I guaranteed him that you would receive immediate treatment, if needed.”

She shrugged.

Martin stared at her, struck by the truth. She’s built up walls to protect herself against disappointment. He should have known. He’d built walls himself, but he’d kept his emotions inside them. She lashes out. Her fury wasn’t aimed at her parents, as his was, but at her illness.

“It was all rubbish about not wanting to share a room or see the play, wasn’t it?”

Her eyes stayed on the boats. “Can’t fool you, can I, ‘Doc’?” she said, dripping sarcasm.

“I’ll talk to Mr. Crenshaw.”

“No! Please!” She jumped up. “Don’t make waves for me, ‘Doc.’ Promise.”

He lowered his head, knew he couldn’t step on her dignity. “All right, I promise.” He turned and trudged up the hill.

Back in his office, eyes closed, thinking about the girl’s predicament, he heard Louisa come in. “Martin, we need to leave for the social in Truro soon.”

He opened his eyes, looked at his diary, saw the note. “Remind me what it’s about.”

“It’s a mixer for staff in our school district. Spouses are invited. I’ve arranged for a sitter to take care of James. You are still coming, aren’t you?”

He heard her sigh, and he nodded. “Yes, what time do we need to leave?”

“About six,” and she glanced at her watch. “One hour.”

Wearing a blue dress with white and yellow flowers on the full skirt, Louisa tucked her arm into Martin’s as they entered the hall. Soft music was playing, and people were talking, laughing, drinking wine. Louisa nudged Martin toward a group near the wall.

“Louisa, nice to see you,” said a curvy, blond woman in a clinging, purple dress, and the others joined in the welcome.

“This is my husband, Doctor Martin Ellingham,” she said, introducing him around the circle.

Hearing the name Brian Crenshaw, Martin’s eyes widened. Louisa’s hand still on his arm, he edged into the space next to the slim man in tan shirt, sporting a tie with an image of Shakespeare.

“Mr. Crenshaw, I believe I wrote you about a student recently.”

“Ah, Doctor Ellingham, I didn’t make the connection.” He leaned into Martin and confided softly, “Yes, Wanda Jean. I’m afraid I can’t shoulder responsibility for an overnight trip.” He shook his head, shrugged. “I’m sure you understand.”

Martin stifled his anger. No waves, he reminded himself. “Of course, but as I explained, a colleague in London promises to be on call should any emergency arise.”

A waiter carrying a tray approached. Louisa accepted a glass of white wine, but Martin shook his head and turned his attention back to Mr. Crenshaw, who was saying, “Is it fair to the other students who attend class regularly to allow someone who is absent so frequently to enjoy the same privileges?”

Martin’s body tensed, thinking of the pain the girl endured everyday. He felt Louisa’s fingers dig into his arm, took a deep breath, smiled. “You’re probably right. I suppose she prefers other activities anyway — sports, ballet, horseback riding?”

“No, no, I doubt it. Much too strenuous, in my opinion.”

“Really? What a shame, then, that she’ll miss out on the play, one activity that doesn’t require physical prowess.” Martin’s eyes beamed innocently at Mr. Crenshaw.

The man shifted his feet. “I suppose the risk wouldn’t be too great, with, as you say, a doctor standing by.”

Martin patted the teacher’s back heartily, before he had a chance to reconsider. “I applaud your spirit. I’m sure Wanda Jean will be very grateful.”

Turning to Louisa, he said, “I’ll get you another glass of wine, shall I?” and snatched her half-empty glass and walked over to the bar, squelching the urge to strangle Mr. Crenshaw.

Two weeks later, Wanda Jean came into his office, looking even taller in the long, denim dress, with a bright red-and-orange scarf loose around her neck. “Got a minute, ‘Doc’?”

“Yes,” he said, putting down his pen. “How was London?”

“Awesome, and we didn’t need to call your doctor friend.”

“Good.” He felt a sense of relief and knew by her smirk that Wanda picked up on it.

She tossed her hair and began talking. “The performance was magical.” Words tumbled out, one thought after another, hardly a breath in between. He felt the energy behind her excitement, even when he missed the words.

“. . . and the theater! They rebuilt the Globe exactly as it was in Shakespeare’s time. NoGlobe Theater electric lights. That’s why they performed in the afternoons. No toilets. That’s why—actually that was disgusting. They have toilets now. Did you know the term ‘auditorium’ came from the fact that plays were written for people to hear more than to see, and actors catered to people in the pricier seats at the side of the stage—“

She stopped. “Of course, you know all that.”

A smile crossed Martin’s face, and she laughed. “Like I said, ‘Doc,’ when you smile, you are dead handsome.”

He coughed and looked down at some paperwork.

She put her hands on the edge of the desk and leaned over. “I have a gift for you.”

“No, not necessary,” he said quickly.

“Shush. I wasn’t very nice to you, and I’d like to make it up.”

“Fine,” he said, recalling what it had cost him to be polite to her teacher.

“Thank you.” Standing straight, shoulders back, chin lifted, she began speaking with great feeling, gesturing with her scarf:

“’Tarry a little; there is something else.

This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;

The words expressly are ‘a pound of flesh’”

Her voice, clear and ringing, continued through the passionate speech. When she stopped speaking, her eyes crinkled.

Martin drew a deep breath. “Portia. The court scene.” Beautiful, he thought, impressed by her talented recital.

“Knew you’d be surprised,” she grinned, “but I didn’t realize I was that good.”

He raised his eyebrows, thinking how easily she pulled his thoughts out of the air. “So long, Portia.”

She laughed and turned to leave, tossing out another quote from the play: “’All that glitters is not gold.’”

She stopped and met his eyes, her voice quiet. “Not sure what you said to Mr. Crenshaw, but thank you. Glitter or no, ‘Doc,’ you are pure gold.” She floated out the door, trailing the scarf in her dramatic exit.

Martin leaned back in his chair, pleased by her happiness, thinking of another of Portia’s lines: “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”


 “Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com


#26 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “Cornwall’s Got Talent”

In the 1990s, Caroline Catz (Louisa) sang with the band, Monoland. The song in this story refers to the lovely “If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful” by Jermaine Jackson and Whitney Houston, from Jermaine’s “Precious Moments” album (1986), written by Elliot Willensky. The song is also included in “Whitney: The Greatest Hits” (May 2000).

Happy Birthday to my daughter!


 by Karen Gilleland © 2015

 Louisa heard the tinkling sound of piano scales when she entered the music room. “It’s so kind of you to practice with me,” she said to Roger Fenn, who stopped playing and pushed his unruly hair away from his eyes.

“My pleasure, Louisa. You have a gifted voice. I’m surprised you haven’t sung in our talent show before.”

“I wouldn’t have signed up this time, but your wife caught me singing to the children and twisted my arm. Maureen assured me she’d be in the program herself. I was nearly scared off when I found out performers were coming from as far away as Penzance.”

“Blame Bert Large. He insisted on promoting the show in the Cornish Guardian.” Roger slid his fingers across the keys. “Let’s get to work.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 1.36.39 PMThe song was still running through her head later that evening when she tapped at the office door and stepped inside, James in her arms. Martin swiveled around from the computer.

“Would you look after James while I clean up in the kitchen?”

Reaching for the infant, he said, “Come on, James, you can watch this heart transplant video with me.”

“Wouldn’t want you to miss that program, would we, Sweetie?” she smiled at the baby, who was waving his arms, and handed him to Martin.

About to turn away, she stopped and picked up the empty cup on his desk. “I’ll bring you some tea.”

“Thank you.” Martin snapped his fingers. “Oh, I ran into Roger Fenn at the harbor. He said something about a talent show tomorrow night. I don’t see a notation in my diary.”

“I know how busy you are with the taskforce,” she said, starting to turn away again.

“What time is it?” he asked, glancing at his diary and picking up his pen.

“Seven. It’s going to be a rather long program. Performers are coming from all around Cornwall. It could be a waste of your time.”

She noticed his eyebrows arch and knew he was puzzled by her coolness. “Would you rather I didn’t come?” he asked. “I’m not crazy about the idea, but you keep telling me we need to do things as a family.”

The baby began fussing, and Martin jiggled him and pointed at the monitor. “Okay, here we go. See, the surgeon is making the first incision.”

Louisa rolled her eyes, but left quickly, thankful for the interruption.

The sky was a washed-out blue as she strolled down to the harbor in the morning. “James, if Daddy comes to the talent show tonight, I’m afraid I’ll be too nervous to sing.”


“I’ve never performed in front of an audience.”


“And people from across Cornwall are coming, not only the locals.


“I knew you’d understand, Sweetness,” she said, stooping down to hug him, and flinching at the sharp twinge in her knees.

In the afternoon, Louisa sliced asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers and onions, tossed them with oil, and set the pan in the oven. When the vegetables were nearly ready, she added the fish and set the table. By the time dinner was ready, she felt herself relax and the stiffness in her joints ease.

While they were eating, Martin asked about the concert, “Did you find someone to mind James this evening?”

“No need,” she answered, fiddling with her fork. “The ladies set up a child-minding service at the hall.”

The telephone rang, and Martin went into the office to answer it. He came out with his bag and said he had to go and see Mrs. Farraday. “I won’t be able to go to the concert with you.”

“Oh,” she gasped, surprised by the sudden pinch in her shoulders.

Martin squinted, tilted his head. “I didn’t think you’d mind.”

“No, no, it’s fine,” she said, but her eyes widened. “Give my best wishes to Patrice.”

He nodded and hurried out the door.

“James, what’s the matter with me? I didn’t want Daddy to come, but–”

The baby’s eyes crinkled in a smile, causing her to laugh.

“You’re right. We’d better hurry and dress.”

The sun was lowering over the bay when she and James arrived at the center. Lifting him out of the stroller, she glanced into the crowded hall. An usher handed her a program, and her throat tightened when she found her name first on the program.

She looked at James. “I’m not going to panic,” she whispered, gaining confidence from the expression in her son’s eyes, which reminded her of Martin. She carried him into the adjoining room, kissed him and left him with one of the mothers in charge.

Scanning the audience, Louisa spotted Maureen Fenn in the front row and walked over to her.

“Louisa, I’ve saved you a seat. Look at this packed house!”

Louisa turned and noticed Roger, mobile phone in hand, sidling past people near the door and heading in their direction. “Janice Carter has a sore throat,” he whispered. “She was to be our closer with the aria from ‘Madame Butterfly.’ I’m switching you to her spot, Louisa. That means you’ll be first, Sweetheart.” He kissed Maureen lightly, went on stage and sat down at the piano.

“Whew,” said Louisa. “I was terrified of going first.”

“Now I’ve got the jitters,” said her friend, but smiled and added, “at least Roger’s here for me if I bomb.” She stood up and walked toward the stage steps. Louisa looked at the empty seat and sighed, wishing Martin were sitting beside her.

Bert Large, elegant in tuxedo, introduced Maureen, who did a rousing rendition of “A Wonderful World.” The audience sang and clapped along. As she came back to her seat, Louisa stood up and gave her a hug. “You were terrific!”

The next performer, Cadan Chenoweth, played the banjo and sang the Cornish rebel song, “Trelawny,” again to enthusiastic applause. Louisa felt her pulse quicken. I’ll never measure up to these performers.

One after another, the talented singers and dancers continued to please the audience. She glanced at the program. Only one singer ahead of her. Her hands felt clammy, and she struggled to catch her breath.

As Kayna Grenville, in traditional bonnet and apron, walked on stage, Louisa noticed Maureen slip out of her seat, walk over to the entrance. Martin, she breathed. Maureen spoke to him and pointed to the chair. He bent low, came over and sat down.

“You came,” she said, grasping his hand.

“You’re flushed.” He felt her wrist and said, “Take deep breaths.”

Kayna, playing the guitar and singing “Lamorna,” a Cornish folk tune, finished and took a bow, Louisa said, “I have something to tell you—“ But before she could say more, she heard her name being announced.

Martin squeezed her hand, whispered, “Deep breaths. Swallow.”

She felt her feet taking her up onto the stage. Her breathing ragged, she looked out at the audience, heard the opening notes of the piano. Her eyes locked onto Martin. Somehow she found her voice. She began softly, built to a powerful crescendo, then faded again as gently as a shadow.

“If you say my eyes are beautiful

It’s because they’re looking at you

And if you could only see yourself

You would feel the same way too . . .”

When the last, lingering note dropped from her lips with the softness of a sigh, and the whispering keys of the piano stilled, the room fell into a hushed silence. Then a low rumble, rolling across the room, swelled into a roar, as the audience burst into cheers, jumped to their feet. Louisa’s eyes stayed on Martin, who sat motionless, eyes fastened on her.

She felt Bert Large catch her arm, and she looked at him in surprise.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said, “this year, we invited all of Cornwall to join us and added a bit of spice by making the show a competition. You saw and heard fabulous acts all evening.”

The audience responded with wild applause. “Our judges,” and he gestured to two men and a woman in the corner, “have signaled me that the winner of tonight’s competition is Portwenn’s own Louisa Ellingham.” He handed her a trophy and kissed her cheek. “Congratulations, Louisa.”

“Thank you. I’m honored,” she said, her voice trembling, her eyes glossy. As she stepped down, Martin rose, walked over, wrapped his arms around her. They stood in a close embrace, unaware of the applause and the people swirling about them with congratulations.

Louisa and Martin collected James and slipped out of the hall. The car was parked in the driveway since he had come directly from Mrs. Farraday’s. They drove home in silence, Louisa soaking in the energy of the evening.

She sat down on the sofa with James. Martin went into the kitchen, came back and handed her a glass of wine. “I’ll put James to bed,” he said and took the baby upstairs.

Louisa was leaning back, eyes closed, when he returned and sat beside her.

Tilting her head to the side, she asked, “Did you know I was going to be in the program?”

“Not until I arrived.”

“What made you come?” she asked, sitting up straight. “You hate these things, and you had a perfect excuse to stay away.”

He set his elbow on the arm of the couch and propped his chin on his hand before answering, “The terror in your eyes when I said I couldn’t make it. I’m no stranger to panic, remember.”

She laughed, slipped her hand into his. “I wasn’t sure I could go on stage with you there. As it turned out, I don’t think I could have managed without you. When I was singing, I wasn’t aware of anyone else in the room but you.”

Nuzzling the back of her hands against his lips, he sighed. “I’ll remember the look in your eyes, the sound of your voice, the words of that song for the rest of my life.”

Louisa heard again the thunderous applause, then realized it was the sound of her own heart thumping.


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and “Doc Martin” FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#25 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “A Flicker of Love Ignites the Soul”


 Happy Valentine’s Day! 

May your Valentine’s Day be touched by romance — or chocolate.


by Karen Gilleland © 2015

Closing the kitchen door with her hip, Louisa dropped her purse and book bag onto the table and walked into the reception area. She found Morwenna speaking on the telephone and James in the playpen.

“What’s going on, Morwenna?” Louisa asked after the girl had hung up. “Martin said he would mind James this afternoon.”

“’Doc’ was called over to Bodmin on an emergency fifteen minutes ago. He asked me to take care of James until you came,” she said, standing up and heading for the door. “See you Monday. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Louisa watched the girl walk out, dressed in a flowered, off-the-shoulders top, short shorts, pink tights, and large feathered earrings. Oh, to be twenty again, she thought.

Picking up James, Louisa walked into the kitchen. “Happy Valentine’s Day, darling,” she said, hugging him close. “Would you like to see the Valentines the children gave me?”

She sat down at the table and turned her book bag upside down. The colorful cards tumbled out, and James grabbed hold of one with a red heart and picture of a puppy. He put the card into his mouth, but Louisa exchanged the Valentine for a teething biscuit and set him in the highchair.

valentineShe pulled over a chair close to her son and let him study each card before she read the  verse. James’ eyes crinkled up at the cartoon drawings and stayed on her face as she spoke.

“You’re a peach of a teach!”

“Teacher, you’re the reason school is so cool.

“Roses are red, violets are blue. I’m lucky to have a teacher like you.”

When she had read the last of the cards, she shuffled them into one stack and put a rubber band around it with a slip of paper noting the year. Louisa often asked herself why she kept the cards for two years. “Your daddy would roll his eyes and call me sentimental,” she said, crossing her eyes and sticking out her tongue. The baby laughed and patted his hands.

An hour later, she fed James a dinner of creamed rice and corn, topped off with pears, his favorite dessert. She mixed up a ground beef casserole and popped it into the oven, hoping Martin would be home soon. But by seven o’clock he hadn’t arrived, and Louisa decided to go ahead and eat. Afterwards, she took the baby upstairs and settled him in his crib for the night.

Tidying up, she caught sight of Martin’s gray bathrobe hanging on the hook. Those Valentines really are making me feel sentimental, she thought, and she slipped the gray robe on over her red dress, rolling up the sleeves and hitching up the robe with the belt so she wouldn’t trip.

I look like Dopey in “Snow White,” she chuckled as she glanced in the mirror.

Louisa padded down to Martin’s office and leaned back in his chair. She smiled when she saw the Valentine she’d given him propped up against his computer. She touched the desk gently with the palms of her hands.

The corner of a yellow tablet stuck out from the pile of folders at the edge of the desk, and she pulled the pad over in front of her. Not interested in the medical jargon, Louisa turned the pages slowly, looking at the handwriting, running her hands over the sheets, enjoying a sense of closeness with her absent husband.

As she turned over a page, her own name jumped out at her. She stopped, caught her breath, read the words.


I existed in a world of gray.

Comfortable, smug, content alone.

I trod through life with weighted step,

Adorned with learning, heart of stone.


At flowers I never glanced.

To music I never danced.

How did it happen, then, that moment, when,

Per chance, I touched your face.


A firestorm of color – brightest yellows, burning blues,
sensuous reds —

Burst upon me, springing me into a lacy world of love and lust,

Terrifying me  —

I knew not how to live in that enchanted world, stoked with passion, grace and trust.


Like a pouncing tiger, I spit out cool reason and feasted on hot jealousy.

I clawed at the tempestuous colors, trampling them back into powdered dust.


But to my world of gray, I could ne’er return.

My heart of stone, now cracked, was compelled to learn,

When a flicker of love ignites the soul,

The flame burns on, redeems the fool–

The words ended, as if the pen had suddenly refused to move. Heart pounding, Louisa read the words again. She didn’t hear the door open or Martin’s footsteps until he came into the office. She looked over at him, her eyes brimming with tears.

“Louisa, what’s happened?” He set down his medical bag and walked over to her.

She shuddered, drew a deep breath and touched the yellow tablet. Martin looked at the page she was reading.

“Oh,” he paused, forehead furrowed.

“You wrote me a poem,” she said, her voice shaky.

“I didn’t think it was that bad,” he said, pulling the stool over and sitting down by her.

“You know it isn’t bad. It’s beautiful.”

“Why are you crying?”

“You were never going to show me the poem, were you?” She looked in his eyes and saw the truth of her statement.

Martin put his hand on hers, but she shifted away. He frowned and said, “It’s not finished.”

Louisa shook her head. “You never intended to finish it.”


“Why!” she exclaimed.

He sat quiet, as though trying to understand himself. “I’m not sure.”

“That’s rubbish, Martin.” She stood up quickly and tripped over the robe, which had slipped loose. She grabbed onto his arms.

“You’re wearing my robe,” he said, holding her until she caught her balance.

“Is that all you can say?” Louisa pulled up the robe, retied the belt and started past him. “I ask you about a poem, and all you can say is that I’m wearing your robe.”

“I’m not sure what it is you want me to say.”

“If you don’t know, there’s no point in my telling you,” she said, walking away. She halted at the doorway, softening the harsh words. “I’ve left supper for you in the oven. Good night.”

Upstairs, Louisa hung up the gray robe, got ready for bed, snapped off the lamp. Martin, she sighed, will we ever live in the same world?

She lay in bed, eyes open. Light from downstairs cast a soft glow in the darkened bedroom. Half-an-hour passed before blackness blanketed the room. She heard Martin’s light tread on the stairs. After a while, she felt him slip into bed.

“Are you awake?” he whispered.


“Tell me why you’re angry.”

“I’m not angry any more. I just feel sad.”

“You have to tell me why, because I truly don’t understand.”

Louisa pushed herself up and sat back against the pillows, drawing a deep breath. “The reason I was hurt when I read those beautiful words is that I’ve lived in a world where I thought you were incapable of expressing tenderness and love. Then I find that you are eloquent, passionate even, but you never share your thoughts with me.”

She stopped, but he didn’t speak. “I’m your wife, and I need to hear the words.”

Flinging back the covers, Martin sat up on the edge of the bed, his back to Louisa. “Why are words so hard for me to say?” he began, frustration in his voice. “In my head, I tell you all the time that I love you. That you mean the world to me. That life wouldn’t be worth living without you.”

Louisa inhaled sharply, taken aback by the fervor of his words, at the same time, knowing she had to be honest about her own feelings. “Martin, I love you. I understand that sharing your feelings is difficult. But we have a son, and we have to set an example, so he will know how to express his feelings one day, when he falls in love.”

“Our son, in love,” he echoed, seemingly awed by the notion.

Silence stretched in the darkness. She sensed his struggle, waited, giving him time, aware that his response would have a lasting impact on their relationship.

He slid over near her, and finally the passing moments melted into words. “When I wrote that poem, I’d been thinking about the mistakes I’d made, how foolishly I’d treated you, how I nearly let you walk out of my life. I was embarrassed by my failures.”

Louisa slipped down under the covers, shivering, the tension draining away.

Martin wrapped an arm around her and said, “Even in my blackest moment, I felt certain that your love would never desert me. I want you to feel that certainty, to know that you can always count on my love.”

Tears stung her eyes, words caught in her throat. When the flood of emotions ebbed, she said, “Your poem stirred me to the very depths of my soul.”

Martin stroked her hair, spoke, caressing her with his voice. “’At flowers I never glanced. To music I never danced. How did it happen, then, that moment, when, Per chance, I touched your face.’” His voice faded as he brushed her cheek, kissed her lips.


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#24 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “Bony Pony 2”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

This story is based on true events that happened to my niece many years ago, when she was six years old.


 Screen Shot 2014-12-25 at 1.33.56 PM“Doctor Ellingham!”

Walking down the hospital corridor, Martin was passing the pediatrics unit when he heard the shout. He stopped in front of an attractive, blond-haired woman wearing jeans and a plaid work shirt. Suddenly she began sobbing and shaking.

Martin’s eyes widened, and he took hold of the woman’s arms, his memory fighting for her name. “You’re Mrs. Barker, right?”

“Banks, Kerra,” she sniffed.

“What’s happened?”

“Our little girl, Linda. She’s dying, and the doctors tell us there’s nothing they can do. They say she may not make it through the night. Father Michaels is giving her last rites.”

The woman’s voice gave way to violent sobbing, and Martin put his arms around her shoulders. After a few moments, he eased out of the awkward embrace and assisted Kerra into a chair; then he strode over to the nurse’s station.

“Doctor Ellingham,” he said, “I’m Linda Banks’ GP, and I’d like to see her attending physician.”

The nurse sent a sympathetic glance toward Mrs. Banks, and said, “Doctor Carstairs is looking after Linda.”

“Page him, please. Which room is Linda’s?”

The nurse gestured toward a closed door, which opened as they spoke. A white-haired priest emerged, pain visible on his face. The priest walked over and sat down beside Mrs. Banks.

Martin pushed open the door to Linda’s room and saw a girl, about six years old, long, blond hair like her mother’s. The child’s face was chalk white. One hand rested beside a brown, cloth pony. Martin picked up her other hand and felt the faint pulse.

Gently laying the girl’s hand back down, Martin snatched up the clipboard at the foot of the bed and skimmed the notes, frowning as he saw nothing conclusive.

Martin noticed Linda’s eyes flicker, and he sat down next to the bed. “Hello, Linda. I’m Doctor Ellingham. Do you hurt anywhere?”

The girl didn’t speak, but her fingers tapped her right leg.

A young man opened the door, introduced himself as Doctor Carstairs, and invited Martin to his office. “I don’t see your name on record as Linda’s GP, Doctor Ellingham, so I’m afraid—“

Martin raised a hand, lowered his head, and said, “No time. What is wrong with Linda Banks?”

“We don’t know,” the man answered. “Her white blood count is up, indicating infection, but we can’t identify the strain.”

“What do you plan to do?”

“Nothing more we can do. We’ve told her parents Linda’s condition is so aggressive that we could lose her at any time.”

Martin’s mouth opened, but he held himself in check and asked, “Antibiotics?”

“Yes, we’re treating her with general antibiotics,” said Carstairs, riffling through papers on his desk, “but not anything specific for her condition.”

“I asked Linda if she was in pain,” said Martin, “and she touched her leg. Have you tested her for osteomyelitis?”

“No, not specifically.”

“Then schedule an X-ray, MRI and bone biopsy immediately.”

“The blood work doesn’t indicate osteomyelitis,” said Carstairs, who looked at his watch and started to rise.

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 11.05.40 AM“Osteomyelitis is nearly impossible to diagnose without the tests I’ve mentioned,” pressed Martin, eye fixed on the young physician. “As her GP, I insist you order the tests. You’ll find me in Linda’s room,” and Martin turned his back on the young man, who was muttering about verifying that Martin was indeed Linda’s GP.

When Martin returned to Linda’s room, he picked up the clipboard and was scrutinizing the notes when two medical attendants arrived, a bald-headed man and a heavy-set woman. They lifted Linda onto a gurney and started to wheel her out of the room.

“Wait!” called Martin. “Take her horse.”

The woman narrowed her eyes and kept going, but the bald-headed man stopped. “Whatever you say, Doctor Ellingham.” He picked up the toy and tucked it under Linda’s blanket.

“Mind you don’t forget it when—“

“Yes, Doctor Ellingham,” said the man, nodding to the woman. “Let’s go.”

Martin walked out to the waiting area as the priest was saying good-bye to Mrs. Banks. Martin explained what was happening. Kerra lifted her shoulders as she took in the news. “So there’s hope?”

“Possibly.” Martin paused and asked, “Why did you not bring your daughter to see me when her symptoms began?”

Mrs. Banks shrugged. “Linda started vomiting two nights ago. We put her in the car and drove straight here. I was so flustered I didn’t list you as GP, so you weren’t notified. Nurse just asked me to sign a form. Sorry, Doctor.”

Martin nodded.

“I’m a bit knackered because I’ve been here ever since we came in,” Kerra said. “We have sheep and horses, so my husband can only come at night.”

Realizing the woman was near collapse, Martin said, “These tests will take several hours. It might be a good idea for you to take a taxi and go home and rest. I’ll stay with Linda.”

The woman hesitated, but finally said, her voice weary, “Thank you, Doctor. That’s very kind.”

Afternoon was fading when Doctor Carstairs told Martin, “The X-ray wasn’t conclusive, but the MRI showed a mass in Linda’s right leg. We performed a biopsy and are awaiting results. Linda’s on her way back to the room.” He stopped talking, took a deep breath and said, “She’s slipped into a light coma.”

“Oh, God,” said Martin, thinking, the girl could die before we even diagnose her.

An hour later, Doctor Carstairs entered the room, where Martin sat by the unconscious girl. “We’ve confirmed osteomyelitis in her tibia and have isolated the bacteria strain,” Carstairs said. “We’re about to start a new course of antibiotics to stop the infection from spreading.”

Martin sighed. “God help us it’s not too late.”

Head bowed, the doctor walked to the door, but turned back. “Thank you for your help, Doctor Ellingham,” he said, lifted his head and gave Martin a thumbs-up sign. Martin acknowledged the gesture and sat back to wait, thinking that even the horse had a forlorn look in its eyes.

Martin was writing a note on the clipboard when Kerra and her husband came into the room. Ted Banks, tall, thin, sandy haired, looked at Martin with raised eyebrow.

Answering the unspoken question, Martin said, “Your daughter has osteomyelitis, an infection in a bone in her leg.”

“Will she live?” asked the man, gripping Kerra’s arm.

“Linda’s being treated with a different course of antibiotics.” Martin looked down at the child and said, “She’s not out of the woods. She’s in a light coma, and we’re waiting for her to wake up.” As he spoke the words, the girl sighed and moved her hand slightly.

“Linda, baby girl,” breathed her mother, sitting down on the other side of the bed. Linda’s father pulled a chair next to Kerra, picked up the girl’s hands, but Linda made no other response. The parents looked at each other, and Martin saw the fear in their eyes.

Reaching into the crib, Martin picked up the horse. “This fellow has seen a lot of wear,” he said, hoping to ease the tension, and he set the toy back down next to the girl.

Kerra smiled. “Three years ago, when our mare had a foal, Linda looked at its skinny legs and said, ‘Bony Pony.’ We gave her this toy, and it became, ‘Bony Pony 2.’ She carries it everywhere.” Kerra brushed her hand over the horse, and tears filled her eyes.

Martin walked to the door and asked the nurse to send in a coffee tray. As he, Kerra and Ted sipped coffee, Martin answered questions, but his eyes captured every blip on the monitors. About nine o’clock, he noticed that Linda had begun sweating, and he motioned to the parents. “Her fever’s broken,” he said. “That’s a good sign.”

Minutes later, Linda opened her eyes. Her parents let out a squeal of joy. Martin didn’t speak, but pressed the button for the nurse.

Soon, the night doctor and three nurses surrounded Linda’s bed, changing the IV, checking the girl’s temperature, taking blood samples. The team finished and left. Nearly an hour later, the doctor returned and announced, “The blood tests show the antibiotics are working, so I’m cautiously optimistic that Linda has passed the crisis point.”

The words spilled like tonic into the room, and Martin said, “Why don’t you two go home. Linda will have to stay in hospital several weeks. She may even need surgery, so you’ll be spending a lot of time here. I’ll keep watch until morning.”

“I don’t know how we can ever thank you, Doctor Ellingham,” said Ted Banks, rising to shake Martin’s hand. “We’d lost hope,” and Martin saw the man’s eyes flicker to catch back tears.

Kerra walked over and hugged Martin, her head on his chest. “I’ve never been so scared,” she whispered. “Thank you for saving our darling angel.”

Martin nodded and watched the couple leave. He sat down beside the girl, who had fallen into a natural sleep, her arm around Bony Pony 2. Early in the morning, Mrs. Banks returned. Martin reassured her that Linda’s condition was stable, and he took his leave.

Patients were sitting in reception when Martin walked into his surgery. He stepped past them into the kitchen, where Louisa was eating cereal. “Martin,” she said, “how is Linda Banks?”

“She has a bone infection, but it’s in hand.”

“How are you?”

Martin merely shrugged, poured himself an expresso and went into his office to see the first patient.

Shortly after dinner that evening, Martin sat slumped at his desk reading lab reports when Louisa came in and said, “I’ve drawn you a hot bath. Go upstairs. Now.”

Martin looked at her, nodded and pushed the papers aside. “Thank you,” he answered, and he plodded up the steps.

Relaxing in the hot tub, water up to his neck, Martin leaned back and sipped the whiskey that Louisa had brought up and insisted he drink.

Afterwards, about to drop into bed, Martin stopped, visions of a small girl fighting for her life filling his mind. He turned, walked into James’ bedroom and lifted up the sleeping infant, along with the stuffed bear scrunched under his legs. Martin carried the two into the other room, slipped under the covers, wrapped an arm around his son and fell into a deep sleep.


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#23 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Unwrapped Christmas Gifts”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

I’d like to extend warm wishes to all of you “Doc Martin” fans that you may be blessed with the gifts of love, joy and peace during this Christmas season. This story is my “unwrapped Christmas Gift” to all of you.

Notes: It’s been exactly a year since I wrote my first FanFiction, “Christmas Memories,” which took place on Christmas eve. This story takes place the next day. You may remember Wanda Jean Blanchett from FanFiction #10, “Dead Handsome,” and there’s an echo of a theme from #16, “Close Encounters.” 

Enjoy the story and the season.


Church bells chiming. Crisp air stirring on a cloudless Christmas morning. Louisa, in a red, woolen dress, wearing the gold heart Martin had given her, linked arms with her husband as he carried James out of the church.

“This is nice, isn’t it, Martin, attending Christmas service as a family. Spending our first Christmas day together.”

“Umm,” said Martin.

The church-goers gathered in front of tables set with pasties and coffee. “Morning, Louisa, ‘Doc,’” said Bert Large, as he and Jennifer nudged through the crowd and stopped to chat. Martin nodded, but after a few minutes, he slipped away with James to a secluded spot by a tree.

The baby dozed, and Martin let his gaze follow the villagers. He wondered if Mrs. Harvey’s sinus infection had cleared up. Tommy Sutton was coughing. He should be in bed, thought Martin. Mr. Mitchell hobbled over to a bench and sat beside two white-haired women. He looks good for his age, but I’d like to take a look at that leg of his.

Engaged in these thoughts, Martin stiffened at the sound of an unexpected voice. “Hi ‘Doc,’ I know what you’re doing,” said Wanda Jean Blanchett.

“What do you mean?” he asked, looking at the teenager, huddled in a dark brown coat, hair stuffed into a knit cap.

“I’ve been watching you. You’re diagnosing the villagers. No need to worry about Mr. Mitchell. They’ll have to shoot him on Judgment Day.”

“You’re sure about that, are you?”

“Yes, the one you should worry about is Miss Hocking.”

Glancing about the crowd, Martin asked, “Which one is she?”

“She’s not here. That’s the problem. She never misses Christmas service.”

“Could be any number of reasons why she hasn’t turned up.”

“No, ‘Doc,’ if she isn’t here, she’s ill,” insisted Wanda Jean, hands on her hips, eyes locked on Martin’s.

“Umm,” said Martin, shifting James in his arms and wondering why he felt compelled to pay attention to this young woman’s conjectures. “Where does Miss Hocking live?”

“Bodmin Moor. She’s elderly and she lives alone. I called, but no answer.”

Martin stood quiet for a full minute, weighing his plans to spend Christmas day with his family against going on some wild goose chase, but he couldn’t shake the unease Wanda had implanted in his mind. “All right, I’ll go and check on Miss Hocking.”

“Knew you’d do the right thing, ‘Doc.’ I already wrote down the directions.” Wanda grinned and handed him a slip of paper.

Martin walked over to Louisa. “May I have a word?” he whispered.

Louisa stepped away from the group, raised an eyebrow and said, “What is it, Martin?”

“Miss Hocking wasn’t at the service, and Wanda Jean thinks she must be ill. I promised to drive out and check.”

“Martin, you promised me –” Cutting off the sentence, Louisa shrugged and said, “Never mind. Go.”

“I’m sorry.” He handed the baby to Louisa. “I’ll be back as quick as I can.”

Martin hurried to surgery for his medical bag and headed out. After driving some distance, he worried that he’d passed the place, until rounding a curve, he spotted the sign announcing Rose Lane. He stepped on the brake, made a sharp turn into the lane and saw the two-story, stone house, set amid a beautifully kept garden.

Knocking at the door, Martin listened for footsteps, but heard nothing. He jiggled the knob and peered in the front window. Nothing. As I thought, a wild goose chase. Nevertheless, he walked around to the back, where he found the kitchen door unlocked. He stepped inside and shouted, “Hello, it’s Doctor Ellingham. Anybody here?”

No response. He ventured into the front room, where dozens of splashy, flowering plants caused him to sneeze. He held his handkerchief over his nose and mouth to fend off the heady fragrance.

Martin called out again as he climbed the stairs. Miss Hocking, dressed in a burgundy suit, was lying on the floor. He dashed over to her, took hold of her wrist and let out a sigh of relief, although her pulse was very weak. He noticed a lump on her forehead and a bluish cast to her fingernails. He held smelling salts under her nose, and she blinked.

“Miss Hocking,” he said in a loud voice, “what happened?”

“Dizzy,” she murmured. “Passed out. Head hurts.”

“I think you hit your head against the wall. I’ll call an ambulance.” Martin checked vital signs and managed to keep the woman awake until the ambulance arrived and he’d given the paramedics a report of his examination.

Driving away from the house, Martin puzzled over something he’d noticed, but couldn’t bring into focus. As he passed a nearby house with flowers in the window, the missing piece clicked in his brain. Flowers, the bluish cast to her fingernails. Plant-food poisoning.

Martin swerved into a wide spot, turned toward Truro and tromped on the accelerator. When he arrived at hospital, he jumped out and caught the paramedics as they were wheeling the patient down the hall.

“Wait a moment,” Martin shouted. He leaned over the woman and asked, “Miss Hocking, were you feeding your plants this morning?”

She nodded.

“I think you may have inhaled fertilizer, creating a condition known as methemoglobinemia, which means your blood cells aren’t getting enough oxygen.”

Doctor Sharma, the physician on call, met the medical team in the hallway. Martin explained his suspicions, and Doctor Sharma ordered blood tests.  The results confirmed Martin’s diagnosis, and the two doctors discussed treatment. Satisfied that Miss Hocking was in good hands, Martin took his leave.

Before pulling out of the parking lot, Martin looked at a phone number on the slip of paper he’d put in his pocket. He tapped out the number and grimaced as a child screeched into the mouthpiece, “Wanda Jean! Telephone!”

When Wanda’s voice came on the line, Martin said, “I wanted you to know that Miss Hocking did need help. She’s at hospital, but she’ll be all right.”

Wanda chided him in her cheeky manner, “Gosh, ‘Doc,’ don’t go giving me a swelled head. Next thing, you’ll be saying I saved her life.”

Shaking his head at the girl’s uncanny ability to pull his thoughts out of the air, Martin said, “Merry Christmas, Wanda Jean,” and clicked off.

It was after six o’clock when Martin walked through the kitchen door and heard squeals from the sitting room. He stepped quietly to the doorway. Christmas tree lights glowed in the darkening room, and holiday music played softly on the radio.

James was propped up in his infant seat, and Louisa, in jeans and a tee, was sprawled on the floor blowing a balloon at the baby, making silly noises. James batted at the balloon and squealed.

“Martin, you’re home,” said Louisa, twisting to look at him, a frown on her face, “at last.”

“I’m sorry. Miss Hocking was in bad shape. I went to hospital to make sure she was diagnosed properly.”

Louisa sat up, crossed-legged, still tapping the balloon back and forth. “Sorry, I thought you were making excuses to avoid playtime with James.”

Martin shrugged. “I admit I’m more comfortable attending patients than playing with babies.”

“Martin, that’s going to change. James took a long nap, and he’s ready to party. Take off your jacket and tie and come sit on the floor. It’s time to get down and dirty.”

“Me, on the floor?”

“Yes, you.”

Guilty about missing Christmas day with Louisa and James, Martin threw his hands up and said, “Yes, Ma’am.”

He hung his jacket on the back of a chair, took off his tie and lay down in front of James. Louisa handed him the balloon, and he flicked it toward the baby, who sat still, lower lip quivering.

See, I’m no good at play. He wants you,” complained Martin, about to stand up, thinking he was off the hook.

“You have to make faces and noises,” Louisa said, catching his arm.

“You’re not serious.”

“Dead serious. James won’t have fun unless you have fun yourself.”

Martin tilted his head, made a face and clicked, “Gggg, James, coo-coo-coo.” The baby laughed, and Martin tapped the balloon over to him.

Louisa stood up and said, “You two have fun. I’ll fix dinner.” She set a pile of toys nearby. “When he tires of the balloon, try the train. He likes the sound of the choo-choo.”

A while later, Louisa came in to find Martin, lying on his back, bouncing James up and down. “You and James can wash up now,” said Louisa. “It’s time for James to settle down.”

“You heard Mum, James. Bath, bottle, book, bed. Sound good?” The baby laughed, and Martin said, “I’ll take that as an affirmative,” and he carried James upstairs.

Holding his son in his arms, Martin read The Snowman, a story about a boy named James who built a snowman that came to life. As Martin’s voice became softer and softer, the baby fell fast asleep.

Martin and Louisa enjoyed a quiet meal; and a little later, the two, yawning, were ready to turn in. “Merry Christmas, Martin,” said Louisa, switching off the light.

“Merry Christmas,” he answered. After a moment, he looked at her and said, “Thank you for the gifts.”

“The pajamas?”

“No, er, I mean, yes, thanks for these pajamas — but what I meant was — thanks for tonight — I mean — for James — for giving me back my childhood – I mean — for helping me to understand what childhood should be like.” He closed his eyes, feeling helpless, but managed to add, “Fun.”

Louisa rolled over close to Martin and traced her finger around his lips. “I always knew there was a fun guy underneath that suit.”

“Is that so?” Martin kissed her fingertips and whispered, “Well, I’m not wearing a suit now.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#22 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Winter Ball”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

This story hints of romantic stirrings between Morwenna and Trenton Collingsworth, the med student from FanFiction #20, “Badge of Honor.”

In “Doc Martin” Series 4, we learned that Martin had wanted to marry Edith Montgomery, played brilliantly in the series by Lia Williams. Curious as to how Martin might have proposed to Edith, I’ve imagined a scene that I think best fits his character.

I’ve written about Edith previously: FanFiction #3, “Dignity and Courage.” 

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the United States.


At five-thirty, Martin walked into the reception area to find Morwenna atScreen Shot 2014-11-13 at 2.39.29 PM her desk. “Why are you still here?” he asked, looking at his watch.

“Trenton Collingsworth just telephoned,” she answered.

“That student who shadowed me for a week? Why didn’t you put him through to the office?”

“He was calling me, actually.”

Morwenna dropped her phone into her bag and straightened papers before saying, “Trenton’s invited me to the Winter Ball at Imperial College.”

“I see,” said Martin, covering his surprise by walking over to the filing cabinet.

“When Trenton was here, we ate lunch together, socialized a bit at the Crab & Lobster. I suppose he was lonely,” she said, playing with a pen.

Shifting to look at Martin, she said, “He’s intense. I guess all med students are.” Morwenna raised her eyebrows, but Martin ignored her questioning look. She continued, as though arguing with herself. “Trenton has a different sense of humor. He keeps you off balance. At the same time, he has such a hearty laugh, you can’t help laughing with him.”

“Can’t say I noticed,” murmured Martin, pulling out two patient files and closing the drawer.

“I expect if Granddad had heard him laugh, he would have chuckled and said Trenton was full of the devil. Granddad enjoyed people who made him laugh.”

Martin turned to walk away, but Morwenna spoke quickly, “I’ve only been to London once, on a school trip. Trenton said I could stay with his sister, Marigold. She has a flat in Chelsea. Still, I don’t know.”

Martin stood quiet, head lowered over the note cards, thinking, Please don’t ask me. I am no good at this kind of advice.

“’Doc,’ do you think I should go?”

He looked at Morwenna and sighed, remembering that she had no family to talk things over with. “Come into the office.”

When she was seated across the desk from him, Martin said, “The Winter Ball at Imperial is a grand event. It’s a compliment to be invited. Why are you hesitant about going?”

Morwenna shrugged, her hands turned up. “I like Trenton well enough, but I don’t really know him. What if he’s inviting me just to make some other girl jealous?”

Rubbing his eyes, Martin said, “I can’t believe Trenton would go to so much trouble to make a girl jealous. He could invite any number of girls in London if that were his intention.”

“You’re probably right. He is smart and handsome, and he does have that killer smile.”

Martin hunched his shoulders, squirmed in his chair, and finally pushed the words out, “Are you afraid Trenton might try to take advantage of you?”

“No, no, nothing like that,” Morwenna’s eyes twinkled. “I actually won’t see him except at the dance. He’s on deadline for an assignment and can’t take time off. I’ll spend most of the time with Marigold.”

“Sounds sensible. What’s the problem?”

“There is Al–” she broke off, biting her lip.

Martin filled the silence by asking, “What about Al? Are you two going together?”

“Not really, but–”

“If you and Al don’t have an understanding, you’re free to date anybody you like.”

“Yes, I know you’re right,” but her voice contradicted her words.

The front door opened, and Martin called out, “Who is it? Surgery is closed.”

“Hi, ‘Doc,’” said Al, coming to the consulting room. “I was looking for Morwenna.” He spotted her and said, “There you are. We’ll be late if we don’t hurry.” He turned to Martin, “We’re going to a movie in Delabole.”

Glancing at the flush on Morwenna’s face, Martin wondered if she cared more for Al than she admitted. He looked at the smile on Al’s face and agreed that Al would not like her going to a dance with Trenton in London. Not my concern, he told himself and waved a hand, “Enjoy the movie.”

Martin stayed at his desk, chin resting on his tented fingers. The Winter Ball triggered vivid pictures in his mind. He and Edith. They’d been going out together since the first year of med school. She’d been the mover and shaker in the relationship, the one with the plans, the ideas about what they should do in their free time. He’d been happy to fall in with her plans.

Of course, neither one had much free time. Most often, he and Edith studied together, worked on projects together, occasionally, he admitted, spent time in her bedroom together. They had never discussed marriage. He’d just assumed they would marry after graduation and work in London.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 2.03.48 PMTaking a deep breath, Martin looked at a lab report on his desk, but the memories flooded back, and he pushed the report aside and closed his eyes.

Scenes of their last Winter Ball flashed behind his eyelids, like a painting by Toulouse-Lautrec. Edith in a tight-fitting, black gown, sparkly shoes, red hair smelling of orange blossoms, eyes smiling up at him, body pressing against him as they danced.

When the orchestra took a break, he had guided her back to their small table in the corner. A candle flickering in the centerpiece. Slices of Battenberg cake set on gold-rimmed dessert plates. He and Edith sipping sparkling cider and toasting a bright future.

His shoulders shuddered as he recalled how he’d pulled a package from his pocket, opened the box and took out the ring. Before any words had been spoken, Edith’s eyes had widened in horror. She’d reached over and covered the ring with her hand, shaking her head.

“Ellingham, please don’t take this personally,” she’d said. “If I were going to marry anyone, it would be you. But I don’t plan to marry. I’ve accepted a post at McGill, and I’ll leave for Canada the week after graduation.”

He’d felt embarrassed, confused, and words had tumbled out, “You never said–” “I thought we’d–” “Why didn’t you tell me–”

Edith had smiled, held up her hands, palms toward him, and said in her breezy manner, “I didn’t want to spoil our final weeks together.”

And that was that. He’d returned the ring to Hatton Garden and studiously avoided contact with Edith. The only person he’d confided in was Auntie Joan, when she attended his graduation. Odd, he thought, as he looked back, he couldn’t recall any feelings of sadness or regret.

Martin pulled his mind back abruptly when Louisa came to the office door, carrying James, who was screaming and tugging at his ear. “Martin, James feels hot to me. Will you examine him?”

Martin stood up, took out a thermometer and checked James’ temperature. “Yes, he is feverish. I think he may have an ear infection.” Martin picked up his otoscope and confirmed his diagnosis.

“I’ll pick up antibiotics at the chemist’s,” he said, turning toward the door. “While I’m gone, you might give James a cool bath.”

Walking down the hill, Martin heard country music floating in the air from Bert Large’s restaurant. Bar-b-que night, he remembered. He walked past, but the strains of Garth Brook’s “Unanswered Prayers” stuck in his head. He knew why. The song had been Edith’s favorite.

Next morning, Martin was fixing coffee when Louisa brought the baby into the kitchen. “James seems quite cool now,” she told Martin.

“Yes, I checked his temperature before I came down. He’s fine, but he’ll need antibiotics for the next three days.”

“Handy being married to a doctor, isn’t it, James?” Louisa cooed to the baby.

Martin looked at the two of them and shrugged. “So that’s why you married me?”

Louisa put James into the highchair and walked over to Martin. “Amongst other things,” she said, kissing his cheek.

Martin heard the front door open, and Morwenna came into the kitchen.

“Morning, ‘Doc,’ Louisa, James,” she said, tickling James’ chin. She poured herself a cup of coffee and followed Martin into his office.

Morwenna sat down across from Martin, “I told Al I was going to the dance with Trenton in London. Al wasn’t happy.”


“Did I make a mistake?”

“Morwenna, if Al and Trenton were standing here together, which one would you choose to go out with?”

She didn’t speak for several seconds. “I’m not sure,” Morwenna answered, frowning.

“In that case, I’d advise you to go to the dance in London and continue to see Al here in Portwenn. You’re very young. You have worlds of time to fall in love. In the meantime, date lots of young men until you meet the person you would choose over anyone else in the world.”

Morwenna sat back in the chair, eyes wide. “You are amazing, ‘Doc.’ You’re absolutely right. Thank you.” She slid out of the chair, smiled at him and walked out of the office.

Not so amazing, thought Martin, images flittering through his mind. Edith in the hotel room in Exeter. Louisa, pregnant, suitcase in hand, walking down the hill, away from him. He’d known at that moment, with absolute certainty, he would choose Louisa over any other woman in the world.

Sometimes I do thank God for unanswered prayers, he said to himself, discarding thoughts of his ill-fated proposal to Edith.


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#21 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “The Legend of Arabella,” A Halloween Ghost Story

pumpkins-469641_150Happy Halloween! A “Doc Martin” fan asked me to write a “DM” ghost story for Halloween. I’ve given it a shot.

Halloween is big in Cornwall, as you’ll see from the Eden Project web site.

Cornwall also has its share of haunted houses. Check out the Cornwall Guide’s listing of the most haunted places in Cornwall.

A number of UK organizations investigate haunted houses, such as Paranormal Research UK.

“Unchained Melody” (1955), music by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret, has been recorded by more than 500 artists, but the July 1965 recording by the Righteous Brothers blew away the competition. In 1990, their version became the soundtrack of the blockbuster film, “Ghost.”

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen. . .” (Dexter Kozen)


“The Legend of Arabella”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

High-spirited ghosts and goblins scampered along to the community center, the harvest moon casting an enchanting backdrop for spook-night festivities.

Louisa, breathtaking as Irene Adler — “the woman,” as Sherlock Holmes called her — in pink satin dress, fitted bodice, and flowing skirt, walked into the hall with Martin, clad in suit and tie, but sporting a pair of sunglasses, insisting to Louisa that his attire characterized “Men in Black’s” Agent K. Martin had Al to thank for the idea.

Looking around the hall, Martin spotted a cloakroom attended by “Catwoman.” He walked over and asked the woman to safeguard his medical bag.Unknown

“My pleasure, Doctor Ellingham,” answered the lilting voice of Mrs. Tischell. “May I say you make a dashing Agent K,” she added, clutching at her low neckline, as she stooped to put the bag under the counter.

Despite feeling vindicated about his costume, Martin turned swiftly away and walked back to Louisa. She took his arm, and the two strolled around, eyeing the scene: youngsters painting faces, creating pirate hats from newspapers, sprawled on the floor decorating Room on a Broom critters.

“Martin, isn’t it fun seeing all the clever costumes,” said Louisa, nodding at the wiggling Mars Bar, Egyptian pharaoh, and two-headed Elvis Presley.


Louisa smiled up at Martin. “Thank you for coming,” she said, as a rocket ship blasted past them.

“You owe me,” Martin whispered back.

Former plumber, Bert Large, a model toilet hanging on his chest with a sign declaring “Royal Flush,” approached Martin and said, “‘Doc,’ it’s time for the ghost story session up at Miss Jerome’s. Earlier tonight, a youngster skinned a knee there. I told Shirley you’d be on hand next session to sort out any new crises.”

Louisa spoke into Martin’s ear. “Go ahead. I’ll relieve Pippa at the cider stall while you’re gone.”

“Fine,” Martin shrugged and retrieved his bag. Outside, he took off his sunglasses and traipsed up a path lit with solar-powered pumpkins. Rounding a bend, he jerked to a stop at sight of the creepy, tower-topped building.

Martin entered the house and took a seat in the back. Miss Jerome raised her hands to quiet the talking and said the legend she was about to share was true and had been handed down through her family for generations. She opened a large, handmade storybook and began reading in a soft voice:

“Once upon a time, long, long ago, a beautiful, fair-haired maiden, named Arabella, was betrothed to a handsome soldier, whose name was Caddaham. Unfortunately, the young woman had unwittingly captured the heart of a powerful duke, named Bainbrydge, who was determined to marry her.

“Arabella confided to her trusted maidservant, Ilsa, her intention of eloping that very night. Arabella gave Ilsa a letter to deliver to Caddaham.

“The assignation was set for midnight. Arabella would lock herself in the tower until Caddaham came. His signal would be three quick taps on the door.

“All was arranged, and the fair maiden waited in the tower throughout the evening. At last the church bells tolled the witching hour, and Arabella, in white silk and lace, waited eagerly to flee with Caddaham. She waited, and waited, and waited.

“Finally, she heard a knock on the door, not three taps, but a pounding that chilled her heart. She stood by the door, breathless and fearful.

“’Come out, Arabella,’ commanded the gravelly voice of  Bainbrydge. “’Young Caddaham has fled. You will marry me on the morrow.’

“In the morning, Bainbrydge approached the tower, but the Duke found the door fastened, and he could not enter.

Angry, he announced that if Arabella would not marry him, she would marry no one. He ordered the door sealed, so that she could never escape.

“The young maiden lay down on the cot, and her life force gradually seeped away. Arabella was never to know that Ilsa had betrayed her and that the Duke had ambushed her betrothed and killed him.

“The tower room has never been opened since that day. Arabella’s spirit waits restively for Caddaham to return and free her.”

Clearing her throat, Miss Jerome crossed her arms over her chest and said in a stage whisper, “At midnight, I hear Arabella’s footsteps and her anguished voice calling the name of her lover.”

Miss Jerome glanced around at the suspenseful faces and said, “A few years ago, a paranormal witness team spent three nights in this room and certified the presence of Arabella. The investigators believe Arabella’s spirit will remain locked in the tower until a fearless rescuer releases it.”

Martin raised his eyebrows, thinking, Some people will believe anything.

Closing the book with a sigh, Miss Jerome said, “Thank you for coming. Please, take an apple as you leave.” People applauded, but their eyes flashed fright as they looked toward the ceiling and scurried out of the room.

Remaining seated until the other visitors had departed, Martin walked up to Miss Jerome. “Doctor Ellingham,” he said, introducing himself. “Your face is very pale.”

“The talks do drain my energy,” she admitted. “My heart is heavy because I worry whether Arabella’s soul will ever find peace.”

Martin took Miss Jerome’s wrist, registering her pulse. At his touch, she straightened her shoulders and looked at him with surprise showing in her eyes.

She pulled her hand free and said, “I’d like to show you something, Doctor Ellingham.” She opened the storybook and took out a time-worn letter.

“This letter was written by Arabella. One of my ancestors discovered it in a secret drawer. This is the letter intended for Caddaham that Ilsa handed over to Bainbrydge.”

Unfolding the letter by the edges, Miss Jerome set it down reverently on the table. Martin took a chair and leaned over the document. It read:

“My Dearest Caddaham, my heart flutters wildly when I think that tonight we will be together. I await your signal in the tower. I will not leave until you come for me. Your true love, Arabella.”

As Martin finished reading the note, the letters scrambled and floated before his eyes, spinning out the mandate, “Set me free.”

Rubbing his temples, Martin tried to erase the image, but the vaporous message flitted stubbornly before his eyes.

Martin struggled with a decision he feared would haunt him the rest of his life. He gritted his teeth and stood up, resolute. “Where is the tower room?” he asked.

Gesturing for him to follow, Miss Jerome led him along a dark hallway, ending in a stone stairwell that wound up several stories.

Miss Jerome stepped aside and said, “I’ll wait here.”

Martin picked his way up the pitch-black staircase, holding onto the rope handrail.

At the top, moonlight blazoned through a window, flooding the small space. Blinded by the glare, Martin closed his eyes, considering what to do. After several seconds, he drew a deep breath, opened his eyes, and tapped three times lightly on the door. He felt a stab of surprise as the ancient door swung silently open.

Glancing inside the enclosure, Martin saw a small cot against the wall. On it rested a young woman with golden hair in a filmy white dress. Martin stood frozen in place, eyes glued on the cot.

imagesFrom the window, a streak of light shot into the room, touching upon the delicate figure and transforming the girl’s shape into a fiery ball. The ball separated, and two streaks of pure white light flashed past Martin. He felt a lick of heat brushing his cheek, a mystical thought invading his psyche: Two souls united for eternity.

Martin’s shoulders shuddered. He breathed deeply to quiet his nerves, but his hand shook as he clutched at the rope and stepped hesitantly down the stairs.

His knees still felt shaky when he reached Miss Jerome. She took his arm and led him back to the table. Martin dropped into the chair, and Miss Jerome poured a small measure of brandy. Tipping back the glass, Martin savored the warmth of the elixir. His breathing eased, and the feeling of shakiness dissolved.

Miss Jerome folded her hands and said, “Arabella’s gone. Caddaham came for her. I know because I feel a lightness that I have never before felt.”

Martin nodded.

“Thank you, Doctor Ellingham,” Miss Jerome said, a tear slipping from her eye. “Arabella will be at rest, finally, on the morrow, All Saints Day.”

After several minutes of silence, a look of understanding passed between Martin and Miss Jerome, a shared code of secrecy about the evening’s singular events.

Martin stood, picked up his case and moved toward the door, unsure what to believe. He still felt a sense of awe as he followed the path back to the center, where lights had been dimmed for dancing.

Setting down his case near the door, Martin found Louisa at the cider stall. He touched her arm, and she smiled at him, but let out a startled gasp. “Martin, you look as though you’ve seen a ghost.”

“I’m fine,” he said, relieved that his voice sounded normal.

“Our next Halloween favorite,” announced the DJ, “is ‘Unchained Melody,’ the theme from ‘Ghost.’”

Martin tightened his hand on Louisa’s arm, feeling a rush of gratitude that she was part of his life. “Let’s dance,” he said softly, putting his arms around her, pressing her close, thinking, I need to hold onto what is real.

Despite his resolve, Martin felt a tremor as the image of the golden-haired maiden blended with the haunted sounds of the Righteous Brothers–

 “Oh my love, my darling,

I’ve hungered for your touch,

A long, lonely time.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#20 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Badge of Honor”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

A little different, this story is written in the viewpoint of a medical student assigned to shadow Doctor Ellingham for a week.


Trenton Collingsworth, dark, curly hair, intense blue eyes, and a dazzling smile — when he smiled — sat tight-lipped across the desk from Doctor Ellingham.

“You’re not happy to be here, are you?” asked Martin.

Trenton hung his head and replied, “No.”

“We’re even then, because I’m not happy having you here.”

Trenton blinked, looked over at Martin, complaining, “I should be at The Royal Marsden in London. Why am I wasting time at a GP’s in the back-of-beyond?”

Martin, chin in hand, said, “You’re here because your tutor thought you would benefit from a week in the trenches. He persuaded me to allow you to come to Portwenn.”

“Right,” said Trenton, rolling his eyes.

Setting both hands on his desk and looking straight at Trenton, Martin said, “Either dump the attitude or go home. Your choice.”

Trenton lowered his eyes and nodded.

Martin picked up a patient file and called, “Mr. Billings!”

The patient entered and nodded toward the young man. “Who’s this?”

“A student,” answered Martin. “Why are you here?”

Mr. Billings looked at Trenton and said, “Good Lord, you’ve not come here to learn bedside manners, have you?”

Trenton shook his head, a smile tickling his lips.

Turning toward Martin, Mr. Billings said, “Well, ‘Doc,’ I don’t feel so good, and I’ve had pain in my back, on and off, all night.”

“Lift up your shirt,” said Martin, and he applied pressure to the man’s back. Then he said, “Lie down on the couch, please.” Martin felt the man’s abdomen. “Any pain?”

“No,” answered Mr. Billings. “Like I said, it comes and goes, in my back, not my stomach.”

Martin motioned Trenton over to examine the man’s abdomen. Nothing significant, Trenton thought. He shrugged his shoulders and went back to his chair.

Martin checked vital signs and said, “Mr. Billings, your temperature is slightly elevated. I’ll need a urine sample,” and he handed him a plastic container.

When Mr. Billings left, Martin sat at the desk, fiddling with his pen. He looked at Trenton. “What is your diagnosis?”

“Start of flu?”

“How would you treat him?”

“Pain medication for his back. Aspirin to bring down his temperature.”

Returning to the room, Mr. Billings set the sample on the desk. “What are you going to do for me, ‘Doc’?”

Martin filled out a form and set down his pen. “I’m sending you to hospital immediately.”

Trenton’s eyebrows shot up.

“I don’t need to go to hospital, ‘Doc. The pain’s pretty much gone.”

“Don’t go then. Wait until after your appendix bursts and you die.”

Mr. Billings sank down in the chair and looked at Trenton. “Hope you’re taking notes on how to deliver bad news, son.”

But another thought was running through Trenton’s mind. Appendicitis? What is up with this quack?

Martin walked to the door and shouted to Morwenna to order a taxi. Five minutes later, Mr. Billings was on his way to Truro, and Martin was on the phone to hospital.

When Martin hung up, Trenton let out an irritated sigh and said, “Why appendicitis? He could be coming down with flu.”

“Yes, he could,” answered Martin, voice quiet. “Back pain isn’t a typical symptom for appendicitis; but when I felt his abdomen, I noticed some rigidity. I’d rather error on the side of safety than mask the symptoms with pain killers and have his appendix rupture in the middle of the night.”

“All right, I missed the rigidity,” said Trenton, raising a hand, “but I still don’t think occasional, minor pain warrants rushing the man to hospital.”

“Then fortunately for Mr. Billings, I’m his doctor, not you. Next patient!” Martin called, and Mrs. Wardell, a rotund mother of five, walked in, sneezing.

The morning passed with other routine patients. Martin glanced at the clock and told Trenton it was lunchtime. “I’m leaving, but you’ll find bread, cheese and fruit in the kitchen, if you care to eat here.”

Walking into reception, Trenton found Morwenna opening a sack lunch. “Care to join me in the kitchen?” he asked.

“Sure,” the girl said and picked up her lunch. She sat at the table and smiled at Trenton. “Not happy working with Doctor Ellingham, are you?”

Trenton shook his head and slammed the door on the fridge. He sat down and cut chunks off a wheel of Swiss cheese. “I expected a plum assignment in London. What do I get? Some loser GP in Portwenn.”

Morwenna nibbled at her sandwich and said, “Doctor Ellingham is not ‘some loser.’ He’s an excellent GP.”

“I can’t believe you’re sticking up for him. I’ve heard the way he talks to you.”

“I didn’t say he was polite. I said he was an excellent GP.”

Trenton looked over at her and grinned. “Sorry,” he said. “Ellingham and I got off to a bad start over Mr. Billings. The doctor’s patients seem not to mind his rudeness. He told Mrs. Wardell to stop stuffing her face with Mars Bars and lose thirty pounds.  She smiled and said she didn’t eat Mars Bars, only Gummy Bears.”

“The locals consider the ‘Doc’s’ insults a badge of honor,” said Morwenna. “They post them on Facebook.”

“No way!” laughed Trenton.

“I wasn’t keen on you when we met this morning,” she teased. “You seem nice enough now.”

“My day for antagonizing people,” he said, sending Morwenna a high-voltage smile.

“No problem,” she said, biting into an apple. “Tell me about your life in London.”

Trenton felt himself relaxing as he chatted with this young woman, charmed by her sparkling eyes and animated conversation.

When lunch finished, the two walked into reception. The phone rang, and Morwenna answered. “Slow down,” she said. “An accident at the top of our hill. I’ll tell ‘Doc.’”

As she started to dial a number, Trenton headed to the door. “Wait, Trenton!” Morwenna called. “Doc will want–”

But Trenton flew out the door and raced up the hill. He saw the crashed cars and two men sitting at the edge of the road. “I’m a medical intern,” said Trenton. “Are you hurt?”

“My hand,” said the man with red hair and a ruddy complexion.

The other man, with gray hair and plaid shirt, said, “I’m okay, I guess. A bit winded.”

“Do you have a blanket or coat in the car?” asked Trenton. The men nodded, and Trenton went to their vehicles and pulled out blankets. He wrapped one around each man.

“Let me see your hand,” Trenton said to Red Hair. After prodding the man’s fingers and wrist, he said, “Nasty sprain, but nothing broken. The cut needs cleaned.”

Martin’s car pulled up. “How bad, Trenton?” he asked, jumping out.

“One man has a sprained hand. The other says he’s okay. I’ve wrapped them in blankets to ward off shock.”

“Good,” said Martin as P.C. Penhale arrived, siren blaring.

“Penhale, I’m taking these men to surgery,” announced Martin.

“Right, ‘Doc.’ I’ll come by when I finish here,” said Penhale, eyeing the damaged cars.

At surgery, Martin asked Trenton to clean and dress the man’s hand. Martin inspected the dressing and nodded. Trenton wondered why he felt pleased by Martin’s silent approval. I’ve dressed worse wounds, he thought.

The other accident victim, Mr. Rowe, came in and sat on the examining couch. After listening to his heart and lungs, Martin put a monitor on the man’s finger to check his oxygen level and said, “Open your shirt. I’m going to do an EKG.”

As Martin put away the EKG unit, he said, “You need to go to hospital. I’ll call for an ambulance.”

Mr. Rowe jerked up straight. “Hospital? What for? My ticker’s always worked great.”

“Don’t argue if you want to keep it working great,” said Martin, pulling out a form from the cabinet. “Sit in reception until the ambulance arrives.”

P.C. Penhale came into surgery. “Who’s this, ‘Doc’? You hire an assistant?”

“Trenton Collingsworth, a medical student. He’s here for a week.”

The men shook hands, and Penhale said, “You’ll learn a lot rubbing shoulders with the ‘Doc.’ He’s the best.”

Trenton swallowed the remark that almost escaped his lips. Yeah, he’s the best at shifting patients to hospital for no good reason.

During the afternoon, Trenton tried to stifle his yawns as patients came in with colds, headaches, minor cuts and bruises.

The last patient was walking out the door when the phone rang. “Ellingham,” said Martin, switching on the speaker and beckoning to Trenton.

“I wanted to let you know about your patient, Tom Billings,” said the voice. “He didn’t come in a minute too soon. His appendix was leaking when we got him into surgery. Another few hours and he would have died.”

“Thanks for letting me know,” said Martin, hanging up the phone, closing his eyes, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose.

Trenton looked across the desk, his face red, waiting for a rebuke, but Martin remained still, seemingly lost in thought.

Straightening his shoulders, Trenton said, “I owe you an apology, Doctor Ellingham, for being such a bore. I’m sorry.”

“Umm,” muttered Martin.

“If we can start over, I’d consider it a privilege to work with you.”

Martin leaned back in his chair and returned Trenton’s look. “Maybe you’re not the airhead I took you for. You did all right at the accident. A whiz kid like yourself might just learn something here in the back-of-beyond — although I wouldn’t count on it.”

Morwenna’s words about the villagers’ badge of honor flashed across Trenton’s mind, and he beamed a dazzling smile at Martin. Well, pin a badge on me, thought Trenton, feeling at ease with the man for the first time.

“Let’s have a drink,” said Martin, “and I’ll explain why I sent Mr. Rowe to hospital. I know you didn’t agree.”

“Sure,” said Trenton, thinking, I’d love a pint.

“Good.” Martin stood up and asked, “Water or orange juice?”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#19 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Cornwall, Part 2“

by Karen Gilleland © 2014


You may wish to read #18, “Cornwall, Part 1,” prior to reading this story.


“Martin,” she breathed, but he turned and walked away.

Saturday and Sunday nights had passed since Martin left. Louisa heard the lock turn in the front door, and she ran downstairs. Her shoulders sagged when she saw only Morwenna.

“Morning, Louisa,” said the girl, plopping her bag on the desk.

“Morwenna, would you please cancel Martin’s appointments today?” At Morwenna’s raised eyebrows, Louisa added, “Something unexpected’s come up.”

“Sure. Do you know when he’ll be back?”

“No,” she said and went upstairs.

Louisa looked in the mirror and grimaced at her red-rimmed eyes. She splashed cold water on her face and dressed James. The baby squirmed in her arms, and she caressed him. “I know, James. We both miss Daddy, but we’ll have to suck it up and get on with the day.”

After applying makeup, she slipped on her turquoise skirt and sweater, brushed her hair, went downstairs and fixed breakfast for James.

She was putting James into the playpen when Cormoran Crocker arrived in reception. Louisa heard his voice and called, “Hello, Cormoran, cup of coffee?”

“I have good news, Louisa,” he said, coming into the kitchen. “Colan Rundle, who owns the Three Fishes pub south of St. Ives, said he’d be proud to teach Cornish at the school.”

“Good,” she said, handing Cormoran a cup of coffee.

“Colan will come to school today to talk with you.”

She didn’t smile, but said, “Thanks.”

“Something wrong, Louisa?”

“No, I look forward to meeting Mr. Rundle.” She felt grateful that Cormoran let it go, finished his coffee, and left.

Louisa dropped James at Mrs. Kent’s for babysitting and walked to school. Her mood lightened as she greeted the children, but darkened as the day plodded on.

At three o’clock, a short, stocky man, with close-cropped, white hair and a neat mustache rapped on her door and stepped jauntily into the office.

Myttin Da, Head Mistress. Colan Rundle reporting for duty,” he said with a grin and a salute. “When can I start?”

Cheered by the man’s good humor, Louisa smiled and said, “Thank you, Mr. Rundle. There are forms and legal requirements, but I think you can start right after term break. It’s good of you to help.”

“Can’t complain about kids not learning Cornish if nobody’s willing to teach them,” he said. “I guess your husband’s too busy with surgery to teach.”

“Martin? Why do you say that?”

“Right handy with Cornish is the ‘Doc.’”

Louisa felt short of breath, but asked, “When did you see Martin?”

“Last night. He comes into my pub looking a bit shifty. The mates at the bar pass the word, ‘Londoner alert,’ so’s we all switched to Cornish. Don’t like discussing home-rule with strangers about.” Mr. Rundle started coughing.

“Sorry,” he said and continued, “The pub was buzzing with Cornish, and Jim Boden walks in, all white and shaky. We’re staring at Jim, when up steps your husband. ‘Methack o ve,’ he says – that means ‘I’m a doctor.’”

She nodded but couldn’t speak.

“‘What’s the matter?’ he shouts, all in Cornish, mind. Well, we takes a hard look at this fellow, unshaven, wrinkled suit, red eyes, and we shakes our heads, thinking he must be three sheets to the wind.”

Colan’s eyes twinkled at the memory. “Jim just stared at him. Suddenly, it was like the blitzkrieg. The stranger pushes the mates aside, walks straight to Jim and shakes his shoulders hard. ‘Tell me what’s wrong,’ he orders. Well, Jim gathers his wits, grabs the fellow by the elbow and takes him to his place.”

“What happened?” Louisa managed.

“Mary’s baby was coming out wrong, feet first. Mary wasn’t going to make it. The ‘Doc’ called for an ambulance and said he would try to turn the baby. He sets to work, and Mary delivers a feisty little girl, all thanks to the ‘Doc.’”

She smiled at Mr. Rundle, but her eyes were blurry.

“He never said his name, but Jim heard him tell the paramedics he was the GP in Portwenn. We used to laugh at tales about your doctor here,” said Colan, and his voice grew serious. “We don’t laugh any more.”

“Thank you, Mr. Rundle,” Louisa sighed, and the man left the office.

She picked up James at the sitter’s and pushed the stroller up the hill, feeling as though she were slogging through molasses. She took the baby into the kitchen and fixed him creamed corn and rice. After dinner, she read Margaret Wise Brown’s gentle story, Goodnight Moon, and put James to bed.

At four in the morning, Louisa, still dressed in her work clothes, was sitting at the kitchen table, in the dark, hands around a cold cup of tea, when the door opened quietly.

“Martin,” she whispered.

He closed the door and said, “Louisa?”

Frosty silence filled the room. She said, “I’m so terribly sorry, Martin.”

She heard him sigh, but he didn’t speak.

“You’re not able to forgive me, are you?” Louisa hugged herself to keep from shaking.

Martin walked to the table, pulled a chair beside her and said, “I can forgive you, but I can’t get rid of the image. I haven’t slept because every time I close my eyes, I see your arms around that twit.”

“I’ve not slept either. I’m haunted by the image of your pale face in the moonlight.” Louisa shuddered. “I can’t offer any excuse,” she said and paused, “but I will try to explain.”

She took a moment to gather her thoughts. “After you left, Charles and I drank wine and reminisced about our college days and the fun we’d had. When we were saying good-bye and he kissed me, I felt twenty years old again, and back in the moment. It was a human response, but I didn’t feel anything for Charles as a person. Not what I feel for you.”

She added softly, “It’s been a long time since I’d been kissed that passionately.”

Martin sucked in a breath. “I see.”

“Can we get past this, do you think?”

He reached out, put his hands over hers. Then he pressed her hands against his lips. His voice cracked slightly as he said, “I can’t imagine living without you.”

Louisa began sobbing, and her whole body trembled. He stood up and gathered her into his arms.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” he said until she stopped shaking and sank back down onto the chair. He sat beside her.

Letting out a deep breath, Louisa said, “I was worried you’d do something foolish, so I called Charles. A woman answered. His wife. I explained why I was calling.” Louisa paused. “I think when Charles arrived, he found out the meaning of ‘Hell hath no fury.’”

“I’m feeling better already,” he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.

Louisa let herself smile. Then she asked, “Where did you go? When you didn’t come back for surgery this morning, I feared the worst.”

He twisted in the chair. “I just drove. No idea where I was going. I found myself in Scotland this morning.”

She closed her eyes, and they sat in silence for a long moment.

Finally she said, “I heard about your exploits at the pub.”

Martin tilted his head and shrugged.

“How is it that you speak Cornish?”

He stretched and leaned back in the chair. “I taught myself Cornish when I came to Portwenn. I didn’t have much else to do in the evenings. I studied what I could find in writing and listened to tapes. I like to think I didn’t need Cornish to figure out that a man in shock required medical help.”

“You continually amaze me, Martin,” she said, her eyes bright with tears. She turned toward the window and was startled to see the sky had turned a pale blue.

Looking over at Martin, she saw his face clearly for the first time. She rubbed the back of her hand against the stubble on his chin. “You look hungry. I’ll fix something to eat.”

Louisa clicked on the coffeemaker, cracked eggs into a skillet and toasted half-a-dozen slices of bread. She and Martin sat down and devoured their first real meal in days. When finished, she set the dishes on the sink board.

She felt her heart quicken when Martin touched her shoulders, turned her around to face him and kissed her passionately. Louisa caught her breath, took his face in both hands and kissed his lips, letting go of the sadness bottled up inside her the past two nights.

As they stood in a close embrace, the kitchen door opened, and Bert Large’s voice shattered the moment. “Sorry to interrupt you two love birds—“

“Go away, Bert,” said Martin and motioned the man with his hand.

“Can’t, ‘Doc.’ I cut my hand, and it’s bleeding pretty bad.”

Martin let out a sigh and said, “Go into the surgery.”

James’ voice gurgled over the monitor, and he called to Bert, “I’ll be with you in a minute. I have something to do first.”

“Take your time,” the man replied, “Don’t mind me. I’m only bleeding to death.”


Martin ran upstairs, Louisa following. He picked up James. The baby’s arms flailed frantically. Then he patted Martin’s scratchy face, laughing.

Holding the baby close, he said, “Not to worry, James. I’ll be shaving soon.” He set James back into the crib and said, “I have to take care of Bert.”

Louisa caught her husband’s arm. “Wait,” she said and brought his face close to hers. “Thank you for giving me new images to see when I close my eyes.”

Martin kissed her forehead and went downstairs. She picked up the baby and followed.

Morwenna was switching on the computer. “Morning, ‘Doc,” she said. “I’ve canceled your morning appointments, but you have a full schedule this afternoon.”

He grunted, and Morwenna said, “Thumbs up on the new look, ‘Doc.’ You’ve got the Brad Pitt thing going on.”

“Bert Large is here with a cut hand. Stop gawking and bring in his file,” Martin said sharply.

Glancing at Louisa, Morwenna muttered, “And he’s back.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#18 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Cornwall, Part 1”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

On September 18, 2014, Scotland will vote on a referendum to break away from the United Kingdom, a move with serious political and economic implications. Cornwall is also pressing for home rule and a resurgence of the Cornish language.

(March 5, Saint Piran’s Day, patron saint of Cornwall, is celebrated with parades and other festivities.)


Myttin Da, Morwenna,” greeted Cormoran Crocker, a man in his early sixties with a wide smile. “Gool Peran Lowen.”

Dydh da,” she replied. “Happy Saint Piran’s Day to you, too, Mr. Crocker. ‘Doc’ is ready for you.”

Louisa, coming down the steps carrying James, heard the exchange. “Do you speakLou and Jim Cornish, Morwenna?”

“Granddad taught me a bit. He and Mr. Crocker here spoke it together all the time.”

The man walked over to Louisa, took off his hat and said, “It’s been too long since I’ve set eyes on you, lass. I heard you married the ‘Doc.’ What a grand, wee Cornishman this one is,” he said jiggling the baby’s fingers.

“Mr. Crocker,” Louisa began.

“Call me Cormoran, lass.”

“Cormoran, may I speak with you after your appointment with Martin?”

“It will be my pleasure,” he answered and walked into the consulting room.

Myttin da! Doctor Ellingham.”

“Yes,” murmured Martin. “What can I do for you today, Mr. ah, Crocker?” asked Martin looking at the patient file.

“Came in for a repeat prescription for my thyroid.”

Martin looked at his notes. “You’re due for a blood test,” he said and took out a tray and drew Cormoran’s blood. “Do you have any other medical complaints?”

“No, sir. I feel pretty good for an old geezer.”

Cormoran rolled down his shirt sleeve and said, “You’re a London man, aren’t you, Doctor Ellingham?”


“What do you think about self-governing for Cornwall?”

“I’ve been tied up with work and family and haven’t paid much attention to politics.”

“It’s an important issue, Doctor,” said Cormoran. “Cornwall is at a point in our struggle — which goes back centuries, mind — of attaining devolution from Britain.” The man paused, but Martin did not respond.

“I’m head of Mebyon Kernow, sons of Cornwall,continued Cormoran, shaking a finger at Martin. “We’re determined that decisions affecting the people of Cornwall should be made in Cornwall.”

“I do not have time to debate with you,” said Martin. “I have patients waiting.”

“Yes. Another time then,” and Cormoran rose and left the office.

When he entered the reception area, Morwenna told him that Louisa was in the kitchen.

“Would you like a cup of tea, Cormoran?” asked Louisa, lifting two cups out of the cupboard.

“I’d be delighted,” he said, sitting down at the table.

Louisa poured tea and set out biscuits. “Cormoran, I’m head mistress at Portwenn Primary. As you know, the Council would like us to teach Cornish in the schools.”

The man nodded. “It’s important to promote pride in our heritage. I wanted to talk to the Doctor about self-rule, but he’s busy.”

Louisa shrugged and smiled. “The problem for a village like Portwenn is finding teachers,” Louisa said. “I wondered if you would be willing to teach our students?”

Cormoran sat quiet, fingertips on his lips. “It’s an intriguing proposition, but I’m busy with the home-rule campaign.” He stopped, then said, “Let me think about it. I’ll see if I can find someone for you.”

“Thanks, Cormoran.”

The visitor stood up and said, “Come to the parade this afternoon. I’ll be giving a short speech. Cormoran walked out the kitchen door, tipping his hat, “Dydh da!”

About five o’clock, a sandy haired man, suit, tie, rimless glasses, leather attaché case, knocked at the surgery door. Martin answered, took in the man’s appearance and thought, He may as well wear a sign flashing “Home Office.”


“Doctor Ellingham, I’m Charles Surridge. May I speak to you?”

“What about?”

The man straightened his shoulders. “If I might come in, I’d be happy to explain.”

“Fine,” said Martin, stepping aside.

Just then, Louisa walked into the hallway. The man let out a surprised, “Louisa?”

She walked closer and said, “Charles! Good heavens. It’s been years.”

Martin frowned as he watched the two hug.

“What are you doing in Portwenn?” Louisa asked, breaking loose from Charles’ grasp.

“I came down from London to talk with people about Cornwall’s position on home rule. I wanted Doctor Ellingham’s opinion.” He extended a hand to Martin, but his eyes focused on Louisa.

“Martin, Charles is a friend from my college days.”


“Why not join us for supper, Charles?” she asked.

“If I’m not intruding –”

Martin said nothing.

“You and Martin can talk in his office while I fix dinner.”

The two men walked into the consulting room. Martin left the door open, sat behind the desk and motioned Charles into the chair.

Charles began, “As you know, Cornwall is pressing for home rule. You must understand how important keeping the United Kingdom intact is from an economic and political standpoint. I’ve been asked to come down and take the pulse of the people, so to speak, see how the land lies.”

“I’m not from Cornwall,” said Martin. “I suggest you go down to the harbor and talk with the locals. You might start with Cormoran Crocker, the head of Mebyon Kernow.

“Yes, yes, I’ve listened to the speeches and cornered quite a few people during the parade. The thing is, you are in a unique position. The villagers respect you.” Charles stopped talking and leaned toward Martin, stressing the message with eyebrows raised and voice lowered. “We need your support.”

“What support would that be?”

“Well, being a Londoner, we’d expect you to support Cornwall’s staying in the UK.”

“What makes you think I’d support that position? My wife,” Martin said with emphasis, “and my son were born here.”

Before the man could reply, a squeak from the bedroom brought Martin to his feet. “I have to see to James,” he said and left the room, thinking as he walked upstairs, Twit. 

Charles walked into the kitchen. “Smells delicious,” he said.

Louisa smiled at him and continued stirring a pot. “Everything’s ready. When Martin brings James down, we’ll eat. Please, take a seat.”

“You’re as beautiful as ever, Louisa,” Charles said, then hesitated. “I didn’t picture you marrying a man like Martin.” Louisa frowned, and Charles added, “No offense.”

“Who did you picture me marrying?”

Charles walked over to her and said, “Me.”

Louisa set down the spoon and turned toward him. “Did you never marry?”

He looked at the floor and stammered, “Ah, um, it didn’t work out.”

“Sorry. Would you like some wine?”

The telephone rang. “Excuse me,” said Louisa, and she hurried into reception and picked up the phone. “Yes, I’ll tell him,” she said and ran up the steps to the bedroom. “Martin, emergency. Sarah Jensen’s dad has taken a fall.”

“Will you finish up with James?” Martin washed his hands, went downstairs, grabbed his bag and left.

Martin determined that Mr. Jensen had suffered a stroke. After administering a clot-busting drug, Martin waited for the ambulance. By the time he arrived home, night had set in, and stars twinkled in the sky. He noticed the glow of light from the kitchen and walked around back. As Martin entered, he heard the sound of footsteps and the front door opening, so he went to the entryway.

Louisa and Charles stood facing each other on the porch. About to turn back, Martin stopped short when Charles suddenly took Louisa into his arms and kissed her passionately. Martin was astounded to see Louisa wrap her arms around Charles and return his embrace.

Martin stood frozen, his heart pounding, a feeling of rage engulfing him.

He heard Charles speak. “Please, Louisa, my feelings haven’t changed since college. Tell me you feel the same way.”

Louisa shook her head and said, “Good night, Charles.”

He held onto her arms and said, “I’m at the Riverside in Delabole. I’ll call you.”

Louisa watched him walk away and turned to discover Martin in the doorway, moonlight touching his pale face.

“Martin,” breathed Louisa, but he turned and walked away.

— To Be Continued —

“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

Part 2 of “Cornwall” can be found at https://karengilleland.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/19-doc-martin-fanfiction-cornwall-part-2/

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#17 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Mouthful of Fingers”

This story would fall early in Series 6, about the time Louisa’s school term began. It takes a look at how Martin might feel when meeting someone at his own level who faces similar issues.


by Karen Gilleland © 2014

Martin walked into the kitchen to find Louisa leaning back in the chair, eyes closed, a pile of papers in front of her. “Louisa, are you all right?”

She opened her eyes. “I am, yes, but I’m puzzled about Tristen Westmont. He’s seven years old, an absolute math whiz, but his reading and spelling skills are well below average.”

Martin pulled down the coffee bin, filled the expresso machine, tapped the button, and said, “Have you spoken with his parents?”

“A little. His mother brought Tristen to Portwenn two weeks ago when school started. His father’s a high-powered lawyer in London. Nancy thought Tristen would fare better in a small school setting, without so much peer pressure.”

While the coffee gurgled, Martin went to the cupboard and took down two mugs. HeScreen Shot 2014-09-01 at 6.37.34 AM
glanced at Louisa, who was again marking papers. Martin filled the cups with the aromatic brew and set one cup in front of Louisa. He pulled out a chair on the opposite side of the table.

“Portwenn’s a long way from London,” Martin said.

Louisa wrapped her hands around the cup. “Yes, it can’t be easy for Tristen, changing schools and being separated from his father.”

“Umm.” Martin felt the stab of guilt that often assailed him when reminded of how close he had come to abandoning James.

Sipping coffee, Louisa continued. “Nancy and her husband are at odds over the boy’s development. I get the feeling the strain has fractured their marriage.”

Martin, uneasy on such subjects, remained quiet.

Louisa said, “I suggested that Nancy bring Tristen to see you to rule out a hearing or vision problem.”

Martin nodded, rinsed his cup and turned to Louisa. “It may be the boy has a learning disability. If I think that’s the case, I’ll refer him to a specialist.”


Late the next day, Nancy Westmont, an attractive woman with dark brown hair and blue eyes, brought Tristen into surgery. After examining the child, Martin said, “Teacher tells me you’re fond of math.”

Tristen smiled and nodded.

“I have some math problems I’d like you to solve,” Martin said. “Would you do that for me?”

Tristen nodded again.

“Good lad,” he said, lifting Tristen down off the couch. Martin took three sheets of paper off his desk, along with a pencil, and said, “Come with me. You can work at the kitchen table.”

Minutes later, Tristen walked back into the office and handed Martin the papers. That was quick, thought Martin. He pulled out another sheet and handed it to Tristen. “Would you try these word problems?”

The boy frowned, but took the papers and left the room. Martin looked over Tristen’s answers and said to the boy’s mother, “Perfect, and he completed the test much faster than average.”

“Yes, Tristen plays with numbers as if he were reading a comic book,” she said. “The trouble is, he doesn’t read comic books, or any other books.”

Mrs. Westmont’s eyes began to tear. Martin stiffened and cleared his throat. The woman looked at the floor and said, “His father is embarrassed because he thinks Tristen’s slow. What’s important to Jack is that Tristen keep up with his friends’ children, who, naturally, are super smart at everything.” She let out a deep sigh.

“I see.”

“Jack’s attitude was tearing me apart. That’s why I left London.” She sniffled, and Martin pushed a box of tissues toward her.

“I love Jack, but Tristen is so fragile. I must do what’s best for him.”

Martin fidgeted with papers on his desk and said, “I’ll check on Tristen. He’s had plenty of time to finish those problems.”

The boy was sitting playing with the pencil. “Tristen, how are you coming along?”

Tristen shook his head and held up the paper. He hadn’t answered any of the problems.

“That’s okay,” said Martin. “Give this set a try. Don’t worry about skipping answers.”

Martin walked into his office and sat down at the desk. He looked over at Mrs. Westmont and said, “I can’t be sure without having Tristen assessed, but I suspect he has dyslexia. It’s a condition where children have difficulty recognizing letters and word sequences. Curiously, he doesn’t have the problem with numbers. I’ll give you a referral to a specialist.”

“Is it curable?”

“It is a lifelong challenge, but most people, many celebrities and writers even, lead happy and successful lives. Tristen’s young, so he should make good progress.”

“What type of therapy is involved?”

“It’s a matter of setting a routine to practice oral reading, writing and drawing, as well as using computer technology,” said Martin. “I don’t want to say more until he’s been properly diagnosed.”

Tristen walked in with the test; he’d solved all the problems. Martin compared the answers to a sheet on his desk. Remarkable, Martin thought. He’s figured out the algebra. “Good job, Tristen.”

The doorbell rang. “Excuse me,” said Martin and left the room.

At the door stood a tall, handsome man with blond hair, dressed in a three-piece, gray suit. “Hello, Doctor Ellingham, I’m Jack Westmont,” he said. “My wife’s neighbor said that Nancy and Tristen came to see you.”

Martin stepped outside and closed the door. “Yes, they’re here now.”

The man lifted his hands, palms up. “May I come in?”

“I’d like a word first,” Martin answered. “I’ve examined your son. Physically, he’s fine, but I suspect he may have dyslexia.”

Jack frowned. “I had a school chum with dyslexia, but he grew out of it.”

“Most likely, your friend still works at it.” The expression on the banker’s face caused Martin to add, “You must know your son is extremely gifted in math.”

Jack blinked and said, “His mother’s always said Tristen was quick with numbers. I’m afraid I haven’t taken time to notice.”

“I gave him a test generally given to kids 10 years older than he is. He aced it. His talent is wired in, not learned.” Martin paused and said, “You should be very proud of your son.”

Jack Westmont’s face grew crimson, and his eyes lowered. “Yes, I feel ashamed that I let him and his mother leave. I came down here to take them home — if I’m not too late.”

The men looked at each other a second. Martin tilted his head to the side, opened the door and said, “Please, come in.”

Martin led Jack to the office and then walked into the kitchen and sat down, tapping his thumb on the table, wondering how he would cope as his own son grew older.

Louisa came through the door with James. She set the infant in the highchair and glanced
at Martin. “You seem thoughtful,” she said, reaching for a cereal box.

“Mrs. Westmont and Tristen are in the office with Mr. Westmont.”

“Really,” said Louisa, pouring cereal into a bowl. “I didn’t realize her husband was in Portwenn.”

“He just arrived and wants to take his family back to London.”

Louisa set the bowl of dry cereal in front of James, who grabbed a handful and tossed it into the air.

Martin looked at James and sighed. “I think Tristen has dyslexia,” he said. “If he stays in Portwenn, you’ll need to modify his lessons. He’ll require extra time to complete reading and writing assignments, help with note taking, that sort of thing.”

“Of course,” Louisa said, bending down to pick up the cereal off the floor.

“No, James,” she said. “Cereal is for eating, not throwing.” The baby grabbed another fistful, but Louisa guided his hand to his mouth.

“I’ve had friends with dyslexia who are thriving,” she told Martin.

“Yes, several colleagues at med school had it,” Martin said. “Surgery is an ideal field because it doesn’t emphasize language skills.”

Louisa flashed him a questioning look.

“What?” Martin asked, perplexed, then said, “No, Louisa, I don’t have dyslexia.”

“Of course not,” Louisa said, but Martin saw her lips twitch before she turned her back to set the bowl in the sink.

A door opened, and voices floated into the kitchen. Martin picked up James Henry, and Louisa followed them into the reception area.

Jack was carrying Tristen, his arms wrapped tightly around the child. Jack set the boy down and extended his hand, “Thank you for your help, Doctor Ellingham.”

“Yes,” Martin said, shaking hands.

Nancy Westmont looked at Louisa. “I’m afraid we’ll be moving back to London at the break. Jack has agreed that Tristen can attend a small school there. We’ve explained to Tristen that he may have dyslexia. ”

Louisa walked over to Tristen and sank down on one knee. “We’ll miss you,” she said, “but while you’re in Portwenn, we’ll give you any special help we can.”

The boy nodded and looked at Martin. “Dad said you think I’m extra smart in math.”

“You have a gift–” Martin started to say, but James Henry stuck his hand into Martin’s mouth, holding onto his teeth. Louisa, Nancy and Tristen laughed at the sight and walked toward the door.

Jack Westmont hung back, watching Martin and James. “A mouthful of fingers,” Jack said. “You’re lucky. You seem to understand what’s really important.”

Martin looked at the man and felt a bond with this stranger, who, like himself, was trying to balance a demanding career and family, and coming up short.

Lowering his voice, Martin said, “Really important, humm. I don’t always get it right.” He shifted James, and the baby touched his face. “I have to remind myself, everyday, not to let the world step in front of what’s really important.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#16 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Close Encounters”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

In FanFiction #4, Martin promised to spend time with James. I thought it would be fun to see what the “Doc” might do during his one-on-one time with his son.

Note: “Crispin Crispian” refers to October 25, Saint Crispin’s Day, in honor of martyred twins, Crispin and Crispian (third century). In 1415, the day marks the Battle of Agincourt, when a vastly outnumbered British band of soldiers, led by King Henry V, defeated the French.


Martin parked the car and carried James Henry in one arm and an infant seat and the baby’s changing bag in the other arm to a secluded spot on the beach. He frowned when he saw a young man slouched on the bench, blue knit beanie pulled low over his ears, sunglasses covering his eyes. About to turn away, Martin decided to check whether the man was asleep or unconscious.

“Hello,” said Martin. No response, so he set James in the infant seat and felt the stranger’s wrist.

“What?” said the lad, jerking awake and sitting up straight. He wore a navy blue running suit with a white stripe down the sides.

“I’m Doctor Ellingham,” said Martin. “Just making sure you were breathing.”

“I’m fine, thank you,” said the visitor.

“Good.” James began fussing, and Martin picked him up.

The man smiled, jiggled his fingers at the baby and said. “I just drove down from London and stopped to rest my eyes.”

“We’ll leave you to it then,” said Martin.

“Please, you’re welcome to share the bench. I think your little one wants to play in the sand.”

“Yes,” said Martin, and he sat down next to the visitor.

“What’s his name?” asked the young man, tickling the baby’s chin, causing the infant to laugh.

“James Henry.”

“Have I dropped into your special place?” The man reached under the bench for a duffel bag and stood up, preparing to leave.

“Please stay,” said Martin, feeling awkward. “You were here first, and James has obviously taken a liking to you.”

“Thank you,” said the visitor, sitting back down. “What do the two of you do here?”

“Read, mostly. I’m giving James a taste of Shakespeare.”

“Cool. Never too early to expose children to Shakespeare. What are you reading?”

“’Henry V.’ I expect James Henry thinks the play was written for him.”Henry V

The young man smiled at James and said, “Ah, yes, Henry at Agincourt.

“‘If we are marked to die, we are enough

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honor

God’s will, I pray thee wish not one man more.’”

The man stopped, and James cooed and waved his arms.

“I doubt many young men could quote that passage out of thin air,” said Martin.

“Dad must have taken Shakespeare and me to the beach when I was his age,” chuckled the young man. “Please, go on and read to your son. I enjoy Shakespeare.”

“If you’re sure,” said Martin, reluctantly, and the stranger nodded his head. Martin took a book from the bag, thumbed through the pages, settled James on his lap and read–

“This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remember’d;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he today that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother . . .”

James’ eyes were fastened on Martin’s face as the scene unfolded. The baby was undoubtedly captivated by the sound of his father’s voice. When Martin finished the scene, he stroked the baby’s face lightly and closed the book. James gurgled and patted the book with his hands.

The stranger said, almost to himself, “A compelling scene. Why do the words resonate centuries later?”

Martin raised his eyebrows and looked out at the gentle, blue waves lapping the beach. “Reading about feats of courage challenges us to look into ourselves,” Martin answered at last.

The young man nodded his head. “Yes, perhaps you’re right.”

A seagull swooped down, and James reached out for it. The bird screeched and flew off.

“’Henry V,’” mused the young man. “Shakespeare used up a lot of ink on monarchs. Some say our monarch system is outdated. Would you agree?”

“Hmm,” said Martin, and he remained quiet. Finally, he said, “Personally, I like our traditions.”

The fellow put his face close to James and said, “Would you like to be king, little guy?”

James reached for the man’s sunglasses, and the stranger gently moved his hand away.

“Doubt if he would,” said Martin, setting James down on the sand. “No privacy, and that can be irritating. I can attest to that myself in Portwenn.”

“True,” said the man. “You don’t look like a villager, if you don’t mind my saying so. Don’t see many men here wearing suits.”

“No.” Martin squirmed on the bench. James was scrambling toward the water, and Martin stood up to go after him.

“I’ll catch him,” said the young man. He raced after the crawling child and threw himselfScreen Shot 2014-07-15 at 6.03.12 PM onto the sand in front of James, laughing. The baby squealed, and the two wrestled together. “May I let him dip his feet?” the man shouted to Martin.

“Yes,” answered Martin, and the visitor took off James’ shoes and socks, as well as his own, and rolled up his trousers. He carried James to the water’s edge and held him while the baby stomped his feet in the water.

Martin watched the two splashing about, having a good time, and fought feelings of regret that he couldn’t play with his son in the same, carefree manner.

Ten minutes later, the lad picked up James, gathered up shoes and socks, and carried the baby back to Martin. “He’s a little tiger. He’s worn me out,” said the visitor, flopping down on the bench.

Martin shook out the sand and put on the baby’s shoes and socks. “James doesn’t get to play that way often,” said Martin, lifting his son up to his shoulder.

The visitor looked at Martin and seemed to sense his unease. “We all have different gifts, Doctor Ellingham. Your talents lie in an intellectual vein. You give what you can, and let others share their gifts with you. If James grows to your size, he’ll have the makings of a champion swimmer. You’ll find a good coach, yes?”
MC & babyJames grabbed onto Martin’s face with both hands, and Martin gave James a lopsided smile. Martin shifted his eyes to the young man. “Yes,” he answered.

They sat in silence for several minutes until James began wriggling. Martin reached into the bag and pulled out a teething biscuit. He set James on the bench between the stranger and himself and handed James the biscuit. The baby chomped on it, head swiveling between the two men as they talked.

“Your practice must keep you busy,” said the man.

“Yes, I’m also leading a taskforce that’s setting research medical direction,” said Martin, surprising himself that he offered the explanation.

“Challenging task. What tops your list?

“Heart disease, cancer, all the major diseases, but the team is also looking at orphan diseases that may come into play in the future.”

“Orphan diseases?”

“Take Alzheimer’s, for example,” said Martin. “Doctor Alzheimer spoke on dementia in 1906, but it took nearly a century for the medical community to rally around that research. We’d like to do a better job of getting in front of debilitating diseases.”

The man nodded but stayed quiet, as if pondering the words.

Martin brushed crumbs off his lap and pulled out a bottle of water. He held James in his arms as the baby drank the liquid. James finished, wrapped an arm around Martin’s neck and fell asleep.

“What is your profession?” asked Martin, his curiosity getting the better of his manners.

The young man put his hand on his chin and looked at the sea. “I’m still learning.”

Just then, Martin’s phone vibrated. He excused himself and stood up, moving away a few feet. “Ellingham. Yes, yes, don’t move him. I’m on my way.”

Martin clicked off and said, “Boy fell out of a tree.”

The stranger hopped up, lifted the changing bag and the infant seat, as Martin put the phone away and shifted James. “’Once more unto the breach,’ eh?” said the lad, quoting from “Henry V” and handing Martin the baby’s things.

“Umm,” said Martin.

“You are a man of few words, Doctor Ellingham. But according to Shakespeare, ‘Men of few words are the best men.'” He patted Martin’s back. “I’m sure you’ll do an excellent job sorting out research priorities.”

“Yes, ah—“ said Martin and frowned, realizing he didn’t know the lad’s name.

“Harry,” said the young man, sitting back down on the bench.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 7.11.25 AM“Harry,” Martin paused. “Henry V’s nickname.” Martin set off toward the road. After a few steps, he turned back.

The lad, watching him, took off his beanie, and his bright red hair glistened in the sunlight. Harry smiled and waved.

Martin caught his breath as he strode away. “James,” he murmured to the waking child, “what will your Mum say when she hears you were splashing about with royalty?”


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#15 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Stewart in Love”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

“Stewart in Love” brings back one of my favorite characters, Stewart the Ranger (Ben Miller). Remember his invisible friend, Anthony, and Stewart’s passionate line about gray squirrels (S1E4) — “They’re the squirrel equivalent of the Nazis!” 


Martin pushed the speed limit through the driving rain and reached the ranger station in record time. Dripping wet, Martin opened the gate and headed for the building.

Stewart James met him at the door and whispered, “Thanks for coming, ‘Doc.’”

“Stewart, tell me what happened.”

“I was checking for poacher traps,” he answered. “I saw the storm coming, so I was
Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 11.15.20 AM working my way out to the road. I spotted a body face down near the stream. A woman. She was unconscious. Suddenly the sky let loose. I couldn’t leave her there, so I carried her to the truck and brought her here. She’s awake, but groggy.”

Martin nodded, shrugged out of his raincoat and walked into the room. A slender woman with short, blond, curly hair was sitting by a roaring fire. She turned toward Martin, and he noticed the bruise on her temple and the glazed look in her eyes.

“I’m Doctor Ellingham,” he said, walking over to her. “You’ve had an accident. I’m going to examine you. Do you hurt anywhere?” She didn’t respond, and Martin took out his stethoscope and listened to her heart and lungs. He examined her eyes and confirmed his diagnosis.

“You have concussion,” he told her. She simply stared at him.

“She can’t walk, ‘Doc,’” said Stewart.

“Can you pull off her boots?” Martin asked Stewart and put the stethoscope back into his bag.

Stewart tugged the woman’s right boot off, and her ankle began swelling.

Martin felt her ankle gently and said, “Bad sprain. She’ll need an ice pack.”

“Right, I have one,” said Stewart. “I’ve made coffee. Can I give her a cup?”

“Better give her juice today,” said Martin, pulling a chair over next to the woman. “Can you tell me your name?”

She frowned and shook her head.

“You’re suffering from amnesia. It should pass in a few hours.”

Stewart walked in and handed Martin a cup of coffee. He took a glass of apple juice to the woman, knelt down beside her, put her hands around the glass and helped her tip the liquid into her mouth.

“Stewart, she should lie down. She can sleep, but you must wake her every two hours to prevent her slipping into a coma. If you can’t wake her, call for an ambulance immediately and then call me.”

A tremendous crash of thunder punctuated his words, and the woman jerked back, trembling. Stewart set down the glass and held her in his arms, murmuring soothing words until she relaxed.

When she was breathing normally, he said to Martin, “She can sleep on my cot, ‘Doc.’ I’ve got a sleeping bag.”

“Keep her ankle elevated. She can take Paracetamol if she develops a headache,” said Martin. “To be safe, she’ll need a scan. I’ll give you a referral when I come back tomorrow.”

The morning was blue and sunny as Martin drove to the ranger station. Stewart came out while Martin was closing the gate.

“How is she, Stewart?

“Okay. She said her name is Katie, but she doesn’t remember her last name or what she was doing in the forest. I found her car keys in her jacket.”

Martin walked in and saw Katie sitting at the table wearing one of Stewart’s green forestry outfits, her leg elevated on a chair. She looked up and smiled.

“Doctor Ellingham, Stewart said you took care of me yesterday.”

“You’re looking much better,” said Martin, checking her vital signs. “Do you remember your name?”

“Only Katie.”

Martin closed his bag and asked, “Katie, will you be all right if Stewart and I leave to find your car?”

“Yes, I’ll feel better when I know who I am.”

The men climbed into Stewart’s truck and headed to the forest. After twenty minutes, Martin spotted a green Citroen off the road. Stewart pulled over, and Martin tried the door.

Through the back window, Martin saw a purse, laptop and suitcase, as well as an American magazine with Katie’s picture on the cover. Doctor Kathryn Danielson, he whistled.

“This is it,” he called to Stewart. “You head back. I’ll be along shortly.”

Martin scrunched into the car, pushed back the seat and headed for the ranger station. He carried Katie’s belongings into the house.

Katie, peeling an orange at the table with Stewart, saw Martin and exclaimed, “My things! Thank you.”

“Any more memories?” asked Martin.

“Little pieces, but not my full name or what I do for a living.”

“I can help,” said Martin, sitting down. “You’re Doctor Kathryn Danielson, founder of Animal Conservatory.”

“Animal Conservatory!” said Stewart. “I’ve read about your work. You target small, endangered animals.”

“Do you remember what you’re doing in Cornwall?” asked Martin.

“Red Squirrels!” Katie said, snapping her fingers. “I spotted one and was racing after it when I slipped.”

“Red Squirrels,” exclaimed Stewart. He walked over to the mantle and brought back a figurine of the cute creature.

“Doctor Danielson,” Martin began, but the woman put up a hand.

“Katie, please.”

Martin nodded and said, “Katie, tell us about your work. It may spur other memories and speed your recovery.

Biting into the orange, Katie stopped and said, “Shoot, shovel and shut up.”

“Excuse me?” frowned Martin.

“The ‘Code of the West.'” She nibbled on the orange, apparently gathering her thoughts. “I grew up in Wyoming, or the ‘Big Empty’ as people call it, on a 10,000-acre ranch. We have a critter called the ‘Black-footed Ferret.’ In 1987, only eighteen were known to exist.”

UnknownKatie leaned back in the chair, closed her eyes a few seconds and said, “I was eleven when I found ‘Bandit.’ Black-footed Ferrets have dark markings across their eyes that look like a mask. I put food out for him. He was my secret. One day when I was at school, friends of Dad’s came by and spotted him.”

She stopped talking as tears welled in her eyes. “You can guess the rest.”

“Why?” Stewart asked, horror in his voice.

“To prevent the area from being declared a protected habitat.”

Katie shifted in the chair and straightened her shoulders. “I’ve devoted my life to protecting not only the Black-footed Ferret, which is thankfully coming back because of conservationists, but other small creatures facing the same fate.”

She turned to Stewart. “Red Squirrels could be extinct in twenty years,” she said, touching the figurine.

Stewart’s eyes widened, but he didn’t speak.

“In the States, we nearly lost the California Condor. It has struggled back from the point of extinction, but it’s still on the threatened list.”

She made a helpless gesture with her hands. “Our planet has lost 905 species of creatures great and small, and another 20,000 are threatened.”

Katie talked on about her work. “I publish articles, lobby lawmakers and speak to groups around the world,” she explained. Finally, she sank back into the chair and closed her eyes. “I suppose you can tell I’m passionate about my work.”

“You need to rest now,” Martin said, noting the flush on her cheeks. “I’ll be going.”

Stewart never even glanced at Martin, so intently was he looking at Katie. Martin let himself out, with a sense of foreboding about the look he saw on Stewart’s face.

A week later, Stewart called to say Katie was ready to leave. Martin drove out to see her.

Stewart met Martin at the gate. “’Doc, I need to talk to you.”Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 11.00.01 AM

“What is it, Stewart?”

“Katie — she’s the most wonderful woman I’ve ever known. The week has been magic.  We’ve talked for hours. She’s funny and smart, and we have a lot in common. The thing is, she’s going back to America.” He  shrugged and said, “I don’t want her to leave.”

“I see.”

“‘Doc,’ do you think I should tell Katie how I feel?”

Martin stiffened. “I’m not good at this sort of advice, Stewart.”

“But if it were you, would you tell her?”

Stroking his chin, Martin thought about Louisa. “Yes, yes, I would. But brace yourself in case she doesn’t feel the same way.”

Stewart nodded and turned toward the door. Martin followed him inside. Katie was standing by the window, dressed in a dark business suit and white blouse. Stewart picked up her suitcase and took it out to her car.

“How’s your ankle?” asked Martin, looking at her shoes.

“A little gimpy, but not too painful. I’m making a fashion statement with these pink sneakers,” she smiled.

“Your scan was clear, so you should be fine. No running after Red Squirrels for a few weeks, however.”

“I promise.”

“I’ll say good-by then,” and Martin started toward the door. He stopped, turned around, and walked back to her. “I’ve enjoyed knowing you,” he said, extending his hand.

She reached up, kissed him on the cheek and whispered. “Thanks for everything, Doctor Ellingham.”

“Katie–” Martin began, but Stewart came back inside. The three of them walked into the yard, and Martin went on to his car. He opened the door but stood looking toward the road, thinking he’d better wait and make sure Stewart was okay.

Several minutes ticked by before Martin turned back and was stunned to see Stewart and Katie in a passionate embrace. They broke off, and Katie put her hand on Stewart’s chest, turned and walked toward her car. Her eyes met Martin’s, and he saw the tears flowing down her cheeks.

“Good-by, Doctor Danielson,” Martin said as she passed him. She nodded, got into her car and drove away.

Martin faced Stewart, looking for signs of stress.

“You were right, ‘Doc.’ I’m glad I told her how I felt. I could tell when she kissed me that she felt the same.”

“Are you all right, Stewart?”

“Yeah, I am, but I’ll miss her. I’ve never kissed a girl that way before, ‘Doc.’ All I could think about was not letting her go.” Stewart lowered his eyes and said, “But I understand why she can’t stay. Her work is too important.”


“She rocked my world, ‘Doc.'”

Martin stood silent for a long moment before saying, “If you need help coping, call me.”

Stewart suddenly smiled, shaking his finger at Martin. “Now I know why people still laugh about the time you kissed Louisa and told her she had bad breath.”

“What!” Martin got into the car and slammed the door. He took a deep breath, put the window down and called out, “What do you mean people still laugh? And how would you know? You never come into the village.”

Stewart walked over to the car, put a hand on the door and leaned in. “Facebook, ‘Doc.’ You’re all over it. Patient confidentiality doesn’t apply to patients, you know.”

“Are you telling me my private affairs are on the Internet?”

“I’d be surprised if the villagers don’t start a ‘Doc Martin’ website.” Stewart stepped back, grinning.

Martin clenched his teeth, jammed down his foot, spun the car around in the grass and sped off.


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#14 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “The Christening”

By Karen Gilleland © 2014

A couple of “Doc Martin” episodes alluded to James Henry’s christening, but we never have seen it take place. I decided to write my own interpretation of what might have happened at this sacred, grace-bestowing ceremony.


James Henry, kicking furiously at his white christening gown, screamed as the vicar poured water over his head. His Godmother, Cora Parsons, dabbed at the water running down his face with a soft cloth. Chris Parsons, the Godfather, looked on, beaming with pride, seemingly oblivious to the baby’s distress. Standing behind them, Martin flinched as Louisa’s fingers dug into his arm.

At last, ceremony concluded, Martin heaved a sigh, thanked the Parsons, and sat down by Louisa, who had taken the struggling infant to the front pew. The baby continued to cry as organ music played and villagers streamed past.

Bert Large, natty in a blue suit, his silver hair slicked down, leaned into Martin, “A chip off the old block, eh, ‘Doc’? Your son really knows how to clear a room.”

Cradling James in her arms, Louisa asked, “Bert, is the cake and cider ready?”

“No worries, Louisa. All taken care of.”

“Anything I can do?” asked Aunt Ruth, looking at Martin, her paisley scarf adding a touch of color to her black suit.

About to shake his head, he changed his mind. “Would you stand in for us at Bert’s restaurant? We’ll be along after James settles down.”

“My pleasure, I’m sure,” she said, lips slanted in a half-grin.

He raised his eyebrows, and Ruth chided, “Don’t look so happy. People will think you’re enjoying yourself.”


The vicar, rosy-complexion, bushy eyebrows, greeted them and handed Martin a large envelope. “This is James’ baptismal certificate. I always enjoy a little one who’s not afraid to tell us what he thinks of the service.”

“Thank you, Vicar,” said Louisa. “It was a lovely service.” James had quit screaming, but was still shuffling restlessly.

“Stay as long as you like, but you’ll snuff out the candles before you leave, yes?”

“Certainly,” she said. “Be sure to stop at Bert’s for cake and cider.”

After the vicar had gone, Louisa pulled a blue, cotton-knit blanket out of the baby’s changing bag and wrapped it around James and across her shoulder. She began nursing, singing softly.

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word.

Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird won’t sing,

Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring

James Henry settled down as he nursed, and Louisa said, “Peaceful, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” agreed Martin, looking about the empty church, the candles throwing soft light on the flowers in front of the baptismal font.

He inched over in the pew until his arm rested against hers. She turned toward him. “Martin,” she began, but hesitated.


“When I came back from London, and, uh . . .” she looked at the baby and then at him. “Were you terribly upset?”

He let several seconds pass before answering, thinking about that moment when she had knocked at his door, six months’ pregnant. “I wouldn’t say I was upset. I was shocked.” He shrugged. “If I’m honest, maybe even a little terrified. I never expected you to turn up, out of the blue, and tell me I was going to be a father.”

“We’re even then. I never expected to turn up and find you entertaining a former lover.” She took a deep breath. “Edith.”

“No, the timing was rotten. But to be fair, Louisa, you had six months to become accustomed to your pregnancy. I had two minutes.”

The baby coughed, spitting up a little. Louisa reached into the changing bag for a cloth to wipe his face and the front of the christening outfit.

Martin’s mind wandered back to their ill-fated wedding day, when they’d both been scared off by the thought that they could never make one another happy. He’d missed her terribly after she’d left Portwenn, and he’d determined to conquer his haemaphobia and resume his career as a surgeon in London.

“I’ve often wondered,” he said. “What was your reaction when you found out you were expecting?”

Her eyes rested on James. “I was scared. After a couple days, however, I began to feel so lucky. I was going to have a baby – your baby.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Martin felt her shoulders stiffen, and James began to fuss, apparently sensing his mother’s unease. Louisa rocked him back and forth until he quieted.

“I felt certain you would ask me to have an abortion. I was afraid if you talked me into giving up the baby, I would regret it — and resent you — for the rest of my life. You have to admit, abortion was the first thing that crossed your mind.”

“Yes, but that was due to shock. We had agreed that we shouldn’t be married, and suddenly I learned you were pregnant. I felt out of my depth.” Looking at the child, nestled against its mother, he shuddered at the thought of what he might have lost.

“When you had time to recover from the shock, you still didn’t act as though you cared that I was carrying your child.”

He shuffled his feet, hooked his leg over his knee. “I did care, but you insisted you didn’t want me involved. I figured you were right, that I would make a terrible father. I decided the best thing for everyone would be for me to go to London and leave you to raise our son on your own.”

“I’m sorry I made you feel that way,” said Louisa. “You acted so cold, so distant. And Edith kept turning up. My pride wouldn’t let me tell you that I would have given anything for us to be a family.”

“My pride got in the way, too — when you registered at the clinic in Truro.”

“We both made mistakes. Sadly, they robbed the three of us of a very special time together, a time we can never have back.”

The words hit a nerve. He thought about the morning she had come into the office because she hadn’t felt the baby move. He’d listened to the heartbeat, was stirred by a feeling of joy, but he’d pushed it back. He felt fortunate now that he’d had that quiet, precious moment, touching his unborn son for the first time.

As though sharing his thoughts, she said, “At least we were together when James came into this world.”

He nodded. “After he was born, I let things get out of hand. My only excuse is that once I accepted responsibility for being a father, I felt an overwhelming need to do everything right, like sending James to the best schools.”

Louisa shifted the baby and settled him again before responding. “My nerves were on edge, and your criticism and arrogance hurt.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, forcing out the words. “It was unprofessional of me. You exhibited classic symptoms of postpartum depression. I should have recognized the signs and been more understanding.”

Smiling, she nudged him. “And doctors counsel new mothers about that, do they not?”

He shrugged. “Apparently, I was too close to the patient.”

Fiddling with the envelope in his hands, he said, “Here’s James Henry’s baptismal certificate.” He lowered his head and asked, “When we were trying to come up with a name for our son, why did you never suggest ‘Martin’?”

She sighed, “I did think of it, but always at a time when we were at odds with one another. The truth is, I thought if we named our son ‘Martin’ and you and I separated, I wouldn’t want to be reminded of you forever more.”

“Umm,” he shrugged and set the envelope down on the seat between them.

James had fallen asleep. Louisa fastened her dress and handed the baby to Martin, who patted his back gently. She picked up the envelope and opened the seal. “I asked the vicar for a favor. We couldn’t hear because James was screaming when his name was announced.”

Louisa pulled the certificate from the envelope and held it out for Martin to read.

“James Henry Martin Ellingham,” he said. “Nice.”

She put her arm through her husband’s. “Look around, Martin. We’re neither of us religious. Why is it easy for us to talk together in this holy place?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we should come more often.”

She smiled, her eyes crinkled. That smile always touched his heart, and he felt the baby respond to his emotions by snuggling closer.

“I love you, Martin. I’m miserable without you. And I know James misses you. Why do we make life so hard for ourselves when we’re together?”

He leaned back against the pew, eyes closed. “I love you, and I love our son, but I don’t know how much I can change to give you the life you want.”

She sat, thoughtful, before saying, “Maybe it’s not about change. Maybe it’s more about understanding, on both our parts. Maybe it’s more about James.”

Brushing his fingers over the baby’s head, he met her eyes and said, “I’ll try to do my part to make sure that James grows up in a happy home. I promise.”

She sighed, took his face in her hands and kissed him. Then she gathered up her purse. “We should go to the party. People will wonder what’s happened to us.”

“Not just yet.” Martin put his arm around her, and they sat together in silence, watching the flickering candles glow brighter as the chapel grew darker.


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

#13 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Of Owls — and Eagles — and Woeful Deeds”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

This story is a bit different because I have pulled a real person, Margaret Coel, award-winning author, into the fiction. All the anecdotes are true. 


“Martin,” said Louisa, as she was feeding James, “Professor Harris, who teaches the correspondence course in novels that I’m taking, emailed that Margaret Coel is coming to Portwenn!”

“Who’s Margaret Coel?”

“An American mystery writer. Her novels feature the Arapaho Indians on the Wind River Reservation. Professor Harris has arranged a ‘One Book, One Village’ event.”

“Do you think people in Portwenn have ever read one book?”

“Don’t scoff. The program is popular in America. A town selects a book and asks everyone to read it. Then the author comes to speak and sign books.”

“Hmm.” Leave it to the Americans to find ways to sell more books, he thought as he walked into the surgery.

A week later, Martin returned from a meeting in Exeter to find Louisa in the kitchen preparing dinner. The door was open, and a soft breeze played at the tablecloth. Martin picked up James from his high chair and leaned against the sink, noting the candles and flowers on the table. “What’s all this?”

“Professor Harris’ mother in Truro fell and broke her leg, which means the professor can’t act as host for Margaret Coel — you remember, the American mystery writer. Ruth has stepped in, and luckily for us, they’re coming to dinner.”

“Louisa, the last thing I want to do is have dinner with an American mystery writer.”

Ruth’s arched voice sounded in the open doorway. “We’re here, thank you, Martin. I’m sure Margaret is delighted by your warm welcome.”

“Ahem,” he coughed.

A very tall, dark-haired woman, wearing a tan leather jacket and jeans, walked into themargaret_3_04 kitchen. Ruth made the introductions, and Martin’s face burned under Margaret’s dazzling smile.

“I’m sorry to intrude,” Margaret began, but Louisa cut her off.

“Believe me, we are honored to have you. I’ve read Night of the White Buffalo, and I’m looking forward to your talk. Martin is the GP in Portwenn, so he doesn’t often have a chance to read for pleasure.”

And if I did, it wouldn’t be mysteries about cowboys and Indians, he thought, as he put James back into the high chair and joined the women at the table.

“Along with her award-winning novels,” said Ruth, as if sensing his thoughts, “one of Margaret’s nonfiction books is credited with ending a hundred years of debate among Plains Indian scholars.”

“Really?” said Martin, eyebrows arched.

“Please tell us about it,” said Louisa.

“You’re taking me back many years,” Margaret said and sat thoughtful for a minute. Then she began, “I had become intrigued by an Arapaho chief named Left Hand, described as tall, intelligent and, by most women, extremely handsome.”

She smiled and continued. “I was fascinated by the fact that, out on the plains, in the mid-eighteen hundreds, Chief Left Hand spoke English.”

“Quite an accomplishment,” said Ruth.

“I immersed myself, as well as my husband and children, in research. Using old maps, we trudged through the remnants of Arapaho villages. The past was coming alive to me.”

Taking a sip of water, Margaret looked around the table before resuming. “It was a time in history when the Indians were being squeezed out of their lands. The territorial governor ordered the Cheyenne and Arapaho Chiefs to take their people to safety at a desolate place called Sand Creek, or, as the Indians called it, the ‘no-water land.’”

Again Margaret paused. “On November 29, 1864, as hundreds of families slept and most of the warriors were away hunting, Colonel John Chivington led his mounted troops into the camp. The soldiers brutally murdered one-hundred-sixty Indians, mostly women and children. They even shot those attempting to surrender.”

“Dreadful,” murmured Ruth.

“The naked wounded fled northward, in bitter cold, to reach a Sioux camp forty miles away,” said Margaret. “When the survivors told of the horrors they had witnessed, even fierce Sioux warriors wept.”

Martin looked at Louisa, who was dabbing at her eyes with her napkin.

“Have you been to Sand Creek,” asked Ruth

“Yes, my family and I walked along that creek bed. I felt overcome by the sense of a tremendous force crashing behind us. I yelled, ‘Run!’ and started running myself.

“The kids were scared and called out, ‘What’s wrong, Mom?’

“I just yelled to keep running. I had an overpowering feeling of being chased, as though the soldiers were attacking, as they had in 1864.”

She stopped speaking, and only the caw of the seagulls broke the silence.

After a few moments, Margaret continued. “After the Sand Creek Massacre, no one knew the fate of Chief Left Hand. Another chief named Left Hand appeared in Oklahoma. Many believed he was the same man, but scholars were divided on the question. I had spent four years documenting Chief Left Hand’s world, but I couldn’t write the book because I didn’t know the ending.”

“How did you learn the truth,” asked Louisa.

“A trader named George Bent had been wounded at Sand Creek, and I had read the book about him. I went back to the Denver Public Library and asked to see the original typescript of that book,” she said, looking at Martin.

“As I thumbed through pages, two folded letters, written by George Bent himself, slipped out. In answer to a friend’s questions, he wrote that Chief Left Hand had been wounded at Sand Creek. He’d made it to the Sioux camp, but then died. The letters had been misfiled for a hundred years.”

The listeners remained silent. Even James Henry had stopped gurgling, seemingly captivated by the story.

“I was pleased to learn the truth, but also very sad, because I had grown so close to thisleft hand
man. My book, Chief Left Hand, was published in 1981, but my quest wasn’t over,” said Margaret. “I wanted to find the place where Left Hand was buried.

“One August day, my husband and I set out for Cheyenne Wells, in Colorado. We drove along a ranch road until it ran out, and we started walking. We noticed an owl, in daylight, hopping along behind us. Whenever we stopped to eat or drink, the owl watched us. ‘Strange,’ we thought.”

“Very strange,” said Ruth.

“We saw nothing but blue sky and brown earth. Then we topped a bluff and caught our breath. Stretching out before us was a field, radiant with wildflowers of every color. We looked around. The owl was gone. We knew we had found Chief Left Hand’s burial ground.”

Margaret paused, eyes lowered, “I told the story to a group of Arapaho elders, and they were totally silent. According to Arapaho belief, if a dead person chooses to return, that person will come in the form of an owl.”

Martin cleared his throat, stood and picked up James Henry, who had begun to fuss now that Margaret had stopped speaking.

The women stood up also, and Louisa walked over and gave Margaret a hug. “We’re all touched by what you’ve told us,” she said. “I look forward to hearing more at the center.” She glanced at her watch, “We’d better hurry.”

“Are you coming, Martin?” asked Ruth.

“I promised Louisa I’d look after James.” I’m sorry because I would like to hear more, he thought.

After the women left, Martin cleared the kitchen and took James into the living room. Martin sat down with a magazine, strumming his fingers on the sofa. James seemed to pick up on his restlessness and began fussing. “Come on, James, let’s take a walk.”

The night air was warm, and the full moon lit up the path as Martin wheeled James down to the community center. A little ways from the open door, Martin lifted James out of the stroller and held him in his arms. “Your mother will be out soon. We’ll walk back with her.”

Five minutes later, Margaret’s talk ended, and Martin heard Bert Large ask, “Have you ever seen Indian petroglyphs? I’ve heard tell some are 3,000 years old.”

“You’re right, and I wanted to see one myself. I was told where to look, so my husband and I hiked up a mountain near the reservation. After several hours, we came up empty and were about to leave.”

She paused, as though visualizing the moment. “I stopped, closed my eyes and said, ‘If you want me to see you, please show yourself because I can’t find you.’ I opened my eyes and there it was – right in front of me. In plain sight!”

When the applause drew to a close, Ruth announced that the program was concluded. Martin stepped aside as the crowd trickled out.

“Martin,” said Louisa, “what a nice surprise,” and she walked over, gave James a kiss, and linked arms with Martin.

“Your talk was a hit, judging from the comments,” Martin said to Margaret, as she came up to them.

2558She looked at Martin and said, “The morning I left home, I spotted an eagle circling the house. Not unusual in Boulder, but this one caught my attention. The Arapahos claim that eagles are messengers of the gods. My eye fell upon my first novel, The Eagle Catcher. Something compelled me to put it into my bag.”

Digging into her large leather satchel, Margaret pulled out a book. “I glanced out from the stage and saw your face in the moonlight. I think I was meant to give the book to you. You have the presence of an Arapaho warrior, tall, handsome, honorable.”

Martin took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry I was rude earlier. I thought your trip to Portwenn was a ploy to sell books.” He paused, looking into Margaret’s eyes. “I couldn’t have been more wrong. I found your conversation at dinner very interesting.”

Louisa squeezed his arm, and James began wriggling. Martin looked at the two of them and shivered, overcome with a sense of love and family.

Noto’uho’,” Margaret smiled. “‘My friends,’ perhaps one day you will visit Boulder. The city, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, was the favorite camping ground of the Arapahos, who loved the beauty of the place.”

“I’m not much of a world traveler,” said Martin, glancing at Louisa and James.

“I understand,” said Margaret, gesturing to the three of them. “You have the world right here in your arms.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.


Margaret Coel photograph used with permission.


#12 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “Tea Leaves and the Man of Science”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

Inspired by Martin Clunes’ involvement with the “Time for Tea” campaign, I’ve written a FanFiction piece touching on the mystique around reading tea leaves. (“Time for Tea” article can be found below this story or on the front page at karengilleland.wordpress.com).


Martin set down his stethoscope and frowned as he looked across his desk at BertScreen Shot 2014-05-29 at 5.02.48 PM Large. “Button your shirt. Your heart is fine. Why are you here?”

“I saw that Scottish woman who opened the tea shop around the corner from the Crab & Lobster. She calls herself Lady Drusilla, and she reads tea leaves, ‘Doc.’ She told me to have my heart checked. Am I having one of those hidden heart attacks you read about?”

“Utter nonsense.”

“Lady Drusilla is the real deal, ‘Doc.’ She told Joe Penhale he’d be confronting a stranger. Not an hour later, he issued a parking citation to a bloke from Exeter.”

Putting both hands to his forehead, Martin said, “Penhale is a police officer, Bert. He issues citations to strangers every day.”

Bert stood up and headed to the door. “Scoff if you like, ‘Doc,’ but Lady Drusilla sees things that other people don’t.”

“Very probably,” said Martin.

Skippy Miller, wearing his yellow slicker, limped into the consulting room. “It’s my leg, ‘Doc.’”

“What’s the matter with it?”

“Nothing that I can tell, but Lady Drusilla warned me to be careful because a fall could cause chronic pain.”

“Yes, if you were to fall, you could injure your leg, which could cause chronic pain,” said Martin clenching his teeth. “But you haven’t fallen, have you?”

“No, but I thought you could tell me what part of my leg I’d be most likely to injure so that I could watch . . .”

Martin slapped the note card down on his desk. “Mr. Miller, when you actually injure your leg, come back.” Then he added sarcastically, “Until then, wrap your leg in cotton wool and stay in bed.”

“How can I do that?”

“Out, you moron! There is nothing wrong with your leg, but if you keep worrying about it, you will trip and fall.”

Martin walked to the waiting room, where people were milling about. “Morwenna, do all these people have appointments?”

“No, ‘Doc,’ but some have had their tea leaves read by Lady Drusilla.”

“That woman is a nuisance.” He turned to the patients, “Unless you have a genuine medical complaint — right now — please leave. I’ll see the next patient with an appointment.”

In the afternoon, Morwenna came to the consulting room door. “Mrs. Gillis wants to see you. She visited Lady Drusilla this morning.”

“No, I’m not seeing any more patients with imaginary illnesses.”

“You have to examine me, ‘Doc,’” said a stout woman, brown hair pulled into a severe bun. Pushing past Morwenna, she leaned over the desk to face Martin. “The tea leaves say I have a severe medical condition.” Mrs. Gillis took several deep breaths, her bosoms straining against her blouse.

Martin stood up. “Sit on the couch, please.” He put on a head mirror and took an otoscope out of the cabinet. He examined Mrs. Gillis’ nose and felt her face around her sinuses. “You have nasal polyps and a sinus infection. I’ll give you a prescription for the infection, but you’ll need to see a specialist in Truro about the polyps. I’ll write out a referral.”

“What will they do?”

Martin was filling out a form, but he answered her question. “The doctor will surgically remove the polyps. Easy procedure, done in the office.”

Mrs. Gillis took the sheet of paper. “So, Lady Drusilla was right.” She smiled at Martin and walked out.

Anyone hearing you breathe could spot your problem. You should have come in a week ago, you imbecile, he thought, jotting a note in the woman’s file.

He walked to the reception area. Morwenna was shutting down the computer. “Good night, ‘Doc.’ What do you think about Lady Drusilla?”

“A complete charlatan. I’m going down the village to talk to her.”

Lady Drusilla’s Tea Shop was closed when Martin arrived, but he could see her through the window. He rapped at the door and tried the handle. The door was unlocked, so he walked in. He glanced around at the four tables with red-and-white checkered tablecloths that filled the small space. The room was stuffy, and the air redolent with the fragrance of tea.

A woman in her sixties, steel gray hair hanging loose around her broad face, wearing a colorful, flowing caftan, was brewing tea on the counter. Although the room was dimly lit, she wore dark, tinted glasses.

“Lady Drusilla,” said Martin, walking up to her, “I’m Doctor Ellingham. I’d like to talk with you.”

“Please, join me for a cup of tea,” she said, pointing to the table next to the counter. The sound of her voice, low and sweet, poured into the air like warmed honey.

“I didn’t come for tea. I just –“ he started, but in the close atmosphere, he felt himself drawn to the table. He sat down and said, “I’d like you to stop handing out medical diagnoses. My office has been filled with patients worried about illnesses they might never get.”

“And nobody had anything wrong?” She continued her tea-making ritual.

“One patient had nasal polyps.”

“Mrs. Gillis, yes, obvious from her breathing.” Lady Drusilla carried the small teapot to the table, sat down and poured the tea into white cups. Martin watched the graceful way she touched the teacups. He relaxed under the soft, hypnotic quality of her voice. As they sipped tea, he found himself talking about medical research. She surprised him with insightful comments.

When they finished drinking, she said, “Please, let me read the tea leaves in your cup.”

Martin shook his head. “No, thank you,” he said, pushing his chair away from the table.

Reaching over, the woman touched his arm. “Please, no need for alarm. I can tell that something about your work is bothering you. Let us see what the tea leaves reveal.”

“Sorry, I’m not interested in advice from tea leaves.”

“I come from a long line of gifted seers — clairvoyants, if you will. I believe, ‘Whit’s fur ye’ll no go past ye,’” she said in a soft Scottish burr and explained, “What’s meant to happen to you will happen.”

Martin raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders.

“You are skeptical. I understand. You are a man of science. You don’t believe the words of your bard: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’”

He shook his head. “You have a compelling presence, Madam, and I understand why people are charmed by you. But as you say yourself, I am a man of science.”

“As a man of science, then, you will want to test the unknown. Please, allow me,” and sheimages
picked up his cup and swirled it around three times. She turned the teacup over onto the saucer, pouring out the remaining drops of liquid. She righted the cup and peered into it for several minutes. “You face an important decision. You are torn between logic and your own intuition.”

“A good guess, nothing more.”

“Let me explain my gift of foresight to you, a man of science. When a person comes to me for a reading, I understand that that person is troubled. I have a conversation so I can relate the problem to the message revealed in the tea leaves. You are a person with strong convictions and deep passion. I have a sensitive nature. I felt the vibrations of your indecision. I know that people often must decide between logic and what they believe is right.”

Martin remained silent, hands folded. “The decision I must make is not trivial.”

“The tea leaves reveal that your intuition is based on knowledge, perhaps hidden in your subconscious. The message I read is, in this matter, you should trust your instincts.”

Leaning over, Martin picked up his teacup. He examined the tea leaves for several seconds. Lady Drusilla’s hands fumbled about for the cup. He watched her a moment, then pushed the cup over to her and asked, “Lady Drusilla, do you have a problem with your eyes?”

She shrugged and removed her glasses. “I’m going blind. It is the reason I left my large establishment in London.”

“Have you seen a doctor?”

“No, just as you are uncomfortable with seers, I am uncomfortable with doctors.”

Martin walked around the table and crouched down beside her chair. He touched her face and looked at her eyes. He stood up and said, “You have cataracts. A simple surgery will correct the condition. Come to my office tomorrow, and I’ll give you a referral to an Opthamologist.”

Lady Drusilla heaved a sigh and took his hands into hers. “Thank you, Doctor Ellingham. If what you say is true, I will be able to return to London.”

“I enjoyed our tea, Madam,” he said, “but I am glad to hear you will be reading tea leaves in London rather than Portwenn.”

She smiled, let go of his hands and stood. “And I am glad that I encountered you, a man of science.”

That evening, Martin was sitting at the table when Louisa returned from a school meeting. “I met Morwenna in the village,” she said. “I understand you visited Lady Drusilla.”

“I asked the Madam to stop diagnosing my patients.”

“What did you think of Lady Drusilla?”

“She is captivating, but I’m not convinced that messages from tea leaves have any bearing on reality.” Nevertheless, I have decided to trust my instincts on this occasion, he thought, but didn’t say the words aloud.

“I saw Lady Drusilla myself today,” Louisa said, looking about the room.

“Louisa, you would do well to take her advice with a grain of salt.”

“You might be surprised by what she told me,” said Louisa, turning to face Martin. “Lady Drusilla said I was strong and healthy and, despite my age, would produce many bairn.”

Martin opened his mouth, but he didn’t speak. Lady Drusilla’s words came flooding back: When a person comes to me for a reading, I understand that that person is troubled.

“Well, Louisa,” he said, “we’d better get after it, then.”

She laughed. “Martin, I didn’t think you believed in tea leaves.”

He took her hand and walked toward the stairs. “As a man of science, I’d be remiss in not testing such an intriguing hypothesis.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#11 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “Ruth Remembers”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

I’m posting this story in May in honor of Memorial Day, which is May 26 in the United States. The bombing incident is based on a true story that happened to a friend of mine, whose family lived in Liverpool during World War II.


“Have a good meeting in London, Martin,” said Louisa, holding James Henry on the front porch and watching Martin load his suitcase into the boot of the car. Louisa’s eyes misted, and she said, “I’ll miss you.”

Martin stepped up onto the porch. He let James grab hold of his car keys, looked at Louisa and mumbled, “You and Auntie Joan are the only people who have ever told me that.”

Louisa felt a wave of sadness. “Yes, I can’t imagine your mother grieving as she sent you off to boarding school.” She shook her shoulders. “Never mind. Enjoy yourself – not too much, though.”

“No danger of that. If you need anything, call me.” Martin kissed Louisa, gave James a quick hug, returned to the car and drove away.

Carrying James back into the house, Louisa looked around the reception area. “Your daddy has such a presence, James. I can still feel him in the room, can you?” The baby gurgled and smiled, as she held him close and rocked him side to side.

By the time she put James down for a nap, Louisa was feeling lonely. She called Ruth. “It’s the first time Martin will be gone overnight. I wondered if you would like to come over. We can have an old-fashioned girls’ night out, here at the house, of course.”

“Fine, I’ll bring the wine.”

James was asleep by the time Ruth arrived, and Louisa set a plate of cheese and crackers on the coffee table in front of the sofa. She poured Ruth and herself a glass of chilled Chardonnay. “Here’s to Martin,” said Louisa. “I miss him.”

Sipping wine, Ruth took asked, “You two getting along better then?”

“A bit. I’ve been wondering how long I could have stayed in Spain without Martin. I was so angry and hurt when I left, but by the time I boarded that plane, I felt lost.”

“Your mother left you and your father, didn’t she? Some might say she modeled a behavior that left an impression on a young child, a pattern that, later in life, under extreme stress, would be natural to emulate.”

Louisa sank back into the sofa, looked into her glass, holding it with both hands. “I hope that isn’t true. I like to think I make decisions based on my own wisdom.”

“You’re probably right, but parental influences can be strong.”

“Speaking of parental influences, Ruth, would you tell me about your childhood. Martin never talks about the family.”

“You met Margaret. I expect she’s a big part of the reason he doesn’t talk about the family.”

“Yes, I haven’t forgiven Margaret for the way she treated Martin, but I’d like to hear more about your family so that I can pass a little history onto James.”

Ruth refilled her glass and nibbled on a cracker and piece of cheese. She drankScreen Shot 2014-05-07 at 2.22.24 PM the wine, set down her glass and straightened her shoulders. She looked at Louisa beside her and began speaking.

“You have to remember that Christopher, Joan and I were young children during the war. Our parents had already lived through the ‘war to end all wars,’ and now our country was at war again.

“We lived in a large house in London with our Grandfather Ellingham. He realized early on that war with Germany was coming, and he had a large bomb shelter dug in our backyard.” Ruth paused, as if visualizing the workers digging the hole and pouring the concrete. “The neighbors laughed about it.

“It was a couple weeks after Christmas, 1941. Father was a surgeon in the Navy. Christopher was away at boarding school. My mother’s mother had made me a ragdoll from scraps of fabric. She had embroidered the face and used yarn for the hair. I called the doll ‘Anna.’

“One night, after we were all in bed, the air raid sirens sounded. Mother shook me awake and picked up Joan. We could hear bombs exploding nearby.  We ran out to the yard. Neighbors were running for the shelter also. It was wild and frightening, and I suddenly realized I had left Anna in the bedroom. I turned around and raced back into the house. My mother handed Joan to Grandfather and came running after me.”

Ruth stopped talking, wiped at a tear and drained her glass.

“Mother caught me, but it was too late to run back to the shelter. A plane was circling overhead. We ran inside the house and hunkered down under the stairwell. A bomb hit the kitchen, and flames lit up the sky. When the all-clear sirens came on, Mother pulled me up, and we ran to the shelter. We stayed there all night. In the morning we saw that the entire house had been destroyed.

Ruth’s voice trembled, and she stopped talking, then said, “Amazingly, I found my doll, intact, thanks to the mattress landing on it. Anna is my most treasured possession.”

Letting out a slow breath, Louisa said, “Ruth, I’m so sorry. You must have been traumatized.”

“Yes, many people who survived the war didn’t escape emotionally unscathed. Grandfather was devastated. After that raid, he, Mother and I went to stay with friends. Joan was sent to a children’s shelter in the country, thus her love of farming.”

After a short silence, Louisa said, “Thank you, Ruth. I will pass on that story to James when he is old enough to understand.”

Unknown“Good luck with that,” said Ruth, pursing her lips. “With all my training in psychiatry, I’m still not at an age where I understand war.”

Louisa reached over and poured Ruth the last of the wine. Ruth picked up the glass and said, “Father received the Victoria Cross for heroism. He left the medal to Martin in his will. He’d had an eyeful of Margaret by that time and figured she’d probably sell it if he left it to Christopher.”

“Your father sounds like an amazing man,” said Louisa.

“Martin has Father’s disciplined personality, as well as his sense of honor. Father wasn’t one for social chitchat, so Martin comes by that trait honestly,” she said and paused, “myself as well, come to that.”

At that moment, a tap sounded on the front door, and Louisa opened it to P.C. Penhale. “I saw your light on, and I know Martin is out of town. Thought I’d check everything was all right.”

“Everything’s fine, thank you, Joe. Ruth and I have been having a chat.”

“Doctor Ellingham, nice to see you.”

Ruth stood up and said, “I’d better be heading home.”

Louisa walked over to Ruth and gave her a hug. “Thanks again,” she said.

Ruth simply shrugged, but then she whispered, “Next time Martin’s away, ask me about the time I nearly married a maharaja.” She tossed her hair and slipped into her jacket.

Louisa opened her eyes wide and said, “Ruth, you take my breath away.”

“I’ll walk you home, Doctor Ellingham. I’ve got a torch. Wouldn’t like you to stumble in the dark,” said Penhale, eyeing the empty wine bottle.

“Thank you, Constable,” said Ruth, who turned to Louisa and rolled her eyes.

Clearing the table, Louisa went over Ruth’s story in her mind. She walked upstairs and looked in on James, who was sleeping peacefully.

It was nearly eleven when Louisa slipped into bed, drowsy from the wine. As she pulled up the covers, the telephone rang. She jerked the receiver off the phone. “Hello,” she said, a bit breathless.


“Martin, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. Are you and James okay?”

“Yes, we’re fine. I didn’t expect to hear from you, that’s all,” she said, breathing easier. “I imagined the worst.”

“Sorry it’s so late. I’ve been tied up with Robert. We had dinner and discussed research strategy until a few minutes ago.”

“I’m glad you called,” said Louisa, lying back down on the bed.

“What have you been doing?”

“Ruth came over to keep me company. She talked about the war and the night the family’s house was bombed.”

“Not the most cheerful subject.”

“No, but I found it helpful.”

“In what way?”

“At school, I teach the children history, and we talk about the war, of course. Until tonight, I thought of the war in abstract terms, battles and politics. Listening to Ruth’s story of sitting under the stairs while her house crashed down around her brought home the terror.” Louisa shivered.

“I’m sorry I’m not there.”

“Don’t be,” said Louisa, a cheerful note in her voice. “If you had been here, Ruth wouldn’t have gotten high on wine and told me that story.


“Did you call about anything special?”

“No,” he paused and Louisa waited. “I missed you.”

“Martin, London seems to bring out your romantic streak.”

“I’m not coming here again without you and James.”

“I like that idea.”

“I love you. Good night,” he said and hung up.

Louisa smiled at the words and gently hung up the phone. “I love you, too,” she whispered to Martin’s empty pillow.


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of https://karengilleland.wordpress.com

#10 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Dead Handsome”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

“Dead Handsome” takes place back in Series 2, with Danny Steel on the scene. I tried something new, in that I wrote the story from Martin’s point of view, which means I could get inside his head. Great fun.

The medical condition is based on that of a friend of mine. In spite of lifelong pain that puzzled doctors and was kept in check with penicillin, my friend had a witty sense of humor and a gift for colorful sayings, such as those quoted in the story.

(By the way, if you haven’t seen the 1998 film, “Shakespeare in Love,” which won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, catch it on DVD or streaming video. Along with a star-studded cast, Martin Clunes plays Richard Burbage, one of his better film roles.)


“Emergency, ‘Doc.’ Wanda Blanchett,” said Pauline, hanging up the telephone and handing Martin a patient file. “She says to bring plenty of penicillin and pain pills.”

Does she? Martin frowned at Pauline, wondering who the patient was and what she was suffering from. Before he headed out the door, however, he checked his bag for antibiotics and pain medication.

The Blanchetts’ two-story, stone house stood on a wide plot of neatly mowed grass. Martin rapped sharply at the door, and a youngster about six years old answered. He looked Martin up and down, turned his back and shouted, “Wanda, the doctor’s here!”

Another young voice from a room at the far end of the house, screamed, “Wanda, the beans’s burning!”

A madhouse, obviously. Martin walked toward the room with the burning beans. He reached the kitchen just as a girl with long, light brown hair, a bit older than the boy, let out another scream, “Wanda, the beans’s burning!”

“Why don’t you turn off the fire?” asked Martin.

“Can’t. Not allowed to touch the stove.”

“I see.” Martin walked over to the stove and turned off the burner. “There.”

She gave him a steady look and said, “Wanda Jean’s upstairs.” She crooked her finger and led him to a staircase in the back of the house. When they reached the bedroom, the girl said, “Doctor’s here, Wanda Jean.”

“’Bout time,” came the frail voice of a teenager lying on a double bed with an iron frame.

Swallowing his response, Martin opened his medical bag. He pulled out the stethoscope, put it around his neck and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Are you hurting anywhere?”

“My joints,” said the girl. “I’m too sick to die, ‘Doc.’ Don’t need an examination. Just give me the penicillin.”

“Where are your parents?”

“Work. Can you please hurry? Can’t you see I’m dying?” The girl crossed her hands on her chest and closed her eyes.

Great, a drama queen. Martin glanced around the room to find the two siblings seated on the floor by the door scowling at him. Martin bent over the girl and sighed. “If you don’t mind, I’ll examine you.”

Martin placed the scope on her chest. He bent closer. He had to listen hard to detect the faint heartbeat. He found his thermometer and discovered her temperature was one hundred three. Taking both her hands into his, Martin felt her swollen wrists.

“Stop fussin’ and give her the medicine,” said the girl by the door, and Martin could see the fear etched on her young face.

Martin took Wanda’s patient file out of his pocket. His eye ran down the first page, where Doctor Simms had listed the medicines and dosages he had administered.  This can’t be right. I’ve never given such a massive dose of penicillin to adults, let alone a child.

Looking at Wanda’s pale face, Martin closed his eyes. Simms, your treatment plan was unorthodox, but apparently it worked. I’ll follow it until we get past this crisis. Martin grabbed a bottle of pills from his case. He turned to the girl at the door. “Can you bring some water, please?” The girl nodded and left the room.

In a minute she was back carrying a small glass bottle of Coke. “Wanda Jean drinks Coke with her medicine.”

“Thank you.” Martin helped Wanda Jean to a sitting position. He slipped two tablets into her mouth and held the Coke bottle to her lips as she swallowed the pills; then he repeated the dose.

Wanda slipped sideways, eyes closed. “Wanda Jean, stay awake. Talk to me.”

“I thought you was gonna let me die, ‘Doc,’” she whispered. “Gramma Blanchett was tickling my toes.”

“What time will your parents be home? I should call for an ambulance to take you to hospital.”

“I don’t do hospitals, ‘Doc.’ I’m fine now,” she said, her voice a bit stronger.

“You’re not fine. I’ll need to read through Doctor Simms’ notes to understand what’s wrong with you.”

“Doctor Simms said I have a mysterious illness, an infection that attacks my muscles. He worried it could attack my heart. He said my heart doesn’t beat with enough force.”

Martin jotted down a note in the file. “How bad is the pain?”

“Bad, ‘Doc.'”

“I’ll leave pain tablets that you can take in an hour. Does anyone else in your family have the same symptoms?

“No.” Wanda pointed at the two children and said, “That’s Lucy, and we call the other one, Shorty. You two better get on your homework, or I’m gonna come downstairs and whomp you upside the head,” she told them in a voice that barely carried over to where the two were sitting.  Lucy and Shorty got up slowly, gave Martin a long stare and went down the stairs.

“So, you’re Doctor Ellingham. I been hearing about you,” said Wanda Jean, peering at him through lowered eyelids.


“I heard you kissed Miss Glasson and then told her she had bad breath.”


“Lucy. She’s a mini tape recorder. She was in Mrs. Tischell’s when Miss Glasson got on your case about mouthwash. Did you really say something that stupid?”

Try as he may, Martin could not hold back the smile playing at his lips.

Wanda Jean was quick to spot it. “When you first come in, all frowning and mean looking, I thought, someone’s whomped him with an ugly stick, but when you smile, ‘Doc,’ I can see that you are dead handsome.”

Martin cleared his throat. “Wanda Jean, tell me about your illness. How long have you been having these attacks?”

“I came down with rheumatic fever when I was five. The attacks started up four years ago, when I was ten. The only thing that works is penicillin, but the dose has to be higher each time. Doctor Simms was going to write me up in the medical journals,” Wanda announced with a lift of her shoulders.

“I see.” Martin looked at the girl. Her dark curly hair was matted about her face, her deep-set brown eyes crinkled at the corners, but it was her wide, generous mouth and strong bone structure that gave her face character. When she grows into her face, she’s going to be beautiful.

wandaWanda seemed to read his thoughts. “That’s Gramma Blanchett,” she said, pointing to a portrait on the tall dresser. “She was drop-dead gorgeous, and everyone says I look just like her.”

Martin looked over at the portrait and nodded, “Yes.”

Cocking her head to the side, Wanda said, “I hear Danny Steel’s back in town and courting Miss Glasson. Now that’s a pair to draw to.”

“You hear a lot for someone who spends so much time in bed.”

“You want me to go over there and punch his lights out, ‘Doc?’”

This time, Martin couldn’t hold back a chuckle before he said, “Perhaps we should wait until you’re strong enough to blow out a candle.”

One monkey don’t stop no show, ‘Doc.’ If you’re sweet on Miss Glasson, don’t let Danny Steel muscle in on you.”

Martin glanced at his watch. “It’s five-fifteen. What time will your parents be home?”


Martin picked up the slim volume on the end table. “Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice.’”

“We’re supposed to memorize that passage about the ‘quality of mercy,’” said Wanda, “but I don’t get Shakespeare. He’s always writing about lovers who kill themselves. What tosh. Catch me killing myself over some dumb boy.”

“This play is different. It features a strong heroine.”

“Portia, yeah, well.”

Martin opened the book to the “quality of mercy” scene. He started reading the passage, but soon he was reciting it by heart. As he spoke the words, Wanda’s eyes stayed glued on his face.

The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:   . . .

When he finished the entire passage, Wanda spoke in a hushed voice. “I never heard Shakespeare sound so good, ‘Doc.’”

Martin set the book back on the stand. “Next time, you can recite it for me.”

He heard the front door open. A man’s voice floated up the stairs. “Who’s here?”

Lucy’s voice answered, “Doctor Ellingham. Wanda Jean took one of her spells.”

Racing footsteps sounded on the stairs, and a dark haired, handsome man appeared at the door, his wife right behind him. The man surveyed the scene, took a deep breath and said, “Wanda Jean, you slacking off on your chores again?”

“Daddy, Doctor Ellingham here give me the penicillin – finally. I’ll be up soon.”

Rising, Martin turned to the man and woman. “Your daughter is very ill. She should stay in bed a couple days.”

Mrs. Blanchett walked over to Wanda and put a hand on her forehead. “Child, you’ll do anything to stay home from school.” She turned to Martin, “Thank you for coming, Doctor Ellingham. We’ll look after Wanda Jean now.”

“Wanda Jean should be checked out at hospital, Mrs. Blanchett.”

“No hospital. Tell him, Mommy.” Mrs. Blanchett looked at Martin and shrugged.

“But–,” he stopped, realizing the uselessness of arguing. “Stay in bed. Take three of these antibiotics four times a day.” He reached into his bag and pulled out another bottle. “Here are pain pills to take as needed.”

Martin glanced at the parents and said to Wanda, “I’ll come back tomorrow. I want to get to the bottom of your mysterious illness. You have some symptoms consistent with fibromyalgia. I’ll need to do more research and check into the latest treatments.”

Wanda beckoned Martin to lean toward her, and she winked. “Remember what I said about Miss Glasson, ‘Doc.’ Go for it. Bet ’em high and sleep in the streets.”

“Study Shakespeare, Wanda Jean.” He straightened up and looked down at the young patient, “although, I dare say, our Will could have picked up pointers from you.”

Back in the village, Martin went into the greengrocer’s for vegetables. As he stepped outside, he met Louisa and  Danny Steel walking arm in arm. “Martin, how is Wanda Jean?” asked Louisa, shaking her arm loose from Danny.

“She’ll be okay.”

“We’re headed to the pub,” said Danny. “Care to join us?”

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 8.11.13 AMMartin shook his head. Maybe I will ask Wanda Jean to punch his lights out.  A grin crossed his face, and he caught the surprised look in Louisa’s eyes.

Martin raised his chin, turned and strode down the path. Ah, yes, you called it, Wanda Jean. Dead handsome.



“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

(All “Doc Martin” articles and FanFiction can be found on the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com, and FanFiction is also collected under the “FanFiction Short Stories” Tab.)

Tina on May 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm said: Edit
Bless your heart and your golden pen, Karen. Thank you very much for giving us fans these funny, poignant, sweet and very creative stories about our favorite Doc. Please keep them coming, it is a long wait for Season 7.

#9 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “One Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words”

By Karen Gilleland © 2014

Our “Doc” may be obtuse when it comes to social graces, but he is quick to recognize an amorous rival. In this vignette, Martin reveals his understanding of art, as well as of the artist.

I, myself, feel  caught in a “Doc Martin” episode – with scans, blood tests, EKGs, and biopsies – as I prepare to undergo surgery for a small, malignant tumor. Fortunately, I am in the hands of a highly skilled surgeon. I’m keeping up my spirits writing FanFiction and watching episodes of “Doc Martin.” God bless you, Martin Clunes!

(Artwork credit: Eric Gilleland)


Louisa, walking through the harbor area, stopped to observe the tall stranger in jeans, paint-spattered shirt and western hat at anLouisa red 2 easel. His head swiveled toward her, and he said, “Hello.”

“Sorry to disturb you. I’m just admiring your painting,” said Louisa.

“Thank you,” he said, paintbrush poised in mid-air. “I’m Lawrence Stone.”

“Louisa Ellingham,” she answered. “Are you staying in the village, Mr. Stone?”

“Please, call me Stone. I’m here working on a series of seascapes for a one-man show in London.”

“Impressive.” Louisa stepped closer to the painting. She hesitated and said, “I hope you’ll forgive my boldness, but I’m headmistress at Portwenn Primary. I was thinking how lovely it would be if you gave our students some pointers about art while you’re here.”

Stone cocked his head and smiled. “I’m about to take a break. Would you like to join me for coffee, and we can talk about it.”

Sipping coffee on the patio of the Crab & Lobster, Louisa and Stone chatted about the best options. They decided on several after-school art lessons for kids who volunteered.

“The problem is funding,” said Louisa. “Good paint and brushes aren’t in our budget, and most parents can’t afford to buy them.”

“Tell you what,” said Stone. “If you will allow me to sketch you, I’ll buy the supplies and recoup my costs when I sell the picture.”

Louisa put both hands to her mouth. “Well, I—I,”

“Great, it’s a deal.” Stone looked across at her, chin on his hand, and smiled.

Louisa shifted in her seat and stood. “I’d better be going. I have a husband and baby at home, probably wondering where I am. See you Tuesday.”

“I look forward to it,” he said, rising and walking out with her.

At dinner, Louisa told Martin about the arrangements with Stone. “It’s a terrific opportunity for the kids. We even plan to host an art show and invite the village. Stone is convinced he’ll make back his costs on his sketch of me.”


“Martin, can you be a little more enthusiastic? It’s not everyday a real artist agrees to teach at Portwenn Primary.” Louisa stood up and started clearing the table.

He didn’t respond, not sure he cared much for the idea of an artist spending time with his wife.

Fifteen youngsters, as well as Louisa and two other teachers, signed up. At the first class, Stone talked about art and explained that the class would use acrylics. He gave each student a small canvas, a set of brushes and paints to start experimenting with color. “If the weather cooperates, we’ll paint outside next time,” Stone promised.

When the class ended, Stone took out his sketch pad and set up an easel near the window. “Sit here,” he directed Louisa, who wore a V-neck sweater and a gold heart on a chain around her neck. “The trick with portraits is getting the right expression,” Stone told her. “Tell me about your husband. How would you describe him?”

“Difficult.” The word blurted out, and Louisa laughed. “Martin is unique. He’s honest, trustworthy, and he is an excellent doctor. His social skills aren’t nearly so good.”

“What attracted you to him?” Stone asked, his hand sketching rapidly.

“Many people have asked me that question,” Louisa replied, her eyes crinkling into a smile. “It’s hard to put into words. We have strong chemistry between us, but we also get on each other’s nerves.”

“When did you know you were in love with him?”

“The day I met him. Martin touched my cheek and told me I hadeye3 acute glaucoma.” She smiled at the memory. “I can still feel that touch, but,” she added, “our relationship has not been easy.”

Stone continued sketching. “Have you thought of leaving him?”

“Being apart didn’t work, and now we have James Henry.”

Stone worked on in silence. “That’s enough for today,” he said finally. “We’ll finish next time.”

Louisa looked at him and frowned. “I’ll feel guilty if you don’t cover your expenses with the sketch,” she said.

“Don’t worry. I have a loyal following. I see two sketches coming out of our sittings. I’ll do very well.”

During the next two weeks, the kids painted bold designs, scenery, movie fantasy figures. On the day of the show, the artists laughed with delight trying to decide on their best painting to display.

Louisa chose her seascape, a predominantly gray-blue painting with a stark tree trunk at the edge of the canvas. The tree’s lone branch pointed toward the sea. Stone was squinting at the painting when Louisa walked up to him. “What?” she asked, smiling.

“Interesting. You have talent. Keep painting. It’s good for you. Is your husband coming tonight?”

“Yes, unless he has an emergency.”

Stone’s eyes met hers. “Louisa,” he began, but abruptly turned and waved. “See youpix tonight.”

Louisa, Stone and the teachers arrived early to set up the displays. The kids’ paintings took pride of place along the front wall. The teachers’ art was placed at one side, and Stone’s charcoal sketch of Louisa was set by itself at the back of the hall. Louisa hadn’t seen the finished sketch, and she walked over and stood in front of it.

“What do you think?” asked Stone, who came over to stand beside her.

“It’s nice, very nice. But do you think it will fetch the three hundred pounds you spent?”

Stone smiled. “Please, stop worrying. I’m not a starving artist.”

Louisa looked over at Stone, with his blond, wavy hair, blousy white shirt and black jeans, large, turquoise-and-silver pendant at his throat and turquoise rings on his fingers. “No, I can see that you aren’t.” Her eyes met his for a moment, and a surprised expression came over her face. Louisa turned and walked over to the table where the teachers were setting out refreshments. Glancing back, she saw that Stone was still watching her.

At seven o’clock, parents and other villagers arrived; and by seven-thirty, the hall was jammed. People walked around admiring the paintings and congratulating the artists. At seven-thirty, Louisa sounded a bell, and the room fell silent. She introduced the children and talked about what they had learned and how Stone had personally critiqued their work.

Thanking Stone for his time and generosity, Louisa handed him a small, foil-wrapped gift, and the audience applauded vigorously. During the applause, Martin slipped into the back of the room.

Martin spotted the easel to his left. He walked over and stood in front of Louisa’s portrait. He stood there several minutes before he felt someone watching him. He turned, and the man walked over to him. “Doctor Ellingham, is it not? I’m Lawrence Stone.”

Martin looked at the artist, nodded, but turned back to the picture without speaking.

“You’ll want to see Louisa’s painting. Let me show it to you.”

“Yes,” said Martin, and he followed Stone. Martin looked at the painting and shivered slightly.

After a moment, Stone broke the silence. “I can tell you understand art,” he said, but Martin didn’t respond. “You saw the love in Louisa’s eyes that I captured in the sketch, am I right?” and he gestured toward the easel in the back of the hall.

Martin nodded, and his raised eyebrows shot a question at Stone. “She was talking about you as I worked on that portrait.”

Martin let out a breath, and Stone continued. “This seascape, on the other hand, reveals that she feels isolated, pushed aside. The lone branch is a plea for love and security.” Stone touched the edge of the painting. “Your wife is a beautiful woman. She is deeply in love with you, but–”

Louisa walked up to the two men, smiling. “Martin, you’ve met Stone, our artist. What do you think of my painting?”

Martin looked at Stone and turned to Louisa. “Provocative.”  He stepped close to Louisa and took her hand. “I’d like to hang it in my office.”

“Of course,” Louisa answered, a puzzled note in her voice.

“I need to get back,” Martin said and moved away.

Parents surrounded Louisa, congratulating her on arranging the class and the gala. Martin turned to see Stone following him. Martin stopped and asked, “What will happen to the sketch?”

“I promised my agent I would send it to him tomorrow. He will place it with The Stockton Art Gallery in London. The owner has first refusal rights on all my art.”

“Louisa mentioned you might do two sketches.”

Stone shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “I decided not to.”

Martin locked eyes with Stone. “I see,” he said; and without further word, Martin strode out of the hall.

Two weeks later, a delivery man brought a crate into the surgery. Martin signed the receipt and took the crate into his office. He pried open the wooden slats, took out the framed sketch and hung it next to Louisa’s seascape. He sat down, gazing at the two pictures across from his desk.

Louisa walked in, saying she planned to take James for a walk. He nodded to the sketch, and Louisa looked at it. “Oh, Martin, Stone needed to sell this picture to pay for the art supplies. How much did you pay for it?”

Martin pointed to the bill on his desk. Louisa gasped, “One thousand pounds!”

“A bargain, so the gallery owner told me. Apparently Mr. Stone’s work is in high demand.” Martin stood up, facing Louisa, and ran the back of his hand against her cheek. “They say one picture is worth a thousand words. This one is worth a thousand pounds.”

Louisa smiled, but when she looked over at the portrait, a tear tickled her eyes. “Stone asked me why I fell in love with you.”


Turning back to Martin, Louisa said, “I found myself struggling with reasons, but the reason is quite simple, really. I fell in love with you because of the way you make me feel.”

Martin took her in his arms, held her close.


 “Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

Artwork credit: Eric Gilleland

All “Doc Martin” articles and FanFiction may be found on the home page: karengilleland.wordpress.com

#8 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “Erin Go Bragh”

listenedBy Karen Gilleland © 2014

I’m posting this article on April 1, which is “April Fools’ Day” in the United States. The day  seemed appropriate for this light-hearted (admittedly improbable) look at the “Doc,” whose encounter with an Irish priest offers new insight into Martin’s past.

At the same time, the song, “Boolevogue,” evokes the sadness of Father Murphy and the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

I learned about the medical issue from a local priest, now semi-retired, who, incredibly, suffered from the condition all his life before discovering this very simple cure.


Driving back from Truro, Martin spotted a man staggering at the side of the road and stopped the car. “Are you all right,” he asked the man with white, bushy hair, clear blue eyes, and wearing the cassock and collar of a Catholic priest.

“Bless you, son. No, I’m nay all right,” the man answered in a thick Irish brogue. “Myunnamed brother promised to pick me up at the bus stop. I waited an hour, but he nay came, so I started walking.”

“Do you have a problem with your feet? You seem to have difficulty walking.”

“Too true, son. My feet have tortured me for fifty years. Tis like walkin’ on razorblades.”

“Why haven’t you had them taken care of?”

“I’ve tried, son, but doctors can nay put their finger on the source of the ailment. I’ve had surgery, metal put into my feet, worn special shoes, but nothing works. I’ve had to say Mass sitting down for years.”

“Come to the surgery. I’ll have a look.” At the priest’s quizzical glance, Martin added, “I’m Doctor Ellingham, the GP in Portwenn.”

“Are you, son? Faith and Begorrah, tis a grand day that the Lord has sent a doctor to fetch
me off the road. I’m Father Timothy McKenna, County Kerry, Ireland.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 5.48.58 PMIn the consulting room, Father McKenna lay on the couch, and Martin, using the magnifier, peered at each foot. Then he applied pressure with his hands. The priest winced.

“You have ingrown corns,” said the “Doc.” “I can remove them, if you like.”

The priest gasped. “Have I wandered into the arms of Cosmos and Damian, then?”

“Excuse me?”

“Patron saints of physicians, son. Twin brothers, beheaded for the faith. If you can fix my feet, you’ll be the answer to prayer.”

Martin had the priest soak his feet. Then he took up a scraper and began to remove the ingrown corns. When he finished, he said, “It’s possible the corns will grow back. Use an  emery board to keep them filed down.”

Father McKenna slid off the couch, taking cautious steps over to the chair, where he put on his shoes. He smiled at Martin. “You’re very casual, son. What you have done is nay short of a miracle.”

Martin pulled off his gloves and washed his hands. “You can call your brother from this phone.”

“Thank you,” said the priest, still looking at Martin in astonishment. “I’m here to marry my nephew tomorrow. My brother is Patrick McKenna. Do you nay know the family?”


The priest picked up the phone and dialed a number. “Patrick, and where would you be instead of at the bus stop picking me up?” He listened, then said, “But you have a miracle worker right here in Portwenn. Why have you nay called Doctor Ellingham?”

At his words, Martin walked over to the priest. “Talk with the doctor, Patrick. It’s his very office I’m calling from.” The man handed the phone to Martin.

Martin listened as Patrick described his wife’s erratic breathing. “She may be having a panic attack. Have her breathe into a paper bag.” Martin waited until Patrick reported that Mrs. McKenna’s breathing had become regular. “She should be fine. If not, bring her into see me.”

“Did I nay tell you he was a miracle worker, Patrick,” said Father McKenna into the phone, and he began speaking in Gaelic. He hung up and said, “Patrick will come within the hour. With your permission, I’ll wait here.”

“Yes. Have a seat in reception.” Martin turned, but stopped and asked, “Would you like a cup of tea?”

“Tea would be most welcome, son. Plain will do. Thank you.”

Patrick McKenna arrived, a slightly younger version of the priest – white, bushy hair and clear blue eyes. He told Martin his wife had fully recovered. “I think Sean’s wedding has her flustered.”

Patrick looked over at his brother and said, “Timothy says you cured his feet. Tis a miracle, for sure. He has suffered for years.”

“Simple procedure. Excuse me, I need to answer the phone,” and Martin walked into his office.

When he returned to the reception area, the brothers were speaking in Gaelic, their hands moving in tempo with their words. At sight of Martin, Patrick switched to English, “Doctor Ellingham, we would be honored to have you and your family come to our Sean’s wedding tomorrow.”

“Sorry,” he said, shaking his head. “Busy.”

“Come to the bachelor party tonight,” put in Father McKenna quickly. “We’ll have a grand time. T’will be the first time ever folks will see me standing on me own two feet at a celebration.”

Louisa came into the doorway, and Father McKenna said, “You ask him to come to the party, lass. He’d nay refuse those beautiful eyes.”

Looking at the priest, Louisa smiled and said, copying his brogue, “And, sure, tis you who’ve kissed the blarney stone this very day, Father.”

The priest laughed and said to Martin. “Eight o’clock. Patrick will send Innis and Daniel for you.” He stepped close to Martin, looked up at him and winked. “You’ll come as a favor to this old man of the cloth, will you nay, son?” Before Martin could respond, the visitors disappeared through the door.

At eight o’clock, the two McKenna boys knocked at the door to face a protesting Martin. “Himself will have our heads if we nay bring you back, Doctor Ellingham,” said Innis, and the boys hustled him out the door and into their van.

“The party’s in the barn,” said Innis. “Only place big enough to hold all the kin here from Ireland. The lads each brought a bottle of whiskey from County Cork itself, and the women have laid a grand spread.” Then Innis cranked up the radio, and the boys’ heads bobbed to the music.

Twenty minutes later, Innis parked the van, and the men heard the voices of the merrymakers in the barn. When Martin stepped across the threshold, Father McKenna, microphone in hand, caught his arm.

Mo Chairde, we have a special guest. This is Doctor Martin Ellingham, the miracle worker the Lord sent to heal me wretched feet. Each man of you, come, raise your glass and salute this grand lad.” He raised his arm and shouted, “Erin go bragh!” and the room thundered with the phrase.

Martin, feeling his face flushing with embarrassment, took a glass of whiskey from Innis. The roomful of men, smiling broadly, came one by one and offered a toast –

“May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.”

“May the Lord keep you in His hand and never close His fist too tight.”

“May the sound of happy music, and the lilt of Irish laughter, fill your heart with gladness, that stays forever after.”

Each man clinked glasses with Martin and tipped back his drink. Martin sipped the whiskey guardedly, but Innis stood by, continually refilling his glass.

When the last lad toasted Martin, the harpist, fiddle player and accordionist stepped up on the makeshift stage and began playing. The men, arms around one another, joined in singing and stepping in time to the music. Timothy pulled Martin into the line, and they joined in the raucous chorus.

“And how is it you know the words to these Irish songs, Doctor Ellingham?” shouted Timothy in Martin’s ear.

“A semester at Trinity College in Dublin,” called back Martin.

After a few rounds of singing and a few more rounds of drinking, Timothy led Martin to the stage. “Here, lads, lend an ear. Our good doctor may nay have the gift of gab, but he has the voice of a true Irishman. Lead us on, lad,” he said, handing Martin the microphone, to cheers and stomps.

Martin, buoyant from the effects of the whiskey, stepped forward and began singing the bitter ballad, “Boolavogue,” in a melodic baritone. Tears came to the eyes of the men. When the song ended, the room erupted with “Erin go bragh!”

When the musicians took a break, Timothy said to Martin, “Stay close. You’ll nay want to miss the jokes.”

Innis came over to Father Timothy and said, “Start us off with your ‘Rory’ joke, Father. It would nay be a party without it,” and he handed the priest the microphone.

Father Timothy stepped on stage to cheers. “Sad to tell,” he began, “but Mike O’Connor’s beloved dog, Rory, was hit by a car. Mike asked Father O’Shea if Rory could be buried in the Catholic cemetery. ‘Oh, no, tis sacred ground. We don’t allow animals,’ said Father O’Shea. ‘Ask at the Church of the Holy Word on the corner.’

“‘Thanks, Father,’ said Mike. ‘Do you think I should offer three thousand pounds or four to bury Rory?’

“Father O’Shea raised his hands. ‘Hold on, now, son, you nay did tell me the dog was Catholic.’”

The crowd hooted and clapped. Then a string of lads stepped on stage to tell other time-honored stories, and the music began again.

At twelve o’clock, the band struck up “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen,” and Innis and Daniel appeared at Martin’s side. Each took one arm and walked him out to the van. At the surgery, the boys opened the front door and helped Martin inside, shushing his rendering of “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral.”

“I heard singing,” Louisa said, coming down the stairs in pajamas.

“Sorry to wake you,” said Innis. “Tis a grand voice, the doctor has.”

“I’ll take him from here,” she said. “Thank you.”

Louisa helped Martin stagger up the steps and into the bedroom. He flopped onto the bed, eyes closed. Suddenly, his eyes popped open. He raised an arm straight up and shouted, “Erin go bragh!”

“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

#7 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “The Lady from Belgravia”

By Karen Gilleland © 2014

I wondered about the “Doc’s” early days as a surgeon and what case might have
 sent his career into high gear. My imaginary journey took me to Belgravia, the most exclusive district in London, if not the world.

This FanFiction is dedicated to my husband, who was fortunate to have a surgeon of the caliber of the “Doc” when he experienced a heart condition similar to the patient’s in this story.

If you have watched “Doc Martin” Series 6, this story would fall between Episodes 1 and 2. It is the type of story I would like to have seen in S6 before the relationship between Martin and Louisa began to unravel.

I’m posting this story on my birthday as a thank-you treat for all of the great viewers who have been so encouraging in their comments about my FanFiction.


Martin sat reading the Clinical Medical Journal at the kitchen table, occasionally making notes on a yellow tablet. Louisa stepped behind him and massaged his neck and shoulders. “Nice,” he murmured, setting down his pen.

“Dad read the paper at the table. I used to rub his neck when he was feeling low after Mum left. He’d say, ‘Princess, one day I’ll take you to Buckingham Palace, and you’ll fall in love with a prince.’”

A sharp rap at the front door caused Martin to look at his watch. “Nine o’clock. I’ll get that.”

0He opened the door to a petite woman, whose beautifully coifed, silver hair shone in the moonlight. She stood ramrod straight, and her intense, green eyes reflected the shimmering diamond-and-emerald broach she wore at her neck. “Martin,” she said, extending her hand.

Martin took her hand, a puzzled look on his face. “Do I know you?” he asked, gesturing her toward the consulting room. She sat in the chair, and Martin walked around and sat down at the desk.

“You may not recognize my face, but I expect you would recognize my scar,” she said in a deep, throaty voice with a posh accent. “I am Lavinia Hemingsford-White. About fifteen years ago, doctors diagnosed me with inoperable lung cancer. Dying on the operating table seemed preferable to living a few more months in agony. A friend, Robert Dashwood, recommended one of his gifted, new surgeons. Thanks to that young man, I am here to request help again.”

“My first patient. Of course, I remember the case. What can I do for you today?”

“The problem concerns my husband, Yardley. We were aboard our yacht headed toward Spain yesterday when Yardley complained of chest pains. The nearest hospital was in Truro, so we had a helicopter fly him there. The result is that he requires a quadruple bypass. Unfortunately, there are complications that render the surgery dangerous.”

“I’m no longer a surgeon –” Martin began, but she cut him off with a wave of her hand.

“I am an extremely wealthy woman, Martin. I have made it my business to keep track of the man who saved my life. I know about your haemophobia. I know you overcame it and were offered a position as head of vascular at Imperial.”

“I see.”

She leaned forward, planted both hands on his desk and riveted his attention with those radiant green eyes.

“Martin, I came here, in person, to beg you to handle Yardley’s surgery.”

“I’m not on staff at Truro,” protested Martin, shaking his head. “Not to mention that I haven’t operated a long time.”

“Robert has promised that, if you agree, he will arrange to waive formalities.”

Martin stood up and paced the floor. He stopped, leaned against the desk, bent toward her and said, “What you are asking could put your husband’s life at risk.”

“My husband’s life is already at risk.”

Martin began pacing again, arguing with himself. “I can’t promise,” he said finally, “but I will go to Truro tomorrow and talk with your husband’s physician.”

“Fair enough.” Mrs. Hemingsford-White stood up and handed Martin an engraved card. “You will find me at the hospital.” Martin escorted her to the door, where her driver helped her down the steps.

“Emergency?” asked Louisa, raising her eyes from the papers she was grading as Martin came into the kitchen.

Martin handed her the card. “Belgravia?” Louisa said. “Very upper crust. Do you know her?”

“She was my first patient and, undoubtedly, responsible for my rapid success. She glorified me to her friends, and word got around.”

“Why is she in Portwenn?”

Louisa listened without comment as Martin explained about Yardley. When he finished, she asked, “How do you feel about operating?”

“I’m not sure. It’s a very risky case, but I promised I would talk to the doctors in Truro tomorrow. I’m going to call Robert.”

Martin went into the office and reached Robert at home. The lengthy conversation ended with Robert’s agreeing to be part of the surgical team.

At Truro in the morning, Martin met with Yardley’s physician, who had been briefed by the man’s London doctor.

“A year ago, Yardley had been diagnosed with a blood vessel anomaly in his brain and put on blood thinners to reduce the risk of stroke. No need to tell you, the blood vessel issue elevates the risk of surgery.”

Martin went to a consulting room and studied scans of the man’s heart and brain on the computer. Then he ordered several new tests. About three o’clock, Martin went into Yardley’s room. Mrs. Heminsford-Whitesat in an easy chair near the bed.

“Mr. Ellingham,” said Yardley, “what do you think of my chances?”

Martin raised his eyebrows, taking a moment to frame his concerns. Then he answered crisply. “Your heart is still in a state of arrhythmia, but the Metoprolol is beginning to take effect. Your white blood cell count is marginal, but not dangerously low. You have one artery that is ninety-eight percent blocked. Another is ninety-six percent blocked, and the other two are ninety-five percent blocked.”

“Is that all?” Yardley smiled.

“No, you have been taken off blood thinners in preparation for surgery. The pulsating blood vessel in your brain could erupt and kill you instantly.”

Yardley blinked, looked at his wife and back at Martin. “A long shot then?”

Martin nodded. The room filled with silence before Yardley drew his shoulders square and said,  “You will operate yourself?”

“I would fail in my duty if I did not encourage you to engage the surgical team here at Truro. They have more recent experience than I have, and Robert will be assisting.”

“Martin,” Mrs. Hemingsford-White stood up to her full height of five feet, “we understand that you have not operated in quite a while. Nevertheless, Yardley and I would like you to take charge.”

She held out both hands. Martin looked at her and Yardley and came to a decision he hoped he would not regret. “I’ll schedule surgery for nine in the morning.”

Lavinia smiled and held onto Martin’s arm as she walked out of the room with him. “I do realize that Yardley’s chances are slim,” she said quietly, “but I am relieved that he will be in your hands – whatever the outcome.”

Next morning, the surgical team, scrubbed and in position, stood by as Yardley was wheeled into the operating theater. Martin looked at Robert, who grinned and said, “Good to have you back.”

Martin nodded, looked at the anesthetized patient, checked vital signs and said to the Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 8.36.24 AMteam, “Ready.”

The nurse handed Martin the scalpel. He breathed deeply and made the initial incision.

Six hours later, Martin, still in scrubs, approached Mrs. Hemingsford-White in the waiting room. “Your husband has survived surgery. The next twenty-four hours will be critical, but I think his chances are very good.”

Mrs. Hemingsford-White sank into the chair, eyes closed. She wiped at a tear before saying in an even huskier voice than usual, “Thank you, Martin. I am now indebted to you for saving two Hemingsford-Whites. How can I repay you?”

Martin raised his palms and shook his head.

“I know you won’t accept money, but if there is ever anything I can do, please ask.”

Martin thanked her, turned to leave, but stopped. “There is one thing—“

Back home, Louisa was putting away the supper dishes. “I have a plate warming in the oven,” she said. “How are you?”

“Fine,” he said, sitting down at the table, as Louisa put on an oven mitt and pulled out the dish.

“Martin, a little more, please. How did you handle surgery?” She sat down across the table from him.

“Umm,” he murmured. “No nausea. The operation was delicate and challenging, but everything went smoothly.” His eyes rested on the medical journal he had set down on the table. “I felt as though I’d never left.”

Louisa reached over and touched his hand. “I’m glad. How is the patient?”

“Yardley will be airlifted to London in a few days and will recuperate at home. His wife has already arranged around-the-clock nursing care. She’s a very persuasive lady, Mrs. Hemingsford-White.”

Four days later, Mrs. Hemingsford-White came to the surgery in Portwenn. She and Martin stood together in the consulting room. “Yardley has done so well that the doctors are allowing him to fly home today,” she said. “I came to thank you in person for saving his life.”

The woman took both of Martin’s hands into hers, her green eyes flashing a smile of gratitude.

“I expect he will make a full recovery, Mrs. Hem–”

“Lavinia, please. I count you as one of my most valued friends.”


“I brought this for you,” she said, taking a large manila envelope out of the suede tote slung over her shoulder and handing it to him.

He pulled out the enclosure and said, “Thank you.”

Lavinia smiled and said, “I must hurry. The helicopter will be in Truro within the hour.” At the door, she beckoned Martin to come closer, and she tiptoed up to kiss him on the cheek. “Good bye. I hope I won’t be seeing you again professionally, but you and your family are always welcome in our home.”

“Yes,” said Martin, his face reddening.

That evening, Louisa, who had made a habit of giving Martin a neck massage while he was reading, was running her hands through his hair. “Nice,” he murmured and reached for her hand before she walked away. “I have something for you.”

He took out the manila envelope tucked inside his journal and handed it to her.  She walked over to the chair and sat down.

“Open it.”

Louisa reached into the drawer, pulled out a knife, and slit the envelope carefully so as not to disturb the seal. “An invitation to Buckingham Palace!” she breathed.

“I told Mrs. Hemingsford-White you would enjoy that evening tour of the palace that you weren’t able to get tickets for when we were in London.”

“Martin, this invitation is not for a tour. It’s an invitation to tea!”

“What!” he walked around and read the invitation over her shoulder. “How did she manage –“

Martin sat down next to Louisa, whose eyes sparkled. He looked wistful and said, “When you have tea at Buckingham Palace, I hope you won’t regret that you never fell in love with a prince.”

“I won’t regret,” Louisa said, kissing him lightly. “I did fall in love with a prince — and I married him.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

#6 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Agatha Brayzon”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 12.45.24 PMStrictly for laughs, this story features P.C. Penhale as he goes nose to nose with a suspected hit man in Portwenn.

“Agatha Brayzon” is, of course, a tip of the hat to M.C. Beaton’s wonderful character, Agatha Raisin, perhaps the closest fictional female to the “Doc.”

“Agatha plucked the magazine from the receptionist’s hands. She leaned over the desk. ‘Move your scrawny butt and tell that shyster he’s seeing me.’”

– M.C. Beaton, The Quiche of Death


The short, balding man with thick, horn-rimmed glasses slid off the examining couch and sat down in the chair across the desk from Martin.

“Mr. Seymour, you have carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. You say you’re on the computer 10 hours a day. You have to stop before the pain becomes chronic.”

“Can’t, Doctor, I’m on deadline for my next novel. I came down from London to get away from distractions and focus on work.”

Martin pulled out his prescription pad and began writing. Then he looked over at Mr.Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 5.15.46 PM Seymour and said, “Dictate the story and have a typist transcribe it.”

“Patient confidentiality, right?” said Mr. Seymour, glancing around the room, eyebrows raised.

“Of course.”

“I was an attorney. When I wrote my first book, I didn’t want people to know I had written such trash, so I used a pseudonym, ‘Agatha Brayzon.’ Killers Never Get Caught was a smash hit, and now I’m on my tenth novel. The publisher has spent a lot of money creating the image of Agatha Brayzon as a sexpot, and I’m under contract to keep my identity secret.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I can’t have anybody else type my manuscripts.”

“What about your wife?”

“Not married.”

Martin opened a desk drawer and took out an advertisement. “This voice-recognition software is aimed at doctors; nevertheless, it may solve your problem.”

Donald Seymour took the flyer, tucked it into his pocket with the prescription and left the office. As he walked by Morwenna, he noticed a paperback book on her desk.

“Agatha Brayzon,” said the man, “what do people see in that tripe?”

“Are you kidding? Her thrillers are the rage. In this one,” Morwenna said, tapping the book, “Desmond and Diana are trapped in a volcano. I can’t wait to see how they escape.”

“Maybe they sprout wings and fly out,” Donald sneered and walked out the door.

Several days later, Donald was walking home when he met his neighbor, Mrs. Fry, a plump woman with expressive brown eyes and dark, wavy hair. She was carrying a trash bag to the street and sweating profusely. “Lovely day,” she said, “although a bit hot for my comfort.”

Donald nodded, hurriedly unlocked his door and stepped inside. Before closing the door, however, the man turned, his eyes following Mrs. Fry out to the street. “How can Agatha Brayzon write such steamy scenes when I can’t even speak to the lovely lady next door,” he murmured.

The room was hot, so Donald opened all the windows in hopes of catching the sea breeze. He pulled his manuscript out of the desk drawer and flipped through pages as he walked over to the sofa. He smiled at the microphone on the end table. “Come on, Myrtle,” he said. “Time to go to work.” He settled down and began dictating.

“Get rid of the dame next door,” he said in a gruff voice.

“Permanently?” he said, in his own voice.

“Yes, take care of it. Tonight. Strangle her, quiet like. Then take the boat and drop her body in the ocean.”

Next door, Mrs. Fry sat down to read the paper with a lemonade and bowl of crisps. As Mr. Seymour’s voice floated through her open window, she sat bolt upright. “Strangle me!” she gasped, hand clutching her neck. She jumped up, spilling the crisps onto the carpet. She rocketed out the door and up to the police station.

P.C. Penhale raised his hands as she rushed in. “Whoa, slow down, Mrs. Fry. You’ll have a heart attack.”

“Better a heart attack than murdered by that villain,” she shouted.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 12.45.24 PM“Mrs. Fry, who wants to murder you, and why?”

“I heard him – Mr. Seymour next door – he’s a hit man! I don’t know why they want to murder me. Maybe they want this diamond pendant that Gerald, God rest his soul, gave me,” she grasped the tiny pendant in a tight fist. “Well, they shan’t have it!”

“Please, sit down and tell me exactly what you heard.”

Mrs. Fry repeated the conversation, embellishing as she went along — from strangling to stabbing. “He plans to dump my body in the sea!” A hushed silence followed her torrent of words, and the two looked at each other.

Suddenly, the telephone shrilled, piercing the tense silence, and both Penhale and Mrs. Fry jumped. Penhale stared at the phone. “It’s him!” Penhale said, picking up the receiver. “You want to know police procedure when a body is found at sea?” repeated Penhale. “I can’t divulge that information. Sorry,” and he slammed down the phone.

Penhale swallowed and stood up. “It looks like I’ll be going eyeball to eyeball with a hit man again.”


“Well, the other hit man turned out to be a photographer using a telephoto lens,” he shrugged. “I had to pay for his camera.”

Mrs. Fry’s hands began shaking. “Shouldn’t you call Scotland Yard?”

“No, Mr. Seymour’s in my patch now. I’m trained to handle killers,” said Penhale, lunging into a karate stance. “Where will you be tonight?”

“Playing pinochle at the pub, Mind you, I’ll be putting my winnings down my bra.” Penhale turned his head as she demonstrated what she planned to do.

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Fry, “I’ll ask Bert and Al to keep an eye on you inside the pub. When you come out, I’ll be waiting.”

At ten o’clock, the pinochle game broke up. Mrs. Fry, teeth clenched, stood up and walked toward the door.

“Mrs. Fry,” called Donald Seymour, setting his beer mug on the bar, “I’ll walk you to the house.”

“No need,” she said, her eyes big and round.

“I just need to pay my tab. Wait for me,” Seymour said, but Mrs. Fry marched out the door.

Mr. Seymour tossed coins on the bar and turned to walk out. Bert stood up, momentarilyScreen Shot 2014-02-18 at 5.02.54 PM blocking his way. Seymour brushed past Bert and caught up to Mrs. Fry as she was hurrying up the path. He raised his hand and started to say her name, but P.C. Penhale sprang out from a doorway and grabbed his arm. “Got you!” Penhale shouted and pinned Seymour’s arms behind his back. “You are under arrest for the attempted murder of Mrs. Fry.”

Donald Seymour’s heart pounded. His glasses flew off. His eyes goggled in his head. He felt himself slipping down to the pavement.

Penhale gasped, pulled out his phone and punched in a number. “Doc, come quick! Mr. Seymour is having a heart attack.”

“Good job, Joe. Me and Al saw everything,” said Bert, stooping over Mr. Seymour. “He looks like a gonner, don’t he, Al?”

Martin came running. “Out of the way!” he yelled, pushing Bert aside. He examined Mr. Seymour and said. “He isn’t having a heart attack. He’s having a panic attack.” Martin turned to Penhale. “What happened?”

“He’s a hit man, ‘Doc.’ I’ve got him on Murder One.”

“Are you insane, Penhale?”

“It’s true, ‘Doc.’ He’s a murderer, well, attempted-murderer.”

Mrs. Fry was breathing heavily, and Mr. Seymour was feeling around on the ground. “Al, find Mr. Seymour’s glasses. Then all of you come into the pub.”

Martin put his stethoscope back into the case and followed them inside. “Sit down and tell me what’s going on.”

Mrs. Fry described overhearing Mr. Seymour’s plot to kill her.

“Mr. Seymour was going to stab you, is that right?” said Martin. “Where’s the knife, Penhale?”

Penhale walked over to Seymour, who still felt woozy, and patted him down. “No knife,” Penhale said, shrugging his shoulders.

“I meant, ah, he intended to strangle me,” Mrs. Fry insisted.

“Impossible,” said Martin. “Mr. Seymour has carpal tunnel syndrome in his wrists, which means he does not have enough strength in his hands to strangle anyone.”

Mr. Seymour rubbed his forehead and blinked to clear his vision. “Dear me,” he said, looking at Mrs. Fry, “I know what’s caused all this fuss. I was reading one of those Agatha Brayzon books out loud. You must have heard the part where the thug planned to murder the stripper.”

“Stripper? Why I never–” said Mrs. Fry, breast heaving.

“No—er — I’m sorry, Mrs. Fry, I never meant to frighten you. I like reading aloud. I’ll keep my windows shut in future.”

Mrs. Fry’s eyes met Mr. Seymour’s, and her voice softened. “No need. Come to that, I quite like the sound of your voice.”

Donald Seymour’s face flushed. “Allow me to walk you home,” Donald said, using the back of the chair to push himself up. He looked at Mrs. Fry, took a deep breath and plunged ahead, “You’re a very attractive woman, Mrs. Fry, I can see how you could drive a man to desperate lengths.”

Mrs. Fry’s mouth dropped. “Please, call me Jeanine,” she said, pushing back a lock of hair. She took Mr. Seymour’s arm, and the two sashayed out of the pub.

The “Doc” shook his head. “Penhale, the next time you arrest a murderer, make sure you have a dead body.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

#5 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “Riddle Me This”

 By Karen Gilleland © 2014

This story highlights the “Doc’s” medical acumen, as he must diagnose a mysterious illness  that is draining the life out of a young patient.

The story is dedicated to a family in Colorado.

See important information in a “Reply,” posted under the FanFiction tab, which is also included at the end of “Riddle Me This.”


Nine-year-old Johnny Evans, rings of red curls covering his head, walked into the “Doc’s” reception area followed by his mom. Johnny said to Morwenna, “Riddle me this. I run but never walk. I murmur but never talk. I go but never stop. What am I?”puzzle piece

“You’re late,” Morwenna answered. “‘Doc’ is waiting for you. Go on in now.”

“Awe, Morwenna,” Johnny said. “You’re no fun.”

Mrs. Evans took Johnny’s arm and herded him into the consulting room. Martin, writing on a yellow tablet, looked up and reached for his patient notes. “You’re Johnny Evans?”

“Yes,” said Mrs. Evans, still holding the boy’s arm. “Johnny isn’t feeling well. His temperature is normal, and he isn’t coughing or anything, but I thought I’d better bring him in to see you.”

The “Doc” stood up, motioned Johnny toward the examining couch, and lifted the slim child up onto it. “Do you hurt anywhere?”

“No. I just feel draggy. Then he smiled and said, “Riddle me this, ‘Doc.’ I run but never walk. I murmur but never talk. I go but never stop. What am I?”

“A river.”

“That’s right,” said Johnny, his large blue eyes opened wide. “How did you know?”

“Shush, I want to listen to your chest.”

On finishing his examination, Martin turned to Mrs. Evans. “His chest is clear. His heart rate is good. There’s no sign of a sore throat or ear infection. My guess is he has a minor virus. Have him rest today. If he isn’t better tomorrow, come back in.”

The next day, Mrs. Evans brought Johnny back to the surgery, supporting him with her arm.

Morwenna took one look and said, “I’ll tell ‘Doc’ you’re here.”

As Morwenna stood up and walked out from behind the desk, Johnny said in a quiet voice, “I am an odd number. Take away one letter and I become even. What am I?”

“You’re making me feel stupid. Stop it,” said Morwenna, who pulled his file out of the cabinet and went into the consulting room. “’Doc,’ Johnny Evans is back. He doesn’t look good at all,” she said, handing Johnny’s file to Martin.

“Have him come in,” said Martin, reading the notes he had made on Johnny the day before.

“Riddle me this, ‘Doc,’” said Johnny as he entered the office. “I am an odd number. Take away one letter and I become even. What am I?”

The “Doc” shook his head at Johnny and said, “Seven.”

Johnny put his hand up for a high five, but the “Doc” ignored him. “You rock, ‘Doc.’ Nobody else guessed that one.”

“I’ve no time for foolishness. You’re back, so you must be worse. Let’s get you up on the couch. How do you feel?”

“Not good.”

After examining Johnny, the “Doc” rubbed his chin and said, “Mrs. Evans, I can’t find anything to explain Johnny’s condition. I want you to take him to hospital right away. I’ll give you an order for some tests.”

Johnny looked at his mom, his lower lip quivering. She put her arm around his shoulders. “It’s all right, son. ‘Doc’ Martin knows what’s best.”

About seven in the evening, Martin received a call from the hospital. “We’re puzzled about Johnny Evans, Dr. Ellingham. We ran the tests you ordered, as well as others, and nothing abnormal showed up. But Johnny’s vital signs are weakening. We’re keeping him here. We’re keeping a close watch on him.”

“Thanks for letting me know. Please keep me informed.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 1.36.39 PMMartin switched on the computer and searched through dozens of medical sites. Three hours later, he shook his head and rubbed his eyes. Then he picked up the journal that had arrived that morning. He scanned the table of contents and turned the pages to a case study of a patient in America. After reading the article, he rose from the desk and ran lightly upstairs to tell Louisa he was leaving for the hospital.

“At this time of night, Martin?” Louisa asked in a sleepy voice. “Can’t you just call?”

“No.” He turned away, but stopped and walked back to the bed. “Good night,” he whispered and gave Louisa a light kiss on her cheek. Her lips curled into a smile even though her eyes remained closed.

At hospital in Truro, the receptionist told Martin that Johnny had been moved to intensive care. Martin strode down the hall to the unit, introduced himself to the nurse behind the counter,  and asked her to page the attending physician.

Martin opened the door to Johnny’s room quietly. Mrs. Evans was sitting on a plastic chair in the corner, head slumped down, eyes closed. Johnny lay on the bed amid tubes and monitors, his red curls matted against the pillow. An oxygen mask covered his nose and mouth. Martin touched Johnny’s forehead lightly with the back of his hand, and the boy’s eyes flickered.

“It’s Doctor Ellingham, Johnny. How are you feeling?”

Johnny looked up and shook his head. Martin opened his bag and pulled out two cotton swabs.

“Doc,” said Johnny, pushing aside the oxygen mask from his face. “Riddle me this,” his voice a whisper. “I am a five-letter word. Take the second letter away, and I’ll go away. What am I?”

Martin looked at the monitors recording the boy’s vital signs. “No, Johnny, I know the answer, and I’m not going to let that happen. Open your mouth. I want to take swabs of your throat. You will have to stay very still.”

“Don’t . have . sore . throat, ‘Doc,’” he stammered.

“Shush.” Martin dabbed Johnny’s throat with the cotton swabs. He was putting the swabs into separate plastic containers when a doctor came into the room.

“Dr. Ellingham. I’m Thomas Sharma.”

“Let’s step outside,” said Martin. The two men stood in the hallway, and Martin said, “I’ve taken two swabs from the boy’s throat. I want a Rapid Strep Test and a culture test done immediately.”

“Strep? But he doesn’t present any symptoms — no fever, swelling, spots or coating on his throat or tonsils.”

“It’s a long shot, but I read about a case in America where a girl Johnny’s age showed no signs of strep whatsoever, so she wasn’t tested for it. Despite a battery of other tests, the girl died within days of entering the hospital. According to the autopsy, death resulted from strep throat.”

“The RST will take 15 or 20 minutes, but the culture will take 24 to 48 hours,” said Dr. Sharma, still hesitant.

“We’re wasting time. Take these samples to the lab. Now,” Martin said, shoving the two containers into the doctor’s hands.

Martin turned sharply and went over to the nurse’s station. “Please find a room where Mrs. Evans can lie down.” The nurse shook her head, but Martin put up a restraining palm, turned and walked back to Johnny’s room. Mrs. Evans stirred as the door opened and closed.

“Mrs. Evans, the nurse is going to find a room where you can rest. I’ll stay with Johnny. Does he have any allergies to medicine, particularly antibiotics?”

“No, he’s had antibiotics before.”

A young nursing assistant with a bright smile peeked into the room. “Please come with me, Mrs. Evans,” she said, and held the door open.

“Thank you, Doctor,” Mrs. Evans said to Martin as she crossed the room.

After Mrs. Evans left, Martin pulled the chair over beside the bed and settled into a position where he could watch both the boy and the monitors.

Within half-an-hour Dr. Sharma pushed open the door and walked over to Martin with paperwork in his hands. “You were right. The RST shows streptococcus.”

Martin looked at the report and said, “Let’s get a large dose of amoxicillin into him.”

Both doctors watched as the nurse gave Johnny the injection, but the boy never woke up. Martin sat back down in the chair, and Dr. Sharma left. Night merged into morning, with the duty nurse coming in at various hours to record vital signs; all the while Martin kept vigil over the sleeping child.

About six in the morning, Mrs. Evans came back into the room. Martin stood up. “Johnny has strep throat, Mrs. Evans.” The woman looked alarmed, and Martin added, “We gave him an antibiotic, and his vital signs are holding steady. I think he is going to be okay.”

Mrs. Evans’ shoulders relaxed, and she said, “Thank you, Doctor. You go on and take a break.”

Martin nodded and walked toward the door, glancing back at Johnny. The boy was still in a deep sleep. Martin went down the hall to the loo, then returned to the nurse’s station, where he phoned Louisa.

“Coffee?” the nurse asked and poured him a cup of very dark liquid.

Inhaling the fragrance from the steaming cup, Martin took a cautious sip. He carried theScreen Shot 2014-02-13 at 3.13.28 PM
mug over to the window and stood looking out over the parking lot, perspiring at the thought of how close he had come to losing the boy.

When he finished the coffee, he walked back to the nurse’s counter and set down the empty cup. “Thank you,” he said.

Martin returned to Johnny’s room just as the boy was opening his eyes. His mother ran her hands over his hair and kissed his forehead. When Johnny spotted Martin, he nudged the oxygen mask away from his mouth and said, “‘Doc’?”

“I’ll wait outside the door,” said Mrs. Evans.

Martin walked over and sat down, hands on the railing of the bed. When he looked at the small bundle under the white sheet, his shoulders gave a shudder. Then he shook a finger at Johnny, “Riddle me this. I cost money. I’m sugary sweet, and I rhyme with part of a fork. What am I?”

Johnny scrunched up his eyes, balled his hands into fists and then smiled. “I’m fine!” he said, widening his eyes at Martin.

“Yes. You have strep throat. We gave you a dose of amoxicillin. You’ll need to stay in hospital for a few days and continue to take the antibiotic for a week, but I think the worst is over.”

Tears rolled down Johnny’s cheeks. “I was scared, ‘Doc.’”

“I was too,” admitted Martin, “but apparently you’re tougher than you look.”

Johnny, head bowed, mumbled, “You understood the riddle, didn’t you?” He looked up at Martin and said, “I am a five-letter word. Take the second letter away and I’ll go away. What am I?”

Martin sighed and nodded. “The word was ‘dread.’ Remove the second letter, the ‘r,’ and you would be ‘dead.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

The original reply from Bruce is posted at the bottom of the FanFiction tab. It is important enough that I am including it here as well.

Nicely written story. The medical concerns about strep are valid and serious. A relative of mine, a healthy, young man in his early 30s, felt poorly one day in December, went to Urgent Care, was given medication to ease his discomfort, went home and died the next morning. An autopsy revealed he had a rare form of strep. If you are diagnosed with strep, take it seriously and get medical help.

#4 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “Decisions”

By Karen Gilleland © 2014

This story follows up “Dignity and Courage,” where Martin and Louisa attended a dinner in honor of Robert Dashwood in London. Here, we see Martin struggling with a decision that could tip the precarious balance of his relationship with Louisa. 


“You never said what you and Robert talked about so intently during that dinner in Ep 3 2London,” said Louisa, dressing James in blue knit tunic and turning to look at Martin.

“As I recall, we found better things to do that night than talk medicine.”

“Yes, but Robert will be here shortly, and you haven’t said why he’s coming.”

“He didn’t tell me why he was coming.”

The doorbell rang, and Martin hurried downstairs.

The two men shook hands, and Robert asked, “Might we have a word in private, Martin?” Robert asked.

“Of course.” Martin guided him into the consulting room and gestured to the bottle of whiskey he had set on the cabinet. “Dalwhinnie?”

“A tiny drop. I have a meeting in Truro in an hour,” Robert said, glancing at the clock, which read half-past six.

Martin poured a small measure of Scotch into a glass and handed it to him. He and Robert and Martin stood facing each other between the desk and the examining couch.

“Martin, I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m here.”

“I understand you’re putting together a committee. You’re looking for members?”

“Not exactly,” said Robert, sipping his drink. “I’m aware of your views on committees.”


“You’re not too wide of the mark, however. It’s a loosely kept secret that we have funding to set direction for a broad spectrum of medical research for the next five years. I’m putting together a very focused task force. It will have much more teeth than a committee.  I came to ask if you would you be willing to lead the task force.”

Lead it. Sorry, Robert, I’m not interested in leaving Cornwall.”

“No need,” he said, gesturing at the surroundings. “With email, Skype, teleconferencing, you can lead the effort remotely.”

“Why not someone inside the medical circuit in London. I’ve been out of the loop a long time.”

“I prefer someone ‘out of the loop,’ as you say,” he said, setting down the empty glass.

“Why?” asked Martin, head tilted and eyebrows raised.noname

“We’re talking a great deal of research money. The leader will have considerable influence.  I need someone free of political ties, someone who doesn’t owe any favors.” He pointed toward Martin. “You don’t owe anyone favors. Am I right?”

Martin nodded.

“Not to mention, I need a person with a first-class mind, up to date on the latest theories and practices.”

“So you were grilling me at dinner?”

“Yes, I needed to make sure your medical knowledge was current. You might have let things slip down here in this idyllic environment.”

“Not likely.”

“No,” Robert paused. “The leader has to have a broad vision. A specialist’s view would be too narrow. A GP fits the bill. Do you agree?”


“Most importantly, the person has to be someone whose judgment I trust implicitly — and a person with the courage of his convictions.”

Martin remained quiet.

“In two weeks, I will announce the names of the task force members, all doctors at the top of their fields. Their charge is to identify the key research areas of the future. They’ll document their proposals, estimate costs and submit them to you. You will select the projects we should move forward with and prioritize them. Based on your recommendations, I will release funding.”

“Wow.” Martin whistled. He poured himself a glass of water, drained the glass and leanednoname back on the desk. “It’s tempting, I admit, but realistically, the time commitment will be monumental. My practice here keeps me  busy.“

“Yes, we are talking a lot of hours on top of your normal practice. And you will have to come to London occasionally. The position comes with funding.”

“Very generous, but it’s the time commitment that worries me.”

“Think what this opportunity means. Not to put too fine a point on it, you will be in position to make a significant contribution to the world of medicine.”

Martin raised his palms, a picture of Louisa and James on a plane to Spain crossing his mind. “I’m tempted, but Louisa and I are just getting our relationship back on track after a very rough patch. I can’t risk losing her and James again.”

He walked around and sat down at his desk, tilting his chin on his fingertips. Then he looked up at Robert. “If this offer had come a year ago, I would have jumped at the chance. Now, I don’t see how I can take it on. I’m sorry.”

Robert shrugged. “I am, too. I’d better go, or I’ll be late for my meeting.”

EntryslideEp12Martin walked with him to the door, and the two shook hands outside. “I understand your concerns,” said Robert,” but, please, give it some thought.”

A week later, Martin came downstairs and picked up the mail from the floor in front of the door. He thumbed through the envelopes, put all but one on Morwenna’s desk and walked into the consulting room. Sitting down at his desk, he looked at the envelope several seconds before opening and reading the letter. He heard Morwenna come in the front door and the telephone ring.

“’Doc,’ emergency,” she called, opening his door. “A man passed out down the harbor.”

“Any details?” Martin asked, grabbing his medical bag.

“No, must be a visitor. Nobody recognized him.”

“Reschedule my appointments if I’m not back in an hour,” he said, walking out the door.

When Louisa came downstairs, she asked, “Does Martin have a patient, Morwenna?”

“He went down to the harbor on an emergency half-an-hour ago.”

“I’ll leave him a note.” She walked into the office and sat down at Martin’s desk. She wrote a short message on his notepad. As she was placing it in the middle of the desk, she noticed the letter set to the side. The opening sentence caught her eye. ” . . . hope you will reconsider my offer . . .”  She picked up the letter and began to read. She was nearly finished when Martin walked in.

“Louisa,” he said, glancing at the letter in her hand.

She looked up at him, with a question in her eyes, but he didn’t speak.

“You had an offer from Robert.”

“Yes. I’m not interested.”

“Not interested? Martin, you’d give your eye teeth for an assignment like this.”

“You don’t understand. What Robert’s proposing would take every waking hour of my free time.” He turned away to set his bag on the counter and said. “I’m happy with things the way they are.”

“Are you turning down the offer because of me?”

He shuffled his feet. “You are part of the reason,” he admitted, turning toward her, “but not the entire reason.”

“What is the other part of the reason?” Louisa stood up and walked over to him.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 3.42.23 PMHe spoke slowly, trying to convince himself as he formed the words. “Selecting what we should research, in the UK, for the next five years, is an awesome responsibility. A mistake could have long-reaching consequences.”

“Martin Ellingham, when did you ever think you could make a mistake?”

“This is not a trivial matter, Louisa.”

Louisa kept silent for several seconds. Finally she asked, her voice serious. “Do you believe that anybody else would make better decisions than you would make?”

Martin looked around the room, then back at Louisa.  “No, I don’t.”

“Would you accept the offer if it weren’t for me?”

The words caught in his throat, but finally they came out. “Yes. Yes, I would.”

“Martin, I appreciate that you care enough about our marriage to give up something that means a great deal to you, but you can’t make decisions this important without discussing them with me.”

“You want me to take Robert up on his offer? Louisa, I am not exaggerating when I say it will take every minute of my free time.”

“I’m not saying I want you to accept the offer. I am saying that we should discuss it together.”

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 3.50.29 PMShe lowered her head and then looked at him. “I didn’t realize how great a sacrifice you made passing up the position as Head of Vascular at Imperial until I attended the dinner. Talking to Charlotte and hearing Robert say how hard it was for him to move on helped me understand, for the first time, the passion you must have had for surgery.”

Silence filled the room before Martin spoke. “It’s true that the dinner stirred up feelings I hadn’t felt for a long time.”

“Then let’s talk about this offer. Robert says the commitment is for one year. Is that realistic?”

“I think so.”

Louisa appeared to be considering what the commitment would mean to their lives. She set her shoulders and said,  “Okay, a year isn’t forever. I am willing to make this sacrifice for you, because I believe heading up the task force is important, and I know you would do an incredible job.”

Before he could reply, she added quickly, “But you will have to set aside time every day for James.”

Martin took a deep breath and put his hands on her shoulders.  “You really are wonderful, you know.” He held her close for a very long time.

He stepped over to the desk, picked up the letter and asked, “Did you read the names of the people I will be working with?”

“No,” she said, taking the letter out of his hands and turning the pages until she found the list of task force members. Her mouth dropped when she saw the name at the top.noname

“Edith Montgomery!”

A smile crept out over Martin’s face.

Louisa slapped the papers down on the desk and said, “Wipe that smirk off your face, Ellingham.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and “Doc Martin” FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#3 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “Dignity and Courage”

By Karen Gilleland © 2014

“In “Doc Martin,” Series 4, we met Doc’s first love, Edith, played brilliantly by Lia Williams. I like this description of Edith that Ruth Claudette posted a few years back:

“British actress Lia Williams very impressively makes Edith like the texture of burnt stew; detestable, but that which you can’t take your eyes off for a moment!”

I thought it would be fun to bring Edith back into the mix in my latest short piece of FanFiction, “Dignity and Courage.”


Louisa, in a rose, silk gown she had purchased that afternoon in London, and Martin, in dark suit, walked  across the hotel lobby toward the banquet hall. “I’m nervous,” Louisa whispered. “All your doctor friends are here. Should I expect daggers because you stayed in Cornwall?”

“Don’t be silly. Where I practice is nobody else’s business. Besides, I doubt I’ll know many people. I only came because of the tribute to Robert.”

They reached the hall to find it a-buzz with men, many in tails, and women in gowns and jewels. Martin held Louisa’s arm with his left hand and guided her toward an area a little ways from the bar. A sandy haired man approached and reached out to take Martin’s right hand. “Ellingham. Martin, you remember me, Dan Swanson.”


Looking at Louisa, Dan said, “And this is?”

“Louisa, this is a colleague from my days at Imperial, Dan Swanson. Dan, my wife, Louisa.”

“How did you manage to catch the best looking woman in the room, then?” Dan grinned. “Where are you sitting? You’re welcome to join our party – Table 34 in the center of the hall.” He nodded toward the table. Before Martin could reply, Dan said. “Oh, I see Edward Thornton at the bar, and I need to ask him about a policy amendment. Let’s talk later. Table 34.”

Just then Robert Dashwood, in white tie, walked over. “Martin! I thought it was you.” He shook Martin’s hand warmly. “I was flattered when I saw your name on the guest list.” He let go of Martin’s hand and looked at Louisa.

“Louisa, this is Robert Dashwood, our guest of honor. Robert, my wife, Louisa.”

Robert smiled at Louisa and took her hand. “Now I see why Martin passed up London. I’m very happy to meet you, Louisa.”

“Thank you. Congratulations on your new post with the Board of Trustees.”

Robert smiled. “How is your little one? Did you bring him?”

“Yes,” said Louisa. “A nanny is caring for him in the room.”

Robert nodded and turned to Martin, “When I heard you were coming, I asked that you be seated at my table. I hope you don’t mind.”

Martin hesitated, “We would be honored, of course, but it isn’t necessary.”

“Nonsense. I couldn’t pass up this chance to chat with you. I see this crowd every day,” he said, gesturing toward the others in the hall. “Table 1, near the stage. I’ll expect you.” He took Louisa’s hand again, “And you, my dear.” Then he left. Louisa watched him shaking hands and talking with people as he wended his way through the room.

“Would you like a drink,” asked Martin. “I forgot these dinners take forever to get started.”

“Yes, a drink would be lovely.”

At the circular bar, Louisa ordered a white wine, and Martin asked for a glass of water. Several other couples approached, and they exchanged pleasantries. “You’re more popular than you thought,” said Louisa, enjoying the easy rapport between Martin and his acquaintances.

“It’s you they’re interested in. I know now what President Kennedy meant when he took Jackie to Paris. I am the man who accompanied Louisa Ellingham to London, and I have enjoyed it.”

Louisa looked at Martin and laughed. “Martin, you’re quite posh up here.”

“Keep it to yourself,” he whispered.

“I need the loo,” Louisa said.

“Not a bad idea,” and they headed toward the crush of people in the foyer. “I’ll meet you at the entrance,” said Martin as they separated.

Louisa made her way to a stall. A familiar voice floated in the air. “Did you say Ellingham is here?” Edith said, a note of surprise in her voice.

“Yes, and with a dishy date on his arm.”

“Louisa Glasson?”

“I didn’t meet her, but who would have thought Ellingham would turn up with such a stunner?”

“Well, Ellingham’s got that strong, silent thing going for him,” returned Edith.

“Weren’t the two of you an item in Med School?”

“Yes, a long time ago. Can you believe he even wrote me poetry?”

“No, that I cannot picture. Have you been in touch?”

“Last summer, down in Cornwall. I was conducting research at the hospital in Truro. We shared a hotel room in Exeter when I gave my keynote address at the conference.”

“Shared a room? Sounds cozy. When did you meet Louisa?”

“When she was six months’ pregnant. She had been living in London but scuttled back to Cornwall to have the baby.”

“Whose baby?”

“Ellingham’s — allegedly.”

“No! And she was pregnant when you were seeing him? You’re the devil, Edith.” The two women giggled.

“Let’s go back,” said Edith. “I heard a rumor that Robert plans to create a task force to set research direction, and I’d like to be in on the ground floor.”

Louisa came out of the stall. She let the warm water flow over her hands to quiet the shaking. She dried her hands, applied powder under her eyes to cover the tear stains, took a deep breath and walked out of the room. As she neared the ballroom, she stopped. Edith and her friend stood talking to Martin. Louisa straightened her shoulders and walked up to the trio.

“Louisa Glasson, isn’t it?” Edith said.

“Louisa Ellingham. Martin and I are married,” Louisa said, walking over to stand beside him.

“My,” Edith said, twisting her head around to give Martin a wide-eyed look, “Ellingham never ceases to amaze,”

“Yes,” murmured Martin.

“Your delivery went well, I believe,” she said to Louisa, “and now you have a son. Congratulations.” Turning toward Martin again, Edith said, “Bea and I are at Table 47 if you care to join us.”

“No, Robert invited us to share his table,” said Martin.

“Really?” Edith said, eyebrow arched, inviting an answer. Martin merely shrugged.

“Let’s go in, Bea.” Edith gave her hair a curt toss and hooked arms with Bea as they walked into the room.

“Louisa, dinner will be starting soon. We should join Robert at his table.” When Martin reached to take her arm, Louisa stiffened. “You’re shaking. And your pulse is racing,” said Martin, taking her wrist. “What’s the matter?”

“You and Edith. You wrote her poetry? You spent the night together last summer?

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“I overheard Edith in the loo.”

“Really? I will advise MI5 to stop wasting money on surveillance equipment and just place agents in a loo.”

“Not funny, Martin.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why you’re upset.”

Just then chimes sounded, and staff members began steering people toward the tables.  A wave of people coming through the door forced Martin and Louisa to move forward. They reached Table 1, where eight others were already seated.

“There you are,” said Robert, standing up. “Louisa, would you mind if Martin sat beside me? I have a few thoughts I’d like to discuss with my top pupil. You’ll be next to my wife, Charlotte.”

Charlotte Dashwood smiled as Louisa sat down. “I’ve met Martin, of course, Louisa. I understand you have a son. I’d love to hear about him and your life in Cornwall.”

Louisa felt her shoulders relax as she began talking about James Henry and village life in Portwenn. She listened to Charlotte on the difficulties faced by a surgeon’s wife. Occasionally Louisa glanced at Martin, deep in discussion with Robert.

“Complicated bypasses can take twelve hours,” Charlotte was saying. “I am glad Robert is stepping away. He’ll still be available on occasion, of course; but as a Board member, he will have different responsibilities and, I hope, regular hours. We may find time to be a family again.”

Dinner service complete, chimes sounded and the program began. Louisa’s eyes rested on her hands in her lap, the words flittering by her. At last Robert was introduced and began speaking. Robert was winding up his talk when Louisa straightened up in the chair.

“ . . . I’m touched that so many of you came tonight to wish me well – especially my distinguished colleague, Martin Ellingham.” Robert gestured toward the table. “I was his tutor, but Martin taught me about handling adversity with dignity and making decisions with courage . . . ”

Louisa joined in the applause. Martin leaned toward her, felt her wrist and whispered, “Your heart rate is back to normal.”

“Yes, but after the party, I’d like to hear about what happened between you and Edith in Exeter.” Louisa gave Martin a sidewise glance. “I’d also like to know what you and Robert were discussing so intently.”

“All right. In the meantime, rest assured,” his eyes met hers, “nothing happened between Edith and me in Exeter or anywhere else last summer.”

“And the poetry?”

“Please! I was a student. Don’t expect me to write or recite poetry. My dignity and courage aren’t up to it.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

#2 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “The Biscuit Lady”

This story is dedicated to my brother, Paul John Heller (1937 – 2013)

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

Martin, dressed in a dark gray suit with rust-colored tie, came out of the bathroom and walked into the bedroom to find a bra, tee shirt and socks strewn across the floor. “Louisa,” he called to her in James’ room. “Why do you leave your clothing about on the floor?”

c538a2c93a7c47cd091f182ee2e4b01c.wix_mp_1024“Sorry, Martin,” she said, peering into the room. “Bad habit I picked up living alone.”

“In future, could you please drop your clothes into the laundry bin instead of the floor.”

“I’ll try, Martin, but habits aren’t easy to break.”


Martin walked down to the reception area. Morwenna opened the front door, came in and tossed her bag onto the desk. “Morning, Doc. You have a full schedule, but the good news is that the biscuit lady is coming in today.”

“Why must that woman always bring biscuits? I’ve told her time and again it isn’t necessary.”

“Don’t tell her again. We all love her biscuits. She schedules appointments right after lunch so we can enjoy the biscuits warm from the oven.”


Patients began arriving. Just after lunch, Mrs. Keast, in her eighties, short white hair curled about her face, and dressed in a blue print housedress, walked into the reception area carrying a plate of biscuits. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Keast,” said Morwenna. “The doctor is ready for you.

“Thank you, Morwenna. You’re looking lovely today, as usual.”

“Right back at you,” Morwenna replied and gave her a thumbs-up sign.

Mrs. Keast entered the consulting room and smiled. “Hello, Doctor. Brought you some3867068953_b98aef83dd
lemon crisps today,” she said and set the plate on his desk.

“Thank you,” he said with a frown, moving the plate pointedly to the far left-hand corner of the desk. “How are you feeling today?”

“The walk up the hill has tired me, I must admit, and my heart feels a bit fluttery.”

“Please, take a seat on the couch. I want to listen to your heart.” After he finished his examination, Martin picked up her file and read notations from previous visits. Then he asked the woman to sit down at the desk. “Mrs. Keast, your heart rate is weak and erratic. I must insist you go to hospital. I’m going to call an ambulance.”

“No, no, Doctor, I am not going to hospital. You have been treating me just fine all these months. Anyway, I can’t go now. I’ve left the water on in the garden.”

“Mrs. Keast, your heart condition has deteriorated, and I would be failing in my duty if I did not insist that you go to hospital. I should have insisted before now. I will make arrangements for an ambulance to pick you up at your house.”

“No, I –”


Mrs. Keast looked at him and shrugged her shoulders.

“You can’t walk back home. I will drive you as soon as I call the ambulance.” Martin dialed 999. He instructed the dispatcher to alert Mr. Angove, in Cardiology, to expect a patient who would likely need a stint.

Martin drove Mrs. Keast to her home, a short distance on the other side of the village. He turned off the water in the garden while Mrs. Keast went into the house. She took an envelope out of a bureau and put it, along with a few articles of clothing and toiletries, into an overnight bag. When Martin came inside, she said, “I’ll fix a pot of tea while we wait.”

“That’s not necessary. You need to rest.”

“Nonsense. It will take only a minute. I’m not an invalid, you know.”

Martin raised his eyebrows and shook his head, but he sat down at the table and allowed Mrs. Keast to fuss with the tea things. He looked around at the spotless kitchen, recipe books filling a bookcase along one wall. “I take it you live alone.”

“Yes, my Charlie died 15 years ago. Jessie, my daughter, and Jason, my son, both have jobs and families in London.”

The tea ready, Mrs. Keast joined Martin at the table. “I’m sorry I don’t have any biscuits to offer you,” she said. “I bake everyday, but I give everything away – except for one biscuit that I taste to be sure the batch came out properly.”

“Please, don’t bother about anything. You really shouldn’t be baking everyday.”

Mrs. Keast smiled at him and said. “Doctor, I’m not like you. I don’t save people’s lives. I’m not famous in any way. But it pleases me to think that after I’m gone, people will remember me as the ‘biscuit lady’ who, now and again, brightened their day with a batch of coconut twists or chocolate drops.”

“I see.”

The Doc took a sip of tea and asked, “Mrs. Keast, why have you refused to go to hospital as I’ve advised many times? Tests are necessary to pinpoint the cause of your heart problems. I really should have insisted that you go before now. By waiting, you have put your life at risk.”

“Please, Doctor, you won’t understand, but I believe the Lord is in charge of my life, and I won’t leave this world one minute before or one minute after He is ready for me to go.”

“But –“

“I appreciate all the help you have given me. I truly do. The medicines have allowed me to feel good most days. I’ve been able to take care of myself and do what I enjoy most. Baking. I’m sorry you haven’t ever tried one of the biscuits I’ve made for you.”

Surprised, Martin stuttered. “Ah, umm –“

“It’s all right, Doctor. I figured if you had ever tried one, you would have told me.”

Sirens sounded in the street; and within minutes, two paramedics entered the house. They assisted Mrs. Keast onto the gurney and took her out to the ambulance. The Doc gave the paramedics instructions to take the patient directly to the cardiac unit. “Mr. Angove is expecting her.”

Martin leaned down to Mrs. Keast and said, “I’ll come and see you tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Doctor, that will be nice. Please, don’t you worry. As soon as I’m home, I’ll make you a batch of my special orange-walnut biscuits. And I’ll make sure you eat one.”

“Yes.” The Doc drove back to surgery. Several patients sat chatting in the reception area. “I’ve rescheduled your later patients, Doc,” said Morwenna. “Mr. Brock, you can go through.”

The last patient left surgery, and Morwenna said goodnight and locked the door on her way out.

The telephone rang, and Martin answered. “Ellingham.”

“Doctor Ellingham, this is Peter Angove, Truro Cardiology. You referred a patient, Lillian Keast, by ambulance. We ran the standard tests and were preparing to insert a stint. I am sorry to tell you that Mrs. Keast expired a few minutes ago. We found a list of relatives and phone numbers in her bag, so we will notify the next of kin. She appeared very peaceful at the end. I wanted you to know.”

“Yes, thank you for calling.” Martin hung up the phone and sat at the desk, head slumped down. As he turned slightly, he spotted the plate of biscuits on the corner of his desk. He stood up and walked around to the front of the desk, picked up the plate and walked into the sitting room. He sat down on the sofa, chin resting on his tented fingers. Then he took the film wrapping off the plate and ate a lemon crisp.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 12.57.32 PMAs he sat there, his eyes fell upon a pair of Louisa’s blue woolen socks on the floor. When Louisa walked in, his eyes were still resting on the socks.

“Sorry, Martin,” said Louisa, and she stooped down to pick up the socks.

“Louisa, don’t do that. Leave your socks where they are, and come have a biscuit.”

“Martin, is everything all right?”

“Mrs. Keast died at hospital a little while ago.”

“I’m sorry,” Louisa paused, then said, “Lillian, the biscuit lady. A lovely and generous woman. She made the best biscuits in the village.”

“Yes. She often brought me a plate of biscuits. I never ate one until now. They’re delicious. The best I’ve ever tasted. I’m sorry I won’t be able to tell her.”

Louisa sat down on the sofa beside Martin.

“I saw your socks on the floor,” he said, nodding toward them, “and I was annoyed because I had asked you this morning not to leave clothing lying around.”

Louisa started to apologize, but Martin touched her lips. “I saw the socks on the floor, and I had a terrifying thought.” He stopped, eyes locked onto hers. “What if the socks weren’t there?”



“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

Happy Holidays! Enjoy the DM FanFiction Short Story — “Christmas Memories”

IMG_2136With a foot of snow outside my window, I realize the holidays have really arrived here in Colorado. I wrote this short story — a first for me — to celebrate the many happy moments of watching “Doc Martin.” I hope you will enjoy reading “Christmas Memories” as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I’d like to wish all of you who visit my blog a very happy, wonderful Holiday IMG_2137Season.





 You will find the story at:


#1 “Doc Martin” FanFiction: “Christmas Memories”

by Karen Gilleland © 2013


“Thank you for coming, Bert and Jennifer,” said Louisa, as she gave each a hug. Martin stood by the door holding James. Louisa handed Jennifer a plate of biscuits from a small table. “Enjoy.”

“Great party, Louisa,” said Bert, wearing a Santa hat and jiggling the bells at James. “Merry Christmas, little fellow.” The two left, and the clock chimed seven as Louisa closed the door.

Martin looked into the sitting room, where Al and Morwenna and Joe Penhale, the last of their guests, were shuffling into coats. The Christmas tree glowed with multicolored lights and tinsel.

“It was nice of you to come,” said Louisa when the three came to the door. “James will love the toys you brought for him.” She gave each one a plate of biscuits and a hug.

“Merry Christmas, Doc,” said Morwenna, tiptoeing to kiss him on the cheek and whisper.  “And thanks for the check.”

“Umm.” Martin nodded.

“Merry Christmas to all of you,” waved Louisa as the three walked down the steps.

Martin shrugged and walked into the sitting room. “Do we have to do this every year?” he asked.

“Martin, didn’t you enjoy the party?”

“Not really.”

“In answer to your question, yes, we do have to do this every year. Parties create happy memories for James. He loved the excitement.”

“It’s worn him out.” The baby began fussing, and Martin handed James to Louisa.

“I’ll warm up milk and get him ready for bed.”

Martin looked around the room, sighed, and began picking up the discarded wrapping paper and ribbons. He stacked greeting cards on the small end table and put the toys, baby clothing and other gifts under the tree. Then he gathered up the plates and glasses and took them into the kitchen. He looked at the mess on the table and counters, sighed again, and put leftover food into containers, rinsed dishes and ran the dishwasher.

An hour later, the rooms cleared and the baby asleep, Louisa and Martin sat on the sofa facing the tree.

“Martin, when you were a child, was there anything you really wanted for Christmas that you didn’t get?”


Louisa put her hand in his and said. “When I was six years old, I wanted a plain red, wool, pleated skirt. I saw it on a mannequin, but my mother said it wasn’t practical. I cried and cried, but I ended up with a blue-and-green plaid skirt.”

Martin stooped and picked up a small package wrapped in gold foil from under the tree. He handed it to Louisa.

“I have something for you.”

“Not yams, then?” Louisa joked, taking the box from him.


“I was remembering the time you gave me a gift of yams because I was anemic.”

“Right. Practical, you must admit.”

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 12.33.17 PM

Louisa opened the box to find a beautiful gold chain. On it hung a gold outline of a heart with a diamond. “It’s too beautiful. You shouldn’t have,” she whispered.

“I have a beautiful wife who has stolen my heart. I wanted her to know.”

“Thank you.” Louisa put her arms around Martin and kissed him.  Then she smiled. “Did you?

“Did I what?”

“Did you ever want something for Christmas you didn’t get when you were a boy?”

Martin leaned back and looked at the tree, eyes focused on the gifts underneath, quiet.

“A train set. Auntie Joan visited us in London and took me to Harrods. We went straight to the toy floor, and the first thing I saw was a huge display of trains running on a maze of tracks. The train I wanted was running on tiny tracks in the corner. A miniature Lionel HO American Flyer. It was so detailed and ran with such precision. I thought it was amazing.”

“You remember it that well?”

“Auntie Joan said I would have to be a very good boy, indeed, for Santa to bring me that train set.” He stopped speaking for a while, then said, “I tried to be so good, but I got the same gift I got every year. A new pair of pajamas. I’ve often wondered what more I could have done to deserve that train set.”

“Martin, I had a gift for you, but I am returning it after Christmas.”

He looked at Louisa, puzzled.


“I shouldn’t have told you that story. I could use a new pair of pajamas, actually. Let’s keep them.”

The doorbell rang. Martin stood up, wondering if it the caller was a patient. “I’ll get that.”

He opened the door, and Aunt Ruth, looking rakish in a green silk dress with a large pearl pendant at her throat and red cape across her shoulders, came in carrying a canvas shopping bag. He invited her into the sitting room.

“Ruth, I didn’t think you could come today,” said Louisa.

“No, a friend was visiting. An architect from London. He asked me to show him around the area.”

“Let me take your cape,” said Martin.

Ruth set her package on the coffee table, slipped off her cape and handed it to Martin, who hung it on the rack.

“Can I get you a drink – wine, coffee?” asked Louisa.

“No, thank you. I just had dinner. Lovely tree. Did James enjoy the party?”

“He did. He loved the attention, especially Bert in his Santa’s hat.”

“I brought a few things.” Ruth took out a small package and handed it to Louisa. “This one is for you and Martin. Nothing much, but I thought it would look nice on the mantle. Here is a little something for James,” and she dug out a teddy bear with a big red ribbon.

“Ruth, how sweet. James will love the bear.” said Louisa.BF01100BearUnjointed hugging Ruth. “We have a gift for you as well. Martin, will you give Ruth that green package under the tree?”

Martin bent down to pick up a small box wrapped in green tissue.

Ruth sat down on the sofa, and Martin and Louisa joined her.

“Merry Christmas, Aunt Ruth,” said Martin, handing her the box.

“Thank you. I’ll open it in the morning. You must remember how no one was ever allowed to open packages until after church on Christmas.”


“My friend and I stopped at the farm, and he looked over the structure, inside and out. He asked if I had ever looked into the attic. Of course, I hadn’t.”

Ruth fumbled with the bag. “I have something else for you, Martin.”

“No need –“

“It’s not from me. It’s from Joan.”


“When my friend opened the hatch to the attic, he found this parcel.” Ruth pulled out a package wrapped in brown butcher paper, with canceled postage stamps in the upper right-hand corner. She placed it on the coffee table. Martin leaned over and examined the markings.

The first thing he noticed was the large black, handwritten word scribbled across the front. “REFUSED.” Then he saw his name on the address label, and “Joan Norton” in the return address space.

“This package was mailed December 20, 1977,” Martin said. “I don’t understand.”

“You won’t remember, but Joan came to London that year.”

“I do remember. She was staying with us. One night late, I heard shouting, and the next day when I got up, she had gone.”

“She told your father about her affair with John Slater. She was trying to decide what to do about her marriage. You know the rest.”


“She must have sent you this gift, but your parents returned it unopened.”

“Open it, Martin,” said Louisa.

He untied the string and unwrapped the package, folding up the brown paper carefully. Inside was a box wrapped in white tissue paper with a card taped onto the outside. Martin opened the card. “To the best boy in the world. All my love, Santa and Auntie Joan.”

Martin sighed and slid his hand under the package. He tore off the tissue paper to reveal 000c38v14lhuvrre.640x480
the brightly colored box announcing the Lionel HO American Flyer. “Oh!” Martin sniffled, flickering his eyelids to stop the tears.

Ruth stood and took her coat from the rack and slipped it on. “I must go. Merry Christmas, and thank you for the gift.”

Martin and Louisa walked to the door with her. Ruth looked at Martin and shook her head. “Your parents never appreciated the wonderful son they brought into this world. Enjoy every moment with James Henry. Remember, good or bad, memories last a lifetime.”


“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures

  1. Thanks so much Karen for such a sweet and tender story! It will carry me thru to the New Year filled with hope that Season 7 will provide us with many opportunities to see love given and received! (To our ole Doc and from him)