You could distinguish them: one was tall and gaunt and the other short and putting on weight. But Brown is a very common name and Browns of this age were quite likely to have been named after the old queen’s consort. They both attended my clinic regularly and for a very long time, for one had chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and the other polycythaemia rubra vera.
They were both born, in different parts of the country, on the same day in October 1896. It was a coincidence that they should at different times have bought the same house in the very same street, though not, I should hasten to add, from each other. It was a coincidence that they should both have lost their prostates to the very same surgeon. But what do you call it when I discover that for the three years that they had been attending my clinic they had been sharing the same hospital number and the very same set of case notes?