taste and custard

I consider myself bound by at least some of the conventions of journaism here. Specifically, if I have told people I won’t use information when interviewing them, I don’t.

But, oh, God, some of the Doctor stories I have come across when researching Oliver Sacks; many of them not about him. Some of the the very best I have said I won’t use. But one, which is marvellous, will be in the profile. The source is Jonathan Miller; the protagonist is Oliver’s mother, Dr Elsie Sacks — “She never made any distinction between domestic life and surgery. I remember her performing an operation, with her bra straps showing under her operating gown, saying ‘Oh blast I’ve just reaslied we’re out of ginger, and I will have to pick up some on the way home. Remind me, will you, sister; and pass me the retractor, please.’ Then, at a big family meal at home, she was telling me about her day’s work: ‘We had this woman in today, an elderly primagravida, obese. I had to cut through masses of fat to get there — and then, when I opened her up, the whole abdo was full of pus. Pass the mayonnaise, would you?'”

This last story I was retelling yesterday to my friend George in an Irish pub in Edinburgh (well, it was called the Au Bar) while he got stuck into his haggis neeps and tatties. I only remembered how shocking it was at first hearing when I saw the reaction of the couple at the next table.

I’m sorry, whoever you were. I hope you liked the custard on your puddings.

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