I talk not of any candidates for the substance of dark matter – though I have been reading about them recently – but of your electronic interlocutor. Whilst I may be weakly interacting, that is down to my limited social skills rather than any inability to affect electromagnetic radiation – I am, in fact, reflecting, absorbing and scattering it even as I type (and they say men can’t multi-task!). Nor am I a particle (and so have no fear of the triangle – and there may be a small prize for anyone who – without the aid of internet search – (a) understands that allusion and (b) is willing to admit it) and I do not consider myself especially massive – though I realise the later is very much a matter of your point of view.
No, I refer to my rather limited panoply of the more traditional manly attributes. I have previously alluded to my need to dash away a less than manly tear at the cinema or theatre – and now admit that this weakness extends to the opera (only once, and La Traviata is quite sad) and the radio, television and books.
However, I don’t, in general, consider myself to be especially squeamish – to be honest, I don’t even know what a squeam is. I tend not to watch the myriad of hospital dramas that infest our screen not out of any fear of the sight of blood – I’ve seen my own often enough, gushing out of my arm into a small plastic bag – but due to a lack of interest in the genre. So, when I sat down on Sunday night to watch Michael Mosley’s new 2-part series “Frontline Medicine” I had no reason to fear. I’ve watched his medical series before – and even made it through his excellent “History of Surgery” with barely a qualm.
Truly, pride cometh before a fall. Within five minutes I was forced to the adult equivalent of hiding behind the couch – in my case, standing behind the bookcase concentrating on the ironing (the couch is too low, and it backs directly onto the wall). Even “watching” thus insulated from any sight of the screen, the sound track alone was sufficient to make me decidedly queasy on more than one occasion. In fact, I seemed decidedly more queasy than a lad whose foot had been mostly blown off by an IED. Despite my rather eccentric mode of viewing the programme was fascinating and horrifying, depressing and uplifting in equal measure. Some of the injured required 150 units of blood – nearly 50 years of normal donation for a chap like me – which does make me wonder where they obtain so much blood? For the interested, O neg is the most useful as it can be given to anyone – my own A pos satisfies only a rather more limited market.
The physical injuries that the quality of medical care rendered survivable was truly extraordinary. The injured (and, as yet, uninjured) did seem to be uniformly young: the sort of age I normally see wandering around the university or wowing me with their musical prowess – and I suspect the same is true for the enemy combatants as well, though I doubt they are offered much in the way of medical care by their “sponsors”. I fear it is all too easy for the idealism of the young to be used by their elders – and not always for very laudable ends. Sadly, it remains far easier – and oft seems more popular – to injure and maim than it does to heal.
Still, as I said the programme was far from unremittingly depressing, in many ways it was a story of heroism, quiet determination and great skill – and as so often with war, lessons are learned that will benefit “normal” life. It would just be so much better if we could learn these lessons via less pain and suffering. Next week, will be looking at rehabilitation – so I hope I may be able to return from behind the bookcase to a more typical viewing position (for a start, I’ve not got an hour of ironing – and, before you ask, I’m not offering to take any in!).