what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

body checks


More body checks yesterday - but this time, my own body! I've never had the tests older people now take for cancer so decided it was about time to check for prostate and colon. Despite having the results of a comprehensive health check in Germany at Christmas, I was missing some important indices and therefore checked in yesterday for a CT. Left alone under the circulating machine, I felt like a mix of Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times and Jane Fonda in Barbarella!
As you look at the Xray pictures, you realise what an incredible thing the human body is - and also begin to appreciate mortality. Significant that, as I was waiting in the cool basement corridor for my turn, I was finishing John Updike's last collection of short stories - My Father's Tears and other stories. By last I do mean the last he wrote before his death - indeed he wrote them in full consciousness that the time of his own demise was not far away and focussing on characters having flashbacks about their early life. I've never been a great fan of Updike's chronicling of the various changes American small-town and middle-class males have experienced since the 1960s - although have admired the erudition of his essays and his knowledge of painting. I was, therefore, quite stunned with the poetic imagery and power of these short stories. William Trevor (Irish) is my favourite for this art form - with Carol Shields (Canada) close behind) and I am enjoying the collection of Dorothy Parker's short stories I bought recently.
In the afternoon visited the Carterusti bookshop and was amazed to come across an (American) hardback edition of Rory Stewart's book on his one year stint as Deputy Governor of one of Iraq's southern provinces during the current occupation. I had read about this unusual guy - a 30 odd year (upper class) Scot who is now Tory MP for Cumbria in the very north of England but who has been a Professor at JFK School of Government in Harvard; and walked from Turkey to Afghanistan - and reckoned the handsome book (the US is so good with their productions of hardbacks!) was not only a rare (and frank) insight into the reality of trying to manage the aftermath of that disastrous invasion but could be a useful insight into the mind of such an individual. The book is called The Prince of the marshes - and other occupational hazards of a year in Iraq.

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