The Doctor Is Sick
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"Fine, sly, rich comedy. . . "―The New York Times Book Review
Dr. Edwin Spindrift has been sent home from Burma with a brain tumor. Closer to words than to people, his sense of reality is further altered by his condition. When he escapes from the hospital the night before his surgery, things and people he hardly knew existed outside of his dictionaries swoop down on him as he careens through adventures in nighttime London.
longer speech than seemed necessary. Edwin wandered the hall, looking at recent publications of the Council – expensive free monographs and reviews of new architecture. They could certainly afford a hand-out of a couple of bob or so. ‘What was the name?’ A patrician voice, a blonde secretary of frightening smartness – tailored in black, her legs a Vogue stocking advertisement. ‘The name is,’ said Edwin, ‘Spindrift. Dr Edwin Spindrift.’ ‘Oh. And what did you want to see Mr Chasper about?’ Edwin
no idea what a bleedin’ rotten time ’e gave vem. It makes ’im shudder sometimes just to fink abaht it. So ’e puts up wiv ’er now. She’s one what ’e wanted to give a bleedin’ rotten time to, but she never gave ’im a proper chance to get rahnd to it. An’ ven ’e started gettin’ a bit guilty. Just you listen to vat moufful.’ The woman was well-launched into a foul tirade in the language of Goethe. Leo Stone seemed to be replying in the same tongue. After a few phrases Edwin realised it was Yiddish.
found in the Salome basket. Edwin wandered quietly round at stage level but saw Les nowhere. The orchestra was playing a kind of railway scherzo during a sweating scene-change, and various eminent Victorian Americans – people, Edwin presumed, with a separate line each in the vocal score – were coming from dressing-rooms and waiting in the wings. One of the male principals said: ‘Bloody awful opera it is,’ in a Welsh accent. It was certainly a very long opera if the first act was anything to go
don’t seem to be doing too well in your present position, do you? Bald, for instance. Your trousers cheap and ill-fitting. Your shoes cracking. Your toilet, to say the least, sketchy. Fill the bowl with Samian wine and come and sit over here and tell me about it. Are you married? You are. Are you earning enough money? Don’t answer, because I can see that you are not. Are you happy with your words? Presumably you are, else you would not submit so tamely to your present condition of baldness and,
with a flat metal clank. ‘Wooden haft had a bark when it was on a tree. Dogs’ affinity for trees. All ties up.’ He looked up at the sky-ceiling to see Les walking on the grid. ‘World tree withers,’ sang Les. ‘Gods gormless ghastly. Skylight in the gods, see? For flying Dutchmen.’ ‘We turn now,’ said Edwin, ‘from matters of homophones to the whole question of love, love being the hardest collocation of phonemes ever bored by questing squirrel.’ Coral appeared, skirtless. ‘Bleedin’ good pair we