14 February 2009

Good people and bad people

There are good people and bad people in this world. As a doctor you are privileged to meet all strata of society. Some people don't. Dr Grumble has many patients who have been been in prison. He has recently had patients who are in custody. He talks to them. Some are innocent. Some tell Dr G they have been assaulted by the police. They don't expect Dr Grumble to believe them. Usually he does. It is the people who do wrong and should know better that are the evil ones. The inadequates of this world who have had everything against them from the time of their birth may deserve to be forgiven. But how can you forgive the Madoffs of this world who, it is alleged, ruin the lives of others while leading their own lives of luxury? How can you forgive the managers of radio stations who encourage the sowing of dangerous memes which may cause the deaths or maiming of children? How can you forgive those who threaten democracy because they, like many others in the past, think they know better than Common People how the world should be run?.

Some years ago one of the good people of this world came to visit Dr Grumble. He brought his dog with him. The dog's name was David. He was a Norfolk terrior. Dr Grumble looked after him. As it happened, during his sojourn in the Grumble household, David fell ill. Dr G told the story here.

David's owner was a man called, Bill. Bill was an ex SAS man. He was very interesting to talk to. He sat at Dr Grumble's kitchen table. Dr Grumble can remember now which chair he sat it. The most striking thing about Bill that Dr Grumble immediately noticed was that his left hand was missing. Instead he had a piece of metal. Not exactly a hook but the modern version. Bill sat at the kitchen table and unselfconsciously plonked his 'hook' on the table while he drank a cup of coffee. Most people would probably have felt awkward about commenting on the 'hook' but Dr G asked him how he had lost his arm. As far as he can recall he lost it in some lesser known but successful skirmish in Oman. Since leaving the SAS Bill had been doing lots of interesting things involving humanitarian work in other trouble spots around the world. He wanted to build up a little nest egg for his retirement.

There wasn't time to talk for long. Bill had to leave. Dr Grumble had noticed that he had arrived in a manual car. He wondered how Bill could change gear with the 'hook'. He never did quite see how he did it but Bill happily shunted back and forth in the Grumble yard without any difficulty. That was the last time Dr Grumble saw Bill. He was a nice man. One of the good people.

A few days ago Dr Grumble heard on the radio that a retired army major had shot himself after losing his retirement savings in the Herald USA Fund and Herald Luxembourg Fund. These were bogus funds run by Mr Madoff. When Dr Grumble got home last night Mrs Grumble told him it was Bill. She was in tears.


Anonymous said...

Oh Jesus. So sorry to hear it for his friends, and of course for his family.

If the allegations about Ponzi scamming are proven, then clearly Madoff will be a proven thief. His scam was suspected by various people - see www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/16/sec.madoff.investigation/index.html

If in time Bill's family can bear to, they should bring a legal action against Madoff, keeping the media on board at all times. It will be hard work, and most likely it will profit them nothing, but it would serve to get the message through that stealing people's retirement savings can be just as serious as assaulting them.

Anonymous said...

Saw the story in the Echo - very sorry to hear that he was known to you Dr G (although interested to see that you're likely in my locality).

My comment is actually related to your idea of meme disease. I'm sure you're right. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the concept has been thoroughly studied and documented, although from a different angle: Isn't it really just a variation on the placebo effect?

Dr Grumble said...

You are right anonymous. Good memes to make you better and bad memes which make you ill.

Anonymous said...

As anyone must who reads this story, I'm very sorry to read of the death of Bill. I read that story at the time and was angry that anyone should feel driven to such a desperate act but the extra detail that you have provided has reignited that anger.

The ramifications of this economic chaos will be far-reaching and, sadly, it may disproportionately have an impact on people who have always striven to do The Right Thing.

One comments I've seen that sums things up. "It seems like it is socialism for the bankers and financial wizards but brute capitalism for the rest of us."