Clinic X

Dalrymple writes that in the waiting area of Clinic X, somewhere in France,

I found it quite relaxing: I had bought a book with me that I was able to read. Suddenly I realised why this was so: not only were the chairs in the waiting area comfortable, but there was no electronic stimulation or compulsory entertainment whatsoever.

There was, he says,

  • no television
  • no pop music punctuated by drivelling presenters
  • no advertisements
  • no bullying propaganda

There was no assumption by the management that, rather than people being left to their own devices, they needed to have the gap in our minds filled with

  • the weather forecast
  • stock prices
  • football results
  • news of sexual scandals in high places
  • pictures of scenes of war
  • episodes of soap opera
  • cookery programmes

It is a sign, says Dalrymple,

of how we are overburdened in public places by such prophylaxis against our own thoughts that the absence of it came not only as a surprise, but a relief, as after the putting down of a heavy burden.

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