Category Archives: salacity

The hypomanic Dr Pascal

She had an abnormality on her chest x-ray, but it was something more closely resembling a sexual assault than a medical examination

The behaviour of this locum was, writes Dalrymple, so objectionable that he was barred from all pubs within a mile radius of the hospital. Entering the hospital canteen, Dr Pascal would shout across it in a booming voice and with a salacious leer:

How many times did you have sex last night? You look as though you need it more often.

Dr Pascal would

clap people on the back — hard enough almost to propel them through the adjacent wall — and cross-question them on the details of their private lives.

Once, before he knew Dr Pascal’s character, Dalrymple referred a young female patient to the locum because

she had an abnormality on her chest x-ray. When her notes returned with her from Dr Pascal, they bore a detailed account, scrawled across several pages in writing that clearly betrayed loss of control, of something more closely resembling a sexual assault than a medical examination.

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The communist world of yesterday

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 23.19.29Και τώρα τι θα γένουμε χωρίς βαρβάρους.
Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί ήσαν μια κάποια λύσις.

Nostalgia has its own laws

Dalrymple is nostalgic for

something that I detested at the time and detest still, namely communism as it was practised in Eastern Europe. I sometimes wished it was still there so that I could experience the thrill of crossing the Iron Curtain.

Berlin Friedrichstraße station

Friedrichstraße

Self-indulgence

He recognises that this is

an entirely self-indulgent wish, for it pits my enjoyment of a relatively fleeting sensation against the prolonged suffering of millions of people.

Communists

were a kind of solution for us; the world they created was something near, bordering and threatening us, that was worse, far worse, than anything that we had, no matter what our dissatisfactions with what we had might have been.

BucharestNakedness

This was

snatched from us by communism’s unexpected collapse. We were left with our dissatisfactions naked and unadorned, without the consolation for them that the existence of communism not very far away offered us. The communists simplified the world for us.

Dalrymple misses the atmosphere of the communist days:

the dim lights, the unanimated streets, the absence of traffic, the smell of bad, adulterated fuel that polluted the air, the hushed voices, the echoing footfall, the grey dilapidation, the feeling of satisfaction if one found anything to eat, above all the frisson of fear that one was being watched and followed.

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 00.12.46Prurience

For a young man

such as I – with an easy escape route, of course, for I do not pretend that my experience had anything to do, or bore any comparison with, that of the people actually living in those countries – the idea that I might be considered dangerous enough to be watched or followed was flattering, for in my own country I was of no account whatsoever.

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 00.15.38Salacity

Then,

on the very brief occasions when one made human contact with someone in those benighted, oppressed lands, that were like flashes of lightning that illuminated for a second a black landscape, one sensed a person with an intensity of experience much deeper than one’s own, a person who lived on a philosophical plane, whose life had been stripped down to the essential: and whom, with foolish romanticism, one almost envied.

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 00.21.16What did Dalrymple have

to set against their problems: an unhappy childhood, uncertainty about my career? Mere trifles by comparison with the peine forte et dure that was life in the Peoples’ Republics.

His enjoyment behind the Iron Curtain

was salacious, prurient and self-indulgent, with just enough of a grain of philosophy thrown in to assure myself that I had a higher purpose in thus enjoying myself.

Therefore Dalrymple does not claim for his nostalgia

any superior sensibility, much less a proper role in political thought or philosophy. In fact, I am rather ashamed of it, that I am capable of looking back on what was a terrible period for millions with something like affection.