Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Article excerpt

My first patient that day, a man built like a battleship, told me he was supposed to be in court.

`On what charge?' I asked.

He narrowed his eyes and squinted at the ceiling.

'I dunno,' he said. 'I can't remember.'

`Go on,' I said. `Have a guess.'

He tried again, but shook his head more in sorrow than in anger.

'I really can't remember.'

`Have you been in prison before?' I asked. A change of tack often jogs memories.

`Six or seven times.'

`Do you think this charge might have involved violence?'

`Yeah, probably.'

`Do you think you might be found guilty?'

`It depends on the evidence.'

And the evidence, of course, depended on intimidation. Oddly enough, one never forgets which witnesses to intimidate.

My next patient injected himself . All the veins in his arms had been destroyed, as had those in his feet and legs, and now he injected himself in the groin. I have known people even inject themselves in the eye. …

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