Walking to George Bernard Shaw

The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia), July 30, 2011 | Go to article overview

Walking to George Bernard Shaw


MY UNCONSCIOUS must have something against George Bernard Shaw. The highly quotable and self-appreciating playwright (aI despise Shakespeare when I measure my mind against hisa) made only a mild dent on my education. But why should my brain now dismiss him out of hand?

My long-standing back pain having been finally sheeted home to a long ago tackle by a 57kg ruckman in the under 15 Bs, I was surprised, while recovering from my hip replacement operation, to find physiotherapy calling on Shaw's name as a central part of the healing process.

In teaching the hip patients in Ward 39 to deal with stairs safely and confidently, Rebecca the hospital physio outlined the approved order for us to walk upstairs a 1: un-operated leg (good leg); 2: operated leg (bad leg); 3: stick. To accomplish this, we had to chant George Bernard Shaw (good, bad, stick). To go downstairs, we had to say the reverse: Shaw Bernard George (stick, bad, good).

My fellow hip patients were a former Wallaby: a two metre second-rower who played 16 Tests for Australia; and an Armidale cattle farmer of traditional breeds. As coincidence had it, the Wallaby was now a northern NSW beef farmer too, and for four days the ward conversation argued the merits of Aberdeen Angus (good) versus Wagyu and the All-Blacks (bad).

It's fair to say that Shaw had impinged on my companions' consciousness even less than on mine. They just couldn't remember his name. Rebecca the physio was at pains to point out that a rhythmic chant made it easier for legs and crutches to move to the same step. aAll right, forget Shaw and try saying this: good leg up to heaven. Bad leg down to hell.a

Shaw might have liked the heaven-hell line. He certainly weighed into the health system in his play, The Doctor's Dilemma (1906). …

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