Theodore Dalrymple was on the radio today – hear it here. It’s only about 5 minutes but good to hear his voice. Some intersections between Elberry and Dalrymple – my father a doctor; i studied Psychology and am drawn to Psychiatry despite strong reservations (e.g. being mad); and having worked for 2 years in a hospital, right at the bottom, i witnessed the stifling bureaucracy of which Dalrymple writes – his perspective being from the top, as a consultant, but the picture being really not very different, for bureaucracy is a ubiquitous fog and no respecter of persons or indeed humanity.

Dalrymple’s life and person complicate and reinforce and deepen his writings, as is the case also with Samuel Beckett and Dr Johnson. A strange triad – the tortured and ascetic Beckett, the Falstaffian Johnson, the ironical, decorous psychiatrist. Their earthly persons seem a second book, as worthy of study as those of ink and paper. Why this should be, with these three as not with other great writers, i know not – except, perhaps, that they all seem fundamentally decent human beings, flawed and living within their flaws, trying to be good.

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