Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Misinterpreting the handprints on a white elephant

Bessy woke this morning with a new doctrine that she wished to foster upon our small family, if not the world. It took some time to elucidate given her disrespect for the early morning, but is, as I understnad it, that we recognise the importance of White Elephants to our way of life. Margaret said we spent enough on Bessy already and, if she wasn't careful, she'd invoke the doctrine of slaughtering White Elephants. Bessy picked up her lead and we went to see Felix.

Felix tells me he is the opposite of a White Elephant. I asked what that is. He said that it was so unique, there wasn't an idiom for it yet. I suggested a black cockroach. We drank the remainder of our tea in silence.

George was looking very severe as I walked into the surgery this morning. He has a doctrine too: that I am to be treated like a self-aggrandising vagabond of little importance on Tuesday mornings, or any other morning he feels it necessary. Today I asked him, despite the frown, what he thought about White Elephants. He said there was nothing more flattering than to be pampered and spent money on, despite knowing one's lack of self-worth. I thought that was rather sad, so went to find Cookie.

Cookie was dressing up Mr Sickinabucket ready to do handprints. Cookie is experimenting with ways for patients to express themselves while lying in the chair with their mouths incommunicado. Mr Sickinabucket is a man with a lot to express.

When I had the rubber dam isolating his lower left central incisor, ready for root-canal treatment, I asked if he had ever considered his vast expressive ability as a form of self-aggrandisement. He indicated I look at the sheet of paper, which by this time had numerous multi-coloured handprints on it. He proceeded to dip a single finger in the paint, then apply it to the paper. Cookie said that it reminded her of a young plant that has had all its leaves eaten by slugs and that the slugs were probably sleeping well at this moment with a full belly. I don't think that was Mr Sickinabucket's intention.

Which made me think that doctrines, like any other expressive form, seem doomed to misinterpretation. On the other hand, it makes life more fun, which is a doctrine I'd like to instigate - at risk of being misinterpreted as something I haven't yet thought about.

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