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Thursday, April 5, 2012

My lesson from Vyvyan Basterd

If you're old enough, and just slightly weird, you will remember the British TV series, The Young Ones. There's one little scene that always stuck in my mind.

Vyvyan Basterd, the loony punk psychopathic orange-haired much-bodily-pierced medical student,* is standing in a train passageway. There's a sign above the lintel: 


What's that about then? he says, pulling down the window and sticking his head out as far as it can go.

The inevitable happens, and he decapitates himself as the train speeds past a lamp-post. Blood spouting from his neck arteries, his hand claws its way up to the Emergency Cord, and the train comes to a grinding halt.

Still spouting blood, his body slowly staggers down the railway track towards the head, sitting upright between the tracks.

"You took your time getting here!" his head shouts furiously at his lurching, truncated (hah!) body.

The body is not amused, and gives his head a hefty boot along the railway tracks before, presumably, his hands jam it back on his body, and he resumes what is normal life for our Vyvyan.

It always seemed to me, even before my right side refused to cooperate fully with my brain, that in everyday life we often suffer a dislocation between mind and body. After all, everyone knows what part of the body men are supposed to be ummm ... dictated to by, and it's definitely not the brain. Lord knows we're reminded of that often enough.

But these days it's even more obvious to me; the disjuncture between brain and body, I mean. When I can't lift my right leg to make it go into the right side of my underpants, or, having got the foot in them, it stubbornly refuses to go right through the leghole, I start berating the poor leg and foot unmercifully.

These are the times when I'm sure my right arm, in sympathy with the right leg, would like to blacken my eye (probably the left one). This is because the right hand frequently comes in for unwarranted verbal abuse from what remains of my brain when some part of my bodily intranet is down.

If it can't accomplish the task, it cops the flak. But it's the brain area that's mostly at fault, not the poor old arm or leg.

Sometimes I'm sure that I'm not that much different from Vyv. We're bodily psychopaths, the both of us.

Now I really am going to write about roots in the next piece. Keep your eye on the typing hand – the left hand that is. Not the nearly useless right hand.

Ouch! I just got my nose punched. Sorry, right hand. Can't you take a little joke?

Apparently not.
*OK, I admit I didn't know that was the spelling of Vyvyan, I didn't know his surname was Basterd, nor that he was a medical student. I wonder if he's made it into the NHS as a doctor yet? (Frightening thought.) Wikipedia, you've done it again.


  1. haha! love it Dennis :) and so true! what's with this disassociation & mystery we have with our body & mind?!?

  2. I learned today as I was about to surrender myself to the most glorious massage EVER that the right side troubling me was my male side. So there! Your fault AGAIN hah! Not that that has anything to do with your wonderful tale of disassociation between mind & body Just that I found it a curious concept to have a male side & a female side. Note the w-right side is MALE. that's all Ready for Part 2 whenever you care to indulge us Denis sometime soon I hope
    Warmly Debbie

  3. Sometimes, in the present, I think of my body in the third person as an entity viewed at a distance by my mind/brain? Always, when re-visiting the past, I am looking at a movie of somebody else - even if it is so recent that all my cells have not been renewed since then. This has always puzzled me - just who exactly is the 'me' in this relationship ... body/head, brain/mind, a composite, or something else I haven't thought of?


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