About ten years ago an old man consulted me as his doctor of second choice. (His own doctor was away; really I was the doctor of no choice.) A compact man, charming, he smiled beneath a tidy military moustache and carried a Veteran’s Gold Card. Eventually he promoted me to doctor of equal choice. In this capacity I doctored him to death.
In due course I received a letter from the son of the deceased, thanking me. Not for his father’s dying but for the doctoring. Eventually the son and I met. A remarkable man: no moustache, same charm, huge human warmth.
The son’s name is Don Palmer. He says he used to work for God – in the Anglican franchise. Eventually he resigned from Holy Orders and created Malpa, the imaginative project born of urgent compassion and imagination that teaches Aboriginal kids how to become ‘Young Doctors’.
His story inspired a chapter in my forthcoming novel, Carrots and Jaffas, the story of a couple of identical twins, violently separated. With Don’s blessing I pinched his idea. My chapter reads as follows: Continue reading