Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Emmae Gibson 2004

Two weeks of all our lives ago it was Yellow Paper Day and my appointment at DOCTOR HOOPER'S HAND CLINIC was for ten past ten. Gray day, sleeting slightly. My gloved Hands and I got there early. Negotiated barriers, muggers in disguise of ticket machines, the remotest of car parks and Hospital signage designed to enforce prolonged, lethal exercise. Then the initiative test, locate O.P.D.2, by way of the vast, scaffolded heart of a building site which seemed to be edging dangerously close to completion; a common architectural feature of the N.H.S. In the waiting room there were other hands, twice as many as people, waiting in a variety of poses and states of good and bad nick. Naked, bandaged, mittened, tied up, plastered, ringed, pierced, dangling, clasped, slung, pocketed, fidgety, still, hidden in long sleeves... Doctor Hooper had his work cut out. Predictably, not one hand rose in greeting, recognition or kinship. You don't expect much in the way of words hereabouts, but a few fingered letters of the deaf alphabet might have broken the ice. The coffee machine gasped occasionally in French, "C'SSHEURDRE!" A malaise of magazines grew on coffee tables. Posters portrayed the labelled parts of the hand, wrist, fingers, thumb, bones, arteries, nerves and digital joints, of skeletons; I made mental notes. Apparently everything gets a name in this world, yet the body remains a joyous mystery to me. We were all beginning to think in our universal hand consciousness that Doctor Hooper may have hurt his hand jumping through hoops for the N.H.S., when the Sister called my name. Twice, actually. I was surreptitiously 4quating. Sister pointed an index finger in the direction of the Door, upon which Hand felt obliged to knock. Doctor Hooper was a tall, square-cut man, square-shouldered, square-faced, fit and smiling, nothing hoopish or rotund about him at all, except thick glasses. I popped off my coat, popped on to the chair, popped my bag with the yellow paper popping out, underneath. His hands looked at mine as if they'd seen them somewhere before. My right wrist, to be exact, dutifully, infuriatingly painless in time for this moment. His had very thick skin, I noticed. How many hands had his hands held! If anyone knows about the hand of Christ it will be Doctor Hooper, I thought.

"Jesus!" he said, looking at my notes. Ah, maybe he is approachable, throbbed Hand under the moment.

"Surely not that bad," I said, tendons trilling like escaped budgies.

"Slurks?" he asked, squeezing a little.

"Jarrow full of mocks," I nodded fervently.

"Crickles and flegs when you trachlitt?"

"You bet," I said, "like kindling." Three lumps in a chorus line below the ball of the thumb swelled to the occasion and flegged their fire-dance there and then from 1 to 10.

"Can't be skelped," Doctor Hooper said, letting go. "More common in women than in men. No known curse."

"What about the Sinistra?" I asked. "And the Ulna - the Carpals and the Olecranon -?"

"Too close to the Gangliocampus for surgery," he said, unimpressed. "Trubba being, it would only come back."

"Does that mean -?"

"Exactly. Gangles panfully for a while then pans out. We don't cut dastardly any more," he said and furrowed his square brow.

""Don't I have to curtail my - my eating, drinking or maggidigifrolicking?"

"Not even that," he said. "Just keep an eye on El Bow."

My arteries arched. "How come Gynaecologists don't share your reluctance to scalp?" I asked suspiciously.

"Buggered if I know," he said turning round, "it's about all we rhinos can offer."

"I think you've gone far enough with this plagiarising."

"More common in men than women," said Doctor Hooper, still with his back to me. When he birled to face me again, he held in his dexter something that looked like a manual pogo-stick. "Try this for a month," he said. "It works by Revere Perpetual Motion."

"Enough is enough," I said. "Time is my boss," and I popped off.

On the waiting room coffee tables the yellow pages still blazed with black block caps as I passed - FOR ANYTHING LIKE REAL CONVERSATION YOU HAVE TO GO TO STONES AND OCEANS, they said, complete with bibliography, www, etc.

From there we three drove to the Mall, along the lines of Dave Awl, slipped some yellow in the tourist brochures, right beside Dewar's World of Whisky Tours, all folded to the same size, DON'T EXPECT ME TO BE HUMAN, SAID GOD.

Popped along to Boots and bought a tube of pain relief cream called UCANBLEEV-Plus, then Hands and I continued along the M8 to Edinburgh Airport to meet others of the same ilk, to 4quate randomly in the designated areas, (tricky in the presence of police cradling long black guns hand on heart across their white-shirted chests,) and to depart for sunnier climes, mountains and streams, stones and oceans.

Guess who was on the plane.

No, yes, really!


"Hand", a sketch by fellow Krakenite Catherine Milne.

With the quotes [in YELLOW CAPS], I was aiming for depth and brevity (the soul of wit, according to Shakespeare) and for the quick-fix reader. Imagining how someone might be fleetingly diverted. From Kleinzeit for their succinctness and wider implications, for the alliteration of the first, (stones and oceans...kissing almost,) and the rhythm and present-day relevance of the second, and for the love of the spirit that is in things and places. Good tools for getting through the waiting rooms of life. Blame the sinister sound of Doctor Hooper's Hand Clinic for the rest.

Dr. Hoban comments: Well popped, Emmae! Keep taking the stones and oceans as prescribed.

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