The nature of heroism . . . (episode 89)

image by 'gameanna' http://freedigitalphotos.net

image by ‘gameanna’
http://freedigitalphotos.net

3A Hyde Park Terrace
LONDON W2 5PH

June 5 2000

Hello Mum

Thank you for your telephone call last night informing me of the radiological report on your wrist X-ray. A stress fracture of the distal ulna does, at least, sound less serious than a fracture of the distal radius. No wonder you were in such agony when changing gear in the Banger 0.9L Mk II! I was also interested to hear your remarks about the significance of the type of fall you sustained.

I remember slipping on the ice while out skiing in Val d’Isere with Austen one year. Of course, as my feet flew forwards, I fell backwards, putting my hand out to save me – and that is how I broke my own wrist. But, as you say, you fell sideways – describing what sounds like a parabola – from a standing position up on a chair. And that is how you probably landed on the ulnar side of the wrist. Why don’t they ask you these questions in a structured way when you turn up in A&E. Anyway. What happens now? Can you escape a plaster cast?

I myself have been cogitating over the nine Jesse Stone novels penned by the American writer, Robert Brown Parker. There is something terribly profound – and moving – about the characters of men (and women) who act to uphold the best interests of others, often at terrible risk to the quality of their own lives. We seem to see these acts of heroism – enacted over and over again – in the behaviour of fictional criminal detectives. But there must be people in real life who, every day, nerve themselves to act against a prevailing system, and in defence of the perceived best interests of another. How can they bear it? How can they bear the disapproval of – and indeed the invocation of punitive actions from – the system?

I also read that Robert Brown Parker had a particular penchant for dogs and so that must be how Reggie the red setter ended up featuring in the Jesse Stone novels. I think he must have had a special interest in heroism, as he has a PhD from Boston university whose subject is ‘The Violent Hero.’

I can’t quite describe the pain I feel when I read about the compassion and courage shown by such a man as Jesse Stone, in the interests of justice.

All love Mum

Harriet

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