Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the Lines

The meaning of things

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 15 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1394
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    Though I am not, I hope, much given to emotionalism, I often think of people in the concentration camps, in the Gulag, or in Japanese prisoner of war camps when I am eating. I don’t know why, because I’ve never suffered the slightest deprivation, even when travelling in countries ravaged by civil war. Perhaps it’s because I had an uncle who was a prisoner in east Asia during the second world war and who was reported to wake up screaming in the night, and perhaps because my mother escaped the extermination camps by quite a narrow margin. To this day I’d rather eat stale bread than throw it away.

    I thought about my uncle for the first time in ages as …

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