When news is bad, then no-one thanks the messenger –
But rest assures, there follows much renown.
To make ones names can prove a fickle blessing:
Why, just ask Dr Parkinson or Dr Down.
Perhaps Dr Tourette has got off lightly,
In only causing ridicule and jokes,
Whereas for Dr Alzheimer or Dr Weil
There’s no-one ever pleased to hear those folks.
As if they’re gothic surgeons in a castle or a lair,
Meddling in such knowledge as should best remain unknown:
With Dr Hodgkin’s evil laugh and Dr Creutzfeldt’s crazy hair,
All nations tremble at the wrath of Drs Asperger and Crohn.
It’s sure no way to treat such heroes,
To have their good name turned to bad
As patients spit their syllables,
And lose whatever little hope they had.
These doctors, whose labours we ought to hail,
Have found themselves as harbingers of doom.
Do nurses fear to yet invoke these names
That always seem to summon up the tomb ?
As if they’re puffed-up prettyboys all posing in their lab,
All engineering new diseases, socket-wrenching genes apart,
Chasing fame at any price, copywriting ev’ry scab –
Until we gawp at Dr Bell’s and Dr Turner’s works of art.
When news is bad, there’s no-one thanks the messenger –
But better, surely, that we know than not ?
And largely thanks to these unwitting fathers,
These conditions shan’t soon be forgot.
And yet, for each new syndrome that they spawn,
Their children must carry their touch –
There’s few whose work can reach so many lives,
And few whose name is cursed so much.
As if they’re ancient tragic heroes, fighting with the gods,
To bite the apple, steal the fire, always seek the new –
Can we catch their genius, to bear their brand against the odds ?
Though maybe less of Dr Frankenstein, and more of Dr Who.
This cannot drown me, nor chill me, nor dampen my mien:
For I have seen something like nothing of all things I’ve seen.
Not from a far world, nor next world, nor somewhere between –
It came from within me, from ev’ry damn neuron and gene.
Have you heard about Christian Jewson ?
Lived and died most ordinary
In his flat not far from Euston,
’Cept for his obituary.
Seems that none who knew him, knew:
Was he a Christian or was he a Jew ?
Now our Chris was blond by nature,
Yet his eyes were very dark.
No pork, said his legislature,
Cos he lived that vegan lark.
Was he church or temple sworn ?
Was he of Hebrews or Gentiles born ?
Couldn’t be from both descended,
Thoroughbred, he said, his folk:
Shem or Japheth; never blended –
No mulatto, him, he’d joke.
But beneath these joshing jibes,
Was he the Goyim or was he the Tribes ?
Why keep such parental myst’ry ?
Was shame undersigning doubt ?
Did he even know of his hist’ry ?
Was he scared of finding out ?
Was it glamour, cheap mystique –
Second-hand exotic with a tuppenny chic ?
Chris, I think, was far less caring,
Never much the man of faith.
When he died, his prayers were sparing;
So which heaven holds his wraith ?
Can God even not define
Was he of Semite or Aryan line ?
Now these questions may seem suspect,
Matter none save Chris alone;
Smacks of fear and disrespect
When he has nothing to atone.
Yet still I ask, a son’s remorse:
I’d take either gladly, just give me a source.
I try to extol your virtue –
And oh, what virtue, fulsome virtue !
But though I rack till I hurt, you
Form no vision or flirt.
And all my labours exert to
Bring on nothing but dirt,
With nary a trickle or spurt to
Dapple your laundered skirt.
Your beauties just won’t blurt through –
From I, your lover inert.
My my, little virus, haven’t you been busy,
Clogging up my sinuses, roughing up my throat –
You naughty little virus, you’ve left me low and dizzy,
All watered in my eyeball and shivered in my coat.
Oh my word, what hell you are !
You’re truly undesirous –
But I am multicellular,
And you are such a little virus…
I may be fevered hazily,
And sorely dripping nasally,
But I will beat you back – by deuce –
With peppermints and orange juice !
I may be rasping breathily,
But you won’t be the death of me;
It’s hardly some acute bronchitis,
Just your rhinopharyngitis.
Now there are tons of nasty bugs
Resistant to our latest drugs:
Herpes, hepatitis, rabies,
Take our lovers, take our babies.
You are nothing like those thugs,
You’re even less a pest than scabies.
Best you manage is to tire us –
Call yourself a proper virus ?
But best of all, you’ve given me the cure:
You’re down and dead and done, and that’s your lot.
Your brothers may infect me further, sure,
But you will not. This was your only shot.
Your end is nigh, so take your bow,
For look, here come my t-cells now.
And next time you come plumbing,
Then you won’t catch me succumbing,
Cos I’ll spy you with my clear, unstreaming iris;
I’ll smell your protein codes
And I’ll taste your lipid nodes
And I’ll eat you up, you puny little virus.
And should your children come my way
Mutated in disguise,
They maybe lay me low, but hey,
It won’t be me who dies.