My dear Aldous,
I felt awful this morning when your wife handed me my birthday card. I recognized your handwriting from a distance and was hoping you would send me no more than “love and best wishes” which are very nice to receive, for sure.
But oh ! You addressed me as “our dear D.”, thus pricking my conscience to the quick. For me of all persons you have made the most beautiful calligraphic effort, expressing with one word that I have a place in your heart : “our”. The possessive pronoun. How lovely to be claimed ! Are you sure you want to claim me after all I have said?
Yet I could not help listening with a mischievous ear to what your wife had to say. You had been indignant apparently about these narrow-minded doctors who see nothing but their medicine and will not listen to what chemists for example can tell them. They should bear in mind a Louis Pasteur who was a chemist ! What would medicine have done without this chemist ?
You advocate cooperation between the disciplines in a truly broadminded way. Your research has led you into the medical field – what are we but a conglomerate of chemicals ?- recognizing that we are deficient in one chemical in particular. You did find a doctor in the end willing to use your method. A report was published about somebody who was successfully treated by having this chemical administered. The whole nation now knows what our diet is short of. Much to your disgust the pharmaceutical – or is it the chemical ?- industry is cashing in on it by selling tablets containing very little of the precious element, making a good profit by forcing the public to buy lots of tablets, if they want to feel an effect.
You very kindly offer your advice to your friends. Unfortunately black ingratitude is inherent in human nature. For example you have taken steps in fighting a disease possibly connected with a lack – or was it an excess – of a chemical element in our body. There is a case of this disease in our mutual circle of friends. I heard from your wife, you have hinted to the people concerned that you might be able to help them. They did not react. You hinted again. They would not take the hint. Your wife hinted. They did not like it and hinted she should shut up, saying that they trusted their doctor who, of course, has a closed mind to extra-medical alternatives. Your wife did not understand their hints and continued. In the end she was shouted down over the telephone. Her only comfort is that I had been shouted down by the same gentleman previously and managed to stand up again. The same thing happened to someone else. We must not take these things to heart.
Also you have taken the initiative with a new disease which is possibly transmitted by saliva. You have informed the spiritual head of the church of this grave danger, asking him to think of new ways of dispensing the wine at holy communion, so as to avoid a risk of infection. You put the whole weight of your name as a scientist behind this request. Today your wife told me that you have not received as much as an acknowledgment of your letter … Of course, you can be easy : you do not take holy communion and can do no more than warn people.
Your wife also told me that people now try to minimize this risk of infection. You have apparently shown great indignation at reports in the press, according to which people have been exaggerating the situation to the point of refusing holy communion. I agree with you that one cannot be careful enough and have advized our children never to have bites out of their friends’ apples, unless they can have the first bite.
My dear Aldous ! Thank you for my lovely birthday card. I shall hang on to it as evidence against you, in case you are ever tempted to disown me.