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Friday, July 27, 2012

Chapter 11, Childhood Of The Art Historian, parts 412 - 415

Richard Britell

412. In the morning Buboni came to his senses; his temperature was lower, but still above a hundred. The hospital staff did not ask us to leave so we sat around the hospital room drinking tea. Aunt Jemima stayed with us even though her shift was finished and Buboni entertained us with stories about his childhood. This was the first time he had said  anything about himself or his past; you will remember that all we knew about him was gathered from blogs from his time teaching art history at Cambridge.

413. I was a scrawny child and not very good looking and aware of being different from everyone else. In grade school they would line us all up and take us to the school doctor who examined us one at a time, as we stood in a long line in our underwear. Each child presented his naked chest to the doctor's stethoscope; he listened for a brief moment and then waved them off and gestured for the next child to come up.

414. When it was my turn I presented myself to the doctor's stethoscope; instead of listening for just a second as with the other boys, he would furrow up his brow, listen intently and then ask, "Have you ever had Rheumatic fever." When I said no the doctor would say something like, "odd," and mark down something on my chart. This was an annual experience along with vision and hearing tests all of which made me frantically anxious.

415. We were sent for an unusual examination; to be tested to see if we were color blind. We entered a small room where there was a doctor sitting at a table. We looked at several cards on which were multicolored patterns. In these patterns of colored shapes one could see letters and numbers indistinctly. My color blindness test went well but the doctor made me do it over several times. Finally he exclaimed, "I have never seen anything like this, you have the finest color acuity I have ever seen". 

Richard Britell

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