Back in October 2021, I was talking to Patrick about ADHD and his book Obedience Pills. ADHD has since become a very big and polarizing issue in the UK. Katinka Newman has had a prominent and hard-hitting article in the Daily Mail two weeks ago on these issues.
There have been earlier RxISK posts on ADHD Nation, and Is there such a thing as Adult ADHD and many posts on the hazards of stimulants – It’s Alright Ma, I’m only Punding and Could your Stimulant cause Dementia.
We followed up an early post on RxISK about the – Obedience Pills, with another Calling all ADHD Influencers. Some people were calling Patrick’s book pill-shaming and saying it was shocking that any one would question the idea of Adult ADHD.
These reactions seemed rather like the reactions found in debates about trans issues. Differences in points of view are not welcome. Before ADHD got quite to the level of division found with trans issues, it seemed an idea to get some conversation going but it proved impossible to engage anyone on the ADHD side even people usually willing to tackle the most tricky subjects.
Patrick’s hope and mine was that Obedience Pills was a good book at the right time, and it is still looking good to me.
In his usual very direct style, he then mentioned he was working on a vaccine book – didn’t know if anyone would take it.
Maybe expecting me to say Samizdat would be interested.
I froze. My immediate reaction, given the climate in October 2021, was the last thing Samizdat needed was a book on Vaccines – Covid Vaccines. Mandates had just come in. People were losing jobs. The world was being divided into Sheep and Goats.
It seemed impossible to find a middle ground and Samizdat’s mission statement is that it is all about keeping a middle ground open on health related issues – see Neoculturalism.
We would be tarnished as anti-vaxxers if Patrick’s book said anything short of everyone must rush out and get their boosters immediately.
I muttered something about it being close to impossible at the moment to write a book on vaccines without being eviscerated by one or other side or even both. I thought my message was clear if a bit English.
Senator Ron Johnson’s November 2 meeting about vaccine injuries was about to happen – at which Brianne Dressen, an extraordinary woman, lit up a landscape of vaccine injuries and death for all the world to see – See The Day of the Dead.
No-one who was at the meeting, in person or on feed, could have been anything but moved. I told Patrick about the meeting and suggested he get there – he lives relatively close by. He went and was moved.
His later take on our conversation a few days before the meeting was:
When David Healy suggested in a telephone conversation that I write a book about the covid shots, I agreed immediately. This was a project I could sink my teeth into.
A year later, Bill James and I had an email:
Are you interested in taking a look at my new book?
Bill rapidly pleaded ignorance of Vax issues and said let’s wait for David to read. I had probably told him about the earlier conversation with Patrick.
I had begun reading and far from feeling caught in the headlights of an oncoming disaster ended up emailing Patrick saying:
Have finished your new book – it’s great – beautiful in places
The opening and end are marvellous
I mentioned a few things that confused me and likely would confuse readers and ended with:
All things considered I was impressed.
So Samizdat was on the way to getting involved in a game where it didn’t look like there could be any winners.
I was also slightly chagrined. I had been thinking about a book in this area – taking a similar approach to Patrick – not arguing the detail but looking at the human impact on us all of this living through the thundercloud of a common experience. Telling him I was impressed was genuine – he had hit on the approach I’d have tried.
It was the day after Thanksgiving, an unseasonably warm afternoon, the rolling hills and dales of Washington County forming a viridescent backdrop to the last remaining golden leaves of autumn still clinging to the trees. It was a perfect day for the Old Man to go for a walk with his nephew and nieces, who in turn were the perfect ages for such an undertaking—old enough to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation, and yet young enough still actually to want to spend time with the Old Man.
The four of them had barely gotten underway when they spotted a couple, a man and a woman, a couple of hundred yards away. Then the middle child, a girl, spoke up.
“We need to go back,” she informed the Old Man solemnly. “We’ll get the corona.”
It was at that moment that I knew I had to do something. But what? Where to start?
This is a crisis that touches upon every facet of our existence. Going from writing about antidepressants and stimulants to writing about the covid is like going from swimming laps in a pool to being parachuted into the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
It was the day after Thanksgiving, an unseasonably warm afternoon, the rolling hills and dales of Washington County forming a viridescent backdrop to the last remaining golden leaves of autumn still clinging to the trees. Two years had elapsed since I had gone for that hastily interrupted stroll with my nephew and nieces and now I had come full circle, literally. They’re two years older now, and it took some coaxing to induce them to accompany their uncle on his peregrinations.
My wife and I had driven up the night before, and the kids’ mom had served up a delicious feast, and over dinner I lectured them on randomized controlled trials and the placebo effect, and also on the discovery of insulin, and the youngest child, a girl, piped up “Uncle Patrick, you’re like a living Wikipedia.”
Now we were out and about, strolling down the smooth blacktop lanes past acres of manicured lawns when we spotted a couple, a man and a woman, standing in their driveway. They smiled and waved and greeted us, and we returned their greetings. No fearful avoidance of one another, no muzzles converting the human visage into a cold insectoid gaze—just human beings, sampling the joys of being human. It occurred to me that as a people we seem to be developing antibodies to the climate of fear we have been saturated with for the past almost three years. That was a comforting thought.
We reached the end of a cul-de-sac and stood there for a while, gazing at the blue hills in the distance. A cool breeze blew through, presaging the frigid temperatures forecast for that evening. The middle child, a girl, complained of feeling cold, and so I removed my jacket and draped it over her shoulders.
“Say thank you,” her younger sister admonished her, and she did so.
It was time to start heading back. As we made our way back to the house, I reflected on the long sweep of history……
Back from the Dead?
The end now has a little more added about the long sweep of history than the original ending I read. If you want Patrick’s take on this sweep and on the climate of fear we have been saturated in, you will need to buy The Day the Science Died – which now I’m pleased to say features on the Samizdat website.
It is probably safe to give a copy to others you know, whether pro- or anti- the Covid vaccines. There are no conspiracy theories here. Instead there is a good deal of wondering about just what we have been through. This is about living under the Thundercloud of a Common Experience, as Tennessee Williams put it in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
How should we handle these electrically charged atmospheres? Williams’ answer in Sweet Bird of Youth was:
I don’t ask for your pity but just for your understanding
Not even that – no
Just for some recognition of me in you
and the enemy time in us all.
When reading The Day the Science Died, it seemed to me that Patrick was reaching for something like this and this is what had me so impressed – along with an unusual ability to explain tricky scientific coneepts in terms that even his nephew and nieces on walks with him could appreciate.