Robert Wil­ton

Mu­sine Kokalari and the Al­ba­nian Si­lence

The London Magazine - - NEWS -

When we were stu­dents at Vin­cent’s, the tu­tor never touched feet, her oval red nails checked the yel­low re­quest form, then dropped it back in the pol­ished wooden box. A present for some­one else and feet were good prac­tice for stu­dents any­way. Po­si­tion­ing not dif­fi­cult – just place the steel plate un­der the naked feet, cen­tre the cross in the rec­tan­gle of tick­ing light. Only we didn’t like touch­ing feet ei­ther – we never knew when open­ing laces and buck­les and zips would re­lease a bomb stink, or some bad sur­prise like the work­man from Bal­li­na­mona who only washed the af­fected foot: God, are ye go­ing to do the both of them? sit­ting em­bar­rassed with a black foot and a white foot on the cas­sette. Even the clean ones left moist anx­ious prints on the metal. Pa­tients were just as re­lieved as ra­dio­g­ra­phers – down in the un­der­ground hum of the Mater Ca­su­alty, in the blood-soaked al­co­holic shriek­ing av­er­age one hun­dred pa­tients for one per­son to X-ray in one night – when feet were X-rayed through socks and desert boots. What are these? the ra­di­ol­o­gist might point to the metal eye­holes of a boot pro­jected across the pha­langes or metatarsals or the shadow of a rub­ber sole on a film on the fol­low­ing morn­ing, know­ing al­ready he was too late the yawn­ing 24-hour ra­dio­g­ra­pher re­spon­si­ble was dream­ing at home, the limp­ing pa­tient long gone down Ec­cles Street or the North Cir­cu­lar Road.

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