Well, who would have thunk it? Geoffrey and Brynne Edelsten’s marriage is over.
Celebrity gossip is my rather grubby secret vice- indulged mainly at the check-out, the hairdressers and doctors with the odd furtive glance at internet links on The Age website- and I don’t normally write about it here. But bad hair transplant, curious suntan and Brynne notwithstanding, I do have rather a soft spot for Geoffrey Edelsten.
It was a couple of days before Christmas in 1988 (I think- might have been 1989) and I developed the mother of all sore throats. Ye Gods- each swallow felt like a knife and I felt absolutely terrible. I could barely open my mouth; the taste was terrible; as soon as I lay down I felt as if I was going to suffocate…. oh, it was dreadful. In desperation I went to the walk-up 24 hour clinic in Kingsbury that was owned by none other than the famous Dr Edelsten. I think that it must have been at the nadir of his fortunes: it was a very humble grey brick surgery in two old houses on a busy corner. It had the chandelier, but that was about all, with threadbare carpet, hard chairs and the ubiquitous doctor’s-surgery magazines. There were no other patients, and the whole place looked rather tired and crumpled- as did the doctor himself.
It was quinsy, which sounds all very Victorian and old-fashioned. People used to die of it- in fact, I read a description of Queen Elizabeth I’s death and even though I know that she was supposed to have died of poisoning (perhaps from her face powder), I reckon it was quinsy. Alison Weir (Elizabeth the Queen, 1998 p.481-4) says that her final illness began with “slight swellings- probably ulcers- in the throat” and she complained to Nottingham “My Lord, I am tied with a chain of iron around my neck. I am tied, and the case is altered with me”. Apparently she just lay on cushions on the floor, “holding her finger continually in her mouth, with her eyes open and fixed to the ground”. Well, that sounds like me Christmas 1988. Eventually Queen Elizabeth’s ulcer burst and she felt much better (although went on to die a few days later), just as mine burst on Boxing Day (and I lived to tell the tale, obviously). Instant relief.
The good doctor made his diagnosis and gave me a hefty injection of antibiotics (there was no way that I could swallow a tablet). And another the next morning and evening, and the morning and evening after that. By now it was Christmas Day and there he was, alone in that surgery at 8.00 in the morning and there he was still alone in that surgery at 7.00 p.m. that night. Not once did I see another patient there.
I’ve had quinsy a couple of times since, although never as bad as that first time- touch wood I haven’t had it for the last ten years or so. I still get nervous at the sign of a sore throat. I haven’t forgotten that kind doctor in his empty surgery and in spite of all that has happened to him, I feel rather sad for him.