for Harold Shipman *


I was a perfectly ordinary man, could be your neighbour.

In my right hand I bore death.

There was nothing you would notice about me.

    In my right hand I bore death.


I came from an average working-class family,

                             drank tea every morning.

My father was a dour lorry driver,

my mother the sickly victim of a carcinoma –


                              scientifically described as

                              a morbid growth of epithelium cells.


Anyone in need could always phone me –

              I came from the Bestwood district of Nottingham,

              not far from here,

              but climbed upwards in Leeds.


At a university a young man

loses all his brains.


I grew up in a council house, was every day a king there.

My mother passed away at the age of forty-three –

                                             get that sorted out!


Anyone who’s young wants a girlfriend.

I romped around with Primrose Oxtoby,

                             a country girl of seventeen.

She got pregnant with our only daughter –

                             Sarah, a real godsend.


I could cure and give life,

                                    was a doctor,

                                    gave what I had,

                                    gave Primrose sons,




while I was destined for white-collar work.


I could do more,

                       and no one got in my way,

                       got going in Todmorden,

                       a group practice,

where one of my colleagues said

that I wanted to do more than I was paid for.


      was my propriety!


I pampered myself from time to time with a shot of pethidine,

                                        a prick in an arm or leg.

                                        What difference does it make?

                                        A matter of milligrammes.

But I had black-outs during consultation.

Primrose took me where I had to be.


The line between being gifted and addicted is a thin one,

but a doctor knows for what he toils and moils.

              Money has no meaning.

              A suspension is balm.

And what is known as a ‘detoxification centre’

is a factory

                that is only left by finished products.


I was arrogant, pedantic,

         elegant, charming,

         and what else?


I gained access to the group practice of Donneybrook,

    moved in two shakes of a lamb’s tail to Hyde.

The police began investigations –

    it was classified as without result!


I was weathered,

    always kept my fighting spirit,

    did things my way.

Finally to Market Street –

                              main street with red-brick houses.

I opened a single practice,

                               Primrose was the receptionist.


Just look at me standing here –

                              open house,

                              we live behind one great window.


I was medical practitioner,


         respectable doctor in the country,

                                                         light-brown suit,

                                                         striped tie,

                                                         grey beard,

                                                         calm and collected voice,

          melancholy eyes behind apostolic glasses.

I saw;

          was a welcome sight at the local rugby club, where David played.



For the populace

                        I gave myself the nickname ‘Fred’.

For elderly ladies

                        I was not only their doctor,

                        but also their best friend.

A joking word,

a teasing dig,

a fatherly pat on the shoulder.

                                           Everyone probably knew who I was.


I already once did a family a service,

              preferably children of terminal patients.

Who would ever find out what I was up to?

I was responsible for the

                                   medical prescriptions,

                                   death certificates,

                                   cremation forms.


 I controlled the world on my pc, 

    like the poet does language in a poem.

I was not considered too lightweight by anybody,

but sometimes patients already prior to treatment are

    more dead than alive.


I bent down to pick up my stethoscope,

heard a cough,

                     looked up

                                   and the woman had passed away.

Died of old age. Or

of a thrombosis of the coronary artery.

I probably helped old people more frequently.

     In my right hand I carried death.


I recall a certain Ronny Devenport.

He was a terrible hypochondriac who was visited

by more complaints than were available.

     In my right hand I carried death.


And then there was Mrs Ivy Lomas.

She wanted to remain true all through,

                                                       but was hearsed without mercy.

She lived in huge depressions, trembled from the anxiety attacks.

     In my right hand I carried death.


I never got it in the neck, but had some close shaves.

Maria West I helped on her way,

                while her friend sat waiting in the kitchen.

I washed and washed my hands until they were clean.

     In my right hand I carried death.


Not even my day can contain more than twenty-four hours.

I wanted some rest.

Joan Harding departed,

while her friend waiting outside in the street, her engine running.

I couldn’t know everything in advance.

     In my right hand I carried death.


There are boundaries in this life so that they can be sounded.

Who has never been bothered by something that goes against the grain?

Alice Jones was visually impaired.

I put a lamp and a magnifying glass

                               into her hands,

placed a book or newspaper

                                       on the knee of the one who passed on.

Whoever is energetic normally knows something about gloves.

     In my right hand I carried death.


An enterprising man asked me how long his father-in-law was likely to live –

Harold Eddleston had a carcinoma. The man was no son.

I told him he didn’t need to buy any more Easter eggs.

     In my right hand I carried death.


Finally, luckily, came the case of ‘Kathleen Grundy’,

with her suspicious daughter, Angela,

                                 a legal expert.

I asked for Kathleen’s help in a survey of old age.

     In my right hand I carried death.


Whoever submits to a jab

knows that something enters the body,

                something that causes a split.

Diamorphine leads to a sudden slowing down of the rate of breathing,


         a brief pain for which many a mayor would be grateful.

Greed was unknown to me,

but a will has to do with money.

     In my right hand I carried lead.


I signed her last will and testament,

     in which she left everything to me,

     not knowing that the fine family

     had a will at their disposal.

     In my right hand I carried lead.


The daughter did not recognise the signature of her mother –

reason enough for dig up a deceased person a month after her burial,

to investigate with a notary’s curiosity.

     In my right hand I carried lead.


From Julie Evans many samples were taken of thigh muscles and liver.

Mass spectrometry confirmed beyond doubt the presence of lulluldine,

     in a huge overdose and with fairy-like spikes.

     In my right hand I carried lead.


Hans Sachs via perfect hair analysis and mass spectrometry could determine

                if someone had been using opium even long since.

His competence cost me fifty years in a prison cell, well, well.

     In my right hand I carried lead.


My personal computer has betrayed me,

     because it always registered the time

     of new entries in records.

     This raised suspicions.

     Misuse of medication? Oh definitely so!

     In my right hand I carried lead.


It was a lady, Dame Janet Smith,

     who led the High Court

     and pronounced me a murderer:

     two hundred and fifteen proven corpses in twenty-three years –

     quite clear it appears!

On the bench of the accused Primrose shoved chocolates at me –

     woman the provider. Indeed!


Even in prison I got up every morning at six on the dot,

     carefully trimmed my beard,

     wrote letters to friends,

     in which I maintained my innocence,

     more than that, proved it.

Primrose visited me daily

and cursed the devils of the judiciary.


Anyone asking for leniency

shows he’s no longer right in the head

and believes in such vague principles as justice.


I filled out my days translating Harry Potter into braille,

                                    for blind children.

I read newspaper articles,

looked at programmes where I was centre stage

as a hero who saved the world from the trash

that suffered from itself.

                                  A secretion is after all an excretion.


I was prematurely finished with my life,

recalled such patients as Ernest Rudol

who brought me a bottle of whisky every Christmas.

In the evening I sat with a cup of tea in front of the telly

looking enigmatically at popular programmes

such as ‘Who wants to be a multimillionaire?’ –

Hardly me.


I got up, as every morning, at six,

trimmed my beard with care,

brushed my teeth thoroughly,

placed yesterday’s newspaper on the pile,

took the unstained bedsheet

and bound it to the iron bars in my cell window,

made a noose of the other end,

and said:




· Naar introductiepagina

· Bloemlezing eigen  poëzie

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· Vertalingen

· Essays

· Toneel

Joris Iven