Sunday, May 12, 2024

Little Red Coat: Chinese Version

Little Red Coat: 2nd half.

El Capitan, Yosemite

.........Dr. Friedman, the consultant paediatrician, was Jewish.


“Your consultant is the best Child Psychiatrist I have worked with.  No nonsense and no jargon, Freud or otherwise.”

He turned to his two registrars. Drs. Klein and Rosenthal, both Jewish:

“For anyone aspiring to be a paediatrician, a good understanding of child psychiatry is crucial.  Half our cases may have a psychological slant, and the other half may have problems created by the doctors!”

How insightful!

The round started with a seven-year old boy who had an accident in the school playground and suffered a fracture.


The boy was in good spirits and had all sorts of drawings on his plaster cast.

“I bet he can’t wait to get out of here, but we need to make sure there is no concussion.”

It was the golden era of medicine.  There was no haste to discharge patients, and accidents were real accidents.

So I thought.

“Where does child psychiatry come in?” 

His two Registrars gave me a look as if to say: we agree with you!

Then, after a couple of fairly routine cases we came to this boy all bandaged up, except the face, which bore some bruise marks. The two paediatric registrars looked distressed and Dr. Friedman proclaimed:

“Mountaineering accident!”

“Mountaineering?” Their look turned from one of distress to one of bemusement. 

“In London?’

The 70s was a time of change in London. The Vietnam War and the hippies movement seemed like a psychotic mix.  With the explosion of hallucinogen use and the unexpected success of the daring musical Hair, a new social revolution was underway and the secure ways of the old world were to change forever.  It was not for me to judge if it was for the better.

In the mad world of drugs, nudity and profanity, we had dubious characters in charge, and the most serious corruption in high places.  Incredibly lessons were not learnt and we continued to witness the breakdown of decency: people in command of positions of influence abused their newly acquired power and supposedly finance experts eventually collapsed banks and even countries. This erosion was replicated also in families, in the form of unbelievable abuses, both sexual and physical.

We were by the bed of an injured boy in the paediatric ward.  The injury was said to have been the result of a mountaineering accident in London!

Just as Dr. Friedman attempted to elaborate on the case, a short man in his sixties who was with the injured boy stood up.  As he was not in any uniform, I knew he was not hospital staff.

At the same time, Dr. C appeared behind Dr. Friedman.

“Sorry, the meeting about the tea-lady took much longer than I thought, but at least we can keep her for another year.” 

This was before the era of Nespresso and other coffee machines.  We did not have tea bags or instant coffee, but a lady whose job it was to make tea and coffee according to our individual preferences.    She knew exactly who the coffee drinkers and tea drinkers were and never made any mistake.  Today we seem to ignore the fact that health care professionals too need looking after and that some grandmothers need a job.

Despite trying to hide behind the two registrars, the strange man was noticed.

“Aren’t you the cinematographer?” Dr. C asked the tiny man who seemed to get tinier.

I did find it improbable that my consultant should know the cinematographer at her local cinema, not knowing the full story that unfolded later. 

The cinematographer was stocky with silver hair and fairly dark skin. He was not from the Caribbean, and his skin tone came from sun exposure as he was a devoted member of the nudist club.  He lived in a new age commune that Mark’s mother moved to after splitting up with his diabetic and impotent husband. This was way before Viagra, of course, and in this commune Mrs. Green found herself in different beds on different nights.  Her sexual needs were now much better serviced and my patient Mark had stopped soiling.

Mark was one of my twelve psychotherapy patients.  By then I had built up the case load and become at ease with the patients.  Each of the twelve cupboards was filled to the brim with their drawings and selections of toys.  Child psychotherapy was quite fun!

But a new problem emerged for Mrs. Green and who else would she turn to if not Dr. C?  Her daughter Ruth would not go to school or more specifically she did not want to wear her red school coat and refused to attend school.

“I do not know what her problem is. I even spent a lot of money to have it dry cleaned!”

“But that was what was used to wrap up the dead baby!”

One day the cinematographer had some altercation with one of the founding members of the commune because he thought some sexual activity went too far, even for a new age man like him. He was asked to leave immediately. He went into one of the children’s bedrooms to get his old suitcase when Ruth happened to be in the room. He opened the case and there was Ruth’s school coat.  Ruth reached out to retrieve her coat but found a dead baby wrapped in it.   She screamed!  Police was called.  Both parents were arrested and later sentenced for not reporting death and served three months of a one-year sentence.

A very lenient society it was, and no one looked into how the baby died.  Not only that, on release, these guilty parents were even allowed to become registered as foster parents!  The result was the child suffering mountaineering injuries.  He was in their foster care.

Need I say more? That was before Maria Colwell[1].  Fostering was good money then. 

“So you are allowed back?”

“Yes, doctor! They needed my money.”

Dr. Friedman’s registrars were shocked to hear the story from my consultant.

“We will call Social Service and this time we will make sure.” Dr. Friedman turned to his registrars, “Well, what did I tell you, the importance of Child Psychiatry input!”



I started seeing Ruth at Mrs. Green’s request.

“The Chinaman did wonders for my Mark!”

“Dr. Zhang, please.”  There was an unwritten rule that the same therapist should not provide therapy for two children in the same family, but Dr. C relented in this case.  She must have thought that Ruth would be safe in my hands, despite my still limited experience.   I think she would have otherwise assigned Ruth to my psychotherapy supervisor, an Anna Freudian.  To be honest, even today, I have a lot of difficulties with the focus of Kleinian theories on good breasts and bad breasts. 

For me it was an interesting experience to find Ruth’s “mother” so different to Mark’s “mother”.  It just showed that psychotherapists were very much dealing with the subjective.  Being brought up in a 70s liberated flower-powered environment, Ruth might have some skewed perceptions and believed that dead babies were regularly wrapped up in coats rather than buried.  I tend to believe children do not lie, unless proved otherwise.

Ruth continued her therapy with me whilst attending our day unit up in Hampstead. One day, Miss W the social worker was in a very excited mood and told me:

“Ruth said she is going to school. Well done!”

The fact was it might not be my therapy that did it.  Miss W happened to be in John Barnes (the local department store) and she had the brain wave to buy Ruth a new school coat.

“Ruth was really thrilled to see the little red coat and told me she wants to show it off to her friends at school.”

Ruth went back to school but continued to see me at the clinic.

The commune was disbanded and Mrs. Green moved back with Mark and Ruth’s father.

The guilty foster parents were later sentenced to three years each for child abuse and the injured boy was taken into care after his recovery.

I will not easily forget the kind act of a Quaker: Miss W, and the little red coat.






周志權兄,同學中之文藝人(紅學家)也。他說他很驚訝牧農大夫以蒙太奇編輯手法Montage editing style寫他的「傳記」。這引起我以看電影的心態來欣賞大夫作品的興趣,並以上引半章書作嘗試。當然,談電影,黃華麒兄才是專家 ,但我們未有機會聽他說話(我知道他最近在澳門大學講課,非常忙),希望他不介意我在這樣獻醜,並不吝𧶽教。





Dr Friedman(顧問兒科專科醫生、猶太人)

Dr Klein Dr Friedman徒弟、猶太人)

Dr Rosenthal Dr Friedman徒弟、猶太人)


Dr C (女、英格蘭人、顧問兒童心理專科醫生、大夫上司)


Mrs Green(新紀元運動追隨者、離開丈夫、住在公社、認識放映技師、她的兩名孩子是MarkRuth



Miss W (主任醫院社工、基督教貴格會會友Quaker


故事發生主要地點是倫敦,London Tavistock Clinic,時為70年代。


大夫正以兒童心理專科醫生的身份陪同兒科專科醫生團體(Dr Friedman, Dr Klein, Dr Rosenthal)巡視兒童病房。開始前,Dr Friedman大讚大夫的師父Dr C說她是他夥拍過的最好的兒童心理專科醫生。轉過頭來,他向同是猶太人的兩名徒弟說:「想做好兒科醫生,就必要掌握兒童心理科的精要;兒童科病例一半可能是與心理科相關,另一半則可能是醫生們造成的問題。」語不驚人誓不休,戲劇効果強!


看過三幾個病人後 - 第一個是一名在學校操場跌斷骨的七歲小男孩,他興致勃勃,在石膏模上畫滿了東西,等醫生確定他沒有震盪傷害後他便可以出院  - ,便來到了攀山意外受傷男孩的榻前,那時先前仍被上一會議耽誤的兒童心理科顧問醫生Dr C也趕到了。「對不起,剛才的會議比我想像的長,但我們保住了我們的茶水部亞姐,她至少明年仍可在這𥚃工作。」電影中,凡是要角,出場總會有些意想不到的說話。




眼前的男孩面有些瘀,全身繃上了繃帶,給醫院的說詞是在攀山意外中受傷。「在倫敦遭遇攀山意外?!」醫生們大惑不解,大夫對意外就真的是意外的信心也開始動搖了。醫生們發現了保持低調、與受傷男孩同來的皮膚黝黑的小老人,Dr C認得他是隣近影院的放映技師。






放映技師是一位天體運動熱烈擁護者,住在一所新紀元運動公社內,並在那裏結識了Mark(大夫的病人)的母親,Mrs Green


Mrs Green自與她患有糖尿病及性無能的丈夫分開後,便搬進了公社。在那𥚃,她床無定處,但卻床第不虛,而Mark這小病人的弄髒情況這時侯停止了。但在這時,新問題卻出現了。


Mrs Green的女兒Ruth不肯穿著小紅外衣校服,不肯上學。「我真不知她有什麼問題,我甚至已不惜化費,把它乾洗!是的,我們在公社曾用小紅外衣包裹過一個死嬰。」


事情的經過是這樣的 - 有一天技師先生與公社的一名創辦者齟齬,因為他認為那𥚃的性活動太過份了,連他這樣的新紀元人士也忍受不了,結果越吵越大,被即時趕出公社。他匆忙收拾,在其中一間兒童睡房取回一個行李箱,Ruth正在那𥚃。打開行李箱,露出Ruth的校服。Ruth伸手取回,赫然發現紅外衣竟包裹著一個死嬰,驚聲尖叫!警察來了,嬰兒父母因無申報有人死亡被捕了,後來也被





Mrs Green充份信任醫治Mark的大夫,央Dr C也讓大夫看RuthDr C便破例准大夫醫治同一家的兩名子女。小插曲 - 膚色歧視不會為個人恩惠或成就而轉移,大夫也無奈 :「那Chinaman為我的Mark作了奇事!」「請你尊重,那位是鄭醫生。」


鏡頭又再推遠,描繪當代的彎曲悖謬 - 越戰舆嬉皮士運動交織得像精神病的交集,迷幻藥被爆炸性地使用,音樂劇Hair意外地走紅,新的社會革命席捲而來,穩固的舊秩序從此改變.. 毒品、裸露、褻瀆充斥世間,社會輕看正派,位高權重者或其身不正、或瘋狂貪污,理應以新賦權力維護大眾權益者濫權,理應是財務專家者搞垮了銀行、甚至國家. 崩潰和腐蝕也入侵著家庭,展現在日益嚴重的性虐待和人身虐待中。畫面(文字)留有空間 - 導演(作者)似乎話中有話:究竟他是只話當年,還是也問今天,看官可自行演繹。




有一天,素來夥拍大夫的社工Miss W興奮地宣佈: Ruth恢復上學了,恭喜你,鄭醫生!」「其實未必是我做了什麼,」大夫想,「只不過Miss W剛好在本地百貨店John Barnes,心血來潮,為Ruth買了一件新校服。」Ruth非常喜歡這件新的紅外衣,告訴Miss W她巴不得馬上穿上,返回學校給同學看。



公社解散了,Mrs Green搬回與MarkRuth的父親同住;


大夫不會輕易忘記貴格會會友Miss W的善行和那件小紅外衣。


其實,不只本章下半部的故事,「小紅外衣」整章書都不乏蒙太奇手法;不過,我功力和精力都欠缺,就此打住了。再者,大夫委實是寫書,不是拍電影。我想起在電影技巧叫蒙太奇的,在文學手法中,叫意識流stream of consciousness的應是與之相似。我不是搞文藝的,對這些只是畧有所聞,一知半解,認真考究還是留待其他同學吧!

More: 再寫了一篇,請大家指教。


The Cockroach Catcher II: Attempted Living

USA: Check it out on Amazon

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Cockroach Catcher II: Attempted Living---The School


Kapok Tree TPGPS

“It is still there!”

I shouted back to my wife, having rushed forward at least a hundred steps on this uphill incline.  Most days I would be the one behind. It was like discovering a long lost toy for a toddler.  But it was: it was the joy, or toy of my childhood flooding back.

“Yes! The same peculiar red flowers on a leafless tree!”

Now joined by my wife, I showed her the peculiar tree that has these funny dark red flowers.

“No leaves!”

“No, they come later. We have quilts and pillows made with the cotton from the flowers.”


Once a week, we had to arrive at school early to water the plot.  Buckets of water had to be lifted and carried a fair distance.  Little me struggled with half a bucketful, whilst my classmates a good head taller could easily manage full buckets. 


One boy who sat next to me in class was very big and strong but he struggled with his maths.  We quickly came to an arrangement.  I helped him with his maths and he did my water duty for me.  He scored well enough to escape spanking by the maths teacher and I avoided my hard labour.  

Comments: From a High School friend.

---那是术棉花樹。亦叫英雄樹。花是五花茶之一 可药用


---我独爱此花。他太像我。少是我独在长洲求学懂得怎样独立像樹身带刺。生长时有 規律 每一成長就是一輪。厳冬一无所有由如我毕业离崇校的境况。行船候开花。结子 隨風飄 不爭寵愛向人間報 嚟到春的来到。

























The Cockroach Catcher II: Attempted Living

USA: Check it out on Amazon

Cockroach Catcher-Seven Minute Cure