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Henry Perowne is a quietly assertive neurosurgeon whose improbably long fingers ‘bulging with bone and sinew at the knuckles’ put off some patients at their first consultation, but he knows that ‘the sea of neural misery is wide and deep’ and that there are other patients, perhaps less observant, waiting to see him. He enjoys precision, and a decision. ‘Work shapes his every hour, and is the tide, the lunar cycle of his life.’ In the operating theatre he listens to Bach, enjoying looser interpretations only when in a good mood. His respect for the possibility of infinite variation on a strict form and structure is passed on to his son Theo (12-bar blues) and his daughter Daisy (iambic pentameter).
The Saturday in question starts with his spotting of a plane—on which there is a fire—coming in to land, considered by one member as a harbinger, …
Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.