Rod Kersh
Person-centred physician

In the bleak midwinter

Stella in Christmas jumper, Photo by Rod Kersh, 2023
Stella in Christmas jumper, Photo by Rod Kersh, 2023

That is what it feels like today.

Almost at the Earth’s halfway point, the shortest day on the horizon and darkest before the dawn to anoint another cliché.

This morning I listened to Donniel and Yossi discussing the killing of the three escaped hostages Alon, Samar and Yotam. Before that, a different Hartman Podcast with Yehuda Kurtzer talking with Cochav Elkayam-Levy about the newly created Israel’s Civil Commission on October 7 Crimes by Hamas Against Women and Children.

What are we, 75 days? It is unimaginable. I saw the pictures this morning of two more hostages, Gadi Mozes and Elad Katzir, their images released by Islamic Jihad.

The world has gone crazy. Is the level beyond this sanity?

Yes, the world was mad beforehand – our promotion of capitalism and profit above humanity, our sacrifice of the environment over the ability to drive a car from A to B.

It hit home yesterday as we visited the Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

Home to some endangered and other less so animals. The lemurs and the rhinos stayed indoors, out of the cold; the cheetahs, polar bears and the biturongs were on display, their fur helping their geographic discombobulation.

Asian Biturong = bear-cat, Photo by Rod Kersh 2023

We can’t stop ourselves.

Whether it is tiger bone, rhino horn or blood diamonds.

This morning I also thought of Richard Feynman. My kids know who he is from watching repeat episodes of The Big Bang Theory.

I, at their age voraciously read his books, the most prominent being, What Do You Care What Other People Think? (almost as good as Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman). The former sounding like a self-help book, the latter an expression of disbelief by an Oxford don at Feynman’s 1950’s unorthodoxy. (He may have forgotten his hat or a tie to a formal event).

A world in spin.


A conflagration.

Today, in the UK,junior doctors are striking. They want more money.

I think they are daft as not only are they jeopardizing patient care and further pushing the NHS towards its collapse, but they are also doing this nowhere near an election which is the only currency a government understands.

They are threatening the NHS and those responsible are calling for them to bring it on as the longer the waiting lists the greater the value of the private health companies, they either own or support as shareholders or directors.

All at a time when it isn’t money that counts, rather fairness and equity.

A levelling out of society would do everyone good and that is not happening.


In another part of my life, I am three quarters through Terry Hayes’ book The Year of the Locust. At the part where Ripley the protagonist, denied access spy, having travelled 24 years into the future is reunited with his wife Rebecca in an apocalyptic America, overwhelmed by mutated human “ridgebacks.”

It can be difficult to determine what is real and what is fantasy.

In another book I am reading Mishka Ben-David’s story of a Mossad agent in St Petersburg. I’ve just started and will therefore give the plot time to reveal.

I can’t imagine what it is like growing up today. My son recently expressed his position as an outsider. My daughter is reading L’etranger for her schoolwork. Last week we discussed Kafka’s The Trial.

My dog is wearing a Christmas jumper.

Perhaps this is part of the plan. Insanity before the fall.

I tried to rationalize the behavior of my son’s friends at his university, those perhaps wearing Keffiyeh or Palestinian colors (not that there is anything wrong with that although as the Harvard professor said, everything is context.)

When people stop believing in God they do not believe in nothing, they believe in anything, so supposedly said the English Philosopher, GK Chesterton.

It makes you think.

It makes you wonder, what next?


Mindfulness is the discipline of being in the moment. Focusing either on the breath, a mantra, or the progressive relaxation of the body.

It seemed to be all the rage a few years ago (it was the focus of my master’s thesis in 2015).

Yet, many are living through the failure of that resolution.

I am sure just as many have succeeded in inching their way towards enlightenment, as the storm blows from Yemen, Lebanon, or Iran.

It is mixed blessing of unreality.

A fortnight ago the British Poet, Benjamin Zephaniah died from complications related to a brain tumor. A vegan and a champion of refugees, the disadvantaged, and the environment, that wasn’t what he deserved, nevertheless that’s what happened.

I wonder what next. Perhaps wonder has lost its sheen.

We should instead focus on the moment.

I feel John Lennon pulling me.

Imagine no possession, it isn’t hard to do.

Imagine a return of the hostages.

Imagine an undoing of the war and the tragedies, the pain the suffering the horror.

Imagine a blank space where people come together and putting aside their historical differences to work on a shared humanity.

We all feel pain, we all feel sorrow.

Yesterday I finished reading Dara Horn’s The World to Come, which is a one-off, a unique narrative I highly recommend.

The final chapter describes the experiences of an unborn baby as he experiences the gamut of human experience as foretold in the Zohar.

A child is born with all human knowledge which is lost with their first breath.

The unborn in Dara’s novel tastes of the richness of culture and education, “all the heavenly glory,” as Bruce Lee said. And that for me is enough for the moment.

I’ll remain in my fictive world.

I’ll hope for peace.

I will even support the striking doctors for they are well intentioned.

Tomorrow is another day.

Springtime soon.

About the Author
Dr Rod Kersh is a Consultant Physician working in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. He blogs at
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