Admiring Silence by Abdulrazak Gurnah, the 2021 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature:
Here it’s different. Health care from the first to the last day of life, delivered with courtesy and consideration in spacious clinic set out for the patient’s comfort and convenience, and all of it free. And if it’s not really free, then it feels like that. It’s a small comfort which was not work without a struggle but which England now allows herself after the ages of toil and the centuries of hardship it took to build her beautiful ruins. Just stand on the banks of the Thames anywhere between Blackfriars Bridge and Westminster Bridge and look north, and see if your heart is not filled with awe at the labour that has gone into constructing that: the huge spires and great offices and colonnaded vaults and sprawling cloisters and rich pavilions and prim mansions and gilded bridges festooned with lights. Then let your eye wander farther afield, and there are the factories and warehouses and mechanized farms and model towns and chapels, and museums bursting with booty from other people’s broken histories and libraries sprawling with books congregated over centuries. If you compare that to any one of the seething cesspits that pass for cities in the dark place of the world, and take into account the dedicated exertion that made it possible, then as small a comfort as your own doctor does not seem overindulgent.
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