Friday 17 May 2013
The next morning Ruby woke up with a sore face. It was more swollen than Marlon Brando’s had been the night before. We looked up the address of a doctor in Tilburg and went to his well-appointed surgery, where we were informed by an officious receptionist that the doctor was not taking on any more patients. We were offered no advice about where else Ruby might go to get some medical attention, so we returned to the flat without any benefit to show from venturing out into the cold. It’s awful being a parent who can’t negotiate any help for a child in pain. And it’s a disgrace what medicine has become: medical ethics is little more than lace draped over horseshit.
We ventured out a second time with Susie and caught a train to University of Tilburg. Ruby showed us around the house on Professor Verbernelaan where she had been living for the last five months, and introduced us to her household. It was a typical university student abode: the kitchen was messy and chaotic, and living space had been converted to bedrooms. We walked a couple of blocks to one of the local watering holes and had coffee with Ruby’s friends, Greg, Rachel and Hencho. They were an unlikely household, bound by the camaraderie of strangers thrown together by chance in a strange land. They had functioned as Ruby’s family for five months. She had evidently been happy, so I felt I owed them a debt of gratitude and respect.
After an hour or so we went back to the house and we caught a taxi back to Tilburg Centraal. Ruby and Susie went op-shopping and I stayed behind in the flat so I wasn’t tempted to strap on the vest again. Around 6 p.m., Ruby returned to the university and Susie returned to the flat. We shared a light dinner of frittata, watched some crap on TV, and then sat up pottering and enjoying the pleasant accommodation.