The Malta Independent 22 September 2020, Tuesday

Marie Benoit's Diary: Alex Manché in retirement

Marie Benoît Tuesday, 11 August 2020, 10:34 Last update: about 2 months ago

Well respected and admired cardiothoractic surgeon Alex Manché, more relaxed and with more time on his hands, is channeling his energy into less stressful projects.


“COVID has replaced Brexit as the current buzzword. I trust I am not alone in my incomplete understanding of both phenomena but as we are bombarded with daily snippets of information our minds conjure a reality much like that of Plato’s cave dwellers. Such diverse methods of dealing with the pandemic from outright denial of its existence to hermetic lockdown belies humanity’s inadequate response, in the face of ignorance, coupled with a lack of application of the little we know. Certainly Lister, Semmelweis and Snow, amongst others, have taught us the importance of hygiene and epidemiology but I fear we have not really moved on from a Miasma mentality. A hefty dose of politics has been added to the pot, making the end result rather unpalatable.



Personally COVID coincided with my retirement from cardiothoracic surgery and my energy has been channeled into newer, less stressful projects. After a transitional period of closing a chapter in my life, completing databases, clearing out my filing cabinet and reorganizing my library, I devoted more time to art, music and the pursuit of travel. Sadly all three have been limited to the armchair variety and my yearning for the real thing grows more resolute by the day. Perhaps the time will come when I can get on that Vespa and savour the most beautiful country from heel to top at my own pace.



 The past five months have taught me the importance of time management. I rise early and consume several shots of strong coffee over emails, YouTube and the preparation of yet more travel itineraries. Then it’s off to gardening, walking, clinic-ing and swimming, before piano playing while my wife prepares a delicious dinner that we consume on the flower verandah she has created. Amongst these activities I would like to share with you one that I have managed to wedge in on some days, that of pencil drawing. In the absence of “live” statues I have had to tap into my vast collection of photos taken in various museums on my travels. Quite recently a trip to Berlin provided some fabulous material and here are a few examples I sketched while listening to podcasts by Melvin Bragg, Andrew Graham Dixon, Alberto Angela, Piero Badaloni, Antonio Paolucci and many others. Drawing focuses on the form and helps us understand the inner meaning of things. It is uncanny how the ability of the liver to regenerate was told in Prometheus’s myth in the 8th century BC. Inevitably my fascination with the human body has found its way from surgery to art, from the diseased form to the body beautiful.



One closing thought on COVID: Let us not make it a choice of health versus the economy. Various sages, including the Buddha, Virgil and Gandhi have taught us that health IS wealth. In striving to attain happiness this should be our ultimate goal.”


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