There is undoubtedly something very definite and final about a beheading. Or is there?
King Charles I was the only English monarch to have his head chopped off after being found guilty of treason by the republican Oliver Cromwell regime in 1649 and after his head was severed, it was actually sewn back onto his body prior to his burial.
Presumably, those who had sent him to meet his Maker wanted him to look his best, all things considered.
Whether it was for religious or just cosmetic reasons, there wasn’t any suggestion that a quick stitch-up would somehow magically bring Charles back to life.
Yet, beheading and re-attaching a head is now all the talk of modern medical science although, to be fair the actual term ‘beheading’ is not actually used. We are far, far too sensitive and politically correct for that nowadays.
Rather than consigning some reprobate and his wonderful body to the fiery pits of Hell, beheading is now being considered a potential life-saving or at least a life-enhancing procedure for a virtuous but physically challenged recipient.
Yes, nowadays medical science is considering what is fairly delicately being referred to as a “head transplant”.
An Italian neurosurgeon, Professor Sergio Canavero, has announced he hopes to be able to perform the first head transplant in the UK before the end of 2017.
Originally, he intended to perform this surgery in China, but their government failed to react with a suitably encouraging approval.
I’m not one to scoff at Professor Canavero. After all, he might be on to something.
If this procedure proves to be viable, I will be lining up to get a new body myself. Mind you, the body that currently supports my head has served me pretty well for many a long decade, but I’m the first to admit it has gone somewhat downhill since about 1970.
While most of it still performs more or less as it should, it’s not the trim, taut and terrific body it once was.
I still get admiring glances, but I suspect this attention to due more to my razor-sharp wit, my endearing modesty and my warm humanity. My once six-pack torso is now more like a crate of beer.
So what I will require is the body of a superbly fit iron man. Now this means the iron man will necessarily be brain dead and no longer requiring his otherwise perfectly good body. It’s just that I would be putting it to better use than consigning it to a funeral home.
In fact, I’m even prepared to go to the UK for this little operation, although there is a marked shortage of sun bronzed, superbly fit and athletically accomplished young chaps in the UK.
I mean it would hardly be worth the effort to have my head attached to your typical British youth’s body would it?
The good professor has confidently predicted that his head transplant procedure has a “90 per cent plus” chance of success and I’ve wagered my hard-earned on horses in the past with much less chance of success.
My research has uncovered a lot of scientific papers on this subject and, quite frankly, it is pretty gruesome. It was jolly interesting to learn that it would involve implanting an “electric paddle” in the recipient’s head “because studies have shown that bursts of electricity help establish communication across a severed spinal cord”.
Now I don’t know about you, but this sounds to me rather horrifyingly close to the process Mary Shelley described in her 1818 book, Frankenstein, which told the tale of the young and idealistic Dr Victor Frankenstein creating a creature from leftover bits and pieces of human remains.
I will never forget that classic scene in the 1931 movie when the good doctor flicks the switch and a huge burst of electricity brings the monster (played brilliantly by Boris Karloff) to life.
The unnamed monster is described by Ms Shelley as being “hideously ugly but sensitive and emotional” and 2.4 metres tall. I’m tall – but not that tall – and certainly sensitive and emotional, but the thought of having bolts in my neck to attach my head to a new body doesn’t appeal one little bit.
I am still haunted by the nightmarish memory of my dear old dad chopping the head off the Christmas chicken in about 1955 and the wretched bird dashing frantically around, blood spurting from its headless body.
I must have told my therapist this story a million times because whenever I’m on his couch he begins his caring and sharing session with a curt, “Not the bloody chicken story again, Grenning”. And I’m paying good money for this!
I’m not one to rush into things. I’m naturally very prudent and cautious. I think I’ll wait until Professor Canavero’s first head transplant patients not just survive but prosper before I put my hand up. And I must check if the Medibank Private people would provide a whacking great rebate.
After all, I remember when Dr Christiaan Barnard stunned the world with his first heart transplant in 1968, the patient only lasted a little over two weeks.
I couldn’t even begin to do the all things I have planned for my new body in a fortnight.
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