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The dictator wanted to survive the operation. The surgeon wants to see her children again

By Michel Faber   August 2002

Rumours that the dictator was ill were unfounded. He’d never been fitter. Nevertheless, the dictator considered it wise, from time to time, to confirm the robustness of his health by having X-rays made of his chest. On this occasion when the great man asked if the X-rays showed anything unusual, his personal physician hesitated to reply.

“You have a big heart,” said the physician at last.

“I know that,” smiled the dictator. “But how big?”

They stood in the dictator’s office. The physician hugged the folder of X-rays unhappily to his breast.

“Bigger than…” he stuttered. “Bigger than is…

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