Every month the Consultants at QEH pay a small amount of their monthly pay cheque towards throwing a party at the end of the year for all the junior doctors they’ve been working with. For my year at QEH the location of the party (as is the apparent tradition) was the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich. A beautiful location and as you can see from the photos – a fitting and light and night to say adieu to our consultants from the year the year. I was particularly glad to be able to have a last and in some cases first informal chat with the “big bosses” who we’d all been working for. My three jobs had allowed me to get to know most everyone in the hospital. I filtted through the event and took a few staging photos whilst enjoying the canapé tours through the modest crowd together with the odd glass of red wine. The evening later accelerated and we danced the last of the hours of a permissible “late” closing in Greenwich away in the bowels of “North Pole South Pole“.
It’s always said that your first year as a doctor is your most poignant (before you become a jaded depressed cyncic)….The nostalgic kickback is quite smarting as I sit here now midwinter betwixt A&E night shifts in the Outer rim banlieue ajacent Maidstone hospital – in reverie listening to Who Knows where the time goes? by Fairport Convention.
A little into starting our final jobs at QEH a mass gathering of doctors headed down to “Lakeside Karting” late on a Friday. The expedition was the brainchild of Anaesthetic colleagues who turned out in force. A prudent decsion which I was made aware of was to avoid a local outfit and reach to this further afield site. The local track whilst geographically proximate to Woolwich had an alarming proported incidence of splenic injury many of the surgical and anaesthetic doctors reported to have encountered first hand….
I must be clear – I am not a big fan of go karts. The concept just doesn’t grab me. Nevertheless after some persuasion about the need to balance teams I signed up and matched with one of my fellow F1s and one of the local Neurology consultant legends. My senior teammate made an impression by driving extremely aggressively and having several warnings issued for sliding in a dangerous fashion all over the track!
The evening concluded with the awards which were of course gifted to the zippiest anaesthetic team (I suspected this from the offset) – closely matched by a gang of racer F2 lads. My Hodgepog team came in a respectable middling bottom a full minute or so slower than the fastest racers…The Boobie prize was for “girls” team lingering a full 5 minutes behind everyone else. An amusing evening followed my some yet more amusing drinks later in Greenwich with the survivors of the event!
Before I begin this post properly i’d like to celebrate one of my colleagues greatest life achievements (surely!)….namely becoming a bona fide nationally published author in nothing other than the Daily Mail: please click on the link to see incredibly stimulating piece of journalism. We joked the other day that it probably has a wider readership then any of the high attaining journals that we doctors try to get our work into. In even has an independent crit-o-meter something that our “open” journals lack. Congratulations my friend.
On a more serious note I would also Like to celebrate a tasty album released by my friend from Dutch-land Harm Coolen and his esteemed colleague Merg (Merg & H as so they’re know). Take a listen on Soundclound – if you like it… think about supporting their work. Half Age EP: THE ALBUM.
So to begin:
Here in the UK we have had an early Easter bank holiday weekend. This means four days off in a row, a rare occurrence I think you’ll agree. Work finished on Thursday in a mad frenetic flurry – if you can imagine trying to translate the safety moving forward of whole host of people who you know intimately to be tentatively unwell across the great divide of four uncertain days…and trying to effect this through an archaic handover system: scraps of paper?! I think we should perhaps adopt more modern methods.
Closing with work on Thursday was our “mess party”. The concept of a mess I guess dates back its original military derivation – “the officers mess” – though if anyone would care to research (Google) it am sure they’d find some more subtle variant in the origins of hospital Messes. Irrespective, these days a “Doctors mess” in most applications functions to support the social lives of doctors working at a given hospital. There is a physical place called the “Doctors mess” – typically a dank and slightly dated room with old sofas and ageing TV propped up in the corner – where you can escape from the maelstrom of the hospital and meet with a few colleagues to deconstruct events on the wards. This space is typically run by a committee of junior doctors who are haphazardly appointed at some stage at the start of the year. In addition to upkeep of these glorious spaces they are also responsible for dispensing with the monies gathered from a sliver of each doctors pay cheque each month – normally in the form of a blowout party each month.
Messes vary in their degree of sophistication – here in Woolwich we have relatively nice facilities including a gym and two “mess” spaces as well as one of the most enviable views across London that I’ve ever seen. Other places such as the Royal free include “advanced” provisions such as a standing canteen and in times gone by a bar as well. Messes are in varying degrees supported by their home institutions hospitals with provision of foodstuffs, cleaning and the like.
Anyway onto the interesting bit. This Thursday we went out for a night out, celebrating the departure of one of our locally (possibly nationally he revealed) famous medical registrars. We sent him off in style with a trip to the famous “North Pole South Pole” bar in Greenwich. There something about working in Woolwich which drives one to nights like this – a hellbent and merciless release from the stresses and strains of work. It was neither glamorous nor glorious but hit the nail right were needed to be hit: obliquely somewhere along the side bending it distorting into horrible misconfiguration of what it should be and scuppering all those involved in the misadventure for at least 24 hours aftewards. Well, at least everyone had fun (apparently). Our senior colleague is heading off with all certainty to a better place. For my part it’s been a pleasure working with him. I wish him well and will remember with great fondness his fantastic jumpers, razored tongue and acute clinical acumen.
Friday night saw me heading out to the photography for DUMP’s 5th night. This month was an genuinely imaginative and ambitious concept – “bring your own light” or as they cleverly called it “Light Enters Darkness”…Thus an LED party, the only lights were to be those that people had brought with them. I’m not talking about household lighting here but rather the kind of funky shirts which arose in the techno era, pulsing in time to the music. In the end it worked really well although I must admit I was initially worried! Great crowd again and two delicious DJ sets took us through till 3 in the morning before the party was “shut down”. I clambered on after here to another party and a 5:30am meal (trying to play catch up and also paying from my addled bodyclock from the previous night adventure) – before taxing home in the cool grey dawn at 6am. I’ll drop some of the photos on a later posts – look out for the next event if you’re keen and also the film when we make it over the next week or so. From a technical perspective it was bloody challenging to get anything half decent in such environs!
As regards the rest of the weekend my folks family are all out in France so I’ve holed down in my flat to get on with some of the vast amount of backlog photo work I have from the last six years, including my lengthy trawl through 8000 images from India. It’s strange leafing through moments from through for years previous…. The physical changes you notice and your retrospective analysis of events have gone by. Relationship spinning on, places you’ve been…and even people dieing. I think film will have a much more powerful impact on me in the years to come… although the archive for this is far more intermittent. Nevertheless already the impact started to come – a great family friend who recently passed away appears in some footage I was working on recently… It’s strange meeting his ghost but pleasing still to hear his voice again with its wise words as we muse over a glass of wine.
I think it will be strange for those born in these years for them to reflect that their forebears didn’t have a whole wealth of digital accessory material to accompany their lives. Twitter, Facebook and photography and film now accessible at the flippant flip of the switch from phone in your pocket…. I remember the days on which I used to write letters. It seems so strange and foreign to me now as a dictate using a microphone. I am 110% behind technological progress but going over old ground (mild digital photo collection) triggers a really intense nostalgia of these more “naive” times. Are we actually less connected to reality?
I guess it really does compound my obsessive front-back approach to things. Constantly archiving means that you are necessarily missing out on new events that unfold. Take today for instance where I spent the whole day away working on moments entirely from the past! Beyond photos and film have also started on paperwork which is entirely less exciting but functionally very helpful – living forwards. Perhaps unenviably (is this a word?) for a 25-year-old I’m already availed of how to do accounts and bookkeeping to a reasonably cruddy proficiency….And therefore intensely aware of the value of keeping frustrating scraps of paper. Scanning them using my sexy duplex scanner feeds both my desire to archive and also the great task that lies ahead when the April curtain falls down to mark the end of the next financial year. Chaos no longer reign supreme! (Replaced instead with hours of mindless insertion of sheets and computer markup). Gone are the boxes however – physical clutter has taken a bow – to what reality disconnecting expense though?
It seems that there are a lot of people after me at the moment. What is it about life that there’s always things that have to be done yesterday? One of these days, of my cave and start drinking in life again. But looking at whether a side which is still pitiful and wintry I think I’ll hold off for just a few more days yet. For the Life of me I cannot seem to leave this place – between the whiskey and the wine and the entrancing films I keep rolling on my second screen with entrancing soundtracks
Welcome back to the blog. It’s been almost a year since I wrote anything significant on this page. I put up a couple of videos just to show that I was still alive beyond the realm of Facebook where my most prolific online presence spouts out… but other than that the lines were silent. I figured from here on out that this blog should be fewer words and more pictures as I’d always intended for it to be. Although this means less of listening to my own voice (I dictate the blog).
The great yawning gap between this and the last post has taken me through finals, the summer afterwards (the recovery) and into my first two rotations as a junior doctor. I work at the most esteemed Queen Elizabeth hospital Woolwich. It’s an interesting place to work and has been an excellent proving ground for my first year. The work is generally pretty tiring and stressful – demands on our time are really quite intense. I can’t of course complain when I think of how hard my forebears worked (100 hour on calls) and there certainly a great deal more protection of our time than previously… There are different stresses and strains for our generation not least of which the dreaded “portfolio” and the constant demands on throughput and background drone of “what about your CV what about your CV” leaves you often exhausted and demoralised at the end of the day when you leave late again. One thing is certain in a place like Woolwich the concept of a 48-hour restricted working week is incompatable with safe and sensible service provision. Pure fantasy!
Anyway more musings on being a doctor later…I’d like to celebrate the recent successes of my friends blogs. Ali M who mainly writes about her fanatical running, Matthew H who started a very successful blog about idiosyncratic places to eat and drink in London “The LIST”, Cassandra Coburn scientist of no ill repute whose debut article was a well levelled entry about her expert area of ageing and Max I who holds the enviable status as most-lived-abroad-in-most-number-of-countries (Currently Mexico) amongst our close friends.
I’ve also refabricated my website somewhat – have a look if you’re interested – and have created a facebook page which you can “like” if you enjoy my photos and films (it currently has NOTHING in it however!).
Finally…for those of you who have been hunting me down this is something of hello…. And yes I know you’re waiting. In the meantime please enjoy some of my favourite photos of the views from the Mess tower-rise overlooking the common to the south and the city to the north.
The city through the haze on a bright afternoon
A dusting of snow over the hospital – all too common!
I realise that this in another post… but I had a draft copy of this post so I thought I’d throw it together once again.
The rule for this party was that the revellers brought their own light. LED or LIGHT ENTERS DARKNESS…. An incredible challenge to photograph but as you can see from the results must’ve got lucky with one or two of the shots! Actually the darkness was so tricky that together with the couple of drinks I’d (it was 2am in the morning) I almost shattered half of my equipment tripping over various pieces. The DUMP Team knocked together a video from the Shots I made on the side. Enjoy!
The Doctors Underground Mess Project (D.U.M.P.) project is a monthly party organised in London as a get-together for Junior doctors et al. Growing in popularity I’ve had the great opportunity to stage in as a photographer at a couple of their events. The Halloween event was exceptional for the dedicated costume turnouts from the partygoers. Here are a selection of my photos of the evening. They made a film which you can check out. Tickets are available on their website for the next event and their Facebook Page tracks the updates leading up to the announcement of each secret location. Partying par excellence! Long may it continue.
It is been almost a month since last I wrote. During this time I have completed my tasks in Nepal, have visited the secret Kingdom of Bhutan and have moved back to UK right back into the thick of it in glorious Basildon, Essex. Right now as I look out of my window in my hospital accommodation the looming roof of one of the service buildings of the hospital is beside me looking like something out of Star Wars and naturally, because I’m back in England, it is also raining. Actually we have had really fantastic weather recently which has been all the more difficult to bear than rain because of the fact that all my waking hours these days are spent in the irresistible urge to study. I say irresistible but what I really mean is desperate – as the calculations have had it that for all possible dimensions of waking hours that are left until my first exam only amount to a mere 780 hours. This my friends is not long… However it is long enough I feel to get the main point across – and one would hope after six years at this unrelenting game I might finally be able to reach the point to call myself a medical bachelor and bachelor of surgery, MBBS, or if you like Doctor… In these mere months.
I will of course extend my final advice that none of you should get sick in around London this summer as you could well see me on the other side.
I have been surprised to see the views of my blog still continuing to rumble over. In total I have had now almost 2000 views. WordPress is fantastic in the fact that it gives you all sorts of wonderful statistics to confuse you with regards to your blog. A recent thing which I noticed was that I could observe the breakdown of views by country. I recognised a large majority of my referrals from United Kingdom but was very surprised to see the odd view from the the strangest of countries, people who obviously have stumbled across my blog from places as far-flung as Brunei, Burkina Faso and Iceland… As well as a healthy slice of people from the United States and Canada as well as a few recognitions by can subscribe to friends of mine scattered across the world. I would just like to say thank you for all of those of you who have visited my blog over the time and once again hope that it is given you some insight into the work I did in Nepal. Furthermore if you are from one of these “rare countries” which I profess I’ve never visited (although I would desperately like to) be fascinated to hear we think of my writings and photos and would be happy to read about anything you could describe about your locations.
Coming back has been a bit of a shock to the system with regards to my bank account. Although I didn’t suffer any discomfort in Nepal with regards to money I did spend everything that I owned (I don’t profess to have any savings but what money was in my counts from work and loans I have used completely ). So having comeback to an empty bank account to the most expensive cities to live in a world has been rather more uncomfortable. Furthermore my move to Essex has meant a great deal of journeying across London which in itself is a rather expensive sport. I’m glad to say that next week I get some money into my account (although almost immediately it will leave my account as I need to pay back those I’ve borrowed from/not played in progressive deficits over time to counterbalance this immediate deficit)… But at least it will provide some degree of buffering for the senseless mental beating I’m going to be offering myself each day in these coming months. From you my readers… any suggestions for ways to best support my mental status during these next two months are very much welcome.
Some people have called for the culminating chapter on Nepal. In the event, being back in the big smoke of Kathmandu I simply got too wrapped up with my tasks in those final weeks to get any more consistent reflection done. With some space and also now some directed reflection being asked in medical school (I’ve had to hand in my elective report as well as my students selected component report detailing my work in Kathmandu and Janakpur respectively – for which I have actually created a website and I will post on request if any of you are interested in reading the official reports on the situations), I should hopefully have the chance to give over some of the more interesting stories of my final month in Nepal. I found that being back in the city was far more chaotic than my ordered regimental lifestyle (even doing the film) that I had in Janakpur. Also for all of you who are interested in the relativities of economics my return to Kathmandu lefty smarting at the cost of things… However this has been quite blown out of the water by my return to London where unfortunately I have found it difficult to relinquish the penchant I developed in Nepal for taking taxis. I have been stung on several occasions by the extraordinary cost of personal motorised transport in around the capital… And I’m not even talking about long journeys here!
Onwards from here I will be reporting from time to time, mostly in a pensive procrastinative or reflective mood as I progress to the next eight weeks of the roundups towards medical finals at UCL. Hopefully it can serve as some kind of catharsis for this process. And to you my readers provide something of an insight into the terminal stages of medical student development in the United Kingdom. One thing is for certain it is going to be a seriously traumatic.
That’s all for today …so I wish you all the best. Please enjoy these small snippet photos of my current situation at Basildon Hospital in both good and bad weather that epitomises spring in the United Kingdom. Drip drip drop little April showers…. (and boom large ominous thunderheads)
The garage theatre is a black box theatre appended to one of the corners of the Bartlett school of architecture building. Over the years I was involved in a number of shows in this fantastic space. As would later become tradition this was the first time in the history of the society (in recent memory at least) that the society would hold a summer show.
I’ve recently come to learn that the theatre is in jeopardy of… UCLU is planning to close it and turn it into a cafe… For my piece I would be extremely sorry to see it go. It has hosted some of the greatest shows I was ever involved in – from my debut with Musical theatre in “A Chorus Line” as ‘Paul’ to my finale with the company in “Rocky Horror Picture Show” as Frank… There were a great many performances of genuine merit. As a performance space I feel it should be preserved to put on the small (or not so small) shows that such a size lends itself to.
If you’d like to support the petition to salvage it please follow this link:
Directed by the legendary Will Jennings – the show was fantastically fun – performed “in the round” with audience on all four sides – there were epic performances from a number of musical theatre superstars including Mimi Kroll, Andrew Caddy, Vicky Baker, Colleen Prior, Dom O’Hanlon, Clovis Rau and staring none other than the big “D-Z-G”: Dan Gronzandonvic.
I hearken back to the people I performed with during these days and think fondly for the genuine talent that we had amongst our midst. For our level and resources I was always happy to see how professional the productions we put on were. Here are a few of my favourite shots from the show.
Also here’s a link to a now abandoned website of the UCLU musical theatre company on which the photos were originally posted. A bit of nostalgia for all of you out there!