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.
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!