Archive for September 18th, 2008

Killer cars

Natural selection at work.

If you’re not quick enough to avoid a slow moving volvo on a straight road in broad daylight then you can go the way of the dodo. There was also a brief debate as to which bin it should go in. Reuse, recycle etc…


Flying dream 143

It’s been a while. I have kept myself to terra firma and our fair island of Éire for too long.

It has been over a year since I was on a plane and out of the country, following on from a year when I didn’t go a week without being up in the skies. I called it a moratorium on travelling. The plan is not to leave the country (depending on how you define country) for two years, as some kind of penance for earlier globetrotting.

But there are of course certain exceptions. I have these exam thingy’s to do, in order to further my ‘career’ or whatever. So i’m doing my second part for my membership of the college of emergency medicine. Which sounds very grand but is really a way of people keeping an eye on me that I know enough not to kill too many people.

And so I get to leave the country. If only briefly and if only to london, and if only on ryanair for a tenner.

So I sit in the lounge bar of the royal college of surgeons on a very comfy sofa surrounded by lots of paintings and antiques that all look very pricey. Across the mahogany coffee table sit a bunch of be-suited surgeons talking about NHS politics and workload.

I am unusually happy. It has been a while since I have found myself on my own far from home and people watching. Yes this is NZ all over again.

I have a copy of the guardian, a pint of guiness, the mac with uptodate and the oxford handbook of emergency medicine. This is meant to be studying but I find the discussion about carotid endarterectomies far too interesting not to eavesdrop on.

I find hotel breakfasts kind of odd. The juice from the big machine that swirls it around. Always a tad too much on the sweet side to be pure. Coffee in pots to make it look  proper when it’s only instant. And always the dodgy scrambled egg.

And I forgot to bring a paper which brings the perennial problem of what to do with your eyes. If you have  a paper then it gives you something to do with your eyes,in the same way a cigarette gives you something to do with your hands in a pub or a cup of tea at a funeral. Breakfast was therefore shorter than it otherwise would have been.

The exam itself was odd. In that it was some kind of return to GCSE again. The long rows of tables, the pencils, erasers and slightly bored invigilators making bad jokes. And of course the obligotory mistakes in the paper that where it says answer question 4 it actually means we should answer question 5… Of course… we should have know that…

This in a room surrounded by huge 10 ft portraits of 19th century surgeons looking down on you saying ‘i hadn’t a clue about penicillin or the genome or electron microsocpy in my day and I was still better than you. Don’t screw this up…’ I won’t. I promise.

Exams are odd in that they mostly don’t test what you know. They mostly test how well you can answer the question which is something quite different.

I make the classic mistake and finish too early and then go over the questions again, and make changes because I think about the questions too much. These changes are almost invariably detrimental.

Most humorous of all is that three guys (all in their thirties) have to wait behind at the end having committed  the cardinal sin of not putting their pencils down when the bell rang. It’s like being 13 all over again.

The trip home is largely uneventful except for the always magic moment when the plane finally breaks through the clouds and you’re into blazing sunshine like that bit in the intro of quantum leap. Why do we humans waste our time on the ground when we could have mastered the air instead of developing opposable thumbs.

And so i’m back dear ireland I missed you so.


September 2008
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