Thursday, 29 November 2007

Do they know it's Christmas time at all?

Well, I can assure you in HK they certainly do. Never a city to miss out on a) a festival or b) a shopping opportunity, the lights have gone up, the Christmas trees are out in force and the shopping promotions are being, er, promoted. Of course the spiritual content of the celebrations are a touch on the low side, but hey, who needs that when there's 10% off if you spend, spend, spend with your HSBC card??

Bah humbug.

This year will be the first one I've spent outside the UK, and only the second that I won't have spent with my family. This is my choice. I knew my parents would be upset, but didn't realise how upset until I called home the other day. They are seriously considering postponing Christmas until I'm home - which is probably not 'til Easter. This is clearly nuts. Sweet, but nuts.

I'll be spending Christmas in HK with my surrogate family of friends. And since my word of the year has been "relationships", and my intent has been to invest my time and energies in those that are best for me, this seems like a fitting way to end 2007.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

If there's a smile.....upon my face......

Growing up, I played in the school band and orchestra. Nothing cool - no sax, drums or bass. No, I played bassoon - largely I suspect because the school had bought one and needed a tall kid to carry it. After this unpromising start, I grew to love playing, especially because, due to a shortage of competent bassoonists in the Manchester area, I got to play with loads of good orchestras who were desperate for some bass in the woodwind section.

The only issue with playing the damn thing (aside from the inconvenience of lugging the case around) was that it just wasn't hip & funky at all. No role models. No cool riffs. Plenty of comedy moments: Theme from Ivor the Engine - check. The mop in Sorcerer's Apprentice - check. and on and on....

The one notable exception to this, which I've just caught on Craig Charles' funk & soul show, is Smokey Robinson's Tears of a Clown - listen and grin.......

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Livin' my life like it's golden

Jill Scott is an amazing woman with an awe-inspiring voice and the abilty to find poetry and beauty in the everyday.,,2213892,00.html

I came across her music completely by accident. I was driving to see a patient back in the days when I was Dr GP, seeing naughty kids. I was visiting one of our more difficult patients - a 7 year old girl, whose behavioural problems and social skills (more accurately lack of) were, predictably, putting her on a course towards exclusion, academic failure and social isolation. I'd never warmed to her - in fact she was indirectly the reason I decided to leave the NHS. During a particularly difficult session at the hospital, she bolted out of the treatment room. As we tried to shepherd her back in, she turned to face me and launched a huge glob of spit down my front. As I stood there, with her gloop dripping off my clothes, I realised that there really was more to be had in my working life than that. And so I became Corporate GP and the next chapter in my career started. She will be around 17 by now - wonder if she's done better than her dismal prognosis at that time would have predicted. I hope so.

ANYWAY, as I was driving along, "Getting in the way" from Scott's first album, "Who is Jill Scott?" came on the radio. I can still remember the moment. Her voice was so pure, striking and poignant that I pulled over to listen to the song properly, and also to make sure that I got the name of the artist when it finished. Her song, "Golden", is my theme song, and it's either the song that I want playing at my wedding or my funeral. I'm not yet decided, but for me it speaks of optimism, learning from experience and meeting each challenge head on and with integrity. And those are qualities I would like to think I live my life by.