Boat Trip

Tuesday was a farewell to the neurosurgical life of Richard Hayward, who was retiring after a tremendous career in paediatric neurosurgery and craniosynostosis.  Dozens of friends from all parts of the world came to Queen Square to share stories of his early and late years as a mentor and extremely skilled surgeon.

Among them Professor James Goodrich (photo) from New York, eminent figure in paediatric neurosurery and craniosynostosis, gave the Kenneth Till lecture at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children and described practices of tribes over the last few centuries to intenionally deform the skull of newborns in order to conform to societal beauty standards or produce ferociously looking warriors!

Professor James Goodrich at Great Ormond Street on 7 September 2010

Richard Hayward gave his (humble) farewell lecture at Queen Square quoting his favourite figures from medicine, history and philosophy.  Among them Samuel Beckett from whom he borrowed the title of his farewell lecture “Failing Better”. Becket wrote “Ever tried, Ever failed. Try again, Fail again, Fail better”.

Ever watched a great surgeon giving a lecture? Always avoid talking about triumphs, always discuss what they’ve tried and failed in hundreds of different ways before they got it not right, but just acceptable for the next generation of surgeons to pick up and improve! Outstanding humility lesson!

Richard Hayward is about to publish his intriguing novel (Red Shift is a preliminary title but can change) with hero a …neurosurgeon, taking place in…London and has money, drama and …sex as ingredients. Can’t wait!

The Tower of London (and a few heads) in the night seen from the Boat

Wednesday to Friday we had the semi-annual meeting of the Society of British Neurosurgeons (SBNS, In the night we boarded the Silver Sturgeon for a trip in the night Thames from Chelsea Pier to Docklands. Looking the lit London reflecting on the water was breathtaking (photos).

The Oxo Tower from the water (not literaly!)

Sometime during the trip a pretty girl with her pretty friend comes to hug me and kiss me and asks me with a big smile how I am getting on! We started chating and all would be perfectly normal except… I never met them before! She said “Oh, that’s because last summer I was blond!”  She thought… I was someone else and she felt a bit embarrassed!  Sam and Naomi were both funny so I teased them that their trick worked :-) and this sort of thing hapens to me every day :-) We spent some time talking and teasing, was fun.

A slice of the wheel and the London Aquirium

Thursday and Friday my (slightly nervous) trainees had three presentations, two neurooncology and one vascular. We had rehearsed the presentations many times.

All were sleek and smooth, am very proud of them! It’s not long since I was in their shoes! I still remember that I used to rehearse literally hundreds of times but with experience this got less and less. The meeting was good fun, mostly the same crowd of people, some try to show how clever they are, some a bit nervous, some climbing up, some approaching retirement.

The House of Parliamnet and Big Ben (what's the time?) on my iPhone

Thursday night was the gala dinner at the (posh!)Hurlingham club in Chelsea( However I had to face a last minute (major!) crisis; I’d  forgoten the last step in tying my bow tie! Done it so many times before, couldnt believe it! I utubed it! All instructions were super complex! I asked a couple of friends. They had a “rubber band” bow tie. Shame on them :-) My bow tie was hanging untied around my dress shirt. Emanuel, one of my trainees tried to cheer me up. “Don’t worry, leave it like that, and you’ll do it fashion, next year everybody will do the same”! Still didn’t think it was great idea. Finally the eminent neurosurgeon (and meeting organiser and Eaton graduate) William Harkness saved me. He did my bow tie before I blinked!  (phew!) At the club, black ties and evening gowns, summer gardens and glasses of Champaign, new friendships and gentle politics, was a beautiful night. We meet again next March in Bath, an old town outside Bristol! If you are going, I’ll see you there.

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