Ripples

My car’s fuel light was on for about an hour…it was yellow by the way, shouldn’t they make it red? It was 9ish on a Friday night. I don’t like activities that waste time, like pumping petrol to a car, going to the grocery store or watching telly. But you have to do them from time to time…Time to get some fuel, not a great idea to break down because you run out of petrol in central London…I pulled over at a BP petrol station in Perivale. You have to walk through a full version of Mark and Spencer food section before you go to the tills…whole chickens, racks of lamp, vegetables and fruits, birthday cakes…all I wanted was to pay for a full tank of petrol.

I always have a little talk to the people behind the tills, they are usually bored to death with the same vocabulary they’ve being asked to use. “Sorry to keep you waiting Sir” “Did you have any petrol today?” “Would you like a big Canterbury chocolate bar for just a pound?”….“How was your day?” said back to the young woman behind the till. It turns out she was stock trading during the day! How about that??!! Stock trading during the day and serving the tills at night. Be careful my friends, some of you might have the fate of your shares in the hands of this lovely but (I think…) not very experienced trader…

“What do you think about Lehmans brothers?” I asked her while the queue behind me started to grow. She didn’t see to mind the queue, so she said “who?”. “The bank who nearly busted the financial system in 2008”… In September 2008, Lehman Brothers, USA’s fourth biggest investment bank filled for bankruptcy, the biggest in the history of US. It was also the first time in history that the Federal Reserve Bank, and in reality the Government, did not support bailout of the investment bank hemorrhaging money. Many other investment banks were on the line, including Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and AIG, actually an insurance company.

The movie went straight to number 1 at the Box Office in UK and USA. I can't remember the last time I went to a movie theatre, I prefer HD downloads. It won;t be long until we can watch movies online the day of their release.

The movie went straight to number 1 in the Box Office in UK and USA. I can’t remember the last time I went to a movie theatre, I prefer HD downloads. It won’t be long until we can watch movies online the day of their release (at least that’s what I am hoping for). The movie I want to see now is “The secret life of Walter Mitty” but it has to wait a bit…

It was all decided during a rainy weekend in New York, 17 to 19 September 2008. The CEO’s of America’s biggest investment banks were at a meeting under the director of Federal Reserve Bank trying to solve the problem with no success…by Sunday night it was all decided, they would let Lehman Brothers sink and drown, hoping that they could contain the crisis. Do you think that movie scripts are more excited? Yes, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, a new Leonardo DiCaprio blockbuster is meant to be good,…but watch instead the real deal, a two-hour Hearing of Dick Fould, the then ruthless ex-CEO of Lehman Brothers testifying to the “Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission” set up by the Government.

No movie can capture the events of that period…youtube some of these names, and watch it, no adds every 15 mins like TV…gripping! no movie script can ever measure up to real life events…thing is that in real life events and dramas…acts of heroism and sacrifice…acts of greed and ruthlessness… lived by everyday people and will never make any viewers to feel touched or lifted…inspired or motivated…appalled and discussed…other than perhaps the very close circle of people involved in it…

Most people have no idea how banks work, how credit is created, how money is created. Politicians are mostly clueless as they all strongly suggest savings, which in reality would shrink the economy, as banks create money by loans and mortgages. Do I care about money? Why would someone love money?…I was raised with the principle that money is not important, helping other people, that’s what matters…and this guides me still…

These were going through my mind as I was driving away from the petrol station…people I helped during the last week…patients who came to see me from the four corners of the earth, Canada, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rome…Patients with brain tumours, spinal tumours…a young man in his twenties paralysed for three weeks from a tumour inside the membranes wrapping the spinal cord…nealry hopeless case…at the end of a five-hour operation after removing the tumour I saw the spinal cord trying to pulsate…was there still hope? Two days later he was walking unassisted!…how’s that for a bonus my banker friends?!

Holidays have gone but London’s Oxford Street still got the Christmas lights up, everything that can help shops sell more and people buy…how do you feel when you buy something new and shiny?…and for how long?…an hour? a day? a week?…a couple of weeks earlier there was Sales panic in the streets…outside London many shops had even velvet ropes to create orderly queues outside the shops and security guards at the doors to allow shoppers inside like there was  some exclusive venue… What I found even more extraordinary was that people were actually queuing patiently to get to the shops…I despise queues, I wouldn’t queue for anything in the world! I find incomprehensible that people would queue for an hour to get into a restaurant or a bar…how little do they think of themselves to do that…

People queuing to get to a SuperDry store. What the world has come too?!

People queuing to get to a Superdry store. What the world has come too?!

The only queue I would tolerate for a few minutes is at a coffee shop while waiting to pay for a sandwich…and I usually strike a small talk to the person in front or behind me in the queue…life’s too short to waste it with standing still…unless of course you are doing it to look inside you, quietly, and peacefully…most people when standing, at a queue or while waiting for the lift, or sitting on a train, they are focused on their smart phones, checking their connections? reading text messages? sending emails?…if you notice most of them they are actually playing games, bursting balloons or align coloured squares…pushing simple buttons for stupid rewards… have you seen monkeys in a lab pushing buttons to get bananas?…same thing!

Last Saturday was the Name day of Gregorios, the Orthodox Archbishop of Great Britain. He kindly invited me to the celebrations in Craven Hill and to the celebratory but elegantly simple dinner table with other distinguished guests, ambassadors, benefactors and the Nuncio (Pope’s ambassador) to the Great Britain Antonio Mennini. On the ground floor there is a beautiful small church with hand-painted icons and wall art, small windows allowing sharp beams of light to get in, and peaceful colour combinations. Antonio Mennini told me that archbishop Gregorios has been like a father to him… archbishop Gregorios has served the Orthodox communities of Great Britain for five decades now and still remains energetic, wise, humble and a great new friend.

Archbishop Gregorios on a peaceful evening in the small church of Cavern Hill

Archbishop Gregorios on a peaceful evening at the small church of Cavern Hill

I know its been a while since I wrote my last blog…and I will let you into a little secret, I was thinking to stop my blog…so many things are happening, I could write a blog a day…but when? and most importantly why?…but looking at the statistics, the number of readers remain rock steady, every single day, from all over the world, no matter if the last blog was four months ago, people looove this blog…so I won’t let you down, I won’t stop, until not for now, I promise…I know that there is nothing similar anywhere in the world, an open journal, I know, partially! but still open!

The postcard I received Thursday night.

The postcard I received Thursday night.

Thursday night I received a post card from a patient who had a difficult but successful brain operation. I won’t tell you all there was in the card, but two sentences read ” Words and gifts could never be truly enough to tell you just how thankful I am for my family and I, and the fact that we found you to be my Neurosurgeon”… “Liked the quote in this card, I feel it sums up what it truly is to be in many ways “radical” as you indeed are”.

The same evening we went with a few medical students and my team for a drink at Perseverance, an old pub at Lamb’s Conduit Street, close to Queen Square. They wanted to take me out on a dinner, how adorable!, but life’s short, so drinks it was. People who come to spend some time with me, students, residents, qualified neurosurgeons, from all over the world, always tell me before they leave, how much it meant to them that they have met me…I know it sounds kind of strong, but I have heard it so many times, it has become normal, so no!, I am not bragging, that would be weak…just quoting a fact. When these doctors leave to go to their countries, sometimes I feel that parts of me go with them, our lives as human beings are linked…and some parts of them stay with me…the miracle of genuine human relationships!

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