Friday, 19 August 2016

'I think my melodies are superior to my lyrics' Freddie Mercury

Not sure how I came across Zanzibar whilst trawling the internet, and anyway, where is it? Ah, off the coast of Tanzania, ah where's that?.......And lo and behold it seems that Freddie Mercury was born there, one Farrokh Bulsara (handy knowledge for that pub quiz).

I happened to be attempting to play one of his songs from a book I got the library the other day and came across a song I was scarcely familiar with (yep I've lived a a sheltered life),  Love of my life, crikey what a beautiful, haunting song. Freddie himself is quoted as saying, 'I think my melodies are superior to my lyrics', and that is certainly true of many rock and pop songsbut I would say that sometimes there is perfect harmony twixt the two, eg take the famous Hallelujah Chorus by Handel, or the haunting, Yesterday by Paul McCartney, and I think Mercury comes pretty close here.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Screw-up fix

Still waters at the Turvey Mill near Olney
 We all screw up in life. Some of us more overtly and painfully than others. We all need to hear the words of Jesus again, 'let the one without sin cast the first stone'.

The healing words of Psalm 23 are like a balm. Yep its a modern rendering (from the Message) and doesn't always hit the spot, but,  'Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life', is a lovely, humbling thought. He really does know how to fix us.                                          
23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.

Friday, 12 August 2016

What seeest thou else?

It was good to take a walk around Olney with my friend Jon the other day, he'd never been before and there was much to show him. However having previously lived near the river and the water meadows, I was keen to take him there. So we walked past the Mill House and into the fields to be greeted by one of those Constable vistas. "This would have looked the same to Cowper and Newton over 200 years ago," boasted I. "Did they have wind turbines then too?" came the reply.

Now admittedly you have to look very carefully, and probably need to zoom the picture to see the wind turbines, but they are certainly there. It seems my familiarity with the lovely pastoral scene had obscured what I happily ignored.

For the purposes of a medical report, I discovered today that I had seen one patient 36 times in the past 12 months. That's alot of contact and alot of time for familiarity to be part of the consultation. It occurs to me that if I am going to see alot of a patient it's probably worth asking an equivalent of my friend Jon to take a look every now and then. In other words get a medical or nursing colleague to take a look. They just might see the wind turbines.

On Thought for the Day recently the speaker mentioned a phrase that crops up in the Tempest, Propero is trying to help Miranda with her memory and says, 'What seeest thou else'? That is, there is more to see than you originally thought.

Jon and I continued our walk along the river as I have done many times before, walking to the Rec and then back to the surgery. He noticed how still the water was, how low the level was, how green the grass was. I just walked passed it, just enjoying being in dear old Olney by the river.

What seest thou else? It's not a bad question to ask your self at any and every time and circumstance. There's always more to appreciate in everyone and every part of life.


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Men, crying and poetry

I increasingly love poetry and the emotion that is stirred by it. I was touched to have been given Poems that make grown men cry and find the first poem in that book both sad and moving. It was written in 1585 by Chidiock Tichborne (I often feel my name is so boring) on the eve of his execution for being part of a plot to assassinate Elizabeth I and replace her with a Catholic monarch. It was written on the eve of his execution in the Tower and was sent with a letter to his wife Agnes. He was 28 years old.

As one commentator says, it reminds of us of the 'profound contradictions implicit  in the human condition'. Yep we are all a bunch of contradictions.


 My prime of youth is but a frost of cares, 
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain, 
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain.
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard, and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen, yet my leaves are green:
My youth is spent, and yet I am not old,
I saw the world, and yet I was not seen.
My thread is cut, and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death, and found it in my womb,
I look for life, and saw it was a shade:
I trod the earth, and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made.
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

Monday, 8 August 2016

I don't deserve it

One of my favourite answers to the question, how are you? Is, 'better than I deserve'.Indeed so. So blimey O'Reilly! Two boxes of Maltesers and a card arrive this afternoon. I blame my mum.

I don't know how many years ago that she started the ritual of buying me boxes of Maltesers at Christmas and birthday time. And now it seems I must have dropped rather a large hint to a patient, that since my dear my mum is no longer with us....I do hope the GMC wouldn't take me to task.

One of the ironies of being a GP is that it is often the patient for whom you have just 'done your job', who is thoughtful and generous enough to send a card or even bring a gift (by the way don't run away with the idea that gifts are frequent!). And anyway I've been in practice for  longer than my GP daughter has been alive and already her patients have showered her with more presents than I've received in my career :-)

It is humbling. The patient is clearly grateful and I'm touched. But I guess there are many patients whom I have disappointed or let down in some way. Thankfully they have seldom complained, and for that too I am grateful.

Being a GP is a privilege and a responsibility. I know I will have to make a decision about retirement at some point, but there is so much I will miss. Somethings I can replace. After all I can buy my own Maltersers, but relationships built up with patients and colleagues over years, that'll be much harder.



Saturday, 6 August 2016

Love, Whitney Houston and God


Listening to Whitney Houston's stunning version of 'I will always love you' this morning set me thinking. Most of the time I'm just aware of the melody when I listen to songs, although I know some people who focus on the lyrics, but this morning it was her sung words hit me, 'I will always love you'.


Tragically Whitney's life ended so prematurely and in in such a sad way,  with a long tale of broken relationships, drug addiction and others who took advantage of her fame and wealth. It was the lasting nature of love that eluded her. At the close of a long article in Vanity Fair from May 2012,
written just 3 months after her death,  she is quoted as saying,
'I just want to love and be loved, I want to love like Jesus did. Unconditionally'
I just want to be loved. Gosh what a constant in every human heart.

Tim Keller is one of my favourite preachers, has a wonderful knack of encapsulating Christianity's essence, which is so helpful and reassuring,

'There's nothing I can do to make God love me more, and nothing I can do to make Him love me less 
The gospel says you are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, but more accepted and loved that you ever dared hope'. 
We sadly, certainly and tragically hurt each other all too often, and I can certainly vouch for that, but the Christian hope is founded upon a God whose love cannot be thwarted. I cannot excel at goodness to earn anymore of his love, but nor can I descend so far into the depths to be separated from it.

In another of Whitney's cracking songs, she belts out, 'I wanna dance with somebody who loves me'. If life is a dance we need look no further for a dance partner than the wandering preacher from Galilee who's love for us is as relentless as the ocean tides. If only that love had sustained Whitney.

Pick up a penguin

I've just so enjoyed reading The Penguin Lessons by Tim Michell. It really is a lovely read. Whilst travelling to Argentina to teach i...