Walkabouts and wonders

"A life not examined is a life not lived" – Socrates

Pret-a-tete

Sometimes, you have to wonder what is going on. The other day, I went into London to meet a man who might be a source of work. We’d met about four years previously, and I remembered liking and being impressed by Hassan – He was obviously comfortable with himself and had a professional business that he was proud of , but it didn’t seem to own him, the way businesses often do. Anyway, we agreed to meet, we exchanged a few ideas, told each other a couple of stories from recent doings, then with smiles and best wishes, we were off to lunches in different places.

Except of course, I discovered that my intended lunch-appointment would have to wait as he was feeling unwell and was heading home for the day. Which is how I came to walk  into Pret a Manger to get a humus salad and coffee and had one of those encounters which just might change everything. And yes, it was with a woman, and yes, she was attractive, but actually you should stop thinking that right now, because that was not the point of the conversation at all. It was far, far more interesting than that, really!

For those of you who don’t know, Pret a Manger is a chain of salad bars with a great reputation for its food, but none for its seating. Typical of central London, the seating in this place consisted of a single window bar with high stools and no room for more than four people at a time. So, as I approached, the lady in the seat next to my intended spot had to shift her bag. And what a bag it was – huge, soft sided and difficult to move. And with my usual inhibitions temporarily distracted and being naturally a bit shallow, I commented on the size of the bag. Happily, she didn’t react by ignoring this “coot in a suit” – and told me it was an overnight bag which she was using on a rare trip into London.

And here is the serendipitous bit. Some of you might know that I have been thinking of writing about the experiences I had with getting a treatment for prostate cancer over the last few years. But the big issue has been to make a good and effective approach to the psychological impacts of the treatment and how poorly they are handled in our NHS system. And who is this woman I have sat next to? – Only a university lecturer and practicing psychiatrist who is advising a charity which promotes training for GPs on psychological support to their patients. And she was in London just that day, to deliver a keynote talk to the charity on this year’s work and plans. Serendipity, or what?

Sadly, we ran out of time to talk much, but I gave her my card and asked if she could contact me so I can write to her about aspects of the book as I work on it. I only hope I didn’t put her off by asking for her telephone number, first. Yes, I know; it probably did seem like I was trying to get her number for other reasons, but it didn’t occur to me until after we’d parted, by which time it was too late.

But, there we go. Oh, and if this subject interests you, you can find out more about the work of that charity at http://www.cwmt.org.uk/training/charlie-waller-institute/

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