Saturday, 29 August 2009

Looking back, looking forward, but not being able to see over the backyard fence

This time last week, I was standing on the highest point of the Great Wall of China. Form this vantage point it was possible to see the wall snaked over the hills for miles around. It was an awe-inspiring site, and despite the thousands of other people on the wall at the same time, it was a very moving moment in my life. I was at the end of a long week in China, guests of the China Nurse Fund. The purpose of the visit was to start discussions over how the School of Nursing & Midwifery at Salford could meet the postgraduate training and education needs of Chinese nurses. During the week I was very proud to be able to represent the School at the Chinese Nursing Association Centennial Celebration. The history of Nursing in China, matched our own development as a profession here in Europe. I was fascinated by the fact that nurses and nursing had survived some very different political context in China, and the practice of nursing was still held in high regard by the Chinese people.

This week I have been engaged in trying to look into the future and consider what our student numbers might be for the next fie years, and what might be the range of programmes we will be providing. Whilst there is a wealth of high quality data and information available and I am being supported in this task by some great minds on the School Executive, it is a remarkably difficult task. This really feels like a task that puts colleagues and myself in that space between knowledge and knowing – that is, not knowing.
And finally, I awoke this morning to a news item on the TV that took me through a back yard in a small suburb in San Francisco where a kidnapped girl had been held and, its alleged, abused for the past 18 years by a known sexual predator. The pictures were provided by Google Earth. Watching the story gave me pause for thought. Once the Great Wall of China was a marvel because it was said it could be seen from outer space. Google Earth now makes it possible to look into everyone’s back yard. So why, with all this progress did the neighbours in this case find it so difficult to look over the fence and see what was going on.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Meeting Bin Laden, Pigs and Badgers and leaving for China

It has been a while since I last posted a blog. Aplogies - I am determined to become better at posting in a more regular fashion. Part of the problem is the almost unrelenting stream of other distractions that I seem to have to contend with on an almost daily basis. For example the other day, I met a man, he was a defendant in the Magistrates Court I was sitting in as a JP, who insisted on being referred to as Bin Laden. This resulted in an interesting encounter (at least for me) – on one hand I needed him to acknowledge who he was (as per his birth certificate) so that the case could move forward, but challenging his insistence that he was not a world renowned terrorist proved futile and he gradually became more and more angry and excitable – to the point where he was taken back down to the cells and I was able to continue the business without him being there. I wondered why he felt that he wanted to be known by such a despicable name. There did not seem to be any evidence of a mental health problem, but he was clearly very angry at someone, something and perhaps this was his way of letting the world know. He was in court charged with two very serious crimes and as these allegations matched his previous history of offending, he was eventually remanded in custody with the matters all being sent to the Crown Court. His appearance in my court lingered in my thinking for some time afterward.

I could still hear him and see him in my mind for the first few days of holiday in Scotland. I am fortunate to be able to rent a cottage right on the edge of the Solway Firth at Kippford. There is little else to do but watch the tide come in and then go out. However, the badgers in the area had bred since I was last there and in the evening I was able to watch mother and three young cubs come out to feed in the garden. Given the time of the year it was still light at 10pm and out they would come and gobble up all the peanut butter sandwiches I made (and any leftovers from the evening meal). It made for a magical end to the day. I was there for six days and every night they came and ate.

I wondered what it was that concerned badgers.

Having read about B+Q considering selling pigs sty’s to cash in on the ‘lets get back to the good life’ craze currently sweeping recession struck Britain, I had to wonder at the number of pigs who would end up spending many a miserable hour before their owners eventually got rid of them. So far this year I have been asked to re-home three sets of chickens from people who thought it would be good to keep half a dozen hens for the eggs and then realized it was actually a little bit more difficult to do so then simply buying your free range eggs from Sainsbury’s (an interesting aside, Stephen Fry on Radio 4 this week: - the purpose of Sainsbury’s is to keep the riff raff out of Waitrose). Anyway, I asked if we could have a pig at home. I am still awaiting a response, I will keep you posted.

I am writing this in the waiting area of Manchester Airport – off to China to discuss how we might work together in the future to develop nurses in China and opportunities for UK nurses to practice in China. I am sure this will not be the last such meetings, China presents a huge opportunity for the development of new relationships and the extension of our community of practice. I will (hopefully) keep you posted.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Welcome to my first blog – actually, it is my second blog. The first never got posted. I was asked to create a blog and describe a recent trip to South Africa. I was presenting a couple of papers at the ICN conference. In any event, I started my blog and soon realized that it was a lot more difficult than one imagines - so it never got posted.

What do you write about (is that the correct terminology?)?

There was plenty of material from the conference.

It was the largest conference I have ever been too, some 6000 delegates + our CNO… …sitting there every morning at breakfast…

…sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

The first paper I presented was to a small select group of about 60 delegates. Well that was at the start of the paper – almost immediately another 30 delegates joined us – and yes of course I was pleased. 20 minutes later there were some 300 people in the room, nobody could move, the room was gridlocked.

Nobody was actually there for me and I realised that on this occasion I was rather insignificant and surplus to requirements. Those of you who know me will easily understand how uncomfortable this realisation would have made me feel.

So you can imagine my total relief to watch the Andrew Marr show this morning, (who was that woman and why does he need to take a month to find the sun?) and hear that Harriet Harmon, standing in for Gordon, passionately advocating the need for both men and women to be involved in managing any organisation.

I think she was reported in the Times to have said something like men alone were incapable of running any organisation. Our School Executive is made up of 13 wonderful individuals. There are 12 females and one male (me) – Phew a sense of equilibrium has returned.