Saturday, 5 June 2010

Gum, Tangled Tongues, Pledges and Music without Borders

I start with what has become the almost ubiquitous food element of my weekly blog. Yesterday morning I had breakfast sitting outside, on the side walk, in up-town Chicago, in the shadow (literally) of the Wrigley building. My breakfast was horrible, but I will come back to that. Willem Wrigley (Jnr.) moved to Chicago in 1891 – to sell soap ad baking powder. As part of his sales campaign he gave away chewing gum to his customers. When he discovered how popular chewing gum was, he started to make and sell his own. The rest, as they say is history. However, history is not without its problems. An international industry has grown up around the need to remove from public places dropped chewing gum. In the UK we spend some £400 million on street cleaning, of which, almost 20% goes on chewing gum removal. Cleaning Trafalgar Square today of dropped chewing gum would cost over £20,000. Being a pragmatist, Wrigley argued that educating people not to drop chewing gum on the street was the most effective long term solution to this problem! The company first printed the advice to ‘Use this wrapper to dispose of gum’ on packaging in 1933 and this continues still today.

I was in Chicago for a conference. This was held in the Drake Hotel, the oldest hotel in town. I thought the best view of the hotel was from the 95th floor of the John Hancock Centre, which is currently the fourth-tallest building in Chicago and the sixth-tallest in the US. Interestingly, given where we are economically, the original construction of the tower was briefly halted in 1967 due to a similar credit crunch. For a number of years the building was left at a diminutive 20 stories.

I was both amused and slightly perturbed to learn that Wrigley’s newest gift to the world is something called a Starburst Tongue Tangle. As regular readers of this blog will know, this time of the year is a desperately anxiety provoking one for me as the lead up to Graduation gathers momentum.

Pronouncing people names has, and perhaps will always be, my nemesis. Additionally this year, I was confronted with a request to get our nurses and midwives to make a pledge at their graduation ceremony. The suggested pledge was a modified WHO version of the one doctors tend to make. Whilst I don’t have a problem with a pledge per se, (I would like us to adopt and adapt the pledge suggested in the PM Commission on Nursing and Midwifery’s ) the thought of trying to get this sorted by July filled me with despair. Fortunately, common sense has prevailed and we will work towards introducing a multi professional pledge for the student’s graduating in 2011.

To celebrate individual and shared achievement is always a good thing! Two Fridays ago, the University held a Thank You event. I went and participated, and of course shared the self congratulatory good feeling and bonhomie. However, the tug of war event was a little unexciting (but maybe that is how accountants get their kicks), and listening to the choir was difficult in the heat of the afternoon.

I was thinking about this as here in Chicago, the first of a series of open air concerts entitled Music without Borders was held in the fabulous out door arena in Millennium Park. The music was brilliant and was provided by bands whose membership was international. People picnicked in the park, enjoyed each others company and great fun. I wondered if we could consider something similar for our next Thank You event.

Finally that breakfast. Well I eventually found a place called the YOLK. They provided what was a wonderful breakfast, gave great service and it was a lovely place to be in. BUT the noise of all those people talking and having breakfast fun was almost over whelming. I hope our EGG space in MCUK doesn’t end up with similar problems!