Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pleasant surprise at being mistaken for somone who knows something

My introduction to how much fun Twitter can  be came with the ABC Classic FM Classic 100 countdown of 20th Century masterpieces. I enjoyed the cameraderie of conversation with unknown others, some of them professional musicians and music teachers. I am merely an enthusiastic amateur, a viola player, who's favourite private joke is to be thanked at church as "Thanks to the musicians... and Tim". So imagine my surpirse to discover that I've been quoted! A rather lovely blog post by Leonie Doyle ruminates on the Classic 100 and describes the thrill of being touched by a new piece of music (which also happened to be a piece of new music).

So it set me thinking. I actually think I belong in both groups she describes - I love most of the toe-tapping classics (with a few exceptions), and can't get enough of being immersed in a Mahler symphony. But I also love discovering new pieces - I still remember hearing the Rite of Spring for the first time (on a very old radio, Desert Island Discs. In the bathroom) and thinking "Wow. Music can do that!" The same happened when I first heard some Phillip Glass years later. And also John Adams at the Proms on the radio (with my headphones in at dinner, like any teenager!) These are orchestral pieces, because that' what I know best, but there is also a fair amount of non-classical music that I love too. It's hard not to share those experiences.

I don't mind it if people don't like the music I do - I like classical music and new music so it happens all the time. The world of music for me is like being in a big fairground. I'd like to try out all the different rides, as they'll all give different experiences. And some might make me feel sick. But I know that some people will stick to their one favourite ride. And that's fine. But I might feel they are missing out a bit.

I now need to find Black Angels by George Crumb...

A quick thought on smoking cessation

Two interesting tweets crossed my timeline this morning. The first was this one from Laura Newman pointing to this blog post about intimidating tactics used by public health campaigns to try to persuade people to stop smoking.
The second was this from Simon Chapman about a Croakey blog post on the medicalisation of smoking cessation.
Both these blog posts make really sensible points about the ways we often think about persuading people to stop smoking. And trying to do this by thinking of people as inadequate moral failures or as products of imbalanced brain chemistry misses part of the picture - the context.
Iona Health puts it brilliantly in The Mystery of General Practice:
"I believe that all my patients are now fully informed of the dangers of smoking. Sadly many continue to smoke because they lead lives that are so materially and emotionally constrained that cigarette smoking is one of pitifully few sources of pleasure and relief."
I recognise that picture in my own clinical work. Pretending that people just need a bit of medicine or a scary advert or counselling without any effort to create societies that value people and give them opportunities to "live the lives they choose to live" is choosing not to solve the problem.
In passing, I'll also just pause to note that the same issues arise with pokie reform in Australia (where the clubs believe in Counselling for individuals) and (perhaps slightly less so) in treatment for depression where drug companies focus on neurochemical problems (which need medication) as opposed to social justice problems (which don't)
I'm not arguing that we don't need medication or individual approaches, but that if we only use these approaches we don't allow health professionals to be effective.
Heath aptly quotes Shelley:
"The rich grind the poor into abjectness and then complain that they are abject"

Sunday, February 19, 2012

About this Blog

This is a blog for all the stuff that needs more than 140 characters, but doesn't fit anywhere else. It's essentially a musings page, where I'll set down my thoughts.
You might find me writing about General Practice or medicine or music or theology or politics or social justice or... well, we'll see, won't we.
And the name? Well, my first (of not many) properly published articles in the British Journal of General Practice way back in 2004 had this as its title. (You can find it on p13 of this PDF) And a Tricorder in Start Trek was a single machine that might tell you all about everything in your surrounds. So this blog might function like that for my brain. Who knows?