17 May, 2010

Thank your lucky stars, Sisters.

SSS is a feminist. Surprised, aren't you? I know. I blame my parents. And my grandparents, come to think of it. I grew up in an environment where I saw men do 'womens work' without a murmur of complaint or without looking for a pat on the back. In some respect this has spoiled me for the real world. But never mind.

I'm constantly bemused when I meet women who don't seem to understand how lucky they are. They don't seem to care about the sacrifices the Suffragettes made for the women to come after them. They think feminism is a dirty word. They have no concept of history. They've grown up with access to education and healthcare. They can wear what they want in public without a member of the police hitting them with a fucking big stick.

Tonight I watched a TV documentary which made me once again thank my lucky stars that I was born in a country where I could basically do what the hell I liked despite having a uterus.

Nel Hedayet is an Afghan born, British raised 21 year old girl who wanted to know more about the country of her birth. She travelled to Afghanistan to find out about her heritage and learn what life was really like for her sisters. What she found shocked her and reduced her to tears on several occasions. She found an Afghanistan where the Taliban may have been overthrown but where outside of the capital Kabul women are still forced to cover themselves from head to toe in the dreaded blue burkas. She met a 15 year old girl whose father had given her to a 60 year old man to take as his wife. She met another 15 year old whose father had married her off at the age of 12 and consigned her to a life of physical abuse from her inlaws, abuse so overwhelming that the child set fire to herself in order to escape. 15 years of age, languishing in a ward full of other married children who had resorted to self immolation to free themselves from their miserable existences. She met Afghan schoolgirls who risked their lives to go to school. Nel reflected on how angry she thought the girls would be to find out that their British counterparts squandered their own education opportunities and skipped school for no good reason. She met a girl with an enlightened and loving father. She met a 14 year old boy who would not 'allow' his older sister to appear on a local television show as it would be 'disrespectful' to him. She met many inspirational girls and women who are attempting to rail against the status quo of a country where the cards are stacked against them.

At the end of her trip she threw herself into the arms of her mother and told her that she finally understood why her parents had left their homeland. I wonder that it took her so long. I'm just glad she got there. And I'm glad she got out.

Never take your freedom for granted.



11 May, 2010

The Hospital Next Door

Last Friday was my final official shift at what I now call the 'old' place. It was an awful day, very busy and punctuated by annoying events. By 11.50 I was ready to walk out and tell them to shove their cake up their arse. Some kind souls had organised a farewell lunch for me but no one thought to tell the relief nurse who hadn't bothered to see me to arrange my lunch break some 20 minutes after starting her shift. This is the first thing the relief nurse is supposed to do when she starts work. Silly me for thinking that on my last day the relief nurse would come and see me to arrange my lunch break. I finally got into the tearoom for the lunch but felt sick and could only manage a cup of tea. I watched the British election results coming in on the TV and felt lost. I couldn't remember the last time I'd felt so low.

The farewell tea party came and went, I was dragged in to a round of applause. The tearoom wasn't as tidy as I would have had it - in fact the first thing I saw on arrival was the cake box and a work surface strewn with the detritus of lunch - and I had to turn the television off myself before the boss made her somewhat dull and emotionless speech. I remained dry eyed throughout. I said some stuff, said thanks, said I'd had some difficult times and some good times and that I would miss some people very much. I said something funny and that was it. I cut into the cake and asked someone else to cut it into slices. I then had to ask for a piece as they'd started to pass it round without offering me the first slice.

I might be coming across all Miss Jean Brodie here but I think after 7 years the least I could expect is the offer of a lunch break, a tidy tearoom, no TV and first offer of the orange and poppyseed cake. I suppose what it made me realise is that either a) I care too much about little stuff or b) no one pays attention to detail like I do. In fairness, most people were wonderful. I was given lots of little presents. There were tears and they weren't all mine. Some people said some lovely things in private. I felt appreciated by the staff if not by management.

In all honesty I'm glad it was a crappy day because it made it a lot easier to walk out of there. I cleaned out my locker, handed back the key, put my shoes in a plastic bag and walked out of the door.

Today I started at The Hospital Next Door. I had a good nights sleep last night and woke up at 06.30 instead of the usual 05.45. I only started to get nervous as I approached my usual coffee shop. The owner wished me good luck as he handed over my caffeine fix and I walked in the usual hospital front door. Instead of turning right I turned left.

All in all it was a good day. I got there nice and early, had a guided tour, met far too many people, received lots of information, did some reading, had more coffee, sent some 'I miss you but I'm fine' emails to some ex colleagues and shuffled some papers. I also saw about eight of my old doctors, which was absolutely lovely. I'm sharing an office with two of the managers. No one was doing much talking - I was too busy reading - but then someone came to talk to me and I laughed quite loudly. I don't have a pretty laugh and I think I startled them. Anyway, it broke the ice. They told me the last girl didn't talk much. They'll be sorry. My favourite moment was when I asked them if they minded me bringing in my collection of fluffy toys and picture of cats in amusing poses. They'll be sorry.

Of course the irony is that The Hospital Next Door is no longer really The Hospital Next Door as the Old Place holds that title now. I've been surprised at how easy it's been to let go.

It's a big job and I've got a lot of work ahead of me.

I think it's going to be okay.

Now, bonus points to anyone who can tell which episode of a popular TV programme this post has made me want to watch?