I’ll concede that there was considerable anxiety. The situation had escalated from an informal and fun discussion some weeks previously to now, dressed from head to foot in ceremonial robes, with a ruffed collar, tricorn hat and antique bell in my grasp, the moment had come.
After ringing the bell theatrically above my head 3 times I took a deep breath before bellowing “Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah!”, forcing the air out with my diaphragm muscle so as not to wreck my voice in moments. Police estimates later put the figure at 20,000 – the number of people lining the streets of my home town to welcome Father Christmas and the annual reindeer parade. “And any parade worthy of the name needs a Town Crier”, was the rationale of the soothing voice from the Town Council who had poured honeyed words into my ear and honeyed best bitter down my throat in the local pub those few weeks before the big event in his effort to recruit me.
Yes, dear reader, I had been appointed Town Crier and now stood at the head of the magnificent procession arranged by the Town Council and chamber of trade, desperately trying to remember protocols and any means by which I could preserve my bellowing for around 45 minutes of the parade.
The fact is that this scene played out 10 years ago. At the time, my wife will testify that my hands were shaking so frantically that she had to dress me in my ceremonial attire. But, it was fantastic, sublime, a joy to do and a role which I cherish to this day. Plenty of my friends had tried to talk me out of it – “you can’t do it Jon; you’ll look like an absolute muppet”. I’m so glad that I embraced my inner Kermit!
Yesterday, in another memorable first for the IHM, I was privileged to watch and listen to 18 presentations from a series of extraordinary speakers at our virtual ‘No Going Back’ conference focusing on the positive changes to have arisen out of the Covid19 pandemic. Nearly 300 of you had registered for the Zoom conference and there was, I will again concede, some considerable anxiety about how we were going to organise the audience into breakout rooms etc. There were ‘some technicals’ but we just about managed it!
The thing that stuck in my mind subsequently was that nearly all of the presentations focused on developments that, in many cases, would have been shouted down, delayed, obstructed or even mocked pre-Covid. By the commitment and drive of the many people involved in these changes, they have been adopted, shared and celebrated for the outcomes they have produced. From wobble rooms to preserve mental wellbeing to virtual reality goggles to conduct remote patient consultations, all of the changes required the promoters to confront their organisational limits and those of many peers and colleagues. They found a way and were bold enough to see it through.
There were many lessons to take away from yesterday’s fabulous event but the main one, for me, was to remind me of Kevin Keenoo’s words:
“When they say ‘you can’t’, they show you their limits, not yours.”
That strikes me as a positive note on which to end the working week.
Stay strong, stay safe and thank you for the brilliant work you are each doing.