It is Saturday. The morning newspapers describe an episode of road rage, appropriately outside the Waterloo Underground station. A male pedestrian attempted to punch and beat up a driver through his car window. The driver accelerated away and knocked over another 2 pedestrians and collided with 3 other cars as he sped away. The headlines attributed the temper tantrum to the ‘heat wave’. The maximum temperature yesterday was 17 degrees centigrade!
This, the final day of my symposium, promises such stimulating topics as “Systemic mechanisms of anti-epilpetic protection” which is the opening lecture at 8am. It can only get better. The highlight of Thursday was ‘Animal models of status epilepticus: persectives on predictability and translation”. Surely I can be forgiven for heading to the Royal Academy of Music on Friday? I made sure that I arrived back in time for the plenary session on “Intramuscular and rectal therapies of acute seizures”.
The opening lecture today was, if possible, worse than I anticipated. The blameless Professor was from Russia with an accent so thick as to be unintelligible. Obviously aware of this impediment to audience understanding, his talk was completely subtitled in English as PowerPoint slides. This attempt at improving communication was sadly negated by content. All the studies he presented were from the 1980s and I have a strong suspicion were the results of his own endeavours when he was an enthusiastic young researcher in the Siberian hinterland 3 generations ago.
By contrast I could quite easily have spent three full days dipping into an amazing summer programme of free recitals, lectures and masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music. A simply stunning London musical institution. Visit their web site.
In summary and to be brutally frank and truthful, I would have gained much more if I had stayed at home and taken a week to read UpToDate. So what were the take home messages? Firstly that status epilepsy is VERY bad for the brain. The genesis of prolonged seizures is basically still unknown and finally that midazalam is the drug of choice squirted into the nose rather than the rectum. All points that were not exactly revelations to me.
A few observations on shopping in London. Don’t bother! Windows is better, and I am not talking computers. Bargains don’t exist especially since the fall in the value of the dollar. That said all the iconic streets and shops crawl with consumers. More numerous than date palms in the Sahara, black burkha clad women cut a swathe through their scantily clad young western equivalents, heading to Harrods where they hover around haberdashery before a furtive dash to lingerie. A whole wall of delicate lace G strings confronts them. They snap them up and like a Model T Ford, they can have any colour they like, so long as it is black.
I am on a never ending quest to buy some “grandpa collar”shirts. I enter one of those shops with loud music playing, bright Hawaii surf shirts, acres of designer sunglasses and board shorts. The alarm to detect shop lifters as they leave in these stores is inavriably camouflaged in wood that is dressed up to look like so much shipwrecked timber, flotsam washed up on a sandy island.
A young woman sales assistant at the entrance asks me “Can I help you Sir?” The tone of the voice and inflection is not in anyway taken as an offer to help me choose. No it is definitely more of an oblique reference to the fact that I am at least two generations past the profile of their average shopper. Indeed it is a kindly way of paraphrasing “Good morning, sir, you are obviously rather lost and confused and I am here to help and show you the way out and point you in the direction of Marks and Spencer’s.”