I was selected to be an instructor for Advanced Paediatric Life Support some time ago, which was very pleasing. I had to go on an instructors course in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, which was a great privilege as well. As I was checking into the hotel, I saw that the name on the tag of the woman at reception was Ildiko.
“You’re hungarian aren’t you?’ I asked.
She was taken aback. ‘Why- yes I am! How could you tell?’
“‘There’s a hungarian actress called Ildiko’ I replied.
She beamed. “That’s great! Has she been in anything famous?”
I took a breath.
After a few moments thought, I said ” nothing….. you….. would…..have……. heard….. of…….”
I thought it best to leave it at that.
How is everyone?
I’m writing this from the airport in Abu Dhabi, waiting for my connection to London, as my lifelong family and schoolfriend Winston is getting married next weekend. It will be great to have another big nigerian ceremony again, as I haven’t been to one for such a long time. Those of you who have seen the pictures from my sisters wedding will know exactly how colourful and vibrant they are, so I’m looking forward to it. Of course, there will be inevitable inquisition from Mum and Dad as to why I’m not getting married, but at least this time I have the excuse of exams.
I did my emergency medicine fellowship exam last Friday, which is one of the biggest exams I’ve done so far. It was 5 months of torturous trudgery, but such are clinical exams that you never ever feel like you know enough. I struggled with it, but the post exam discussion would suggest that I struggled as much as most other people at least. We get the results in 5 weeks. It’s interesting- I’ve taken part in a 12 week course of topic-based practise exams in the build-up, and I remember looking around the room once and thinking to myself ‘everyone here was at or near the top of their class in school. But I’m sensing quite a lot of apprehension, here.’ I think that just goes to show how rigorous postgraduate medical training is- the even the smartest of the smart can struggle with it. At least I know I’m keeping good company. I don’t see myself as particularly intelligent, but I am good at organising myself and focussing on completing a task in a methodological fashion. Whatever the result, I’ll have learned a lot, and I’m a better doctor as a result.
To that end, I deleted Tinder from my phone months ago [shock, horror], as I could use as few distractions as possible. I did go out with a girl for a few weeks before that, though, and we seemed to be getting on great before she got really cagey about seeing me again. I asked her what was going on.
“I have a boyfriend in america. He’s coming to visit next week. I don’t think I can see you anymore.”
I don’t get it. I really don’t. But then, it’s probably a sign of my still s;ightly naive view of life and relationships to assume that everyone on a dating app is single. I can’t comprehend the prospect of being in a long term relationship and flicking through Tinder on the side, but clearly for some people it’s not a problem. Those of you who’ve been following me for some time will know that this isn’t the first time I’ve been out with a woman who has conveniently ‘forgotten’ to mention that she was already in a long term relationship [ that 4am phone call in Tauranga from a guy telling me to stay the Hell away from his girlfriend has to be one of the highlights], which kind of makes me nervous about the prospect of settling down with someone at all…..
During one of my many trips to Germany, I was in Cologne dancing salsa, and having an awesome time doing so. I saw a woman that I liked the look of, and was about to go talk to her when I saw that she had a wedding ring on, so I stayed away. [I later found out that her husband owned the salsa club. Good move.] Another woman that I met shortly after seemed to be quite enamoured with me. We danced a couple of times, and we clearly had a great connection. [without going into any unnecessary detail] We were having breakfast together the following morning, and I noticed that, where there wasn’t one before, there was now a huge wedding ring on her finger and she started talking about having a husband. I was only 23 at the time, with not much relationship experience, and didn’t quite understand what was going on.
“Hang on a minute-” I thought to myself. “If you……… have……….. a husband, how……… can……. you be………… going…………… out…………. with……….. me….? I don’t get it- if you’re……………. already…………… married, then………….. that…………… means………….. that……… you……. can’t….”
I was really struggling to compute the situation until eventually, my conscience was saying at the back of my mind, with increasing loudness
“AaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH………..!” I thought, as reality dawned on me.
Women frighten me sometimes. They really do. Not that men are any better. But women do seem a lot better at hiding stuff like this.
As you all know, I’m a hopeless romantic- I love the idea of being in love and sharing my life with someone special-, but I’m also very liberal and non-judgemental. If you’re single and having fun without hurting anyone, I really have no interest in anything you do. I’ll quite happily leave you to it. However, if you’re unfaithful, I can’t help but feel saddened by that. I don’t see how that can’t be hurtful to the person you say you love.
During a study break one night recently, I was watching TV, and an advert for Ashley Madison came on. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. “Life is short. Have an affair”. I was just dumbfounded. A website specifically for cheating is one thing. But to see one advertised on TV was a step beyond anything I’d considered a realistic part of everyday life.
Some of you will have heard me say something that I don’t like saying, but I’ve been forced to concede. And stand by.
Most relationships are a joke. Including marriages. You could even say especially marriages. In terms of fidelity and commitment and what the two people are prepared to do for each other. I honestly believe that. It’s only a minority of relationships that I can look at and think “Wow, that’s awesome. You’re genuinely connected. You make each other really happy. I’d love to have a relationship like yours”.
I hope they don’t mind me saying so but my friends Carl and Francesca are happily married with a child, and I’ve seen them together pretty much from the start. I’ve never seen them argue. Ever. They have a genuine warmth and harmony between them, and they are just incredibly easy to be around. I look at them and I think ‘Yes’. I use them as an example of something that genuinely works.
Similarly, when I first moved to Manly, it became widely known in the emergency department that I was a salsaholic, and one of my medical colleagues asked me if I could help him out by choreographing his wedding dance for him and his finacee, and he would pay me for my services. They had already picked out a song- it was David Grays ‘Please Forgive Me’, which has a 1,2-1,2 beat, so I put together a merengue routine for them. They came to my house and I taught them the steps. They picked it up pretty well for non-dancers. At the end, they did the final twirl and dip, and he kissed her. I saw the way they smiled at each other. I looked on and thought ‘I can’t charge you for this. This is it’s own reward’.
[I probably should still have charged them, though.]
They’re real relationships. I can do a real relationship. I can do a casual relationship. I won’t do a joke relationship. My time is just too valuable, and you don’t have to hurt anyone if you’re not in the right place to commit.
I’d rather watch a movie.
[but nothing you would have heard of ;)]