The John Dundee Anesthesia Meeting in Belfast. I talked about inter hospital transports of critically ill patients, bedside EEG monitoring, and, of course, International medical politics. Very, VERY nice people.
First thing I do on arrival in a city I have never been to is put on running shoes and hit the bricks for a look-see. Belfast is a very friendly, busy, bustling city that doesn’t remind me of any city in the USA I can think of. People are happy to give directions and smile at strangers wearing Jimi Hendrix t-shirts. The “town” area isn’t really all that big and I traversed it all in an afternoon. Not much “artsy fartsy” shopping though. I got a nice wool sweater and some trinkets for the kids. Guys wear late Beatnik era garb. Women like clunky shoes and dark blue stockings.
Music scene is a little on the “alternative” side for me but listenable. Usual artists from the USA come there. James Taylor in late June. I ripped a few Britney Spears posters off some walls. One band I heard in a small club sounded like early U2. Pub life is remarkably different than “Bar” life in the USA. They are “homes away from homes”.
I (we) got a dinner invite with the Lord High Mayor of Belfast, hand penned in Old English script. Then they broke the vile news. “Black Tie”. The color drained from my face and I started backing away slowly…..”Er, sorry….I don’t do that sort of thing….”. “Nonsense, Luv……you can hire one right across the street”, whereupon I was marched over there by henchmen and the foul deed was consummated with alarming rapidity.
Now, the Lord High Mayor of Belfast doesn’t just cruise into a room with a hearty “how-de-do”. His Nib’s Royal Precursor bangs loudly on the rim of the entry door with a large multicolored jug and solemnly pronounces his arrival. His nibs then enters with much aplomb draped with the accouterments of his office. He looked just a little line Henry VIII minus the toe pillow and after a polite patter of applause, his entourage headed STRAIGHT FOR ME!!, and it wasn’t easy to find me because I was hiding in the corner.
“And this……is Doctor Crippen from the United States…….he’s wearing brown shoes and has no cufflinks….”. “Uhhhhh….”. But in fact His Honor was VERY affable and engaged me in conversation for a fairly long time, during which he offered some observations about Northern Irish politics that seemed honest and straightforward, and he seemed genuinely interested in knowing my impressions of things. It was a pleasure to meet him, even in a tux and brown shoes.
The dinner opened with a very formal string quartet “.( “Hey, you guys know Hotel California?”.) “Say, who’s that young blond woman with Doctor Crippen…..Hmmmm, she looks about 26. Isn’t Doctor Crippen’s wife Blond? Yes, but I think she’s somewhat older than 26”. “Ummmm…..that lady has some kind of bust……….”
And speaking of busts, when Doctor Crippen’s authentic wife sees the film at eleven on CNN, Doctor Crippen will reside in a Motel 6 and drive to work in a 1961 Volkswagen while the formerly authentic wife takes the kids to Rio twice yearly (First Class) for vacation).
On a more cheery note, Belfast and it’s inhabitants were great. I give them four of five Mega-Shipyards.