Doctors and Nurses: Carrot or stick?

A news item caught my eye this week and saddened my heart.  Doctors and nurses are to be charged and possibly imprisoned for not providing adequate care for patients. How that contrasts with one of my recent reads – The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson. 

Ken Robinson, The Element

Ken recommends an educational system and ethos which helps individuals discover their gifts, talents, desires, passions and then suggests how to help those develop by joining others of a similar mind (the Tribe) and finding a mentor to guide, challenge and further that person’s development.

No doubt many doctors and nurses are born to perform a caring role.  For some the job may be a real passion, or use of their innate abilities to the full.  How much better then that the working environment stimulates commitment, rewards professionalism and enthusiasm, and uses examples of exceptional practitioners to motivate and inspire.

But no, some people think the big stick works better.  Not only ‘Never Do Harm‘, but if we catch you failing, we’ll make sure you end up bitter, defensive and demotivated.


Walking in the footsteps of Carys – a visit to Tregaron

Our fictional characters become so much a part of us, and are so clear and vivid in our minds, that when Mirren passed through Tregaron on her way to Aberaeron recently, she found herself looking for the old Vicarage where Carys from Eight of Cups was brought up. Of course she didn’t find the house itself but the Memorial Hall, the local church dedicated to St Caron and 13th century Talbot Hotel which is supposed to have an elephant buried in its grounds were all there. She enjoyed Welsh cakes and mature Welsh cheddar in the low-ceilinged bar of the hotel.

Creating space to write – on the Gower Peninsula

The wonderful Gower Peninsula in South Wales: big skies, wide empty expanses of beach, deserted moorland, sleepy villages down winding roads to the coast, and an old cottage with low ceilings and small windows. The setting for Mirren Jones’ November writing retreat. Car loaded with laptop, printer, Kindle, files, flip chart paper, woolly jumpers, walking boots, boxes of assorted vegetables and other provisions, and of course, Jones’ nail polish. All this for only four days?!

And now as we get ready to go back to our respective homes, we can reflect on bracing walks, circuitous routes courtesy of chief navigator Jones, a very palatable Pino Grigio (only one empty wine bottle – that’s all Mirren is owning up to), several memory lapses regarding house and car keys by said Mirren, but above all – PROGRESS! The remainder of ‘Never Do Harm‘ is scoped out, priorities are established, timescales are agreed. But first some of Jones’ legendary cooking. Do you know the story of The Magic Porridge Pot? At the start it produced chicken curry, which by tonight has become cauliflower, squash and apple soup with Bulgarian dumplings!

Mirren Jones at the Raglan Women’s Institute

We’ve long been impressed by the slick organisation and the breadth of talent that seem to exist in rural WI groups of which we’ve visited several as speakers.  We might see a room of middle-aged women, discussing days out to craft fairs or local agricultural shows, but there lies only slightly below the surface a rich seam of life experience and artistic expression.

Raglan WI web final

Raglan WI in Monmouthshire, will stand out in our memory for its beautiful prize-winning wall hanging, designed and sewn by its members to mark the Millennium, and for their sharing of incidents from their own lives which might prompt the idea for a novel or autobiography.  One member’s father was the first man in the valley to own a car. He was often called on to take pregnant women to the nearest maternity hospital where he would be greeted with ‘Not again Mr X!’ Another had a husband who witnessed 60 years ago the detonation of the atomic bomb tested near Christmas Island in the South Pacific.  We were there to entertain them with tales of our writing partnership and readings from our debut novel Eight of Cups which is contemporary women’s fiction.  They certainly entertained us back.  And then, of course, we enjoyed one of their legendary suppers!