I remember a middle-aged factory worker in my surgery a few years ago. He was distraught – his wife had just left him. “I can’t understand it” he said, “I gave her everything she wanted” he said, staring into the distance. “I worked every hour of overtime possible – evenings and weekends – so she could have nice things”.
Recently the PCSG secretariat and I and been working to finalise the programme for the Annual Scientific meeting. The process is like standing on a surf board in choppy seas. Some speakers say they can come and then change their minds and say they can’t so we start again. Worse still are those that say they might be able to speak – how long do we give them? Do we keep pressing because actually a ‘no’ is more helpful than a ‘maybe’?
The overall structure and scope of the meeting needs to be considered. A balance of topics and styles is needed. We can’t do this without sponsorship but we can’t bow to sponsors either. It’s a case protecting our brand and showing people that it is a good and ethical organisation to be associated with.
The original structure soon gets pulled out of shape as speakers drop in and out. And there are their special requests. Not quite a dressing room with white lilies (stamens removed) and bowls of M&Ms (brown ones removed), but more a case non-standard travel requests and pleas to be put on at a certain time of day.
Then there is the tendency to plan the programme we would like to attend in the format we prefer. Just as trainers prefer to teach in the style they find easiest to learn in, so we might plan the programme format in the style we find most comfortable.
But it has come together; with a diverse and varied range of topics, speakers and styles. Something for everyone hopefully and variety and topicality.
I am really pleased with the finished item for what is going to be a fun and effective day of learning. I hope we will give PCSG members what they want – really want. Come to the meeting and get a top programme – and feel the love.
Which takes me back to that grief-stricken factory worker. Throughout the consultation I had in my mind a picture of the wife, alone in her fully equipped kitchen, aching with loneliness. It’s not always easy to give people what they really want. Or as Bob Dylan said:
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue
See you at the ASM.