In the latest Writing Workshop, one of the prompts is: Tell us about something, or show us something that you do
really, really well and are proud of.
What I do really, really well, it appears, is come up with good on-the-spot answers to questions like "What factors would you have to consider if the PCT asked us to set up a sexual health clinic as part of the practice?", "What have been the biggest changes in general practice in the past few years and what do you think the future of general practice will be?" and "Tell us about the pros and cons of big practices versus small practices."
Well, it is perhaps an exaggeration to say that I do that really, really well – I suspect, for instance, that there is probably a very long list of better answers to the second question than "I try to avoid thinking about the future of general practice as much as possible!" However, it appears I did it better than anybody else called for interview for the new salaried GP post at the huge, smart, generally wonderful medical centre in our town. Last Tuesday, I had a phone call telling me that, on condition that my references were all right, they would be pleased to offer me the job.
And thus it is that, after almost five years of trying to get something nearer to my home than my current forty-minute commute, I finally have the perfect job. I'm working out three months' notice at my current job, which, as chance would have it, leaves me finishing that job the day before my fortieth birthday and starting the new one the day after; a wonderfully apropos before-and-after split. I have loved my current job (apart from the commute) and will be sad to leave, but the new job is the best thing I could possibly have imagined. The medical centre is superb, the location is perfect for me, and I'll get to take part in teaching the students and F2 doctors and doing some other interesting stuff – they want me to help with the community wards at the local hospital and to take over the medical care for one of their local nursing homes. It'll be an upheaval, but one of the best upheavals ever.
Some years ago, my family were discussing books we'd hated in childhood and my mother told us about a book she'd read about a little boy who saved up all his money to go to the little circus when it came to town, then didn't have any left to go to the big circus when that came to town soon afterwards and was reduced to languishing outside while the other children enjoyed the show. It's hard to know what in the world the take-home message was meant to be for the children who read the book – effectively, the story was advising them to pass up the bird in the hand just in case it caused them to miss out on the potential two in the bush, which is hardly the most pleasant or constructive of philosophies to live your life by - but this incredibly depressing storyline became a family analogy. Whenever we're in a situation of potential trade-off between a good thing and a possible (even hypothetical) subsequent better thing, we speculate on whether we may be settling for the little circus and missing the big circus. Or, alternatively, we will reconcile ourselves to losses by philosophically commenting that no doubt that was just the little circus and the big circus will be along in due course. That last is what's happened to me. When job opportunities pop up as rarely as they have been doing in the area close to my home, it's hard not to get discouraged when, time after time, each of the handful of interviews you do manage to land is unsuccessful. Those jobs, it turns out, were the little circuses. This job is the perfect one for me, better than anything I could have hoped for, better than any of the others for which I interviewed. In my mind, I can almost see the crowds cheering the acrobats on as they turn and leap.