Yesterday was Phil's presentation of his membership of the Royal College of Surgeons and it was brilliant. I was quite looking forward to the day - but we'd thought we only had three tickets to the ceremony - so I was opting out and just coming to the dinner. Then at the last minute the Royal College said there were spare tickets so I was able to come to the ceremony. It snowed yesterday so that made it memorable in the first place and les parentios came down the night before so we had a leisurely start with some bacon butties that really threw the diet out of the window to start with. We got a cab to treat ourselves and because it's quite reasonable split between four so we arrived in good time. And when we saw the flag with the coat of arms flying above the large building that set the day off to a great start. It's a huge building well designed for all the hob knobbing - plenty of reception rooms and halls to feel very grand in. The first hall where Phil had to register had a marble floor and a few statues, one of which had a bit of a tale to it. The lady who donated the marble floor and the statue (of herself and her late husband who was a surgeon) had fallen in love with the sculptor and wanted his ashes also deposited in the statue along with hers and her late husband's. But it didn't happen in the end as their love affair ended. There was a huge statue of John Hunter - one of the first proper surgeons where people were having some photos taken - and we didn't know who he was. To remedy our lack of knowledge we went to the museum, in the building, which was excellent. I think that was why I enjoyed the day so much - because Phil's and the other surgeons' awards were put so well in their historical context. And what an amazing historical context to be part of! With my campaigning on this and that - to try and get ongoing funding for the NHS, to help older peoples' services and promote equality - I can lose sight so easily of all the progress that's made by humanity for humanity over what are very short time scales. The museum and the Royal College of Surgeons pointed this out so well. It was quite humbling and awe inspiring to think of all the progress made by each one of the 200 or so surgeons in the huge Edward Lumley hall where they each waited for their handshake from Bernard Ribeiro, the President. That all the knowledge of past medical interventions is so quickly passed down from these highly qualified doctors to their less experienced colleagues. And as we were sitting there, waiting for the ceremony to begin I felt SO happy and proud, not just because of Phil's achievements but for all of us, as the surgeons had come from all over the world - Africa, Asia, New Zealand - and each of them probably saving more lives than John Hunter could dream of. Tears of gratitude and joy welled in my eyes. The anatomical knowledge which Hunter clearly studied in great depth is now simply taken for granted almost, we knew we didn't need to ask Phil what was what - he knows it - it's a given. And the machines from as late as 1957 just looked so old and out of date - yet this is only a generation ago!
I wasn't expecting the art to be as inspirational either - in the museum they had a painting of the original 'Siamese Twins' and in the Hall a Hans Holbein of Henry VIII handing over a charter to the original association of Barber-Surgeons. Awesome. I probably won't have such an enjoyable day until the wedding!