Tuesday 9 November 2010

The London Psychiatry Conference

Had a long, but enjoyable week in London. I went down for many events, first up was the London Psychiatry Conference, where I was on a panel with Phillipa Perry, author of Couch Fiction, and Ian Williams of the Graphic Medicine website. We'd done this before, of course, at the Graphic Medicine conference earlier in the year. The Psychiatry Conference is an event that takes place every year for psychiatry trainees in London. It's as much as a social event where trainees from all over the city can meet up, as it is anything else.

The Cumberland Hotel near Marble Arch was the venue. I suffered comedy buffoonery of the highest order in getting there. I wasn't sure where this hotel was in London, so I used my iphone map GPS system to tell me and this turned out to be something of a mistake. It kept pointing me towards an area where there was postal sorting office near Oxford St. After walking up and down side streets in a futile effort to find the place, I asked at a nearby hotel. They told me that the software had been directing me to a post office box used by the Cumberland Hotel. The staff at this hotel where I found myself, told me that they often had people walking in asking the whereabouts of the American Embassy, having made the same mistake. There are clearly a few bugs in the system still. I had then to take a taxi down to Marble Arch in order to get to the conference in time.

As it turned out everything had been delayed anyway, and the event hadn't even started yet, due to a bomb scare on the street outside the hotel. Plus, there was a tube strike that day, and because of this, Marble Arch tube station was shut.

There were hundreds of people milling about in the vastness of the hotel. Somehow I still managed to locate Phillipa and Ian (the only people I knew there). The event kicked off in the big conference hall where Ruby Wax was doing a show. The connection here is that Ruby Wax has a MSc in Psychotherapy. Her show was basically a comedy monologue, with musical accompaniment, detailing her spiral into depression and subsequent recovery. It was good, but I thought she was funnier in her intro to the performance, than in the performance itself. The improvised stuff was better than the practised performance of her show. I don't think the music added very much either.

It could be that I'd have found it much more enjoyable if I hadn't been suffering from a migraine that morning. I was shifting in my seat uncomfortably throughout Wax's show. Luckily, Ian Williams, who is a doctor, had in his bag some very effective painkillers, and this did the trick. It's nice to have your own personal physician with you. I felt like Elvis.

We did one talk in the morning and then a repeat performance in the afternoon. We talked about our books and how the comic strip form is so suited to relating personal experience and getting complex information across. This went down well with both audiences. I sold every copy of Psychiatric Tales I had with me. Thanks to Stephen Ginn for the invite.

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