Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I am the 1%

I am the 1%. I am the daughter of a doctor. I grew up in Remuera, the suburb many of our leaders, industry heads and politicians choose to live; I went to a private girl's school. I had access to the best education money can buy, my parents ensured I had the space and energy to study. I got into medical school on my own merits, but all the good role modelling and encouragement must have helped.

At university, I was encouraged to question accepted truths, to look for evidence with my own eyes, and to read and think widely. I was taught how to identify if someone was sick and how to look after them. I was taught about risk factors, pathology, microbes and the doctor's role in society.

But this training did not prepare me for when I entered the real world, with real people. People who were not in hospital because of a simple 1+1 =2 equation, but a far more complex sequence of events which sometimes started before they were born. People whose health was almost nothing to do with pathology and microbes but much more to do with where they lived and how much education they'd had. In my first year dealing with real patients, I learnt more about being a doctor than in 6 years of medical school.

I've since learnt many more things. How health is determined by the manner in which our society looks after its members. How a small intervention early on, such as support for a struggling parent, or a good education, can save lives and money down the track. How the most valuable interventions come from the community itself, working together in cooperation. How much we know now compared to twenty years ago and how much we still have to learn.

I am the 1%. But please don't look down on me for it. I am trying to learn. I know there are others, too, who don't automatically accept what our colleagues in power tell us. After all, we received the best education money can buy. So please accept our help. Talk to us. Teach us. Tell us how we can cooperate together to make things the best they can be for our society. Then there doesn't need to be a 1% and a 99%; there will only be the 100%.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Poem: The Problem of Descendants by Tim Jones

They reassort your genes
and sort through your things when you're gone.
They ask: why did he keep that ridiculous hat, those
palaeolithic music magazines?

Half to the tip, half to the Sallies,
plus a small urn on the mantelpiece,
three photos, the fading diaries
they can't quite bear to throw away.

They remember you at birthdays, Christmas.
You recede into scrapbooks,
the photos growing faint, your children's children
forgetting why they know your name.

File formats are rendered obsolete.
Anthologies go out of print.
In a provincial library, behind a rack of shelves,
your last book battles silverfish.

Ashes, vanity. The years
scroll past like autocues. Yet,
scavenging the ruins, or terraforming Mars,
still someone somewhere has your nose.

I love this poem - funny, poignant and sad, it taps into our small hidden fears and anxieties. It's just one of the many wonderful poems published in Tim's recently launched collection "Men briefly explained". i was lucky enough to attend the Auckland leg of the book tour and to hear Tim read. I also interviewed him for The Big Idea: http://www.thebigidea.co.nz/news/blogs/talkwrite/2011/oct/105031-cultural-storytellers-tim-jones

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Bone Feeder trailer (behind the scenes)

Us in rehearsal last week! The singing is now much better ;)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Radio NZ panel discussion on Asians in the arts

This is only the second time Roseanne and I have been in a panel discussion together, although I think more and more people are twigging onto the idea of 'the sisters in the arts'. We've never properly worked together, but we do bounce ideas off each other and swap contacts. In this panel discussion, our friend Sonia Sly interviews us, along with a discussion with visual artist Liyen Chong.