My visitors today

Sunday 8 February 2015


Full moon, February 2015
And observing

I remember that during the time that I spent in Hungary, 1989-1993, one of my regular activities on my trips to England (usually just once a year) was to make a special trip to Norwich city-centre to spend an hour, or maybe two, in a bookshop.

I would make a beeline to one particular section of the three-storey shop where I would select a pile of books about two feet high. I would pile them up on a table and then sit in the armchair provided to peruse them in a bit more detail before eventually dividing them into three piles. One a pile of certainties, another pile of next-time-I-am-home purchases, and the last one a discarded pile.

Over the years I have become quite proficient and fast at choosing what I want to read and what I need for my work. I have developed my book-buying technique so that it now also includes diligently reading all the book reviews in my weekly English newspaper and making notes to buy those I pick out at a later date or even order them online.

There was no internet book-buying in the late 1980s. I had no access to a computer in Hungary, in fact I had not seen one until I visited Germany for the first time in the winter of 1992/93. There was no world-wide-web, no googling to discover just the book that I needed for my dissertation, but despite that my library steadily grew.

In those early days books came into my hands through the bookshop purchases described above, via visitors who, if asked in advance, would bring requested titles, via my sister if we dared to risk the Hungarian postal service, and of course through my favourite place in Budapest – Litea, a book and tea-shop combined which invariably had an extensive selection of English titles, many of which were translations from Hungarian classics which I  read and widened my knowledge of the Hungarian culture.

For over twenty-five years I have not had ready access to an English bookshop apart from on trips home. I cannot go for a wander at the weekend and pick up a few books as I would if I lived in England.

Of course there are the usual English language novels at the local railway station, and at the airport there are the latest fashionable reads, but I rarely buy novels, I sometimes receive them as presents which I greatly appreciate.

So I still bulk buy when I am at home!

I think it shocked my sister yet again when I used her Christmas gift voucher, and more, to buy my latest pile of books. One of them weighed one and a half kilos and it brought my luggage right up to its allowed limit!

Amongst the books I bought this time was Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole by Allan Ropper and B. D. Burrell. This book has recently been a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, but somehow I missed it, so I am even more glad that it jumped out at me on the shelf as I was perusing.

This is another book in the style used in many of my favourite books, i.e. using the technique of story-telling to explain medical matters through experiences with patients and colleagues.

Operative observation is what AP and Co. would have called it.

The chance to make detailed observations of my clients is so important to me in my work and so necessary to decision making and planning. This is why I believe that the bits-in-between are often the most important parts of my practice especially in the “getting to know you” stages.

Whether these in-between-times are play-times, trips to the garden, chats with husbands, wives and carers, the moments when mums or dads arrive to collect children, lunchtimes, or taking off, and putting on, jackets and boots times, all the observations and conversations that take place play an important role in the decisions made while planning conductive sessions, just as the observations that the neurologists in the books I read make while they are chatting with their patients have a huge influence on the diagnosis that they make.


Recently I have also read Two Roads by Wendy Cope, who I can thank for inspiring me to start to write again and The Lady with the Little Dog and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov who I suppose I can say the same for, as despite there being some depressing stories in this book his descriptive narratives are something worth aspiring to.


Reaching down the Rabbit Hole by Allan Ropper and B. D. Burrell - Atlantic Books, ISBN 978 1 782 39547 8

Two Roads by Wendy Cope - Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, ISBN 978 1444 7953 6 3

The Lady and the Dog and other Stories 1896-1904 by Anton Chekhov

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