Monday, October 31, 2016

Late Love – a new BWB Text by Glenn Colquhoun

Life was lived in two parts. In one I would go to work and be unsure and struggle with the waiting room and paper trails and fires popping up. In the other I would imagine. I would dream that I could fly. I would soar up over the world like a young seagull and look down and be amazed. Moments would open up like a ranch slider. Inside I found they were timeless. Poetry was good and medicine was bad.

This BWB Text should be in every doctor’s surgery — and on every politician’s bookshelf, in every school library. Weighing in at a mere 40-pages, it can be read in the time it takes a conscientious General Practitioner to write a prescription for one patient and familiarise themselves on notes for the next. A bantamweight book, it nevertheless has knock-out observations on every page, laid down in lines of graceful sensibility.

Glenn Colquhoun is a GP, youth worker and award-winning poet. Late Love is part confessional memoir, part self-help manual for inundated health professionals, and part prospectus for fit-for-purpose healthcare provision in New Zealand.

In particular it addresses the needs of the young, the disenfranchised and the forgotten, brimming throughout with humility, compassion and therapeutic wisdom.

Colquhoun brings a rare combination of talents and experience – literary, medical and spiritual – to bear in his observations on the latter-day ills of a society in which increasing numbers of young people have little or no stake. That they are ill-suited to whatever safety net that society provides may be because we perennially view them through a pejorative prism: '… so often the path to establishing the confidence and engagement of a young person is through growing their strengths rather than concentrating on what is wrong with them', he writes.

But without professing undue expertise he also suggests foundation principles for a modern, caring and well-directed healthcare service, one that responds to ill health, one that strives to understand what drives ill health, and one in which an 'appreciation of human spirituality in its broadest terms' is built into the fabric.

Late Love is not only an engaging, beautifully written reconciliation of personal and professional conflict (a 'story of redemption'), it is not only a 'Physician heal thyself' meditation, it is a slim but powerful corrective to the inflexible, time-poor and impersonal predilections of medicine today.

For leaders and policy professionals in government, social services, justice and health care, but equally for doctors and nurses, this invaluable addition to the growing collection of BWB Texts is an essential read. For writers and readers interested in contemporary manifestations of the human condition, and its potential alleviations, this vivid and vital essay will come as a revelation and a pleasure.  

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