I read the task before I went out to work, I planned what I was going to do (which involved pension schemes, not guaranteed to make everyone happy, but a good idea for one particular colleague) and failed to get time to do it.
Instead the person being made very happy by the thoughtfullness and understanding of others was me.
The last person to show understanding and to earn my gratitude was very keen on triangles, and it's true that good things often come in threes, so I'll start with number 1.
At the top of my understanding triangle is my friend Bev Mattocks. I am 3/4 of the way through her book and it is simply brilliant. Although excellently written it makes for hard reading. It's not an easy story, but it's one that is SO familiar. Anyone can (and the newspapers often do) put up a few pictures of emaciated people and say they are writing about eating disorders. There are plenty of first person memoirs by sufferers available, some inspiring, some saccharine sweet, some far too graphic for my tastes. Professionals have written general descriptions from the dry and medical to the flowery and fanciful. But I have never read a better book for describing what it is like to watch helplessly as a loved one is taken over by the beast that is an eating disorder. It isn't just the food. It's the spending hours persuading, cajoling and physically transporting the person to school only to be rung up half an hour later to be asked to take them home again. It's the waiting expectantly, almost excitedly for an appointment only to come out after it wondering if anything has happened at all. It's the awful times of false hope followed by crushing disappointment. It's the guilt, the shame, the hope, the burning love for the person who is hurting so much but just cannot accept your help even if you do have a clue what might be of help. The book may be too upsetting for some sufferers and their families but it should be compulsory reading for anyone working within the field just to give them SOME idea of what it is really like while waiting on the waiting list and in between the 50 minutes a fortnight therapy sessions.
The second angel of comfort was a medical student. I am ALWAYS comforted by the medical students I meet at work. Every single one of them has in some way or another given me hope for the future of the NHS. This one is extra-special in as much as she has given me hope for the future of those bits of the NHS I care about particularly passionately.
The third was the lady with the triangles - lots of triangles. You probably have actually to be there to fully appreciate Olga Bogdashina Her books may be excellent and I'm definitely going to give one or two of them a go, but her public speaking is superb. As she promised, within two minutes we'd forgotten that her accent is thick and were attuned both to how she was speaking and what she was saying. She presented so clearly and with so much understanding the barriers that may occur between parent and child, between parent and professional who all need to work together but who all have such difficulty understanding each other. O for the day when a speaker can talk to a mixed group of carers, patients (for want of a better word) and professionals about eating disorders in such a genuinely collaborative and understanding way.