Post 72 My First Academic Paper and Presentation

 Working in the casualty department on the day that City played United at Old Trafford, I treated 3 young lads who had been injured whilst on the terraces watching the match.    Their wrists had been over stretched and broken when there had been a surge down the terraces during an exciting moment

during a match.    The way the injuries had occurred had not been recognised previously so I was delighted when I heard that the article I had written about these injuries was to be published in a surgical journal.

Buoyed with this success and wishing to enhance my CV and my chances of promotion, I applied to make a presentation to the British Upper and Lower Limb Society, (known as BULL for short).    I did this more in hope than expectation and was pleasantly surprised when it was accepted for their annual conference.     I suspected the Society thought that a short talk entitled Soccer Supporter’s Wrist would offer a little light relief amongst all the more worthy research presentations.    The meeting of the Society was to be held the following month in London.

I spent a good deal of time preparing for the event, seeking advice from my consultant, preparing slides and practising speaking in a clear and confident voice.    I was allocated a ten minute slot and my


instructions were to talk for a maximum of six minutes and be prepared to answer question for the rest of the time.    There was to be a traffic light system of lights displayed on the lectern; a green light indicating all was well, a warning light of amber meaning that I had just one minute left, and finally a red which meant ‘shut up immediately because the microphone is being switched off!’    

The meeting was to be held all day Friday and Saturday morning.    I travelled by train on the Friday morning, planning to spend the afternoon in the hall where the various presentations were given, getting my bearings and observing how other speakers coped with the traffic lights.   It surprised me that so few of the speakers knew the length of their talks, several getting cut off in mid sentence.    It was also noticeable that the rigidity with which the six minute rule was applied seemed to depend on the seniority of the speaker; one overseas professor managed to speak for the best part of thirty minutes before the chairman politely


suggested to him that the meeting was running a little behind schedule!

Saturday morning dawned and it was apparent that many other delegates had gone home early; there were however still twenty or thirty in the hall for the pre-coffee session.    Privately, I was pleased; I should have been far more nervous had the hall been packed.

After the coffee break I was surprised to find that only a single individual returned to the hall.     He was a fresh faced man who looked no older than I.  Presuming that folk were just a little slow returning after the break, I sat and waited, but a couple of minutes later the protectionist, sounding rather irritated, instructed me to start my talk.

It was a major anticlimax talking to rows and rows of empty seats but I consoled myself with the


thought that my CV would still boast of this presentation and at any future job interview, no one would know that I had spoken to an audience of one.

My six minutes completed, there being no questions from my one supporter, I left the stage.   I thanked him for listening as I turned to leave.

‘Oh please don’t go,’ he said, ‘I’m the last speaker!’


Thought for the day

      ‘They were so far down the bill,

      I thought they were the printers’

      Eddie Braben (1930- 2013 ) on Morecambe and Wise on early posters)


For details of Peter's novels and collections of short stories, search for Peter Sykes on Amazon Books. All proceeds in aid of The East Cheshire Hospice.

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