Doing what I do, I get to meet lots of interesting people – and even more so these days being the father of a certain son.
This week I had lunch with a brain surgeon. Well, when I say ‘I’, I mean that I was one of a hundred and twenty people but he and I were on the top table and opposite each other and we immediately bonded.
The occasion was a fundraiser for Great Ormond Street Hospital – and the room consisted of the great and the good, happy to assuage any conscience issues that comes with being hideously rich and successful.
In financial rank then, 118 business luminaries, one surgeon and a comedian.
Not often that one meets a brain surgeon, never in my case and thank God not in a medical capacity. And it struck me as odd because ‘brain surgeon’ is the cliche we all go when defining intelligence.
What struck me about him was his modesty. His biography stated that he conducts 200 operations a year – an extraordinary number of ill children then – but also I imagine what pressures this puts on him – carrying the lives and hopes of so many children and their parents.
He and I bonded further – not in our relative poverty – but in our strange jobs. He called them career choices which was kind of him because choosing brain surgery was not an option for me.
I asked him if his job ever becomes routine – and he said, no, not really. Ahead of an operation, he explained that he is always heightened, as though he knows he is about to do something different from the norm.
Which is how I felt during lunch because once puddings were served, I was expected to stand up and make the whole room laugh.
The surgeon smiled at such a prospect and said that he couldn’t do what I do for a living.
I don’t really do awe. Certainly very rarely for show-biz types because I know the part that luck plays. Sports stars occasionally but certainly when I meet a world leading neuro-surgeon.
The money raised on the day was enormous – with people bidding generously for this worthy cause and I suppose because they can.
Wealth is also something that is greatly admired. But if money is a barometer of success – it was not a good indicator on this day because the whole room that day knew who the real alpha male in the room was – the guy who saves kids lives.