The Bar’s Strictly Wellbeing (2)

Missions duly accepted, how did our three intrepid silks fare in their respective wellbeing adventures? They report back to Counsel

 

Mission possible
PHILIP MCCORMACK

So you might remember that last month three silks from 42 Bedford Row were set three very different missions and, having chosen to accept them, this article sets out what they did and how that impacted on their wellbeing. Whilst acknowledging that these might not have troubled Ethan Hunt (and nothing self-destructed in the making of the arrangements) this was about investigating ways to try and promote a more equal work/life balance. You can read for yourselves how they got on and what it meant to each of them but already in Chambers it has had an impact. It’s got other people thinking about wellbeing and more importantly it’s got them doing things as well. You’ll find out about that next month…

Was gyrotonics the tonic?
TINA COOK QC

So, there I was, setting off on my Santander bicycle to a beautiful town house just north of King’s Cross to make my date with my wellbeing destiny, or in more pedestrian terms, my 7.15am Gyrotonics studio session with Tomasso. The studio’s tagline promises much – ‘We believe each person is unique and has the potential to move with fluidity and freedom from pain’ – and, surely, if I too could move with fluidity and freedom from pain, I would well be on the way to my holy grail of wellbeing. I docked my bike and walked with that post-cycling fluidity to the studio.

Inside, the machines are wooden and elegant, reminiscent of sleek rowing eights, but with ropes and pulleys attached, and the space exuded the early morning calm of purposeful intent. Tomasso made polite enquiries before we started about which, if any, of my unfit body parts needed special attention or had particular stress. Your neck? Yes, my neck should receive some attention. The exercises were introduced, slow and gentle movements, a bit like traction for broken legs. I really wasn’t very good at them, but Tomasso was patient and kind and slowly took me through the paces until there was a passing semblance of fluidity and freedom. It was a pleasant, gently taxing and engaging manner to spend an hour, in a quiet and special environment with underfloor heating and bright light streaming in through high windows.

Fine, but how was my wellbeing? Time to myself – tick; time for reflection – tick; more balance in my daily life – tick… After all, I’d only done one session so a little ambitious to conclude that Gyrotonics is a definite panacea. And yet, would I go again? Yes, of course! It was a distraction and fun, relaxing and enjoyable, and I didn’t ache the next day (so perhaps I really did do it wrong). That, and the appeal to my commercially sensitive side that an introductory offer of three for the price of two sessions helps justify.

Back in Chambers revived and refreshed, the afterglow of exercise still radiant about me, I consulted the cases scheduled in my diary. Newcastle? Really?

TCQC was a guest of Kings Cross Studios.

Strictly ballroom: blitz or bliss?
GEMMA TAYLOR QC

I am happy to report that after a beginner’s course in Latin and Ballroom, I am hooked! It has been hard work, but incredibly fun, learning basic Quick Step and social Foxtrot whilst dancing to Frank Sinatra. Most challenging has been retaining the steps and language of formal dance moves. It is as if I had been transported back to Physics lessons at school, unable to remember what I have been taught the week before. Even more challenging for me has been allowing myself to be ‘led’ by my husband. This has taken a while, and is work in progress.

A favourite scene in the brilliant Baz Luhrman movie Strictly Ballroom is where Scott who has been teaching Fran to dance, goes to her family home. Her father, who turns out to be a dab hand at Flamenco, orders Scott to ‘show me your paso doble.’ And then laughs at his efforts, before grandma steps in and shows him how to feel the moves through his heart. What joy then, when we were taught the rudiments of the paso doble. The imagination took over. In our heads we were elegant, svelte dancers. In reality, a middle-aged couple in cardigans on a Monday evening in a church hall. Still, we can but dream.

This experience has been a revelation. Monday evenings will never be the same again and I am definitely going to keep it up. It is good for my wellbeing in the widest sense – fun with my husband, learning essential life skills and the best form of distraction from the pressures and stress of the Family Bar. I’m now planning to buy new shoes and frock for the next Ballroom Ball.

Opting for Osteopathy?
DAMIAN WOODWARD-CARLTON QC

I think I can safely say that beginning a course of osteopathy is rather pleasant and in no way undermines a sense of wellbeing.

What I had not quite appreciated is that there is a pre-massage stage – a forebodingly muscular but very polite young Eastern European gentleman asks what I am hoping to achieve. Given that he is clearly (i) making a serious enquiry; and (ii) in peak physical condition, I eschew the range of frankly inappropriate responses that spring to mind. I mutter something about ‘feeling less achy’ adding that given my age I probably should not expect too much improvement in my debased physical presentation. Judging by his bleak expression and slight shake of the head, I am clearly approaching this with the wrong attitude. I hastily add that I intend gently to improve my all-round physical condition and approach life with a chirpier step – Better.

Several weeks on, I have little hesitation in reporting positively. Do I feel better physically? Yes. (Caveat: I have been given, and roughly followed, a plan of undemanding home exercises involving a piece of stretchy green rubber which may have assisted.)

Is my being more ‘well’? Yes. (Caveat: I suspect that there is no particular magic to massage, or any other single activity. One interpretation of the placebo effect in medicine is that a significant therapeutic benefit derives from the caring attention of another person, rather than the medicine itself. Perhaps, therefore, the fact that an effort is made to put aside some time to be good to yourself, to undertake something enjoyable – and not ostensibly harmful – is what matters and makes a difference.)

Given the limited period of research, I realise the conclusions may be open to debate. I am therefore happy to accept sponsorship to undertake a longitudinal study, just to be sure. 

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Philip McCormack

Philip McCormack practises exclusively in public and private law children cases and is head of the family group at 42 Bedford Row.

Tina Cook QC

Tina, 42 Bedford Row, (1988 Call) took Silk in 2011. She has a busy nationwide practice in public law child care, specialising in harrowing finding of fact cases including sexual abuse and horrific nonaccidental injuries.

Gemma Taylor QC

Gemma Taylor QC is a member of 42 Bedford Row. She specialises in public law child care work.

Damian Woodward-Carlton QC

Damian is a barrister at 42 Bedford Row specialising in a range of public law family work. He has been a school governor since 2006, with particular responsibility for safeguarding.