I’m on my way to my specialty’s Spring meeting. Its a small gathering with 40-50 specialists attending from all over Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The meeting offers a strictly no choice ‘Table D’hote selection’ of 6-8, hourly sessions, comprising the best of local fayre with an occasional international contribution. As they say in these parts, ‘you’ll eat what you are given’.

We have all been lead to expect, in this era of almost infinite choice, that choice is good. And that even more choice is better. This is reflected in medicines’ obsessions with huge specialty meetings where delegates are presented with a choice of hundreds of presentations and literally thousands of scientific abstracts.

Renata Salecl, in her book ‘The Tyranny of Choice’, points the finger at the ideology of choice as being at the root of a lot of modern discontent. In one of my favourite sections of the book, she describes the crippling anxiety she experiences trying to choose from an overwhelming selection of cheese in a cheesemongers. I know what she means .


At our meeting, there will be no need to spend hours pouring over the programme to choose which ‘meet the professor’ session to prebook. There will be none of the anxiety involved in choosing between conflicting ‘break out sessions’ and no itinerary planner app to be downloaded. We will just turn up, take our seats at the table and tuck in.

 I’m looking forward to the meal.

The Irish Society for Rheumatology Spring meeting takes place Friday 22nd March, Royal Marine Hotel Dun Laoghaire, Dublin

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