Left-field Toby

Some time ago, I attended a party thrown by one of my wife’s colleagues. Lots of doctors marry doctors. At this event, the neurological sciences were heavily represented, but there were also some anaesthetists, gynaecologists, oncologists, psychiatrists and even a few GPs. I was one of the few guests present without a medical background, but fortunately, what might have turned out to be a very long evening was saved by Toby, a friendly doctor I got talking to, who purported to share a common interest.

‘Your wife tells me you’re a big music fan, Steve. So am I.’

‘Excellent,’ I replied. ‘Well, I suppose I am. What kind of music do you like?’

‘Well, I don’t like the usual, run-of-the-mill stuff,’ Toby said intriguingly, ‘I like things that are a little bit left-field; a little bit out there.’

‘Interesting. Anyone I would have heard of?’

Toby thought for a moment and then started to count his favourite bands off against his fingers.

‘Coldplay, The Stereophonics, Snow Patrol, Oasis and Keane.’

Three things struck me about this exchange. Firstly, had I been asked who the five biggest selling bands in the world that year were, I am confident that I would have rattled off an identical list to Toby’s. Secondly, Toby’s criteria for what constitutes ‘left-field’ is very different to my own: but that’s not to scoff; it’s my entirely subjective view. For a start, I am sure that all the bands on Toby’s list, if questioned, would view themselves as ‘a little bit different’ to the others on the list. Thirdly, something or someone had managed to convince Toby, and literally millions of other people with identical music taste to his, that, in the face of overwhelming evidence, there was something esoteric about their love of melodic, middle-of-the-road, radio-friendly, rock music. This is the reason Everything Now works so brilliantly: while we are all unique individuals, it turns out that we all like pretty much the same things as everyone else.

From Chapter 14 – ‘Yes! We Are All Individuals!’

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