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Logo of injprevInjury PreventionVisit this articleVisit this journalSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Inj Prev. 2007 December; 13(6): 361.
PMCID: PMC2598312

With a song in my heart, the last word

Short abstract

Reminiscences and anticipations

Twenty‐five years ago while we were on sabbatical in London, my wife gave me a clarinet for my 50th birthday. An excellent teacher helped me to quickly fall in love with the instrument. She explained that my terrible timing offset a surprisingly good tone. Nevertheless, I enjoyed practising and made reasonably good progress. Over the past 13 years, however, as editor of this Journal, I have had less and less time to devote to my beloved “licorice stick”.

figure ip17418.f1
Figure 1 Practising the clarinet.

Thus, one of the many benefits of concluding my term as editor is that editing can no longer serve as a bad excuse for not practising more regularly. Another benefit is the time I'll have to listen to more jazz and opera and to tackle the stack of books I intend to read, some for the second or third time. I've also begun writing a children's book, which I don't expect will quite match Harry Potter in sales. So, I'm counting on my fellow editors and all happy contributors to buy a copy. Above all, I'm looking forward to spending more time with my children and grandchildren and taking long walks with my wife. I'm greatly indebted to her for her forbearance and understanding; too often the demands of the Journal competed unfairly for my attention. People my age are increasingly conscious of the limited time they have left to do all the things that are truly important and pleasurable, especially those involving family.

I have treasured the opportunities the editorship has given me to do so many things, especially—I hope—helping young authors. Being editor has enabled me to press for more national leadership, to advocate for more legislation and regulation, and to stress the need to apply what we already know. I have urged researchers whose work we publish to be more attentive to “KT” (knowledge transfer), the buzzword of the last decade. I accept that these prods have only had a tiny effect, if any, on changes in the real world, but at least at the time it seemed worth trying.

I recently attended a meeting of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences—the crème de la crème of Canada's health scientists. One full day was devoted to childhood obesity. A distinguished colleague was outraged at this choice and leaped up to remind the audience that no matter how important this now‐popular condition had become, it pales in comparison with the injury epidemic. As she noted, too many children don't live long enough to become obese because they die from injuries! Polite applause. Few of my esteemed colleagues seemed to get the message. And so it continues.

In spite of this sort of ongoing frustration, the downside of retiring is that I will miss the challenge of the Journal. It has been an up‐and‐down ride but, on the whole, a ride that has been far more fun than aggravation. Being the founding editor of a journal that appears to be doing well is a great privilege. Little of what we have accomplished, however, could have happened without the contributions of many others, especially those who work behind the scenes. Accordingly, I am grateful to Carol Torselli, Rachel Christopher, Liz Standing, and Sue Heels. Others who work in the shadows include Katherine Barton and Melissa Dodd. Thanks as well to all the others who toil largely unseen.

I have already paid tribute to Alex Williamson whose midwifery ensured that the Journal had a good birth and a healthy start. I have previously thanked Mike Hayes, whose baby this Journal really is and whose loyalty and commitment is boundless. Fred Rivara, John Langley, Denise Kendrick, Colin Cryer, Ian Scott, and many others supported me through the rough patches with good advice (and some tough love). Our honorary editors, especially Sue Baker and Hugh Jackson, are amazing: to this day, at ages more advanced than mine, they continue to provide excellent advice and solid reviews.

Special thanks also must go to the members of the first editorial board whose foresight prompted them to give time and energy to an uncertain, fledgling enterprise. Over the succeeding years, the subsequent boards have changed often so that over 100 scholars have served at one time or another. I am truly grateful to all board members and reviewers, and especially to all the authors who placed their faith and hard work in our hands. There are far too many to thank individually; you know who you are.

Being able to climb the editorial pulpit and ventilate 6 times a year on what is wrong in the world of Injury Prevention and what should be done, is all well and good, but I am painfully aware that I am preaching to the choir. The people who need to hear these messages are not reading this Journal. Nonetheless, I shall greatly miss this opportunity to grumble publicly or to muse on a range of topics, including some that were far removed from injury prevention.

I leave comfortable in the knowledge that the Journal is in excellent hands. I am confident that my successor, Brian Johnston, will provide the leadership needed to take Injury Prevention to the next level and well beyond. Thanks for the privilege of serving you all.

I go forth now to conquer the C above the chalumeau register in the hopes that, eventually, it will stop squeaking as often as it does now.

PS For those who cannot tell from the photo, the piece I am trying to play is “Romance”, from Bizet's “The Pearl Fishers”.


My thanks to Abby Lippman, Helene Magdalinos, and Ann Arnold for comments and suggestions.

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