As we move into the festive season a light hearted post to end the year with informed by the many occasions I have sat in meetings and listened to discussions about how to engage more healthcare professionals with research. There is usually a point in the discussion when someone raises the need to find a different word for research…

As the curtains rise we find ourselves in the drawing of the HadEnoughs as it’s approaching time to leave for the NHS Christmas ball, the biggest event of the year by far. Everyone is starting to assemble looking resplendent in their brightly coloured glittering ball gowns and fine jewellery. What a night this is going to be.

The last to come donwstairs is the youngest of the sisters, little r, and as she walks through the door there are gasps of horror from the rest of the family. ‘What do you think you’re doing? You know we can’t take you to the ball looking like that, where is your disguise? You know if you go as yourself, everyone gets nervous around you. No one will want to know us or dance with us’ cried her sisters. ‘Mother make her go and change immediately’. Mrs H turned to little r and with a tender smile said, “I’m sorry little r but you know they are right. Go and put on your cape of evaluation and your shoes of improvement and be quick about it we can’t be late.’ Little r started to reply but knowing when she was beaten turned around and went back upstairs to change. No one noticed that as she went that she shrunk another millimetre.

As they approached the ballroom the mellow light of candles shone from the windows, and a magnificent tree, adorned with candles, graced the entrance hall. As the orchestra struck up the sisters ran up the steps not wanting to miss a moment. Little r followed at a distance tripping over her ill-fitting cloak as she climbed the steps, her feet crammed into uncomfortable shoes. She longed for the day she could throw off her disguise and dance like everyone else but instead with a sigh made her way upstairs to the drawing room where she knew she wouldn’t be disturbed.

In the peace and quiet of the room with the crackle of the fire for company little r kicked off her shoes, threw down the cloak and closed her eyes. The next thing she knew she felt a gentle caress on her cheek and sat up with a start to find Prince Recherche kneeling by her side. ‘Why are you here all alone when there is so much fun downstairs he asked?’

‘The only way I’m allowed to step foot downstairs is in disguise’ replied little r, ‘because if I come as myself I make people anxious and would spoil the ball. I have to wear the cloak of evaluation and the shoes of improvement but the trouble is neither feels right, they drag me down and force me to be someone I am not. They don’t fit me and I hate the way they make me feel. Every time I’m asked to put on this disguise something inside of me is lost and I shrink by another millimetre, that’s why I’m called little r. Soon I am going to be so small I will disappear. I feel so alone.’

Looking deep into her eyes Prince Recherche shook his head, ‘where have you been all year, what do you mean alone! While that great old cloak has been covering you up a revolution has been taking place, let me show you’. From a massive pocket in his jacket he pulled out a snow globe and shook it up. Little r was astounded to see not snowflakes falling but millions of little messages fluttering down, all starting the same #whywedoresearch. ‘Lift it to your ear and if you listen carefully you will hear thousands and thousands of tweets from people all over the country who love you’ he said.

‘You mean I no longer have to pretend to be something I’m not? I can really, really just be myself?’ laughed R as she jumped up and stamped on the cloak of evaluation, grabbed the shoes of improvement and hurled them out of the window. ‘I’m meeeeeee’ she laughed as she danced around the room. Prince Recherche clicked his fingers and as if by magic a lady-in-waiting appeared. ‘Yes you are indeed you but you can’t go downstairs looking like that. Ella will help you change into something more fitting.’

A few minutes later the doors opened. The drab cloak had been replaced by a wonderful black dress, understated, elegant and timeless. The ill fitting clod hoppers had been replaced by a wonderful pair of Louis Vuitton shoes, their black classic elegance offset by their sassy, kickass red soles and R’s hair had been swept up accentuating her new found height.

‘There is just one thing missing’ said Prince Recherche and from his pocket took out the most dazzling, glittering, diamond necklace, “to show off your true beauty and your many different facets’ he said as he threw open the doors of the drawing room with such relish that they crashed against the wall. Everyone assembled below turned their eyes upwards. There were gasps all around as Prince Recherche walked down the stairs with the most breathtaking tall, beautiful, elegant woman they had ever seen.

The orchestra struck up a waltz and the couple swept onto the floor and as they whirled around Prince Recherche whispered into R’s ear, ‘never let anyone disguise you again, you shine so brightly, you cannot be dimmed and no matter what anyone says never ever let anyone call you something you are not.

Wishing you all a very happy festive season.