Donald Patrick, PhD, MSPH
Seattle Quality of Life Group, Department of Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
The experience of my 1995 sabbatical year in Lyon at MAPI can be compared to the experience of watching Jacques Tati’s wonderful comedy, Mon Oncle. All the richness of sounds, comic misunderstandings, delightful discoveries, infatuations, and awkwardness so beautifully presented visually by Tati happened that year. I drove the wrong way up one-way streets. I locked myself out of my apartment. I taught Monsieur Jambon to drive an automatic car. I sat quietly but frustrated on railway platforms as I learned “it’s summer here and the French are on strike.” I put regular petrol in my diesel car and drank beautiful wine in Chateauneuf du Pape with happy garage mechanics. I learned how several bottles of 10 € wine could be as good as a single bottle of 50 € wine.
I went to Lyon on an invitation from Bernard Jambon to consult on “les projets de qualité de vie” and to learn the art and science behind cross- cultural adaptation of quality of life instruments, called linguistic validation at Mapi. Having lived previously for five years in English-speaking London, my year in Lyon was an introduction to all things French and European.
irst and foremost I was able to learn the meaning of cross-cultural by studying the French language with Christiane Ellis, a long-time friend of Bernard’s and an expert teacher. Learning French mainly from audiotapes of conversations taking place in public places, I woke up to French radio, watched reruns of “Dallas” in French, and went to as many French movies as possible. I did French crosswords and read French comics (one was Asterix). I bought French flower bouquets weekly and ironed my trousers in the window of my flat on the Avenue de la Saxe on Sunday night along with all the others in the street. I learned all things Lyonnaises, in particular the history of silk, the French resistance, and Auguste and Louis Lumière, who invented the cinéma- tographe in Lyon.
At Mapi, with Catherine Acquadro and Katrin Conway, I learned the linguistic fundamentals behind cross-cultural translations. I learned the forward and the backward, but mostly the incredible nuances of languages across the world.
I worked on many projects with Patrick Marquis and Bernard, learning the art of doing business over hours-long meals, and putting the practical into science. I brought to Mapi a complete dedication to the computer and, when I left, there was a desktop on almost everyone’s desk.
Being close to Geneva, I was able to make regular visits to WHO to work on the WHOQOL instruments and learn coincidentally the joys of la Haute-Savoie and du Lac d’Annecy. I made monthly visits to Manchester in England to work with Mapi colleagues in Cheshire, England. I was able to attend meetings of the Commission de la Transparence, a scientific body composed of physicians, pharmacists, methodologists, and epidemiologists that assesses drugs for market authorization and inclusion on the list of reimbursable drugs. I was able to work closely with Maurice Staquet in Brussels and Lyon on the establishment of the International Society for Quality of Life Research. I gave papers in French in Paris and in Nancy, worked with Alain LePlège and Francis Guillemin. I became acquainted with Dick Joyce and learned the importance of individualized quality of life. I studied the legacy of Denis Bucquet, an important person to quality of life research and a French academic.
For more than twenty years after my sabbatical I have made annual visits to France, many of them with my wife Shirley and several with my children (who to this day ask for escargots and cuisses de grenouille). My sabbatical year permanently stamped me as a Francophile. It broadened my vision and increased my knowledge and understanding of quality of life. I became member of the Confrérie of La Bonne Poire*, a special honor created by Bernard (le Grand Maître de la Confrérie) and his friends to celebrate being French and being alive. To cheer up one of Bernard’s friends, a group created this honor. To join, they mixed tubs of all different kinds of alcohol and mixed them with their feet (the women, of course, so we could see them up close!). Then we drank a glass from the tubs and we passed it around. That was a truly French experience and an unforgettable one.
Happy anniversary Mapi, and happy anniversary to Bernard and all my colleagues.
A votre santé !
*Poire: Pear brandy