Back in the UK

I think it’s a song. “Back in the UK”. Most likely a shitty one. That’s why the name popped in my head for the title of what’s most likely to be a shitty post. As per usual.

I do shitty, I don’t do pretty.

As this time last year, I had the displeasure of accompanying a client on a business trip to the UK. Ostensibly to interpret from/to English. Actually to waste my time. Plus to get me some new scars in the mind and ruin the remainders of my nerves.

You know Dante’s Inferno? The guy clearly never was in the UK.

Yep. I postulate that the UK is worse than hell. Sorry, guys, if you’re British. If you’re British, you must be a rare exception. If you were the kind of British that I observed in their natural habitat during my trip, you’d be above and beyond reading my blog. So, yay, consider yourself exceptional! In a good way. Not in the way the word is abused to denote dumb kids.

Sorry, if you’re a dumb kid.

Actually. No. Not sorry. I’m so tired of being politically correct. That’s ultimately my main issue with my UK trip. Let’s give you the exposition. The dirty details, that is. Where I was dragged was a would-be-fancy London hotel for a convention of employees of a HR corporation. The horror, the horror.

Insert white space. The horror is unspeakable.

Fine. Unspeakable clearly doesn’t work for a blog post. Let me throw in some descriptive words then to capture the environment, the mood and the people, British and otherwise (the otherwise presumably attempted to assimilate, successfully):

  • Pretentious
  • Ostentatious
  • Inauthentic
  • Meaningless
  • Substanceless
  • Personalityless

What’s a roomfull of HR people? Zombie apocalypse.

I used to be a teacher and I live above a pub, so you can imagine I’ve heard my share of crap. Alas, I never heard so much crap crammed into such a small space and short time as at the HR convention.

On day one, I swore that if I hear the phrase driving our business forward once again, I shall scream. (I was reduced to hearing it a gazillion times more and I screamed inwardly and flinched outwardly.)

On day two, I swore that if someone asks me one more time if I’m OK, I shall scream MURDER!!! (I was asked many more times but I refrained from answering to prevent myself from screaming.) When I caught a glimpse of my face in one of the many useless decorative mirrors in opulent frames lining the hotel corridors, I had to admit I did look very unokay. Outright sick. Of course I was sick, what else should one be at a sickening corporate event? Sick.

On day three, the eve of the gala dinner, I wore an eveningish gownish, as instructed, and I didn’t breathe for three hours straight. Because the iron maiden is a pleasure tool when compared to a bra, tights, heels and evening dress. A fellow attendee attempted small talk in the lift, complimenting my dress. She should’ve known better. I rolled my eyes, tried to take a breath (unsuccessfully) and hissed breathlessly, I can’t fucking move in this piece of crap.

Moving, breathing and thinking strictly disallowed.

That was pretty much the catchphrase of the whole trip. I couldn’t move or breathe. I did suspect before that corporate environment was not a particularly healthy one but I didn’t appreciate the extent of the crippling effect it would have on me. I’m still recuperating. Not doing too well. Also, I’m quitting the client. Sheer survival instinct.

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Mara Eastern

I'm a sardonic blogger, snapper, scribbler and rhymer; a virtual space invader who indulges in cheerful negativism, morbid self-deprecation and bleak humour.

32 thoughts on “Back in the UK”

  1. So, was your entire view of England tainted, or was it just this HR convention itself specifically? Because you shouldn’t judge a whole country based on a subpopulation. But maybe I don’t know, and the whole thing was shit for you. Hmm.

    I liked the young cool kids in the subway in England when I went. But then I had a bad psychotic episode so I wasn’t too aware of or enamoured with the country the rest of the time. It was actually quite unpleasant a lot of the time, including visiting castles. May just have been my health, though.

    I think if you’re in a good state of mind the UK can be alright. But maybe the people really suck actually and I don’t have enough experience.

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    1. Sure, you’re right about not judging the whole country/people based on one experience. I’ve been to London twice before and pretty much hated it each time a bit more. So London and I have a difficult history. Anyway.

      Maybe my judgement was impaired by my own psychotic episodes when visiting 😉

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  2. Oh God, Mara……having to do the meet & greet, and mingle, and conference thing….you escaped alive. That is the main thing. Driving our business forward….oh, yes. Every day. That has got to be the new ‘cool’ mantra in the corporate world today.

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    1. The minute someone says “driving our busienss” to me, I’d be tempted to finish the sentence for them with “over a cliff.” Which may explain why I never was in the corporate world. Or in (may all the gods I don’t believe in protect us all) an eveningish gown.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ha! You saw this. I hoped you wouldn’t 😀 You’re the special exception of an agreeable Brit. Or a disagreeable Brit, rather, which is what I prefer. I’m not helping my case, right? Anyway, thank you for the hint with the cliff. I shall implement it asap.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I can just imagine the pretentious corporate hype. And you had to suffer three full days of it. At least you lived to tell the tale. And divested yourself of a future burden. Hope you recover well – and fast !

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  4. Gawd … what a trip! Has it already been a year since last?! But I hear you, and it reminds me of my old life in the corporate world. I don’t know how I did it for so long. I never went to the UK [the Brits came to us, and the Germans and Austrians and the Italians] … my only trip to the UK was solely for pleasure and it was ok. I visited numerous churches with a professed atheist LOL

    On an unrelated note; do you still smoke?

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    1. Yep, it’s been a year, the bloody time flies to fast. Anyway. I’ve been to the UK a few times but mostly for business, so I never saw anything interesting apart from hotels. No churches for me.

      I still smoke, sadly, and don’t even get me started: when we were flying back from London, my companions wanted to go through the security check asap. So we did and had three hours to wait. Which would’ve been OK but there was no smoking booth at the terminal. I sort of relied on there being one. I thought I’d die 😮 Now that’s a thing to get hysterical about 😀

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      1. Gawd … three hours! I smoke too, but have switched to «eCigarettes» or ‘vaping’ as they call it here. Is this a common thing in your country? I asked some people back home, and it is very common there, just like here.

        I still smoke a real cigarette out on the balcony …

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          1. Hmm, now you caught my interest. I tried that years ago and it was good for nothing but maybe now it’d be different? I guess the less the you smoke, the better, even if you don’t quit entirely…

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Mara, with regards to the vaping; if you have coffee in the morning, and afterwards, you’re dying for a smoke … and then you have three, four puffs of the vaping stuff … then it really does something! You do get the kick. But one has to wait with the puffs until one’s really dying for a smoke, otherwise you won’t feel a thing. So … if you take puffs every now and then throughout the day, you won’t feel anything in particular, but on the other hand … you won’t get the cravings either.

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    1. Aha! So it does take some effort, to replace smoking with vaping. I knew that. I guess I’m back to square one then, trying to get mentally to a place where I’ll genuinely want to quit altogether.

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      1. I haven’t quit. I just don’t want to smoke in my white, clean apartment or the car. So I vape … I smoke in the washroom when I feel like it LOL

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        1. Oh I see! Now that’s something different, and I get it… I’d never smoke indoors, I never did, fortunately. You smoke in the washroom? What is that? That’s the American-style common area in the cellar? In Europe I think it’s common in all countries to have no washroom but just a washing machine chucked somewhere in the bathroom or the kitchen, so I guess you see what I mean?

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          1. The ventilation is good there … I can see how the smoke gets sucked right out. Sometimes I light a scented candle there [fresh linen]. Normally I can’t stand scented candles, but that smell is all right.

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          2. Ha! That’s funny. My bathroom-approved scents are fresh laundry, linen and cotton. I have no idea how cotton smells, the actual cotton, but the scent is nice.

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