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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Weekly Photo Challenge: Unlikely

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Unlikely.

Most unlikely things happen in airport hotel diners. Such as me finding myself in one.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Set

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Rise/Set.

The sun set, the day is dead.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Favourite

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Favourite Place.

To be miniaturised is not small-minded.
To love you needs more details than the Book of Kells—
Your harbours, your photography, your democratic intellect
Still boundless, chip of a nation.
—Robert Crawford 

Guess my favourite place!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Story

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Story.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table.
—T. S. Eliot

So what’s the story here? I don’t know about the story in the above poem, except that the poet was crazy, as poets are prone to be, which is my professional opinion of a doctor of literature. I picked the poem as an epigraph because I really like the comparison of the sky to the operating table. So cute. And as sterile as the airport corridors in the below photo. I don’t know about the story of the photo either, but come on, there must be a plenty of stories in there! It’s an airport for fuck’s sake. There are always stories where there are people.

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What I do know is my story at this airport. It was the first of the gazillion circles of hell, as not imagined even by Dante, who had no imagination, which was my recent business trip. Everything that could possibly go wrong duly did, and my boss, who is a pathological optimist and liar, kept on saying We’re on a pleasure trip, it’s an adventure! First, a business trip is not a pleasure trip. Second, you only call a fuckup an adventure when you’re talking to a child whom you’re saving from a disaster and whom you don’t want to frighten. And why, yes, I’m a pathological negativist.

A Week in Instant Pictures

You know how I always say that I’ve been up to nothing? Well, this week I’ve been up to so much shit! Still, I somehow miraculously contrived to make it look like I’ve been nowhere and done nothing. See for yourself.

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Feb 26: Calm waters run deep? I think this sign is here in case someone drowns in a puddle of their own saliva and wishes to press charges. Because people are crazy.

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Feb 27: I’m all for balls, I love balls, but not served like this. This is just perverse.

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Feb 28: The hotel challenge starts. The goal is to find your room. For advanced players: find your room while drunk.

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March 1: The best memory from my business trip are the smoking lounges at airports. Heavenly.

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March 2: On departing from my hotel, I helped myself to some soap. Because I’m fucking poor and I need it more than the hotel.

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March 3: The inevitable post-travel angina/flu is here. I’m wearing all I have. Indoors.

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March 4: Still ill and can’t even…

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Out of This World

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Out of This World.

I’m not a frequent traveller, less so a frequent flyer, so the night-lit landscape as seen from the plane on my recent enforced business trip was quite otherworldly to me. I mean, it is lovely, but I do hope to avoid travelling in the future, as it’s on the list of top things I hate the most.

 

Zombies’ Night Out

People swarm and swell
And form a dumb mass
Of bodies to fill the train

Their vital signs are sound
Except—they are dead
And there are too many of them
In this hell hole of a train

Don’t they have somewhere else
To be—or un-be—these undead?

Like, I don’t know—
Home, for instance?

I’m open to
Tolerate
Respect
Embrace
And all this crap

It’s just that
I’d rather for zombies
To have their night out
In elsewhere.

Intimacy with Strangers

Elbow to elbow | Thigh to thigh
The guy on a packed bus | Sitting next to me
No | On top of me

He’s in my personal space | I’m in his
Hardly humans, more pigs | In slaughterhouse no. five

Thrown together by chance | Forced to intimacy
With strangers | We are

He’s on the phone | So am I
He doesn’t know | I’m watching
With a keen eye | and writing about
Him and me being here | now

Came Home from a Looong Trip and Am Orgiastic

I just arrived home after being the whole day on the go. That’s standard practice for most people, but for me, it’s an emergency situation. I fucking hate to go anywhere, the more so that it typically involves getting up at my usual bed time. I live in the middle of nowhere, so it takes a lot of manoeuvring to use the public transport to get somewhere.

Today I got up at the usual 4 AM and travelled to the other end of the country on a business trip. It was traumatising on so many levels. There was travel. There were people. There was social interaction. There was a very limited number of smoking breaks. I had to be constantly on the guard to appear competent and interested, or at least not asleep.

My mouth still hurts from my prolonged pretence of a forthcoming smile. I don’t usually smile. When I’m genuinely amused, I lift one corner of the mouth (it’s too much effort to lift both) and chuckle spasmodically. Also, my bum hurts because I’ve been sitting on my sitting bones the whole day. I guess that would be less of a problem if I had body fat, but I don’t have such a thing.

My hand isn’t jaundiced or spotted. Wrong choice of filter.

Based on the overwhelming impressions of today, I have come to several conclusions (which I suspected before, so it only confirms my darkest preconceptions):

  • People are so fucking exhausting.
  • Business meetings are perfectly useless.
  • People don’t respect me.

As to the last point, it may have several explanations. I’m nervous, unassertive, quiet and always have a guilty face like I just stole your kitten. Also, people seem to think I’m much younger than I am. This isn’t as flattering as rather frustrating because they tend to treat me condescendingly. Finally, when in more formal environments, people apparently have issues with my appearance, which is only very mildly extravagant. (I mean, sure, I have half my head shaved, but I was wearing a fucking blouse & blazer, all business like and shit.)

I was dealing with one middle-aged and one elderly lady today. The middle-aged lady kept on addressing the other woman politely as doctor. Both women addressed me in unison with my first name. I think I took offence. The doctor lady has a lesser degree than I do, she only has a PhDr (means she just reworked her MA thesis), while I have a greater degree, PhD (means I studied extra three years plus wrote a dissertation and took an exam). But I didn’t get to be addressed as doctor. What’s wrong with you people? Either let’s call everyone their first names or let’s address everyone with their titles. Makes sense, no?

Finally, fuck. I’m orgiastically happy to be back home.