Monday, August 30, 2004

I know you got soul-ed out

For my birthday (which was now three weeks ago) Emma took me to Dublin for the day, flight out at 10am, back home by midnight. In between Trinity College, Grafton Street, Temple Bar, and all the other delights Dublin offers. It was a brilliant way of spending a day. Our mid-afternoon break saw us visit Bewley’s Café. According to the Rough Guide, Bewley’s is so much of a Dublin institution, when it ran into financial trouble the Government had to step in amidst public pressure and prop it up until new investors could be found.

I can’t deny that Bewley’s is one nice café; its labyrinthine layout hides a myriad of mezzanine floors and hidden rooms. Nice though it was, I didn’t I feel the magic that whipped that national fervour. My Fanta and pink iced bun were very nice, but it didn’t stir my spirit.

Well of course not, I’m not a Dubliner; Bewley’s has no history with me so it doesn’t exist in my soul. To get to the soul of something, you have to absorb it as much as possible. If I’d been visiting Bewley’s with my friends for years, and shared thousands of hours of laughter and sadness and drama, I’d have a connection that would stir me into action.

It takes years to get a connection with any city, but I can’t get anything at all just by turning up. For this reason we walked the Dublin sites rather than take a bus tour. I’m averse to bus tours or anything that reduces the meaning of visiting a city down to a tick list of ‘things to see’. It separates you from the true soul of the place, you may not really ‘get it’ in a day, but by sitting on a bus you’re guaranteed not to.

Likewise, people love Bar-b-que-ing because it makes a connection with their inner spirit to fend for themselves. It makes little sense on a practical level; you can’t guarantee the weather, it takes much more effort than regular cooking, it’s messier and less hygienic, but people love it. Making the oven, lighting the fire, nurturing it, and cooking it. Bypassing any element of the true bar-b-que-ing process releases another finger from that connection. That’s why I resist the pressure to buy a gas powered bar-b-que. I know they’re more convenient, I can’t deny that gas-powered bar-b-queing tastes exactly the same as proper a bar-b-que. But by rationalising the process, all in the name of convenience we will eventually get to the stage where we won’t bother doing it at all.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The marvel and subsequent expense of modern technology

[Phone rings]
"Hi, it's Nobby I'm at the game so I thought I'd give you a wave, where are you sitting?"
"In Croatia eating an ice cream"

Friday, August 20, 2004

Make sport not war

Overnight bombardment hits Najaf, Yngling crew win gold, US army medics accused over abuse, Robertson/Emms take silver, Vietnam dominates Bush-Kerry fray, GB Canoeists Progress, Paris court weighs Arab hate TV …

This is a selection of headlines taken alternately from the international news and Olympic sections of BBCi. The first week of my holiday has coincided with this first week of the games. BBC’s coverage has a brilliant, hypnotic quality about it. Hours can be lost lilting from the archery to kayaking to badminton before racing back to the pool for the much-anticipated final of the 100 metres doggy paddle.

I’ve also been reading Michael Moore’s Dude Where’s My Country, which is much better than Stupid White Men. Moore links the ‘opportunities’ presented by 9/11 to the evils of corporate America. His argument has been galvanised by 9/11 and the Iraq war so he no longer sounds babbling and paranoid.

With these two things occupying my time simultaneously, it strikes me that getting 11,000 people together in a country to compete against each other in a variety of sports is far better than sending 150,000 people to a country to kill defend people.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Shall we just get on with the business at hand?

It’s as if some artistic director spent a few hours dancing around his studio spouting whatever came into his head, and nobody had the heart to tell him no. “Yes, I can see it now, Bjork…. on a forty foot pedestal… surrounded by a million square metres of silk… with DJ Tiesto…. playing trance music… in a cow’s udder….”

Is it me or does ‘Spectacular Opening Ceremony’ actually mean over long fragmented corporate performance art installation? Do we really need to see ‘ancient sport elves rising from the ancient seas surrounding Olympia’ (three hundred children dressed head to toe in lycra body suits and massive papier-mâché heads crawling out from under a parachute) just to kick-off the world’s biggest sports day?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Witty wag

I was drawing a table on the whiteboard in our meeting room. Anticipating that there would be much to write I used the full extent of my 6’ 3” frame to start at the top. Whilst I did, others in the room gave me sarcastic encouragement as they filled the time before the meeting started.

Through the melee someone said “It’s a good job you’re so tall”. To which I turned, bowed deeply, removed my three peaked hat with an extravagant flourish and retorted; “But madam, if I was shorter, I would have started much lower”.

Smug in the satisfaction that I am the funniest person in the whole world, even if nobody laughs, I turned to complete my task.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Under pressure (dum dum dum diddle de dum dum)
Under pressure (dum dum dum diddle de dum dum)
Under pressure (dum dum dum diddle de dum dum)

Other people have bigger jobs than me, more pressure, work longer hours, but I’ve only ever been me and I’m feeling stressed. After work on Friday I found myself barely able to contain a mix of emotions; I wanted to laugh hysterically and cry and shout and keep quiet all at the same time.

Since moving jobs eighteen months ago the pressure has undoubtedly increased, however until recently there was just too much to do in too little time. It was fairly easy to rationalise, if not cope, with. Whilst it’s hardly a stroll in the park, there’s less to do now, but I want to do it better. I’m putting this pressure on myself; our often chaotic management could allow me to cruise. But I’m not like that I have a very clear and genuine desire to make a significant impact on the company. This may be irrational and you could argue that a job is simply a mechanism for getting paid and there are more important things in life, which there are, but that’s not me.

The pressure does manifest itself physically, I have what feels like a ball of nervous energy hovering below my ribcage, my emotions are pulling at it in one direction then another, and if it tugs too far in one direction it feels like it will implode. What the consequence of the implosion will be, I’m not entirely sure.

Sounding much more melodramatic than it really is, I can see how people are tempted to relax this tension through drink because it’s an easy short term option. Whilst I’m far from the point of drinking lighter fuel hidden in a plant in the corner of my office. One of the reasons for writing this is to acknowledge the existence of this pressure so that I can manage it better.

Our holiday can’t come soon enough.

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