Monday, June 18, 2007

Crac'ked record

Dateline: Cracow

I’m here in Poland with work, which makes me an international business person. The purpose of my visit is an international conference. Cracow is beautiful, and not at all like I’d envisaged, but I’d rather be at home. Or here on holiday. Why people enjoy this I don’t know.

For all the platitudes about reaching beyond borders and nations meeting nations, in truth the nations stick together, the English keep it particularly tribal even though everyone else speaks English as the common language. When they’re feeling gregarious they will pass the time with the odd American or Australian but in truth, everyone stays with their own and scoffs at each other. It’s largely indistinguishable from International It’s a Knockout. I keep expecting to hear Stuart Hall screaming “LOOK AT THE FRENCH, LOOK AT THE FRENCH!”

Either that or a teenage party; for the uninitiated, like me, I shake hands with Olaf and Vladimir and they seem OK. Then you find that there’s some almighty fall out and that Dave didn’t like the way Olaf said something to Vladimir and that as a result Beatrice is crying in the toilet. For those who live in this world, it all seems terribly important; but it just appears to be a self perpetuating round of inconsequential bickering.

The conference had an opening ceremony; the only opening ceremony I’ve ever seen is at the Olympics, and that usually involves elfin imps dancing incomprehensibly to signify the development of youth or something. It wasn’t quite like that, but we had the local mayor, the main sponsor and Lech Walesa, plus a classical music recital which culminated in the playing of the wedding march. Everyone sat stoney-faced; did nobody see the absurdity of it all?

I’m only here for a couple of nights, giving me one whole day at the conference and the delight of the main conference dinner. Some of the English contingent, who flew out earlier, appear to be treating their trip like a stag weekend. So it should be interesting to see what happens at the dinner, apparently, it’s not unusual for the nations to sing their national songs… I think ours is going to be ‘You’re going to get your fucking heads kicked in’.



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