Sunday, 31 October 2010

How Swede it is...

Think of Sweden and words like Abba, Ikea and H&M won't be far behind.

But this impossibly gorgeous thumb of land is so much more than an amalgamation of post modern cliches. Sadly, we didn't have time to head up to Stockholm but Malmo, accessible from Denmark by one of the planet's most astounding feats of engineering, the 16km long Oresund Bridge, allowed us a wee nibble on the nation's taonga (along with pickled herring and beetroot cream - for breakfast! Believe me, when you wake up to such delights, you know you're in for an interesting day).

Metropolitan Malmo, we loved your melting pot of cultures, your historic cobbled streets and generous town squares, and the fact that you aren't so cool for school you can't kick off your shoes at the end of the day and have a good time.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

How to make pneumonia your friend

The other night, the Animator and I walked down the road to have drinks with friends.

As befits this time of year, and that time of night, it was about four degrees. Those of you who know me know that I HATE the cold, so I was appropriately attired in a thick coat, boots, gloves and a lovely new snood (an object that's as delicious to pronounce as it is to wear).

Sadly, I seemed to be in the minority: hoards of young girls out for the night were wearing what appeared to be three strategically placed Post-It Notes. Were they all on their way to a prostitutes' convention? Or is pneumonia the new black? Perhaps, as the Animator suggested, it's because visiting the doctor here is free, so the locals adopt an enjoy-now-suffer-later philosophy?

Made me shiver just to look at them.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Day One

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
Nelson Mandela

Today I laced up the hiking boots, dusted off the crampons and scaled the first day at the new job.

And I was straight into it, researching a 2,500 word feature and editing another. A highlight of the day was the weekly editorial meeting at which everyone shared an article they'd come across in their leisure time that engaged them either because of its content, layout, writing style or combination thereof. I swear, I extracted more enjoyment from that one hour than I experienced in the entire four months at the previous horrid contract.

And oh, sweet Jesus, it felt good to be among my 'own' again – ie journalists, those irreverant, clever individuals with funny-bones so sharp they could almost slice open a vein.

Crossing everything on my person that I've made the right decision this time....

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Great Dane

Finally sorted the Animator's fabbo photos of our recent Scandinavian trip (did I tell you he took the pics for my first commission for a UK Food Magazine? The editor loved them so much she asked him to snap the images for my second commission - move over David Bailey).

Yes, Scandi was as cold as it looks (thanks to a wind that threatened to rip off every item of clothing and send it to Japan) but Copenhagen is a magical city, obsessed with style and design and populated by women who make local supermodel Helena Christensen look like the ugly sister. The Animator did manage to stop drooling at some stage. And I was happy because of the harmonious marriage between Victorian gothic architecture and contemporary chic. Can I move there?
(Swedish pics to come)

Posing with the city's favourite son, Hans Christen Anderson.

Outside the famous Tiovli Gardens, which was busy putting on its Halloween costume

Trying not to be turned into human popsicles outside the unbelievably beautiful Nyhaven area

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Like cute crack

This UK advert is guaranteed to make even non dog lovers smile. Not sure what the hell it's advertising but I want a Harvey!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Geek love

There are many and varied reasons why I don't do Facebook, some of which include:

(a) it's the work of the devil (or the CIA, if you're that way inclined)
(b) when your aged mother is an enthusiastic devotee, it becomes about as cool as Cliff Richard, and
(c) could we be any more sheep-like if we tried?

Yet yesterday I allowed myself to be dragged along to 'The Social Network', a movie that chronicles the rise and rise of an invention that, I grudgingly admit, has changed the world in which we live.

And yes, I did question whether a film about a bunch of computer geeks setting up a website could be worthy of seven quid and two hours. The answer, my friends, is yes.

Perhaps it's because the producers avoid gimmicky computer graphics or show-off special effects and allow good old school story telling to perfectly capture a crucial moment in the zeitgeist. Or maybe it's because writer Aaron Sorkin (of West Wing fame) has managed to nail this tale of aspiration, revenge and idealism.

Yes Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is somewhat of an anti-hero (and a prized prick who would trample his grandmother in the stampede to win) but, long after the last credits have rolled, you're still pondering questions such as, can anyone really 'own' an idea, how many people do you have to piss off before you end up lonely and tragic, or will geeks ever truly inherit the earth? And, most pressing of all, how the hell can this film hold the attention of the generation it attempts to define when there are no fight scenes, car chases or special effects?

Had no trouble engaging my pre-YouTube attention span, though.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

There is a God #2

After months of being AWOL, the good luck fairy has recently made more appearances than Michael Parkinson on British television.

First there was the new job, then the NZ and British freelance commissions, the great media trip to Scandinavia and today, at the rump end of a particularly tedious week, she really pulled out all the stops: I was 'released' from the horrid contract two weeks early - and on full pay!

The twin forces of yet another team restructure, and the fact that I have buggar all to do for the next two weeks, means that I am no longer under their chokehold. As of 5.00pm, I am officially a free woman: free from the pain-in-the-arse content management system and pointless form filling, free from the eye-wateringly boring financial services industry and free from a boss who deserves a special award for services to stupidity, arrogance and lack of imagination.

I plan to spend the next week sleeping in, taking tea at my favourite cafe, going for long leisurely runs during the middle of the day and playing catch up with the freelance commissions I'm currently lagging behind on. And having drinks with some of the lovely colleagues who've provided a welcome counterbalance to the 'suckage' of the past four months.

It's almost enough to turn a girl religious...

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Fat dogs rule the earth

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Molly’s new owners are angels, taking her in and introducing her to the delights of San Francisco. They also do a nice side-line in miracles, helping the dog formerly known as ‘cuddly’ to shed kilos at a rate that must surely qualify her for the title of canine Weight Watcher of the Year.

But for one woman at least, a pudgy dog proved to be her guardian angel. According to today’s Independent, an elderly woman in Bournemouth narrowly cheated death after being hit by a car on a pedestrian crossing. Turns out she was flung into the air by the impact, but landed on her 98kg Rottie, Amber, who cushioned her fall and saved her from being splattered very thinly over a wide area.

What really puzzles me, though, is where someone gets off calling a behemouth a prissy name like Amber?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Act III - Where it all comes right

If my life in the UK was a musical, it would be entitled ‘Frustration’.

Sure there would be (some) dancing girls, lots of bright lights and a bit of action, but the general plot/narrative would be about opening a box of chocolates, only to find it full of empty wrappers.

Back when I last lived in this part of the world, the credit crunch was far less crunchy: there were lots of jobs, the pay was high and the pound was strong.

Alas, the England of 2010 is a very different beastie to its predecessor and Act I of ‘Frustration: the Musical’ has been defined by surprise/dismay at how deeply scarred the economy is and how few jobs there are. Much of the dialogue has focused on why wages are so low compared to Down Under (maybe someone with a more financially wired brain than mine can explain this in a way that won’t make my eyes glaze over – are you listening, Richard S?)

The definitive quote of this Act belongs to a recruitment agent who told me if I’d been here two years ago, or was willing to wait another five, he would have no trouble finding me a job. Five years?? I’d rather spit up a lung, thanks mate.

Act II - The key characteristic of this Act has been ‘head repeatedly meeting table’. A contract did materialise three weeks after arriving in Blightly but, as regular readers of this blog will know, it was tedious rubbish and the team was run by a woman who would have to study really, really, really hard for six months just to make it to the intelligence – and charisma – level of a brussel sprout.

Act II wasn't all bad though: there were several trips abroad, the purchase of a cute Mini and travel around the UK, catching up with old friends and making new ones. And, my personal favourite, worshipping at the altar of fabulous UK retail gods.

Act III – This showed every indication of being a repeat of Acts I and II, but with a sub-plot of resignation and counting-down-the-days-till-I-can-go-home.

But, last Friday that changed when I was offered a gig as a SENIOR EDITOR WITH AN INTERNATIONAL B2B PUBLISHING COMPANY, meaning I finally get a chance to use my skills and experience, to write until my fingers ache and to boss a junior editor around!

This could be the Act where it finally falls into place….

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The World's Worst Airline

There are times in life when swearing is the only possible response.

Last Saturday was one of those times.

Thanks to a huge cock-up by 'We Don't Give a Fuck Airlines' (aka Air France), we ended up missing our connection from Paris to Copenhagen and spending far too long in the armpit of civilisation that is Charles de Gaulle Airport.

There must be a special place in hell for Air France staff who, when faced with a blunder entirely of their making, merely shrugged their shoulders in that arrogant Gallic way that is subtext for: "We are French and you are not, which gives us the right to shit on you from a great height whenever we so feel like it". WORST. AIRLINE. EVER.

Five hours later we finally made it to Copenhagen and so, astonishingly, did our luggage. And we proceeded to have a wonderful week in Denmark and Sweden (holiday snaps to come). Our flights back today were care of KLM - an airline that needs to show its French neighbours how it's done. And Schipol Airport kicks serious Charles de Gaulle butt.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Goodbye old friends...

The running police would no doubt have me banged up for using these trainers long past their sell-by date, but when holes you could drive a Mac truck through start appearing, even I have to admit it’s time to introduce them to the bin.

Purchased in Hong Kong what seems like light years ago, these shoes have, literally, stood me in good stead over hundreds and hundreds of kilometres. Together we've pounded the streets of London, Sydney, Prague, San Francisco, Berlin, Wellington, Auckland, Hamilton and Bristol; I've sent them over asphalt, across paddocks and up and down thigh-curdling inclines (yes Wellington, I’m talking about you).

Now I have to start the painful process of finding a new pair that mould perfectly to my feet. That’s one shopping trip I’m not looking forward to.

What I am looking forward to, however, is my media trip to Denmark and Sweden – we fly tomorrow so no posts for a week or so because I am done lugging that heavy arse laptop around with me!

Have a great week everyone….


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