Monday, February 12, 2007

Day 216: I Go On A Business Trip

At 5.37 this morning, I am picked up from the IKEA set in which I live in Amsterdam by a spikey-haired Dutchman in a black Mercedes. In the back of the Mercedes is a Roman in a black leather jacket. "Good morning, darleeeng", he murmurs.

By 6.30am, we are sucking on sub-standard coffee in Schipol airport. I am chewing on a Germanic croissant and fretting. "But they will ALL be Italian! And I am ENGLISH! And I do not speak Italian! What will I do? CAN WE DO IT IN FRENCH?", I bleat, forgetting that English is the International Language Of Marketing. ("Je ne comprends pas le marketing plan, et le brand proposition ne marche pas - vous devez recommencer, et j'aimerais bien que vous clarifiez le creative idea.") "Oh darleeeng, it will be fine!", says the Roman. "We will speak in English. It will be nice."

We go to Milan. There is another black Mercedes. We are on the autostrade* for some one hour and one half. Signs that say things like "Firenze" and "Milano" emerge through the gloom, for Italy is covered in fog. The driver stops. I wake up. There is Dribble! We are suddenly in a tiny bar, and I am drinking espresso from a tiny cup like they do in the films. It is not yet 9am. We are put back in the car and driving re-commences. "Mille grazie", says the Roman to the driver of the Mercedes, who has bought us our coffee in the bar owned by a former player in Parma F.C.

Our destination suddenly appears through the gloom! We have our meeting. It is nice. It finishes after six hours and we are in an enormous Fiat going to Bologna airport. It is still foggy. At the airport, the Roman buys us sandwiches (he is a Gentleman as well as a Roman), and I buy chocolate "for the office".

Our flight is called and there we are, on the bus. Here is the view from the bus.






























Yes, it is true: the driver of the bus drove around the aeroplane to get us close to the staircase. I am happy to tell you that the entire bus cheered and whooped. I may even have exchanged a "high five" with a Finn!

Another black Mercedes and I was home. And now I am eating a salad of the cheese of the goat and watching Junior Mastermind on BBC1 (despite being in Amsterdam). I am still not sure who the greater wanker is: the little wanker who goes on it (apart from the boy last week who did Bob Marley and who had better general knowledge than all the grownups I know), or the parents that let them do it and then sit smugly in the audience looking like pufferfish? (For the record, if I'd been 8 and on Junior Mastermind, I'd have won a good second place with "The Novels of The Pullein-Thompson Sisters".)


* Rank Of Best Sounding (European) Languages

1. Italian
2. French
3. Spanish
4. Icelandic

Not even in there, not even a bit:

1. German
2. Dutch (sorry, Holland, I really am)
3. Welsh

16 comments:

Mr Farty said...

Ah yes, Italiano is deffo the Best Sounding Language, especially for swearing in. We had an Italian student staying with us one summer and she taught us: "Va Fanculo Y Bastardo!" with the Finger and Everything. Brilliant.

What did the "office" think of the chocolate?

lucy pepper said...

WHERE'S PORTUGUESE IN YOUR LIST? HUH? WHERE?

bloomin' italians...N.O! and spanish? eugh.

but for the rest of the list you are correct.

lucy pepper said...

p.s. I now see the flaw in videoconferencing and NOT flying to italy for the day.... how would you buy the chocolate?

martina said...

There is a show on NBC where people are competing to get roles on a Broadway production of Grease. One of the judges was A. Lloyd Weber-ugh! I like his music but my how pompous. Lots of bowing and scraping by contestants and other judges. Now I understand comments re: him on previous postings.
New paragraph. NWM-remember to save some of the chocolate for your co-workers. Your business trip sounds perfect-chauffeured, concise, good food and one day.

Morgan said...

Ah, so non-working monkey works in Marketing... doing what exactly? (I only ask because I also work in Marketing but am not entirely sure would I do exactly.)

NON-WORKINGMONKEY said...

Morgan: I don't say, ever. I work for an advertising agency (except it doesn't just do advertising) at the moment; the job I had before I was non-working was in a marketing department doing something very interesting.

Z said...

Dutch is not a pretty-sounding language, but English spoken with a Dutch accent is enchantingly pretty.

apprentice said...

We used to call Ask the Family
Ask the Arseholes - they were always so smug and the kids were always hand knitted.

Reading the Signs said...

nwm, I think you are really a Special Agent, not estate agent but you know, like in the James Bond films. That's why you zap around in big cars and aeroplanes to mysterious meetings and - oh god, or are you a Personal Secretary? No, don't tell us. If you ever need an assistant, I'm good at reading signs.

tea and cake said...

Sounds a bit like Working, not Non-Working to me.
Please, please don't leave us!
Resist, wash your mouth out with soap, anything but w.o.r.k.i.n.g!

johnnyboy said...

Italian is indeed the finest sounding language around, and I couldn't contradict you on the french. However spanish... might sound good if the spaniards didn't insist in always shouting at the top of their lungs. Or at least when they're out of spain.
Lucy Pepper, does portugueses portuguese sound as nice as the brazilian variety ? If so, I would second your emotion.

lucy pepper said...

jonnyboy, Portuguese Portuguese sounds MUCH nicer than Brazilian Portuguese, with lots of russian sounding zh sounds instead of s sounds and stuff and junk. innit.

NON-WORKINGMONKEY said...

Mr Farty. The OFFICE enjoyed their Bacio (for there was exactly 1 each, apart from one person, who took 2, so he had two Baci).

Lucy P, I haven't ever really heard Portuguese properly except Brazilian Portuguese on records, so cannot judge! For I am Fair like that.

Reading the Signs - I am neither a personal assistant nor a special agent! Oh no!

Apprentice - fair bloody cop, frankly.

Martina - SEE? SEE?

Tea and Cake, in order to remain essentially non-working in my heart, I must sometimes work in order to have the money and also keep my brain Fresh, like Fresh Cheese Curds. It is the Truth! I am not an heiress, and am not the mistress of a millionaire!

Z - it UTTERLY depends, I find!

J-Boy - si. Baci!

lucy pepper said...

then I shall have to skype you and talk at you in portuguese for half an hour until you're indoctrinated!

tea and cake said...

'... must sometimes work in order to have the money ... and also to keep my brain fresh ...'

You would also run out of crisps.

I can now stop holding my breath.

nmj said...

I like the coffee at Schiphol - I like the koffie & sausage roll (sausage broodje or sth like that, I can't recall) deal you get! Have you had Spa Root, the sparkling mineral water that is quite abrasive?

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