Monday, 29 September 2008

Communication Science 101

Three PAs sit in a haphazard row opposite our CEO's office: myself, Sammy and K. This situation occurred this afternoon at precisely 12:27pm:

Sammy: Lopz, don't you have the 8th floor booked for Client Development Manager's meeting with (Major TV Company) at 12:30?

Lopz: Yes, why?

Sammy: Oh, well, Group Strategy Director is in there now with Senior Management, and he'll be in there til 2 o' clock.

Sound of silence as ticking heart suddenly stops beating.

Lopz: (usually excellent English reduced to stutters of terror)

Sammy: Did you book the room?

Lopz: (eyes are saying FUCK! but mouth cannot engage)

Sammy: You better check with K what's going on!

Lopz: (turning to K with a mouthful of bitter trepidation) K, does Group Strategy Director have a meeting on the 8th floor now?

K: Yes.

Lopz: So it's not booked out for Client Development Manager?

K: No.

Lopz: (speechless at visions of 20 suits down in reception tapping their watches and frowning)

In a blind panic, I drop what I'm doing and rush around the corner to Client Development. I'm already running through a list of Plan B's in my head - none of them adequate.

Can we take the execs to the canteen? Maybe we can give them bacon butties to smooth over the situation, while I get IT to hang up a sheet in lieu of a big screen on the canteen wall. What about goodie bags? I'm sure I can get Marketing to whip some up..... we'll even throw in some branded pens. Or maybe.... we can say we're going green this week, and take them down to Leicester Square to do an open air presentation, complete with paper handouts. Surely Engineering have a microphone cord long enough to stretch for several blocks?

I run smack bang into Client Development Manager.

Lopz: ClientdevelopmentmanagertheroomisbookedandIdon'tknowhowthishappenedI'msosorry

Client Development Manager: What?

Lopz: TheroomisbookedandIdon'tknowhowthishappened -

Client Development Manager: (interrupting) Lopz! Slow down! I can't understand you.

Lopz: (deep breath) The room is booked - 8th floor is booked! Someone's in there! And (Major TV Company) is in reception and we have nowhere to take them! I don't know how this happened, I booked that room for you.... I'm so sorry, this is all my fault!

Client Development Manager: Oh, didn't I tell you? That meeting has been cancelled. I told K on Friday and she released the room for me.

Lopz: (shoots daggers from eyes)

Why don't people TELL me things?!??!!??!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Super Groupie

On Friday I talked about my status as Head Groupie for my friends' band, Wood / The Taliban (we still don't have final confirmation on the name - at this moment there is much infighting going on between the factions).

I happened upon this great honour by pure chance. A couple of months ago, I was walking past Mills and Gos' desks (those two are on the same team, while the other two hail from around the corner), and heard them discussing when they were going to have their next jam session. I stopped what I was doing immediately (ie I stopped walking) and pricked up my ears. "Band?" I asked innocently. "Did I hear you guys say you're in a band?"

Mills and Gos looked at each other uncertainly. "Well," said Mills, "we're in the process of FORMING a band. It's not quite the same thing."
"Rubbish mate!" growled Gos (he always growls, never just says). "We're a group of guys who make music. Of course we're in a band!"
"Have you actually had a jam session yet?" I asked.
"Well..... not yet. But the first one is set for this weekend." They both looked at me in askance. Would this be enough?

"Awesome!" I responded. "Can I be your Head Groupie?"

And that is how I became Head Groupie. Apparently no-one else had asked for the position, so it was agreed that I could have it on a simple first come-first served basis (the concept of which was then discussed in lewd, graphic detail). Like most people, I am fascinated by tales of rock n roll excess. Some of the stories you can find through google about groupies and their exploits are compelling in the way that rubbernecking at a car crash is compelling. The results are horrendous, but the act of drinking in the details macabrely satisfying. Or perhaps I am just deviant, which works in my favour as Head Groupie anyway.

We have come up with a rough outline of what my responsibilities as Head Groupie will be. They are, in random order:

1) To build and manage the fan club. This includes ensuring that all members of the band get an equal number of erotic letters, nude photographs and various pieces of lingerie sent to them every week. If the number of deliveries is not equal, I must change names to make it look as if it is. In addition, I must constantly reassure each man that he is the one getting the most fanmail. It is very important to stroke each band member's ego by making them believe they are the most popular member of the group.

2) Organising hoards of screaming girls to show up at gigs. These girls must be ready, willing and able (for what purpose is entirely at the band's discretion. To be safe, I should make sure they are a bunch of slutty fetishists). These girls must be loud, enthusiastic, scantily clad and hot. Very hot.

3) Acting as wardrobe mistress. A corollary to Point 2. I must ensure that they are dressed appropriately at all times, ie in clothing that is very short, very tight and very see-through. Or in black leather. Or not there at all.

4) Managing back stage activities. I must ensure that there is always plenty of alcohol available for the band and the groupies, specifically Cristal champagne. Apparently it impresses the girls and will get them out of their skimpy clothes more quickly. Similarly, I should have several dealers on speed dial and mountains of coke piled on silver platters, which several girls who are not quite hot enough to be groupies will ferry around the room. I must also have a list of questions that I have to ask each girl as she is brought backstage by security. If a girl answers 'no' at any point, she is to thrown out of the concert venue and banned for life.

5) Sex. This is an obvious part of the groupie heritage, but we are currently divided over whether or not I should have to partake in activities, with the band being for and me being against. Fear not though, I will win this one. As I keep saying to them - if I'm doing the dirty with one (or more) of them, how am I going to co-ordinate all the other aspects of the party?

Now all we need is for them to actually get good enough to play a gig. Watch this space.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Going To The Chapel

My best friend has set a date for her wedding! Schmokkle will be getting married on 4 April next year. She's been e-mailing me all morning, and we've been talking about venues and cakes and gift registers.... I'm nearly jumping out of my skin with excitement! It's so sweet, when I said we were coming down, she couldn't quite believe it. She said she felt it was way too much to ask, but as I said to her, I wouldn't miss her wedding for the world, and I'd move heaven and earth to be there if necessary. I would even sell my wardrobe for flight money. Ok, so I'd be admitted into a clinic for depression shortly afterwards (how very Hollywood of me), but I'd do it if I had to.

So now Shoes and I can get on with planning this holiday. We'll probably fly home on 27 March, just in time for my dad's birthday, and stay in SA for two weeks. We always have to divide our time between our 2 families when we go home, as mine are in Cape Town and his are in Jozi & Creighton. Shoes' sister only recently moved to Creighton, so it will be our first time visiting them there. It's a tiny farming community, as far removed from London life as we could possibly get. I'm so looking forward to acres of open space, clear blue skies, no traffic noise and the kind of neighbourly trust that means you don't have to lock your cars at night!

The longer I live in London, the more South African I feel. I find myself focussing far more now on what's happening back home than I did when I lived there, and I feel every disappointment, setback and triumph of SA as a nation so much more strongly. I am holding my breath along with the rest of the world - ok, maybe just the rest of Africa - in anticipation of what is going to happen now that Mbeki has stepped down. Unfortunately, I think things may very well get worse before they get better. But if there's one thing that my 3 years in London have taught me, it's that South Africa is not reflected by its leaders, despite what the international press might have us believe. I know there is a sense of disillusionment among people at large at the moment, but there is also an incredible resilience that characterises South Africans. I'm no political expert, but I am a South African expert**: I think growing up there and being a part of the patchwork quilt of change in recent history qualifies me to this category. So I would like to offer my expert opinion in the face of this current adversity: South Africa rocks, and Zuma and Mbeki can't take away the basic awesomeness of being South African, no matter how hard they try!

**I'm also available for public speaking engagements for a small fee....might as well hop on the gravy train and scam people for their hard earned cash while everybody else is doing it!!! (Disclaimer: I am all for positivity and hope, but I think both are better served with a healthy dose of irony.)

Friday, 19 September 2008

I'm With The Band

My friends at work are starting a band. Actually, they have already formed a band and had a few jam sessions - they have just not revealed themselves to the anticipating public yet. There are 4 of them, all guys between the ages of 30 and 38.

Out of the 4 of them, only one of them looks and sounds like what you would expect a musician to look and sound like - Len, the bass player. Len lives and breathes rock n roll. He wears a t-shirt to work that says "I listen to bands that don't exist yet" - a two salute fingered to anyone who dares to challenge him on music knowledge and trends. He has a wild mop of curly black hair, skew teeth and pock marked skin, but he handles a guitar like a dream. Mills is the lead guitarist. He is the kind of guy who you'd never imagine would play guitar, but once you find out he does you're like, oh, but of course; every band has a mild mannered good guy. He is an absolute sweetie, known for not holding his liquour very well. He gets clumsy and giggly, and tells all the girls he loves them; it's very un-rock n roll. Ricky is the drummer. He has an Irish accent, big blue eyes and a way of talking you into doing things you wouldn't normally do - an ace trick when you're hoping for masses of screaming groupies. Finally there is the lead singer, Grumpy Aussie, or Gos for short. Gos is a gem of a man. He's Australian. He's grumpy. He's a horny bastard, despite being happily married. And he is the perfect definition of a bloke's bloke. You don't ever speak to Gos about chick flicks, "spirit coolers", emotions, love (he is very much in love with his wife but will never discuss it, lest it lose him his horny bastard tag) or anything else that does not involve sex, beer, music or sport.

This rag tag bunch are in the process of deciding on a name. Top of the list until last week was Wood. I'm sure I don't need to expand on this, but for your amusement I will.... here, in random order, are the reasons why they think Wood is a great name:

1) Groupies shouting "I love Wood!" or "I want Wood!" or "Give me some Wood!"
2) Introducing themselves: "Put your hands up if you want a bit of Wood tonight!"
3) Creative photos and fan letters. The name gives that added bit of incentive.
4) Album covers. For example:

So the name Wood was very nearly a sure thing. And then someone - Mills, I think - came up with an alternative. The Taliban. Because they can:

1) Play gigs with turbans on their heads
2) Cause havoc wherever they go - something every rock star aspires to do
3) Get into fights with people who are anti-Taliban (ie everyone)
4) Get arrested (another pre-requisite for being a rock star)

In the midst of the moniker madness, I got a delightful surprise. I have been named Head Groupie of Wood / The Taliban! This is a great honour. I shall discuss my duties and expectations in detail next week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Made For This

I have had a brief moment of respite from the boredom that is my "job" today. In an unexpected and rather wonderful turn of events, Shoes got paid today. 5 days early. Not only is this fabulous because we literally had no more money for the month (as in, we're eating sandwiches on week old bread for dinner on Sunday and Monday night), but also because I got to relieve my boredom by SHOPPING!!!! Had to use capitals to convey my extreme pleasure. I feel energised and full of hope for the future - it's a total 180 degree turn! Shopping should be used as therapy for men hell-bent on starting wars. I challenge any testosterone overloaded male to go on an unlimited spending spree in wihch he can buy whatever he wants... with all those ferraris and speed boats at his disposal, why would he want to waste time getting mucky in the trenches? I choose to ignore the slight logistical issues of poverty and the fact that men by nature do not like to shop. This is my fantasy world, if I say they must shop, they will shop! And be happy about it!

I have personally spent a few awesome hours deliberating over which mp3 player to buy, and finally settled on the very latest Creative Lab, with 4GB of delicious space just waiting to be flooded by the latest in cheesy pop. For the iPod army out there, I'm sorry but I choose to support the underdog (ie I don't have enough money for an iPod, so could the peanut gallery please be quiet!).

I hate to cut this post short, but I am in the middle of buying some sunglasses for Shoes, and after that I'm off to purchase a digital frame for my dad - oh how I LOVE pay day!

Monday, 15 September 2008

I Have Nothing

I'm bored. BORED. B.O.R.E.D. Even the spelling of the word bored is boring. I have been bored now for one week and counting. I'm starting to wonder if extreme boredom could lead to a life-changing epiphany, or if it will merely drain me, slowly but surely, of all enthusiasm and lust for life.

The reason for my extreme boredom is the departure of my boss 2 Fridays ago, which I've neglected to write about as I was too busy crapping on about Mallorca, which now seems like it happened in another lifetime.

As I mentioned ages ago in a previous post which I can no longer find, my company is in the middle of a takeover. Not a merge, but a buy-out by a smaller but wealthier company that is trying to take over the world. Oops, I mean the radio industry. Except you'd think it was the world, the way they're approaching it. My boss, having decided to leave the ruthless new regime for greener pastures, has left me stranded and directionless, like a boat without a rudder, only with all day internet access. And thank god for that, otherwise I might be in much worse shape. It is only the endless stream of gymnastics news and youtube videos that keeps me sane these days.

The only reason I have not been pink-slipped and sent packing is because we are in the beginning stages of the restructure, and right now no-one is being let go until they've decided exactly what positions will be available to us. Over the course of the next few weeks, we are all expected to interview for our jobs, at least 60% of which will be contested by the employees from our competition. Sorry, new employer. After that, the firing of our asses will be begin in earnest.

So I am effectively being given a free pass... a few weeks of being paid for nothing while they decide whether or not I have what it takes for their new super power company. It sounds great on paper, but in practice it is like Chinese water torture (aside: why Chinese? And why do we call that awesome but really silly game, where you stop at a traffic light and all jump out the car and swap places, Chinese Fire Drill? Did the Chinese really invent these things, or are we being racist? You see what is happening to my brain.)

I have imbibed so much gossip and celeb news that I feel sick to my stomach when another picture of Britney at the VMAs flashes across my screen. I can't read anymore 'adult news' as my brain is unused to this amount of seriousness, and is in rebellion. I am tired of googling random things. I can't listen to anymore new music online - it clashes with the radio playing on my desk. I can't muster up the desire to do anything except watch reruns of old gymnastic meets, which is difficult as my screen faces, like, the whole world, and watching videos at work is piss taking of the highest degree. In short, I am considering developing a tropical disease halfway through this week, so I can at least be bored out of my mind at home, where I don't have to minimise browser windows every 10 seconds.

Any suggestions on how to combat the boredom would be welcomed.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Walking on Sunshine

Mass e-mail on Friday:

From: Radio Presenter

Sent: 05/09/2008 15:01

To: Everyone

Subject: Have you got.....

Dear Everyone,

Have you got a hamster type cage, a black wig, some mice or a headscarve lying around your desk???

If so please let me know asap .... we need to recreate a rock and roll moment for the show today.

Nice one

Radio Presenter x

Probably best not to ask.

On Friday night Shoes took me out for dinner to celebrate our 8 year anniversary, which was on Monday last week. 8 years. 8 YEARS. I don't know if I like the sound of that. It not only makes me feel old, but it is really burning the old ball and chain image on the back of my brain. Not that I'm not happy - I'm very happy actually. I'm sickeningly happy and in love, and even more content with my relationship now than I was in the honeymoon phase. Need a barf bag yet, or should I continue? I'm not a cynic when it comes to love, really. I'm quite romantic most of the time. But I generally take offense to people gushing on about how happy they are. Not because I don't think it's a good thing, but because I'd rather talk about stuff that's interesting. Good sex is interesting. Rambunctious behaviour out on the town is interesting. Grey's Anatomy is interesting (in a melodramatic, soap opera kind of way. Also, on that note, Izzie and George and their perpetual teenage angst (at age 30)? Not interesting. Writers take note.). How much you love your partner, and how you leave little notes for each other on the fridge - that's not interesting. The way you can speak to each other using only your eyes - that's not interesting either. Not even for a die-hard relationship girl like me. Cute, maybe. But about as interesting as catching flies with chopsticks.

Anyway, where was I? Dinner on Friday. We went to Babylon at the Roof Gardens, Richard Branson's restaurant on the 7th floor of a Kensington (posh area) High Street building. It comes complete with fabulous views across London and a garden built on the rooftop. Ordinarily, guests can stand on the rooftop terrace and overlook the garden with the London skyline as a backdrop. However, as we chose to go on the night that Winter heralded her arrival with torrential rains, flooding and a blanket of darkness by 7pm, we actually saw nothing but the outlines of buildings through the haze of precipitation. Still, the evening was fantastic. We drank far too much wine, talked about anything and everything and - prepare for a gush - remembered why we always have so much fun as just the two of us. Puke. Sorry. Pedalling away from the OC storyline.

I haven't quite finished telling the story of my holiday yet. You've traversed the dusty roads at Boom, been bussed through the sights of Barcelona; but you haven't yet heard about my favourite part of the trip - Mallorca. So here's my great Mallorca story...

We lay on the beach for 5 days straight.

Yep, that's about it. Oh wait, one day we skipped the beach and took a train trip through the mountains to Soller. But the other 4 days were spent pretty much flat on our backs on the sands of Illetas or Platja de Palma... or on lilos floating in the bathwater-warm Mediterranean. And when we weren't lazing on the white sand or dreaming our troubles away on the gentle swells of the ocean, we were tucked away in quaint little bars in Palma drinking cocktails made by hot Spanish men. Or dining out al fresco on seafood, seafood and more seafood....did I mention seafood? Food poisoning? Bah! We laughed in its face.*

It was relaxing, beautiful and pretty much my idea of a perfect holiday. We had some minor clashes within the group, as is inevitable when you travel with friends and certain people are, shall we say, more incredibly difficult (read: up their own asses) than others. But we managed to have an amazing time regardless.

Instead of crapping on about how tanned and skinny I was when I got back (the one good thing about dysentery is that you really can eat whatever you want and still lose weight - yes, this is not a healthy way to view an illness, I know!), I will just say this: Mallorca is possibly my favourite place in the world after Cape Town, and I plan to go back as often as I can during my time London. It's pretty damn close to perfect. Go if you can.

*But we stopped once we found out what we had. When we arrived back in London and Eyes and Shoes went to the doctor to get tested, the tests came back positive for the shigella virus. It's the nasty cousin of E.Coli and Salmonella - a killer in its worst form. It causes dysentery (which we'd pretty much figured out), and apparently you are supposed to see a doctor immediately if the symptoms persist after 7 days. Is it wrong to say we cheated death? We think it sounds quite brave.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

The Games People Play

Mass e-mail today:

{In response to a message explaining the prizes for our company lotto, including a trip to Sandy Lane - an exclusive resort in Barbados}

From: Interactive Account Manager
Sent: 02 September 2008 15:44
To: Commercial Department
Subject: RE: Commercial Lotto Prize Draw


Sandy Lane is soooooooo exclusive, they have Jesus as a waiter!!

From: Planning Manager
Sent: 02 September 2008 15:47
To: Interactive Account Manager; Commercial Department
Subject: RE: Commercial Lotto Prize Draw

Good to see you've got Windows live messenger open at work, Interactive Account Manager. Part of the 'interactive' role is it?

From: Interactive Account Manager
Sent: 02 September 2008 15:44
To: Planning Manager; Commercial Department
Subject: RE: Commercial Lotto Prize Draw

Of course - instant messaging with clients is the way forward!

Try it.....

Can you say BUSTED?!?!?!?

Today is for reminscing about Barcelona, but I don't really have very much to say. I enjoyed the city, but I've been to cities both more magnificent and more exciting. To be fair, on our 2 day hop on-hop off bus tour we were hopping off a lot more than we were hopping on, courtesy of the food poisoning, so that might have something to do with it. I wasn't feeling great at the time, and we were also all exhausted from the trance party. AllI I really wanted was to get to the beaches in Mallorca and laze around soaking up the sunshine.

That said, I do like Barcelona. The people are exceedingly friendly, the food is good and there is plenty to see, even if it reminds me more of Cape Town than a typical European city. It has a great feel to it - a modern, very self-sufficient city with strange architecture and sculptures (Spanish architect Gaudi seems to be responsible for building prettty much the whole city in his unique style, which pays homage to the elements of nature) and the people have an obvious sense of a pride in their culture and achievements. I particularly enjoyed seeing the site of the Olympic stadium and pool hall of the 1992 Barcelona Games.

We visited the beachfront as well, which I had been told was rather shite, but it actually turned out to be decent for a man-made beach. We stopped off at one of the beach bars for cocktails, and I had what is probably the best pina colada I have ever tasted, so that alone made the trip worthwhile!

I think overall I will never be gushingly enthusiastic about cities, because I am a beach girl through and through. I visit cities because they're nice in small doses, and there's always points of interest that are worth seeing. But I will take a beach holiday over a selection of the most amazing cities in the world any day. Sightseeing simply can't compare to acres of soft white sand, sparkling blue oceans and panoramic views across an island. Tomorrow I'll tell you about my favourite part of our trip.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Boom!

I've already taken you on a mini tour of Boom. Dodgy guts aside, it was a really good trance party - by the far the biggest we've been to, and definitely the most spectacular in terms of preparation. For weeks before the event, there were videos going up on the Boom website of all the construction they were doing to get ready. Many of the contributors don't get paid for their input - they do it out of love for the music and the ideology behind festivals such as this one, which is basically to promote 'oneness' through peace and love, along with a little campaigning for saving the environment. If it sounds very hippie, that's because it is! Whereas the trance scene in Cape Town is a lot more mainstream, with many people going more for the camping and partying than the music or the message, European trance parties attract crowds of true hippies, people for whom this is a way of life. They don't see acid as a recreational drug, for example; they see it as a means of altering one's consciousness in order to communicate more effectively with the universe and inspire greater creativity and understanding.

While I and the majority of my friends are by no means hippies, I can't help but have genuine affection for the ones we meet at festivals. They might be a bit spacey, and they might seem far removed from what I call reality, but they're a lovely bunch of people who truly care about each other and the environment, and who view doing their bit to promote global consciousness about these things as very important. They bring their kids along with them and make it a family affair; something which I am not really a fan of as I don't believe kids should be raised around drugs, no matter that it may be a way of life for you. But outside of the ethical issue, I can't deny that their kids are raised with a sense of belonging and an unparalleled freedom, the kind that many children never experience today. They are as at home playing outside from sunrise to sunset as most other kids are with their video games.

Having said all that, I think next year when we choose another party we will go for something slightly smaller. I loved this one, but as amazing as it was to be on a dancefloor with 20,000 other people (just take a moment to think about that... it really is a spine chilling experience), I generally prefer parties where you might actually see a person that you meet a second time, and where you don't have to walk for an hour to get from one side of the festival to the other.

As always, the crazies came out of the woodwork for our amusement, and here, in random order, are some of the strangest things we saw:

*A big polystyrene fish floating in the middle of the river. No-one knew whether it was meant to be there or if it had gotten there by accident. People had hours of fun trying to climb up on it and get photos taken.
*2 guys attempting the trance party version of an Evil Knievel stunt. One crouched in the shallow water with a piece of wood laid across his back like a ramp. The other hopped on a bicycle and tried to ride up the ramp. He made it after several attempts, and came very short on the other side.
*A life-size, remote controlled bergie (vagrant) pushing a supermarket trolley. He had a full beard and was dressed in purple tie dye, and at first glance looked like a human being. He walked and pushed his trolley, stopping occasionally to turn his head and stare at someone. No-one knew who was controlling him.
*Girls on stilts in all sorts of fabulous outfits. They'd appear anytime and anywhere from 7am to 12pm with full make-up and dramatic colours, and they'd dance for hours on these stilts. When you get a good look at how tall the stilts are and how small these girls are, it's an act that seems to defy gravity.
*Freaks on the dancefloor. There is always at least one in any session. They might be dressed strangely, wearing face paint or have faces / words shaved into the back of their heads. They may climb things (poles, people) or just run around shouting loudly and making faces. My favourite was Hat Guy, who tagged on to our group and proceeded to make everyone swap hats and accessories over the next hour. It was like playing pass the parcel in Claire's (British jewellery chain store).
*A very enthusiastic hippie stripper jumping on stage and whipping it all off. Then playing cat and mouse with security as they attempted to remove her from the stage, while she shook her booty for the crowd's entertainment.

My favourite part of the party, besides some of the mammoth sessions on the dance floor, was chilling by the river in the sun and people watching. As you can imagine, you are never short of entertainment at a trance party when you settle down to watch the world go by. By the time Sunday evening rolled around, I was tired and thoroughly tranced out, but satisfied we'd had the best party possible. I was ready to leave the world of peace and love behind, and dive headlong into the culture of Barcelona.