Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Facial conundrum

The head honcho - as in the man who is in charge of investments and sits like the fairy at the top of the tree - has requested to be my friend on facebook. For those of you who have skim read that first sentance, I'm going to wait here for you to read it again to fully comprehend the gravitas of the forked road that lies before me.

What should I do? If I accept, then I will constantly live in fear that someone will write something or put up weird pictures that he will associate with my behaviour. Plus why should I accept it? He's not the boss of me (outside of work...) but I can't help thinking it's some sort of test. But what's the right answer? I'm so sure I wouldn't be like this if we weren't in a job security-less recession! Also, I'm not sure I want to see personal photos of him. I mean, it's bad enough to see him in his best pressed suit but do I really want to see him chilling in his jeans or worse, beach holiday snaps?

Predictably, I'm just hoping it will go away if I ignore it long enough. Although that strategy doesn't seem to work too well with him in the office...

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Witching hour

Today is one of my favourite days in the year - the end of daylight saving time! My annual ritual is to not change my clock all day until I am doing something I really enjoy. Then I turn back my clocks and it feels like I get an extra hour just at the right moment! And this year, you'll be glad to hear, I have saved it for blogging. It's such a good feeling - you can definitely see why the Doc (Emmett Brown) was so obsessed with his time machine.

The last week of summer time was a gluttonous one for me - I've managed to go to 3 restaurants I have wanted to visit in the space of a week. To my immense relief, all 3 were delicious and well worth the wait and anticipation. I may have to find a new sporty goal though, as I've not lifted a finger (or toe) since the half marathon in mid-October so all these nights out and the upcoming holiday season is probably going to take it's toll! It's weird because I've never really been bothered about it before, but I think I've enjoyed my new toned-ness and it's sad to watch it disappear before my eyes.
It doesn't take much to excite me - which probably goes a long way to explaining why I work in finance and how I can read the financial newspapers and the Economist without falling asleep - but there was a scandal this week in the business community which read like the content of OK! magazine. The head of the UK's biggest insurance company has left his wife (they have 4 kids together) to consumate his affair with his HR director who is also married - to another senior manager who works at the same company! The Aviva triangle - it's like a little bit of Hollywood amongst the pink pages..
Went on a date with the greek guy (the one who challenged me to 'impress him'). Anyway, as most of you rightly predicted but I needed to learn for myself (...!!), he turned out to be a bit of a jerk. Back to the drawing board for me!

This Friday, I am off to Asturias - the home of my hero Fernando Alonso - to watch the last Grand Prix of the year with all his local homies. Slightly less exciting given the Champion was decided last week (Button - ick!) but still, it will be more of a looking-forward celebration as he will be driving for Ferrari next year. Vamos vamos!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Duck duck goose..!

Went to the cinema to see Disney Pixar's Up in 3D. It's their latest animated movie and it was completely lovely. A grump of an old man setting off to live his unfulfilled dreams in memory of his childhood sweetheart - with a chubby little oriental kid to test his patience but who ultimately brings out the best in the old man. It's sort of like Gran Torino - but less violent and with helium balloons. Apart from crying my eyes out (it is very moving), the biggest surprise was how much 3D has evolved since I was 8, following Blue Peter to cut out glasses from cereal boxes and using green and red Quality Street sweet wrappers. I looked like an idiot and the TV screen was largely the same. Now, the plastic goggles still make me look like an idiot but the 3D element really works. Definitely go check it out.

It has been 10 years since I went to University - the first week of October 1999 was when I turned up at Oxford as a fresher to learn the ways of adulthood. To celebrate this joyous occasion, I organised a reunion (kudos to facebook as it made everyone very easy to find) and 50 of us gathered in a gentlemen's club in London on Friday. These types of official reunions are not as 'de rigeur' as they are in the US, and it was really nice to see everyone and for them to make an effort. The variety of different paths we had the choice to follow is really inspiring. Along with several hardened academics who continue to labour on their post docs for intellectual acclaim, there was a mix of lawyers, media moguls and art gallery socialites. Strangely, no one seems to have gone into banking but me - they obviously had better career advisors than I did! Anyway, it was warming to see everyone and to hear of their successes. It still makes me wonder though, whether we follow a predetermined destiny or whether we have the will to write our own futures.

Talking of ugly ducks turning into swans, you have to read about the Belgian Miss Homeless contest. As a social experiment, they ran this contest and the winner receives housing for a year... Aside of being a headline grabber, is it really any worse or better than an actual Miss World contest? The prize may seem more meaningful (in that it satisfies our desires to be do-gooders) but are we not taking exploitation to new levels?

Then the big goose of the week - my work has banned all web based emails and facebook! I spend 12 hours a day in the office and usually more than 5 days a week! It is apparently to protect information security - I still feel like I'm being violated...
Interlagos is underway - my Fernando is out on the first lap following repercussions of another crash. All my eggs are in the red bull basket now. Come on Vettel!!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Peace out

As we reel in the aftershock-slash-glory of President Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy", it's hard to decipher whether the Norwegians have been drinking the same water as their crazeee Icelandic neighbours or whether this is a genius way of giving the busy new President a chance to pause for thought and consider the repercussions his actions can have. There's a man who must get shivers thinking of the butterfly effect!

Closer to home (mine at least!), the nation's hero Silvio Berlusconi (yes, the one who keeps refering to Obama as having a good suntan) has had his self-imposed immunity from all rules removed by the State. Some crazy Italians stopped eating pasta for long enough to see that Berlusconi, who control's the country's media already, should not have the privilege of dodging the hand of the law. Apparently this clip is really him..

A little more frivolous, but on X-factor yesterday, one of the judges made a comment about a contestant's sexual preference - it was completely unprovoked as well. I'm not sure what made her do it (it was glorious as an example of carcrash TV) but she repeated it to make sure everyone had heard her. In this day and age when everything you say is uber-scrutinised, why would she bring this bag of bricks down on herself?

And then most frivolous of all, I have bought my first grown up, significantly-pay-denting hand bag. After months and months of should-I-could-I, the deed has been done. In a most frivolous crushed raspberry. Yum...

Knowledge is power

Turns out the posh boys I work with actually are part of the English aristocracy. All this time, I thought they were just overpaid idiots with their false airs and graces and public school humour but turns out, the jokes on me! They have titles and signet rings and when their fathers die, they will inherit land and maybe even peasants... Isn't this hilarious, who even knew this stuff still existed? Anyway, ever the opportunist, I have profited from the situation as one of them is dating a girl at Jimmy Choo and she is getting me 70% off some new shoes!

The half marathon was today - there were 15,000 people running through the royal parks. Predictably, I under-trained so it was less exciting for me, but it was vaguely amusing to be running with so many people. It was nice weather at least and the views were lovely. Even London is pretty in the Autumn - lovely golden reds and browns on all the trees.

This run means I have spent a good chunk of this weekend with my colleagues. I'm already worried I spend too much time with them and this just confirms it! My work day starts at 7:30am and then don't leave until at least 7pm - and then usually only to have a drink in the bar with co-workers before coming home. That's a disturbing amount of time, but it keeps getting compounded because they naturally become my friends and we organise to do things like marathons at the weekend. Talk about having all your eggs in one basket. I need to get out more - any non-solitary hobby suggestions would be gratefully received!

Sunday, 4 October 2009


Imagine the utter horror – you’re young and carefree and your boss tells you he’s sending you to Munich for a work conference in the middle of Oktoberfest... So it’s not my usual Mediterranean haunt but it’s definitely something worth visiting Germany for. We had an area booked in the Windl tent – it’s big enough to sit 8.5k people inside and a further 5k people outside. As you can see from the picture, it was fairly packed. The atmosphere is great – you order your huge steins of beer or radlers (beer with a lemonade top for those less hardcore beer guzzlers like me) and these women dressed in dirndl carry them 8-10 at a time to your table. This is no small feat – I struggled with even one, having to use both hands everytime I wanted a sip. The food was great – not a single wurst in sight – and there’s a live band in the middle who play a medley of Bavarian classics, old school pop and every other song is a Bavarian drinking song. Pretty early on, everyone as far as the eye could see was on the table, singing, toasting, dancing and generally being merry. It was really good fun and I even managed to turn up to my 9am meeting the following day in a vaguely coherent state!

The town itself is beautiful too – a real chocolate box setting. Cute little houses in pastel colours with climbing ivy and wooden window frames. One of the first things to strike you is how tidy the streets are, which just adds to the pleasantness of the city. In the same town, there is the ultra modern BMW World which showcases the latest in luxury cars in an amazing torque-defying glass structure that looks like a twisted cone and then you see the Siemens building which looks more like an Austrian stately home – I half expected the Von Trapp kids to come running down the stairs singing about their favourite things! It was election weekend, so every street corner had photos of Angela Merkel and her peers which was possibly the only scary thing I saw the whole week...

This week we are moving office. Only across the courtyard so that now we face the church. It’s very odd how many churches there are in the City of London. I work less than 5 minutes walk from St Paul’s cathedral but my office shares a courtyard with another church and from our top floor, there are plenty more church spires dotted all over the place. There’s even a masonic temple hidden in the inner bowls of one of the older hotels. Anyhow, I’ve got 4 years of paper to sort through this week. Fun fun fun!