Archive for August, 2007

The Day Everything Went Wrong

First I was offered a really good 2-week teaching job with decent money. Then it was taken away just as suddenly. No, they didn’t need anyone after all, the lady who usually does it had decided to do it after all, but in case they suddenly needed someone – would I mind being on stand-by, short-notice? (Yes, I would. And does that actually come as a surprise?)

I’ve not had a single call-back on the 10 or so flats I’ve noted my interest in. Estate agents are lazy buggers.

Then Kevin was offered a couple of projects which effectively means we will be spending Christmas apart. And I just hate that.

And finally my tenant informed me that he and his wife are ready to buy a place of their own so now it’s bye-bye and… and he was the one tenant I had that I could actually trust. I really, really don’t want to go back to using a letting agency as the last one I had totally screwed me over and no-one I’ve talked to have been able to recommend any – it seems most people’s experiences are bad all along the line. And that’s my only concern because I’m not happy for them at all, that they are now in a position to get a mortgage and set up on their own and all. It’s all about ME, it’s about ME being let down all over the place and everything I do turns into crap! (Best of luck Jean-Loup and Steph! You deserve it!)

But I may still be going to Slovenia to teach Danish for three weeks…


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On our way back from our holiday in Norway we took the ferry from Gothenburg to Kiel. This was a golden opportunity to see my oldest friend – old in the sense that I have known her my entire life. Of course, having spent the last decade or two in different countries, the contact has been sporadic at best, but it’s still managed to remain pretty much the same since childhood. And, annoyingly, she has a way of getting the finer (or less fine) points of my personality just right and gently poking fun at them… I clearly haven’t changed much since my mewling and puking days. It’s a frightening thought.

Inger has two beautiful and scarily well-behaved children. The last time we met them they stayed well out of the way having received interactive video games for Christmas – all we heard were muted thumps from the next room, at which their parents didn’t bat an eyelid. Not a scream to be heard. This time they joined us for the evening, participating in our generally grown-up conversation intelligently and maturely. Being used to the more turbulent war-fare of other households graced with the presence of offspring, this was a little eerie… I suspect that she and her Gerry Adams look-alike husband had either drugged them, spent years beating them into submission or – God-forbid – just done a damn good job of teaching them how to be human.

Or… and there is an or… had they hired them for the evening from a company specializing in Perfect Children to Complete Your Image…? Complete with genetically similar looks and all?

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I was reminded for no specific reason of a horrid experience I had a number of years ago from directing an amateur revue in Ski, my parents’ chosen place of residence. Before I took the job I called my predecessor to find out what they were like to work with, and I wish I had listened more carefully, also to what he didn’t say.

But that’s not the point.

The point is; I returned a week or so after the show opened and saw it again and found that they had added a whole 20 minutes (!) to the show by means of mere ad-libbing. The show did in no way need 20 minutes added, and it certainly didn’t need it by the means of improvised ad-libbed gibberish. By amateurs. Who demonstrated so clearly why the word is used in less than a complimentary way by most.

The main culprit was a woman who was, under off-stage circumstances, very talented and very funny. She had been a true delight to work with (if a little on the defensive when given directions) during the rehearsal period. But as an ad-libber she was a disaster. She was the kind of funny that works best among friends over a few glasses of something containing alcohol. And the sketch she had chosen to embellish was a minor fill-sketch about the local traffic conditions, and its suitability for expansion was – to be honest – limited. Very limited. A bit like the local traffic conditions. Making it funnier would have required copious amounts of alcohol, and as a ‘family show’ no such thing had been made available for any members of any families. Or for the director. In her effort to embellish on the most mundane of mundane sketches she had fallen flat on her face.

But she didn’t realise that.

So after the show I did what is commonplace among professionals; I gave notes. I simply asked her to stick with the original, please, as the show was a little on the long side as it was.

She screamed at me. She cried. She called me names. She was a baby step away from hysterical.

Thing is, she was talented. Right? Did I mention that? Talented. Just so that’s clear. But she was not a schizophrenic. She could not be on-stage performing and in the audience watching at the same time. And that’s why you have a director. To be those eyes and ears, a person whose experience and neutrality lets you know if what you are doing is working – or not. Choosing to ignore everything the director has said will, at the best make you look like an idiot, at the worst ruin the whole show. She looked like an idiot. So I guess it wasn’t too bad.

Now, really, do you honestly think, in any other job, if you screw up, that your co-workers and boss are going to pat you on the shoulder and say; good job! I love those cock-ups! And I really don’t mind that it just cost us a multi-million pound contract. Don’t mind at all. Go right ahead. Keep up the good work!

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I didn’t buy it – HE did!

It has come to this. We have finally succumbed to the onset of middle age. Toothpaste that gives extra gum-protection. For those over 40. When we lose our teeth, at least our gums will be shiny. So we can gum our food to mush together with all the other toothless geriatrics out there.


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That Language

While writing an e-mail to my dad:
‘…dammit! I can’t even remember the most basic stuff in Norwegian!’
‘Don’t worry. The only thing you need to know is Oh my god, that’s expensive!’

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fence04.jpgYesterday we finished painting the looooong fence around the cabin. It’s taken the entire holiday, dodging torrential rains, howling winds, sudden drops in temperature and frequent trips to the chiropractor in Ski. In other words; we finished in spite of the many interruptions.

And yesterday was a lovely day too. Warm, sunny, no wind, and for once no trip to the chiropractor. As nice as the man is, and as cute as he is, I was not mourning the loss of yet another dull drive along the E6 between Son and Ski. Instead I hung over the fence risking my back in the daring stunt of painting the part of the outside that can only be reached from the inside and I was happy. Those moments of true, golden happiness are so rare, but I can honestly say that happiness is what I felt.

As I hung there, the flies hurling themselves kamikaze-style into my Pearl Harbor paint-pot, I thought: I could live here.

All I need is to win a few million kroner in the lottery so I can afford the odd drink.

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Dog-Sitters III

We saw Kaisa again a couple of days ago. She did the appropriate thing and went totally bananas, tap-dancing around, head-butting, jumping, cuddling close and all accompanied by little howls of joy. It’s the kind of thing that makes you feel loved even if it’s just about the food and the walkies.

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