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Further Intimations of Mortality

25 January, 2017 at 10:52 pm by belgianwaffle

I meet a group of former colleagues for lunch regularly. The median age of the group is 40ish and I am the oldest, at 47, and the youngest is 36. We met recently and I got there a bit late. As I arrived, one of them asked, “How old are you?” “Why do you ask?” I said. “We were speculating because you were late,” they replied. I told them. “Oh really, that old we thought you were younger, except for G, she guessed you were approaching 50.” I turned reproachfully to poor G, who said, defensively, “I only said that you were looking very well for someone in her late 40s.” I understand that there are three ages: young, middle aged and “you’re looking great”. Have I really entered the last phase?

Poker Face

30 May, 2016 at 11:50 pm by belgianwaffle

A former colleague used to say to me that he liked to watch my face in dull meetings as all my emotions flicked across it. I never entirely believed that this was true and a part of me felt that I always kept a very straight face.

My belief has been undermined by a former colleague who now reports into one of my old bosses. He made a proposal to her with which she disagreed. “That’s a real [Belgiawaffle] face” he said. Apparently my name is a byword for showing exactly what you are thinking on your face. Alas.

Leaving

17 February, 2016 at 11:05 pm by belgianwaffle

I had my leaving drinks at work last Friday. I was scarred by a leaving drinks I once had in Brussels where nobody came for the first hour and I hung around with a couple of colleagues until some more arrived and took the bare look off the thing. When there was a reasonable crowd, my Finnish boss came up to me and said, “Yes, I can leave now as there are finally some other people here.” I love the Finns but their frankness can be alarming.

My colleagues assured me that there would be a good crowd and I need not fear. They were right. I left event management in the hands of a colleague who is also a member of the social club and due to an unfortunate misunderstanding which was no one’s fault etc., I ended up having my leaving drinks in a sports bar. It was loud. As someone said to me, sarcastically “When I think of you, I think dozens of large screens, cricket and rap music; it’s perfect.” Another observed that it was the first time in many years that most of us had been to a venue where they were carding people coming in. But, you know what, it was absolutely fine, if a bit loud – some of the speeches may not have been heard. But that’s not necessarily all bad. People came, and they stayed and they presented me with cards and a fountain pen and a bank draft even though I explained that I was not retiring. After a while the music in the sports bar started getting louder and the strobe lights started up and the middle aged group in the corner began to look a tiny bit out of place. So we went on to the pub and I wasn’t even the last to leave.

Friday wasn’t actually my last day. I came in for three days this week as well and only finally finished today. There’s nothing like running into people in the lift on Monday when they have said an effusive goodbye to you on Friday night. It was a busy couple of days and today, in particular, was frantic but I have done my best and now that in-tray is someone else’s problem. The personal contents of my office, however, which I finally managed to decant to my car at 8.30 this evening are my problem. I am slightly appalled that I seem to have been carrying around so much paper for years including several large, heavy dictionaries.

I am sad to leave but, it was probably time for a change. I did feel sadder and sadder over the course of this afternoon as people came up to my office to say goodbye.

I have had a wonderful boss who has been very, very good to me and hugely supportive; I will particularly miss working with her and she is really sad to see me go, as well, I think. But since she told me to go for the new job; rejigged my CV for it and practice interviewed me for it, it isn’t really a massive surprise to her that I got it (she is like a juggernaut and rarely baulked; though I had my doubts I would get the job, she never did). I have a lot of friends in the organisation I’m leaving and I hope I will manage to stay in touch with some of them at least, I suppose that is the best you can hope for. Last time, I left a job, I changed country as well, this is definitely easier.

On Monday, I start the new job where, doubtless, even now, someone is happily reflecting that his or her overflowing in-tray will shortly be the new woman’s problem.

In the interim, I am feeling popular:

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One of these bunches of flowers is, admittedly, from Mr. Waffle for Valentine’s day but still, it’s a pretty good haul.

Upadated to add that despite thinking my office was minimalist and nearly empty, it was not. Alas.

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New Job

30 January, 2016 at 2:23 pm by belgianwaffle

I am starting a new job at the end of February. I am somewhat daunted at the prospect but reasonably pleased. I must say, I have been feeling considerably more pleased since telling my colleagues at work and getting congratulated by all and sundry. On the other hand, I have also been feeling sadder about leaving the current job where I have interesting work and lovely colleagues. On the third hand, I could probably do with a bit of a change. I see challenging times ahead though. Wish me luck.

Unusual Social Media Problems

8 November, 2015 at 9:16 pm by belgianwaffle

I have a colleague who is on Wikipedia; it’s all glamour where I work, I can tell you.

I was chatting to him about this the other day and he told me how he was talking to his cousin and his cousin asked whether he had checked his Wikipedia entry lately. He had not. He went to read it and going through it anxiously saw that it covered his career and accomplishments accurately. It finished up: “He is married with four grown-up children: Anne, John, Mary and Jane*. Jane is his favourite.”

I think she’s mine too.

*Not their real names. Protecting the guilty here.

Rockin’ the Suburbs

15 February, 2015 at 7:48 pm by belgianwaffle

Last week, I was having a cup of tea with a colleague and she mentioned that she was going to see Ben Folds perform at the American ambassador’s residence. Who was he? Did I have any idea?* “Oh yes,” I gushed, “I love Ben Folds!” I was slightly overstating my enthusiasm, I mean I had bought an album and I’d been to a concert but that was before my children were born. And then, I’m not really a music person (insert gasp of outrage here).

Anyhow, my colleague was adamant that I should go and went to the trouble of asking her contact in the embassy to send me a ticket. It seemed churlish to point out that the night of the concert, last Friday, really didn’t suit me. Mr. Waffle was away and I was busy at work. I arranged for a babysitter to come to the house at 5.45, intending to peel off early from work and be at home at 5.30 to see off childminder and ready at 5.45 to welcome babysitter.

Regrettably at 5.45, I was sitting in a meeting, squirming in my seat. Meanwhile the babysitter had arrived at home and finding the house in darkness (childminder and children late home from school, not part of my calculations), texted Mr. Waffle (at that point in Heathrow) and me. Mr. Waffle texted me and generally, I was feeling a bit under pressure. My boss of bosses, who is a kindly soul with young children asked whether I needed to leave. Gratefully, I said that I did and he said we could talk on Saturday which, frankly, didn’t fill either of us with joy, but was very welcome at that moment.

As I was going down to the garage, the babysitter called. She and the childminder were exchanging posts. I spoke to the childminder, “Would he pick up the timetable for his hours for mid-term on the hall table?” He would. I got home, kissed the children, ordered Domino’s pizza and ran out the door again.

So, frankly, Mr. Folds would really have to deliver the goods to make it all worthwhile. And it was so worthwhile. The Ambassador’s residence is lovely. The President and his wife turned up from their house across the road, adding to the sense of occasion. There were only about 100 of us there. It was recorded live for the radio (listen here, if you fancy) and the session was delightful. Not just the live part but the impromptu tunes in the commercial breaks and the numbers that Ben Folds did afterwards for the audience. I was enchanted. I don’t know when I have enjoyed a musical occasion more. I had to leave immediately after the performance as I was collecting Mr. Waffle from the airport so, just pausing to cram some of the ambassador’s delicious canap├ęs in my mouth (insert your own Ferrero Rocher joke here), I ran out the door. I gave up an opportunity to chat to the great man, but Mr. Waffle was suitably grateful. And I got a signed poster which I am half thinking of framing and putting up on the wall like a teenager.

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*Obviously Ben Folds, not the American ambassador. Don’t be pedantic. Although that is what I love about you.

Irony

10 November, 2014 at 9:56 pm by belgianwaffle

My colleague organised a table quiz at work to raise money for guide dogs for the blind. After the picture round, the quizmaster hissed at my organising colleague, “You do realise that there is a table of four blind people.” I think that she died a little bit. On the plus side, she raised a lot of money for the guide dogs.


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