03 September 2009

An Urban Wind

When I left for vacation the Canary Wharf evenings were still warm and full of promise; the pale, gold, stupidly expensive Chardonnay in First Edition was still sweet and, after work, the dockside tables at All Bar One thronged with strappy-topped women flirting with their close-cropped, jacketless co-workers.

Urban Shred by ecstaticist
 It was summer.

Now I am back from vacation and each lunch time a cold wind, an urban wind that carries rain and also dust, howls through Westferry Circus. Outside Smollensky's chairs lie overturned and the evening crowd huddles indoors.  On the pavements of the Wharf prowl disconsolate security guards, dressed as policemen, with bolt-cutters confiscating the unguarded cycle-locks of the hapless, and I?  I have a chipped tooth that will force me, reluctantly, once more to visit the dentist.

It's the New Year (I cannot be the only person, surely, whose year begins in September?), but it's not yet a Happy one ....  and sometimes all of our thoughts are misgivings.

The old year ended in August with two strange encounters: an old friend and I went on a date, and a cyber-friend became real:

The date was with Frustrated Poet, whom I have known twenty-five years, and our expedition was to admire Gay Icons...  followed by dinner. No, not that sort of date, and the icons weren't all gay, either.

As FP and I ambled slowly around the National Portrait Gallery I amused myself feigning incredulity at the portraits we encountered Elton John? He's never gay!  Will Young? get away! Hang on? Be serious now - Graham Taylor's gay? 1 Until, after a while, we tired of my game, and amused ourselves otherwise: quoting When Harry Met Sally, competitively, over fish and chips and a very fine bottle of Burgundy 2  My, we got some funny looks.

The cyberfriend, just a few days later, was none other than M4GD, regular of this blog, who revealed her true identity - and a surprise - when she met Mrs Botogol and I to listen to Pasadena Roof Orchestra playing a free gig in Canada Square ("Um, Good Evening, Canary Wharf" - well, let's just say: Glastonbury it wasn't)

Meeting an on-line acquaintance in real life is always an ineffably odd experience: I have done it several times and yet still I am unsure whether masks are truly dropped....or raised.  On balance I suspect it's only on-line where you really know someone.

So, now, back from France (moules frite in the square, rose wine on the table, drunk too much, spent too much, penniless again) the rhythms of the New Year (school, rugby, sunday roasts, a new season at Richmond theatre) firmly re-assert themselves and by way of self-improving New Year resolutions I have joined the Royal Institute and booked my 2010 Triathlon.

At work for the next month or two we are mainly budgeting:  for - at the centre of this institution that champions capitalism and thrives on risk, that makes decision on the minutest flicker of a price, in which millions of dollars turn on a basis point - at the centre of this institution there beats a Stalinist heart --  and we are updating our five-year plan.


(1) Not gay. And not totally overwhelmed with enthusiasm for being a Gay Icon either, by some accounts..
(2) Was it even two bottles?


Frustrated Poet said...

Welcome back. Great posting -you capture the August/September change perfectly.

It was 2 bottles of St. Veran.


Botogol said...

I feared as much :-)

M4GD said...

Witty reporting, I say :-)

So, the old year ended but with new beginnings! And as hard as it gets and sucks, sometimes it is not so bad afterall! We learn to pick up the pieces one at a time and a new pace is set to keep us moving forward! And this was your Happy Go Lucky Pollyanna forecast moment. Setting pessimism and misgivings aside, she predicts a happy fruitful year ahead!

Strange encounters huh?:-) Masks down or raised? It depends on how each one sees it from their own point of view. Not sure that I agree 100% with you re online and knowing really a person. Our writings and points of view undoubtedly reveal a lot about our inner self. This is true if parties involved have an innate ability to closely observe and soak the meaning of words exchanged. But by far still it is not enough to give the whole rounded view of a person. At best, in my eyes, the online exchange, if utilized properly, is good in showcasing there are more to a person than meets the eye (eye here means the physical eye not our mind’s eye)! But in no way it will ever be able to replace the test of the touch, feel, and smell we need as earthlings!!! It was a great pleasure to meet you and Mrs Botogol. I firmly attest I was not wearing any masks and none of you either. Hence, it was heart warming and real. It was my first 'online turn real' positive encounter. I once tried the online turn real meeting in early 2007 and was sour.

The Gay Icons: you sure it was that bad?!

Few weeks ago I had a chipped tooth too and it was awful as I could not say the letter S and naturally whistled! Was lucky to find a dentist to quickly fix it but it cost me an arm and a leg! I owe the dentist few more payments. Good luck!

Work Budgeting. Why now? Do you guys work with the US Government? The US Government new fiscal year starts October 1st so everybody scrambles to get budgets approved or spend whatever is left by September 30th.
I was handed a book as a gift yesterday. It came out in 2007 a NYTimes Bestseller: “Creating a World Without Poverty, Social Business and the Future of Capitalism” It is written by Muhamed Yunus the creator of the Grameen Bank and co-authored with a Karl Weber. Not sure what is in it yet. Check it out may be you can sneak in the five year budget plan something heartwarming to protect you from the cold cold blistery urban wind;-)
Keep writing and keep smiling at life and DON'T TAKE IT PERSONAL when it gets hard. It’s just life! Here is an interesting poem that opposes my view of not taking it personal. Choose what you like – just Be well.
by Tony Hoagland

Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,

the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me

And I praised what gave me joy,
The most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,

and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.

Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of talk

Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
believe in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,

I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back.

and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-sorries

like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life? Can you blame me
for making a scene?

You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.

I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:

trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too”

M4GD said...

1. Larkin - This was very cool. You gotta love controversial poets. It’s called art genius!
2. Reunion – Excellent choice. Rich and intense. Wish I have Cheever’s ability to get my long winded comments on GI to be short! Sorry, I’ll try in another life time! Promise:-)
3. Hanson – discussion has many grains of truth and a provocative thought or two. Many ion years ago, I did an eight-month stint on the hill (i.e. Capitol Hill – Let’s get it straight: No, I was NOT an intern) working for the Government Relations Office of a major global media corporation. It was a world I did not wish to be part of and immediately got out of it. However, it gave me a priceless exposure on the intricacies of this world. It is a shifting sand type of environment what is illegal today may be legal tomorrow and vice versa. And as one of Hanson’s commentators rightly put it: “It is hard to define Interest Groups” If you wish to learn more, I highly recommend watching the lobbyist satire film: ”K Street” It Is not great but gives a flavor.
4. The Anatomy of determination piece discussion/the Melon Seed Model was very interesting. Their take on this trigger for achievement makes sense. However, I do not think there is anything new. It reminded me of the 1937 book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill which summarized the practical entrepreneurial philosophy of the likes of Andrew Carnegie. In the late eighties I came across the book via one of my University Professors as a motivational read for the business mind. She gave me this book along with In Search of Excellence, the one Minute Manager and Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive all in one go. And few years later she gave me: 'The Arc of Ambition: Defining the Leadership Journey', and 'The Modern Prince: What Leaders Need to Know Now.' Okay getting to my point...Then about three years ago Think and Grow Rich came back to life in a very odd unexpected way as a part of a new age promotional DVD in something called the Secret. Anyway in Think and Grow Rich, Hill starts the book in the Foreword in a focused manner and immediately asks you: “WHAT DO YOU WANT MOST? Is It Money, Fame, Power, Contentment, Personality,
Peace of Mind, Happiness?” From then on he presents 13 traits to facilitate obtaining whatever you wish for based on interviews and research he conducted with successful entrepreneurs of the time. Determination does not have a dedicated chapter as one of the 13 traits but it’s almost blended in each one. I find perhaps the most direct ones related to determination would be: Organized planning, decisions, and persistence. Sorry I'm rusty on the rest. It’s a fun, timeless, going back to basics type of a read especially if you get tired of or find any of the current trendy business strategies confusing... ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ Anyone?!

Anonymous said...

This was beautifully written. I agree the new year begins in Sept when summer is gone.

Botogol said...

thank you anon :-) and welcome to GI.

M4GD said...

You blushing yet with all the new GI admirers ;-) Hint: Seize the good tide and start writing a book! I have no doubt whether fiction or non fiction it will be a rocking best seller!

M4GD said...

Dear Mr. Botogol,
It's M4GD again. My apologies if you have already posted something re the Last Lecture I was slow to know about the book and the link below. I only got it yesterday from a friend. It’s very inspirational. I thought you may enjoy it.