Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Homage to Catalonia

Busy, busy, busy. I’ve been meaning to get to this for a while now, but it’s taken me a while to clear my backlog of lifecrap, but I’m here now, and that’s all that matters, right?

So, where was I? I was about to regale you with tales of my week away at the Microsoft Tech-Ed IT Forum in Barcelona, wasn’t I? Seeing as that was nearly a month ago now, I had better get on with it.

To say that I was going to Barcelona with a few reservations would be an understatement. First up, I don’t like being away from my wife and daughter for long periods of time. I like the relative simplicity of my day-to-day life. All the crap I have to endure is made tolerable because I know that, no matter what I have to deal with on any given day, when it’s all over I get to go home to Buttercup’s beaming face and shining bright eyes as she runs towards me shouting, “Daddy! Daddy!”. I get to kiss my beautiful wife. And I get to decompress in my refuge with a hearty meal and a hot bath and a good night’s sleep. Simple pleasures. If I get deprived of the emotional nourishment of seeing my loved ones for unnecessary reasons, I don’t like it one bit.

Secondly, I didn’t relish the thought of being on-the-clock 24 hours a day for an entire week. I knew that I wouldn’t get a minute to myself the whole time that I was there, and I knew that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go walkabout and discover Spain and soak up the country. (I was right, too). For the duration of my time there, I was bouncing from hotels to conference halls and back again, and I could have been anywhere in the world for that. I can’t with any honesty say that I have seen Spain, which saddens me and seems like a wasted opportunity, but there was nothing I could do about that.

Thirdly, I’m not particularly fond of my colleagues. Let me rephrase that. It sounds too even-handed and it’s not strictly true either. I don’t like my colleagues. They’re fucking idiots. (There you go. Any last vestiges of ambiguity blown away right there). My company is so tight-fisted, I wasn’t even given a hotel room to myself and I had to share, so I really didn’t have a second to myself (unless you count trips to the toilet, but I tend to work that room alone anyway).

Finally, it’s crucial to remember that I.T. isn’t my vocation, or my calling, or even my career. It’s Just A Job. To me, it’s a high-end version of flipping burgers. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t have any particular aptitude or affinity for it. I just do it to pay the bills. No matter what I do between 9 and 5.30 every week day, I’m a writer. Bearing that in mind, and fighting my growing disdain for this week away, I thought: “Well, if you’re a writer, write about it then!” So, I decided I better report on this shit, cobbled together from a small pile of notes scrawled in dark corners on the back of receipts and shredded cigarette packets, every word saved so that I could file these Despatches from Nerdvana.

Before I wrap this up for the time being, and for the sake of some illusory anonymity to stop my ass getting fired, everyone I write about will be saddled with an alias, and I need to introduce my cast of characters. Let’s call my company WTF Software. In addition to me, I was accompanied by three of my colleagues. First up is one of the company directors, and he’s a dead ringer for Montgomery Burns. He’s got the same bald pate, the same beaky nose, the same slightly doddering gait and, worst of all, the same penny-pinching miserliness that characterises the owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. He’s a sly motherfucker too. The only difference is that he smokes his own body weight in grass on a weekly basis. So, I need a name for our Pot-Head Monty Burns. I’m calling him Rainbow.

Next up is an over-enthusiastic little ass-licking Marketing fucknut who irritates me intensely. I’ll get into him in more detail later. (Short version: I hate him). For now, let’s call him Cole.

Last of our protagonists is my roommate for the week and the only tolerable person I spent time with for the duration of the conference, and I’ll call him Olaf. Actually, he’s a pretty decent guy, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have his own fully-stocked arsenal of irritating tics and traits that started to grate before the week was up.

Shit, this is running long and the plane hasn’t even hit the tarmac at Barcelona Airport yet. But, for now, this is…

To be continued…

But wait! There’s more! Everyone loves an advent calendar and, here at Stately AKA Manor, I’m no different. So, with every blog entry posted here in December, I will be harnessing the power of YouTube to bring you the Sucker Punch Christmas Advent Calendar Funk Nuggets, where I will be cherry-picking a slice of funk buried in the YouTube vaults. I reserve the right to be idiosyncratic and self-indulgent in this endeavour. I know Buttercup will enjoy this. Whenever I hit shuffle on my iTunes, she lights up and shouts “Daddy! Funky Music!” and starts dancing…

Today’s selection is the mighty Black Moses himself, Isaac Hayes, performing the Greatest Record Of All Time – The Theme from Shaft – at Wattstax. He’s one badmutha…

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