Ola! I’m back with some bits and pieces from Barcelona. It has been harder than I thought to weld all this stuff into something resembling a compelling narrative. The narrative part is easy. Making anyone other than me give a shit has proved much tougher. (This is what happens when you take three months off blogging and retreat to the harmless confines of the just-for-me paper-and-pen journal.)
The last time I left you hanging, I was heading for the airport armed with nothing more than a bagful of essentials and the rudimentary Spanish I’ve picked up watching Dora The Explorer with Buttercup. But there’s not enough meat on the story of my trip to write this out as a travelogue of “I did this, and then I saw that, and you wouldn’t believe what that motherfucker said to me then?”
When in doubt, go for short controlled bursts of easily-digestible highlights. It was a month ago now, so this is just an exercise in sense-memory and deciphering my disjointed notes. Enough of the cons, let’s get on with the prose:
The Schmooze – Years on from my time in the customer-facing world of retail, I thought I had lost the ability to talk unrelenting crap to complete strangers. I was wrong. It was as easy as ever to turn it on and turn it off. I just flicked my Internal Bullshit switch, and the effluent was flowing same as it ever was. I find that a bit disturbing…
Working the stand at the convention, I unleashed the closet carnival barker that must have been hibernating deep inside me for the last decade or so, and I was practically standing on tables shouting “Come and get some free shit!”. I was propping up the stand like a bartender, lubricated with free beer, doing some of that soft sell nonsense.
Man, that made me feel dirty. Never again. Forgive me. Marketing is for scum. I hereby permanently recuse myself from the ranks of the ScumPeople.
First Impressions – In the spirit of fairness, I decided to give my colleagues a clean slate in Barcelona. No matter what I thought of them, I’d give them a fair shot to prove me wrong.
That was a colossal Waste Of Time. By the end of the week, I was having an internal conversation trying to decide whether Rainbow was a sleazy prick, or was he a scum-sucking fuck bag?
The Wednesday Night Party – More freeloaders eating plates of fried shit that you can only swallow with free beer. Also, the weird disconnect you get when the song on the sound system has nothing to do with the music videos playing on the large screens all over the place. It’s always disconcerting to see the video for We Are The World on mute, looking at Al Jarreau or Daryl Hall crooning earnestly into a microphone, when all you can hear is the thudding bass of Gwen Stefani on Hollaback Girl saying "This my shit" over and over and over again.
In a moment of serendipitous cosmic rebalancing, in the cab back to the hotel, the radio was playing John Denver. As I listened to him singing, I felt very, very homesick. “Take me home, country roads…”
Parting Shot – I did manage to get about five minutes to myself. One evening, I went to the roof of the hotel to take some photos. It was worth it. With all the money spent on so much unnecessary travel and food and software and bullshit, all the R&D, all the focus groups and extensive testing, NOTHING was as perfect and as beautiful as the one, free, pure thing I experienced that week. Sunset over Barcelona:
And we can finally say goodbye to all that. Thank Odin I’ve got that out of the way. Next time, something else. I promise. But before I go, lest we’ve all forgotten, it’s time for the Sucker Punch Christmas Advent Calendar Funk Nuggets! Back from the days when TV shows had the sound of screeching metal interspersed with the glorious madness of the wah-wah pedal, here is Laurie Johnson’s moment of funk immortality, The Professionals: