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Posts Tagged ‘Fearless Leader’

Well, after six years of ambling along here, punctuated only by four job offers from the same agency (who obviously thrive on rejection), it has been announced that I am to have my review. On Friday.

Now: I don’t WANT to have my review on Friday – and the reason for this is simple. I see-saw violently between craven, chuckling, moist-eyed delight at any and all praise; and a rich spectrum of emotion at anything even wearing the small pocket-handkerchief of criticism. These emotions are:-

  1. “Fine. I’ll leave then. I’ll just fucking GO!”
  2. Something akin to that teen romance classic “Well you can’t break up with me, because I’m breaking up with you” when I get MY objections to all and sundry in first, in order to render their disapproval meaningless.
  3. A Raffles air of “My dear chap, I couldn’t give the slightest testicle hair of a shit about the opinion of these intellectual midgets.” (to be twinned with a supercilious smirk that would make Maria von Trapp punch a baby.
  4. Hot-headed, red-faced, prickling rage of “No but that’s SOOOOOO unfair, right. That is just SOOOOOOOO not true and it is just rubbish, yeah? And, oh GOD! That is SO out-of-order, because do you know what, yeah? I WROTE THAT PRESENTATION BACK IN MAY!” that would shame an eleven year-old girl.
  5. Cold, shark-eyed vengeance on those who have criticised the way that I roll my eyes in front of junior clients.

Of course, in my mind, I have decided that when I enter The Room for the review, I shall be wordlessly nodded over to the guillotine, hastily erected in the corner for one day only (Fearless Leader sitting at its foot, knitting and cackling toothlessly), and will shuffle my head into place, not with any noble thoughts or words akin to “It is a far, far better thing…” so much as “But I DID feed back on the creative recommendation for Russia before the deadline. This is SO unfair…”

If I am still employed/here on Friday, I will, of course, present the unlovely truth for your enlightenment and disdain.

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I’ve just returned from the Malaysian island of Langkawi: a ludicrously idyllic spot where we held a conference – or what American Diva Planning Friend refers to as “Fearless Leader’s Prom” (and it is true that Fearless Leader approaches it with all the excitement and soon-to-be-disappointed expectations of a young girl trembling on the doorstep before Mitch comes to collect her, dance with her, and have a damned good go at fingering her).

Joyously, neither Travesty Of All Things Gay, Smiling Assassin Planner, nor Planner With Austrian Hair were in attendance, so I had a great time with The Smallest Media Planner in the World, Enthusiastic Account Guy, American Diva Planning Friend, Old Friend at Work and many other thoroughly good sorts. The only down-side was that the first day of the conference fell on Ash Wednesday (a day of abstinence for me and my Church of Rome followers, as well as many other Christians) – so I approached this with commendable even-headedness and decided to get absolutely twisted on Shrove Tuesday.

Reader, I managed it. I got absolutely cunted between the hours of 7pm and 3am, crowning the evening with a 3am swim in the (apparently) jellyfish-besieged bay with French Account Guy Who Wants To Be Spanish, Planner As Tall As I Am, and The Smallest Media Planner in the World. I then went back to my villa and fell asleep, waking ten minutes before the start of the conference programme, which I attended, looking like Mickey Rourke in “Barfly”.

Rather worse, though was the fate of Old Friend At Work, who had come on a different flight and arrived much later – so she had spent about 32 hours travelling. She believes it was this exhausted state that contributed to her sleepwalking that night: and it was her sleepwalking that contributed to her falling down a flight of pebble-dashed stairs, waking up outside her room, covered in blood, naked and terribly bruised. Needless to say, it was the strangeness of the location and her vulnerability in it that scared her most – but then the pain and the extent of the damage she’s done to her face and body took over.

She’s a remarkable woman and displayed huge courage and bravery in how she coped with the pain and the fear, attending every interminable minute of the conference and joking about her plight and appearance:. She saw a doctor and will be fine, but the startling combination of bruises and grazes and cuts on her face were painful – and painfully noticeable: sometimes the worst thing about an event like that is the endless repetition of the explanations to well-meaning, but eventually exhausting on-lookers… She’s home now, with her husband – and it’s a mark of her humour (if not of her political correctness) to record that she intends to make him take her to the supermarket tomorrow, specifically so that she can flinch every time he makes a sudden movement towards her, or puts something in the basket…

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Fearless Leader, Woody Allen in Robert de Niro’s Body Creative Director and I all went to Prague last week, ostensibly to assess our local agency’s suitability for handling specific projects but (as it turned out) actually farting around and having a marvellous time with our people from the Agency, including the much-missed Permanently Exhausted Creative Director, who gave us one of the best dinners I have had in a long time.

What a beautiful city it is. I rather missed the point of it last time I visited with Enthusiastic Account Guy, as we drove in from the airport, straight to the Agency which is (literally) on the wrong side of the tracks, being nose to cheek with a massive iron railway bridge that obscures all view of the splendid domes, bridges and churches of the old town – but this time, we were slap in the middle of it, and I was slack-jawed at its loveliness.

Perhaps it was this vision of loveliness that misted our vision, but next day, WAiRdNBCD and I couldn’t get over the feeling of acute sadness. Now, our agency is sited in a seminal piece of architecture: a Cubist masterpiece (if you like that sort of thing) that shows up as the defining example of this style of architecture in books and websites the world over. Maybe it’s the uncompromising style of that architecture, maybe it was the unforgiving grey light (the sort that renders Breughel paintings so uniquely melancholic), but as we left, I whispered “It’s as if everything has been misted in a fine dust of despair.”

On the flight back (barely two hours), WAiRdNBCD leaned over and asked me: “Why does this flight feel like it’s longer than London to L.A.?”

“Because we’re flying back from 1974.” I replied.

Not very fair, after a magnificent couple of days, perhaps = but inarguable.

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I am the Workplace Christmas Skulker.

In simple terms, this means that when “required” to give a Christmas present to someone at work, I fudge the issue completely.

There are a couple of approaches to the presentation of gifts in the workplace, all of which I have encountered recently, none of which I can “pull off”:-

The Gleeful Bully

As practiced by Fearless Leader, this is the approach that follows the gracious presentation with a set of barked orders and useless information: “Open it!”; “It’s Real Wool!”; “Try it On. Take Your Jumper Off and TRY THAT ONE ON NOW.” This leaves me feeling like I have been publicly humiliated, rather than given a present (but it should be said that I am a strong believer in the Asian gift etiquette of “Receive it with gracious words and open it later in private”).

The Beaming Child

As practiced by Old Friend at Work: this is the approach whereby the presentation is preceded by a slow, silent sidling into the room; and accompanied by a rictus grin so broad that one can see the smiler’s bridge work. The sheer JOY of giving, and of making someone happy overtakes all other considerations – but you have to be bloody certain that your presents are going to hit the mark.

The Terrified Wreck

This is the gifter whom one ends up reassuring even as she hands over a package, wet with tears  accompanied by the gloss “…that you’ll probably hate, but I’ve got the receipt, and I’m perfectly happy to give you ten litres of my own blood instead, if that helps”.

Receiving a present from this type of gifter needs all the skills of a phone operative at the end of a Samaritans helpline – and you can end up feeling like you’ve just played a matinee and evening of “King Lear” as you offer them the loud, repeated and enraptured response that THIS IS THE BEST GIVE YOU HAVE EVER HAD AND YOU LOVE IT. Whether it’s a Cartier watch or a packet of Rolos, you need to respond as if someone has just brought your entire family back from the brink of death – or the giver will be absolutely certain that their gift to you has ruined your life, and they will creep off somewhere quiet to self-harm.

So, I have become The Christmas Skulker. I leave presents on desks, with no ceremony, no personal contact – just a card to denote the giver. That way, they’re spared the pantomime of joy, and I am spared the potential of glimpsing their (very real) misery when they see what it is I have bought.

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