The opportunity of a massive conference for my entire firm yesterday allowed me to pass under the radar and to finally write up a blog post. Yes, I know it’s been ages, but I’ve been mad busy, and just finished a crazy baller 48 hours.
So I’m still emotionally recovering from the trauma of doing a presentation for my department at work yesterday, in Spanish. Everybody was very nice about it, but it was a bit like when Colin Firth went to Portugal in Love Actually to ask that chick to marry him, except when he couldn’t speak Portuguese it was endearing, and he still got to marry her, whereas me standing up in front of thirty people and saying “Learn language is very good” wasn’t quite as heartwarming.
However, I got through it because on Thursday night we were all then attending a cocktail party at the Prado Museum, which is one of my favourite places in the world (so far). After a typical waiting-around-outside-for-ages session, we all piled into the Prado and I entered into a kind of video game fantasy version of what I kind of always wanted my life to be like: wandering around the galleries to see the paintings, with everybody looking like supermodels, and Chinese musicians dressed in black playing string instruments, and guides talking about El Greco and Velázquez to little groups.
On descending downstairs, there were waiters with drinks and canapés, and tables with fresh sushi being made and others piled with hams and cheeses. It’s certainly not the kind of law firm party I’m used to (more warm white wine, fewer Rubens). It was great fun to eat all of this food and to hang out with the people in my team who work in other offices. I had to try and act as if I were the kind of person who regularly spends their evenings at cocktail parties at the Prado, instead of being the kind of person who is saving up wine corks to make a homemade pot stand from Pinterest.
The conference entered into full swing, and during the coffee break the King of Spain showed up. Not even surprised anymore. I got some rubbish photos which really emphasise how small I am, so will show you instead this kind of postmodern one I took of my colleague taking a photo of the very very tall Felipe, Rey de España:
Felipe’s father, Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014 in his favour, is well-known for some good things during his time as king, and some more scurrilous things (elephant hunting, for instance), but one of his most famous incidents was leaning over whilst appearing at a summit in 2007 and asking Hugo Chávez, who kept interrupting the Spanish Prime Minister, “¿por qué no te callas?”, or, “why dontcha just shut up?” Felipe the Tall, to the best of my knowledge, is a bit more diplomatic.
After the conference had ended we were released back into the world, before returning in the evening for a dinner and party. I was once more like Dorothy in Oz, there being over a thousand attendees, a really nice three-course dinner with different wines, Marta Sánchez performing (a Spanish pop artist with Madonna-esque leather kecks), and an open bar. It was the best. And everything ran ridonculously over, with the dinner not finishing til like midnight (oh Spain), and I was home for 5.40am. Fortunately I found a taxi quickly, which stopped my bright idea of waiting til 6 and getting the first metro home, with all the sad Saturday-morning-workers.
The last time I wrote was before Christmas. Since then I did anther 10k, had more guests, received a giant three-wicked candle from work as a Christmas gift, went home with only a half hour’s delay to the Sleezyjet flight despite Hurricane Babs’ best effort, and spent a great fortnight at home. I saw loads of pals, drank wine from fantastically exotic (i.e. not Spanish) wine, saw Mamma Mia with Robyn and Samantha, and went to Kirkby Lonsdale for Hogmanay and set off supermarket fireworks in a car park in the pouring rain.
Then Ruairidh and I flew home and passed an enforced period of boredom and sobriety whilst I started back at work, uni, and revising for my upcoming exams. At least, up until this parallel universe week where I’m critiquing Velázquez and partying with the King, of course.