Timeshare: “She’s diabetic and she’s turning grey…”

TIMESHARE SALES FLOOR. IT’S BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR TARGETS. THE BOSS IS IN A MOOD.

SALESWOMAN: My client’s about to pass out. She’s diabetic and she’s turning grey. They’re telling me they’re interested… but look at her…  they can’t stay much longer. Can we go into button-up next?

BOSS: Where’s your T.O.?

SALESWOMAN: He’s on another table.

BOSS: Speak to your T.O.

SALESWOMAN: I need help now. She’s on the brink of collapsing.

BOSS: It’s not my problem if he can’t handle all his tables.

SALESWOMAN: I know, but my client…she needs an injection…

BOSS: Not my problem.

SALESWOMAN: But she’s going to pass out. She’s really ill. Turning grey, Freddie.

BOSS: They’re not leaving a deposit, it’s not my priority.

SALESWOMAN: But they’ve said they’re interested…

BOSS: Then get your T.O.

SALESWOMAN: But she’s ill. They’re gonna have to leave pretty soon… like now.

BOSS: Let them.

SALESWOMAN: But they want to buy.

BOSS: Are they leaving a deposit?

SALESWOMAN: No.

BOSS: Well, they aren’t interested then. 

SALESWOMAN: I mean, I haven’t asked… she’s having a… I mean, look at her. She needs help. 

BOSS: Could be faking.

SALESWOMAN: I don’t think she’s faking.

BOSS: Speak to your T.O.

 

Trans. ‘Button up’ – the last phase of the selling A-Z.

Trans. ‘T.O.’ – ‘take over, the ‘hard sell’. 

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Parisian Castle Rave

This weekend, my alter-ego – namely “nu-Lolita” – and two Morphs hopped onto the Eurostar to Paris to celebrate our friend’s 30th. We met Adrien on our travels years ago: the Morphs met him in Croatia, and I joined the Crazy-Express the following year when we all raved it up in Berlin. And there a kinship like no other blossomed – and four years later, we received an extravagant invite to a profligate party.  And boy, what a party! A weekender spent in a castle in a Parisian suburb (http://www.abritel.fr/location-vacances/p653540). Nothing less. The boy is the essence of style. Now onto the theme: Disproportion / Excessiveness / Craziness. The inspiration: Leigh Bowery (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykSK8LJYQqE). Well, let’s just say we all hit the button… with a sledgehammer. About ninety people rocked up – each as voluminous, inventive and grand as the next. Alongside teddy-bears and transvestites, there were Na’vi (Avatar) and tigers… Cousin It even made an appearance. The various fridges brimmed with booze, and the cupboards bulged with staples like Nutella and brioche… there were musicians, singers, theatrical acts and DJs to entertain the masses… and exquisite chateau grounds, perfect for a picnic.  I mean, what more could you ask for? It’s a party I’ll never forget. Here are some cheeky snapshots for thee:

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Day Two in Hong Kong

Having met a new friend on the other side of a couple of continents, I bounded off to meet Selina at Central for a day of explorations. Since one had already conquered the tram, this time one opted for the MTR (http://www.mtr.com.hk/eng/homepage/cust_index.html). For anyone worried about getting around in Hong Kong, do not fret. The Chinese-tube is far more reliable, accessible and easy to navigate than in our beloved London. The trains even tell you what side to depart! And yup, all in English.

From the station, we navigated our way to the Peak Tram terminus (http://www.thepeak.com.hk/en/5_5_1.asp ). This took a while; mainly because I can’t read maps for love nor money. But anyway, we got there eventually. And we mounted the vessel (a posh way of saying ‘we got on the tram’). Up, up, up we climbed, our bums sliding all the way into our seats as our bodies tilted a drastic degree. As our popping ears became accustomed to the new level (i.e. circa 400 metres above sea level), we carefully climbed out and continued heading towards the sky, this time via the Peak Tower. The Sky Terrace 428 offers spectacular panoramic views of the vibrant city, but make sure you don’t go on a cloudy day as you won’t really get to see anything except… cloud. Confession time: that’s kinda what we did. We used our viewing pass before the day’s sun had burnt away the mist and – despite craning our necks and widening our eyes – we were not particularly gripped by the view. Admitting defeat, we went for a mango juice (so good by the way – try it). As we sat, sipped and stared out of the window, the sun nudged the foggy skyline out of focus and the heavens cleared to reveal the stunning cityscape. We decided to embrace the moment and make the most of the weather by popping back up to the viewing terrace. But alas, we had already used our ticket and were told it was a ‘one time only’ deal. When such opportunities arise, you have to try your luck, right? So I moaned and pouted and sighed and puppy-dog-eyed until the poor dude gave in and let us slip through the barrier. (We were lucky; you’re only supposed to go to the top once so choose your moment carefully). After we took a million photos and imprinted the sights into our memories, we wondered around the shops & re-fueled at Starbucks (god, they’re everywhere, eh…).

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Upon successful completion of our backwards slide back to earth, we met up with Tina and went for cocktails at Staunton’s Wine Bar-Cafe in Soho (http://www.stauntonsgroup.com/staunton/) The Mojito tasted like lighter fluid (don’t ask me how I know) but the ‘Watermelon something’ was heaven in a glass. A few cocktails later, it was time for food. I wish I could remember where we went, or what we ate… but it was really good. Something spicy with noodles and broth. (Apologies for being vague: blame the cocktails). From there, we haphazardly rushed our way to the Star Ferry pier because we wanted to catch the light show, which starts around 8pm. We caught the Kowloon light show as we sailed across the water separating the islands, and we just glimpsed the last few minutes of Hong Kong Island’s competitive response. It was pretty. And pretty impressive.

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And then – this is the highlight of the holiday – we saw the Rubber Ducky!! (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2318490/Giant-rubber-duck-Hong-Kongs-Victoria-Harbour-continues-world-tour.html). (As you’ll know by now, it died a day later so this was a magical moment – although we didn’t know it at the time).

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Once we befriended the duck his clan of smaller ducks, we meandered around Tsim Sha Tsui (from now on I shall refer to this as ‘TST’ because – let’s face it – nobody can pronounce it). Then we collapsed in a heap because the day’s exercise bypassed the acceptable quota. Day two – a success! 

Timeshare: tea lady tales…

TEA LADY: I used to work on the phones. Complete scam. I didn’t mind conning the middle aged ones.  They’re my age. They should’ve known better as far as I’m concerned. But the old people… They’re way too trusting. We’d get them all the way here and pretty much rob them. When I was alright for deals, I’d warn some of them. Only if I was hitting targets though. I mean, we’ve all gotta pay our bills, haven’t we? 

What a load of Bubbles!

When there was still snow on the ground, the ladies and I went to check out Bubbledogs (http://www.bubbledogs.co.uk/). We were greeted by a smiley and chirpy ‘HELLO!’ followed by ‘yeah, there’s a two hour wait…’.  Four months later, we finally got a table (you can only book in advance if you’re a table of 6+). Hurrah! Was it worth the wait? Well, to be honest – it doesn’t matter what us girls get up to, we’ll always have a good time. I’m blessed to have such fabulous friends. Smiley face. And yeah, the joint was pretty cool. You’ll appreciate it if you can handle a side of ‘trendy’ with a dashing of ‘pretentious’. Propped up against a bench-table on our high stools, practically back-to-back with the table behind (our backs got pretty intimate actually), we awaited our £8 hotdogs with eager anticipation. As far as the food goes, the sweet potato chips and ‘tots’ (aka roast potatoes for those of us who don’t speak “Hip”) were bloody awesome. Good job too because we needed to stuff our faces after the rather pathetic pooches left us hungry… I could go so far as to say ‘ravenous’ but I won’t… oh wait, I have. Considering the place is all about bubbles and dogs, the dogs were a let-down. You’d get a better quality sausage ’n bap off the back of one of those grubby little vans that float around at festivals. And you’d save a fair few pennies too. Saying that, you’re paying for the experience – and it is a stylish place. As one of the girls commented; it kinda feels like your sitting somewhere in New York. Always a good thing. The toilet walls are plastered with menus from various London establishments… and I found myself looking at the walls with longing, pining for the À la carte options. The lavatory décor is the ultimate tease; ‘look, here’s what you could be eating…’. Moving on, the bubbles were the Boll – I mean, ah hem, yeah the fizz is sweet. And the waiters are charming, flirtatious and fond of innuendo. In fact, I think one took a special shining to one of our crew… he topped my beautiful friend’s glass up with a delicate grace and a wink. Cheeky monkey. All in all, a fab night out. Would I go again? Probs not. Pleased I went? Yup indeedy.

Day One in Hong Kong

Arrived at Hong Kong International Airport at 7am (midnight, UK time): an hour earlier than scheduled. That would usually be a good thing but not when you’ve got seven hours to kill until check in and, despite the Diazepam, you haven’t slept because some daemon child decided to spend the twelve hour flight kicking the back of the chair whilst screaming a series of random words, purely to annoy fellow passengers… what a darling. Rant over.
 
Onto the adventure…
 
After the 50 minute A11 bus journey, I hopped off – perky and peckish – to my first stop, which I’m ashamed to say was Starbucks. To my credit, I tried a ‘Green Tea something’… so it was kinda cultural. I spent a good couple of hours people-watching and by 9am the streets were heaving. Noticing all sorts of fashion trends, I felt inspired to go for a walk and check out the shops. As it happens, the only thing I felt confident purchasing was an umbrella. Pretty handy considering I stumbled upon HK in a freak monsoon season.
 
From there (‘there’ being  Hennessey Road, Causeway Bay), I toodled my merry way down to Central. The two miles sapped the last of my dwindling energy so to prevent myself from dying, I decided to pop into the Tea Ware Museum (http://hk.art.museum/). Unfortunately, the museum was at the top of an almighty hill within the confines of beautiful Hong Kong Park. The consequence of which was that my intention to learn about tea diminished into a pathetic collapse on a wooden chair in front of a video in Cantonese, which I watched over and over and over again because it was on a life-saving loop, followed by fully fledged catatonia.
 
Needless to say, I didn’t walk back. My zombified corpse took a tram (a ‘must do’ in my travel guide). Thinking myself ever so clever, I got off at the wrong stop (of course!) and spent the next hour walking in circles until I found refuge in a McDonald’s. Sugar-levels low, it felt appropriate to indulge in a bit of filth. I bought a chicken sandwich, a spicy one. Big. Mistake. Upon putting pressure on the burger buns, a torrent of yellow oil spilled out of the questionable flesh into the packet. Nasty. Serves me right for going there in the first place. Honestly, 6,000 miles travelled for that first “meal”. Stupid girl, Jo.
 
To celebrate my survival of those sleep-deprived wonderings (by this point my brain thought it was 7am UK time, i.e. no sleep for 24 hours), I awarded myself a thoroughly deserved nap at YesInn Hostel, Causeway Bay (http://www.yesinn.com/cwb/e_yesinncwb_aboutus.html ). And what a nap it was. My little bed at the bottom of a triple-bunk-bed was so inviting. Luxury. (And I’m not even being sarcastic).
 
I woke up in time for dinner (‘big up’ to my body clock for its superb timing). Recent HK resident and very good friend, Tina, popped into YesInn with her family and together we trundled our way to a very Hong Kong restaurant… or café… or canteen… I’m not actually sure what the establishment would be entitled, or what it was called (something in Chinese)… but it was totally authentic. That I know. We ate crab, fish, muscles, pork, rice, vegetables… and probably other things… and drank tea while we gorged ourselves silly. Much yummier than McDonalds. And much more cultural.
 
From there, we went bed shopping (as one does), and after Tina purchased a rather comfy double, we meandered our way back through Time Square. There we said good night and parted ways.
 
The intention was to go to bed. But then I found out YesInn beers were only ten HK dollar (about 83p). So I bought one… two.. and ended up meeting a load of travellers on the roof bar terrace on floor ten. The stories they told of the places their lucky souls graced transported us into the early hours. Begrudgingly, I admitted defeat and allowed my brain to fall into HK time and float into a happy dream.

The Great Gatsby

Since my favourite Hollywood star is currently gracing our screens once again (Leo, I love you), I figured I’d read the book prior to Baz Luhrmann’s visual spectacle. (Good job too – the film critics aren’t exactly raving about it).

The Great Gatsby is a 1920s American gentleman’s tale of a love lost and found… and lost again. Set in the jazz era, Nick Carraway’s narration talks us through the twists and turns of romantic rendezvous, the peaks and troughs of secret shenanigans, and the highs and lows of that age ole battle: head versus heart. The story, which predominantly focuses on the Great Mr Gatsby himself and his tainted love, also zooms in and out on that huge, flashing neon question mark sign that dangles precariously over society, namely ‘moral values’. Chuck in some good old obsession, materialism, greed… oh and a sprinkling of lust, love and heartbreak for good measure… and you can see why this classic fell into the canon of [apparently] timeless American literature.

Now onto my actual thoughts:

It took me a good chunk of the book to become genuinely interested in Carraway’s account of events. In fact, sadly it was the final two chapters that only really aroused my curiosity and engagement. But who am I to judge and criticise a classic? Ah hem. Ok, regardless of who I am and the limited rights I possess, here goes…

Gatsby didn’t grab me for the following reasons:

–          Despite the depth of the symbolism, very little happens.

–          Despite the successful evocation of the jazz era, the writing isn’t particularly engaging.

–          I felt very little empathy for the characters and didn’t so much as draw breath or blink off-rhythm when I learned of their demise.

–          It was a bit… well… boring. (There I said it).

Saying that, here’s what I did like:

–          The visual references to social trends (both gloomy and gallant) and the dwindling American dream capture the era and the attitude. In this respect, it’s incredibly well written and the text surges with symbolism.

–          I appreciate the subtle characterisation of the gold-diggers and social climbers crammed within its pages… Fitzgerald avoids stereotypes and thus builds multidimensional and ‘deep’ characters.

–          Through that virtue I’m often told to embrace – “patience” – one can step into a time warp and float back to a period of gents, jazz & liquor, and quite a bit of razzle-dazzle.

Wonder what we’ll all think of the film…