Funny Business

I am on a Business Trip.

I know I am, because I’m in a swanky hotel, with a telly over the bed and an oversize shower and air conditioning and an up-to-date modern boot comb and an automatic hedgehog polisher and all the other mod cons. And today I was on a Course, learning about copyright (the creator has automatic copyright, so plagiarise this blog if you dare) and bibliographic software and how to bind my thesis using only garden twine and a pocket knife, which is definitely Businesslike and a solid sort of thing to be doing. And when I walked through the hotel door I was asked, “Are you here for the Conference?”. I felt slightly guilty to admit I did not know what Conference this was, but still, it proves I’m doing a convincing impression.

Otherwise, it does not feel entirely like a business trip. For one thing, I have only had one coffee today, and that was in my hotel room and not “grabbed” from a nearby Cost(mega)bucks, along with an over-priced muffin that tastes of thick syrup wrapped in paper. Besides that, I did my usual absent-minded thing of leaving an uncapped pen on my knee, which has resulted in an ink-trouser interface, to the sad detriment of the only neat pair of trousers I had brought with me (I have ruined more pairs of trousers this way than I care to enumerate). This leaves the problem of what to wear to my other Important Event, the teaching of cuneiform to a large group of schoolkids tomorrow. I suppose it’ll have to be jeans, which is not a very Businesslike thing to be wearing to a teaching event, but my only other other trousers are…well, covered in ink stains (see above) and I am therefore rather limited. And d’you know, it would also have made me feel more like a modern BusinessPerson if I had realised that this wretched teaching event was tomorrow, and not Thursday as I had originally thought. Cue much frantic scrabbling to finish preparing all the relevant material and having it sent to be printed by the departmental coordinator. Goodness knows how I didn’t notice that the 15th is tomorrow, not Thursday. I must have been looking at last year’s calendar.

All of which leads me to suspect that I am not really on a Business Trip. Modern BusinessPeople aren’t covered in ink, starved of caffeine and still using last year’s calendar. I sincerely doubt they are weighed down by the eleven full price Modernist classics they bought instead of dinner last night. I suspect them of having sharp suits with creases and suchlike, maybe wearing tie-pins like the chap who was running the course (now he was terribly smart. I thought librarians were supposed to wear jumpers? Yes I think in stereotypes, SO WHAT?) and eating swanky food in the hotel restaurant. My hotel doesn’t even have a restaurant!

And BusinessPeople all use language like “I want everyone to give 110%” (a mathematical impossibility); “blue sky thinking” (not much of that in the North-West, let me tell you; more like “grey drizzle thinking”); “we need to be growing my business” (seriously, when is somebody going to tell them that “grow” is not a transitive verb?); “leveraging our synergies” (dear God, what does that actually mean?*).

To be fair, I often use language that not many understand (enclitic copula, anyone? Yes, that’s a perfectly clean term!), but that’s subject-specific grammatical jargon, not meaningless twaddle. Incidentally, I am reminded to inform you that it is funny if you say of a friend’s party, “It was a terribly sedate affair.” Apparently people don’t talk like this any more (hence the blog’s subtitle, of course). So maybe I shouldn’t be commenting on other people’s use of language. But I digress.

All of this brings me, in roundabout fashion, to The Apprentice. I don’t watch television but as far as I understand it, The Apprentice exists solely to parade a bunch of wannabe comedians before a public ready to be amused, with the best comedian being picked at the end to work for a chap called Lord Sugar, a cuddly, teddybear sort of a name if ever there was one (that, or perhaps he was the CEO of Tate and Lyle?). Well, that’s how I read it, anyway. I’m absolutely certain that they can’t be serious. Anyhow, I am reliably informed that the Guardian does a terribly jolly liveblog during the show, which is even funnier than the comedians themselves and might afford some amusement. For those who are keen on internet memes, there’s even a pairing of candidates with their cat lookalikes (I know, I know, I promised no cats). I’m not particularly convinced by the wigs (and some of the cats look pretty weird as well, ba-doom-ching). Anyway, I hope some of you enjoy those two links. As for me, I’m off for a pizza, and then I’ll be curling up in bed with Daisy Dalrymple (there’s nothing between us, honest!), so will take this opportunity to wish you well and goodnight.

*This phrase will be shortened in all forthcoming posts to WTAW, or “What the actual what?”

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