Saturday, April 5, 2014

52 Stockholm

Being given a job looking after North Europe...


...was really handy considering I was only twenty six at the time.

I had a fully expensed company car and an endless petrol allowance that meant I could get around the UK mainland at weekends. I ended up being my mates' free taxi service.

More adrenalin igniting was the perk that given my very very very important job there was a necessity to "get out to the region." This meant I was often on free flights to Europe. I timed it so that I was on the free flight to Europe on a Thursday and on the free flight back home on the Sunday - and at any time I could wangle it.

What a region. Northern Europe. Very Roman Empire. Or Byzantine. The lands of razor blades and men's grooming.

The Northern Europe Shaving Empire included all the expensive places I was unlikely to be going off to using my own holiday funds; Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Ireland, and Iceland. I had Iceland in there, but alas Iceland back then was such a small and high cost market that me popping in for a couple of days would have blown the annual profit. Thus I decided it wiser not to draw attention to my half work half holidays and leave her off the list.

In those days my travel itinerary was printed out by helpful ladies working on site in a special travel department. They saved us a fortune, headaches and a fair amount of mucking about. My schedule would land on my desk lasered in Arial 12 point on a single A4 portrait sheet of paper. I often had to call a mate to tell them where I was off to next and share the excitement.

After a few months in the job I became more accustomed to the style and layout of the itineraries sitting in the in tray. Their real meaning was as follows...

Mr. xxx xx/xx/xxxx
1. Start. Get out of the office at Great West Road.
2. Great West Road to Heathrow.

3. Heathrow to < insert destination here >

4. Airport to Hotel.
5. Hotel to Office.
6. Pootle around office. Smile a great deal. Shake hands. Be nice.

7. Visit shops selling razor blades, shaving cream, deodorant,
after shave. Make encouraging noises and attempt
to understand the English spoken with local accents.

8. Return to Office.
9. More smiling. Some humming and haaaing. Have a chat about things.

Avoid saying anything daft.

10. Office to Hotel Lobby (option to visit Hotel Bar) to Hotel Room.
11. Hotel Room to Hotel Lobby.
12. Hotel Lobby to Posh Restaurant.

13. < Variations on Usual Themes >

Week End.
14. Hotel to Art Gallery / City Stuff / etc.
15. Live Life.
16. Art Gallery / City Stuff / etc. to Hotel.

17. Hotel to Airport.
18. Airport to Heathrow.

19. Extended tour of Heathrow car parks searching for car.
20. Heathrow to Little Marlow. End.


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