Friday, 29 April 2011

No Royal Wave from me...

Just yet.

I'm still here, although I'm not sure for how much longer. As predicted, the Koreans raised concerns about my health (if only they knew the half of it) to my company, and there are now moves afoot to try and reallocate me (hopefully in the UK) and get someone else to take over this role, but it's all very hush hush at the moment.

I was ultimately persuaded that rather than jump on the first plane home I should stick it out for another few days or weeks and not give my company a bad name. Fair enough, I guess. It's not in my interests to burn bridges, and a job hunt in the UK could prove to be a tricky task in the "current climate".

I did need a break, though. Just to get out of this concrete cell for more than a snatched hour or two, and since pay day had arrived, I decided to treat myself to a night in a hotel. The wonderful wide world web helped me find a very reasonable offer in a nearby establishment, so I hurriedly packed my holdall bag (forgetting underwear) and called my driver man to take me there. I spent yesterday afternoon munching on goodies from the mini-bar, snoozing, watching trashy movies on TV (Oh, the joy of TV!) and having an aromatherapy massage (given to me by an Indian man with large, rough hands, but it was OK). It was glorious, and I felt refreshed and revitalised enough to drop down to the hotel pub/bar establishment and have a 3-course WESTERN meal and a couple of glasses of red wine. I ended up staying awake far too late, as I always do when there's a TV to watch, and watched Red Dragon, the Hannibal Lecter prequel (I think).

This morning I had a lovely, lazy breakfast in my room before checking out and getting myself a haircut and shave at the Male Beauty salon. The young Syrian man who attended to me was expert with clippers and cut-throat razors and sculpted me a very natty little goatee beard whilst we put the world to rights and discussed beer, cars and women.

Feeling even more refreshed and renewed, and with clearer nasal passages than I've had for weeks, I went back to the hotel pub for a spot of carvery brunch/lunch. I ended up sitting in there for a good couple of hours watching the Royal Wedding. It was on every screen, and they had Union flags all over the place. The British contingent were well up for it, cheering the national anthem and clapping every pivotal moment. Some nearby Aussies asked if I was English and automatically assumed that made me pro-Royal. I couldn't be arsed to debate the issue, so just raised my glass with them and smiled.

Of course, one can't be anything but impressed by the pomp and ceremony of a royal occasion. No-one does it like we do, and it's nice to see so many Brits smiling for once, rather than bloody moaning (which is the other thing we're good at). What was remarkable to me was the level of patriotism displayed by many of the expats around me. If I'd asked them if they wanted a ticket home right there and then, they'd probably have guffawed loudly in my face and possibly shoved a broken glass into my jugular vein. I guess that there is some logic behind it. I'm no raving patriot, coming from the "I didn't choose to born here" camp, but can of course see the good stuff about the UK, and when away from home, one does come to miss the good things and forget the bad things that one whinges about when at home.

It's the same for the family as well, I reckon. I miss them like crazy when I'm away, but at times they have the power to do my bloody head in when I'm actually with them. You don't know what you've got until you lose it, is that clich├ęd, but nevertheless accurate, refrain.

I'm back in Prisoner Cell Block K now. I'm skipping the Kraken stew and rice tonight, having eaten a week's worth of western-style food. I kept a Mars bar from the mini-bar, just in case I get peckish.

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