A work trip to Canada has meant a few days quiet for the blogging machine. Also not so much opportunity for walking, what with other commitments.
At Heathrow, it was annoying yet almost routine to hear complaints by passengers with unreasonably high expectations of everyone and everything. I imagined them doing my walk and taking five times as long simply because they had to complain to the council that there was a crack in the pavement or that their hotel only supplied enough shampoo for one shower per day. I know you’ve paid a lot of money but sometimes you have to just accept that people are doing their best, even if it might not be perfect.
I have not grown out of that child-like trait of watching the same film over and over again. I imagine it’s a form of comfort, though you might not think some of the films are designed to ‘comfort’. On the plane with a decent selection of classic movies from which to choose, I bravely declined the three Hitchcock films, Psycho, North by Northwest and The Birds. I’ve never been a great fan of The Birds but the special effects were just superb for their day. I could watch the other two over and over again, and indeed I have. But I decided to take on a new film, or at least one I hadn’t seen before. Out of the classics, it was to be either Cool Hand Luke or The Manchurian Candidate. Unfortunately I selected the former. Paul Newman, who was Hitchcocked in Torn Curtain with Julie Andrews, was the star. I have a soft spot for Torn Curtain, in that (I think) it was the first Hitchcock film I ever saw, on TV late night in the early 1980s though both Newman and Andrews are unconvincing as lovers and the film is not widely considered to be one of Hitchcock’s best. Cool Hand Luke was a real disappointment – a slow and rather predictable plot and only a few scenes of real note. Film critics may care to differ (it is rated #139 movie of all time on imdb.com) but I felt it was one of the most overrated ones I’ve seen.
In a similar way, I like to find good walks and walk the same ones over and over again. I often explore some minor deviations if it is a road walk but I like familiarity – and I can’t say it breeds contempt. Next year’s walk is hard enough just for the distance and fitness, but for me it is extra challenging with having to meet people and the unfamiliarity of where I am walking. Some love meeting new people and are naturals. Not me. I always try to see the best in people but this is often after a little while. I am naturally suspicious of anyone I haven’t previously met. There’s nothing sinister behind that – I wasn’t abused as a child or bullied any more than anyone else – a bit of teasing about having big ears and then long hair (ironically to cover my big ears) and then my own sometimes social awkwardness but nothing that has hurt long term. I have become self deprecating almost as a defence mechanism; if people see me take the mick out of myself then it likely draws the sting from any malicious intent. I also emerged from an unpleasant teenage and young adult phase when I was always right, even when I was quite aware I was wrong. That was insecure squared, at least now I am only the square root of insecure.
It was a long haul flight and I had achy calves. It was very difficult to walk around too much but I could stretch into the aisles. That was about it. After a night’s rest (I didn’t sleep well at all on any of the four nights) I took a 7 mile walk after the strange sensation of watching Live Premier League football at 9:30 am; even stranger that Sunderland won. The first and last parts of the walk are on the roads around the hotel. I can’t get used to looking the other way as to in England on crossing roads, though at least I’ve learnt since my last trip over the Atlantic when I got in the driver’s side of the taxi! It is pretty chilly, about 5 degrees but comfortable enough to hardly build up a sweat. You can see that even when blessed with nice scenery and new territory, all we British have to talk about the weather.
A very good conference and my bit went well, but this blog will rarely be about work-things. Ottawa is a city that feels as European as it does American but now it’s time to go home. The taxi driver taking me to the airport apologised that he’d lost his voice – in the ensuing 10 minutes I began to understand how. An opinion on anything, and a willingness to start a conversation / argument. I am nearly always happy to take a taxi in silence save for the most minimal of formalities, not that I get much chance to get many words in edgeways, despite his croakiness.
A bit of a wait at the airport. Quite why one has to be there 3 hours prior to a long haul flight is not clear, except to ensure all the retail outlets receive sufficient custom. A chance to have a brief snooze, ensuring I am sufficiently entangled with my luggage so it couldn’t be pilfered without me stirring. Finally, on to the plane. There’s a pompous prat, fortunately not sat next to me but unfortunately close enough for me to have to listen to. Sample quote: “I got headhunted by Ernst and Young a few years ago. But I turned them down because I wasn’t going to work for an organisation that didn’t have proper recruitment procedures”. Yeah, really? Like if that was the case you wouldn’t be in economy class with the rest of us…….
So back to Blighty. Planning on walking on Saturday and Sunday and maybe even a short stroll on Friday. Will see how the jet lag is. In a strange way I have missed doing the washing up. And of course I have Pammy and Matt. I do appreciate the chance to travel that work sometimes provides, but I do miss those two.