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Believe in Buda November 23, 2010

Posted by normanmonkey in Friends, Travel.

James Daly, personal trainer to the stars, the middle-aged and my sorry arsed self, is never short of a motivational mantra or two. These usually involve attainment to greatness, fulfilling potential and then exceeding it, belief, strength, focus and the triumph of the will. I suspect that if he were alive today Nietzsche would almost certainly have been not a philosopher but a master of the squat thrust and attending to the paunches of Cobham housewives.

It was with every best intention that I’d go to the gym this evening. All those little mantras flew around my head like gnats in Scottish summertime from the moment I woke up, all through work, on the train journey home and right through until I walked through the front door and was stopped in my tracks by a box of Marks and Spencer mince pies.

So much for self-discipline and good intentions.  The gym was supposed to have made up for recent lax form on my part where there had been a significant absence of focus of belief or strength in a sterile gym atmosphere in Weybridge. That being the Cow PR 10th anniversary trip to Budapest where our entire company of 28 was unleashed upon one of the great European capital cities for three days.  The locals haven’t seen anything like it since the Soviets sent the tanks in back in ’56 and at least the Red Army wasn’t wearing silly hats and charging around with a large tea urn singing ‘We’ve won the cup!’

Someone who has joined recently spoke of a similar trip to Madrid with a previous agency. All that was achieved was transplanting the cliques, animosities, hierarchies, frostiness that was all pervasive in the office to another part of Europe so people just traipsed round, supped beer and scowled and pointed at the occasional landmark to kill time before posing for the obligatory picture to PR Week to show just how fabulous they were.

Not our lot. There’s a lot of love, a lot of colour, a highly developed sense of the absurd, dumb hats and a few smart dance moves. An ex-Cow, Russell Williams, visiting from his new life as an academic in Paris compared the photos of our visit to ‘The Benny Hill Show as written by Bret Easton Ellis’ and that is taken as a compliment.

Turner placing a copy of Men Only over Good Housekeeping in the women’s lifestyle section of WH Smith at Gatwick, my being propositioned on the flight by a middle aged Thai widow from Llandudno (‘My husband, he die’) on a hen trip and Gloria dropping her own passport in the ladies loo before flushing at Budapest airport on our arrival arrival pretty much set the tone for the trip. When Cows take over a dancefloor of a highly respectable nightclub is like watching a scene from an Attenborough documentary, particularly when an intruder from outside the ranks attempted to muscle in with dance moves of his own and was unceremoniously ushered back to the fringes in a broom sweeping motion by Big Al that Michael Jackson couldn’t have choreographed. The same could be said for any deluded Hungarian approaching Liz Beswick and not realsing they stood little chance unless they not only came from the Home Counties but owned a large portion of them as well. As for whomever thought leaving that tea urn out on display by the hotel lift was a sensible idea only has themselves to blame.

Come Monday morning back in my desk in Bermondsey if asked what the greatest evils of the 21st century were I would say in no particular order: the perils of an unregulated banking system, the global inequality of rich and poor, terrorism, religious fundamentalism and two nights in a row on Jagerbombs – in no particular order except for the latter at number one (and possibly a space for people who use multiple exclamation and question mark in punctuation).

Later in the week and the tables were turned. James Daly was staggering around the gym, in the manner I am often prone to do so on his account, upon hearing about the goings-on. If the Jagerbombs was a left hook, the upper cut was hearing that several of our party consumed seven BK Whoppers in three days.  Between meals. ‘One or two in a YEAR is acceptable’, he gibbered uncomprehendingly, ‘but…seven…are you sure?’. I might as well have said murders and not burgers. It just goes to show, what one man sees as weakness, others see as focus, dedication and beating all odds.

It can’t be denied that yet again my route to beefcake has been blocked by a solitary mince pie, but tomorrow we start anew. If we believe we may reach the promised land. James and his weights and his wise words of wisdom will be waiting and there will be neither mince pie or a tea urn in sight.



1. twentysomethinglondon - November 24, 2010

Home counties OR American pilots, of course…

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