Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fresh Eyes

A few points before I get to the meat of today's post:

I. When someone about to interview you says you have an impressive CV, are they just saying that, or do they mean it?

My "impressive" CV hasn't served me well since I got it!


II. Yesterday was a long hard day at a venture capital firm in the City, not far from where I worked last year at M-C.
The kitchen was fancy - red cabinetry and stainless steel fittings, all automatic soft-close. However, it wasn't stocked with as much tea or biscuits and fruits as at M-C, which definitely had a snacking culture as well as lunch delivered in. But...this place had a mini cafeteria with free food! So between midday and 1.30 pm you can go eat. Chili con carne and wild rice, tacos (the first I have seen on offer in London), baked potato, three types of salad, fruit plates, cheese and cracker plates...


Every spring, there comes one day when I fall in love with London all over again. Today was the day.

I went to the interview at the Arts Council this morning in bright warm sunshine. It was a straight shot down the Jubilee line to Westminster and barely took half an hour door to door. Whilst dodging tourists, I got to walk past the Houses of Parliament, ask a cute police officer if I was going in the right direction, and gawk at lots of exquisite architecture.

The building I went into was also lovely on the outside. Red brick with stonework, big vaulted wooden doors, and in the lobby there was a stone fireplace and oak "linenfold" panelling.

It was a casual interview with two people, so I was in for only 20 minutes. They liked some of the things I said. I was put on the spot a few times when I had to answer impressively about the role of art in modern life and why looking back at history is important. It's funny how in interviews you can come up with stuff you didn't know you knew. They made all the right sounds of approval. At the end I even asked some questions about which organisations were involved in the project and what they hope it will have become by the end of the year. They said that was a good question.

I got chatting with the receptionist. She is from Los Angeles, also with a master's degree in art history. She did a bit of finance here and nearly died inside, so she is happier earning less in a gentler environment.

I know I will miss earning that kind of money. It will be nearly half what I was getting at M-C, when all I did there was audio, and here I will be an actual project administrator. Oh bah humbug. The compromises we have to make...


When I left the building, I wandered around soaking in the warm sunshine, and taking in the beauty of Westminster Palace and its environs. In fact, I wished I had my camera with me. It's a good thing my phone camera is good for blogging. Unfortunately, I ran out of space faster than usual since I had uploaded some MP3s onto my media stick, not leaving much room for photos.

And while I was out, I fell in love with London again, as I do one day every spring. Life begins again. There were miles of daffodils in St James's and Green Parks, blushing blossoms on the trees, courting pigeons underfoot. The air was light, the sky was blue, the sun was warm, and the breeze was soft. I felt happy.

I walked through St James's Park, crossed Pall Mall and passed Buckingham Palace (Her Majesty was at home), then through Green Park to Piccadilly and along there to Fortnum & Mason. I haven't been there in many months.

I saw my old friend, a lady who has worked at the deli since I was studying at Christie's. I used to go there for more affordable sandwiches and wraps than those offered at nearby Italian cafes, and she and I would chat. She missed seeing me and said I ought to go round more often. They no longer make sandwiches like they used to, but she offered to make me one anyway, and any time I ever want one. She said she would have liked it if I got a job at the Royal Academy across the road.

I always treat myself after interviews, I don't know why. I bought my usual medium box of assorted chocolates, and she even managed to fit in a couple of marrons glaces (glaced chestnuts), a box of Rose Pouchong tea, a jar of rose and geranium jelly, a jar of quince jelly (I had to stop there or else I would have brought home the violet jelly, lavender jelly, earl grey tea jelly, pomegranate jelly, and rose petal jelly too!), some Bahlsen choc and coconut biscuits, a box each of Duchy Originals sweet oat cakes (the best) and cracked black pepper oat cakes, a lemon for my smoked salmon (forgot yesterday, and have discovered that undressed salmon is a bit ick), a bottle of F&M chili tomato ketchup, some old fashioned sausages, and a box of freshly handmade asparagus and padano ravioli.

Oh, me spoilt, I know :P


Westminster Palace:

Parliament Square

Thought the Americans would like this one. A bus, the bell tower of Westminster Palace (only the bell is called Big Ben!), and the London Eye across the river.

Westminster Palace peeping out from behind Westminster Abbey

Crossing Pall Mall between St James's Park and Green Park, Buckingham Palace is on the left. Her Majesty was at home...


Ames said...

Exquisitely written (that's my new favourite word..exquisite) Almost felt like I was walking with you..I fell i love with London too. Beautiful place when the sun is shining..

Love you

Selba said...

last year, I already planning to visit UK and Scotland but cancelled because the concern of getting the british visa which is very difficult for us indonesian these days. But someday... yes, definitely someday, I would like to visit London again!

Love very much if you can share more pics about London :)

The Moody Minstrel said...

Wrong. I don't like that Double-Decker Bus/Big Ben/Eye of London pic at all. It's too cliche in a touristy sort of way, and that just rubs me the wrong way. (Actually I'm kidding, m'lady, but it's not my favorite pic.)

London in spring sounds just lovely...and tasty too considering that haul of food you described in such luscious detail!

(Did I just say "luscious"?)

Maybe I should post something about Kashima in spring...or did Pandabonium already beat me to that?

At the interview, what did you do when the interviewers rang the little bell and said, "Good niiiiiiiggghhhht, tinga tinga tinga ting,"?

Ricercar said...

love spring! so glad its here
atlast ...

pinkjellybaby said...

free all you can eat food? my god that must be some place to work! i think i would end up like a weeble!! x

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, these are BEAUTIFUL pics!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, these are BEAUTIFUL pics!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, these are BEAUTIFUL pics!!!!

Anonymous said...

sorry about the three comments. For some reason it wasn't posting.....or maybe it's too early and I am not awake yet......

Olivia said...

Well, darn!

I responded to everyone's comments this morning and then lost them all when Blogger kept timing out!


Ames - cool, I used that word too!
I am glad you enjoyed the walk; it is my favourite kind of post, I think. When I get to take my readers with me.

Love you too. xxxx


Selba - it is so worth a visit, and when you do come, I can show you round London :)


Minstrel - ah, I wasn't thinking of you when I took that pic. I was actually thinking of someone I met, the boyfriend of my roommate's mother a couple of years ago. They came to London, and he was decked out like the usual retired tourist in sneakers, blue jeans, baseball cap, windbreaker jacket, and camera around the neck. He wanted to see 10 Downing Street which is of course now invisible behind barriers and police guard.

I haven't seen Pandabonium's post on springtime - but it would be nice to hear about Kashima after the deluge of pollen!

Finally, at the end of the interview I talked about how hot the sunshine is in the UK these days, and what a pleasant walk it was from the station to the interview.

Sound ok?


Ricercar - I wish spring could last longer, start summer later, thereby bumping winter right out of the running! Does that make me a proponent of Global Warming? hehe!


Pinkie - LOL, well hello you ;)

You couldn't be a weeble, as the amount of food was presented in dinner party portions rather than industrial cafeteria pots!


Anonymous - Oh dear, welcome!
And thank you :)

No, I had a problem earlier too with comments on Blogger.

jia and Travis said...

ooh London in Spring, its finaly warming up here

Olivia said...

Jia (AND Travis) - Is he commenting with you now???

amillionpieces said...

Wow, I really hope that you get the job with the Arts council, you're an art legend. The photos are lovely, I really like Westminister.

I was reading back over a couple of days too, and I LOVE your taste in Alfa Romeo's!

Chris in MB said...

great photos!

btw how is it that with every profile pic change you still manage to appear progressively cuter all the time??? :D

jia at Travis said...

I should send u some pics of St John's, the snow is melting, its warming up. I'm moving to a hse with Gwyn

tooners said...

aaahhh, such beautiful pictures. brings back a lot of memories for me. i love this area of london.

i hope you get the job! i would hope that when ppl tell you that you have an impressive resume, that they mean it. altho, i understand how discouraging it is when you don't get the job. sometimes though, ppl are just looking for something else. i really do wish you luck in this... i hope you get it.

all the jellies sound fabulous. mmmm... makes me want some toast! i love how you treat yourself after interviews... that's really a nice thing to do. never thought about doing that... maybe the next time, i will.

sometimes i think i fall in love w/ bahrain once a year. but then, i blink, and it's gone! ;) ;)

Olivia said...

Pete - oh no, art legend? Well no but yea but thanks! :P

Would you ever own an Alfa?


Chris - gosh, it's a terrible affliction to have...specially as I am actually getting older!


Jia - moving again? I should start putting your addresses down in pencil!


Tooners - if you have never seen this area from the top of the London Eye, then you should one day. It's a wow.

It's been two days and I am still waiting to hear the result of the interview. My consultant keeps calling me to say how she has been chasing them up. Even if I don't get it, at least she is reserving a 2 week audio job for me.

When do you go on interviews??

I had both jellies on my soy and linseed toast this morning. The quince jelly was just sweet and pleasant, and the rose geranium was absolutely fragrant! Next time, I will get the lavender and the earl grey tea jellies, I think...

What is it about Bahrain that makes you fall in love with it, albeit for that split second? ;)

Anonymous said...

sorry, I forgot to sign my comments

PS: I really wasn't awake.

tooners said...

hmmm... what is it about bahrain that makes me fall in love w/ the island??!!! well.. i love the quaint little streets w/ ppl walking everywhere... seems everyone has someplace to go and that is a weirdly (if this is a word) unique feeling sometimes; the smells; the old, old bldgs in muharraq; the souq... these things give me a good feeling on certain days. and then... during this time of the year, i love all the flowers blooming. reminds me of home.

tooners said...

and i do love the fact that it's an island. i always said that i wanted to live on an island far away.... and wouldn't ya know it... i am, but find that i bitch about things more than i thought i would... so.. i guess i could say to be careful for what you wish for! even still, most days i do really love being here... but it doesn't mean that i don't miss home like crazy and often wish to be there. we always want what we don't have, huh?!

Olivia said...

You, VANESSA! You know, you can put your name into the name box and still not have to give any more info?


Tooners - OK....yes, I know what you mean...
funny how all over the world, there are always people going somewhere. Sometimes I want to ask them where they are going.

Yes, we do always want what we can't have. Grass is greener and all that. I guess we never lose that habit from childhood.

Dan said...

Great photos of London, Olivia. London is my favorite city in all the world!