A Thought On Nicolas Sarkozy: How did a conservative, pro-American sympathiser win the presidency of France, a nation "bitter at American dominance"? Not only that, but he has a tough anti-immigration stance, and his victory caused little stir in the banlieus.
Although, I did note the irony of France reflecting the USA again*, in the first occurrence of a female and a minority running for president in both nations.
*Cf. French revolution inspired by the American one.
Yes, pigs fly, Olivia has mentioned politics in her blog. Well...I don't usually like the vehemence of the discussions, that's all. I don't mind debate, but some people really take this stuff personally.
The busy past week:
At the start of the week I discovered that another, possibly more distinguished academic organisation wants to interview me for their same department that I am in at the arts org. International Strategy - and it's from a totally different agency as the one that put me here...what a coincidence. So, interview possibly middle to late this week, as the head of the department is away.
The week at work will start off stressfuly, as there are two events, which have remained muddled in my mind for the two weeks I've been there. Friday afternoon was tough because my boss left as she always does, at 4pm, leaving me to allocate money for an event from a budget even she couldn't find on the system, and the London office had no idea. So I just went through and (carefully) PICKED ONE that looked somewhat related to the department and the purpose and had enough funds available, and emailed all concerned, including one of the budget holders...who approved it a few minutes later, to my immense relief, as it was nearly 6pm on the eve of a long weekend.
Wednesday I met up with some bloggy friends and acquaintances at the bar under the Soho Curzon cinema. Or movie theatre, just to wind some people up...
Thursday, though...now that was a night to remember. I went on a [should I admit it?] dinner dates event at Gilgamesh in Camden. Good Lord. You've been to a palace, and you've been to a restaurant. Well, this restaurant was more of a palace. Come to think of it, no detail was overlooked, but then that was the way at the turn of the 20th century in the "pleasure palaces". That thought has only just occurred to me. Take for instance the Egyptian-themed Cafe Royal on Piccadilly. The ceiling is of gilded papyrii..sorry - off topic.
Have you read the Epic of Gilgamesh? (Wiki summary here / Online text here.) You should, it is the oldest written legend.
Ian Pengelley's Gilgamesh (the venue) leaves no surface untouched. Every wall is made up of carved and sculpted friezes of curly-bearded Mesopotamian warriors and camels and palm trees. It was like being at the Assyrian section in the British Museum. The tables are inlaid with brass foliage. The chairs, that's another story. They are like small thrones, plush, velour, damask. The arms really are arms with hands that wrap around the front legs which come up to arm level and end at a knop. Were it not for the knop, the throne would fit under the table and we girls wouldn't have to sit on the edges of our immensely comfortable seats. The DJ music was chilled and never overpowering. The only thing that disagreed with me was the LED lighting on a continual slow cycle of pink, green and indigo, which hurt my eyes.
Not a morsel of middle eastern food appeared on our set menus. We had chopsticks from beginning to end as apparently the menu is Pan-Asian (my fave!), starting with salted edamame, shrimp tempura sushi, Thai green curry chicken, and finally fruits and dessert. Every dish was truly delicious. Edamame is pretty foolproof, so I'll skip that. The sushi was delicious, and they provided pleasantly light soy sauce, rather than the usual dark salty one. I think I will buy light soy in future. I usually avoid Thai green curries as I find them too heavy on the coconut milk and too light on the fragrance, but this one was just right, and spicy too. They used pea aubergine and egg aubergine. (Both shaped like their namesakes.) Even the jasmine rice was perfectly steamed, not too sticky, and fell apart with the right pressure. The dessert was cleverly done. Large sharing bowls of totally exotic fruits sliced into finger food sizes: dragonfruit, starfruit, kiwi, pineapple, melon, passion fruit. In addition, small boats of banana and peanut butter crumble. Yes, you read right. Banana and peanut butter, and it was delicious.
Now on to the dinner guests. We had assigned seating with placecards, alternating males and females. Across from me was a very cute and pleasant young lady, who I am sure received a lot of interest the next day. At the head of the table to my left was an intellectual and talkative young man in advertising. He knew a lot about the sorts of things I can talk about, so we got on well, except he talked too much about it all. You know, he could tell me all about the history of the Persians' beards and the whole Spartan mentorship of young boys, etc. Just wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise about it, so therefore didn't realise I knew almost as much. So, intelligent, but a bit too much so and as a result a fringe-nerd.
On the other side of me was a fellow with whom I had only one exchange after shaking hands, and that was when he ID'd my surname as being Greek. Other than that, he was a sap with a terrible lisp, and he talked mainly to the other side of the table. Across from me next to the other girl was the guy I had chatted with during the drinks reception, something to do with telecommunications and living in Kensington.
The guys make the swap before the dessert course. Name cards are flipped over, but unfortunately someone messed with ours whilst we girls were on loo break. I was disappointed that the guy who was assigned to my left had been moved opposite but one because I found that he emanated so much kindness - I don't believe in auras but am sure he had one. I don't think I have ever said that about anyone. He was Serbian, born and educated here, tall and fair, and really easygoing and just really nice.
I was stuck instead with a calm guy who made no impression on me whatsoever (unfortunately he was interested in getting my number the next day), and then on my right a fit and compact type-A high-powered banker who was a bit drunk (obviously buying beer apart from the half-bottle wine allotted to each guest) and kept hitting on me. He asked me three times in the space of 15 minutes: a) what's a beautiful girl like you doing at an event like this? I said I wanted to expand my social network; b) why haven't you got a boyfriend? I said I could not answer that; c) Why don't guys chat you up? He answered that one himself. He said guys don't chat up girls like me because they're cowards.
After a while he realised we were not on the same wavelength, what with him being drunk and all, and started apologising profusely for offending me or having any other unsettling effect on my sensibilities. Not his words, but that's what he meant in a roundabout way. The calm guy on my other side took him - hehe - very calmly - even did his cufflinks up for him on his giant cuffs that came below his cashmere jumper sleeves (get the idea?). Apparently many of the guys know each other from previous events, and go skiing together and the like.
The reason I said earlier that the dessert was cleverly done was because we had to share 3 small banana crumbles between 5 people. Somehow the Serb offered to split with me. I dished out a bit at first, and he did that comfy thing that nice people do where he winked and wrinkled his nose and nodded in that kind way, whilst indicating I should take more. So I did, and we joked about the shape of the little boat being suitable for sliding the dessert out like an oyster, to which he replied he had had oysters the day before. Oh la.
When first introduced, the drunken banker had started off on the wrong tack with the Serb, with a reference to the old Yugoslav conflict, and the poor guy had to rebuff with nearly the exact thing I would have said, that basically that is so passe and that the new baddies are [from another part of the world]. I agreed and said that bringing that up was such a 90s thing anyway.
So, the 4 hours passed quickly, and I made my getaway at midnight, after everyone had moved to the bar and drunken banker had come over to me again and said we were being "continually thrust together". Sheesh.
Would you believe that to sit at the bar tables there is a minimum spend of £250? And all the tables were full. AND this is not Mayfair or Chelsea, it is Camden.
When I got outside there was a young homeless fellow ending a passing comment with two men who had left the restaurant about sinking and rising and heaven and hell...then attempting to bring me into it, he said how can you sink lower if you're already in hell/rise if you're not in heaven (I forget which). Walking slightly ahead of me as I went at a purposeful pace, he asked if anyone was bothering me (yes, him); I said no. He said, Would you like me to walk with you? I said no thanks. He said, If anyone tries to bother you just holler and I'll come. As he departed he said, "Homeless people can be nice you know." I would have liked to say that I didn't doubt him, but that I didn't need protection from anyone - as he was the only person on the street directing attention towards me - and that I had just spent the last 4 hours talking non-stop and didn't need another person to deal with...
Anyway, I have booked the next event at Taratai (where I nearly booked my birthday!).
TWTWTW = that was the week that was. Did you guess?