Last week’s blog came from my sick bed. I am pleased to report that this week’s comes from my balcony – it’s a balmy day here in Manchester: not particularly sunny, but humid and with little breeze. Lots of people that I have seen are in shorts; men are drinking out of cans; women have their bra straps on show. It’s that sort of a day.
But what sort of a week have I had? It started early on Monday (5.30am to be precise) when I woke up to get ready for my day-trip to Oxford. The first port of call at the most famous of University cities was a business school in the centre where I had been booked to teach two hours of interpersonal skills and business protocol. The audience was all girls of around 19-22, all with hopes of becoming Personal Assistants or secretaries – they were a receptive and willing audience (which is half the battle) and asked lots of questions – their Principal said to me at the end ‘it’s interesting to see which girls asked questions: you managed to get questions from girls I haven’t heard speak all year’.
After this, I taxied to BBC Oxford to record series 2 of my mini etiquette guides for their morning show. What happened with the first series was each day for a week I answered questions that the Oxford public had asked about a different area of etiquette. In series 1 we covered: social etiquette, business protocol, dining etiquette, letter writing, and finally international etiquette. For the new batch, which will transmit in the summer sometime (I’ll let you know), we have covered (not in this order): money/tipping etiquette, royal protocol, dining etiquette (again, as there is so much to say), social networking etiquette, and dress & appearance. It was huge fun recording these with my friends Louisa (@louhannan) and Henry. After we went round the corner to have a drink and some focaccia (Italian bread). Lou found it very funny that I pronounced it (incorrectly – I always struggle with that word) ‘foc-aysha’. Although she hardly has a leg to stand on when she once pronounced it as ‘foch-ach-ee-a’! Lou, Henry and I all had a good old gossip about lots of different things – the things I learned on Monday – scandalous some of them!
I then went to kill some time taking tea at The Randolph Hotel, and ended up with the highly respected actor Simon Callow sitting on the table next to me. He kept clearing his throat in a loud and thespian fashion, which did make me wonder whether he wanted to be noticed.
The following day Louisa had Mr Callow on her show as a guest (he was in Oxford to perform in a touring play) and she commented to him that I had seen him in the hotel the following day, to which the actor replied ‘oh yes, the gentleman in the navy suit and purple tie’. Well, smugness levels soared when this was reported back to me. I’m easily pleased.
Wednesday saw the rather unpleasant task of helping two friends clean their student house. Their other housemates had deserted them, and the landlord had said they would lose their deposit if it wasn’t clean at the hand-back. Now, if only students would clean throughout the year and not leave it for an entire 9 months before thinking about wiping skirting boards, putting bleach down the loo, dusting the tops of surfaces, that sort of thing. I won’t go on about what I found (the fridge was a particular low point) but let’s just say I felt really sick by the end of the day… Although gathered myself in order to cook them dinner at my flat… not sure how I got that deal – they seemed to do remarkably well throughout all of that. Heigh ho. I did a Caesar salad (with home-made croutons!) and blueberry friands.
What else happened on Wednesday? Erm… Oh yes! The England football match. How could I forget that? I for one couldn’t wait for it to begin… I was straight in my car to the supermarket, which was nearly empty. I spent some quality time in the aisles, which was sheer bliss.
Thursday evening I was guesting on the Footie-Free Zone on BBC Radio 5 Live – which is a slot they’ve got running during this ghastly world cup where any talk of football is banned – well, with me booked there was no danger of me bringing up sport of any kind.
The highlight of Friday was seeing Matt at BBC Manchester (@mattyfwhite) to record my monthly slot on his show. June’s topic was gym etiquette. We also recorded July’s piece on social networking etiquette as I am away from the wonderful city of Manchester for the entire month. Boo hoo. Matt found a noise I made imitating gym-posers to be highly amusing and clipped it and played it several times over a song. I have uploaded the audio and you can hear it by clicking here. It made me laugh. I sound ridiculous.
My domesticity has returned – I felt it departed me over the last two weeks for various reasons. I also made this week my first key lime pie – never made one before, and I think for a first attempt I did very well. Maybe it could be a bit more limey – when I make it again I shall add one more lime.
It’s the weekend now, and I can smell the flat below warming up their barbecue, which is annoying me as I associate barbecues with people enjoying themselves in the sun (which is something I dislike as people get very sloppy and silly when the sun comes out in Britain). I think I’ll retire inside after posting this.