A week in the sun is a very, very good thing – especially when your very efficient assistant ensures that work calls happen either first thing in the morning or end of day; you find out that other good friends decided to book into the same hotel for the same period; the weather never lets you down; and you instantly find a rhythm that allows you to dream about new business ideas, future escapes and the next chapter of that book you’ve been working on for far too long. Long morning walks, longer lunches and hours to daydream also allow for plenty of time to rummage around the cluttered corners of your mind, do a bit of restacking and come to terms with some essential truths.
1. It’s official.
I have a short attention span and it’s something to be proud of. I have come to accept that my life has been marked by passionate affairs with certain enclaves and that these usually turn out to be rather costly adventures. The Sweden years were marked by the purchase of an island in the Stockholm archipelago. The Beirut years found me with an apartment in Achrafieh. And an Easter trip to Südtirol seven years ago turned into a villa in Merano.
In October, a long weekend south of Athens had me looking upwards at all those bountiful, flowering balconies and pondering life in Vouliagmeni. Since then I’ve felt as if I’d bought a lifetime, all-you-can-ride pass on the Greek bus but a week in Spain now has me asking ¿Grecia? ¿Dónde? ¿Qué? I was charmed by the glimpses of modernism in the heart of Marbella, bedtime found me searching for architects to build a small hotel and I was thinking about making that long-promised trip to Galicia. And how did I arrive at this moment of clarity about my extreme flakiness? While shuffling around all those files in my head, a lifetime, all-you-can-ride pass for the Spanish bus was found, crumpled up. I guess it’s okay to come full circle, no?
2. It’s official, part two.
I have a violent streak that surfaces when people use mobile devices at full volume in civilised settings. It’s something I’m really struggling with as I can’t understand why people think it’s acceptable to do a video call around a pool or let their children play video games in a bar with the sound cranked up (why are the children in a bar in the first place?!) – or why a pair of grown men can watch sport highlights in a café and feel that everyone else wants to listen in. It’s a battle I know I’m losing. So far the only treatment is my partner Mats muttering “cool it” as he attempts to calm me down. To date it’s worked about 50 per cent of the time.
3. I have an extreme case of ECD.
If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s only been identified recently and mostly afflicts journalists or those who consume a lot of media. Editorial Compulsive Disorder usually sees the sufferer spend a few minutes scanning a magazine, newspaper or website and then reshuffling the articles into an order by which they will bring the most pleasure, information or annoyance. The article about the removal of historical signage because it might offend future generations becomes a last-read; the feature about a woman who decided to launch an appeal to save the lobby of her building falls among the middle-reads; and the news story about a government minister who wants to do more to ensure more mobility and freedom for young people rises to the top. While this might suggest that I simply like to read the good news first and prefer to defer all that I find negative, there’s a hook.
As I never want to end on a low point, I will always try to find a columnist dispensing a bit of balance or common sense to make me smile. And when this doesn’t happen, I need to put pen to paper. In response to yet another “let’s erase history” piece (in this case about Zürich’s misguided city government), it could be suggested that the only winners from cancel culture will be the branding agencies who will soon be tasked with covering up all Latin-based words or anything related to ancient Rome as that was clearly a civilisation that did more much wrong than good. If they’re so passionate about patching over history then they might want to look at their own brand to start. Zürich is derived from its Latin name Turicum, so surely that also needs to be covered over at some point. As for Latin in the local curriculum, it’s another candidate for the now overflowing landfill of history.