My love of the job is well documented and possibly tiresome to those close enough to hear me spout off about how wonderful my career has been, indeed I am known to shout about it from the highest peaks and hottest deserts around the world.
Part of the privilege is an enormous amount of travelling, to some, a trip to impossibly fabulous places around the globe is simply the most glamorous thing you could find yourself doing, let alone being paid for. This in part, could be true.
I have been doing the whole Phileas Fogg thing for quite some time and now there are a few things that I feel should be aired. What better time to air it than whilst sitting in my Milan bedroom spasmodically flicking between CNN and the BBC World Service. I know the global news so well that I could present it without an autocue, and I find myself desperately wanting a well loved national hero to be exposed by operation Yew Tree just so I have something new to watch, you’re starting to now get a glimpse into globetrotting in all its glory.
I have had romantic dinners followed by long walks along a Greek beach as the sun sets over the horizon, the sea is still and warm as we paddle in the shallows, the only thing that is slightly out of place is that I’m sharing this honeymoon brochure scene with an 18 stone ex marine commando. Now I love Edi very much, he is talented and a genius to work with, but he isn’t earth shatteringly beautiful to look at and the reality is, this blog would have a slightly different undertone if Mrs Proto were swapped with the commando.
One has to also consider the taxi at 4:30 in the morning, which seems to take longer to arrive at its destination than the flight your about to check onto. Once you finally arrive in departures you switch to autopilot and go through the motions of check in and automatically starting to undress yourself for security. One day I fear the autopilot will override my sense of decency and I will go too far, undressing to an unacceptable level and leaving the waiting security guard on the other side of the game show metal detector in fear of more that just terrorism.
You look at those “holiday people” in Duty Free and think they are deliberately rubbing it in by wearing flip-flops and shorts in December, a hidden bout of Tourette’s overcomes you, “have a bloody nice holiday I hope hurricane Bob blows your Lillo out to sea” under your breath of course and it of course might mean a new news story to watch!
I am without doubt a great self-confessed hotel critic. Quite literally I have stayed in hotels (in the loosest form) with no glass in the windows and having to share with a donkey to the Metropole in Moscow; which, indecently, had marble pillars in my bedroom. Each has a veneer like an itch that, when scratched, no matter how stunning, reveals a Hotel Budapest that has crashed into Fawlty Towers. The front line always being a slightly dubious concierge who could write off the African national debt with his funding from extracurricular activities. Ask if you can leave your bag under his desk and you get a Kenneth Williams “Ooooooohhhh; Anything else, Sir?” quickly followed by both eyebrows disappearing over above the chaps forehead.
Eating is another landmark moment when all the other lone businessmen sit in solitary confinement at mealtimes. The rules are, no conversation or eye contact with each other, you must stare at your mobile phone answering pretend emails and, you can only eat steak with chips!. Happily, I’m not alone for long and eventually an entire crew check in to start drinking the establishment dry by night and regretting it every morning thereafter.
Dinner time is also when the traveler is reminded of the comforts of home and calls for loving reassurance, if you’re unlucky, the kids answer and reveal that they didn’t even know that you’re thousands of miles away or that you’re not actually even in the house. It’s a hard pill to swallow and usually washed down by Mrs. Proto putting you on hold to continue her affair with East Enders.
“Why don’t you go and see the sights…?” I hear you say. Well, I hate to burst the myth of a lavish and cultured lifestyle but mostly I spend the entire time either in a venue or in a venue. We are sent on these missions behind the lines to execute well laid plans, timed to use every minute of every day efficiently and ironically usually penned by us. I would love to present a project to a client with a zoo trip or a day out at the museum for the crew, sadly I fear the response would be a poke in the eye followed by a wedgie.
Nope, we are an eventful invasion force designed to parachute in, get the job done and then retreat; ready for the next theatre in another beautiful and stunning place that we never get to see.
Would I change it? Naaa. For all its faults and crippling Easy Jet flights, we meet some amazing people. The language of events is universal as is the passion to produce great things in short spaces of time, the work of many is often hidden behind a fabulous set held together with cable ties and Gaffa tape.
Only the few know the time, effort and crappy hotel hardship that goes into creating something great; and at the end of the day, we can stand back and be overwhelmingly proud of what has been accomplished even if we have endured dreadful coffee, rude taxi drivers and perverted concierges.