C. got up early this morning and was picked up for another drive down to Heathrow and another trip overseas with her new job. Now, I know that all this international travel sounds tremendously glamorous, but I've done enough of it myself to know that the reality of it is often rather different: it's extremely tiring and stressful, and most of the time you would far rather be at home in your tracky-bums watching a bit of telly and not eating room service in another soulless hotel.
It wasn't all that surprising, therefore, that C. spent quite a lot of time huffing and puffing about her trip as she packed her bag last night. This time though, my sympathy is limited.
She's going to Monte Carlo.
She's staying in the Fairmont Hotel in Monaco.
She has no specific role at the conference and no duties other than to attend.
Ah yes, she said, but it's going to be tremendously boring.
Yes. But boring in Monaco is not at all the same thing as bored in Nottingham, is it? You're in bloody Monaco, for starters.
But I haven't been given any guidelines about what the dress-code is, she said, so I'm having to pack loads of stuff, including a ballgown, just in case. After all, I don't yet know if I'm going to be invited to the party on the yacht....
....Oh, you poor thing, I said.
She rang me at work this afternoon. Twice. The first time was to tell me that she had been met at the airport by a chauffeur holding up a card with her name on it and driven from Nice to the hotel. The second call was to tell me how, when she had gone to check in at the hotel, the receptionist had seen her name and told her that she just needed to speak to the Duty Manager. She then heard the receptionist telling the duty manager that there was a V.I.P. checking into the hotel, and so the duty manager came over to welcome her personally and to show her to a room with a balcony overlooking the harbour. I'm very much looking forward to her next call: perhaps she'll have won big on the roulette wheel with a chip given to her with the compliments of the management, or maybe she'll have just had dinner with George Clooney. Who knows?
There are business trips and there are business trips. This is the kind of business trip where you are pushing it if you are expecting much sympathy.....
Do I sound at all bitter as I sit listening to the football on radio and sipping from my cup of sour grapes?
Still, someone has to stay at home and keep the home fires burning, eh?