We’re all going on a summer holiday

News on the latest media grapevines is that the credit crunch, if not over, is certainly getting less crunchy – things are smoothing over as it were. In chocolate terms, less Cadburys Crunchie and a touch more Galaxy. So it would appear then that the lid has been lifted for the reinstatement of the overseas summer holiday. Goodbye to stay-at-home chic. Who were we ever kidding anyway – Cornwall versus Caribbean? I know which one I’d rather make a beeline for.

The age old issue with packing up and jetting off at this time of the year is that, annoyingly, it coincides with precisely the time of year that every other family and their dog is embarking on the same game plan. Once the school holidays start, the flood gates are officially open. Gatwick airport becomes a purgatory on earth of package holiday makers: pasty white at departures; lobster red and blistering at arrivals.

So quite understandably, given we are yet to be bound by the constrains of national curriculums, we made it a point to time our trip to return just before the madding crowd was unleashed. And not a moment too soon; the day of our departure saw the pool area deluged with a slew of teenagers, keen to shake off the presence of terminally embarrassing parents. 

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all parties of the household. Mr A and I even managed to pretend to be members of the civilised childless sect for a few hours a day, indulging in uninterrupted sunbathing and reading, while our one year old took her daily afternoon nap. The biggest downside of a good holiday though is the bump of reality wrought by the return.

Suddenly I have resumed sole ownership of nappy change again – a chore too readily shared if not shunted. Though not without relinquishing the task one last time on the return flight (which surely still counts as part of the holiday) – a shrewd move in light of Mr A’s struggle in the restricted confines of the inflight toilet-cum-baby change. It turns out our less-than-ladylike toddler firstly kicked her soiled nappy to the floor, spilling and scattering its contents to the floor. Then while her repulsed and red-faced father was trying to retrieve the offending matter from the toilet floor, she found a new challenge in trying to kick him in the head while still lying on the changing table. Needless to say, the holiday was officially over at this point for all of us.


“You’re Beautiful; You’re Hired!”

[This article was first published on 4th August 2009, on http://life.hereisthecity.com/get_cultured/entertainment/culture/1031.cntns ]
This morning I stumbled upon the real-life set of The O.C. nestled in the deepest recesses of shopping mecca, aka The West End. Or so it appeared.

British accents aside though, this barrage of beautiful people could believably have been shuttled in from Orange County, ‘where all the beautiful people live’ (apparently). So, where is this stomping ground overflowing with young replicas of Adonis and nubile Venuses, I hear you ask?
It is none other than the infamous Abercrombie & Fitch store, affectionately known to some as Abercrombie & Filth. Having only ever frequented its older sibling stores in the US, the hype over this flagship London store’s widely reported ‘Look Policy’ (i.e. only employing visually pleasing sales staff) and bare-chested male models greeting shoppers at the door, I put down to just that. Hype.
But I can now assure you that there is fact behind the fiction (with the exception of the bare chest myth, though it was a rainy morning and a touch chilly). The HR department seems to have raided the local modelling agency for out of work models looking to fill some downtime. It certainly solves the mystery over the permanent snaking queue of customers at its door, in the style of nightclub entry beyond the velvet rope. Indeed, bar the beer goggles and entrance fee, the experience is not dissimilar: darkened corridors, strategically dimmed spot lighting, club music with a heavy bias to the bass, and a surplus of young people.
It made me wonder: do beautiful people make better sales people? And if so, what sort of uproar would be wreaked if investment banks implemented a similar ‘Look Policy’ in their job spec when doling out sales roles? I daresay placing an equities/FX/derivative order is not too different from buying a T shirt/sweater/shorts – the choice is abundant, sizes vary and there’s always (usually) an option to return or exchange.

The only notable difference is that a portfolio manager can’t ask his sales person to try on his trade and parade around in it before buying.