It never rains but it pours, is, I believe, the pithy saying of relevance right now. And I’m not referring to the weather, although it is apparently flooded in Bucharest again - much to my astonishment since it’s been a glorious Indian summer up here with nary a drop of rain for the last fortnight.
No, I am referring to the life of a freelance* worker. Having spent the last week doing an intensive course on intercultural communication (of which more later, when a moment can be spared), I am now preparing for a team building workshop this afternoon and then later tonight set off for Bucharest for the first leg of my ridiculous journey to Kyiv (via Amsterdam – see previous post on this subject). I’ll be home at about 4am on Monday, and then will start another intensive week-long course on educational management at about 10 that same day. For a workshy fop such as myself, it’s a daunting workload. Is this what fatherhood’s all about? Sacrificing the opportunity to arse about on the internet all day long in order to work one’s bollocks off in the name of financial security?
(Why “freelance”, by the way? Sounds like a campaign to liberate the winner of the last seven Tours-de-France. Or an offer to rid one of boils for no payment. Hmmm. I’ve looked it up in the excellent Online Etymology Dictionary and it seems like it came from a term for medieval mercenary, which I suppose I ought to have guessed.)
We took the opportunity of a free couple of days this weekend to bomb off to see the in-laws in Targu Mures, which was good. I was pressed into picking grapes (as opposed to being picked to press grapes), and found myself quite enjoying it. As a teenager I hated my occasional forays into paid fruit picking work, but maybe this was because I, a criminally under-oppressed middle class white lad who fancied himself as the Cesar Chavez of South Cambridgeshire, was working for the man. In this case I was working for the greater good of my community and family (or something) and so actually felt good about the whole enterprise. I suppose it wasn’t entirely altruistic as I do end up drinking a significant quantity of the wine that is produced from these grapes, but all the same, I feel it added to my sense that we’re all happier when doing work that contributes to something other than a pay packet for oneself and profits/share dividends for someone higher up the chain. I realise this is an old-fashioned viewpoint, but screw fashion.
After the grape and walnut picking activities were over (fresh walnuts, by the way, are gorgeous), we retired to a bar by the river where we met up with various cousins and had a beer or two. There were two blokes there who had clearly been drinking all day – seriously fucked up. I realised that I will probably never be like that again, and while I don’t exactly regret that fact (one day of drinking these days leaves me out of commission for a week), there is a certain pleasure to be had from just sitting down at lunchtime for a pint and ending up losing track of time and sanity.
The scenery right now is gorgeous. Driving to and fro across Transylvania through the multicoloured autumn leaves was frankly stunning. Having lived in Vermont for six years, I know stunning autumns when I see them, and believe me, I’m seeing one here. Hopefully all the leaves will still be on the trees when I get back from Ukraine. Transylvania must mean “beyond the woods” but I’m not sure which woods we’re beyond – seems to me like we’re in them.
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