I must apologise for my absence. For the past four weeks I have been in New Zealand. It was a holiday-of-a-lifetime sort of thing. I had always wanted to go. And I was in such a workaholic frenzy in the run-up, trying to leave everything neat and tidy in UKR, that I ran out of the time needed to post an explanatory blog. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it. Of course the real reason is that I was a bit queasy about admitting to anyone that I was taking a whole month off. I was embarrassed, I guess. I don’t know why. I HAD earned it.
Well… I sure needed a holiday. Between my government stuff and UKR, I haven’t really switched off for about three years. And through a weird combination of (in small part) my work being in something of a transition – UKR may have some big things to announce, but not until the New Year, and we are still not enough of a corporate to run to a “help desk” – and (in much larger part) my total technological ineptitude, I swanned off to the other side of the world without any arrangements for access to e-mail. Blimey, I was so disempowered I couldn’t even get my PC to accept my “out of office” notification before I went!
Once out there, and decompressing, I found I could (just about) receive and make calls on my mobile (although the time difference totally fazed me), but my voicemail was wholly unreliable, and I couldn’t get any texts or e-mails or tweets. At all. So this was cold turkey. Naturally I spent the first few days fretting about this lack of contact and trying to remedy it remotely (needless to say, entirely ineffectually) before I just relented and relaxed into having a holiday, eating and drinking and seeing wonderful things. And sleeping (oh the joy of decent sleep).
Did being out of the loop for this time matter at all? Well, you know the answer, of course: not one jot. I returned this weekend to several thousand e-mails, and numerous texts (which are still arriving in strange time order). Of the e-mails, roughly 20% were junk (not counting the “official” junk-mail folder, which I still have to go through, because some bona fide stuff inexplicably goes in there), 50% were nearly-junk newsletters from lawyers and planning consultants and such like, on subjects like the Northern Powerhouse or the Autumn Statement, which I insist on filing in case I should ever need them (who am I kidding?) and about 50-or-so were the jolly social type, with nice invitations to parties or conferences.
But almost all of the rest were round robins among various permutations of colleagues seeking dates for meetings, in the usual vortex of confusion, which were rather the better for my not joining in. There were about 40 emails in total which needed to be properly read and responded to. So…. all my mounting suspicions are totally confirmed: email is a scourge, a pathetic crutch for the likes of me, the pathetic workaholic. And I reckon we used to get a lot more done before we had it (but I still must apologise to all those who thought I was being rude or tardy in not responding at the time).
And what of New Zealand I hear you ask? Well this is a regeneration blog, not a travel column, so I will restrict myself to saying this to those you who have never been: it is all that everyone has told you and more. It is a place of breathtaking, astonishing natural beauty. To weep for and to die for. I did indeed have the holiday of a lifetime. If you get the chance to go, grab it with both hands. It has every landscape and every weather system. It is seismic. Totally seismic. And, for once, this last is not Sadek hyperbole.
Yes, we were in THAT earthquake, which hit Blenheim (heart of the Marlborough wine country) where we were staying that night, at precisely 12.07am on Monday 14 November. Needless to say, ‘imself and me were asleep at the time, woken by the bed heaving, cupboards opening and slamming shut, and articles being thrown across the room. It was just exactly like you see in the movies. It was an experience of some seconds of rather exhilarating scariness (apparently the quake lasted a full minute and was very strong, at 7.8 on the Richter Scale) followed by several hours of standing in a cold hotel car park in the dark. But hey! Every girl should have the earth move for her, at least once. What an extraordinary life experience it was. And I stand totally enriched.
Several (rather rude) people sent emails or texts suggesting that I might have caused it! A back-handed compliment, I choose to think. Although, needless to say, I did not receive any of these kind messages until I returned home.
Normal service resumes this week.