Its just another day

Comments 8 Standard

cossack_dance_02Arcardy is one of our Russian Leaders and visits us each year.    He usually brings about 15 Russian students who are very wealthy but always good fun.    Arcardy used to teach them Ballet, as he is also a Ballet teacher as well as an English Teacher and so they have known him for a long time.   Arcardy is also 65 years old and smokes like a Trooper and drinks like a fish!

The No Smoking signs don’t mean a lot to him. He comes into the Office and never thinks to extinguish a cigarette before entering. His idea of political correctness has yet to be determined!

If we don’t answer Arcardy immediately ( regardless of whether we are on the telephone or not; in a meeting or not or even, ( as had been known once) actually in the Toilet ) he will make a nuisance of yourself until he does get his answer.  I can recall speaking to a mother of a sick French girl and he came right up to my desk. He wasn’t really prepared to wait until I had calmed the anxious mother that her daughter was unwell but safe and so moved nearer and nearer to me until he was almost touching.  ” Out of my space” I wanted to shout!

I moved my seat so that I wasn’t facing him anymore when suddenly a leg whipped over my face and down the other side. It was Arcardy. He was patently not going to wait and was trying to get my attention in any way he could . So whilst I tried to regain my composure, he limbered up at my desk and threw in the odd “ jette” just to show off

Another one of his tactics is to smoke right in your face. I have given up now asking him to extinguish his cigarette before he enters the building but I do object to him sucking hard on his Sobranie and then blowing it out in my face. When I begin to cough – he laughs and feels he has won my attention, if nothing else.

He is always worried about keeping his Charges happy because a lot of them are from ex KGB families. He worries that if they go home unhappy, the father will send someone around to “ have a word” with him and that is something that Arcady doesn’t want to have happen. You can understand his thinking, I guess.


His latest reason for an appearance at my desk is that one of his students has thrown her mobile phone into the river. The father called Arcardy and told him to go into the river and try to retrieve it. Arcardy was torn between being sensible ( it’s a fast flowing river and we didn’t want it to be one man down) and keeping the father happy. In the end he came to me and asked if he could buy a mobile phone locally and have it back in time for end of lessons. He said that if the girl didn’t get her phone by lunchtime, the father would not be happy and he knew where  Arcardy lived in Moscow. Its one of the times I saw Arcardy not only chain smoke cigarettes but drink down 3 triple espressos. You can imagine how nimble he was at doing exercises by my desk that day!!

Another time a Mother called him and said she wanted her daughter to see Edinburgh. I tried to tell Arcardy that Edinburgh was in the north of the country and we are firmly on the very most southerly point. That still didn’t satisfy anyone and he said that if we didn’t get her daughter to Edinburgh for the weekend, his head would certainly be on a plate!

So we spent the best part of the day hiring a private plane from Shoreham Airport to take the daughter; Arcardy and 2 of her friends to Edinburgh for the weekend. Arcardy wasn’t pleased at flying in a small plane and again had a few large shots of Vodka to calm his nerves…… and here is a tip from Arcardy – if you don’t want a hangover the next morning, always eat a whole cucumber when having a shot or more of vodka, Apparently it calms the stomach and settles the nerves, or should that be calms the nerves and settles the stomach )

When he was away for the weekend, he conscripted one of the older girls to be “ in charge” of his group. Of course this wasn’t really necessary because we always have one of our own Activity Leaders with the group, but there isn’t telling Arcardy anything, regardless and anyway, he says that if we don’t do this he will be “ reported anyway”!  To whom, he never eludes!

I am, however, always sorry to see him go. His two weeks with us here in the Brighton always goes too quickly and I am sad when its time to leave. Taking him to the airport is usually quite a sombre occasion but I know that it wont be long before he drops me an email and books for the following year.

As they say in all the right places…. Nostrovia, which for anyone who reallys knows Russian will know that it is a miss-pronunciation of the word Na Zdorovie (На здоровье)

Anyway, in whichever language you speak…. Cheers!.. hic hic..

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Until next year and safe journey home….


Alaedene blows the budget….

Comments 17 Standard

Sometimes when I walked into the Office I think I am at International Departures, Dubai.  Its a case of ” spot the English person” and its nothing to do with Brexit or illegal Migrants.  Its just another day in the office.

Out of the 8 people in the office, ( excluding our Teachers) we only have 3 English people.  It makes for a great mix and lots of Latin outbursts or North European coolness.  Currently with Summer School just under way its all rather frantic and by 10.00am I am looking for some headache pills.  Yes, I am taking lots of water but it doesn’t seem to help.   The deep breathing and lying on the floor for a few minutes doesn’t help either.   Not only does not one take any notice of me on the floor but they neatly step over me without offering any assistance.

Lana ( from Ukraine) has taken to walking around the office with a headet permanently attached to her head and sometimes ( well quite often actually) she forgets to unplug it from the phone and the said phone ends up dragging along behind her whilst she makes a double espresso or has a comfort break.  Thing is, she doesn’t often notice until its too late and eventually she is going to pull the whole thing off the wall and we will be ” without comms”  ( although at times it does have a certain cache about it).



You may remember she had a bad day once and instead of photocopying the Certificates, she shredded them.  Allegedly by mistake.  After standing at the machine for twenty minutes she complained the photocopier was slow as the Certificates had not come out, but in fact they were in pieces in said shredder.  I have forgiven her….

Irma who now has an ally  in   swamiyesudas    ( do read his super blogs) has been tightly controlling the Petty Cash and the buzz words throughout the office are ” respect the budget”.   But more of that later.

She also thought she should take the parents of one of the students to task by telling him that he should not hang around his daughter when she is on a course with us.  To be fair she is right, but telling him in such a blunt way may not be ideal.  She told him that he was welcome to join the group to Hampton Course provided he didn’t hang around with the main group but could just hitch a ride with us.  The poor old Papa was so scared by her that when I assembled the group this morning I noticed that he was waiting across the road.  As we moved out to cross the road, he saw us coming and picked up speed ensuring that in no way could Irma determine that he was ” with the group”.



By the time we had arrived at the train station he had already bought his ticket; purchased a skinny Latte macchiato and devoured most of the Metro newspaper.  Poor man, he probably will be scared to talk to his daughter all day now.  It was her first time away and so worried about her, was he, that he asked to be placed in the same host family as her and wanted to sit in on lessons.  Well we didn’t allow him to sit in on lessons or come with us on  the bike ride, but its a shame he is cramping her style as we really want her to mix with the others and make new friends.

cycling marina

Day 1….. none of these kids above had met each other before but you can see how well they have ” bonded!”  ( hate that phrase, it makes them sound like a stick of Glue)  So it was great to see Papa let his little girl come with us and gain some confidence.

Anyway back to Irma  and she really does seem to have taken on a terrifyingly new persona now that she is in charge of, not only our Spanish Department but the booking of all activities.  She has made some great savings on both Hampton Court and Spinaker Tower at Portsmouth but I fear its only because she is bullying the people at the other end to give us ” great rate. great rate”.   In my quieter moments I am pleased.  Any savings we can make are always good.   But before any of the Activity Leaders can go out on trips she gives them strict instructions on what to spend; what to do and when to breathe.   Below is Alaedene ( yes my trainee Pilot moon lights for us in the summer whislt his college is closed ) explaining to Irma that he did indeed buy 45 Magnums yesterday for the students because it was hot.  


After he had explained why he did this , she grunted and said ” well at least its raining today, so you wont over spend!”

And finally…

for those of you who are curious about Mr Wu, who has as you know taken a sabbatical, we have found him here….

mr wu

and so if you are ever in London, be sure to visit.

MSM – GUARANTEED!!  16c47-smileyfacewinking






Royal pavilion and Funerals a plenty

Comments 6 Standard

I never thought I would ever hear someone really say ” Do you know who I work for?” as in,” I am a very important person and I wont take any shit from you!”  But hear it I did in the form of Irma ( aka Mrs Panamanian) speaking to some poor Booking Clerk at the Royal Pavilion, but there you are.  She goes and does it anyway.

The Royal Pavilion is a confection of Indian ( and Chinese) extravagance paid for by one of our more louche members of the Royal Society.  But it is a “Must Do” if you visit this part of the country…. and thousands do.  However, Irma could not understand why they wouldn’t accommodate 55 French students at 10.30am on a certain Wednesday in May and what were they going to do about it.  She has a tone about her which can immediately ruffle feathers.  Not meant, I know, but it doesn’t help.  As the situation continued, and I watched her cross and uncross her leg; snap a pencil and pace the floor I could see the conversation wasn’t going too well.  By the time she had demanded to speak to the Manager the only way this was going to finish was ” badly”.   I couldn’t bear to hear any more and left the Office.

Whilst it can be very funny and interesting listening to different accents and conversations in foreign tongue, it can also be quite wearing trying to understand the cultural differences.  I have had to move Irma’s desk closer to mine which isn’t the best way to start my day, but I cant have her irritating the arse off Mr Wu or, Lana, our Ukrainian any more.   If I keep her next to me I can throw a paperclip at her or divert her, if I feel the equivalent of the Cuban Missile Crisis is about to kick off all over again.

When I returned after a brisk ( de stressing) walk of fifteen minutes, she was still on the phone but in slightly more buoyant mood.  Apparently she had managed to get the Booking Clerk to change the time to 11.00am which even if it wasn’t 10.30., then Irma would see it as a mild victory.   She told me afterwards that she will just tell the group to get there for 10.30 and barge their way in.  I daresay they wont disobey her.    

As I was seeking out some liquid refreshment, sadly only in the form of Camomile Tea this time, I caught Lana, our Ukrainian, bent over the Air fresheners in a very odd fashion.  Okay, I’ll tell you.  She had one arm above her head and the other was holding the Air freshener! Every time it puffed some synthetic perfume out, she put her underarm in front of it and took the full force.  ” Lana what on earth are you doing?” I ventured but deep down knowing I shouldn’t.

” Oh, no deodorant today.  It run away ( I think she meant, ” it had run out”) so I use brain cells and think, this smell nice so when it goes poof poof I use it for nice smell under arms. No want to smell like Russian old lady picking potatoes in field!” and she winks at me.

” …and Lana, tell me,  is the Fresh Cotton fragrance to your liking?” I ask dryly. 

She shrugs her shoulders and says.” ok. Its ok.  My favourite is summer breeze but none left”  I am slightly dumbfounded because Lana has reduced the time lapse between sprays and now we have her smelling like some cheap perfume ( I might have actually preferred the Russian Potato Pickers armpit smell instead of the heavy cloying fragrance which is now lingering around the office) as it is dispensing “fragrance” every 90 seconds!  I leave her as she now has it angled at her thighs  ( I kid you not) and the term ” too much information” forms speedily in my brain.



I decide to have an informal chat with both Lana and Irma on the slightly thorny subject of Office Etiquette and at the same time I asked Irma not to say ” do you know who I am or who I work for” because the British don’t like that sort of pompousness and it incites others to bring about our downfall.  I try to smile and spread largesse about the community, not rule Brighton with an imaginary rod of iron.  She shrugged her shoulders and walked away.  A few minutes later, she was back.  ” I have to go to a funeral today”

” Oh Irma, I am sorry.  Was it someone close?”

” I didn’t know him.  I am going because they always have good food and I might find a nice man there!  Let’s see. ( another shrug of her shoulders)   I wanna go to one funeral a week now. My target.  I just read the newspaper to find a good one on and stand with other meanies (??) and see who is about.  Might meet nice rich old man there.” (Yes, I know readers, I also think she meant to say Mourners not Meanies, but as always with Irma, you never can tell!)   f47ac-dsc_0763

I smiled at Lana. “Just finish photocopying the Certificates please .  You will have to use the one in the Teacher’s room.  Ours is broken”  I had lost the energy to say anything else and slumped over my desk

” Yes I know it is broken” she replied very determinedly and laid her head on my desk so we could lock eye contact.  I caught a whiff of Air Freshener.  It was acrid. Vile.  ” so I used the other one next to it” she continued…..

I immediately sat upright. “Er, what other one next to it, Lana?  We only have one here”

Sharp exhale of breath from Lana. “One next to big copy machine.  I put the Certificates in – nothing happened yet. Very slow!”   I just wish she wouldn’t reply to me in a tired terse voice. It does hack me off!

“Lana…you bloody idiot ” I screamed, yet again…. ” you have just destroyed 40 Certificates.  Its a Shredder –  not a photocopier”

“Hmm” said Lana ” No wonder its slow doing copies”