”The steamer Mongolia, belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Company, built of iron, of two thousand eight hundred tons burden, and five hundred horse-power, was due at eleven o’clock a.m. on Wednesday, the 9th of October, at Suez. The Mongolia plied regularly between Brindisi and Bombay via the Suez Canal, and was one of the fastest steamers belonging to the company, always making more than ten knots an hour between Brindisi and Suez, and nine and a half between Suez and Bombay.”
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
The year A.D. 2017. Month October. Any given day.
Banned from using the word ‘busy’, I’m left with ‘occupied’, ‘challenged’, ‘full’, ‘hectic’, ‘exacting’ … or perhaps the more positive, ‘full’, to describe my life. “It’s the new normal,” you say. “Same for you, then?” I reply.
What’s the saying I’m looking for … You are what you eat? Dogs resemble their masters? Stupid is as stupid does?
No, I’ve got it … I AM the job.
I’m not complaining. I’ve said it before, I’m blessed with work. I love my work. But when you realise that the dominant narrative of your dreams – not daydreams – is marine tonnage, bonus structures and Bills of Sales, it’s time to take stock.
Business, last year, was ‘trying’ (another ‘busy’ word) – poor market, some flaky clients, lots of unpaid invoices and difficult staffing issues and we just broke even. This year has made a complete about turn.
Now we have ample, profitable – though complicated – work, a healthy business bank balance, some exceptional favour with clients and more enquiries than we can handle. So receiving a resignation letter from one of our brokers this week has come as a blow.
Now we have an even smaller team (we are just a small family business remember!) to do more work – and just those 24 hours at our disposal. I include my 8hours a night dreaming about jack-up rigs, semi-submersible barges and tugboats – that’s work.
Work-life balance? We try.
We’ve continued our ‘two bridges’ 7km runs – sort of. We don our running shoes about every 10 days / 2 weeks, so every time is a challenge of the super-unfit!
We do, however, take regular evening walks. I love walking at night – the quiet, the city lights, the river, the crisp almost-winter air. Concerning, though, are reports from our neighbourhood watch, alerting us to a bout of stabbings – in the bottom! To combat this, we wear our black Парк Патриот (Park Patriot) hoodies from Moscow, and try to look like not-to-be-messed-with heavyweights. Thus far, neither of us have been stabbed in the rear!
So, balance? Will a bit of this and a bit of that set the world to rights?
Perhaps life has more to do with seasons? Hubby’s Korean friend from university was onto something when he explained that life has less to do with balance and more to do with priorities. My friends with small children say that an 8hour sleep at night is a thing of the past and they don’t remember when last they got to go to the toilet on their own – that’s priorities!
With our ‘priority’ spectacles on, I guess we’re at the toddling stage now. Hubby and I took over his father’s business almost 2 years ago. 2-year-olds are demanding!
I guess, for now, I’ll have to resign myself to nautical dreams. I’ll have less time to study French, write and meet my girlfriends for coffee.
But Hubby has reminded me that I’m Nyamazela. Giving up is not an option.
To those of you also feeling overwhelmed by ‘priorities’, don’t give up. Get creative.
In other news, my weekend looks promising. We have tickets to Jaws in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s a film screening, say the RAH, “accompanied by a live performance of the iconic score which won John Williams his first Best Original Score Academy Award®.” I’m really looking forward to it.
P.s. The ‘two bridges’ run follows the Thames towpath and encompasses Hammersmith and Putney bridges.
P.p.s. A man walking past our local football club at 1:30am in the morning was accosted by 2 hooded thugs on mopeds and stabbed in the bottom – seriously, are bottoms not safe anymore?
P.p.p.s. Why the Mersey? Last week we got an enquiry for a jack-up barge for a 3 month survey job on the Mersey. I also spent last Friday in Liverpool for a charity trustee dinner … I have a soft spot for scouses.
P.p.p.p.s When I studied for my film masters at University of Westminster my final thesis was entitled, ‘The Cinematography of suspense’ with special reference to Aliens (1986) and Jaws (1975). I hope I don’t start dreaming about sharks.