Business Genius

I moved to Denmark from the UK, this is my blog.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


Things are on a knife-edge. I should hear this week about the job in Copenhagen but the longer I go without knowing the less confident I get. In the meantime things are going from bad to worse here. I spent the whole day at the Mail today and got to work on one shitty story which did not make the paper anyway. I feel like a complete outsider there. My boss was not in today and my name was not even on the rota. I am not down for any other days either! I'll ring him tomorrow and see what the situation is. Maybe I can get a few more days out of them before heading back to Copenhagen on Friday. I feel uneasy. If I don't get this job there are not many more options I feel. But I really don't want to come home. The daily schlep in and out of London is soul-destroying. And then I get to sit in silence for six hours, occasionally exchanging the odd forced pleasantry with the full-timers but generally being ignored. What does the future hold? Tune in tomorrow for another episode in the not so scintillating life of BUSINESS GENIUUUUUUUUSSSSS.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday night's alright

Shout Out Louds
Right, I'm off out to see this lot. My first gig in Denmark, can't wait. The weather's been lovely today; Anne and I sat outside the little cafe in our street and had lunch. No word yet on the job. I really want it though. Been feeling quite stressed about the whole situation. While it's been fun to be in this limbo and jetting back and forth for a while, basically I want to start feeling settled here and make some friends. Heading back home tomorrow for a week at the Mail. I hope it's my last.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A quick one

Just before I go to bed, here's a link to Brendan Reed. I'd never heard of him but those chaps at Said The Gramophone have struck gold again methinks. Have a listen to this track anyway, it's called Gold July and it's either the sound of a nervous breakdown or a work of genius. Probably both. He used to be the drummer for Arcade Fire apparently and he has a website called Nocarsgo, which is also the name of an Arcade Fire song. A tribute to him maybe.

John Banville and W.G Sebald

Tonight I went to a reading given by John Banville at Copenhagen Central Library. He spoke in a rather monotonous Irish lilt which bordered on the hypnotic. He read from his novel The Sea which won last year's Booker Prize. I'd heard of him but never read any of his novels. But I think I will now. The extract he read was lovely. It had that feeling of understated melancholy I like so much but technically it was shimmering. It takes quite a writer to infuse the quotidian with so much lyricism. Afterwards there were questions and I decided to ask what writers he admired and he settled on W.G Sebald (pictured above) as the author who'd impressed him the most in the past 20 years. I was dumbfounded as I'm reading Vertigo by the same author right now. Banville went on to describe Sebald's death several years ago in a car crash as a great loss to literature. Sebald, a German who settled in Manchester before becoming Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, has a peculiarly idiosyncratic style. He fuses personal and social exploration with travel writing and the result is more or less unique. Banville certainly thought so anyway. He said it was his belief that a 'new kind of fiction' is on the way and Sebald may well have been its precursor. Who knows. At any rate, I would certainly recommend his novels. I remember reading about his death - I think it was in 2001 - and feeling extremely sad. I'd not long read his book The Emigrants and I knew that the world had lost a special writer.


When I go back to the UK I often get asked what Copenhagen is like and I usually reply with a well-honed response about how clean, efficient and design-obsessive it is. I've only been here three months though and the bulk of that has been spent in Norrebro, an up and coming district a few minutes' bike ride out of the centre. I don't really know what makes this city tick and until I get a job (and hence some money) I still won't. Luckily for you though, this chap has summed it up perfectly. Have a read of this. He captures the zeitgeist perfectly in my opinion. The Danes can be comically blunt at times but you get used to it. Anyway, I'm off out to try and find the English bookshop I've been meaning to visit for the past three months. The picture above is of a street in Osterbro - a well-heeled district where Anne used to live.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I can't seem to help myself can I?! Ever since I was 16 I fancied myself as a purveyor of deeply introspective literature and from re-reading yesterday's installment it would seem that not much has changed. A friend commented on here that perhaps I should concentrate on the now rather than worrying about the future. She's right of course but life would be a wondrous stroll along tree-lined, enchanted avenues if it was as easy as that.
I feel I need to make a few things happen; get my energy levels back up. I am meeting with a fashion designer who has a shop here in Jaegersborggade on Thursday and I'm going to try and sell an article about her to ID or something like that. I'm by no means a fashion expert but I think I know style when I see it. Anne and I have been in her shop a few times and both love what she does. Her clothes are quite simple, cotton or silk dresses, skirts, emblazoned with quite bold but definitely beautiful prints.
I've had some other feature ideas recently. As always with me, it's a question of effort and motivation. I have a habit of coasting through life rather like a slug coasts down a submerged yoghurt pot filled with beer. (Business Genius's first and only gardening tip). Anyway, I would like to do something on the rather intriguing housing system here in Copenhagen. Society Guardian or a housing trade journal back home might be interested. Given the feverish interest in anything property-related in the UK I think it could work. I also thought about doing a light-hearted piece on the travails I've had learning the lingo but I think I'll save that for here.
As for the random pic above, that's the window in the loo at Clarence Park, home of the mighty St Albans City FC. They've made it to the play-offs of the Conference South and are in with a good chance of promotion to the Conference proper. Well done lads.

Monday, April 24, 2006


I've been wondering what the point in this is. I desperately don't want to add another tedium-filled 'I did this and then I did that' blog to an already tedium-choked internet. I know that if I was 100 per cent committed to starting a successful business then my daily observations on my struggles, ups, downs etc would make for a genuinely worthwhile read. But as you can tell, events have intervened and if I get the job I have applied for I won't be pursuing the business idea. Not yet at any rate. All of which leads me to make one conclusion about business - it's not for the faint-hearted. I find it so daunting to think that the only thing staving off penury is getting my own company off the ground. Particularly in as competitive an industry as copy-editing. I thought my idea was nigh on revolutionary but the more I dug the more I found that Denmark is well-stocked with native English speakers offering their services to Danish firms needing a helping hand with their English texts. Which is not to say that there is not room for one more. I think I could do this, I'm just not sure I could do it in time to start putting food on the table. I need to work. And fast. The idea of my own company is a dream. In an ideal world I would be getting a steady trickle of income from my little copy-editing company, selling the occasional article back to some English publications, working on my novel and generally living free of the constraints of regular employment. But there's a reason why that's a dream for many and a reality for few. It's bloody difficult!
Getting back to my original point - if this blog is not to be the highs and lows of a would-be business genius, then what is it to be about? I don't know I'm afraid. I think part of the reason I'm here in Denmark in the first place is because I just don't know. I don't really know what I'm doing or why I'm doing it. I just knew I couldn't keep doing what I was doing before. I am just one voice among millions, spewing words out into cyberspace, hoping that someone somewhere might find something akin to their own experience in what I write. I guess that's why we write in the first place. To give form to what was formless. But the net is a new frontier and, just like any new expansion, some people are forging ahead and others are falling by the wayside. Yet more will just settle for their little patch of land, by the creek, next to the approaching railroad. It's safe there at any rate.
I don't know why I am doing this. But I am doing it anyway.

Friday, April 21, 2006


It's good to be back. The dust has settled and I feel a bit calmer. I'm not sure why the past few days seemed so stressful but that's how I felt. My last day at work at the Mail was a nightmare (see below) and that coupled with the uncertainty of not knowing if I would get any more work there contributed to my feeling a bit down. As I outlined yesterday, my interview went pretty well. I hadn't mentioned it before mainly because I hadn't given it so much thought. I was so clued up about my business that I applied on the spur of the moment and forgot about it. Once I was in there though and the boss was outlining his plans and hopes for the future of the company I felt quite involved. I guess he is where I want to be five or ten years down the track. He has would-be investors beating a path to his door but he is staying independent, trying to build the company up the way he sees fit. I know that if I am offered a position there I will take it. The money is so-so, about £25k, but with a bonus scheme on top of that. While that may mean scaling back on my own enterprise I think I have to do it. They work almost exclusively in business communications and I think there is a lot I can learn about marketing etc. He was certainly a pretty passionate bloke and very interested to learn about me, my experiences, my approach to writing. When he asked what constituted good writing for me, I said 'being able to communicate ideas or messages clearly and simply but without sacrificing the shades of grey'. Or something along those lines. We talked about how tabloid journalism differs from quality and I explained that it takes more skill to work for The Sun than it does for The Guardian which he found interesting.
I was very honest from the outset and said I was actually hoping to start a company myself doing something quite similar. I told him how I'd approached some organisations already and gotten some feedback. It was difficult to guage his reaction to that but hopefully he will see it as a sign of initiative on my part. It turns out that we'd both approached Tivoli Gardens with a pitch for work. Surely that must put me in credit?! Maybe he's thinking to himself: 'We'd better get this guy on board? He's a maverick, he'll be taking our business before you can say Jack Robinson!' A more likely scenario though is he saw me out the door and thought: 'Crikey, what a brown-nose. Andrew Fucking Mehrtens.'
Incidentally, I do have more work at the Mail. Getting there was a bit of a palaver though. I rang up and spoke to the chief sub and briefly explained my position, i.e, living in Denmark etc. (Because he was off sick for so long he had no idea.) Anyway, he was extremely surprised that I'd been commuting and asked what my long-term plans were. I lied and said they I had none and I was happy to keep coming back as and when they needed me but as long as I was getting six shifts a time. He said that was good as it meant I wasn't forcing his hand. So we agreed I'd come back next week and do Weds, Thurs, Fri and then Sun, Mon, Tues. Then Anne came back and reminded me we had tickets for a concert on Friday. So I had to ring back and make up some bullshit about going to my mother-in-laws for the weekend. We both started getting increasingly flustered. Dates were getting bandied around. I said I'd come back next Saturday and start work on Sunday and I could do the whole week if they needed. He said 'OK darling.' I did not quite know what to say to that and I wasn't convinced he knew what Sunday I meant but hey ho. At any rate, I've booked my flight and I'll be turing up for work at 3pm next Sunday. Whether or not they're expecting me is a different kettle of fish.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Briefly . . .

I had an interview at a copywriting agency today. It went pretty well. As with most things in Denmark, the office was super-stylish. You had to walk through a sleek, minimalist canteen they share with an ad agency to get there and I felt kind of pretentious just showing up. But it was all good fun. The chap who interviewed me was a Kiwi so I bored him with my 'New Zealand tale' which in a nutshell is how I lived over there when I was younger and went to school with Andrew Mehrtens (former All Black). I think it would be a cool place to work but the actual writing would be dull as dishwater. The bulk of their clients are Danish tech companies or banks, pharmaceuticals etc. We'll see.
Ordinarily it would be at this point that I would regale you with some deep insight into the interview process but it's late and I can't be bothered. Much more to come tomorrow I promise.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Yesterday was a very dispiriting day. In fact I doubt it would have have been more dispiriting if someone had sawn off my head with an emery board, filled my torso with angry bees and then fused my head back on with a bunsen burner. It's not that I was not given anything to do - I was actually given a few leads for once - but I couldn't do much with the stuff I was given. My headlines were feeble, my sentences were unwieldy; I didn't feel so much a sub-editor as just sub-standard. By the end of the day I felt very low on confidence and just wanted to go home. There was no time to discuss any future shifts with my boss either so as of now I am in limbo once more. But if I was him I wouldn't be in a hurry to ask me back.
To make matters worse I ended up staying half an hour later than usual so I could finish off a story which meant I missed my train. I jumped on the circle line and we ended up going nowhere because of a signal failure at Edgware Road. By now I was increasingly fed up and feeling strangely violent. I kept thinking some youths further down the carriage were going to mug me and I was almost willing them to attack me so I could fly into a psychotic rage and, through sheer animal fury, send them on their way to the next life. In the end I read my book. Anyway, thinking I was clever, I jumped off at Paddington and tried to change on to the Hammersmith line. Why did I do this? What was my logic? Not only is the Hammersmith line on the other side of Paddington's extremely large station but it just goes the same way as the circle line anyway, on the same track. I estimate I simply added another 20 minutes to my journey. I am going back to Denmark now and it's not a moment too soon.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Today my grandad and I emailed the woman who is seeking info on her uncle killed in World War Two. She had a series of records detailing various facts of his war record but did not understand the abbreviations. So my grandad went through explaining them to me and I typed them into an email and we sent it off. It was very interesting to learn more about the day-to-day reality of life in Bomber Command. The woman's uncle had a slightly baffling career though and my grandad was puzzled by some of the gaps in his service record. At one stage he was admitted to hospital and following his discharge there was a five month period where no details are recorded. Presumably a medical convalescence. As we sat together I could glimpse my grandad's raid reports. As I mentioned yesterday, this woman contacted my grandad because her uncle served in the same squadron. In one of the reports my grandad's Lancaster is listed directly above the other chap's meaning they took off within minutes of each other. And yet they did not know one another from Adam. Both of them bound for Berlin - the most hazardous of destinations - to try and deliver their own little nail in the coffin of Nazi Germany. But only one would return.
It's strange the connections we make. Tentacles stretched out over time bringing together people who ordinarily would never have any reason to communicate. My grandad may never have exchanged a single word with his former comrade but now, in death, he becomes real for the first time. Alive. The chap he passed at breakfast or brushed shoulders with on the dash out to their bombers barely registered then but now he does. He has become more than a name on a letter or a gravestone. He is someone who shared the same experiences as my grandad. He can't come to know him but at least now he can acknowledge him.

Night Fighter

My grandad had a letter the other day from a woman who is trying to find out more about her uncle who was killed in World War Two when his Lancaster collided with another over Germany. He was in the same (44) squadron as my grandad but they did not know one another. The woman's letter was interesting as she addressed my grandad with the letters DFM after his name - Distinguished Flying Medal. I am often reminded of his actions in the war by a picture that hangs in his kitchen. It is of him and his crew members outside the door of their Lancaster, smiling and joking after returning from a raid.
I love that picture. My grandad was 18 when it was taken. It is difficult to comprehend him flying heavy bombers over Germany at such a young age. But he did. Along with countless others, 99 percent of whom were younger than I am now. In fact I would have been an old man in Bomber Command. An old man at 27.
Anyway, my grandad did a little research for the woman. He has books detailing all of Bomber Command's losses during the war and I think he was able to fill in some blanks for her. She had found out that her uncle also flew some missions with a different crew, captained by a chap named Curatale but had not known what happened to them. My grandfather read her the sparse details from his book. 'Took off from RAF Oldham, such and such a date, shot down by night fighter. All crew buried in such and such cemetery.' And that was that. Eight young men shot out of the sky and gone forever. One particularly poignant detail was the fact that that mission was fairly unique for having eight men aboard. A normal crew was seven but pilots often accompanied experienced crews on a mission before piloting their own planes.
I wonder if he felt part of that crew. The bonds between the crews were especially tight. I hope he did not feel too much of an outsider. The picture above is not of my grandad's crew but it's remarkably similar in composition.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Our correspondent writes . . .

It's one of those lovely, tranquil English spring evenings. Dusk is a few hours off, the birds are chattering and I am going to take advantage of it by heading out for a walk. Sorry for the delay, there hasn't been too much to report. I'm just counting down the days until I go back to Copenhagen. It's difficult maintaining a blog about starting a business in one country but spending a fortnight in a completely different country. I miss my girlfriend. I miss the view from my flat out onto the beautiful apartment buildings in Jaegersborggade.
On a brighter note, I ventured over to the foreign desk at the Mail yesterday and told them about my situation. I asked if I could ever be of any use and they said potentially yes. So I am now a Daily Mail Scandinavia correspondent. Well, kind of. I doubt there will be too many assignments - the Mail is not renowned for its international news coverage - but it is a good opportunity.
I have had some bad news from my best friend down in Australia. Or rather he has had some bad news which it wouldn't be fair to broadcast. But I would like to say how much I admire him for what he's done. He took the leap two years ago and went over to Oz with no job, one contact and nothing but self-belief. He's doing brilliantly out there and he helped me realise that life is there to be lived. He's had a few rough blows in recent weeks but he's bearing up, the kiddy-fiddling reprobate (I joke).
I realise that I've been coming on a bit heavy with the homespun philosophising recently. I'm sorry. There can't be many more annoying spectacles than a self-absorbed buffoon blithering on about life, the universe and nothing in particular.
So i'm going to try and tone it down. Cheers everyone.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Slow day

Something I keep thinking about at the moment is mediocrity. Or settling. As in the Postal Service song The Sound of Settling although I don't actually know what that song is about. When do people accept their lot? When do we stop striving? I guess familiy, careers etc come along and you lose sight of that vague, nebulous idea you had of actual fulfilment. Maybe it lingers on for some, an unrealised hint of what might have been. Something half-seen and shapeless that whispers: 'Is this what I wanted? Is this how I imagined?' I have never stopped wondering. I am just too afraid to actually seek as hard as I should. It's only now I feel I have a little more self-confidence that I have embraced change and relished challenges. But always there's a side of me which walks past nice houses with cars on the drive and thinks: 'That will do me, a lovely wife, kids on the way, bit of money.' But then I fast forward 20 years and I see a sad-eyed man staring out the window at me pondering how it came to this. I guess what it comes down to is being sure. Sure that you gave it your all at least. Sorry this is so brief, it's been a long day.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sowing the seeds (tenuous!)

Yesterday I worked on two downpage stories, neither of which made it into the paper's final edition. It's disheartening to say the least. Today was a little bit different though. I got given a story about a policeman who swindled an old lady out of the best part of 300k. The story was initially a lead on page 35 and I had it cleaned up and in place by about 5pm. Come the six o'clock news and the beeb had made it their third story, giving it a good three or four minutes in-depth coverage. I looked over at the newsdesk and it was fascinating to see the reaction. I don't think they had anticipated the beeb giving it so much attention. The story was subsequently bumped up to page seven and given a lot more room. I spent another hour or so on it and the final version is more or less mine. We'll wait and see if it stays page seven for the final edition; I expect it will drop back down a few pages. It was good to have something juicy to work on though. Speaking of juicy, the other story I subbed was a health scare about apricot seeds. If you eat too many you can die as they create cyanide. Or something. So just watch out.
I forgot to mention the other day I had an email back from another potential client - Copenhagen Council. It was very brief, just a short note saying thank you and that they would keep my details on file. Slightly disappointing but it's early days. It's frustating being away for so long. Having actually got off my arse and made a start on it I would have liked to keep the momentum going. But needs must and I have to do this, just to pay the bills. I don't know how long it will be before any income starts rolling in. Not too long I hope!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Blue Monday

My spirits were at a low ebb today. I noticed it after I got back from my grandad's. I had an hour before I had to leave for work and so I sat in the living room for a bit and listened to an album I just bought by a band called Band of Horses. It's an amazing album but it wasn't the music getting me down. I think I started to feel a sense of routine creeping in to things. I guess it's a combination of being back in St Albans, seeing some of the same old faces, the job losing its lustre. Familiarity breeding contempt is a truism, at least in my case. I just wanted to be back in Copenhagen today at any rate. Whether or not this business ever gets off the ground I feel proud of myself for upping sticks and moving there in the first place. I was so stuck before. The more down I got, the more I tried to get happy by relying on what was familiar. It's true that if you have nothing to look forward to, you just look back. Everything had become so formulaic and staid that I pretended that a comfortable, routine life was what I wanted. I was very wrong. You do have to take risks sometimes. Try something new, things which make you feel nervous. God, this is all real down home stuff isn't it but in my case it was true. I literally was going nowhere fast. Maybe that's why I feel a bit blue today; some of those old feelings have resurfaced. Whatever I do now, I'm just pleased that I have got some of my old appetite for life back.
Read some good stuff in the Media Guardian today, especially this article by Jeff Jarvis. You may have to sign up if you haven't already but it's required reading for anyone blogging at the moment. His basic premise is that with advertisers tripping over themselves to position their products on the web and, increasingly, in the blogosphere, ways need to be found to make it easier for bloggers and ad people to come together. The ad people need to know which blogs are relevant to them and bloggers want a simpler way of realising their revenue potential. Later in the section there's an article about workplace bloggers getting into hot water. It was fairly humdrum stuff but one statistic stood out: 70,000 blogs are started every day. What a daunting thought.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

New arrival

Sorry for the delay; yesterday I woke up at my friend's place in London with a bit of a hangover so came back to St Albans as quick as I could and just vegged out on the sofa. My parents have Sky which is perfect hangover recovery material. I watched Malcolm in the Middle all day. That show is genius. There is a scene towards the end of one episode where Malcolm's mum is reassuring him that he's a nice boy and not the monster he thinks he's becoming. Wiping away a tear, she gives him a playful stroke on the head and sends him to bed. 'Night mum', he replies and then walks out of the bathroom. The camera pans out and Malcolm walks past his dad who has been sitting on the loo the whole time reading a newspaper. 'Night dad', says Malcolm casually. 'Night son.' Brilliant.
I started to feel human again so took a stroll through town down to my old local, the Farriers Arms. It was good to be back. When I arrived it was fairly quiet so I sat at a stool at the bar, chatted a little bit with the landlord and slowly sipped my pint. A window was open and the sun was setting. It was very peaceful. Not quite one of those moments where everything becomes clear but something still quite special. I chatted to some friends about my plans. An American chap who's been living in the UK for ten years or so gave me some good advice about tyring to slowly up the intensity of what I do. Making more calls each day etc. He got engaged a few weeks ago so we shook hands, clinked glasses. Around midnight he came back in with the good news that a couple everyone knows had just had their first child, a baby girl. Everyone cheered. By then I was drunk again. The landlady came out with a big bowl of stew and everyone who was still there had a midnight feast. Sometimes England can be the best place in the world.

Friday, April 07, 2006

On the net

One thing I have noticed about having a blog is how rapidly it takes on addictive properties. Although I doubt there are few, if any, regular readers, somehow once you start throwing this stuff out there it's difficult to stop. I guess it's a question of mediums. I've tried keeping written diaries before but soon gave up. This feels more substantial in some way. More real. Seeing your words on the screen is enough to make any would-be writer feel happy I suppose. I first used the net in about 96 or 97 and I remember clearly the thrilling strangeness of making my first online acquaintance. I think I wrote a review of a Knut Hamsun book on Amazon and noticed that someone else had written a similarly positive piece so I mailed them. He was Spanish and we kept an email exchange up for a day or two and then we stopped, neither of us knowing exactly what the point in it all was I imagine. Now the net is a blur of communication with people you know and, more frequently, people you don't. One thing that fascinates me is the way people personalise the way they use the net. Do people really surf that much these days? For many people, their net use is limited to work and for them it's usually a case of 'log on in the morning, check the beeb or Guardian, have a look at the weather, check the forum they post on, do a spot of banking and then offer to make some coffee'. Getting off your favourites list takes a fair bit of effort these days! Regardless of that, the net is still a huge part of many people's lives these days. I can't imagine how I would successfully get this business off the ground without it. To date, I've used the web to search for clients, get advice on tax and setting up my own site and look for potential competitors. I've used email to contact clients, MSN to communicate with a new contact, Myspace messaging to make new contacts, Skype to stay in touch with my girlfriend while I'm in the UK and this blog to spew out all the detritus clogging up my brain. And that's probably not the half of it. Obviously business existed before the net but business with the net is a different kettle of fish. It's sink or swim in that unless you're at ease with the nature of modern communication then you're just treading water. Here endeth today's sermon.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A bite

Well, sort of. The Royal Library rang me today. Or rather a bonkers-sounding lady called Gertrude did. She said she liked what I had done with the text promoting their Napoleon exhibition but that as the exhibition was closing in a week there seemed little point in using it. I didn't really know what to say to that. I was a little bit flustered as I was in the middle of a busy London street with ambulances and police cars whizzing past. I said thanks and there then followed a rather interminable discussion about my email address. It seemed she had read the 1 as an i or an L and so she had not been able to mail me. She spoke extremely slowly so all this had taken about ten minutes by now and I was confused as to whether I should feel crushed or kind of elated. At any rate she now has my correct email address so maybe that's not the last I've heard of them. Overall I feel happy to have actually had a response. Maybe when I get back to Denmark I can follow it up with a call and remind them I exist.

As for the rest of my day, I went to work and discovered that payroll have not had any record of my being there in the past month and so I won't get paid now until next Friday. My overall boss was back today after a while off ill. The last time he saw me was for the last of four trial shifts I did a couple of months ago. In his absence his deputy has been the one giving me shifts. Anyway, the reports back must have been reasonably positive because he asked if anyone had talked to me yet about 'taking me on'. It's nice to feel wanted but I am completely committed to getting this company off the ground. I'm knackered. I'm going to watch the highlights of the Masters and eat cheese.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Right opposite the entrance to my street in Norrebro, Copenhagen, is the Assistens Kirkegard (Kirkegard means churchyard in Danish). Hans Christian Andersen is buried there as is this chap. For any of you who have struggled through 100 pages of Either/Or and then gone to lie down in a darkened room, the site of his final resting place may be of some interest. But I doubt it.

Heading back to the UK in a bit so my business empire will be on hold for a week or two but I'm feeling pretty good about things. I'm glad to at least have the ball rolling; it's good to know (roughly) where I'm headed. Made a couple of good contacts today. Rang a chap who runs a company in the UK offering translation and editing services to UK companies doing business in Scandinavia and vice versa. Sent him my CV and he said there was a good chance of him sending some stuff my way. Anyway, I have a bag to pack. Cheers.

Off topic

Daniel Johnston

I think I'll probably be doing this a lot in the future (going off topic) but I guess the best blogs grow organically. Anyway, here's something I just came across at Said the Gramophone. If there's any Daniel Johnston fans out there then you may already know about this but if not then this film will, I'm sure, be well worth checking out. I've watched the trailer a few times now and it does give you a good feel of his music. Extremely fragile, like very old glass. Anyway, go and have a look at The Devil and Daniel. Interestingly, the title seems to come from an article a journalist in Austin, Texas wrote about Daniel back in the 80's. As not so many people know, journalists don't usually write headlines as well, so, as the blog on the site notes, the credit belongs to a sub-editor on the paper. He or she is probably still there telling everyone they know: 'That's my bloody headline, the bastards!'
Back on topic, I should have been paid by my paper on Tuesday - in fact I should have been paid the last three Tuesdays in a row - but I haven't been. Now my loan repayment is due in two days and I have no way of making it other than extending my overdraft. Plus my mum texted last night, apparently I owe £50 in phone calls. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

In God I Thrust

One thing I've noticed about Copenhagen is the abundance of pretty cool graffiti. I quite like this one. It was right next to a church coincidentally enough. Not much to report on the business front. I've approached two organisations now with examples of what I can do. I took some text off their sites and reshaped it, correcting grammar and spelling and whatnot. No bites yet but I feel fairly confident in the service I'm offering. I think it's important that I have a website set up sooner rather than later, even if it's just to give the illusion of professionalism. Ideally I will have a client or two to bung up on the site but we'll see. I'm heading back to the UK tomorrow for ten days or so. Should be able to get a fair bit of work but in a way it's annoying to have to go home just when I'm making some headway here. I'll call the two organisations I've contacted so far before I go. Even if it's a no it will be useful to get some feedback. I put the blog up on an Everton supporters' forum I like and got some fairly positive responses which was good. I think the idea of starting your own company is quite popular with people of a certain age. Usually we've worked for quite a while - it doesn't matter what industry - and wageslaving is starting to take its toll. Self-sufficiency is extremely appealing but for most people the financial risk is too great. I'm lucky here in Denmark, our rent is much cheaper than an equivalent place in London. As for me I'm happier than I have been in a long time. I ride my bike, go for coffee, eat pizza in the evenings with my lovely girlfriend and monkey around on the net. What more can a boy want?

Monday, April 03, 2006

The beginning

I put some possessions in a handkerchief, tied it to a stick and moved to Copenhagen. My initial plan was to get a job but it soon became apparent that without knowing the language, that was going to be far from easy. I lay on my couch for a few weeks and told myself that reading the Danish subtitles on TV was an effective way of learning the language. Then I was offered some freelance work back in the UK which was too good an opportunity to turn down so for the past couple of months I have been commuting. One week here, one week there. It's kind of exciting. When you're walking through airports, instead of stumbling around like a wide-eyed pensioner from Lincolnshire, you almost feel like you belong. You pick up a few little shortcuts which leave you feeling particularly smug. I just found out you can check in at any easyJet counter and not only the one marked with your flight. Very handy. You remember to keep your boarding card in your hand for the flight attendant to check and then you huff when the person in front of you holds everything up by rooting around in their pockets for theirs. Sometimes I get a bit carried away though. You walk past a hip-looking guy chatting away on his mobile, a tan leather Mandarina Duck hold-all slung over his shoulder, hair effortlessly messy, CP Company clothes artfully crumpled and you suddenly feel particularly inadequate. I take my phone out of my pocket. Stare at it and will somebody to ring me. The paper I work for needing to check my availability; or an old friend suggesting coffee; anyone. Please?! (But none of my friends 'do' coffee and since I changed to Pay As You Go, I do all of my communicating via text.) There is definitely a stereotype here. Wallpaper-reading late-twenties and early-thirty-somethings jetting around Europe and the US. They have design agencies, they're booking agents, they manage bands, they run PR consultancies, they're something in fashion. They're something somewhere. But most of them are in airports hogging the Wireless areas. They're probably too cool for iPods. This could not continue indefinitely, I realised. My girfriend's father suggested I start my own company a month or so ago. I laughed. And then the word Hone came into my head. I liked it and it summed up what I do (I'm a newspaper sub-editor). We chatted and the bare bones of a business were fleshed out. I would offer a service to Danish companies using English text on websites, publicity material etc. I would take text translated from the Danish (usually badly)and sharpen it - make it more readable and fluent. I would correct spelling and punctuation and, if necessary, rewrite where appropriate. So that was that. Now I just need some clients.