Business Genius

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Birds and worms

The theme from Twin Peaks, the opening music for the BBC documentary series Arena and now this beautiful video from Sol Seppy. What do these pieces of music have in common? Nothing except they all elicit the same emotional reaction from me; an inchoate longing for something barely tangible - to feel the way I did when I was 11 or 12. Not just feel it but be there again and experience that bewilderment and innocent ardour anew. When I watch this video I imagine myself standing in a field under a warm sun, alone except for the birds and the worms, my thoughts blurring, wanting to see her, needing to be near her, wondering why I felt this way, not knowing what any of this means.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Everybody Loves Monty

You've got to love Monty. Well, I do. Most of you probably haven't even got the foggiest who he is. He's England's new premier spin bowler. That's cricket. Anyway, he's rapidly becoming a cult figure for his somewhat haphazard fielding (he couldn't catch an STD off a Russian whore). It really is a comic delight to see him in the field. Given that most cricket spectators are the type of people who were uniformly bullied throughout their education, it's easy to see why so many are rooting for Monty. He represents the underdog made good. The slightly incompetent buffoon who's made his way to the top despite an all too glaring deficiency. But in his case, his bowling goes a long way to compensating for his erratic approach to stopping the ball (allowing it to roll through his legs before kicking it into the boundary boards). But will that be enough to cement his place in the team? There are already rumblings that England's extremely pragmatic coach, Duncan Fletcher, might be looking at more prosaic options (a euphemism for people who aren't half the bowler Monty is but can chip in with a few runs at the tail-end of the innings. And catch). I for one hope he resists that temptation. Monty is reportedly working very hard at his catching and deserves his place in the team for entertainment value alone. Long live Monty.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I can tell there's something going on

Discovering new things. That's what I set out to do over here and so far I've been successful. I've discovered plenty about myself, about Copenhagen, about the key to good public transport (bikes, lots of bikes) and, most importantly, thanks to Anne's tutelage, the secret of successful washing up. I've learnt lots of handy little tips recently which have really helped me raise the bar. I barely even dirty the water now. The key is pre-rinsing. Anyway, where was I? Discovery. I've rambled about the net often enough on here but it's something else isn't it? Someone has just said to me they think we'll all be living on the net soon enough. By which I think they meant something similar to what J.G Ballard did in a short story he wrote years ago (I forget the name) where people forget how to interact in reality as all relationships are conducted online. Someone (in what must have been the inspiration for The Matrix) breaks free of the net and makes contact with their family but with horrifying results. Lovely! Well here's something else I've just discovered on the net; a Swedish 'electro-pop' trio called Peter, Bjorn and John. Check out Young Folks at their MySpace page. Try and get past the 'Rainbow' name. They're cool. I swear. I'm in a generous mood so I'm also going to give you this little gem by Soltero, called From the Station. Enjoy! One last note, check out Captain Picard's Journal which I've added to my links on the right. As far as I can tell it's mostly just little pieces which keeps the spirit of The Next Generation well and truly alive but then he chucks in one which makes you suspect he's filtering his own life through the prism of the Star Trek Universe. There's one post where he begins: 'A crucial piece of engineering has broken down here on the Enterprise . . . the washing machine.' Genius!


I was watching TV yesterday (a fairly regular occurence in the life of Business Genius) and I switched it on to TV2 Zulu which is some kind of youth oriented channel over here. Anyway, it was about half past nine, I was digesting a slice of pizza and enjoying a bottle of Tuborg when I was suddenly greeted by the sight of a Japanese woman pissing into some chap's mouth. Now my Danish is a bit sketchy but I think they'd been locked in some kind of dungeon without any water and she was demonstrating survival techniques. Baffling.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Walkmen

The Walkmen have a new album out you might like to know. Here's a funny story about them. A few years ago when they released Bows and Arrows I bought tickets to see them at the Garage in Highbury. I would have gone with my girlfriend but we split up shortly before. I managed to convince a friend to come with me though. However, such was my emotional frailty that I found the whole thing a bit too difficult. Going into London just reminded me of my girlfriend as she had since moved to Kentish Town and about five minutes after getting to the venue I started to feel sick. One minute after that I was outside throwing up my M&S spaghetti bolognese ready meal. Soon after my friend arrived. He was already several pints into his own evening's entertainment but I didn't want to drink. I felt hopelessly lost and alone. Then the band came on and I felt as if at last someone knew what I was thinking. As Hamilton Leithauser (great name) belted out The Rat I knew a kindred spirit was in the room. So I like The Walkmen. Go and buy the album A Hundred Miles Off. Even if Pitchfork have slammed it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What would Leonardo have said?

Landed back in Copenhagen today and immediately took up where I left off - the couch. A man needs his rest after all. The four six-hour shifts I've worked this past week have really taken their toll so I'm having at least two weeks off before heading back to the UK. Anyway, I've been thinking about this film of the Da Vinci Code recently. Despite an absolute panning in the press the film has taken four hundred billion pounds or thereabouts in its opening weekend. Mark Lawson said it was the latest example of the 'critic-proof product'. I say it's further proof of mankind's headlong descent into cretinism. I came to this conclusion after reading that one of the principal characters in the book is a 'self-flagellating albino monk'. I have not read Dan Brown's opus as long ago I vowed I would never dirty my brain with any books which 1/ sell more than 2,800 copies and 2/ have the soubriquet 'publishing phenomenon' printed on the cover. For some reason these words conjure up images of a bespectacled bookbinder, his hands moving at speeds not seen since Data out of Star Trek: The Next Generation attempted to save the life of his android progeny by soldering her neural pathways quicker than they were being eroded by a 'system-wide failure'. Sadly for Data, or Mr Data as Captain Picard called him, he failed. Anyway. A 'self-flagellating albino monk'. Good God. Clearly this is the work of a man who spent his formative years locked in a room where the only books were the Hardy Boys' Detective Handbook and The Collected Ian Fleming (with annotated guide to overdone baddies). Oh and of course that one by those acid-damaged pseudo historians about the 'real-life' search for the Holy Grail. You know, the one Dan Brown copied. Incidentally I tried to read that when I was 17 but gave it up because I HAD A LIFE. So what do we conclude from all of this? Obviously, good things happen to weirdos with bad haircuts and worse prose and Captain Picard was the best Star Trek captain though Deep Space Nine was easily the best series. FACT.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bad news

Well, the wait is over. Unfortunately it wasn't a happy ending and I didn't get the job. They decided to give it to someone with fluent Danish. Apparently it was a 'tough decision blah blah'. I'm actually relieved to just put it behind me now. There's going to be other opportunities. While I'm on, let me just give a quick thanks to all of you who have posted comments on here since I started. It's really rewarding to know that I have a few regular readers. Anyway, it's nearly time for another stint of hysteria-inducing headline writing at the Daily Mail and I have a shirt to iron and a chin to shave.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Selling power tools

Sundays. They should be banned. Today, a drab, grey blanket has replaced the sky. Rain has been falling almost incessantly. A long time ago I worked on Sunday mornings for one of my friend's fathers. He sold power tools. He would pick me up at the crack of dawn and we'd drive to a car boot sale somewhere, set up the stall and then wait for the customers to arrive. It was a highly depressing experience. My most prominent memory of those mornings is of how I'd try and cheer myself up by counting down the minutes until we packed up and I could go round to my girlfriend's. For reasons which aren't completely clear to me, being at my girlfriend's house represented the polar opposite of the melancholy of those mornings. Perhaps I am just a work-shy idler - in fact I know I am - but there was more to it than that. I have always been guilty of idealising people and certain situations but there was genuine solace to be had at her house. Our relationship was turbulent to say the least but I loved her as much as a 15-year-old boy could and I was in thrall of the warmth and peace that I only seemed able to find at her house.
One car boot sale in particular would distress me. It was in a multi-story car park in a town called Hoddesdon and we would go there in the winter when the outdoor sales packed up. The brutalist architecture combined with the peculiar desperation only exhibited at British car boot sales was enough to drive me to the edge of despair. At times my boss would wander off to have a browse at some of the other stalls and I would be left to hold the fort. Grizzled workmen would approach and ask me how much this drill bit was or whether I had any angle grinder mats. My stock response was to stare back wide-eyed and open-mouthed until said workman walked away, realising they were clearly dealing with an imbecile. God knows how much I cost my employer. Added to that I was frequently too hungover to even wake up on time and he would be forced to wait as I dragged myself out of bed, a mounting sense of dread rising up in me like the times my maths teacher started handing back assignments. The sheer misery of those mornings is hard to convey. Maybe there was a lesson to be learned though. You have to take the good with the bad or something equally platitudinous. I heard later that my old boss set up a shop and began importing serious amounts of tools. Apparently he sold the company a few years ago for the best part of a million quid. As for my girlfriend, we are still friends and from time to time I go round to her house where we drink tea and reminisce about being 15. I spy a gap in the grey, I think it's time I ventured out of the house for a while.

Friday, May 19, 2006

My friend

I had a friend once. He was more than just an acquaintance or a mate you chat to in the pub, we had a genuine connection. We bonded over books. We worked together at a clothes shop, an occupation which left plenty of free time for poring over literature. We discovered authors like John Fante, Charles Bukowski, Richard Brautigan, Nelson Algren and Knut Hamsun together. On the day a second-hand bookstall opened in one of our town's antique centres, it was he who had the early lunchbreak and he hurried down there to check out the stock. I was disappointed because I knew he would cherry-pick the best stuff. He returned laden with books and was glowing with excitement as he had found the ultimate book-seller - someone with exactly the same taste as us. My lunch came and I ventured down there, returning with several books. But I could have bought dozens. The guy's surname was Parrot and asking whether we had 'been down to Parrot's lately' became a fixture in our conversation. By now we were getting even more leftfield. We'd gone through a Celine phase, discovered the Calder imprint, turned left at Marguerite Duras and gone round the Blaise Cendrars roundabout. But then we diverged. He went esoteric for a while with Madame Blavatsky and G.I Gurdjieff and I stayed Stateside with Raymond Carver, Carlos Williams, Dos Passos and William Bronk - a little-known poet whose book I found stumbling round a bookshop somewhere in Bloomsbury, half pissed. The chronology of events is a little hazy. He had moved in with a woman we both worked with and had a daughter. They had a lovely house. My girlfriend and I visited occasionally. They were older than us but we were good friends. I went round as often as I could on my trips home from university and we always found time to chat about books. My friend had another passion in his life - underground soul and disco music. He made me several tapes, most of which I have since mislaid, and it was a always a privilege to hear him talk about that side of his life. He and a friend started out on a buiness venture which took them to America in search of vast stockpiles of records. They were beginning to make money too but my friend had quite a fractious personality and I think they went their seperate ways after just a few record-buying trips. So volatile was he that he once threw a remote control at my head when I teased him about some trivial matter. It embedded in the wall about a millimetre away from my head. But I wasn't unduly worried. We had often talked about the extremes of personality; we tried to distance ourselves from the petty concerns of others. We were literate and almost intellectual, so we believed. Blind rage was acceptable to us, a symptom as it was of a world which sought to stultify its inhabitants and shield them from too brazen a reckoning with reality. Such connections are rare. His relationship broke down and soon after he moved out of the house. We continued to be friends for a time but our meetings were increasingly irregular. He left the clothes shop and went to work at the Early Learning Centre. He was made manager. And then he was relocated to Wood Green and our meetings ceased almost entirely. I learned some unpleasant facts about the relationship from his former partner. Things between us were not the same. It's hard to pinpoint when we last spoke. Our mobile numbers changed, a connection was briefly re-established but then it too was severed and I have no idea where he is or what he is doing. I'm not sure why I am thinking of him today. Maybe it's being back home. The old sadness fnds its way to the surface a little easier. We railed together against conformity but the price he paid for his individualism was a high one. I suppose I am afraid of paying a similar toll.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Plan B?
I was waiting to hear about this job before posting again but, surprise surprise, I still don't know. I mailed the company on Thursday to explain I had mobile phone problems and that if they came to a decision then or on Friday they should SMS me. I had a mail back to say they still hadn't decided and that I should bear with them for a 'few more working days'. In the meantime I've been watching a lot of Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter and I've decided that if it all goes tits up here I'm off to Florida to enlist in their Alligator Elimination Corps.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cool French band alert

I found the coolest website I've seen in a long time yesterday. It belongs to French band Domotic and it's ace. Go and have a play. Their songs aren't bad either. Still no word on this job. They mailed me last week to say they would definitely let me know this week. I'm starting to feel like a protagonist in a Samuel Beckett play (an Estragonist, maybe?!). Still, what will be will be.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Charlie and me

A lazy day today; sunbathing in the Assistens Kirkegard (cemetery) over the road, dinner at the deli round the corner. Copenhagen is sweltering. It must sound odd, sunbathing in a cemetery, but it's a popular spot for housewives and the unemployed. I lay and read my book, Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow, and tried to burn off the top layer of skin on my face. I'm 27 and I still get spots. Anne thinks I have a virus, my mum thinks I eat too much cheese. I think omniscient women make me suppurate. At any rate there is something a little peculiar about graveyard sun-worshipping. The thought of thousands of human bodies interred six feet below you is not eerie as such, just a little disconcerting. One's thoughts turn naturally to mortality. Coincidentally, death anxieties are currently making things difficult for Charlie Citrine, the protagonist of Humboldt's Gift. His belief is that our earthly lives are just one phase of existence, preceding our souls' escape into some other plane of being. I am not so sure. But this is not the time for my amateur theology. In other news, I have been asked to become involved in a project a friend of mine is starting around the theme of social sustainability. She envisages a website with occasional printed editions featuring quirky, affirming stories with a credo which revolves around successful social experimentation, creative communication, ecological tools, positive integration. She wants to create something stylish and unique and I would like more than anything to be involved. At first I could not get a handle on what her niche was but we have fleshed a few things out and I think she's onto something. Stay tuned for updates.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Curled up in the backseat...

Happy Hearts is another song I found at Said the Gramophone. This is a collaboration between Okkervil River and Daniel Johnston. It's lovely. A hymn to impermanence and a beautiful fusion of straight-up American angst and indie whimsy. Scroll down the post to find it.

Friday, May 05, 2006


I'm back in Copenhagen. It was quite an uneventful journey home. I felt a peculiar sense of detachment while I was waiting in the departure lounge at Stansted and started jotting some things down in my notebook. It's amusing the sort of reaction you get once you affect a writerly posture. Sat there, pen in hand, gazing around at the tourists, occasionally noting down my impressions, I mistook myself for a genuine flaneur and not the pretentious tool I actually am! Some glance at you worriedly, perhaps suspecting that you're writing about their heavy bellies. Others ignore you with professional disdain but most pass by oblivious....tbc.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Double take

I saw him again today, the flute player I mean. He got on the tube just before my stop so I didn't get to see his whole routine this time. I did a double-take when I saw him; it feels like we are somehow connected now. I am intrigued by him (as you can probably tell). London is pretty well-stocked with oddballs but there is something about his mournful expression which moves me. I thought about him as I walked along Kensington High Street, negotiating a path through all the beautiful people. I pictured him gently blowing into his flute, the vast majority of his fellow passengers feigning deafness, moving from carriage to carriage, tube to tube. I'd like to think that he's a former virtuoso, not quite recovered from a breakdown and unable to refrain from succumbing to his peculiar compulsion of playing on the tube. But that's just the florid imagination of someone who's read too many 19th century French novels. Whatever the truth, he has provided me with more stimulation than anything else these past few days.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The flute player

A flautist got on my tube this evening and began playing. He was quite good. He did a medley of rather sad little tunes and then hurriedly pulled a plastic bag out of his pocket and walked quickly up and down the carriage with it held out in front of him. He didn't seem to want to ask for money though. It was just a perfunctory gesture. No-one put any money in the bag and he went and stood by the door staring out into the dark of the tunnel. It was a strange interlude. As he played one got that odd sense of something piercing the all-pervasive veil of ordinariness; a defiance of the tacit agreement that in confined public spaces, no effort should be made to fill the void between people - metaphysically I mean. Such incidents jar. They are uncomfortable, not just because they force people to examine their consciences. 'Should I give him some money? No, I didn't ask him to come in here and play.' They are also uncomfortable because one inevitably ends up considering the nature of the musician's situation. What pecuniary straits must he be in to come and busk in this way? Most people instinctively and sanctimoniously rejected what they saw as an imposition and pretended he was not there, that he did not exist. Eventually our indifference told and when we stopped he got out and I lost him in the crowd of bodies streaming away, their faces blurring as we picked up speed, indistinguishable from one another. Then blackness and a return to the void. The lights flicker and briefly dim, we are approaching the next station.