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June 2011
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Goldsmiths Ltd.

Simple Things

View from the roof (yes, that is a bed)

Last weekend was spent in Mallorca enjoying the definitive perk of working in magazine journalism: the press trip.

If you’re not sure what a press trip is, imagine a school trip, but substitute the damp youth hostel in Swanage for a five star hotel, and the educational objective for getting drunk and eating nice food, and you’re pretty much there.

We were in Palma, half of which is beautiful and steeped in history, half of which is a concrete mecca for hens in glittery cowboy hats. We were in the old bit, near the cathedral, a wonky grid of very pretty and very narrow cobbled streets, each featuring at least one shop selling lizard souveniers.

The lady who conducted our Saturday tour of the old town explained that ‘the leeezard eees a very important part of Mallorca, eeet is a local leeezard’ – a part of me I’m not proud of found the way she pronounced lizard very funny and I might have brought up the local lizards more times than absolutely necessary because of this.

Bottom right of this shot is a creepy, Spanish-speaking Winnie The Pooh, probably soliloquising on why it was suddenly so hot and where the hell Chrisophe El Petirojo had got to and since when could he speak Spanish.

There was also a great deal of women dressed in Disney inspired flamenco outfits, smiling bravely in the heat through the layers of crinoline and polyester. Spanish Winnie The Pooh and the flamenco ladies had little pots in front of them where you were supposed to deposit money as a thank you for dressing up / learning a second language.

I imagine this is a bit of a thin enterprise, especially when you’re competing with a vast array of lizard keyrings, lizard bottle openers, lizard-shaped lamps and (my personal favourite) screw-in-the wall feature lizards. I was tempted to bring a feature lizard back for my parents, who would then be forced to hang it up by the back door whenever I came down to stay.

I was in a very silly mood for most of the weekend. I’m not sure if this was aggravated by tiredness, the aforementioned luxury school trip vibe or just the sheer excitement of being in another country for such a frivolously short period of time. After dinner on the second night, we were asked to fill out feedback cards. I gleefully ticked all of the far right Very Good boxes (as the food was brilliant, but there wasn’t a brilliant box) and followed with:

How did you find the overall experience? Very good!

What brought you here tonight? I heard you were very good!

Name: Verity Goodwin

Email address:

Any further comments: That was very good!

This really isn’t funny now. At the time, over-sunned and full of tapas, I found it side-splittingly hilarious. A stark reminder that humour is always context-reliant. It reminded me of when Stacey and I were 14 and we decided to see how many times we could include the word ‘porridge’ in our end of year Home Economics exam (just the sort of crazy shit you can expect from an all-girls school in Surrey.)

Though we had persuaded at least 20 others to do the same, we were caught and rounded up as ‘the porridge ringleaders’, on the basis of our having used the word at least 43 times in one essay. Possibly already sensivite to implications that her subject was lightweight, the head of department was furious, and as punishment we were forced to create a five-board display all about porridge ’since you seem to know so much about it’.

Stubborn, point-proving bastards that we were, we went to town on the display – there were porridge leaflets, giant porridge bowls with pull-out porridge facts, a 3D border of spray-mounted oats, porridge poetry and essays, talking cartoon porridge men. It was brilliant.

I’ve forgotten why this story is relevant. Let’s move on.

After dinner on the second night we went out until 6am to a club called Il Divino, packed to the rafters with twenty-something girls in white corsets being bought drinks by their ‘uncles’. This was people-watching at its finest.

The following day was spent nursing a hangover here:

The visual is to help you understand that the prospect of peeling myself off a sunbed to get to the airport for the 9pm flight wasn’t hugely attractive, particularly with news that it was raining cats and dogs in London  (or lloviendo a cantaros as our Castillian friends would say).

In the event we were early to the airport and ended up killing time here:

I started giggling about the fact that we were drinking coffee in a place called Ars at 7.30 Spanish time and was still giggling about this when we landed four hours later in rainy Inglaterra. I giggled about this on the train home, in the cab from the station, walking upstairs to bed and when I was brushing my teeth. Again, perhaps it’s all about context.



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