Sunday, April 28, 2013

Press interviews and a meeting with the Minister, bad news for Spanish football, Master Chef, Oli on the TV this week, the Paradise, Suzy is 29 and other stories.

Sunday 28th April 2013
Suzy, 29 today!
Hello again everyone,

What a week it has been again.  Work has consumed a lot of my time but I have to say it has been enjoyable and very productive.  I will have told you many times that work and leisure converge for me, in that I often don’t distinguish between the two, getting enjoyment out of both.  I also think the secret of being good at your job is actually liking it and I love mine, the head of communications (also known as PR) for Yoigo – yes you know what Yoigo is, the 4th mobile operator in Spain which is 76% owned by the Nordic (Swedish Finnish) telecoms operator TeliaSonera who recently announced they will not be selling us and who look forward to helping develop the company in the next few years.

The first proof of that decision was the visit of the head of Mobility Services (the division in TeliaSonera that includes Yoigo in Spain together with their other operators in the Nordic and Baltic countries) on Monday and Tuesday.  I refer to T.K, my boss’ direct report, a tall and bold man just turned 40 who is actually Finnish.  It was music to my ears to hear the familiar Finnish accent when he spoke English.  I was to take care of the communications activities of his visit which were an interview with Expansión (Spain’s top financial daily), an after work get together with the staff and then the coordination of a press release with the Ministry of Industry when he and my boss were to meet the Minister of Industry, José Manuel Soria, on Monday to explain Yoigo’s plans to launch 4G (you know what that is too don’t you?  The new mobile  technology that will improve our experience using mobile phones dramatically with much higher internet speeds and bandwidth for downloading multimedia of all sorts and kinds.  So I was really pleased with the headline of the press release: “José Manuel Soria welcomes Yoigo’s plans to be first to market with 4G in Spain”.  First to market is really something special, if you think we are such small fry compared to the other 3 more established and big operators.
The meeting with the Minister of Industry (in the middle)
Of all three activities, the interview with Expansión was the most stressful because I had to translate the questions from Spanish into English and then again from English to Spanish, as well as all the in between comments.  You have to concentrate really hard and your thoughts cannot wander because if they do, you lose the thread and won’t remember what the question or answer is.   The questions were tough too I can tell you as the journalist, Nacho, is a real veteran in telecoms and knows his subject really well.

So Monday and Tuesday were pretty crazy but everything went well, not least because I had worked my *** off over the weekend together with Anna, the reliable and never tiring head of communications of TS Mobility Services.  Neither of us knew until the Friday before what was to be expected of us on Monday and Tuesday!  I always think though that I thrive on challenges where there is a time constraint, like the events of the beginning of this week.

On Monday night I was able to relax with all the family, i.e. both girls for dinner, certainly one of the highlights of the week for me.

On Tuesday in between coordinating the press release with the Ministry of Industry, I made another set of fantastic meringues.  I was not to eat any until the next day as on Tuesday I fasted.  Usually I fast on Mondays and Thursdays but the former was out of the question this week as I had to attend a management team lunch at Yoigo with our distinguished visitor from TeliaSonera.  I was the only woman at the lunch, something I still find rather awkward.

Tuesday was the day Barcelona was to play Bayern Munich in Germany in the first leg of one of the semi finals of the Champions League.  My Father and Eladio watched the match together in the lounge.
My Father and Eladio watching Bayern Munich beat Barcelona on Tuesday

I’m glad I didn’t as I was devastated to hear the Germans thrashed the Spaniards 4-0.  It was a very embarrassing result indeed.  

I totally forgot about the match and the awful result when I watched the third episode of the Spanish edition of Master Chef.  Eladio is not at all interested or so he says, but he was awake the whole time, so I think he secretly actually quite likes it. 
I'm really enjoying Master Chef
On Wednesday in between working on my 4G communications plan, I had time to make salmorejo (thick gazpacho typical of the Córdoba region) and our very favourite “perushki” (little Russian pies with mince meat, onion and rice – my Mother’s recipe).
My perushki
Olivia much appreciated the wonderful lunch when she came home late from work.  That morning she had been on television reporting on an initiative for schools to make children aware that some 60 million under privileged children in the world have no access to education.  A red chair in their classrooms is the symbol of there not being enough chairs for these children to be able to go to school.  I saw the video later of her report which you can watch here if you click on this link and then fast forward to 11.33.  If you carry on watching, you will see how Marilo Montero, the main presenter of the programme, actually congratulates Olivia in public on how well she did the report, knowing exactly what questions to ask to get the small children to reply properly; not just saying yes or no. The secret here is that Olivia loves small children.
Olivia interviewing a little girl in one of her live reports this week
On Wednesday afternoon, I was once again stressed and busy, this time because at very short notice I had to get out a media alert on Yoigo’s launch and sale of the new flagship phone from Samsung, the S4.  I had little time to react and needed the ok from the communications people at Samsung as well as the person in charge of terminals at Yoigo.  The good news here is that our prices were the best of the 4 big operators in Spain, so I hope sales of the much anticipated phone will have gone well when it started selling on Saturday. I was on the alert and working on this from about 6 in the afternoon until nearly midnight.  So when my boss sent me a whatsapp the next morning at 9, I was able to tell him the alert had gone out just before.  Phew was what I felt when I answered him.
The S4 went on sale with Yoigo this Saturday with the lowest price in the market
While I was busy on the media alert, Real Madrid was playing Borussia Dortmund in Germany.  The match could only be seen on pay per view channels which we do not have.  My former boss Johan very kindly kept me updated but when I heard Germany was once again beating Spain with 4 goals to 1, I didn’t want to hear any more.

I got a bit of sweet revenge later by watching a film about catching an old Nazi.  I posted this on FB and a German friend of mine, Volker, commented “fair play”.  I’m not sure whether he was being sarcastic or not; judge for your selves.

Unless Barcelona and Madrid can perform a miracle in next week’s second legs of the semi finals, it looks like this year’s Champions League final will be between two German teams, not exactly what fans of football around Europe will be  happy about.

Thursday saw me at the office again, this time for a meeting with Ericsson and Samsung who will be joining us in a press conference I am organizing for the 7th May where we will be announcing our concrete plans for the exciting 4G launch this summer. 

That day Suzy had taken time off from work to help her beloved ex neighbour Elena with her removal, as she was changing flats and leaving Villanueva de la Cañada for Majadahonda.  Below is a photo of Suzy with Elena and her sister Chati on the removal lorry full of Elena’s stuff.  For the record, Chati who is an out of work nurse (in the middle of the photo with sun glasses) will be going with Suzy to London in May.
Suzy with Elena and Chati when Elena moved flats this week
For the fourth time this week I was at the office again on Friday.  It was for another meeting with the communications manager of Samsung Mobile and then for another press interview.  The latter was with my boss and the media was the Spanish news agency, Agencia Efe.  I have known the journalist who covers telecoms, Ana G. for many years and sitting in on the interview with her is like having a cup of coffee with a friend.  That’s the nice part, the risky part is making sure she doesn’t get news you don’t want written about as it’s not public yet.  As I write this here, I have just looked to see if she has published the interview and bingo she has.  You can read it here in Spanish of course.

That morning Olivia was to be on television at 11.30 about a court case for embezzlement by Marisol Yagüe during her time at the Marbella Town Hall.  I was able to see it later here via video streaming and you can too if you click here and go to 11.30h.  Oli told me later she had had literally 10 minutes to prepare and knew nothing about the case.  For not knowing anything I think she did a pretty good job.
Oli reporting on a court case on Friday
I was to miss her next report on Friday at 13.10 as I was driving home from the interview at work.  But amazingly these days, you can watch tve1 live on your mobile via the +24 or applications available on most smart phones.  So I parked my car just before and from the comfort of my seat was able to watch her report.  It was about how a group of mentally handicapped people had collected kilos and kilos of food for poverty struck families; another great initiative. You can see the report here if you go to 13.10h.  I must add here, just how great it is to be able to watch TV live on your mobile, something, unthinkable of just a few years ago.  Ah and with 4G the user experience will be even greater.  The photo I took of her reporting was actually a screen shot from my iPhone and of much better quality than the photos I usually take of her on the television.
Oli's live report on Friday which I saw live on my mobile phone
This week was busy for Olivia too, not just because of these reports but also because she was preparing a video about the Madrid marathon which is being held today.  She did a lovely story about a group of senior runners who have run every edition of the Madrid marathon since it began and what motivates them to do it.  The video report was shown on her programme on Friday but it was also shown on the TVE main news and on the TVE sports channel today (teledeporte), something that rarely happens. You can see it here.

Finally it was Friday afternoon and the end of the working week.  We went for our usual walk with the dogs and it was cold and windy as it has been most of the week.  The treat that day was dinner out.  Eladio and I decided on Ginos that night where I enjoyed a great dish of pasta. 

Saturday was the day before Suzy’s birthday and Eladio and I went birthday shopping for cards and presents for both our daughter and my Father who will be 94 on 1st May.  Whilst at Centro Oeste and with the excuse of finding something for Susana, I spied a pastel blue tuxedo liketrouser suit at Zara which I had seen on their website.  They only had small sizes so I was very happy to find that their size M (40) was a perfect fit.  I don’t know when I will wear it but right now it is hanging with pride in my wardrobe, waiting for the perfect occasion.
The pastel blue tuxedo like trouser suit I bought from Zara on Saturday

Back home, frantic cooking was going on for a pre birthday lunch Suzy was preparing for some 15 or so of her closest friends – mostly her girlfriends. Here you can see Suzy cooking with Oufa our Moroccan home help. Copi was around to help as was Juli
Oufa and Suzy cooking on Saturday

Meanwhile Oli had gone to the train station to pick up Merce who was coming from Yecla in Murcia.  Her visit was a surprise for Suzy.  In this video you can see how Merce is hiding in the garden hut and how Olivia and Juli tell Suzy to go in and that there is a present for her inside. Suzy’s reaction was vintage Suzy and priceless.

Anita had another surprise for Suzy for her birthday lunch yesterday.  She had made one of her amazing creative cakes.  Suzy has had a fixation with mermaids ever since she watched the Disney version of the Little Mermaid when she was a girl.  So Anita decorated the cake with a replica of Suzy with her red hair and a mermaid body, as well as countless other little symbolic things such as the Union Jack – as she is going to leave Spain to live in England next month.  This is Anita with her cake creation before Suzy saw it.  I really think she could make a living out of creating cakes – what an artist.
Anita and the amazing cake she made for Suzy
We left the girls to their own devices, praying they would clear up afterwards (and they did) and we ventured out for our walk and wow was it cold.  The good weather has gone and it seems winter is on its way back.

With time on my hands in between coming back from our walk and dinner, I decided to watch the first episode of series one of The Paradise, which I had ordered from Amazon after recommendations from my sister-in-law Dolores.  This new BBC series, based on the novel Au Bonheur des Dames by Emile Zola is about the creation of a luxury department store called The Paradise in the north of England at the end of the 19th century.  Dolores was right to recommend it, it is right up my street and I shall be watching episode two after publishing this and going for our walk.
Joana Vanderham who plays Denise Lovett in The Paradise
 And today, Sunday 28th April is my first daughter Susana’s 29th birthday. She was born on 28th April 1984 at the Clínica San Francisco de Asis in Madrid at around 5 in the morning.  I have just unearthed a photo, the best one I could find of me and her just after she was born.  I look awful but I suppose that’s because of just having given birth.
Me with Susana a few hours after she was born 29 years ago
This morning I woke up early to prepare her birthday breakfast.  Whilst laying the table and going out to buy croissants and churros, my mind went back to when she was born and how 29 years ago at this time in the morning she would have been just a few hours old and how happy and amazed we were to have her.  She has made us happy and sad, made us laugh and get cross, wonder at her, enjoy her company, get exasperated with her and be proud of her ever since: feelings I suppose most parents have of their off springs, but mostly she has brought us joy. Suzy is charismatic and loving and usually quite easy to get on with. She has bags of personality and charm and mostly is very popular with her friends and colleagues.  Professionally things are difficult for young people in Spain these days with so much unemployment and this has spurred her on to finally make the move she has already really wanted to do, to up and leave everything and find her fortune in England.  She will be going in the middle of May and of course we will miss her, but on the other hand it’s a great opportunity and I have no doubt whatsoever that she will land on her feet, just as I did when I came to Spain to find my own fortune in 1982.  I certainly did find my fortune, marrying Eladio and having our wonderful girls as well as finding success professionally, although it took a few years. 
This is us at breakfast, a fine feast to celebrate Suzy’s birthday today.
Suzy's sumptuous birthday breakfast this morning
We were to celebrate again at lunch, although I, at least, was not at all hungry.  There was another cake, this time made by Oufa and it is a masterpiece, tasting wonderful.  Here is Olivia bringing it in with the candles lit for Suzy to blow out.
Oli bringing in Suzy's birthday cake at lunch today
The photo illustrating this week’s blog is of Suzy blowing out the candles and making a wish – probably to do with her London adventure.  The one below is of her with Merce, the girls’ friend who made a surprise visit from Murcia to join Suzy’s celebrations this weekend.  Merce commented at lunch today that she has known the girls for half their lives as they first met in their mid teens when we bought the apartment in Santa Pola and where her parents had an apartment too.  How time flies!
Suzy with Merce at the family birthday lunch today
And now as I write, the girls have gone and our big house feels empty.  Suzy took Merce to the train station and Oli has left for the North of Spain with her TVE crew.  The forecast is for snow in the north of Spain next week and Oli will be the programme reporter on the weather in that area, something she is quite familiar with.  When the TVE car came for her, together with her 23 year old producer colleague, they had no final destination.  Maybe they will go to Santander, Asturias, León, Rioja or Navarra.  Hopefully we will hear from her later and find out.  Anyway, she has gone to do what she likes best; going offsite with the TV crew to do live reporting.  We look forward to watching her next week and if I am busy or away from home, I know now that I can watch her on my mobile phone.  Doesn’t technology rock?

And that my friends, is the end of the story of this week. So I will love you and leave you and wish you a great week ahead.

Till next time


No comments: