My Working World: O is for…
It’s time for another in the occasional series looking at places I’ve worked around the world. We’ve covered the first half of the alphabet in the past couple of years and if you want to read any of the former posts, you will find them behind the appropriate letter below.
But today we are moving on to O, which is proving to be a bit of a problem. There’s only one country in the world beginning with O, and I’ve never visited Oman, although I did once meet someone who claimed to be a former soldier who was training the Sultan’s troops.
According to Wikipedia, there are just shy of 100 cities around the world with more than 100,000 residents, which begin with O. I used to live in Olinda Road in Hackney, but never visited its namesake during my trips to Brazil. I’ve been to a couple of conferences in Oxford, and provided a day’s consultancy to a government laboratory on the outskirts, but that’s about it. And I once visited Oslo in winter, finding it fascinating that daybreak was about 11am and sunset around 2pm. So, I’m afraid this month’s memory is going to be leisure-related, although it arose out of a business trip.
One of the best projects I worked on before ‘giving up the day job’ to write full-time, was as an Education Adviser to an industry association. Most of the work was done from my desk in Devon, but a few weeks each year, I would travel to the US or major cities in Europe for conferences. And it was during one of the US trips, to Florida, that my colleague and friend, Ginger, suggested we take a side trip to Orlando, to spend a day in the Universal Studios theme park. With no kids of my own, I’d never been to a theme park, and jumped at the chance.
And it was the best—and scariest—day ever.
This was more than ten years ago, so many of the attractions have probably changed. We took the Jurassic Park ride, complete with stomach-churning water slide to escape the T-Rex. We shot at aliens with the Men in Black. At least, I did. Ginger hates guns and wouldn’t participate—which meant our score was way below average, but who cares? We sang along with the Blues Brothers at their outdoor concert. And we ate hamburgers in a 1950s diner.
Of course, the big attraction at the time was the Harry Potter exhibit. We drank butter beer—which was interesting, but not something I would develop a taste for. We wandered along Diagon Alley; and queued for ages to get into Hogwarts, before finally reaching the ride. And that’s when I realised how much I hated roller coasters! My head knew I was sitting in a static cabin, being shaken around while a film played in front of me. But the rest of me was convinced I was on a broomstick flying around the Quidditch field and surrounding countryside, in danger of falling off, or at least losing my shoes! I kept my eyes screwed tightly shut throughout!
But it was a glorious day, where two middle-aged women let their inner children out to play.
We were just about to head for the car park and home when we spotted a sign for The Simpsons—and couldn’t resist just one more ride. “Is this as scary as Harry Potter?” I asked the attendant before committing myself. “Oh no, this is nothing like that,” he said. “You’ll be fine!”
Reader, he lied!