Friday, 22 March 2013

Forget Thorpe Park, Skype's where the scares are really at

For those who read regularly, it will be unnecessary to remind you that I had an interview yesterday. For those who've just arrived; welcome. I had an interview yesterday (backstory here) and I'm pretty confident. I'll be doing a breakdown later, purely for my own enjoyment (read: horror), but if you're interested it'll be appearing over on my PR blog later.

In brief: I think it went very well, but as there'll be a more in-depth look later, I'm going to focus on the fun stuff that happened later, as my interview is hardly interesting to you. I will mention, however, that Skype behaved perfectly almost all the way through, allowing me to explain myself and my ideas in two languages with no problem.

However - and I suspect gremlins, because it is the only possible explanation - at the point when my interviewers said "Okay, this is what we'd like you to do next..." Skype just lost it. No sound, frozen picture, and my heart did its best to escape through my throat. Thankfully Skype recovered after that slight wobble, which meant only a minute of repeating "Hello?" at different volumes and pitches. I say "only" a minute, but it seemed longer, in the same way that touching a red hot stove for "only" five seconds feels like a whole lot longer.

That thought courtesy of Einstein, by the way.

So: the first stage is complete. Now to demonstrate my style. Elsewhere. Onwards to Thursday.

The day was filled with strolling around the school, shaking hands and making sure there were no problems in translation. It was great to see all of my students looking slick and suited, although there were certainly some who looked uncomfortably constrained.

Lunch was excellent, as I was invited to sit with the companies in the dining hall on the third floor. There were waiters. There was wine. There were three courses and coffee. It was delicious, although the starter took some getting used to - it seemed to be a mix of pistachios, salmon, cream, balsamic vinegar all served in a champagne coupette. Weirdly it worked, but I don't know if I'd have ordered it given the choice.

After lunch we waddled back to work, and I spent the afternoon emailing fielding requests from students and polishing off the translation I started earlier this week. After that, a little more prep for the interview and then there was nothing left to do but sit nervously.

So that's what I did. At two minutes to six I was added, with a short message to tell me that the interview would be pushed back by ten minutes. No problem.

Ten minutes passed. Then two more.

"We don't seem to be able to call you," my interviewer typed.

Oh excellent. 

I tried ringing them and got through immediately. Apparently the internet here blocks incoming calls. Useful to know.

The interview continued from there, for the most part in English but with French interspersed. I'm confident and, as I said, I've now got a piece to write for Monday to show my style.

The rest of Thursday evening was spent in ChatĂȘlet Les Halles, at a wonderfully Parisian little wine bar (La Trinquette, Rue des Gravilliers, 75003). I've talked about the the particular way in which the French run their bars and restaurants, and this was cheerfully, wonderfully stereotypical. We seized a bottle of well-priced red (honestly, I'm yet to find anywhere in Britain where a £20 bottle of wine could be as complex and wonderful as it is here) and - there is no other word for it - crushed ourselves into seats.

Before long (3 hours later, there's that pesky relativity again) we wobbled our way out, squeezing past patrons and serving staff, and parted ways. The RER A rushed me home and the cold air on the twenty minute walk home served to sober me up a little. A dish of pasta and pesto later I fell asleep.

You're not a real student until you wake up hugging an empty bowl of pesto pasta.

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