I have at least one friend…

I work with some fantastic people and I truly mean that. It’s a strange position to be in as I am the boss on one hand and a friend on the other and it constantly amazes me that my colleagues let me wear these two hats at the same time and yet still seem to like me. One such colleague is a man we shall call Gary* (*Names have been changed to protect identity). Actually, I wanted to call him Dave but he insisted on Gary. If I’m honest, he doesn’t look like either but I indulged him.

Now, let me make this clear, Gary is, ahem, a bit of a show pony. He loves the theatre and has previously been an actor on a prominent New Zealand television show (in as much as any programme in New Zealand could be described as prominent). He has also been in a stage musical, with our whole team trotting out one night in support while he strutted his stuff in a wet suit, flippers and fairy lights (honestly). We even managed to get the quieter staff members dancing in the aisles. Gary should be proud of this as it had never happened before and never since.

Gary is larger than life and working with him is a laugh a minute. When he first approached me for a job a few years ago, it was quite unexpected but it has been just wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t spend all our time having fun but there’s a real art to being able to use humour to manage the stress we experience in the workplace. There was a period of time when Gary went to work overseas and I missed him. Since he returned a few months ago, he has certainly made his mark again and it’s like the parallel universe of my professional life has become even more exaggerated. Fortunately, he’s extremely sociable and has helped organise my social life. We’ve been to some very strange plays – there was the one where the gay man decided he was straight then changed his mind again; a British farce including a dog which disappeared from stage; A Streetcar Called Desire and then this fabulous show at a secret location called the Pleasuredome where we entered via a mock-up of a New York alleyway including a hooker called Doris who wanted to befriend me.

One of the things Gary is most famous for is making the very most of work conferences. His various social media channels are full of tales and photos of his “confrolidays”. To his credit, he frequently presents at these conferences but this goes unnoticed by his envious audience. Some of the confroliday antics I have shared with Gary have included:

  • A tour of Warsaw in a communist fire engine
  • A Michelin starred degustation meal in Athens comprising dry ice, mojitos masquerading as carrots and a course called Silence of the Lambs where a sheep’s brain and tongue braised for 2 days were served in a gold spray-painted sheep’s skull (see below)
  • Having to decamp to a posh bar en route to a conference in London as it was in a building opposite Parliament and the roads and pavements were closed due to the Queen being driven down the streets
  • Being mistaken for his “wife slash girlfriend” on a tour of the old town in Jerusalem and then us taking 4 hours to get through security in order to leave Israel whereas we’d had no trouble getting in
  • The strangest meal ever in Amsterdam where we were in beds and the entertainment was very fruity
  • Me falling asleep at every show he took us to during a conference to NYC but managing to stay awake for all the singalongs at gay bars until the small hours of the morning

Consequently, I knew that Gary would not hesitate to help me out when I thought it would be a good idea to have a friend star in a video for my blog. In fact, he was almost too keen – his tongue was hanging out and a few beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. He hot footed it over to my office almost instantly to be filmed. However, what I was not banking on was Gary making a confession, and a blunt one at that, about his beliefs regarding my cycle trek…

So, ladies and gentleman, I give you Gary. Do enjoy it as much as he did!

Me and Gary
Gary and me at the Pleasuredome
Silence of the Lamb
Silence of the Lamb. The brain is on the plate. The tongue is in the painted skull. Weird, but extremely tasty and a very clever name

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