Tuesday 9 August 2016

Goodbye Great Queen Street

If you know me long enough you will know already that leaving Great Queen Street is not easy. (You can read the first time I had to do it here).

If it was not easy already to leave it as a Team Leader, imagine now that I am the GM.
Looking at the past and reading now through that post I wrote almost 3 years ago I can say I had the enormous luck of being able to go back to GQS as a manager. I remember on my last day before being transferred for the first time, going out the door, turning around and thinking: "Will I ever come back here?" And my hyper-realistic mind answered "Well, you probably  won't, Laura. Usually people doesn't get transferred again to their previous shop" but from somewhere (probably my heart, although I hate to admit it) came out: "One day... I will come back... And one day I will be the General Manager". The rest is history, after only 4 months I came back to my first and only true love in London.
I managed to go from the bottom to the top of the Family tree in one shop, I've been in every possible position in there (I was KP for one glorious evening... And fish cutter one crazy Saturday.)

Those almost 3 years back in GQS as a manager (first assistant, then kitchen, then GM) were also hard but rewarding. As a manager, in opposition to being a Team Member or Team Leader, is less about your own development and more about your team's... I had the chance to work with a great bunch of people and give them advice.
I got a good example from those people who inspired me in the past (and some still keep doing so) and I don't have words to express how it feels to see someone improving with your guidance. It's just amazing. I usually say to myself: I'm nothing more and nothing less than the people I work with. And making my team better made me better. I would like to think I made a positive impact in someone's life.

These days I have been slowly realising I will miss little things that I've never appreciated enough like passing by the hot section and checking the quality of the chicken, or having the key of the shop in my key ring, is one of those things that no one thinks about...But it bears so much responsibility. Having a shop of your own is like having a child (forgive me parents of all the world as you might disagree on that) but you just never stop worrying about it! And about all the people in there... Sorry, did I say it's like having A child? It's like having 18 kids! Every single one of them keeps me awake at night (some of them literally). But on the bright side, I get to feel proud 18 times more. I was blessed with my team and although sometimes I wanted to kill them (hehe) I could not be more proud of them.

Like in the post I wrote 2 and half years ago, when I look back at those times now, I stop and think "How the f**k did I end up here?" I'm for sure nothing like that shy girl who entered the shop for a Discovery Day in 2011. I've learned so many things and developed so much in almost 5 years I've changed completely! And that's why it's time to move on now and learn new things and keep developing myself. It's exciting and scary at the same time. But as I learned from How I Met Your Mother: "The future is scary, but you can't just run back to the past because it's familiar. Yes, it's tempting, but it's a mistake."
It's really exhilarating being aware of one's own fears and choosing to beat them, but that makes enough material for a whole new post that I might write in another occasion if I'm inspired. Today is about saying goodbye.

And goodbye is hard but also adventurous as it opens new doors... But for now:

Goodbye Great Queen Street.

Monday 8 February 2016

Why does paracetamol taste so bitter?

Being sick is one of the things I hate the most. It makes me feel helpless and useless... So today, after a second day of house arrest and trying to stop shivers with paracetamol I decided (against my common sense and nurse studies) to go out and buy one of those mega hyper super max strength flu relief. I browsed the shelves in the supermarket for loads of similar products... Most of those remedies have paracetamol as a main ingredient and then some other stuff such as: Caffeine (well known analgesic adjuvant), phenylephrine (decongestant) or an expectorant of dubious effectiveness called Guaifenesin.
And that's the story of how I ended paying out £5 for 8 sachets of Paracetamol with almost placebo and lemon flavour (you can buy 16 capsules of regular paracetamol for 60p). 
OK, that was an unsuccessful attempt of self suggestion but that's not why I'm writing this today. 
My biggest disappointment today was that after allowing myself to be ripped off by the pharmaceutical industry, I poured the sachet into a mug with hot water, tasted the mixture and under the lemon flavour I could still taste that particular bitterness of the paracetamol... WHY THE HELL IS PARACETAMOL SO BITTER??!! Can't they do a nice tasting paracetamol? 
Well I'm not sure about the details of why Paracetamol tastes like hell. But it is certainly very convenient. Why? For the same reason that apparently you can only buy one packet of paracetamol per person and establishment in the UK. Accidental overdose. 

Now let me stop here and explain my personal experience when I was a young and innocent child and drank a bottle of kids paracetamol, which my parents (very recklessly I must say) left at my reach, just because I loved the amazing strawberry flavour it had. This is something my family likes to remind me from time to time and thankfully nothing major happened. My mother called the doctor but because they sell very small bottles even if I drank half of it (that must've been around 1.5g) there was no need of getting my stomach pumped or anything. 

So looks like making paracetamol less easily purchasable reduces the amount of accidental overdose. But let me tell you, I think it's the bitterness that really helps. Because there's no way I'm drinking another one of those lemon bitter-hell mixture. 

Anyway, I think I am already feeling better, my sarcasm is starting to emerge...

Monday 11 May 2015

Pros and cons of living alone

There comes a time in the life of every human being when they feel the need of living on their own... Of flying solo.
Freedom is something that has always fascinated me and that I cling to as a lifestyle. Living alone brings freedom to new heights... This is as good as it gets in terms of liberation.
However, living on your own has its ups and downs... Here are some of my thoughts after a (short so far) experience on this matter...

It feels kinda lonely sometimes.
(But, hey! Loneliness is underrated.)
Going around naked at home.
(This is totally overrated)

"Did I hear a noise in the toilet?"
"I'm gonna fart, better do it quietly... Oh wait! Who cares?!!"

Having the fridge like this:
Having the fridge like this:
(And not being ashamed of it)
By the way, I've always pictured how Bridget Jones' fridge must've looked like and to me it looked pretty much like this... Damn!

Not sharing the bills.
Not sharing the food!

You are responsible for all the cleaning...
You are the only one who makes a mess... And no one will complain if you don't clean it today!

You find yourself imagining what would you do if someone were to break into your flat... Or how long would it take for someone to notice that you slipped while having a shower and you're bleeding to death.
Cool furniture.
(You are the one putting the furniture so of course, everything is cool!)

You're on your own. There's no one to pull your chestnuts out of the fire for you.
Not being judged... "Mmm... Is it ok to put pyjama and drink a bottle of wine at 4pm on a Tuesday? Yes, of course it is ok!!", "Can you spend a whole day watching one episode after another of Six Feet Under without stopping to eat (because of course your fridge is empty and you are too lazy to even order Chinese coz got no cash on you and getting dressed is not even an option) or take a shower? 
OF COURSE you can!!!

You wonder if you'll ever be able to incorporate someone else into your busy but perfectly timed life.
You discover how strong you are when it becomes the only available option!

Monday 21 July 2014


"Marcos hizo un esfuerzo descomunal para abrir los ojos, a cada centímetro de párpado que subía podía notar los rayos de sol acuchillando los receptores de luz de su pupila y los pequeños soldaditos de su iris intentando cerrar la escotilla (A Marcos le gustaba imaginar su cuerpo como salido de "Erase una vez... El cuerpo humano": mini humanoides trabajando a marchas forzadas para hacer que el corazón bombee o para subir y bajar los párpados y dilatar los músculos del iris dejando pasar más o menos luz.)
Cuando por fin consiguió distinguir las primeras siluetas lo que vio fue más impresionante que el dolor de cabeza que le martilleaba incesantemente. A unos tres metros de él se hallaba el cuerpo inerte y manchado de sangre de uno de los asistentes a la fiesta. La música ya no sonaba, de hecho estaban a fuera en uno de esos callejones traseros Manhattan style como salidos de una película (con su escalera de emergencia a un lado, su puerta trasera, su reja, su cubo de basura a medio tapar y su gato callejero y todo)
Marcos intentó incorporarse pero al hacerlo notó el peso de algo en su mano, tenía miedo de mirar y revelar sus temores, ni siquiera le hacía falta, sus otros cuatro sentido le decían todo lo que necesitaba saber: Pesaba y se sentía como un cuchillo, había hecho ruido como de pedernal frotando el suelo y... bueno, no le apetecía nada metérselo en la boca (además, ésta le sabía a rayos) pero no le hacía falta porque olía a ¡Sangre!
Un grupito de tres personas se empezaba a congregar y a cuchichear alrededor de Marcos y pese a que tenía dificultades reales para desembotar su cabeza, una de las voces llegó a él con más claridad que las otras:
-Ha sido él... Yo lo vi todo, una puñalada certera y no hizo falta más.
Marcos no recordaba nada. Él estaba tan a gusto en el interior de la fiesta hablando con uno de sus colegas y de repente ¡Pam! estaba allí tumbado, no sabía ni cuanto tiempo había transcurrido ni que demonios hacía allí con ese cuchillo en la mano.
Se empezaron a oír sirenas a lo lejos, hubo un momento de incertidumbre y de repente como si todo el mundo hubiese decidido darse cuenta a la vez de la magnitud del suceso, se pusieron a chillar, correr y entrar en pánico. Marcos, con una valentía que no había sentido nunca, se levantó y, aprovechando la confusión, apoyó pie en la papelera a medio cerrar y se encaramó a la reja del callejón saltando a la calle adyacente y huyendo del lugar del crimen.
<<¡Diablos! -pensó- Me lo he cargado...>>
Corría y ya no sentía ninguno de los dolores anteriores. La sangre le fluía a tope por el cerebro a causa de la adrenalina, a su vez trataba de recordar como habría podido llegar a suceder aquello. Él era un pacifista, ni siquiera había tenido una pelea en su vida. No recordaba nada, pero las pruebas estaban ahí y eran MUY concluyentes...
Las sirenas se empezaron a oír más lejanas y Marcos relajó el paso. Sabía que tardarían un rato en encontrarlo, había mucha gente en aquella fiesta y sólo tres lo habían visto, además estaba casi seguro de que ninguno de aquellos tres lo conocía...
<<Mierda. Debería haberme quedado con el cuchillo, lleva mis huellas...>>"

¿Son los recuerdos la prueba fehaciente de lo que hemos hecho o vivido? 
Cuando no se recuerda... ¿No se ha vivido? 
¿Puede un sueño llegar a enviarnos estímulos más vividos que una experiencia vital?
Cuando un árbol cae en medio del bosque y nadie lo escucha, ¿Produce algún sonido? 

Es más, ¿Ha caído realmente el árbol si nadie lo recuerda?

Saturday 5 October 2013

Great Queen Street is Great!

It was a rainy Friday, I was struggling to make my way through the wet and narrow streets just behind Piccadilly Circus with my, from now on, nice-but-also-very-comfortable-although-not-suitable-for-rain-at-all shoes.
I should have seen it coming that this rain wouldn't be bringing any good news.
It was Friday 13th and I suddenly knew I had three weeks to say goodbye to my beloved "lifelong" shop.

Leaving Great Queen Street is not easy. I was told already by some colleagues, but still you don't know how hard it is until it's your turn. 
There's something special in this shop: The team is simply amazing, even though it keeps changing there's always this good atmosphere... I spent a lot of time in the past thinking who could be that key person that sticks the team together but those people that I could point as "the ones" kept leaving and new people coming and we always had a great team. There must be something in the water...

In my particular case, I'm grateful that I could work there for two years because I could actually grow up and mature as a person. I'm nothing of that shy little girl that entered GQS's door for a Discovery Day on a Thursday of September 2011. 
I have to say by the way that it was one of the worst Discovery Days that I've seen so far... I still don't know why they hired me. I was sooooo shy, plus my English wasn't good that time. But they said YES and I started working there, in the box section hand in hand with the TL. I remember I stayed 2 or 3 days with my trainer and then the day I was alone I was so late that they had to call my trainer to come early to help us with production. (I have to say in my defence that although it was September, it was sunny and therefore very busy).
Those were some of the happiest days I spent there, the beginning every day in box section, I could see how I was slightly getting better, the breakfast sitting by the window watching the people pass by... The jokes and laughs in the kitchen.... We never stopped doing them, it's just that the first ones are the ones that you end up missing the most, I guess. The good old times.

As time passed by, people came and went and I started taking more responsibilities. Every time I was stepping up I couldn't believe it and I used to think that it would be the last step, that I would get stuck. But it wasn't like this, they kept giving me challenges and I kept on taking them because I wanted to give back some of what that shop gave me. Also there's some kind of interior pride that makes me want to fucking achieve a challenge when it's given to me. 
And that's the story of how I became TL, because, well, it was time to give back... to my team and my shop. And those were also some of the happiest days in itsu. 
It wasn't easy... it was very hard actually. Lots of headaches, lots of things to keep in mind, every day was a battle: Fighting, pushing... I used to have this sentence in mind that I read somewhere: "It's a fucking hell, but I love every single damn minute". That thought kept me fighting, and every day when I was going home (some days I was happy, some days I wanted to die) I was thinking: "Tomorrow we will do it better". I was never happy with my performance, there is always something to improve.  
But after all, I would like to think that I didn't do that bad, I'm quite proud actually. I ran GQS's kitchen from middle of May to September and we broke our record sales' week! Not only once but twice! Which is gonna stay at least until next summer (well, if they could break it earlier I would be very proud of them!).
I'm already very proud of my guys, whenever we went through hard times we stuck together as a proper team and we gave our best. I can't ask for more. They are astonishingly amazing.
I hope they are gonna stick together this time once again and they are gonna stand up and take care of my kitchen when I'm not gonna be there anymore, because if they don't... I'll go there and I'll break their legs. I know they can do it.

And this is my "brief" love story with Great Queen Street. Who would have thought that this shy girl who almost didn't make it through the Discovery Day would end up becoming TLK? Sometimes I take a look back at these two years and think "What the hell Laura, how the f**k did you end up here?" And there's still a lot to come... But I don't wanna stop now, because I'm fucking enjoying every single damn minute of this fucking hell.