Arrived in Bulgaria yesterday with Mavis after an epic transcontinental train journey. It is interesting how train and that most mis-named of rail conveyances, "sleeper" standards vary. As soon as you leave our shores the quality advances dramatically.
The Citynightline (Cologne to Vienna link) is a world away from the Vogon Rail 23.45 Euston to Glasgow. Gradually, however, things become more familiar. The Vienna to Budapest link is excellent, but not much better than first class on GNER. The final leg, which takes a little over 24 hours, is a sleeper cabin on the Trans-Balkan (Budapest to Sofia via the plains of Transylvania).
Bulgarian sleepers are much like our own - ancient rusting carriages, no showers, staff mumbling barely intelligible English. Britain is not really part of mainstream Europe. Our real home lies in the Balkans.
I was just planning my opera and golf schedule over a late breakfast when the phone rang to call me urgently back to Blightie.
Arrived at Vienna just after 9am (via Serbia and Hungary), giving me all day in this fine city. Thoroughly caked-up, I climbed aboard the Orient Express at 8.30pm.
Woke up this morning in Strasbourg where two of the three young Bulgarian ladies I met yesterday at the station decided to leave us. Valia and I went on via Paris and London arriving at Bogcaster at 4pm that afternoon.
I was just in time to introduce Charlie to his new project manager and still make the emergency board meeting at 5pm. I wonder if I should have mentioned anything to Mavis? When I left our room on Monday I said I was going to down to breakfast.
Turns out the PFI contractor "Schools R Us" we engaged to build our new City Techno-Academy this year was in fact a fabrication of... well it has to be "allegedly" at this stage, but the fact is that £125m has disappeared from our reserve account and the head of finance and the head of procurement, together with two young ladies from the contact centre, are missing from their homes along with their passports. Anyway, we have been told to find immediate cuts of £8m within IT.
I tried to protest. Our total budget is £8.005m. We decided today to spend the remaining £5,000 on a leaving party.
Redundancy notices are going out to everyone today. Meanwhile, Dave is forensically analysing all the electronic data we have that might in any way be connected to the missing persons.