Since we've described the Blog as a look at the "off-beat side of reporting on the global chemicals industry ...behind the scenes at training sessions across three continents", I feel I should record some of the more surreal moments of the editorial training I've been doing with our Shanghai team this week.
Nothing can quite match the moment when a keen young reporter respectfully enters my office and hands me a printed copy of her report to critique, written throughout in Chinese characters but with a few numerals dotted throughout the three pages of text. We still manage a good session on the key points of good reporting practice, and I don't think she finds it weird at all.
Then there is the occasion when Alfred, our managing editor in Shanghai, introduces me to a charming young lady called Rainy, now the editor of our new English-language Methanol (China) report, who waxes lyrical about the month-long internship she did at ICIS in Sutton after doing her MA in the UK. She has particularly fond memories of lunchtime trips with ICIS London editors Giovanni and Heidi to Marks and Spencer and The Old Bank pub in Sutton. We are walking through the swampy heat and rain of springtime Shanghai as she tells me this.
In an interesting cross-cultural equivalent of "bringing an apple for the teacher", I am trying hard to keep a straight face when one of the reporters brings her boss, Alfred, a gift of half a cucumber to go with his morning tea. I'm glad to have Andy to witness this one, and he is still guffawing over this hours later.
Later in the day, I need to do a double-take when the reporter on SBR (styrene butadiene rubber) and NBR (acrylonitrile butadiene rubber) hands me her business card. Underneath her name it says simply "Rubbers". I don't think that card will be going to any international conferences any time soon.
And on a side note, there is more daily weirdness in the shape of an advert by the elevators on the 36th floor of my glitzy (but very reasonably priced) hotel, urging hotel guests to go on holiday to Northern Ireland! They are offered the choice of two chic locations: Belfast or Belfast Airport! Yes I know that the rolling green hills of Northern Ireland on a sunny day can look like Devon, but Belfast Airport! It makes me wince to imagine the disappointment on their faces when they make the journey from the glamour and gorgeousness of this mainstream Asian hotel to the sheer hideousness of a UK airport hotel.