The friendship with Yode is so long lasting that I’ve forgotten exactly how long! It's definitely over 17 years now. He lives in Barcelona, but used to live in Mestre, the town part close to the city of Venice, which is not on the island where Boudoir is. Yode is a Cabin Service Director for British Airways, so his work is based in London from Heathrow terminal 5. His personality is funny, full and bold. It is rare for him to go out and not make new friends. However, he's not superficial at all! I'm just the opposite and opposites attract each other. So here we are , almost entering our second decade as best friends.
Many years ago, we had a conversation about customer service. For Cabin crew, like you, it's all about that. I still recall when you visited my shop for the first time, we had a toast with some wine and two ladies walked in. We offered them some wine, as you suggested we do. One of those ladies has not only become a client, but also one of my closest friends. Due to globalization, one can get rare glasses over the world wide web, so, nowadays giving my customers that little bit of extra attention, makes the difference in comparison to the average on-line deals and some of the colleagues/competitors in the real life. What has changed in your job in the last ten years? Does the client still perceive and appreciate good or even excellent service, or is flying now something we consume like a big-Mac ? Do eventual changes apply in different markets?
What the customer wants now, is value for money, since there are so many competitors out there, especially, with the arrival of “cheap”, low cost carriers. So, many aren’t bothered much about service, just which airline is cheaper. However, because of the perceived reputation of my airline, and other full service carriers, there are a significant number of customers who will pay a premium to fly with us, for extra comfort, service standards and extensive route network.
Your job has given you the opportunity to visit many cities globally and in any case, you've lived in Nigeria, where your roots are, the UK, where you were born and returned when you went to university, Italy when you fell in love, and now Spain, which is more suitable to your lifestyle. So, you know people from every continent and they all have good and bad things. What did you like the most about the people you met here in Venice and why? Have you noticed some common changes around the world , despite where people live?
Because of the close nit community in Mestre, where I lived for almost 10 years, and the fact that gay life was, and still is very limited and sporadic, I was able to make and hold on to friends, who, like you, have become life long. In the beginning, I found Venetians quite racist and unpleasant, but, with time, I started to win people over with my unique charm. And once you enter the heart of Italians generally, you become “family”.
You and I love to cook, feed our friends, eat and drink ( socially, of course ) . Do you think there is a specific cuisine, for example, Indian, or italian, or... that is more successful for dinner parties, making the real difference? What are the dishes you've picked from Italy and put into your recipe book?
I think the key to a successful dinner party, is to create fusion food. So, in my case, I’ve learnt to use spices from many countries around the world and mix and match cuisines, creating my own concoction. From Italy, I’d probably say that I learnt to cook pasta, accompanied with different toppings, like ragout, bolognese, pesto etc. But, I always gave it a twist of my own and spiced it up!
I remember when I applied for a job at British airways, I wasn’t successful, even if I thought the interview process went flawlessly, because I chose to wear jeans that day, instead of a suit. You've always worked wearing a uniform. Is that why you like to dress in a more creative way when you're off ? You mastered it to wear cool eyewear and any kind of hats too, like the most famous fashionistas do. Why are there , in your opinion, so few men who dare to dress, out of the standards we usually see on magazines or to be more contemporary on Instagram?
Unless they are in bold colours, bespoke made, and uniquely cut, I find suits very boring, especially, with ties. Work, is mostly where I wear it, or for a very formal occasion. I don’t find them particularly comfortable either, somewhat restricting. I like clothes that are usually fitted, but with a softer fabric. I don’t like following trends, as I like making my own statement to match my personality, when I dress for any occasion. So, I’m often flamboyantly dressed. Most men are shy and don’t want to draw attention to themselves, so, wouldn’t dare wear anything edgy. I also find most men, especially straight men, lack any kind of fashion sense. Even in Italy, where I expected men to be more daring and chic, I was very disappointed and often felt over dressed in comparison, while I lived there. Most men are comfortable with a pair of jeans, trainers, and T shirt!
As your close friends get your "queens speech” at the end of each year by email, I'd like to share a little of your wisdom with our followers , who might read these lines in some months or years. What would you recommend people to do in order to live a better life and interact ( or not ) the best way with our fellow "citizens of the world", now that we've experienced disease, isolation and social distance due to coronavirus?
People need to change their mindset. Stop being the “victim” in any given situation. Remember that we are indeed, in control of our lives. We have no control over other people’s actions, but we can control how we react/respond to them. It’s important to be grateful for what we do have each day and ask the Universe for what we want each day too. We must remain positive, even in dark periods. You have to create your own happiness. Stay focused. Help others and be kind. And, use social media platforms in a positive way to stay connected and interact with friends, family, and strangers too...
I've noticed that instead of chosing the first option on the street , some people chose to make their own purchases at specific venues/restaurants/shops, in order to support a specific community , for example, the local shops, black people, female enterpreneurs, the LGBT community or a friend. Needles to say it's important. Why do you think some people do care and some others don't?
Some people do care because they want to see real change and believe direct action is important. Others are indifferent because they don’t believe in favouring one group of people (regardless of the need to do so), because they are selfish and self centred, or because they would rather make their purchase where they get the best price/quality/service, rather than supporting any group in particular. Some people are also blatantly ignorant and don’t believe in the causes supported by a particular group. For example, some say that the “black lives matter” movement shouldn’t exist because all lives matter. Clearly, they are stupid because, White lives already matter. It's black lives that are endangered and action needs to be taken to finally stop injustice towards black people.
Thank you Yodé, you're always very direct and honest, hope to see you soon. I mean really. Say hello to Barcelona