Saturday, 31 March 2007

House Party Time!

I'm trying to get a very quick post in before all the guys go downstairs to put sound in Neutrino's car, and I'm left upstairs with the chicks, for which my presence will be required in the lounge (blogging, while connecting me with potentially millions in the outside world, is seen as a very anti-social activity in this house).

I don't usually post on the weekend, as it is hard to sit and gather one's thoughts when one's housemates are running amok. Today everyone is a little more over-excited than usual (for normal people this is probably approaching hyperactive levels), as it's the first time in a while that our whole group is getting together for drinks and general mayhem. The occasion (not that we need an excuse) is a general celebration for everyone who had birthdays in March, as well as to welcome Mello back from her recent trip to Cape Town. It's at Hatty's house - our neighbour and Eyes' brother-in-law, a little later this evening. The guys have all just rushed downstairs in a whirlwind of technical postulating and testosterone to stand around and loudly gesticulate and critique while Shoes installs Neutrino's sound system - he's been promising for weeks to do it, and it has turned into quite an event, for which all male members must be present for some pre-requisite bonding. Mello, Scarves and I are probably going to do something very Stepford Wives-like, such as ice the cake Scarves has just baked (which was supposed to me for Mello for her birthday, then the realisation dawned that I didn't get a cake for mine, so it was subequently renamed the joint cake; then OJ arrived, and as it was his birthday in March as well, it is now a three-way cake.... I'm waiting to see who else will jump on the bandwagon and how thin these slices of cake will eventually be).....

I thought I'd just update you all on my job situation, which is, as of yesterday, Finally Employed. I've got a month's temp gig at the company I posted about previously - an events and development company for London - but not the positon I originally wanted. That fell through, so I'm covering for a temp that's been in there for the last 6 months, and is now taking a month's leave to go to Morrocco (although, having spoken to him yesterday, I don't think the company realises the extent of his eccentricity - his plan is to start in Marrakech, wonder randomly around Morrocco for a month and then, if the fancy takes him, to jump on a cargo ship and see where he ends up..... I thought at first he was a free spirit, now I just think he's mentally unbalanced). So there's probably a chance I could stay longer, but as I am a team PA for 10 people, it's a slight diversion from the course on which I am trying to steer myself, so I plan to use the time to sink my claws into a role I'm really interested in. I would have said yes to anything on Thursday though - the pre-panic of the beginning of the week gave way to a dramatic tantrum of snot en trane by Wednesday night. I was convinced no-one would ever want to hire me and that I am lacking in everything from valuable work experience to relationship skills - none of which was made any better when Shoes helpfully suggested that it was strange that housemate - and my junior by 7 years - Scarves never had trouble getting work and never had to drop her rate to get the roles she wanted.... yeah, sometimes men just REALLY know what to say.

Anyway, it's great team and an awesome location - the offices have floor to ceiling glass windows that look out over Central London - I can even St Paul's on the one side. Everyone is very passionate about what they are doing and it's nice to be amongst people who are enthusiastic about making a difference. I'm going to sneak off to the events department and find out exactly what their issue is though; that was where I wanted to be, and I damn well want to meet this person whose fault it is that I am now in a role which is causing me to stray off course.

Ok, I must rush, the coven is calling; I am needed for girly activities in the lounge (did I mention I HATE icing?). If I'm not too drunk I might post about my night later, but it will more likely be tomorrow afternoon over a cup of strong coffee and a few dozen fried eggs. :-)

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Exercise: It Makes The Mirror Kinder

I'm still waiting to hear about this temp role, and as I have been discussing it ad nauseum with my housemates, and getting increasingly agitated while doing so (Agency Witch X is certainly living up to her title), I have decided not to go into a no-holds barred rant on my blog, as all it will do is make me more annoyed. Positive thinking people!

So instead, I will muse about a good thing that has happened to me lately - my written version of an evil eye charm. Recently I have become more motivated to go to the gym regularly. Not only do I keep a relatively disciplined schedule, but I almost – ALMOST – enjoy it! Ok, that’s a bit strong…. I no longer loathe it with every shrieking fibre in my body. For those of you who know me well, don’t fear; I have not been struck by a mysterious illness, and neither have I been abducted by aliens. The source of this new-found motivation is, surprisingly, the boyfriend.

Let me back track a little here, so you can see why this development is so noteworthy. I do not like exercise. Not as in, oh, I don’t really feel like running my daily 10km this morning, but I’ll do it because I’m a health freak kind of way – as in, I abhor, detest, am appalled by the idea of getting off my ass and working myself into a stinky, wheezing, jelly-legged lump, when the alternative is SO much more appealing. I am a born couch potato; I relish sprawling in front of the TV, or, if it’s summer, outside with a good book and lots of suntan lotion – I’m not usually found enthusiastically throwing a Frisbee on the shoreline. In school, I was the kid who couldn’t – the one who was picked near-to-last for girls P.E. softball; the one who did ‘social’ tennis and ‘D team’ hockey (which was only called that so we didn’t feel like complete knobs – we never played an actual match) and then only because it was compulsory; the one whose hand-eye co-ordination was, and still is, so bad that if you throw a set a keys at me on my way out the door, I am likely to flap like an albatross.

The one sport I thoroughly enjoyed and was always motivated to practice was gymnastics. I did it from age 10 through 14, and I got my Western Province colours – possibly the only school-recognized sporting achievement of my life. I think the reason I loved it so much was because I could make my body do things that the other kids couldn’t do – a stark contrast to how I felt when I was unable to hit a ball in a straight line. The other sport I enjoyed was cycling. I got into it at age 12, when, for reasons I don’t really remember, I decided I wanted to do the Argus Tour. My dad had been cycling for years, and I remember being quite awed that he did this long race with so many people, and how fit and tough he used to look after a hard training ride. Maybe I just subconsciously wanted to sabotage my father’s one escape from a house full of women, I don’t know. So I set my sights on my goal, and my dad went from being a super-fit, competitive cyclist, to pushing a crampy 12 year old up Suikerbossie, and subsequently a 13 year old, 14 year old and 16 year old – until I discovered boys and booze, and cycling with dad was no longer cool. Cycling for me holds many great memories, including the time my dad, on a racer with toe clips, accidentally went off the road and onto the gravel shoulder on the Kommetjie side of Smits at about 60km/hr, and hung on for dear life, helpless, while the bike bounced cartoon-style over stones and nearly launched him into the neighbouring ditch. Or the time I was racing down Boyes Drive and tried to make a turn crouched low like they do on a race track on TV, and came a spectacular cropper when I hit some unseen gravel. Good times. But even cycling, while I loved the sensation of being outdoors in the sun on a bike and the beauty of road racing in Cape Town, was never an easy sell for me. I employed all sorts of subtle tricks to dissuade my dad from a training ride – not because I didn’t want to be on the bike, but because the idea of actually getting up from whatever I was currently doing, getting changed and going out sounded like far too much PT.

So it was with great trepidation that I joined a gym – again – in 2002 (my family previously had a family package membership at the old Health and Racket Club in Constantia, but we didn’t go on any sort of regular basis). I surprised myself by getting fit fairly quickly, and enjoying the fact that I could run hard for 30 minutes on the treadmill without collapsing or – even worse – looking like an overripe, ready to burst tomato. I went to gym in short, infrequent bursts from 2002 to 2005, when I came over here – never doing so little that my membership wasn’t justified, but never doing enough to be able to claim that I was anything above a periphery member (as opposed to a gym bunny - you know the type: glowing, lean, barely dressed bodies who glide around with long blonde hair hanging loose and never breaking a sweat, except when sitting in the sauna).

When we moved into our current apartment, I started going to the gym in our complex, which is small and ill-equipped when compared to franchise gyms, but only a 4 minute walk from our place, so I was sold. I’ve had almost a year now to develop a routine, but my anti-gym-bodies (like antibodies, but they help you fight the need to exercise) have been on red alert status here. They say things like, What? You’re in England! You’ll never need to wear a bikini again! – and so I settle down to another episode of Desperate Housewives. That all changed a few months ago when Shoes started taking an interest in working out, which he’s never done before. Over the last 6 months, he’s gone from having what I’ve always thought to be a sexy body, to having a physique that’s starting to look as if it belongs on a model’s z-card (not quite Men’s Health yet, but certainly well on the way). Before you ask, not once has he ever suggested I make more of an effort – those guys who slyly play on their girlfriend’s insecurities by telling them that “a bit of exercise would do you wonders, babe” should all be shot. But when your man starts to look even hotter than usual, you start thinking, well hey, if I appreciate this so much, I guess he would do the same – and hey presto! I’m sticking to my four times a week, and – shock and horror – I’m not resenting every second I have to grind away on the treadmill. Doing something for myself because I want a particular result not only for me, but for another person who doesn’t mind either way (v. important point) is proving to be very self satisfying. I feel like the cat that got the low-fat cream.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

We Will Rock You!

I've been slacking lately, and not just on blogging, but also on practising my guitar, starting my Teach Yourself Spanish Course (Eyes and Scarves bought me the book and audio guide for my brithday after I'd expressed a desire to learn it) and generally doing things I want to do. Instead, I keep getting stuck on facebook and msn. It's fun on the one hand, as I get to talk to everyone back home whom I hardly ever see, but it does get frustrating, because I find myself getting so sucked in, that when I plan to do something like go to gym, it takes me 2 hours from when the idea forms in my head until I get out the door. I know I know, you're thinking why don't I just say, ok, bye everyone, and just close my windows. Believe me, I ask myself this a lot. But I guess it's because lately I've been getting really excited about getting in touch with people I lost contact with ages ago. Suddenly, my network of friends on all levels has grown exponentially, and for the most part, I am really interested in what everyone has to say and where they're at in their lives. So I'm enjoying it, but at the same time, I think I'm a bit sad because I have all this wonderful time off in between jobs, and I'm wasting it sitting at my pc, doing exactly what I will be doing when I do finally get a job - although perhaps not to such a great extent. Anyway, I was trying to post this earlier when my left eye developed a rather alarming tic, which made it almost impossible for me to read letters on the screen - and forced me to finally shut down facebook. As I write, I am making a mighty effort to resist opening it again so I can see if anyone has answered my messages. Wow, I am such a loser.

I'm still waiting for my agency to get back to me about this month long temp role. The line manager was still off sick yesterday (took an extra long weekend) and Witch X informed me I would definitely know by close of play today whether or not I've got it, and if I do, I'll start tomorrow. Of course, knowing my agency, I will only find out at 17h29, just as they are about to leave for the day, and I'll get a last minute rushed call just telling me where to be and when. It's always an experience, showing up at a company with skeletal information - it feels a bit like a lamb being led to the slaughter. Not because I'm going to die obviously, but because there's always the chance as a temp that you'll walk into a role that is worse than death, and you spend your time considering the many ways to at least fake your death so you don't have to go in the next day. I've only had one of these so far; as a receptionist for an architect's firm. It's not that the people were horrible or anything. In fact, they were quite nice, in a bland, colourless, incredibly boring kind of way. And the work.... Well, I answered phones. And did about 5 minutes of filing. I'd rather stand on my head and make tea for 50 with my toes. The most exciting thing I did in 2 weeks was pop out to the Tesco's to get some biscuits - they were extremely particular about their biscuits (I thought they were going to declare a national emergency when Tesco's ran out of jaffa cakes).

So I wait for my last minute call, with the last minute jumble of too-little information, and hope that tomorrow I will be working, as up til now, it's been awesome to be off, but pre-panic is setting in (the marker that tells you if things do not go the way you want them to, a full blown panic attack is on the cards).

Tonight Shoes and I are going to We Will Rock You. I'm understandably quite over-excited about this. I have attended musicals with my parents ever since I was little - I think my first ever was Annie, or perhaps the Sound of Music - and it's been a long dry spell without over the top actors in hot pants and tights (ok, that was Joseph, the von Trapp children were fully clothed). I intend to embarrass my boyfriend by standing up at every opportunity and clapping and singing along loudly to Queen's greatest hits. He's the shy type in this sense, preferring to go unnoticed by sitting down all the way through and only clapping with his pinkies. Definitely not in danger of getting the urge to hop up on stage and do an impromptu freestyle with the chorus - unlike me, who ends up harbouring pangs of loss for my lack of involvement with musical theatre after every show. I suppose you can't have two drama queens in a relationship though - who'd take centre stage?

Friday, 23 March 2007

An older, wiser me?

I am officially one year older as of yesterday. That's right, I am no longer in my mid 20's (24,25 and 26) - I am now in my late 20's, pushing 30. Twenty seven. It sounds even older when I write it out in letters. I think it's quite sad that once you turn 21, birthdays are no longer the source of excitement they used to be. When you're a teenager, you can't wait to hit your 20's so you can be treated like the adult you know you are (somewhere a parent rolls their eyes in disgust). When you turn 21, you've finally reached the pinnacle of the aging process. You're an adult in the eyes of the law, and you can really do whatever you want (as long as it's not under your parents' roof). Thereafter, birthdays are merely pinpoints on a downhill slide marking the speed of passing time. And I can't get over how frikking fast that time is going!??!!? I've been in London for a year and a half already, and before I know it, 4 years will be up and I'll be on my way home again - on the wrong side of 30. However, I hear that 30 is the new 20, so perhaps life will just begin then, who knows? Of course, this increases for each decade you age, so Mom and Dad, how is the new 40?

We celebrated in true South African style - cheddamelt burgers at the spur in Wandsworth. I have finally satisfied the craving that has had me dreaming of a conveyor belt of cows being fed through a magic machine and conveniently coming out as ready-to-eat burgers on the other side (none of the truth for me, thank you, I enjoy my vacuum of ignorance). They're not quite the same as burgers in SA spurs, but close enough to be most welcome. I think it's the basting - they don't put quite enough paint stripping coke in it. I had the most wonderful birthday present as well on our way there.... we stopped in the Reef Cafe at Waterloo station for a drink (waiting for people, not because we couldn't make the train ride without a pint) and when I went up to buy a round, I got asked for ID! Now, in the UK, they're pretty strict with underage drinking (I know, it sounds a bit laughable considering the state of their youth, but at least they're trying). Although the legal drinking age is 18, if you look under 21, you get carded. So the barlady asked me, and I crowed with delight, explaining that it was actually my 27th birthday, and this was possibly the best present I could ever receive. She responded that I looked 16. I was then unsure whether I should be even more stoked about the situation, or if I should suggest an eye test. I rummaged through my wallet for my driver's, and failed to find it... it took a few rounds through Shoes' wallet before it was located, durung which time I started to realize that maybe it wasn't quite as cool a situation as I'd originally thought. If I hadn't produced any ID, she would not have served me at all, and how do you tell people that you can't buy your own drinks on your 27th birthday? So this whole looking young thing is definitely a double edged sword. I'd like to look a firm 22 - that should do the trick.

Anyway, my day was fabulous, as my birthdays always are. I dread them for weeks in advance, knowing that it's just another year I will never see again, but on the day, I always feel so fussed over and special - really, I get a new I'm-the-centre-of-everyone-else's-world complex to add to my CEO complex. We're racking them up here! Sorry, I am - I'm not quite the Queen - yet.

I was off as well, which was such a bonus. I'm still off today actually - the temp position that was supposed to start today has been postponed to probably Tuesday, as the line manager is very sick (needs a long weekend). On my way to my interview on Wednesday, I came across a hair salon in Covent Garden that was advertising for hair models in its window. I went inside and applied, and it's obviously fate that I'm not working on Monday now, because I am going to have a cut and highlights for free, as someone's hair model! I realize this has the potential to be disasterous, but they are supervised (I hope), and besides, they have to make me happy with the final result before they kick me out, right?

This weekend should be a nice chilled one.... tomorrow I am going to my first RSPCA event as a volunteer, which I'm really looking forward to; and then I'll be coming back to join the crowd as we watch the Proteas moer the Aussies - touch wood. 438 anyone?

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

In the words of Mel Gibson: Freeeeeeeedom!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I am now officially unemployed! I had such an awesome last day yesterday. I spent most of it e-mailing all my friends and colleagues to say goodbye, and the rest of it deleting all evidence of internet misuse from future prying eyes. I also tried to post, but my pc, which had been in its chops for a good while already, finally refused to co-operate, and I was unable to blog or open any pop-ups (yes, I did turn off my pop-up blocker first!). I could still get into the basic necessities of office life though (Facebook, PerezHilton), so all was not lost. Actually speaking of Perez... I saw an interview with him on TV the other day, and my gut feeling is that I don't like him at all. He just seems incredibly self-satisfied and up his own ass, and although I read his blog everyday, I kind of feel ambivalent about the fact that I am advertising it on my own blog, when he's so slimy. Anyway.... total tangent.

I went out for lunch with my whole team, and everyone made a suitable fuss over me, and gave me flowers and chocolates and a card signed by all my colleagues. I have been feeling thoroughly useless in my job over the last 4 months - having next to nothing to do tends to promote mild depression and feelings of inadequacy. However, when I e-mailed all my customers to say goodbye, they all replied saying how terribly sad they were that I was leaving, and how I've been of invaluable help to them over the last 9 months, and that they couldn't have done it without me. I went in yesterday morning thinking that my contribution to the company, on a grand scale of 1 - 10 ,was about 0.5, and left believing that I am CEO material and that London's who's who will soon be beating down my door in their race to head hunt me. I'm going to bask in my new-found importance for a while - just til I come crashing down to earth after two weeks with no job and no moolah! Amazingly enough, just to further enforce the idea that I am now the indispensible it-girl of London's working world, the weather put on a spectacularly schizophrenic display yesterday, with piercing sunshine followed by flurries of thick snowfall and back to sunshine again. It ws really rather dramatic and what I felt to be a very appropriate send-off. I was trying to post of this as the heaviest snowfall I've ever seen was swirling outside my window, and that's when the my pc put a stop to my ego. Perhaps it has more sense than I do.

Went for an interview with a new agency this morning, and came out feeling very positive (possibly due to still intact CEO-complex). They deal with mostly permanent media and events jobs, and are going to start searching for the right thing for me. In the meantime, I'm waiting to hear about another temp role starting this Friday for a month, just to tide me over while I throw myself into the permanent job search. More on that if I get it....

As of now, I am just hanging out at home in the middle of the week, eating popcorn and watching movies - and feeling very guilty. This guilt part is quite nonsensical, but it goes with the territory of being a temp. As a temp, you don't get paid leave or sick days - you do accrue holidays with your agency, so you can apply for a paid day's holiday, but it takes so many months to ratchet up just a few days that usually if you're sick, you just take the loss of a day's pay. I have taken one day off in nearly a year due to illness - I literally have to be on my death bed (or at least feel like it), else it's not worth losing the money for. So now, because I am off in the middle of the week, I naturally feel like a criminal for not doing my part to bring in every penny possible, for expenses and general mayhem (mayhem costs money, bru). I'm trying to re-educate myself, especially as I have actually put in for 3 days holiday pay to see me through this week, but I still feel terribly lax, as if not working is somehow a reflection on my ability to work.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I am both looking forward to it with great eagerness (presents, lots of fuss, being able to do whatever I want without repercussions, such as go shopping, even though I have been banned from doing so by Shoes) and some trepidation (one year older, one year closer to the big 30, straining to see the faded days of my youth behind me). I am significantly excited about my choice of activity for tomorrow night though: we are going to Wandsworth Spur for supper. I realize that you're supposed to get over going to spur for your birthday when you turn 12, but I'm in London now so it's different, ok!!!! I am salivating at the thought of a cheddamelt burger - I do think I would rather have one of those right now than sex... this is temporary thing only (sorry babe). The world will right itself again after tomorrow night.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Woza Weekend!

It's Monday morning and I'm surprisingly cheerful, considering that.... well, it's Monday.... and that after tomorrow I will be unemployed. Yes, the day has finally come; I have gathered my courage and officially announced my last day at my company, and by Wednesday I will be as free - and poor - as a churchmouse (are churchmice free? I know I'm mixing up two idioms here, but it seemed nonsensical to say as poor as a bird.... although, on second thoughts, it's not like mice really go to church). I am now waiting with bated breath for Agency Witch X to come through with something for me for Wednesday. Usually, when you're bouncing from one temp job to another, there is anything from a few days to a couple of weeks in between where you do nothing except sit around watching the phone. This is standard procedure - there are many candidates all looking for similar work, and you have to take your place in the queue. Previously, this hasn't been much of a problem for me - I've taken the days off in stride and enjoyed the break. Now though, the idea of being unemployed should fill me with panic, as there are two pay days left until the end of the month, which means I really do need 2 full salaries for expenses.

However, instead of being at my wit's end like I normally would be, I'm strangely unconcerned. I can't figure out if this new-found calm is a zen-like acceptance of "what will be will be", or if my brain hasn't quite computed what will happen if I don't get another job this week, and is insisting on staying blissfully unaware. Either way, I'll take it while I can. If I don't post tomorrow, it's probably because I have woken up to the reality of the situation and am hyperventilating too much to write.

The weekend was fairly relaxed, by recent standards (we've had a couple of caners lately - some no holds barred nights that have left us looking back with a mixture of shock and a vague sense of pride, as in - did we really manage to do that?). On Friday, Shoes and I went for drinks with some of his work mates, one of whom was celebrating his birthday. Birthday boy A, and his girlfriend E, (no really, they are real people, not just code names for class-A drugs) are our first two proper English friends. As South Africans, we come over to London either with a partner or a group of friends, and promptly set ourselves up in Antipodean communities where we mix mostly with other saffas and some token aussies and kiwis (just to have someone to verbally abuse over the rugby and cricket). In our case, not only are we four saffas living together who have known each other for years, but we have a network of other friends here who were part of our group back home. The result is that we only ever do things with our group of friends, and in the year and a half that we've been here, the only new people to become part of our group are other saffas with connections to our current group members (I'm trying hard not to make this sound like some sort of cult).

So it has been refreshing to meet A and E, who are the kind of people who could become real friends, rather than just acquaintances you meet when out on the piss. We went to a place in Tottenham Court Road called Jrinks (like drinks, but say it with a Cape Flats accent). Quick review: small, dingy, WAY too loud (and it's not just because I'm getting old) with a really random collection of people - it's one of the many West End bars not listed on any nightlife websites because there's not much one can say to attract punters. However, 'jrinks' were fairly cheap and the company was great, if a little undignified (WHAT DID YOU SAY? HUH?) at times.

Yesterday I was annoyed and anti-social all day for no reason. Everytime I went into the lounge where the others were watching footie, I found myself wanting to throttle one of them (any one would have done - I had no particular issues with anybody). I had the good sense to retreat to my room and wallow in my irritation, but the situation was precarious whenever I had to venture out for coffee, snacks or just to see what they were doing (even though I knew I should stay away, it was like a red flag to a bull). And of course, when I did attempt to say something - and I only meant to utter bland sentences, like who wants tea or what's the score - somehow what came out of my mouth was rather more snippy and sarcastic, like whatever! and i'm fine (in response to what's wrong?). I stayed that way for the rest of the day, only cheering up when our TV (which is rather sick) had a farting fit during Babel - it can't handle bass very well and emits sounds similar to cows lowing. The movie itself, by the way, is missable.... great story, some excellent characters, but it's about an hour too long - I realize silence is important as part of the message of misunderstandings, but come on already, it was like they forgot to stop the camera rolling at times!

As I write it's starting to snow.... and now it's just stopped. So much for the grandiose burblings I had planned on the magic of snowfall. :-/

Friday, 16 March 2007


Last night I hooked up with an old friend who I came across on Facebook. We haven't seen each other in years - not since we came of age in the traditional South African coming of age way - working at our local spur! So that makes it about 6 years since we were last in touch, and we went to a pub and spent the evening reminscing about calling on and off, the incestuous hook-ups and the binge drinking that we embraced back then.

It was quite a surreal experience - a who's who of shameful liaisons and and events you can laugh at now, but you know you'd die if some of your current friends ever found out about them. I've found almost my entire Matric class on facebook as well, so I'm looking forward to some more of these cringe-worthy moments over the next couple of months.

Other than that, there's not much to say today - I don't feel particularly creative or forthcoming about what's going on in my head. I think it's just empty. Can you actually get writer's block on a blog? This is what Wikipedia has to say about it: Writer's block is a phenomenon involving temporary loss of ability to continue writing, usually due to lack of inspiration or creativity. I can be uninspired and lack creativity, but I can still bore you to death with random rumblings about inane activities happening in my daily life. So I guess this means the answer is no. There is no writer's block - only writer's caution: the sense a writer gets when they know they're blathering on like an idiot in an attempt to fill the space, when they should never have started the post in the first place.

Ok, I'm taking my own advice now. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, 15 March 2007

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!

I am having a happy day. A day where you wake up, look out the window at the shining sun, stand on the balcony with your cup of coffee wearing only short sleeves, and you just know the world is finally turning right side up.

To bring you up to speed, 2007 has so far not been filled with many happy days for me. I'm not a great believer in luck or karma (the latter mostly because I don't believe it works properly - how much justice do you really see in this world?), but I am prepared to say under the circumstances that either I have done something very out of synch with the universe or I am being tested for some reason which eludes me. Without going into an hour long rant, I will attempt to jot down the more challenging things I have faced this year:

*My sister leaving - it was harder than I thought it would be to see her go after we'd grown so close in our year and half together in London.
*EVERYONE - all friends, family, even people I don't particularly like - going back to Cape Town for the same two weeks in February, while my boyf Shoes and I were stuck here. We were at our lowest point the Sunday everybody left, and the two weeks that followed were filled with very little conversation and alot of naked aching for everything home represents.
*Trouble in paradise - every relationship goes through bad patches, ours just hit the rocks at a very bad time considering everything else that was going on (happy to report we're over the worst, though).
*My job situation - I have been bored to the point of paralysis for the last 4 months, and have been trying to get out for a while now, but for some reason have felt like this position is sucking me in like quicksand, and clawing through it onto the other side has been an almighty effort (again, things looking up in that regard).
*Money - when is this not a problem! A few events such as visas and a holiday we couldn't afford put us in a bad place when we wanted to start the year debt free (happy to say, we're on the up and up there as well - wow, look at this, I almost have a good to balance every bad!).
*Turkey. The Turkey debacle deserves its own exclusive rant, which I'm sure I will post as the time draws nearer for my friends to head off to a jewel of sun and sea, leaving me behind in stinking London (it's not stinking now, you see, but you can be sure it will be smelling like cat piss by the time they go). For now, suffice it to say that due to unforseen passport issues, I will be unable to join them (boyf included) on the holiday of a lifetime. Ok, red alert, blood is starting to boil.... moving on.
*Small things. Everybody has small things that they deal with on a daily basis that get them down. I, like you, have been dealing with my fair share of little disappointments and irritations. However, because I have been feeling like a tennis ball being smacked to and fro by John McEnroe in a vile temper, these small things have been magnified into insurmountable obstacles. Consequently, what is usually a water off a duck's back situation now resembles the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.
*London Winter. It is only now that I appreciate the true effect the weather can have on one's general outlook on life. Winter = Depression: there's really no way around it.

So why the sudden about-face? Well, it's quite simple - the sun came out. For the last week or so, we've had a run of sunny days complete with blue skies and weather balmy enough so that you need only the thinnest jacket over a summer top (no you spoilt Capetonians, this doesn't mean it's 22 degrees; it's between 14 and 16). And with the sun, came a welling of hope that maybe, just maybe, the rest of 2007 might actually be worth looking forward to (I had my finger hovering on the fast forward button; I was truly prepared to sacrifice a year of my life to see the sizeable ass of this year).

And so, as I get into work this morning and plop into my chair, all sunny smiles and cheery greetings; I turn on my pc and what do I see? An e-mail from housemate Eyes, which can be explained in one picture:


"And in other news, London is being treated for a severe case of schizophrenia."

Somebody pass the prozac.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Success! Well, one small step for man....

Finally! I have made contact with the witches coven. Receptionist Witch 1 took my first call this morning, and put me through to Agent Witch 1. Agent Witch 1 then promised to leave a message for Agent Witch X - my agent (who is allegedly off sick - personally I think she's recovering from brewing trouble last night with her cronies at her local) - and hung up, assumingly to gloat at having blown off another needy jobseeker. After lunch, I called again to seek advice from another witch, and Receptionist Witch 2 put me through to Agent Witch 2, with pretty much the same result.

Then - goodness gracious goody magaftus - I was contacted by THEM! An almost unheard of manouvre in Witch City, where they only contact you if they are certain you're secure (read: inextricably tied up in) a job, and they know they won't actually have to do anything. This time, it was Team Leader Witch who replied to my e-mail to Agent Witch X, affirming X's unfortunate illness (severe hangover), and offering her services. But, alas, I knew it was be too good to be true, for when I phoned TLW, she was out (this literally 2 minutes after her e-mail came through - uh huh, yeah, whatever). So I left a message with Receptionist Witch 3 (or perhaps it was 1 or 2, I've lost track), requesting TLW to return my call. And she did!!! *shrieks with joy and does the Forrest Gump hip swivel*

TLW requested that I send my updated CV (I actually didn't send it on Monday, blush blush), and promised to alert all fellow witches that the hunt is on. She also promised to chat to Agent Witch X first thing tomorrow morning.

So, people, while I hesitate to expect TOO much from today's spoils, I might, just MIGHT, actually have some options by the end of tomorrow. Touch broomsticks.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Working Class

I am still trying to find a new job. I have been doing a lot of talking recently about leaving my company, and a fair amount of online searching, but I get the distinct impression that as far as my recruitment agency goes, my agent is hoping that if she leaves me hanging for long enough, I will give up in frustration and just resign myself to a career of crippling boredom.

Job hunting is a stressful thing, no matter how experienced you are or how many degrees you have behind your name. Here in London, it seems that it should be easier than it actually is, especially as Recruitment is a booming business with its finger welded onto the pulse of the current job markets; there may now actually be more recruitment agencies than companies to work for. Smiling, professional agents rush you through your standard tests (how to copy and paste in Word and do a "sum of" formula in Excel) and military style interview, on completion of which they promise you that you are 'an excellent candidate' and they're 'certain they'll be able to find a role suited to you.' And that's it. No, really. You are unlikely to ever hear from them again. The day you walk out of your interview, while your face is fresh in their minds, you might find you get a few calls in the afternoon with some offers. But beware, future agency-joiners - this is your window period, and if you are lucky enough to get offered a job on this day - TAKE IT, because hesitating will guarantee that your file is dropped into a black hole with no ladder. Thereafter, the only way to make use of your agency's services is to stalk one or preferably several of the agents, using a variety of increasingly threatening e-mails (My other agency has this WONDERFUL job lined up, but I wanted to talk to you first before I make a decision) and irritatingly persisent phone calls (Lopz: Hi, it's Lopz, can I speak to Emma please? Receptionist: Didn't you phone five minutes ago? For the 5th time this hour? Lopz: Did I, really? I could have sworn I called.... oh well, can I speak to her anyway?).

If you are lucky enough to get hold of your elusive agent, prepare yourself to be blown off in such a nice way, you will not immediately realize you are being blown off (You really have such great qualifications, it would be shame to put you in an admin role - I think we should wait until something more challenging comes in, it won't be more than a day or two). You'll be glowing with praise at how highly they rate you, and before you can say 'on the dole', you're off the phone and still unemployed - and because you've tracked them down for that one phone call, you can be sure they'll go into hiding for at least a week.

Recruitment agents are as skilled as politicians in their glib promises; as wily as foxes in escaping your traps to pin them down; as compassionate as mother birds who are about to throw their chicks out the nest for their first flying lesson. It is with great trepidation that I take my leave to try mine again.....

Weird story of the day: Honey, I broke my penis! Just how hard was he thrusting???!?!??!?!

Monday, 12 March 2007

Sunny Side Up

This weekend was the warmest for a while - a sure sign Winter's on its way out, and a sticky, muggy, windless Summer is on its way in. On Friday we had our first braai on the balcony of Spring 2007, and as Sunday was 16 degrees, my housemates and I rushed outside in t-shirts - we're truly becoming more English by the day. In Cape Town, 16 degrees dictates warmish jackets. Here, we're practically ready to take a trip to the beach!

Things we're looking forward to in Summer:
1. Braais on our balcony
2. Trips to the park - in the absence of beaches and forests, we have taken to English park life like ducks to water, and can usually be found in Greenwich park with a picnic on warm weekends
3. No gloves, scarves, beanies, and arctic jackets that make you look 3 times the size you really are, and are REALLY annoying because everytime you get inside/on public transport, you have to peel off all the layers so you don't faint with the heat
4. Travelling!
5. A tan - finally I can stop the incessent puchasing of fake tan and all the great fanfare that goes along with applying it (another post altogether)

Things we're not looking forward to in Summer:
1. The annoying, disrespectful, bloody-minded noisy chavs in the apartments oppsite us - they have parties on their balcony until 3am during the week, forcing us to close our windows to drown out the noise and thereby sleep in pools of sweat as our bedrooms sit at 30 degrees.
2. Paying a "heating maintenance" bill in the middle of summer, despite the fact the we have never once used our central heating (even in Winter)... ??????????
3. The god-awful stench of B.O. on the tubes in rush hour - imagine a sock, which has been left out in the rain for one Winter. Take this sock, rub it in pickled fish, and leave to dry in the sun. Sprinkle with pooh scraped from the bottom of someone's shoe, and then stuff into your nostrils. This is what it smells like on the tubes.

We went to see The Number 23 last night - Jim Carrey's new movie. It was... shall we say, random? Far fetched? A tad silly? It goes like this: our hero Jim (Walter) becomes obssessed with a book his wife buys for him called The Number 23. The author of the book writes about his own obssession with this number (pointed out in a series of random links such as adding up the letters of your name to make 23), which found him and lead him to do all sorts of terrible things. Walter than finds himself mirroring the author's obssession with the number, and descending into a state of dark confusion and manic obssession. The trailor looked great - spooky, creepy, full of suspense. Aaah, if only trailors were able to be both appealing and truthful at the same time! So many movies out today hook you with the most dramatic and thrilling of trailors, only to flop dismally once the entire story plays out in front of you. Next on our list is 300, another movie with a trailor so good it gives you goose bumps. I wonder if this one will live up to our hype?

Friday, 9 March 2007

Facebooking is the new MSN

I am addicted to Facebook. It's a networking site where you can post your profile, share photos and keep in touch with friends who are fellow members - similar to MySpace, but in my opinion much more user-friendly. It's amazing - in the last couple of weeks, I've made contact with 15 people I went to school with, some of whom I haven't seen for 10 years! I can't stay off the damn thing - every five seconds I am checking to see if someone has updated their status, or written on someone else's wall.

It got me thinking - in this age of information technology, where the average worker has all day internet access with either few or no restrictions (for those of you who have highly restricted or no access, my heart goes out to you), how many millions of pounds are lost in cyberspace everyday while employees happily waste company time chatting to friends, blogging, reading up-to-the-minute gossip sites and generally messing around? Ok, so I'm sure not everyone uses their internet time to get the latest on Britney's meltdown. Some people must use their time constructively. Perhaps they educate themselves about what is going in the political circles of developing countries. Maybe they actually use the web to find pointers on how to further their careers - they could "come up with ideas" (blatantly stolen from someone else's blog) on how to impress their boss, and thereby secure a coveted promotion. But even so, they are still wasting company time, and therefore company money.

Many companies have restricted access to the more common "now you're taking the piss" sites, such as gmail, msn and youtube (the most FANTASTIC time waster of them all - have you seen the video of the fainting goats?), and the employees there toil away in long dark hours of seclusion, longing for just 5 minutes contact with the infobahn. However, for every company that sensibly removes temptation from its workers' manic mouse clicks, there seem to be 10 that do not treat the irrepressible urges as seriously as they should. I for one, would be lost without internet access. A lot of it has to do with the fact that for the last 4 months, I've had very little or no work to do, so in my defense, it's not really my fault. But even if I did have piles of work, I would still make time for my daily routine of tabloid reading and shooting the breeze with my friends, some of whom are people I have seen that same morning. The information age has made it too easy for us to satisfy our own interests and fulfil our own goals while in the workplace. With the internet's upgrade from a luxury to a necessity, some companies have relinquished control in the name of personal freedom and good faith (these can only be the silly buggers who haven't yet reviewed their lop-sided input vs output data).

What it means, really, is that I am able to muse about random topics like this at my leisure and get a paycheck for my thoughts at the end of the week. That's more than enough fore me. Back to Britney.....

Thursday, 8 March 2007

My Me First Complex

So, after months of thinking about it, dreaming about it, wondering about it and, if I'm honest, obssessing about it, I have finally started a blog.

I'm still not sure exactly what I want to achieve by this. All I know is that I have a big mouth, many (usually stubbornly biased) opinions and occasionally some amusing anecdotes that I like to share with my friends and family, so why not with the rest of the world?

Ok, that's bollocks - here's the real reason: a friend of mine just got nominated for an SA Blog of the Year award. And I decided if she can get nominated for an award for writing, then why the hell can't I? I'm afraid I'm still very high school like that... what, the class nerd just bought himself a sweet townhouse in Camps Bay? I'm contacting an estate agent today. My old best friend from Matric just got married? I'm on the phone to the wedding planner as we speak. I feel this constant need to win the race - not than anyone else knows they're in the race with me. They are just naturally moving forward with Life, as you do, and I am the sweaty, gasping crazy person running behind them shouting, Stop! You made a false start!

I am a very ordinary person in an extraordinary world, surrounded by other extraordinary people (and I'm sure very ordinary ones as well, but with my eyes set firmly on the finish line where the Joneses are celebrating, I only see those that are apparently doing better than me). I have a Me First Complex. Sometimes this proves to be a useful tool in life, as in: Dad, me first in my class for English, or Mom, me first choice for the lead in the school play. Other times, not so much.... as in, Honey, me first in line at the January sales, and me fought this bitch for the half price Prada dress and won. That's nice babe, did you pay the rent yet? Er... actually I maxed out my credit card on the dress. Or, Sweetie, me first in our group of friends to have a baby. That's nice hun, did you remember to feed the neighbour's cat? What cat....

Being first is not always good for one's constitution. Sometimes, one's constitution is simply not ready for it. For example, I am in a great hurry to buy a house (read: small flat in dodgy area of Southern Suburbs in CT where we can afford the levy AND the bond). Everytime I hear of a friend/family member/worst enemy buying property, my blood begins to boil quietly and I start making mental lists of food and toiletries we can go without this month so we can save for a deposit instead. I'm a bit manic about it, to be honest - if you spoke to me, you'd genuinely start believing that the government has revealed a cut-off date for purchasing property, and anyone missing said date will have to rent for the rest of their lives. Or that by the year 2009, everyone not owning property will be forced to live in caravans.

I am trying to calm down on this subject, and often hold heated arguments with myself about the dangers of rushing into things. They usually go something like this:
Myself: If you do it before you're ready, you're only going to regret it - you could even lose the house.
My other self: Where there's a will there's a way.
Myself: No but, you're not listening to me; you could not only lose the house through lack of money, you could lose your relationship by putting too much pressure on yourself.
My other self: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

My other self is full of clever sayings.

Anyway, that's really why I'm here in London. To (slowly) work my way up to the point where I have enough pounds saved to put down a deposit on my coveted house, and then I can go back to Cape Town and live happily ever after. And, of course, to travel the world, while I'm here. And it's the same for the other 3 million South Africans in London, I'm sure.

At least, on the way to achieving these goals, I am having some priceless experiences that I am documenting both in word and picture. Even if I never make the house, at least I will always have the photo albums and e-mails.