Wednesday, 28 May 2008

You'll Never Walk Alone

The weather in London has done a complete 180 and reverted to the dark days of winter, where people wear scarves in the office and the sky has a permanent scowl on its face. It appears that the few weeks of teasing sunshine we had at the beginning of summer is set to become the norm, as is the subsequent dreary greyness that follows it. It's been hard to keep my spirits up, particularly as I've been struggling through some issues of my own plus working rather a lot lately. The issues have been more or less resolved in my head, if not in practice (I always think that once you have things straight in your mind, everything else should follow anyway), and at least I'm not working another weekend in the forseeable future.

I've started working for a promotions agency who provide staff for big events at places like Wembley Stadium, Lords Cricket Ground and the Silverstone Grand Prix. Scarf has been working through them for about a year now, and her commitments have varied from twice a month to once every couple of months. It's your choice as to how often you work, but the more you work the more work you get offered. Most of the events require hostesses. Hostessing at Wembley, which is what I did the past two weekends, is a fairly easy job which involves a lot of standing around and looking pretty. Depending on where you're stationed, you might also have to seat people at tables or give them directions around the stadium. You get treated very well by management and customers alike, and the pay is good: £100 - £150 for doing very little. I'm going to try and make it a regular monthly thing, just for some extra cash to burn as I see fit (expect photos of new pairs of shoes to fill this space soon), but my reason for working two weekends in a row now is that I have to come up with £700 for all the visas I need, and my salary is just not that elastic.

I've been a little cranky as a result of giving up the majority of 2 weekends in a row, and am only now starting to catch up on sleep. The work itself is fine, and I have met some really lovely girls through the agency. Most are dancers, actors and models who do promotions for extra cash in between castings and auditions. A few are students, and I am one of only a handful who work full time.

All three events I worked at were football matches. The first one was the FA Cup Final, which is kind of a big deal in the football world. Such a pity I don't give a toss who wins, or even who plays. The other two were smaller league games (don't know if I said that right), but there was a rather interesting turn of events towards the end of the day on Sunday. Leeds were playing Doncaster in the play-offs (don't worry, I don't know what they are either), and their rivalry apparently dates back many years, mostly due to the fact that the two cities are so near each other. There were twice as many Leeds fans as Doncaster, and they were definitely the more spirited of the two. Just before the match began, the Leeds fans in the restaurant I was working in (we had a mix of the two teams, unlike some of the smaller restaurants where the fans are separated) gathered around the entrance, linked arms and started belting out anthems and chants in support of their team. They can really make a noise when they want to, and it was quite a thrilling sight to witness nearly all the guests united in enthusiastic solidarity behind their team. Off they went out into the stadium, and the match commenced. By half time, Doncaster were leading 1-0. The guests came back into the restaurant for half time drinks, and although they were a little rowdy, there was no trouble that we could see. Part of their package deal is light refreshments and more drinks post match. We were getting ready for the influx as the game drew to a close, with Doncaster still leading 1-0, when word came from the police that no alcohol was to be served.

Anticipating a backlash ("I paid for these tickets, where are my drinks????"), Club Wembley Management made the decision to instead close the restaurant entirely. We still don't know what happened to prompt the chain of events; perhaps there were brawls in the stadium itself (although the fans are kept separated, so it is difficult to start something). Security at footie matches here is usually very good, and every effort is made to keep the fans apart at all times, but inevitably shit goes down once they are outside the stadium, and in recent weeks a fatal football-related stabbing made the front page news.

Anyway, the fans, who were visibly angry at being kept out of the restaurant, lined up outside the cloak room and demanded the return of their belongings. We lined up on the other side of the cloak room, and the staff gave us the guests' table numbers so we could run and collect their things. In the meantime, a few fans were not about to accept this lying down, and they went along pushing at all the doors in turn, trying to get in. Some poen (idiot) forgot to lock one the doors, and the next thing we knew, scores of angry fans were streaming into the restaurant. They were understandably pissed off, even more so as they made their way into a place they were forcibly barred from. There was a lot of yelling and swearing, and shouting about what a disgrace Wembley is. Of course, all the hostesses were all dressed in red suits and we looked rather official, so they wrongly assumed we had something to do with the decision making. Out of nowhere we had groups of angry, semi-pissed men who wanted explanations getting up in our faces.

Security quickly grabbed us and ushered us into a back room, then went back out and grabbed all the waiters as well. We stayed in there while Club Wembley Management, general security and a special response team took almost an hour to get everybody out the restaurant, and the tension in the air was thick and ugly. There were no actual fights inside, but you can bet Wembley suffered some public embarrassment from the cock up. It seemed to be blown completely out of proportion, with most fans that we did come across saying what a terrible way it was to end an otherwise great day. But I suppose they have been handling these things for years, and maybe they did see something we didn't.

Anyway, we were all delighted at the interruption and the early end of our shift, and we have a great dinner party story to tell: How we nearly got attacked by football hooligans. Alright, how we got shouted at by a few pissed off fans. Still, it doesn't happen everyday now, does it? ;-)

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Go Fish!

In the media industry, normal professional standards and/or conduct that exist in other industries often do not apply. The people tend to be creatively brilliant but socially outrageous, and the propensity for inappropriateness is huge. Take my company dress code, for example. There is none. I am perfectly welcome to arrive at work in a bum-skimming mini skirt and thigh high boots. Not only will this not cause so much as a facial tic of disapproval, it will probably result in compliments from both sexes. Women can wear boob tube tops and dresses or tiny shorts and hooker heels. Guys can wear muscle displaying vests and jeans slung so low we can see their Calvin Kleins. To be fair, not many people actually dress like this every day, but most people have one "Daring Day" a week where they push the envelope.

The bestowing of nicknames is another defining characteristic of media. I have, just in my range of vision alone, the following people working alongside me (both male and female): Shadey, Woody, Dagwood, Siggy, Ferret, Mids, Simpy and Jonesy. And these are not nicknames for blogging purposes - they are the names used exclusively to communicate with the person in question. In fact, if you call the person by their given name, they are unlikely to respond. In certain instances, even clients refer to these people by their nicknames.

As far as office communication goes, it is a general free for all as long as it stays within the company. Obviously we do not advocate sending chain mails of a deviant nature to our clients, but if it's within a department or even across departments, it can get as dodgy or dirty as we like and there are no repercussions. The directors are among the worst perpetrators, and often instigate these chain mails for their own amusement.

Mass e-mails are a regular feature of my day. Because we are encouraged to work across teams and share ideas, we regularly get e-mails like this one:

Everybody please think of 5 questions that guys would know the answers to but girls would not, and vice versa.


When I say the words 'seaside', 'holiday' and 'sunshine', what is the first thing you think of? (A choice answer: Fuck off, this is London.)

The idea is to have an entire department help come up with creative ideas for a pitch, as a few hundred heads work better than 1. Of course, wherever there is permission for free reign, there are going to be those that abuse the privilege. As such, we also get mass e-mails from people offering rooms to rent, items to sell, sexual favours in return for a blackberry charger or iguanas for rehoming (this really happened). The biggest mistake you can make in this company is to walk away from your pc without logging off. If you do so, you can be sure you will return to find that 'you' have sent out a mass e-mail of a serious reputation-damaging nature to all 1000 of your colleagues (when counting everyone in all stations across the UK). Since few people can resist the temptation to turn one of these e-mails into a competition re who can be the wittiest, we invariably end up with banter that borders either on the obscene or just plain ridiculous.

Here is a ridiculous one from yesterday:

Colleague 1: Apologies for the mass mail...I've got a 75 litre fishtank for sale which comes with stand, halogen light, filter, heater, water treatment agents, remainder of the fishfood I have and, should you want them, even the fish themselves! All totalled in, it's worth around £200. I need a quick sale as I move to Australia in 2 weeks so I'm happy to take the best offer I get. If you're interested, drop me a note or give me a call.
Colleague 2: Can we have your all time top ten fishes please?
Colleague 3: Fish and chips
Colleague 4: Michael Fish
Colleague 5: Nemo
Colleague 6: Fish called Wanda
Colleague 7: Punky Fish!!
Colleague 8: How about, lets FIniSH this.
Colleague 10: And Bill has them on the menu next week.........(Bill is our canteen chef; he creates weekly menus of tasty dishes for us)
Colleague 11: Fish cakes?
Colleague 12 (very cranky): Can this stop now please!
Colleague 13: This one…followed by pic of a great white shark chomping an unfortunate man
Colleague 14: The Monkeyface, Prickleback or the Hogsucker. I can assure you, they are real.
Colleague 15 (also cranky): please stop mass sending these!!!
Security (even they get copied in): You're all sad people who don't have a life .Please stop clogging up our inboxes with foolish messages. SECURITY
Colleague 16: Speaking of fish, this is a little bit random, but does anyone have a fish tank for sale?
Colleague 17: Can we now put this to bed:
1. Moby Dick "That ain't no whale; that a great white god!"
2. A Fish Called Wanda "A tale of murder, lust, greed, revenge, and seafood"
3. Jaws "You're gonna need a bigger boat"
4. Rumble Fish "If you're going to lead people, you have to have somewhere to go"
5. Laurence Fish-Burne "Don't you get it Motherf****er"
6. The Fisher King "Holding my penis... what a wonderful way of saying how much you like me"
7. Eddie Fisher sings the Hits....
8. Orca the Whale - that's not a fish, that's a mammal!
9. Fishing by JR Hartley
10. Fishing for compliments - (insert name of colleague)
Colleague 18: Apologies for kicking off the last 15 minutes of email time wasting, I didn't mean fishes I meant pies....

Just another day in the office. ;-)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

I Want It That Way

I have not had a very good start to the week.

Yesterday I went to a funeral, and while funerals are never pleasant affairs, it just seems that much more miserable when it's the first thing you do on a Monday. Gay Best Friend, whom I have not seen much of since we moved out of Woolwich, texted me just under three weeks ago to tell me his husband had died. I had met M a few times. Our first encounter springs to mind, when he arrived after work at our Woolwich local where GBF and I, who were down a good 4 glasses of wine apiece, were holding court on the centre couch. As he walked in, he was bombarded by the two of us launching ourselves at him and both trying to talk over each other to tell him the story of our day. I distinctly remember dumping the contents of my bag all over his lap in a drunken attempt to find my missing keys. Luckily he was very patient by nature, and saw the humour in our rather unorthodox meeting.

When GBF told me the news, I was shocked. M was suffering from Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease for which there is currently no cure. Many Crohn's sufferers live a long and good quality life by adhering to a strict agenda of drug and lifestyle choices, much like diabietics. M, however, was one of the unlucky ones. His condition was so chronic that he was on 17 different meds a day to control the symptoms. He was also overweight. He died from a sudden and unexpected heart attack, brought about by the combination of meds and general poor health.

It was a good few days after I received the news that I was finally able to contact GBF. He was kept busy for a while with all the arrangements that come with someone passing, and he was holding up remarkably well. At the service yesterday, he read a short but beautiful letter he had written to M, and then dedicated the song Footprints In The Sand to him. It was simple and poignant, but I found it difficult to sit through. This is only the third funeral I have attended, and the first for a non-family member. The fact that he was young, and it was so unexpected..... it sat like a stone in my chest. I felt such despair as the curtain closed on his coffin, and seeing GBF's naked pain was so hard to watch.

We retired afterwards to the pub for the wake, as is tradition in the UK, and it was there that we chanced upon a story that made us all laugh so hard we cried genuine tears of joy. Two of the guests, good friends of both M and GBF, had arrived a little early for the service. The crematorium has two chapels, and there are two services going on simultaneously. They also churn the services out - they run 15 minutes apart all day from 9am to 6pm. Somehow, Sharon and Julia ended up in a waiting room, and stood around, ahem, waiting, for someone to call them for M's funeral. A funeral director appeared from a side door and ushered them into one of the chapels, saying they were ready to begin. Shazza and Jules sat dutifully in a pew at the back, and turned to watch the coffin being wheeled in. A Catholic priest took to the podium (I know this is not the right word, but I can't remember what is?!?!) and said a prayer, inviting the guests to cross themselves in Catholic tradition. Shazza and Jules followed his lead, although both were a little confused, as they had never known M to be a religious man. The coffin was lifted up onto the platform, and Jules suddenly noticed the flowers adorning it. Carnations! GBF is a florist by trade, and M had an insider's knowledge of and attachment to flowers. If there was one thing Jules knew, it was that M did not like carnations. The light dawned, and she broke into a fit of giggles as she realised she and Shazza were at the wrong funeral. The giggles quickly became tears of hysterical laughter, and she bolted from her seat and out the back door. Shazza, thinking her friend was just overcome with emotion, stayed put, and continued to observe the Catholic tradition of saying goodbye to their dead. It was only once everybody was seated and the first family member was halfway through his speech that the light dawned for her also, but by then it was too late to go anywhere. Shazza sat through a random stranger's funeral, all the while biting her lip to prevent from causing major disruption to the service. Jules spent the 40 minutes doubled over in the corridor, struggling to breathe through a laughing fit the likes of which she had never encountered before.

It lightened the mood, and we all felt that M was laughing with us - how could he not?!!?!?

So that is the one thing that has me feeling a bit down. The other is further complications with my visa. I'll keep it short: I need to write a test before I am allowed to book an appointment for my new settlement visa in July. This test used to be compulsory only for people applying for citizenship, but the government has decided that everyone applying for indefinite leave to remain (ie permanent residence) must now also write it. I can't book my appointment until I have my test results, and I can't write my test until my passport comes back from the Home Office because that is the only form of ID the test centre will accept. I already had a small window in which to organise all these visas in time to travel in August - this new factor has narrowed that window by a whole lot more. The pressure is building and I am incredibly frustrated at how I am being thwarted at every turn. If giving up was an option, yesterday I would have done it - I was that gatvol (had enough). Unfortunately, giving up would mean I'd have to return to Cape Town for good in August, and I'm not ready to do that yet. So while this does decrease my chances of going to Portugal and Spain, I have to press on and hope for the best. Now I have to decide whether or not I am going to buy my non-refundable flights along with everybody else this weekend or if I'm going to wait and see what happens, and pay perhaps double closer to the time.

As you can, it is sucking big time to be me at the moment. If I had one wish right now, I'd wish for a British passport. I can't actually think of anything in the world I want more. Anyway, onwards and upwards. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Wedding Planner

I am in a wedding planning frenzy today. Schmokkle, while good at this kind of thing (it comes from our days in production where the two us were SUPER co-ordinators who could organise an easter egg hunt in a mosque), is not really overly enthusiastic about it, mostly because she finds it quite daunting. I, on the other hand, can't think of anything I'd like more than to organise everyone else's lives to my taste. Despite being on the other side of the world, e-mail and the wonderful web make it possible for me to do a whole lot of legwork from my desk in London (on company time, of course) for an event that is happening on the other side of the world.

Today I have enlisted the help of my mother to get names of websites which handle everything from gazebos and chairs to cakes and wedding dresses. I am about to start making lists in excel spreadsheets (I LOVE doing this, and it's ok that this makes me a complete dork) of costs and equipment. If any of you know someone who recently got married or you just happen to have some great contacts yourselves, please pass them on. I am determined to be the most thorough wedding planner ever!

The reason for my unprofessional attitude today is that Dagwood has gone off to a conference somewhere up north, and won't be back til Monday. With a bit of luck, I'm going to sit in on a couple of our stations' shows tomorrow as well, so although I won't be working, I'll be increasing my understanding of the radio industry at large. Or so I tell myself. I will probably end up drinking coffee (or beer, depending on the time) and chatting mindlessly with the producers! I do love this industry.

We bought our tickets to the Boom Festival in Portugal yesterday. At the end of this month, we will be booking our flights to and from Portugal and Spain. Now I just have to hope I can swing this visa thing my way so this trip actually happens for me! It will be a while before I have news yet though, so for now, I'm choosing to remain calm in the face adversity. When I evenutally do lose the plot under pressure, I promise you will be the first to know and you'll have front row seats.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Second Time Around

As I am paranoid about anything relating to me and travelling and visas, I have second guessed my decision to write this post. I am unnaturally superstitious about giving voice to the worst case scenario in case it comes true (see the list of posts on the RHS of this page if you don't know what I am talking about). However, if the worst case scenario does indeed come to pass, I am going to need to use this blog for major therapy and I will need endless empathy and commiserations from you, so I might as well give you the background now.

Today I am posting my passport off to Immigration by special recorded delivery. The fact that I am being forcibly separated from my passport is enough to induce heart palpitations and an unattractive line of sweat across my upper lip.

The reason for this dates back to this post, which explains how my passport got stolen just before my trip to Cape Town. It's amazing how one small event can trigger a chain reaction that is still in effect so many months later, and which shows no sign of halting anytime soon.

I still do not have a valid visa in my current passport. I have no visa at all actually, just an entry stamp that I was given when I smiled nicely at the border guys on my re-entry into London (ok, I'm simplifying matters a little). This means that as it stands, I can't travel. I need to get my visa restamped in my passport before our trip to Portugal and Spain in August. Right, so no big deal. Or so you'd think.

However, things with me are never that straighforward. I have two options to get the kind of visa I need: the first is posting my application along with my passport to Immigration at a cost of £160 and waiting 4 - 14 weeks for it to be processed; the second is making an appointment to go in and see them personally at a cost of £500 and obtaining my visa within 24 hours. If this was the only visa I needed to get this year, I would bite the bullet and pay the £500, thereby staying secure in the fact that my passport would not leave my side and that I'd get my visa on the same day.

But it isn't the only visa I have to get. In a cruel twist of fate, this visa for which I must now apply expires in August 2008. Upon it's expiry, I have to apply for my Unmarried Partner Visa - Indefinite Leave to Remain. To make things more difficult, I can only apply for this new visa 28 days before the expiry of my old visa. I also cannot apply for the new visa unless the old visa is endorsed in my passport.

In layman's terms, it means that Immigration is shafting me for £160 for a visa that I will have for only 2 weeks before it expires and I have to cough up another £500 for the new visa, as a postal application for the second visa would take too long and I wouldn't be able to on holiday. It also means that until all this visa shit is sorted, I can't even apply for the Schengen visa that I need to travel to Portugal and Spain.

With the timing of our trip and my horrendous luck in all matters passport related, the worst case scenario I am looking at is forked: My first visa application may be delayed for unknown reasons, and I will miss my window of opportunity for the new visa. If this happens, it's tough shit, see you later - they will not accept my application for renewal, and I will have to go home - as in leave London forever. The other possibility is that I get both my UK visas sorted, but can't get an appointment for my Schengen visa within the tight time frame I will be left with, which means I can stay in London but can't travel.

So why didn't I check this out earlier, you ask? I did, and was told I could probably just apply for the new visa in July, and not have to get my stolen one reissued. So imagine my dismay when I phoned last week to make an appointment for the new visa, explained my situation and was told there is a good chance that my application will be denied unless I have a valid visa endorsed in my passport.

Confused yet? I don't blame you - I am living this nightmare and I'M confused! All you really need to know is, either I come out of this with all my paperwork in order and a wonderful holiday under my belt... or I am royally fucked. Please cross fingers it is the former. I will as always keep you updated.

Monday, 12 May 2008

The Great Milk Tart Incident

Once again, we set the bar high in terms of stellar weekends. Summer seems to have properly arrived, and with temperatures soaring into the mid twenties in the afternoons, it's the perfect time to slip into bikinis and tan in your local park. It's at times like this that I really do miss the beach, but the sight of an entire population shedding their clothing in the middle of a grassy patch in the city never fails to amuse me. Scarf and I spent a good 6 hours lying in the sun this weekend, and we both have a nice golden glow to show for it. We're now just holding thumbs that this is not a teaser like last year, where we had two weeks of great weather and that was it for the whole of "summer".

On Saturday we had our official housewarming combined with Shoes' birthday celebration. Everybody had already seen our place, and with the possible exception of two people, everybody has been drunk in it too, so this wasn't anything different. It was just bigger, better and messier! We got back from the park with a couple of hours to spare before guests started arriving, and Scarf used the time to make melktert (milk tart), a traditional South African dish of sugar-crust pastry filled with a custard-type mix. She makes each of us a cake on our birthdays, and we get to choose what type we want. Shoes decided on milk tart instead of a cake. My mother is Afrikaans, and was taught to cook and bake by my food-loving Afrikaans grandmother, so I turned to her for the ultimate milk tart recipe. This is one which has been in my family for years and is a closely guarded secret. If there is one thing that Afrikaners do exceptionally well, it is cook. Everything is heavy, creamy, deliciously flavourful and 100% full fat. You must know that dieting in a traditional Afrikaans family is like trying to stop McDonalds from taking over the world - absolutely impossible. It is very useful to have Afrikaans relatives when you want to whip up a fabulous dish to impress that special someone - not so much when you're trying to impress them with your bikini body after a winter spent siphoning thick, creamy soups and golden brown pies.

Anyway, my mother gladly passed on the recipe, and I e-mailed it to Scarf, not bothering to look at it first. If I had, or even if I'd just taken a moment to really think about my past experiences with my mother's recipes, I would have picked up on one small detail that could have headed off the Great Milk Tart Incident. Afrikaners do not know how to cook in small amounts. By tradition, they feel compelled to make enough food to feed a small army, no matter whether there are ten guests or two. This could be because they also by tradition have fairly large families, and everyone has very hearty appetites; the men especially can put food away on championship levels. Better too much than too little - leftovers can be turned into brand new creations that simultaneously amaze and stupify the eater.

As it turns out, this thought didn't cross my mind until Scarf was already halfway through mixing the filling, and I overheard her asking OJ if he could pop home and bring a bigger pot over as our ones weren't big enough to hold it all. A sense of foreboding swept over me as I realised what must have happened. I approached with caution.

"Scarf..... did you follow the recipe exactly as you see it? Or did you perhaps, um, increase it a little?"

"Oh ja, I doubled it."

"You what?"

"I doubled it. There are 15 of us, and one tart won't be enough....."

She broke off as she saw the expression on my face. I didn't even have to say it.

"Oh my gosh. It was already doubled, wasn't it? Oh my word. I thought it looked a bit excessive! How many tarts is this going to make?" Her voice had risen to a high pitched shriek.

I took a deep breath and plunged in. "If my mother has stayed true to her usual form, we're probably looking at about 8 milk tarts."

"8 MILK TARTS? BUT I ONLY BOUGHT TWO CRUSTS!!! WHERE ARE WE GOING TO PUT THEM??????????" Scarf's face had gone a brilliant shade of puce and a line of sweat beaded on her forehead.

"Ok, ok, don't panic, we'll think of something. I know, we'll just make the two proper tarts, and we'll put the rest into dishes and they can be crustless tarts. When everyone is drunk later they won't even notice."

And so, that is how we came to have enough milk tart for our entire block of flats. One of the genuine tarts got shared politely among the guests. One of the crustless ones got set upon much, much later that night, in what can only be described as a feeding frenzy. In a testament to how OTT things got, Shoes ploughed through the tray with a spoon, searching for the crust which he believed to be "somewhere under all that filling", and was flabbergasted the next day to find that there had never been a crust in the first place. The second genuine tart balanced precariously atop the salad stuff in the fridge, until someone pulled out an item acting as an anchor, and the next time OJ opened the fridge, the tart came catapulting out and landed face down on the floor. The second crustless tart is now a moosh of cinnamon and custard in a bowl in our fridge, and in our desperate attempt to get rid of it, everytime someone opens the fridge they have to have a spoonful.

Scarf is psychologically scarred and says she can never eat milk tart again. The rest of us still enjoy it, but are unable to eat even one more bite after a weekend of stuffing ourselves with it. On the plus side, the recipe is fantastic and when the milk tart moment peaked on Saturday night, everyone agreed it tasted great. Next time though, we might stick to chocolate cake.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Easy Like Monday Morning

I had such an amazing weekend that I'm not sure if I can accurately capture my enthusiasm in words. It was one of those perfect weekends where everything just falls beautifully into place. There was no excessive planning but rather plenty of spontaneous occurrences, and since I happen to have the coolest, most up for it group of friends in the world, X + Y = an explosion of fun. The one thing about living so far from home is that your friends really do become your family. In the absence of blood relatives on which to depend, you become abnormally close to the only other people you have in your life, and they become like family in every sense. We bicker more than we ever did with our friends back home, but we also are there for each other in a way that we haven't been before, and when we have fun, we embrace it with every ounce of enthusiasm and energy. I love them to death at the moment, and am very grateful to be sharing my overseas experience with them.

The weekend started fairly tamely. We've always done our grocery shopping on Friday nights, but since we moved into our new place and we have both Sainsbury's and Virgin Active less than 30 seconds from our house, we no longer have to stick to a routine when it comes to the mundane things in life. I went to gym instead, and picked up a bottle of wine from M&S on my way home. OJ and Neutrino came over, and we basically just spent the evening hanging out and chatting over a couple of glasses.

On Saturday we had a great surprise: two of our friends from CT rocked up on our doorstep out of the blue! They had been planning on coming over here in August, but decided a few months ago that they would come earlier and surprise everyone. HippieChick and Peet managed to arrange everything with the help of HippieChick's brother, Jem; right down to getting directions to our house so we wouldn't suspect anything. We already had a few people over as we always do at the weekend, so when they popped up everyone immediately went into celebration mode and we threw them an impromptu Welcome To London party. There are now so many of us over this side that going back to CT now would be a little bleak! We just need Schmokkle & Man-Bok, JR & Candz and Fish & Carebear to come over this side, and all my closest friends would be in London. And of course, my little sister and G. Watch out guys, the lure of London is coming to get you!

On Sunday I went to the pub for lunch with the Queen of Melodrama and Herman the German. Herman was in town for the weekend, having just recently moved to Germany, and had decided to come and visit his best mate QOM. I suspect I will be seeing a lot more of him in the near future. It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.... we sat on the terrace of a pub in Wimbledon and whiled away the hours reminscing about old times (the three of us were fast friends in high school for a while) and catching up on the latest in each other's lives. We bid each other farewell at around 4pm, and a scant four hours later I was on my way to the station to fetch QOM to bring him back to ours for pre-party drinks. Yes, finally the night had arrived: Astrix, Infected Mushroom and Eskimo at Briston Academy. I'd invited QOM a few weeks previously, and to say he was excited was an understatement.

My group of friends is quite cliquey, but not in the sense that we don't like new people. It's more because we have a rather unique way of interacting with one another that comes from being friends for so long. It goes beyond just inside jokes and shared experiences. We've developed certain words that are like everyday English to us, but unintelligible to outsiders. Even Schmokkle, who has known everyone for years, says that everytime we come down to Cape Town on holiday and she hangs out with us, there are new words and codes that go straight over her head. It's not a conscious thing, but it can make newcomers feel a bit left out. So as excited as I was about QOM meeting all my friends, including Shoes, for the first time, there was the slight worry that he'd feel a bit out of sorts.

Turns out I needn't have worried. He is just about the biggest instant hit I have ever seen with my group. By the end of the night, Shoes and Eyes were asking if they could keep him, and everyone was coming up to me in turns to tell me how cool they thought he was. I actually barely got to spend any time with him, as Shoes kept spiriting him away to chat and the others were commanding his remaining time. He has since been invited to our housewarming next weekend, our trip to Portugal and Spain in August, and basically anything else that we happen to be doing between now and Christmas - and none of the invites were issued by me!

The party itself was off the hook. We got there at 11pm and left at 4am, and Scarf and I danced non-stop the whole time. We haven't just let go and danced in ages, and it felt so good to move! The music was great despite the 3 power surges in Infected's set that had the crowd chanting into the sudden silence, and I've rarely seen a more excitable group of clubbers. Excellent vibe, excellent outfits, excellent music, excellent venue - the four pillars of the perfect party!

QOM stayed over, as did HippieChick and Peet, and we all woke up refreshed sometime on Monday afternoon. We made some coffee, packed a hubbly and spent the afternoon talking and chilling on our balcony. Neutrino and OJ joined us later and we ended the weekend by watching a movie called Weirdsville. It's a dark, heavily satirical comedy that suited our mood perfectly.

All of us were really sad to to see the weekend end, and if I could have rewound it and done it all over again, I would in a second. But summer has finally arrived, including blue skies and sunshine, and I know there will be many more perfect weekends to come.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Friday's Child Is Full Of Bass

Oh my goodness, I have such a Friday feeling today!

It must be in anticipation of the long weekend ahead. I don't have much planned for it actually, which is unusual, but what is planned is going to be off the hook. On Sunday night, we're off the see Infected Mushroom, Astrix and Eskimo at Brixton Academy. Not just one, but three of my favourite trance DJs in one place at one time. We have been working ourselves into a state of hysteria all week - this is a BIG party. Plus, the Queen of Melodrama will be coming with me - it will be his first time clubbing in London. I can't wait to show him how much bigger and better everything is here. No diss to Cape Town, but the London clubbing scene is insane, as is expected from such a large, international city.

I don't have anything in particular to write today. I do, however, have some more fabulous motivational posters for you, which I think is the perfect way to end off a week. Enjoy!