Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Run To The Water

When it comes to working out, I am a cardio snob. I feel that if I do less than 30 mins running, stepping or cross training and my vest is not soaked through at the end of it, then my gym session hasn't really been worth it. I aim to burn at least 350 calories per workout on cardio alone, and finish off with as many ab exercises as my protesting body can handle. Twice a week I add some toning to the mix.

Let me quickly state for the record that I am not a natural gym bunny - I am a carefully developed one. I would much rather sit on the couch with a glass of wine, but exercise is an evil necessity to which I have become accustomed over the years. I will never enjoy the hours I spend on the treadmill, but I have learned to accept them as part of my routine, and to enjoy the satisfaction that comes with the results.

Seeing as I equate burn and sweat with a good workout, it stands to reason that I'm not usually found in classes where the focus is more "gentle strengthen and tone" and less "I'm going to break your balls and feed them to you over the next hour". A class such as aqua aerobics, for example, is not somewhere you would normally spot me, but yesterday that is exactly where I was.

The recent spell of hot weather in London has turned the gym into a sauna, and the fact that they insist on using the (already inadequate) air conditioning as little as possible is not helping. Shoes says they do this because increased temperature burns more body fat. He gets this from watching UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) where the guys train in heated gyms and even wrap themselves in plastic bags so as to burn off more fat. This might work fine for a prize fighter - to be fair, they are all in absolute peak condition, but for us plebs it only serves to decrease output and cut one's workout time in half, as after 20 mins it becomes difficult to breathe through the clouds of steaming vapour exuding from your sweat-soaked clothing.

Yesterday I just couldn't face another one of these workouts. The trauma of being unattractively wet and smelly before I'd even set the timing on the treadmill was too much, so I decided to give aqua aerobics a try. I thought it would be a waste of time; something to assuage the guilt I'd otherwise feel at not going to gym, but not really an actual contribution to my weekly workout plan. Instead, I found some of the aerobic exercises executed against the resistance of the water to be quite tiring!

We started off with many of the same moves you find in regular aerobics: marching on the spot, jumping jacks, step-touch, knee lifts, step-kick-change. I am normally very co-ordinated - I did gymnastics for 7 years and have been regularly going to aerobics and dance classes at gym ever since my early twenties. However, the difference in doing these exercises in the water was enough to have me flopping around like a fish and giggling like an imbecile. To complete the picture of silliness, they give you these enormous gloves to wear to streamline your hands. The icing on the cake was the music: we were step-kick-changing (or movements approximating that instruction - it was more like undignified but surreptitious flailing about) to Freak Out, Say A Little Prayer and my personal pick of the day, Sing Hallelujah by Dr Alban. I had to break it down a bit to that one - Shoes says he was watching me from upstairs and while everyone else was obediently crawl stroke marching around the pool, I was bopping to the beat Snoop Dogg style.

After the basics, we moved on to arm weights, which are actually weightless, but provide plenty of toning opportunity when you're pushing them around underwater. Then it was on to pool noodles for an abs workout - they call them waddles here, but I can't say that without snickering so I'll stick with noodles. While my arms aren't sore today, I can feel the odd twinge in my abs, and I have to say I was getting a bit tired toward the end of the reps.

Ultimately, I have to admit I am now an aqua aerobics convert. Not only did I get a fairly decent toning workout, I didn't even break a sweat. Plus, I got to admire the occasional eye candy in the form of the swimmers, including my Shoe, who came to do some lengths so he could laugh at me. I may have looked like a jellyfish masquerading as a dolphin, but I'll be there next week with gloves on. Perhaps they'll play Dr Alban's It's My Life.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


Over the past few days, I have spent my spare time at work reading up on the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Don't panic, I'm not about to launch into a boring history lesson! I just have a few thoughts bouncing around that need an outlet.

I'm reading a novel by Richard North Patterson called Exile, and it is this that has inspired me to learn more about the tragedy that is the Middle East. This is the synopsis of the book:

From one of America's most compelling novelists comes the mesmerizing story of a lawyer who must defend the woman he loves against a charge of conspiring to assassinate the prime minister of Israel. David Wolfe's life is approaching an exhilarating peak: he's a successful San Francisco lawyer, he's about to get married, and he's being primed for a run for Congress. But when the phone rings and he hears the voice of Hana Arif — the Palestinian woman with whom he had a secret affair in law school — he begins a completely unexpected journey. The next day, the prime minister of Israel is assassinated by a suicide bomber while visiting San Francisco; soon, Hana herself is accused of being the mastermind behind the murder. Now David faces an agonizing choice: Will he, a Jew, represent Hana — who may well be guilty — or will he turn away the one woman he can never forget? The most challenging case of David's career requires that he delve deep into the lives of Hana Arif and her militant Palestinian husband, both of whom have always lived in exile. Ultimately, David's quest takes him to Israel and the West Bank, where, in a series of harrowing encounters, he learns that appearances are not at all what they seem. Culminating in a tense and startling trial with international ramifications, Exile is that rare novel that both entertains and enlightens. At once an intricate tale of betrayal and deception, a moving love story, and a fascinating journey into the lethal politics of the Middle East, this is Richard North Patterson at his most brilliant and engrossing.

Of course, Patterson is a novelist first and foremost, not a historian or an expert in political relations. He is, however, a former a trial lawyer, and has been involved in various advocacy groups in the US. His intricate understanding of the legal system along with his thorough research into all aspects of the topic at hand gives him an excellent platform on which to build an understanding of complex issues for the common man. In short, he not only explores every angle of his story, but he is also able to tell it in a way that is accessible to his readers without oversimplifying the case.

He has been my favourite author ever since I read No Safe Place in college, and without fail his books have challenged me to increase my awareness of some of the big challenges that are being faced by the modern world. When I picked up Exile, I was a little daunted. Like most of us in the Western world, my experience of suicide bombings, territorial occupation and Right of Return is limited to a few newspaper headlines, and even then I tend to skim them only briefly, all the while thinking: Oh, it's just another day, another drama in the Middle East.

Without ever having delved into the histories of the Jews and Palestinians other than what I learned in school, I always thought that it was kind of cheeky of the Jews to just demand that Palestinians relinquish their land because God had promised it to them. As one of the main characters in the book quips at one point: "Since when did God become a real estate agent?" But it is obviously far more complicated then that, and this book has really opened my eyes to the human factor behind the stories of these two groups of people and the terrible sufferings they have inflicted on each other.

The way Patterson lays out both sides of the issue equally means that most readers are unlikely to pick a side. I have 200 pages left, and already I know I could not say whether I think the Jews or the Palestinians are right; instead I am saddened by the seemingly insoluble conflict. I wonder how different I would feel if I was a Jewish or Arab South African reading this; I've never thought about that before.

I've spent a lot of time researching key terms that are not fully explained in the book: Shin Bet, Intifada, Fatah, Hamas, Al-Aqsa...... all names and entities which never penetrate more than the first layer of my consciousness when I hear the news report at night. I could replace these terms with many others of different geographies: Zanu (PF), MDC, Operation Murambatsvina in Zimbabwe or Sharia Law, Janjaweed and Al Saddiq Al Mahdi for Sudan. How many times do we hear the words that make up our perceptions of war and conflict, but have nothing to attach them to?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that reading this book, and others by Patterson or writers like him, makes me feel like a very small fish in a very big pond. And I think that is a good thing to keep in mind as we muddle through our own lives, with our own struggles and our own consequences. I'm glad I made the effort to expand my understanding of this complex world just a little bit.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Cool Factor

I feel human again after a caner of a weekend - what other kind is there really? Lately I have been I feeling an overwhelming urge to party like mad in the next 18 months before the dreaded 3-0 - as if life is suddenly going to stop altogether when I reach that poisonous number. I am fully conscious of how irrational this is. I am also determined to be cool (not hip - you know you've lost the cool factor when you start using the word hip) WAY beyond the age of 30, but there's a small part of me that doubts if I'll still be able to pull it off.

I want to be that aunt that all the kiddies love - the one who spoils with abandon, wears gucci shades and stillettos by the pool and whose clothes all the teenagers want.The one who buys cleavage tops / inappropriate jewellery for the girls when mommy isn't looking and gives the boys dating advice. I was BORN to be a cool aunt! Actually, I was born to be a celebrity, but since that's not working out so well for me, the cool aunt is not too terrible a substitute.

One major problem with my familial career goal - I only have one niece, and technically she's not even mine. She is Shoes' sister's child, but since Shoes and I have been together practically since prehistoric times now, I think I've earned the right to be her cool aunt. Shoes' younger sister K is 15, and so therefore also falls into the "kids who should look up to and adore me" category. There's also a minor issue with K though; she's at an age where she pretty much hates the guts of all adults in any kind of authority, so that means anybody older than 21. Unless the 21 - or even 25 - year old in question is a guy. Then suddenly she finds it in her heart to bend the rules a bit. However, that is another story for another day.

On Friday I did what all the kids suspect that cool aunts do, but which cool aunts remain frustratingly mysterious about so as not to corrupt young minds - drink cocktails and tequila in a trendy city bar a la Sex and the City. I met Miss M, Midnite Gem and the lovely Kab for a chatter and a few tipples at Alibi. I really meant to have just one drink, but Gem's boyfriend C and his work mates turned up, and everytime I tried to leave another drink just appeared out of thin air in front of me, and well, it would have been rude to decline such a gesture, you know how it is. I was having a Harry Potter moment; the one where they are all sitting at the table in the Great Hall and delicious food materialises in front of them. With such magic afoot, to leave would have been to smite Dumbledore's legacy.

I think I managed to gather up my strength and say goodbye at around 10pm. It was the perfect time - one more Strawberry Cloud and I would have gotten on that dance floor, and once I start to trip the light fantastic, I'm going nowhere. I very nearly stopped by my work local for one more with the gang, but then realised this was a bad idea because a) I was not sober and that is the place I had my bag stolen, and b) I was ravenous, and that meant I was going to end up eating greasy chips and peanuts. Since I have sworn off junk food for a month in an attempt at a flat stomach for Spain, this would only serve to demotivate me. Don't get me wrong, I love to be demotivated. Any excuse to break the diet. It's your birthday and you want me to try your cake? But of course. These crisps are all the way from Scotland? Well I've never been there - they could be the best crisps in the world and I might never know. I'll have some, thanks.

In fact, I ended up breaking it in style with a massive KFC-fest on Sunday after the boat party, but I had a diet pepsi, so that's ok then.

The boat party on Saturday was fabulous, as always. Neutrino played a fantastic set - I'm really proud of him. It's quite something, seeing one of your best mates really making it in the cut throat industry of djing. He has a long way to go yet; the money is in producing tracks, not playing gigs (unless you are super famous), but he's starting to get paid small amounts for appearances and he's been busy in the studio cutting original tracks for his live sets. Most of the usual suspects came for the party, plus Oldest Friend and Queen of Melodrama, who put in their first appearances at what is sure to become a regular event for them. We didn't quite have sunshine, but for the first time we didn't have any rain either - bless you London. At least you're trying.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Dirty Pop

Good news: I didn't cock up the audio on the Alphbeat gig the other night. In fact, I think I got some great stuff. I'll never know now though, as I forgot to listen to the broadcast last night - duh. Alphabeat were fun. I met my culture vulture (competition winner) and her mate backstage, and we sat in on the station's interview with the band. Stine is absolutely adorable. She's tiny with this exquisite little face - she looks like a Danish porcelain doll. Their stuff is a little too cheesy euro pop for me, but I couldn't help singing along with Fascination - the crowd was really getting into it. I was Billy No-Mates for the evening, as Miss M was busy and she is really the only person I know who would actually have gone with me to this gig (besides my sister, who would go anywhere with me at any time - it's great being cut from the same cloth). The rest of the gang were like, who? And when they found out, the expressions of distaste on their faces told me my answer. Don't screw with the trance purists people. They are so far above my bubblegum pop tastes that they're floating. They've grown wings and are wearing halos inscribed with "we only listen to cool music".

CSS (Cansei de Ser Sex) was on after Alphabeat. They're a Brazilian pop/punk/electro rock-y type outfit consisting of four mental girls and one guy who totally fades into the background. Their name means "I got tired of being sexy" - a quote attributed to Beyonce. For this alone, I quite like them. Their music is.... well, kind of indescribable. Weird is the best I can come up with. Not in a bad way, just a, well, weird one. The lead singer was decked out in a catsuit that was clearly made of curtains, and she wore enough tinsel around her neck to dress several large Christmas trees. The overall effect was one of a neckless, curtain-wrapped mummy disguised as a Yuletide decoration. Attractive? No. But it did get her noticed. The other girls were oddly androdgynous, with their stove pipe jeans, white rocker t-shirts and long brown hair, which they thrashed about like they'd just graduated from the Guns n Roses Academy of Moshing. I kept thinking I was watching a coked up Russell Brand with a guitar. The guy - I don't think I even saw him. I recognised a couple of their songs from the radio, but for the most part I remained suspended between confusion and disbelief. The crowd was a bit more, erm, passionate about this performance. There were clearly some hardcore fans - so hardcore, in fact, that they formed a mosh pit and started to throw each other around a bit. To the sound of electro-rock tunes. I can only guess that these are the moshers too afraid to meet the real metalheads at gigs like Linkin Park, where people actually bleed in mosh pits. So instead, they pick a little known band with 'out there' tunes and practice at their gigs, hoping one day to reach the upper echelons of moshing and play with the big boys.

I spent the whole evening with the culture vultures, who turned out to be really nice girls. Mid twenties, both from London, one studying medicine and the other training as an associate attorney. I thought I had something to prove, but after we got stuck into the wine they both confessed they'd prefer my job. Of course, they don't know that I don't spend all my time going to gigs and interviewing celebs - but I let that small truth pass by unattended. ;-)

This weekend is the one we've all been waiting for - another Friendz Boat Party, with DJ Neutrino on the decks. It's been a long week for me, characterised by an unusual feeling of not wanting to come into work. I have some major news about my job and that of my boss, and where things are headed as we make our way to the official merger. Unfortunately, nothing has been officially confirmed yet, so I can't write about it. I'm excited though, and hopefully I'll be able to tell you in the next few weeks.

Have a fantastic Friday peeps. I leave you with these thoughts to contemplate:

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Teach a Man to Fish and He Shall Stink Out The Place

Walked into the kitchen last night to check on my fish in the oven. Overheard the following exchange:

Eyes: The ham on my sandwiches today was SO much nicer than the ham we usually buy.
Scarf: Of course it was baby, it's way more expensive.
Eyes: I know. It goes so well with this new cheese too, it's.......(voice trails off into the distance)

The voice trailed off into the distance because I was doing back flips out the kitchen in my effort to reverse direction. You think I'm lying about these conversations, or at the very least exaggerating. I'm not. Honestly.

Got to work today to find this e-mail sent from colleague's computer to entire company after stupid colleague neglected to log off whilst away from his desk:

By popular demand here's my mobile number... so we can meet for drinks or casual sex...

0771 xxx xxx ;-)

What a funny little world I live in.

I've had something akin to writers block the past two days. It's not that I have nothing to write about; it's just that when I put fingertip to keyboard it all comes out funny. Wrong funny, not ha ha I just peed my pants funny. So far so good though; I'm not reading this back going, what language is that you just wrote in?

Friday night was Jem's birthday at the Whitehouse in Clapham. It was a really good turnout - everyone and their neighbours' grannies arrived for the shindig, which was good as we got there so early we were the only people in the bar. There were some moments which stood out from the usual drunken debauchery. Britney giving me half her prawn dim sum that distinctly resembled a jellyfish, saying: Go on, try it - it's lovely. Me acquiesing - and promptly choking and spitting said dumpling back into my hand (note: I do not make a habit of doing this in public, I will usually swallow anything to save face; but it was that bad). My hand smelling strongly of fishy feet for the next hour, even after I washed it (fish + stinky feet being the worst smells that I can come up with outside of toilet related topics). The smell of fishy feet slowly permeating the air throughout the bar as some tossers in the corner ate their extremely fishy, feety dish without regard for other patrons. The expressions that came over everyone's faces as their nostrils picked up said smell. Miss M, Britney & I ganging up on a guy that we didn't know - well, Britney knew him, but she was so drunk it was like she didn't - and trying to set him up with....anyone - absolutely anyone. Just because he was single, and, oh I don't know, we felt like abusing an unfortunate soul who had done nothing but be polite to us. I think we scared him off females for good. Dancing on the small section of dance floor to some salsa-ish type music; being silly and doing stupid, 'look how hot I am at Spanish dancing' type moves. Having a random dude come up to me and go, yeah, rock on! Like he thought I was serious. Getting home in one piece, only to practice doing pirouettes on the kitchen floor with housemates. Coming short. Hard.

All in all a successful evening. Woke up with Level 6 hangover on Saturday morning. No actual alcohol induced nausea, but sick feeling anyway due to the lemmings pounding away at my head with their evil anvils. It's been a while since I've had a headache. Thank god for 38p paracetamol, the 5 minute wonder drug. Who says cheap pain killers don't work.

The rest of the weekend was spent sitting on the couch and eating chocolate. We ate more chocolate in 24 hours than I normally eat in two months. Everyone was at it. Hungry? Have some chocolate. Making a round of tea? Wouldn't chocolate be nice with that? Watching a movie? Definitely need another chocolate. Disgusting. Am now in an anti-chocolate phase which I am going to try and stretch out til I go on holiday - it can't hurt to deprive myself of extra padding for my hips for a month.

Tonight I am off to Koko to act as producer for one of our station's sponsored gigs. Alphabeat are playing, along with CSS. I have to chaperone the competition winner who is going to report on the gig, and record all the audio bits. It's quite exciting, and a bit nerve wracking as well. I'm scared I'm going to do something really blonde, like forget to turn the flash mic on. Can you imagine me coming in tomorrow morning armed with my sound bites, only to hear nothing but static on playback? I'm going to press the record button twice each time to make sure it's on. But what if that stops it? Oh dear, I'm starting to panic.

Friday, 11 July 2008

The 73 Characteristics of Cheese (and other politically charged topics of conversation)

It's reaching epidemic proportions. My intellect is being assualted by conversation so mundane, it is killing my brain cells by proximity alone.

Last night we were having a perfectly normal conversation about cricket. Scarf doesn't understand test cricket, and Eyes and I were explaining it to her. Then, in the middle of our discussion, this:

Scarf (removing a block of cheese from the fridge): Baby, I'm so excited to try this cheese!
Me: (suppressing groan of agony)
Eyes: I know, me too! It's going to be the bomb.
Insert - the cheese rendered worthy of the next half hour conversation is an extra matured cheddar from Sainsburys
Scarf: I'll put some in the risotto, shall I? It's nice and strong, and full of flavour. It should compliment it really well.
Eyes: Oooh, excellent idea.
Insert - 10 minute discussion about what ingredients go really well in risotto
Me: (rolling eyes at high speed revolutions and attempting to sing Mmmbop to myself in my head in order to drown out voices. Why Mmmbop, I don't know - it's just a good song to have stuck in your head if you want one that stays put)
Scarf: Do you know what we should have bought though? PARMESAN!
Me: (gnashing teeth in effort to remain silent - try to mentally prepare self for onslaught of the finer characteristics of Parmesan cheese)
Eyes: Now that would have been good.
Scarf: But we don't use Parmesan that much. So we can't really justify spending that kind of money on it, as it will just go off.
Eyes: No baby, cheese keeps for ages. Especially Parmesan.
Scarf: I suppose you're right.
Eyes: Parmesan is a hard cheese.
Scarf: And a tasty one.
Eyes: And it goes with so many things.
Scarf: Pizza, pasta, risotto.......
Me: (leave room)
Insert - peer round kitchen door 10 minutes later, eavesdrop on conversation. It's not about cheese!
Me: (re-enter kitchen, continue making salad)
Scarf: ..... blah blah blah, and then she said rhubarb rhubarb, and..... yoh hey, this risotto is SO GOOD!
Eyes: HMMMMMMM! And it goes with so many things.....
Me: (give up on making salad, make plans to eat in room)

Oh my sainted aunt. I am going to record them chatting one night. In fact, I'll record them on several nights over the course of a week, and watch their reactions when I play it back to them. The big question is though, will they be as incredulous as I am about their abilities to discuss a big fat cup of NOTHING for so long? I'd be fascinated to find out.

In other news, I helped out on a gig again on Wednesday night. This time we had Jordin Sparks, winner of American Idol Season 6, in the studio. She sang for about 30 competition winners and us crew obviously, and spent some time chatting with the crowd. She's very friendly, and much prettier in person than she appeared on tv, but she is huge. Really. I don't mean fat, although she's certainly not skinny either. I mean just massive, by normal female standards. She's like an amazon woman; she has a big, solid frame and she's SO tall. By my estimates (gauged by measuring her against some of the guys as she walked past) she must be about 6.1 or so. That really is tall for a woman. Can you tell I haven't spent a lot of time around catwalk models?! I'm not crazy about her - her music is rather bland and her voice is good but not incredible - but she was very engaging to watch live; at least, when she was talking.

Tonight the whole gang is off to the Whitehouse in Clapham for Jem's birthday. I haven't done any significant drinking for two weeks now, and judging by the fever pitched excitement levels, neither has anyone else. This means mayhem, to be sure. I intend to remain fairly controlled, so as to enjoy the view from my lofty, I'm-better-than-you-right-now perch while everyone else wallows in the dirty depths of drunken behaviour. I'll let you know how that goes!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The State Of British Tommies (and other really important aspects of life)

So, the good news is I have managed to get the extra £450 I need for my visa. The bad news is, I had to relieve my SA credit card of about R6,800 plus charges to do so. Imagine you are in the most debt you could ever be in - you have never owed so much money in your worst nightmares (for these purposes, a mortgage does not count - at least then you have an asset for your efforts). Then suddenly, you are forced to squirm a bit more, causing you to sink that extra bit deeper into the quicksand, which is now busy closing over your head. I'm breathing through straws sticking out of my nose. At least I'm still breathing, I guess.

Anyway. Good news: come Monday, I will hopefully be able to stay in the UK as long as I like - touch every single tree in the whole world. Bad news: I will probably spend the majority of my time here paying over my hard-earned income to government institutions; an exercise which, as most of you can attest to, is akin to sticking matchsticks under your fingernails. Excruciating and fucking annoying enough to turn the mildest mannered person into a mass murderer.

Enough complaining. I said yesterday I had a more light hearted post planned. Here it is then.....

On Monday I was talking about how rarely I get to have any time by myself. Living with three other people makes you face up to certain difficult realities. For example, I have forgotten what silence sounds like. I also don't know what it's like to make a cup of coffee only for myself - protocol dictates than when thou maketh tea, thou shalt offer thy housemates. I close doors with a marked incessancy bordering on mania - you can terminally fuck up your living situation if you have porno images of naked housemates interfering with your daily routine. If you're the unlucky couple with the smaller room and no en suite, your bad case of diarrhea is not only going to be overheard (and smelled) by the other three, it will also be the subject of continuous piss taking for the next few weeks. Deal with it. You will uncover characteristics that you don't particularly care for in all three of your housemates. If it's your boyfriend, it's ok - you love him despite his flaws, and are working flat out to change what you hate anyway. If it's the other two - well, you'd best prepare yourself. You will occasionally experience instinctive primal urges to push them head first over the balcony, or trip them down three flights of stairs. It's ok - this is normal. But whatever you do, DON'T GIVE IN.

One of the things about my housemates that annoys the holy shit out of me is their dinner conversation. Now, before I launch into this, I thought I'd include a disclaimer. I love them. They're my mates - my best mates, in fact, not just the roomey kind. I would not trade them for anyone else to live with, as I'm sure I would be in jail right now for intent to do grievous bodily harm if it was some of my other, less adaptable friends. But love them or not, this is what I hear probably about 3 out of 7 nights a week at the dinner table (I am usually cooking at the time, as they eat earlier than us, so there is plenty of scope for behind-the-back eye rolling and grimacing):

Eyes: These tomatoes are good baby.
Scarf: You think so?
Eyes: Yes, they're very firm. Way firmer than the ones we bought last week.
Scarf: Yes, they are. Full of flavour too.
Eyes: Yes, very flavoursome. They taste like Cape Town tommies.
Scarf: Cape Town tommies are SO much better than British tommies.
Eyes: I know! Perhaps we should try getting tommies from somewhere else?
Scarf: Maybe M&S instead of Sainsbury's. But it's more expensive there.
Eyes: You're right, it's like 10p more per tommy. I don't want to pay that much. But I also don't want to eat those crap tommies from Sainsburys again.
Scarf: Ja, because next time we buy tommies, they might be horrible, like they usually are.
Eyes: And there's nothing worse than those soggy, flavourless tommies.
Scarf: I miss Cape Town tommies.
Eyes: Me too. Remember how delicious it was to have cheese and tommy sandwiches in Cape Town.
Scarf: Every bite was good. And no matter where you bought them, you knew they were going to be firm and full of flavour.
Eyes: Especially Woollies ones. Woollies tommies are the BEST!
Scarf: But these ones aren't bad.
Eyes: No, not bad. Not great, but not bad.
Scarf: Maybe they'll be even better next week. Maybe Sains is going through a good patch.
Eyes: I think I'll have tommies on my sandwiches this week, as they're not too bad.
Scarf: Ok, and tell me how they are when you get home tomorrow, and then we can see if I should put tommies on for the rest of the week.
Eyes: Ok cool. They won't be as good as Cape Town tommies, but they should be quite nice.
Scarf: Nothing is as good as Woollies tommies though, hmmmm.

And so on... and on, and on, and on, AND ON. For a good 15 minutes. I am not lying. Substitute the word tommies with any of the following: bread, soup, lettuce, cucumber, chicken, curry sauce - it doesn't really matter. They can, AND DO, have this conversation about anything. Repeatedly. Sometimes I will leave the room, and when I come back 10 minutes later, it's like no time has passed. They're still talking about the same shit. They never get tired of it. Shoes and I check the clock sometimes, sharing secret looks of disbelief, as the minute hand ticks along and the subject matter never changes. It's amazing. They could go in for the Olympics of Inane Dinner Conversations about Food.

Like I said, I heart them. But if I have to hear one more conversation about the state of British tommies, I may very well give in to that primal urge after all.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

In Case I Haven't Dealt With It Quite Enough Yet

I've just found out my UK visa is going to cost me double what I thought it was. I was prepared for £500 - it costs £950. I'm unable to express in words what this means, both financially and psychologically. I have 6 days to come up with an extra £450, having already borrowed most of the rest of the money from Eyes and Scarf, as I didn't get paid by my promotions company this month (a fuck up on their part). I'm meeting Shoes on my lunch break, and we're going to try and draw most of the balance off our SA credit card. According to Absa, we can draw a maximum of R5000 while 'overseas'. I love that, 'overseas', but in the meantime I actually live here. If we're successful, it would leave me only about £120 short.

It is stupefying how every time I seem to have everything sorted, something else crops up that threatens to topple the precariously built house. Shoes and I have never been this broke. In all the tough months we've had in London, we have never resorted to eating crap. This month, we are. I count each and every penny as if it is gold dust.

Things will get better though, as Shoes worked a lot of overtime last weekend, and I get paid for three days promotional work at month end. This money should nearly cover the excess on the visa. It's just right now that's the problem - I've borrowed all I can from my friends, and as tempted as I am to turn to my parents, it just doesn't make any sense with the R15 to £1 exchange rate.

I had another more light-hearted post planned for today, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow. I don't feel very light-hearted right now.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Don't Stop Me Now

On Friday night I had the house to myself. This happens to me about twice a year, if I'm lucky, and I'd been looking forward to it all day. I had visions of popcorn and chocolate ice-cream, french manicures and hot bubble baths, chick flicks and good books. What actually happened was quite different. I went for a quick drink after work, having enlisted the help of a colleague to make sure I left after one. Sacrificing this gift of Me Time for an evening of getting pissed at the pub would have been a travesty, but still, I knew I'd need help to get out the door as planned. I am weak in the face of a good party. With a fair amount of coaxing, I overcame the temptation to throw in the pampering towel after my first glass of wine, and left like the disciplined soldier of relaxation that I am. I came home to a satisfyingly empty house, spread my arms in wonder and breathed a huge sigh of relief.....and promptly set about cleaning the lounge and kitchen.

You see, I am the type of person that struggles to relax. Even when watching a movie with a group of friends, I constantly feel the need to be doing something else. Multi-tasking is not just a job for me; it is a way of life. If I'm watching tv, I have to be painting my nails during the boring bits. If I'm making supper, I have to be reading a book while the pasta simmers. Incidentally, reading is one of those things that stresses me out, because I can't do anything else while I'm concentrating on a book. I LOVE to read - I read everywhere and everything (Shoes gets annoyed with me because I'll read a cereal box in a supermarket aisle if he stops the trolley for long enough). But it does go against my personal policy of never doing just one thing at a time. Sometimes I get over my guilt by reading whilst on the crosstrainer or stairmaster. At least then I can say I'm getting fit both mentally and physically. I've always had an overabundance of energy; as a child I struggled to sit still, and my attention span to this day is ridiculously short.

Anyway, when I got home and had spent a moment soaking up the pleasure of my solitude, I noticed out the corner of my eye that the counters were still dirty from breakfast. Also, the floor was covered in crumbs. And the stove - well, it looked like someone had been making gallons of milk tart.* Sitting down on the couch and putting a movie on was out of the question. I would only be satisfied once the house was spotless, and I could relax legitimately. Yes, this really is how I think - if there is something else I could be doing, relaxing is not allowed. Hence my need to go to gym a lot - it actually slows me down and allows me to zone out and not focus on everyday distractions.

I dutifully cleaned up the mess while my supper simmered on the stove (another 2 for 1 - I was happy). By the time I'd finished cleaning and eating, it was already 9pm. The housemates were expected back around 11pm. Just enough time for a movie. Determined to at least get in 1 aspect of my original plan, I set some popcorn to cook** on the stove, and whizzed round my room picking up clothes until I heard the first pops that signalled I was needed in the kitchen. Finally at around 9:20pm, I sat down on the couch with my ginormous bowl of popcorn to watch Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant. Of course, I had to stop it three times; once to get some water, again to make coffee and a third time to find the blue nail polish so I could do a touch up.

I was 20 minutes into my second movie, Catch and Release with Jennifer Garner, when Shoes returned home from working late. Eyes and Scarf arrived back from dinner shortly afterwards, and we spent some time hanging out in the kitchen discussing our evening. I was, of course, making a shopping list while we talked. One day I will figure out how to do a second activity while sleeping. It is one of my main goals in life.
*See this post for an explanation.
** Does popcorn cook? Simmer? Sautee?

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

No Limit!

What a weekend. Week actually. I have been so exhausted, that even though I was back at work for a normal day yesterday, my brain refused to kick into gear and posting was not an option: deficiency of creativity equals snorefest post.

Where to start? Def Leppard on Thursday night were awesome. A.W.E.S.O.M.E. They're 50 odd years old, but they rocked the 12,000 capacity arena like they were playing Wembley Stadium at the height of their careers in the late 80's. If someone told them they were now 20 years on from there, I don't think it would register - they definitely still think they're rock superstars, and that is actually what makes them so believable. Oldest Friend (obviously he is my my oldest friend) and I screamed along to all the classics, and did shots at the bar during the new album tracks. Let's face it; we love Def Leppard, but it is their old stuff that makes us weak with nostalgia. If they don't release any more albums that would be just fine by us. They should just tour their old stuff. They neglected to play my favourite song, Love Bites, but we dutifully waved our lighters (borrowed in my case) in the air along to When Love and Hate Collide, which is almost as good. I was nearly hysterical with excitement, and this was before I had any cheap-shit wine to increase the endorphin rush. Whitesnake was the supporting band, and even though we only knew two of their songs, we were bouncing off the walls in anticipation like penguins off a shark's nose.

Rock stars are sexy. If you can play guitar with a healthy dose of attitude, it really is true that you can get any woman in the world. Whitesnake's lead guitarist is in his mid-40's. He wears his blonde hair long and frizzy in the trusted style of many a 70's rock band; his black leather pants are so tight so they make the speedo look like a nappy and he naturally plays with no shirt, revealing a blazing if rather pasty six pack. I should be running for the hills - he's a young version of my dad when he still thought he was cool. But you know what? I'd hit it. In that moment, standing there bathed in the coloured lights, listening to the thundering of the drums and the escalating screech of guitars, watching these middle aged men head banging and knee sliding around the stage; I'd drop everything and follow that band around the world. I understand the groupie phenomenon. I want to be one. Age ain't nothing but a number, baby. Just have your guitar ready and waiting.

Oldest Friend and I went for drinks afterwards, and I staggered through the door around 4:30am. Oh, the bliss of resting my weary head on the pillow. Oh, the pique at being poked and kicked by Shoes for drunk-snoring my way through the rest of early hours.

I woke up in a state of disrepair, and dragged my sorry ass off to Wimbledon to meet TheArtyOne for a day of tennis in the rain. Yes folks, up til Friday Wimbledon had been rain-free; then we got our hands on some tickets - mai, oui! The only good thing about this was that many people left court side to take cover. TheArtyOne and I picked adventure over comfort, and braved the showers to get good seats. We watched 2 and a half matches before I couldn't go on anymore. My eyes were closing and the caffeine wasn't working. I was temporarily roused though, along with the rest of the ladies in the crowd, by the final match between Feliciano Lopez of Spain and..... erm, some other guy who wasn't nearly as hot. It was a pervefest. Cameras flashing on all sides, and you know we weren't taking photos of their serves. They make them from a different mold in Spain. The tennis was good too. 'Flea' (you try say Feliciano everytime you want to cheer for someone) won, much to the female audience's delight. But chances are we would have been delighted anyway - who won that set again?

I got home, hung out with the housemates and Neutrino for an hour, and went to bed. By this stage I was hanging by a thread - I'm too old to party late and then have things to do the next day. Sigh. It was up again at 8:30 on Saturday and off to Guildford, again with TheArtyOne, for the British Gymnastics Championships. I haven't watched live gymnastics in about 14 years, and the 8 hours of competition definitely satisfied my craving, as well as seriously injured my ass. I was all sat out after two days of hard benches and no cushions - when money is tight, comfort is negligible.

Sunday I felt like prize fighter dragging himself up for the final round in a bang-up, knock-down championship. Just a few more hours, I promised myself. You will prevail. Just try not to fall asleep during Linkin Park - this is the first day in nearly a week that you are spending with your boyfriend. Luckily, I needn't have worried about LP. They are absolutely explosive onstage. I like their music in small doses, but I was riveted by their live performance; it was like jumping on board a rollercoaster and holding your breath til the ride stops. Fucking incredible. And the mash-ups with Jay-Z as their encore.....that will go down as one of my favourite stadium moments of all time. Jay-Z's solo set doesn't deserve any space on this page. All I'll say is, we witnessed firsthand why people are clamouring for their money back after Glastonbury.

The day passed in a blur of sunshine (we all got a bit burnt!), greasy food (I haven't eaten a healthy meal in 7 days) and fabulous music (apart from the Nizzle himself). Our cab dropped us at our front door at 1:30am, and I was the only poen who had to get up at normal time to come into work; everyone else went in late. Yesterday doesn't really register on my radar. The edges of my vision were all white and fluffy. I thought I might be having a fatigue-induced out of body experience, but then realised it was just my dirty contact lenses. Collapsed into bed last night, and was so overtired I couldn't sleep. When I eventually did drift off, it was into a set of nightmarish dreams about brigands and villains from my past. Woke up this morning in a state of hyper-alertness, which I recognize as a sympton of dangerous levels of fatigue. Hopefully I will get some good sleep tonight, so as to prevent a descent into mania. Check back tomorrow to find out which way it goes.