Monday, 30 November 2009

The End of an Era

Wow, it feels a bit weird to be writing on this blog again. Ok, technically I'm not writing on my blog at all, but rather in a new e-mail in outlook. Appearances are everything, you know how it goes.

No-one actually cares why I stopped writing, so I won't do the usual Blogger Guilt thing and go into lengthy explanations (Tangent: isn't it funny that we feel that way though? Like, why should we feel BAD for being self absorbed enough to expect our reader's worlds will crumble without our daily ramblings? And did I really just start a sentence with 'like'?? I'm out of practice).

Nothing major happened; I am still alive, well and enjoying London as much as one can with all this godawful rain. I just got bored. And I firmly believe that if you don't have anything intelligent to say, you should keep your mouth shut. Nick Griffin, I am talking to you.

So that's the sum total of it really. Uninspired, not feeling the vibe, words strung together like sticky sweets on a candy necklace instead of flowing like Cheryl Cole's L'Oreal locks. It was all a bit last year for a minute there. But I've got my mojo back, and I've been inspired by the fact that my life as I know it in London is starting to change.

For 4 years my friends and I have shared the experience of a lifetime (ok, maybe travelling round the world together would have been cooler, but let me have my moment). We've partied, we've holidayed, we've triumphed over obstacles big and small, we've fought the system and not always landed on our feet. We've supported each other and raged at each other; we've had moments so epic they're like the end of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, and moments where we would've happily thrown each other into the Thames. We've been each other's families over here. It's a big deal - this is a piece of my life history that causes my heart to miss a beat and my throat to swell a bit. That is to say, it's a part of my life that makes me truly happy. I treasure each and every moment we've shared, even the really tough ones. They're part of me, part of how I define myself, and certainly part of how I will shape any friendships in the future. And now it's coming to an end.

Miss M, TheArtyOne and OJ are all leaving London in December to go back home. They all have their reasons, but the underlying one is that we are all South African, and you can take the saffa out of the country but you can't take the country out of the saffa. We all miss home and feel the undeniable magnet pulling us back there. Several of us probably won't go home for good; most of us will. Sometime. But the fragmenting starts now, with our group losing 3 members who've been part of this crazy roller coaster ride.

I may not miss being deafened by Miss M, waiting for TheArtyOne or being blindsided by one of OJ's intensely complicated theories, but I will miss each of them as much as if someone had cut off three of my fingers. Too far? Maybe a little. Let's settle for toes. You don't need your toes - they're not even very pretty. But you'd damn well miss them if they were gone. Is it just me, or is this analogy getting more offensive by the letter? I think I'll stop here before I ruin the moment.

So, now that I'm back - and I do promise that it's for good - I'll tell you a bit more about how life is changing over here. As soon as I get back from my month long holiday in Cape Town - we leave next Tuesday. And after that, if I still feel like I have something inteliigent to say, maybe I'll write some more. Maybe I won't. But I will take this opportunity to say this to three of my very best friends:

L, S & J - we all love you. We will all miss you. Our group will have a gaping big hole in it that no-one will be able to fill (yes Miss M, finally that goddam hole is unfillable!) I hope you will stay in touch and that nothing will change, but the reality is, it always does. So instead, I hope that we all roll with the changes and do what we have to do, wherever we are, until it's time to all be together again. And if I had a horse right now, I'd put all three of you on it and ride you off into the sunset, with the score from the end scene in Braveheart swelling around you. Since I don't, and you'd smelt me if I did anyway, we'll settle for one more massive piss up, London-style, on Saturday night. A toast then:

May the winds of fortune sail you,

May you sail a gentle sea,

May it always be the other guy,

who says, "this drink's on me."

Friday, 21 August 2009

Sailing Croatia: Dubrovnik - Mljet

The Croatian coastline is lined with more than 1000 islands. Strangely enough, I didn't see 1000 Island Salad Dressing anywhere, but that would be too obvious, ne c'est pas? Of these 1000 islands, only 20 or so are popular with tourists....the rest are tiny and largely uninhabitable (unless you're a contestant on Survivor - hey, Survivor Croatia! I'm e-mailing that one to Jeff).

Anyway, Mljet - and I must include a sidebar here: Eastern European spellings are dof in the extreme. Basically, they accidentally forgot to put vowels in, well...OH, THEIR WHOLE COLLECTION OF LANGUAGES, but you say the words as if the vowel was there. So Mljet is Mil-yet. Easy, yes? I know, I threw my hands up in surrender many times as well. Where was I? Oh yes - Mljet is the southern-most of the larger islands, dubbed thus by the trusty Lonely Planet guide book: "the most seductive island in the Adriatic". Perhaps the author of so sweeping a comment was caught up in a torrid romance at the time of writing, the strength of which robbed him of his senses. Mljet was voted far and away the most pointless stop on our trip.

To be fair, the whole damn island is a National Park, so if you don't hire bicycles and cycle around it, you are restricted to about a kilometre of harbour front with a few restaurants and bars, none of which make cocktails. Seriaaas. No cocktails on the waterfront. It's like no sunshine in summer - completely at odds with natural law. We were quite keen to cycle around the park and swim in the two big lakes, but after we only docked at 5pm and found the entrance to be 90 Kuna a head, excluding bicycle hire, we decided it was fairly pointless. Instead, we hit up a local pizzeria for some amazing pizza and some extremely awesome camel piss wine. Our refined saffa taste buds were by now getting used to the idea of ordering cheap local wine in half or full litres instead of bottles. It was a third of the price, and as the bottled wines weren't that great anyway, it made more sense - especially after the third glass when your taste buds went pleasantly numb, and it could really have been camel piss for all you knew.

So nothing much happened in Mljet. We had dinner, took some drinks down to the "beach" (concrete slab on the other side of the harbour, complete with empty kiddies tidal pool) and took silly photos of each other. Mljet, however, was where we found out about The Smelly Fish Incident.

HippieChick is a lovely girl, but definitely not the best of cabinmates. She could usually be found out and about til all hours of the morning, blithely letting herself in and out of the cabin in a state of inebriation to fetch unidentified objects, attempting to bring her squeeze from HMS Cockfest back to the room for a cuddle (and here met an icy refusal from Tee, not once but 3 times) and generally disturbing the calm seas for her patient cabinmate, Tee. But even Tee had enough with this particular incident. HippieChick, being a hippie, is able to live on a very frugal budget. She also had a month and half of travelling in front of her when she first arrived in Croatia, so going out for dinner every night was not an option. She would often go back to her room and eat something she had bought at port that afternoon for dinner, while the rest of us sampled local cuisine.

On one of the first couple of days we were given fish for lunch. Very nice, spiced fish, served whole with wobbly little fish eyes staring accusingly out at you from the silver platter. Not everyone was a fish fan, and there were quite a few untouched fish left over. HippieChick saw an opportunity, and slipped one into her handbag, for later snackage. It must be said at this point that the fish was only wrapped in a napkin, and the rooms have no refrigeration facilities. It was also around this time that HippieChick got sick - a little gift from Tee who had started the trip recovering from a nasty cold. Thus, she couldn't smell anything. Tee however was on the mend, and could smell everything.

Later that evening, Tee commented on the slightly fishy smell in the room. That night they slept with the windows and door open, hoping that the room just needed some airing. The next morning it wasn't any better. We spent the day up top the roof in 35 degree heat, and Tee came down late that afternoon to the overpowering stench of rotting fish in her cabin. She searched high and low - in the bin, in HippieChick's luggage, under the bed - but to no avail. The aroma lingered on. That night the room was almost unbearable to sleep in, but HippieChick, blissfully unaware with her stuffy nose, slept like a baby while Tee tossed and turned, pillow hugged tightly to nostrils. It was only the next day - nearly a full 48 hours later - that HippieChick dug in her handbag to get something and discovered the rotten fish. Mortified, she told Britney and swore her to silence. Britney, who is about as good at keeping secrets as Perez Hilton, promptly told Tee and the rest of us, and for the remainder of the trip, HippieChick was shredded mercilessly and every fish joke in the book was worn out repeatedly. She was not amused.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Sailing Croatia: Trstenik - Dubrovnik

The morning kicked off with an early swim and an earnest discussion about what had happened the previous night. It was established that our group had incurred the following injuries:

HippieChick - blue and purple bruises on her arms and legs from being held down, and an especially attractive swollen nose from being elbowed, all by Crazy K
Crazy K - Carpet burn on her shoulder from being dragged across the deck by HippieChick
Lopz - swollen left index fingertip with suspicious looking red dot in the centre. Many theories were put forth before Crazy K conceded she may well have bitten said fingertip in drunken frenzy (neither of us can actually remember)
Britney - sprained ankle from everybody doing the brand new dance now
Jem - bruises along his thigh from coming short after jumping from the roof of the boat and landing like a tard in the water

There were also more than a few raging hangovers that had to be calmed with ice cold cokes and cold showers. We'd already learned not to drink the warm camel piss, sorry coffee, on the boat.

We arrived in Dubrovnik at 1pm. The city has been described as "heaven on earth" and the "jewel of the Adriatic". As far as cities go, it is uniquely beautiful and certainly a standout among the European cities I've seen (I'm still a beach girl at heart though). It was by far our biggest touristy day, with much sightseeing and wondering aimlessy around quaint alleyways. One of the highlights was walking along the top of the 2km stretch of old walls that surround the city - it gave us incredible views across the whole of Dubrovnik. Another was our visit to Buza Bar (immediately dubbed Boozer Bar by all board), an outdoor cafe bar perched high upon the rocks of a cliff face, with the towering city walls in the background and a drop down into the azure ocean in front. Absolutely sublime.

We took it quite easy that night, mindful of giving ourselves some much needed rest after the previous night's mayhem, and setting the tone for the rest of the holiday. We ended our day's tour with a picnic on the beach - one of only 3 or 4 sandy beaches in Croatia (I know, go figure right? You come all the way from the stony beaches of England, which is quite understandable given that England is shit, to the stony beaches of the Adriatic. What have the Europeans done with all the sand???).

Not all of us planned to have a restful, non-intoxicated holiday though (Boat bbq excepted). There were many revellers on our boat who power napped during the early evenings so they could party the night away in whatever port we were docked. Croatians are clearly a party loving people - they start late and end late, and they have bars and clubs aplenty to suit all entertainment needs. G-Days and Crazy K were definitely more partygoers than take-a-chillers. Perhaps it is our advancing age, but by midnight each night we were all exhausted and quite excited about the prospect of hitting the sack.

G-Days and Crazy K, on the other hand, could often be heard cackling away in their cabin at 2am, so much so that Eyes and Scarf, whose cabin shared a wall with theirs, often had to bang out morse code for "Shut the fuck up!" to get some dos. They went to bed late and woke up late, and it was with great amusement the next morning that we all waited for last night's Crazy K story, which involved such things as begging free beer from HMS Cockfest (and biting people when they didn't give it to her), talking to God (she doesn't really remember why and is not even sure she believes in God, but at one stage she was dead set on spending some quality time with Him up on the roof) and crying - floods and floods of tears. She is a very high-spirited, fun-loving girl with no off switch whatsoever, and her highs are as skyhigh as her lows are bottomless pits. No, she is not manic depressive (I don't think)...maybe just a little hyperactive. And an endless and constantly surprising source of entertainment for us, which she knows and enjoys to the max.

However, nothing Crazy K did on the trip matched HippieChick and The Smelly Fish Incident.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Sailing Croatia: Hvar - Trstenik

The next day we woke up nice and early to the stench of diesel fumes choking us out of our sleep, and made like prison escapees to the top deck of the boat for some serious tanning. Let me explain: there are 3 levels of accommodation: above deck en suite, below deck en suite (which is not so much below deck as inside the bottom deck), and the cheapass BELOW deck, as in you have to go down some break-neck steep stairs to get there, and there is not even one toilet to be smelt (these are communal and outside above deck). Shoes and I and Jem and Britney had rooms BELOW deck, and every morning when the engine started at 6am or some other ridiculous time, we slowly suffocated in our sleep until our internal body alarms woke us up shrieking "SOS!! Impending Death Alert!!" and we bailed out in the nick of time.

Despite the fact that our accommodations were less than pleasant when the boat was moving, we got the best deal at night. While the others sweated it out in the 28 degree heat and shoved pillows over their heads in an effort to block out the racket from the revellers on the surrounding boats, we burrowed into our narrow bunk beds in pitch darkness, with the aircon in the passage keeping us pleasantly cool as we slept, blissfully unaware of the shenanigans going on above deck. So yes, we were the cheapskates, but we ended up getting better value for money than those who opted for the more "luxurious" rooms.

We sailed for anything from 5 - 8 hours a day, usually stopping at our destination between 2 and 5 in the afternoon. We arrived in Trstenik at 2pm, to a scorching temperature of 37 degrees. We had all signed up for the optional Boat BBQ that night, as we'd been told Trstenik was a very small village with only one restaurant. Turns out this was just a blatant marketing ploy, as the village billed as "Croatia's most unspolied wine producer" actually had 3 or 4 cute little restaurants along the water, all with ridiculously cheap prices. Our 100 Kuna per head braai (about £12) was certainly a rip-off we would not repeat. However, since pretty much everyone on our fleet of 7 ships had fallen for the same ploy, we were all in the same boat - literally and figuratively.

What do you get when you put a group of 200 young people on a boat with crap food and nothing else to do but drink large quantities of alcohol? Why, you get the sailing version of a university fraternity, of course. One of the boats we travelled with was made up almost entirely of 21 year old Australian boys. It all kicked off at the BBQ, when we looked over at their boat and saw nothing but testerone waiting for a slut to happen. G-Days immediately dubbed it the HMS Cockfest, a name which not only spread through the rest of our travelling group but arrived at the Cocks themselves, who began wearing the label with a greatly misplaced sense of pride.

For example:

Shoes: Mate, do you know what everyone is calling you?
Cock (beaming from ear to ear): Yeah mate, we're the HMS Cockfest!!! We're all cocks!!! Oi! Where's my fucking pint?

As the liquor flowed, the mayhem began. HippieChick, being single and interested in a holiday hook-up, made every effort to get herself over to HMS Cockfest, hoping to find a cock who was maybe not as cocky as the rest (well, in certain aspects anyway). Jem, her ever-protective older brother, was literally cock-blocking her at every turn. So instead of multiple orgies, someone plugged their iPod into the sound system, and about 50 drunken sailors began dancing and stomping and doing-the-locomotion around the deck of the boat. It wasn't long before the casualties ensued. Britney, mid particularly exuberant dance move, fell over and sprained her ankle (she swears it was the pushing and shoving from the over-enthusiatic locomotion train). Crazy K got quite out of control and tried to raul everyone, teeth and fists flying. HippieChick, obviously needing an outlet for the aggression over Jem's constant cock-blocking, decided to take her on, and the two of them ended up in a knock-down, tap-out round of UFC, which had people less familiar with my friends' brand of crazy looking on in utter amazement - and fear, if I'm honest. I was unsteady enough on my feet to accidentally tip the contents of my bacardi and coke right over Eyes' head as I attemped to climb the ladder to the top deck - something which would have had Health and Safety in a shitting panic had there been such a thing in Croatia.

Everyone was mad as a box of frogs and having the time of their lives. The true extent of our fun, however, was only revealed the next morning when more than a few of us awoke with injuries that would hamper us for the rest of our trip.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Sailing Croatia: Split to Hvar

I've been promising for a few weeks now to dish the dirt on my trip to Croatia. I'll tell you where we went and what we saw, but with a holiday like this, it really is the people that make the trip. So I won't bore you with long-winded accounts of tourist attractions and travel tips, but instead I'll take you on a journey of the good, the bad and the very very smelly. After all, this is not a travel blog - it's my slightly crazy, rarely dull and ever entertaining life, and if you're reading this blog right now, I would hope that is the reason you keep coming back!

Split - Hvar

We departed for Split, Croatia at the ungodly hour of 3:30am on Saturday morning. Most of the trip there is a blur.....I remember it being cold when we left the house and I remember G-Days attempting to break the land speed record on the way to the airport, so that we had frequent "EEEEEEEEERRRGGGGHHHHH" moments as he slammed on breaks to avoid getting papped by the cameras (speeding cameras obviously - I haven't become an overnight celebrity....yet). The one good thing about speed traps in the UK is that they are very visible. You don't find cops hiding behind bushes with camo vans and black paint on their faces in an effort to catch you unawares and pressure you into a R200 bribe. The policy here is that if people know the cameras are there, they won't speed. And you know what? IT WORKS!!! Amazing! People actually have common sense!! Ironic really, since Health and Safety still have to remind you to cook your turkey all the way through at Christmas time, but perhaps they were deemed too anal for Traffic Control.

When we got to Split airport, the first thing I noticed was that all the Croatian policewomen looked like models. It was like National Career Shadow Week where all the supermodels had hopped off the catwalk to try their hand at baton swinging in a bid to expand their futures. And then I saw the policemen. I now know that Croatian men can be very good looking, but at that point, I thought they were all extras from The Hills Have Eyes. Inbred hillbillies does not even begin to cover the squint-eyed 300 pound meatheads that man passport control. Luckily we got through without incident, despite G-Days' girlfriend Crazy K shouting at the top of her voice in the queue about terrorism and fake passports (she really has no filter, that one).

Split itself is a bit of an eyesore, and so humid that we melted into puddles of non-crease cotton the minute we stepped off the bus. We dumped our baggage on board the boat that was to be our home for the next 8 days - The Tvrdi, which means "hard" - before setting out to meet Eyes and Scarf. There were 9 of us altogether, but as HippieChick was a single traveller she had to share a room with a random, a lovely Aussie girl called Tee, who ended up rounding out our group to 10 for the duration of the cruise.

As you can imagine, there was great excitement for the first couple of hours. The weather was a bit shite - very hot and muggy but with a sky full of misty white cloud and no discernible sun. Even so, we were not deterred from our celebrations. We quickly learnt the honesty bar system, whereby you order a drink (or help yourself if the crew were in the back) and tick it off under your cabin number on the drinks list. Before long, we were up at the front of the boat, cameras snapping and pint glasses clinking. And then the unthinkable happened - the winds came up, the waves turned into ravenous venus flytraps and the boat began to roll like Mischa Barton's eyes on a night out. In the beginning a couple of people felt a bit queasy, and those of us - me and HippieChick in particular, who thought we were born with tails instead of legs - scoffed with mirth. It was a different story 3 hours later. About half the boat's passenger were curled up in balls on their beds, sweat dotting their upper lips as they fought the urge to feed the fish. The rest were still above deck, lying prostrated in deck chairs or flat on the deck, as still as possible so as not to upset the delicate equilibrium they'd achieved in that position. There were more than a few growls of retching echoing above the roar of the waves. I was sat huddled on the bottom deck with a highly unstable Shoes, who in a moment of abject weakness, literally begged me not to leave him to fetch a top despite the fact that I was freezing to death in a skimpy bikini, while the driving rain blasted across our bodies. We could not have picked a more unpleasant start to the holiday. After about an hour of fighting tooth and nail with his insides, Shoes gave in and projectile vomited through his mouth and nose, while I sat outside shivering and hoping for hypothermia to take me to a peaceful end.

By the time we stopped on anchor for a swim, everyone was sporting attractive shades of green and white, and more than a few had upchucked the mushroom soup we'd had for lunch. The swim seemed to revive everyone, but there was some mutiny in the ranks as grumbles of "This is so NOT what I signed up for" and "It's fucking Croatia in July and it's like the Perfect Storm out there, WTF!" were heard around the boat.

Suffice it to say that by the time we docked in Hvar around 6pm, you have never seen a bunch of people more pleased to set foot on dry land. Hvar is the longest island in the Adriatic, and has fantastic nightlife along the water. We walked up to the old castle ruins, and then went for dinner and drinks on the docks. It was a fairly early night for all of us after the eventful day, but as it turns out, we needed the sleep, for the next couple of days were about to go completely pear-shaped.

Note: I'll add some pics later from my pc at home.

Friday, 7 August 2009

My Life in Technicolour

I am so unbelievably happy right now I have to share my news with you....

After 4 years of desperately struggling in London to get the career I want, 4 years of rejection and redundancy and repeating the same old role over and over again in what seemed like a new company every 3 months, I have finally got my dream job and it starts right now!!!

A month ago my boss announced his resignation. As a PA, when your boss resigns, you automatically freak out for obvious reasons. To cut a long story short, I was eventually told I would be safe and now that the new Head of my team has officially taken over, I sat down with her this morning to discuss my future with my team.

What I'd scarcely dared to hope might happen has actually happened, and I am officially the Cross Media Team Trade Marketing Co-ordinator working across all client marketing and events for my whole company!! I couldn't have asked for a better job if I'd dreamed it up myself, and I'm so happy I'm actually crying a little bit (cunningly disguised as tears from "yawning" so my team don't think I'm a freak).

I promise the Croatia stories are still coming...have had some trouble catching up with all my work after gallivanting across the globe! But for today, I'm just going to sit here and relish every moment of how awesome I feel right now.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone, and I hope at least one thing happens to you today to make you smile as much as me!

Monday, 27 July 2009

The Seven Seas of Wry

I'm back!!! Fresh off the boat - literally - from Croatia, I am tanned, relaxed and aghast that winter has arrived in the MIDDLE OF JULY.

Meh. Not that I should be surprised, I suppose.

Over the next few days I hope to have some time at work (because who blogs at home? Come on now!) to tell you of my adventures along the Dalmation coast in a Sail Croatia boat called Tvrdi (which means "hard" - endless fun with that one, as you can imagine). I will amuse you with tales of seasickness, drunken shipmates and how one of my party botched it and missed the boat one morning.

If I'm feeling really inspired, I might even upload some pics...but as I can't do it at work, I'll need to bleed some dedication into my couch vegging time, so I'm not promising it will happen.

In the meantime, a big thank you to I'm So Not a Blogger for nominating me for a Heartfelt Blog Award - and apologies that I can neither link you nor post the cute little pic of the mouse in the teacup...goddam these pc restrictions!!! If you'd like to check out the sweetie who passed on the goodwill to me, you can find her here:

Til tomorrow me hearties! (Sorry, the pirate talk was distinctly lacking on the boat, and I'm feeling strangely compelled to make up for lost time) Aaargh!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Oink Oink!

Hahaha, I seem to have inadvertently created quite the storm in a tea cup!!!

In addition to posting here yesterday about the potential swine flu on my doorstep, I also e-mailed Mini-Me and Bear to tell them that Shoes had been sent home as he'd been exposed to the virus.

Now while I will fully admit to a moment of panic, due not to the fact that my boyfriend might get swine flu, but rather to the fact that he might LOOK too sick to fly, the fact of the matter is that in the UK, we are more or less blase about the whole thing now. Most people who contract the virus have varying degrees of a bad cold or particularly miserable flu symptoms; others experience nothing more than a sniffle and a few aches and pains; but most are over it within a few days to a week, using good old paracetomol and ibuprofen to get them through the worst. The government here is no longer working on containing the virus, but rather treating the increasing number of cases and educating people about the facts. And the reality is that unless you are very old, very young or have other underlying health problems, you are unlikely to experience discomfort any worse than a normal strain of flu. People have stoppped panicking and running to the opposite side of the bus everytime someone sneezes.

However, this is not the case in South Africa. Over there, it seems people are still scared shitless. Between my blog and that e-mail, rumour has spread like wildfire, and our family and friends are extremely concerned that poor Shoes might be on his last legs! Shoes' best friend Fish called frantically last night to check if he's alright, and his sister BlackVelvet posted her worries in her FB status. All day I have been fielding calls and e-mails from concerned loved ones, asking if Shoes is alive / feeling better / able to travel.

As much as I never meant to alarm anyone, I have been thoroughly amused all day by the outbreak (excuse the pun, ohhhh I kill me) of concern. Not that it's not warranted - if Shoes does indeed have swine flu, I would of course take very good care of him and treat it with the seriousness it deserves. But he is feeling better today and still only has a sore throat, with no other symptoms rearing their heads, so I am definitely enjoying the funny side. :-)

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Fuck A Doodle Doo

Pardon my french, I usually try to keep at least the titles of my blog clean. But in this case it is completely justified.

Shoes has just been sent home from work because he woke up with a sore throat this morning, and 2 people in his office have swine flu. It would be kind of amusing - you only die from this if you are very young, very old or have other health problems which complicate matters, but he is young and strong and I have no doubt that he is in no danger of pegging anytime soon. In the meantime, the temptation to toss all pig-related puns his way would be hard to resist.

However, if he phones NHS - which he is duty-bound to do - and he gets diagnosed, then the chances that he can fly to Croatia on Saturday are minimal to none.

So last year - Mallorca - shigella virus.

This year - Croatia - swine flu?

Ok, don't panic. Maybe it's nothing. But I swear to God, if this really is swine flu, I think I will actually lose it. I am seeing the one thing, this holiday in the sun, that is keeping me sane, going up in smoke. Not to mention the the non-refundable £1200 we've already spent on this trip.

Do you think if I keep chanting a mantra of good health over and over again, this will all go away?

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Recurring Nightmares

Well, this is deja vu.

11 months ago, my old boss phoned me when I was on a bus in Mallorca to tell me he was leaving the company. He'd previously let me know that he was considering it, but when the official announcement went out he felt he should give me a heads up.

Today, after a few weeks of smelling something fishy brewing around my team, my boss told me in confidence that he will be leaving the company, possibly as soon as 2 weeks time. And I'm off to Croatia next week. Will I get a call while I'm river rafting down the Cetina rapids to tell me my P45 is on my desk?

At this stage he doesn't have any information about what will happen to me. I'm a lot more than a PA to this team, so what he will be suggesting to the powers that be is that I take over more business related duties that have opened up in our recent team reshuffle, and stay on as a team/business co-ordinator of sorts. I'm not panicking yet, there's no point. But I can't help but wonder at my cursed luck.

I posted a few days ago about the fact that so far my travel arrangements have gone off without a hitch - perhaps the Travel Curse has morphed into a Professional Curse. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Mass E-Mail

From: Jess Piggott
Sent: 06 July 2009 17:47
To: All @ Lopz' Work
Subject: Did you get pregnant on your first date?

Hi all,

I’m looking for case studies for the following story. If you know anyone who might be keen to get involved, please pass the details onto them.

Did you get pregnant on your first date?

"Motherhood" magazine is looking to speak to someone who got pregnant on a one night stand or on their first date with a new partner.

Please reply and I'll call you with details.


From: Cheeky Bugger
Sent: 06 July 2009 17:53
To: Jess Piggott, All @ Lopz' Work
Subject: Re: Did you get pregnant on your first date?

I thought I did – but it was just a massive dump stuck in the cargo hold...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Proudly Souf Efrican

My saffa teammate at work, Heathcliff, just introduced me to an awesome blog.

Hayibo is a satirical take on all things SA. They sell T-shirts saying "Mlungu" (whitey) and poll their readers on topics such as this one:

Helen Zille and Julius Malema should settle their fight once and for all by:
*Sharing a good long hug
*Going on Dr Phil
*Going on Judge Judy
*Going on Ritalin


This article is my Find of the Day:


JOHANNESBURG. South Africa's finance ministry says the country can avoid a deep recession by embracing South African Airways' new business model of exporting large quantities of illicit narcotics directly to major transit hubs. According to a spokesman it was high time that taxpayers got a return on their involuntary investment in the international drugs trade.

Two SAA crews have been arrested in recent months for trying to smuggle narcotics into the UK, and this morning Finance Ministry spokesman Shekel Sepeng said that it was likely that more crews were smuggling drugs.

"We don't have exact numbers but it seems to be pretty clear that everyone's doing it," said Sepeng.

"They've stopped two SAA crews, and found drugs on both. That means 100 percent of the crews sampled have been smuggling drugs.

In other words, he said, it was statistically likely that 100 percent of all SAA crews were involved as drug mules.

"That's a lot of crews, and an awesome quantity of drugs. We're talking tons. Entire Boeing 747s stuffed to bursting with A-grade s**t."

He said that it was time for South Africans to benefit from the drug trade.

"Clearly SAA is a major cartel in the international narcotics business, but even though the South African taxpayer has been bailing them out for years, none of that sweet sugar has trickled down to the man on the street," he explained.

He said that the Finance Ministry was confident that SAA's trafficking system could be successfully expanded as they already seemed to have in efficient business model in place.

"As far as we can tell they take your suitcase, throw it over the wall to baggage handlers who rip it open and auction your clothes to the highest bidder, and then they replace your suitcase with a massive brick of skunk."

However he said SAA would need to boost its intellectual capital if it was to lift South Africa out of an impending recession.

"The problem is that we also seem to be dealing with startlingly stupid people," he said.

"Any air crew can get bust trying to smuggle coke and marijuana into Heathrow. But for another crew to get caught just a few weeks later, when they know Heathrow officials are looking out for dodgy SAA crews, well that's just borderline retarded."

SAA officials could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman at their head office confirmed that they were currently meeting to discuss a way forward.

"It's just a standard get-together in a warehouse at the docks," he said. "As far as I know they're actioning a strategy to grow SAA's market share on UK routes. Something about leaving horses' heads in the beds of British Airways executives."

Go here for more, it's worth the look:

Friday, 3 July 2009

Cruel Summer

Aaaah, the London heatwave. I've been highly amused at all the cattiness on facebook this week from those Capetonions attempting to one-up their friends in London by criticising the summer here ("yes, but you only get 3 weeks of this while it's 26 degrees in the middle of winter here - take that!"). Why is it that many South Africans are so quick to diss the rare good fortunes we have with the weather over here? Jealousy, perhaps? A determined attempt to make Cape Town seem like the coolest place on earth? Never fear peeps, Cape Town IS the coolest place on earth (sorry Gautengers). But cut us a little slack and let us enjoy our diamond summer, alright?

Speaking of the summer, the Brits have a wonderful expression for this heat: steaming. It never fails to make me giggle, as for some reason I picture a giant steaming turd each time I hear it. So for example, when you get off the tube in the mornings with your hair plastered to your forehead, your thighs sticking together like gummy eyes after a good night's sleep and your armpits drenched with a mixture of perspiration and a healthy dose of Chanel No 5 to cover the smell, it is appropriate to say that it is steaming outside. Incidentally, steaming can also be used to describe a state of severe intoxication, as in "I was absolutely steaming last night", which would indicate that you had almost certainly done something very stupid / embarassing in your drunken state, and might lead the listener to harrass you for lurid details. Either way, both are unceasingly funny, and this is from someone who usually covers her eyes and ears during the toilet humour bits in gross-out comedies.

The problem with this heat, besides the inevitable sport of wet armpit-smelling in which you are unwittingly engaged on the tubes, is that people and places are just not prepared for it. Air conditioning is a luxury rather than a compulsory part of building designs. Sunstroke strikes quickly and unexpectedly (not us southerners of course, but the pale-skinned poms whose Edwards Cullen-like translucence is no match even for the weaker northern hemisphere sun). Passing out is common, and attracts very little fanfare. If you see someone lying prostrated on the pavement or in the tunnels of the Underground, check to see someone is attending them, and then step carefully over them and continue on your merry way, no questions asked.

My gym is a good example of How Not To Handle A British Heatwave. You'd think that Virginactive, with all their money and when combined with the anal levels of attention paid to Health and Safety in this country, might think to make their buildings safer places to work out in when it gets hot. An airconditioning system that ACTUALLY EJECTS COLD AIR wouldn't go amiss. It would certainly beat the current situation of having to locate one of 3 units across the entire substantially sized gym and stand directly underneath it to feel the very faint gust of slightly tepid air that barely ruffles the hairs on your arms. It would probably assist with reducing the vast quantities of sweat that covers everything from the handles of the stairmasters to the backs of the lateral pull-down machines. It would certainly have prevented the girl in my spinning class the other day from hitting the deck as she walked out, after we'd spent 45 minutes labouring in conditions so hot and humid that most of were slightly green in the face and more than a few had to sit down for 5 minutes to recover. And it would definitely improve on the pool situation, which is now so packed with exercisers seeking relief that the water is overheating and it's like doing laps in a hot bath. The only plus side is that I think I am losing my own bodyweight in fat everytime I work out, which must certainly be worth all the stars I've been seeing before my eyes.

Sod's Law though (Murphy's Law is only used in Ireland over here): my friend Britney says that it's been raining non-stop in Croatia despite the temperature averaging 29 degrees. With only 2 weeks to go til we leave for our island-hopping tour of the country, I am really hoping this won't be the Travel Curse of this particular holiday. I know the travel gods have something up their sleeves, because I got both my visas without a hitch. Oh, the anticipation!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Quote Of The Day

You know your relationship is going badly when.....

Said by one friend of mine to another about his girlfriend:

“Sometimes I just want to hold her head underwater and watch the life drain from her eyes.”

Put down the axe, Mr Torrance!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Grease Is The Word

My retinas are stinging and my brain is boggling. I have just picked up yesterday's copy of The Metro, a free London newspaper, and I have come across an article that both intrigues and disturbs me.

For those of you who know Piers Morgan, observe (I would insert the pic, but restrictions on my work pc don't let me post pics):

For those who don't, he is a judge on X Factor and America's Got Talent, and former editor of The Daily Mirror (trashy tabloid) until he was fired for publishing fake photographs of Iraqi prisoners being abused. As you do.

Overall a rather leery character, like your second uncle twice removed who stares at you in an inappropriate fashion at your annual family gathering.

Anyway, it's not even the David Beckham style strip-off that Monssieur Morgan has copied that really has me baffled (although his nudity is definitely baffling enough for a pint's worth debate down at the pub). It's the product he's advertising. Take another look. This picture is supposed to represent the sensual appeal of Burger King's brand new fragrance, Flame, which is being touted as "the scent of seduction, with a hint of flame-broiled meat".

But, of course. Because what do ladies go for in a man if not the seductive aroma of a greasy processed burger? I myself have always wished for a hunk of meaty-smelling love to waft past me, ready for me to sink my incisors into his medium-rare flesh. I see two possible outcomes:

a) The obvious one, which is that BK only sells enough fragrances to supply college kids with olfactory jokes to play on their drunken, passed-out mates

b) We all give in to the raging cannibals inside us and start tearing chunks off each other in Superdrug queues

I'd be quite happy with b) if it was Beckham selling the sex. After all, what's a bit of roast beef sweat when you have abs like a hopscotch court? Observe:

Suddenly the fragrance becomes inconsequential, doesn't it?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Dissed and Dismissed!

I got picked up, chewed up and spat straight back out again at a party on Saturday, and it was such a great dis I thought I'd share it with you.
The scene: Beer garden at a Wandsworth pub
The players: Me and Random English Dude
The set-up: I'm talking to a group of friends when Random English Dude comes sauntering along, stops, gives me the once over and proceeds to deliver the following gem.
RED: Hey! How you doing? So, are you Brazlian or Puerto Rican?
Me: *thoroughly flattered* No actually, I'm South African.
RED: *the predatory glint in his eye turning to one of mild distaste, such as when you step in dog shit* Oh. Oh well, that's too bad. I mean, don't get me wrong, you're beautiful, but I don't like South Africans. They just don't do it for me. It's just their personalities, you know? But no offense, hey. Enjoy the party.
And off he walked. It was far too funny to be annoying, but wow! I have never been dissed on the basis of my passport before.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Chavs vs The Chav-Nots

Shoes just got a call from the cops: they found his old bike! I use the exclamation mark to indicate amazement rather than joy or excitement, because as expected, it is completely fucked. Apparently it has been dropped several times, which means the fairing is almost certainly cracked - a write-offable offense in insurance terms. My first response was to wish a messy death by shredding (tearing all your skin off when you come off a bike) upon the chavs who stole it, but my team at work are far more creative. They said death, however messy, would be too easy, and I should be wishing uncomfortable and humiliating afflications on the delinquent thieves. My favourite offering so far is genital warts and piles - at the same time. And paralysed arms, so he can't scratch.

The bike was found at a nearby council estate called Phipps Bridge Estate - exactly where we told the cops it would be. After it got stolen, we traced some CCTV footage that showed the backs of the 2 kids wheeling it away, and which direction they were going. A local security guard near our complex told us about Phipps Bridge and how the path they were using led straight to the heart of the estate. We got Neutrino to drive us around the place to see if we could spot it, but of course, there are many places to hide a bike where we couldn't venture. I know there's not much the cops could have done, but it is quite frustrating to know that we knew where it was all along, gave them the info they'd need to track it and yet still nothing was done. Oh well.

The new bike is awesome; bigger, better and faster than the first edition, so Shoes and I are both thrilled despite the extra money we had to fork out for the incident. On Sunday we tested out our favourite new pastime, which goes something like this:

*Open Googlemaps
*Pick random place on map anywhere along the Thames
*Put postcode of nearby pub into GPS
*Get on bike and ride there as fast as possible!

It's so satisfying to get out of London for a bit, travel along country roads and most of all, spend a bit of one on one time together. Our house is like a cross between a train station and a refugee camp, and alone time is as rare as Manto Tshabalala-Msimang making sense (for my foreign readers: this is our particularly inept former Minister of Health, quite a feat amongst a gaggle of extremely inept Ministers; google her if you fancy a horrified chuckle).

I love my friends, but sometimes I forget how satisfying a weekend alone can be. This past weekend not a single person came over - not to pick up/drop off something, not to pop in for coffee or to say hi, not to watch a movie or share a few beers on a Friday night - NOTHING! It wasn't planned, it just happened that way. And do you know what I did? I spent the weekend cleaning my room, scrubbing down the bathroom, emptying all my cupboards and throwing away the massive collection of utter crap that we've collected over the years, arranging my shoes in neat rows and decorating my scrapbook. Oh yes, and riding on Sunday. That's it. And it was one of the best weekends I've had this year!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

It's Britney, Bitch

Last night I saw Britney Spears in concert for the first time. Scarf and I got tickets from her boss, who gave them to her even though he knew she was going tonight as well. When she e-mailed me yesterday saying, what would you do if I told you I could get box tickets for Britney tonight, my first thought was that she was winding me up. My second was absolute disbelief. I have made no secret of my love for Britney, so when we first found out she was coming to London, it seemed like someone had just dropped a diamond in my lap. Now I was about to get two diamonds? Surely that can't be right!!

But it was. Scarf got the tickets, and we met up with two of her colleagues at a pub in Greenwich for drinks beforehand, all 4 of us scarcely able to believe our luck. One of them even bought a bottle of Moet to celebrate! Nothing's too much for our girl Brit, he said adoringly. Yes, he's gay.

We'd been told by Scarf's boss that you get free booze all night in the boxes at the O2, so we were buzzing almost to the point of vibration by the time we arrived at the arena. Even when we were told by security that the free booze rule didn't apply for Britney's shows - possibly because of the vast contingent of underage girls in attendence - it couldn't dampen our spirits.

So we settled down with our £20 bottle of wine and watched as Ciara opened the night.

After a 15 minute circus show with some truly amazing acts (hula hoop girl anyone?), it was time for Britney to appear. The noise from the crowd was deafening as the world's most famous pop star was lowered from the ceiling in a giant sparkly ring. She kicked off her three ring circus extravaganza with - of course - Circus, and segued straight into Piece of Me, a definite highlight of the night. Other awesome tracks were a sick remix of Slave For You, a bass-heavy dance version of Baby One More Time and a thunderous production of Toxic which had the whole crowd on their feet.

The show ticked all the right boxes. Massive yet perfectly slick production with insane special effects? Check. Superb dancers with exciting choreography? Check. Circus performers wowing the crowd with death-defying stunts? Check. Charismatic pop icon holding the audience in the palm of her hand? wait. Scratch that. Pop icon. Check. Charisma and complete audience captivation? Negative.

Everything was in place for the show of her life except, perhaps, her spirit. Britney is no longer the world's sweetheart. She's been chewed up and spit out by the relentless machine that is modern celebrity, and it shows. Yes, she knows her steps. She doesn't forget her lyrics, even though they're all mimed. She smiles in the right places. She greets the crowd, just once, with "Hello London, I'm so happy to be here tonight!" But the x factor that put her on top of the world is missing. The light in her eyes that made you unable to take your own eyes off her is gone.

This is the first time I've seen Britney live (ok ok, "live"), but I've watched all of her other concerts on DVD or TV specials. If you watch her 2002 Dream Within a Dream Tour, you will see what I mean about not being able to take your eyes off her. At the pinnacle of her fame, she could captivate an audience like no other. Now? There is no connection with the audience at all. The spectacle is well worth the watch. I would happily pay twice what I did for my ticket, because seeing her onstage was the fulfilment of one of my dreams. I just wonder if being Britney Spears is still one of hers.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Give Me a Sign

In my last post I mentioned that something was bugging me, and after saying I'd write about it, I then practiced passive avoidance by not reading anyone else's blogs so I wouldn't feel guilty for not writing that post! It's amazing how we bloggers start feeling beholden to the promises we make to our readers, no matter that their daily lives are not at all affected by our decisions. Therein lies the truth that ego is essential if you are going to put your life online.

In fact, it's not that big a deal, but I decided I wanted some perspective on it before I told you. Just over a month ago, Shoes bought a motorbike. We'd spent some time planning for this. He did his £800 bike license at the beginning of the year; we spent tons of money on gear and accessories, not to mention the bike itself, and overall it was a huge decision for us and a massive financial undertaking. So 2 weeks ago when he went downstairs to our secure parking garage, ready to ride to work, and found the bike missing....well, it was a bigger blow than it might have been had it not been such a challenge for us to get in the first place. Add to that the fact that we have not been able to go longer than 6 months in London without some catastrophe befalling us, and the result was two very miserable people who had just about lost all hope for anything good to ever happen in their lives.

As I said, I needed perspective, because any time a tragedy occurs, no matter how big or small, you need time to realise that it's not the end of the world even when it feels like it is. To cut a long story short, insurance has paid out, and Mark is off to fetch his new bike tonight. He is over the moon of course, and delighted that this bike is even better than the last one. It also comes with a security system to rival that of Alcatraz, so we need never again worry about being easy pickings for the chav kids who hang out around our flats (we have CCTV footage of them wheeling the bike away).

But the whole experience has reiterated a few truths for me, which were further confirmed by my good friend Bear. London has proved very tough on us as a couple. By comparison, our life in CT really was quite charmed. Some of our experiences have been down to bad planning, others to sheer bad luck, and some to what I like to call Fate's Fuck You Special. It involves a curve ball, thrown really hard by a particularly bad tempered spirit, which bears the words "Oh really? You think you're tough? Catch this and we'll see if you're still standing afterwards!" Those are the disasters that go beyond just bad luck; the ones that make you believe that if Karma is real, you must be one deviant person, because no-one actually deserves to get shot down like that over and over again - at least, not if you're a nice, normal type.

But in the midst of all the trials, we have managed to maintain what I think is a pretty damn positive outlook on life. Sometimes we get exhausted from the efforts of overcoming the obstacles, or of anticipating when the next disaster will hit and planning on how to minimise its impact. But we've managed to count our blessings anyway, and we've remembered to take a moment to look for the flowers beneath our feet, even when we think we've stepped into a desert wasteland. We've learnt to laugh when things are at their absolute worst and we can't see a way out. We've learnt to work together as a team to overcome the challenges, rather than take out the stress on each other. We've learnt that as long as we face everything together and never take each other for granted, it doesn't matter what gets thrown at us - we'll get through it, or we'll make a huge noise and put up a big fight trying to!

And so it gets me thinking....has all this happened because this is something we needed to learn? If the most important thing in my life is the strength of my relationship with Shoes, it follows that I would be willing to do anything to protect and nurture that. Is this God's weird way of giving me what I want the most? If so, I will certainly have words with Him when I see Him one day! But as much as I don't always like it, it does make perfect sense.

Ok, enough philosophising for the day. The two most awesome things in my life right now, in random order:

1) The joy on Shoes face when he gets home tonight with his new bike

2) The fact that I am going to see Britney Spears in concert not once, but TWICE in the next two days!!!! Will explain tomorrow...for now, I'm off to see my girl lip synch her way through her greatest hits and I am UBER excited!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Did She or Didn't She? Only Her Facebook Knows for Sure.

I've just done something that has made me feel extremely guilty, but so very satisfied at the same time. No, I didn't eat a whole slab of chocolate or have sex in a public place - I...wait for it....CULLED MY FACEBOOK FRIENDS!

I went through my friends list, and I DELETED people! It was awesome. And yes, I need a new life, but anything that distracts me from my current one is good in my book. I've wanted to reduce my friends list for ages now. What's the point in having all these people that you never speak to see what is going on in your life? Why should I have to follow news feeds of old school chums I last saw 12 years ago? You get my point. They're not my friends, they're my acquaintances. Part of my history, if you will - a common denominator in the sum of life. I don't have any ill will towards them, but if anything drastic had to happen to them, my universe would not shake on its foundations either.

So I had two criteria for striking people:

1) I do not recognize their name (you'd be surprised how many people I came across that made me go, who the hell???)

2) I have not spoken to them in the last 2 or 3 years / I cannot see myself speaking to them in the next 2 or 3 years

Like a chop, I forgot to check how many friends I had to start off with, but I think it was around 320. I am now the proud owner of 279 friends. If I'm right, that's 41 "friends" who will never irritate me with their meaningless mini-feeds again or have to be subjected to endless photos of me popping up in theirs (there are currently 823 photos of me on facebook; my true friends are exceedingly snap happy).

Damn it feels good! Technically, I could probably elimate 100 more quite easily if I go on the above two criteria alone. But what I did take into account was gut reaction. This came in one of two forms:

1) Oh, I couldn't possibly elimate someone who gave me their last rolo

2) Koos / Fanny might notice and think they've done something to make me hate them

And this is where the guilt and paranoia set in. It's my facebook profile, to do with whatever I want to. I do not have to cave to peer pressure and let every Tom, Dick and Harry into my life. But oh my sweet pink bananas, how terrified I am that I'll crush someone's tender heart. Of course, you might attribute this emotion to a bad case of God Syndrome and assume I think I am the centre of everyone's universe. But it's more like a fear of being disliked - who wants that? Yes, I am seeking professional help for my sad high school kid psyche!!!

Anyway, it was vastly entertaining, and I'm sure I will do another round of cuts in the near future, once I've gotten over the psychological effects of this one.

And tomorrow, I will tell you what's really going on in my life and why I've just written a whole post about facebook instead of what's really bothering me. Today was just too depressing for that conversation.

Now, go and see if you've survived the cut - you know you want to!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Strange Guy Small Talk 101

A couple of weeks ago, we had a braai at our local pub for Shoes' birthday. One of our friends, Moonface, invited along this dude she met when going to her local butcher for meat. Turns out he was the butcher. So The Butcher pulls in. He has recently arrived in London from SA, has no friends and his girlfriend of 3 years just broke up with him. Essentially MoonFace invited a stray puppy to our braai. Which is absolutely fine. But if you invite a stranger to someone else's party, they are your responsibility, fair and square.

I guess Moonface lost the Stray Puppy Etiquette Handbook. The girl showed up so unbelievably pissed, she couldn't string two words together in a sentence, leaving The Butcher high and dry in a group of strangers. We're a nice bunch, so we made him feel as welcome as we could. Shoes, however, was on his own mission that night, and didn't really speak much to our stray.

Then on Friday, Shoes popped into Sainsburys after work for some food. He was walking towards the queue with his basket when he looked up and noticed The Butcher at the checkout counter. Cue accelerated heart rate and nervous sweating. Shoes is not good at small talk. He did what any guy in his situation would do - he ducked his head and made for the nearest aisle, hoping he was quick enough to avoid detection.

"Shoes. Shooooes! HEY SHOES!!!!!"

Damn it! Spotted!

Resigned to his fate, Shoes turned to face his own personal hell (not The Butcher in particular, just the situation).

Shoes: Hey! Oh hey man, didn't see you there!

The Butcher: For sure, man. Hey! So.....

Shoes: So....

The Butcher: What you up to?

Shoes: dude. Erm, what YOU up to?

The Butcher: Er, shopping too. Obviously. Ha ha.

Shoes: Ha ha.

The Butcher: So...

Shoes: So.... So what do you do hey?

The Butcher: I'm a butcher.

Shoes: Oh right. Of course. We have a friend called Butcher.

The Butcher: Er...say again?

Shoes: Well actually his name's OJ, but we call him the Butcher.

The Butcher: *confused silence*

Shoes: Well I mean, he's not actually a butcher - not like you in any case. He just butchers tracks...never mind. It's not important. **

The Butcher: Er, no.....

Shoes: So....

The Butcher: So....

Shoes: You should come hang out some time. You know, with our group. There's a party next Friday night.

The Butcher: Cool dude, thanks. I might do.

Shoes: Ok, see you around dude!

The Butcher: See ya.

Thank the lord I am a girl with endless reserves of small talk and I don't have awkward moments like that.

**OJ often takes a trance set in mp3 format that is several hours long and cuts it up into individual tracks for us, hence his nickname The Butcher.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

It's a Porker

So, this swine flu. It's all everyone is talking about in the UK (and across the rest of the world, I'm sure), and the masses are starting to show signs of panic as the government warns a pandemic is imminent.

Being a healthy and sturdy South African, I tend to ignore warnings about outbreaks of strange diseases. Mad cow disease? Whatever. I've been eating beef all my life, I wasn't going to stop just because people were getting all hysterical about batty bovines. Bird flu? Yes of course it might kill our feathered friends, but I'm about 50 times their size. I was quite sure I'd live.

This attitude might be a product of my parents' distinctly unsympathetic approach to childhood illness. You feel sick? Got a cough? Sore throat? You better be projectile vomiting from your too-inflamed-to-breathe oesophogus and coughing up blood before you stay home from school. Flu? Stop being a ninny and get out of bed, some people have to work with cancer. They do love me, I'm sure, they were just never going to raise a sickly child. I shudder to think of the consequences had I actually been one! Nevertheless, their method worked - I am quite scornful of mild maladies such as colds and flu. I must develop a raging fever before I take any personal symptoms seriously and even then, I will only take medicine if I feel I may not make it into work in one piece otherwise. I'm not a martyr, just very practical. And completely convinced that my body can fight 95% of anything I catch entirely on its own. So far I have not been wrong, and I have always gotten over my summer-winter sickness without the help of a flu vaccine.

So I haven't given this latest melodrama much thought, despite the fact that you can no longer cough or sniff on the tube without people glaring at you suspiciously. However, I decided to google the latest on swine flu, just for mozzie.

This is what I found:

According to the Department of Health, a pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus, which people have no immunity to, emerges and starts spreading as easily as normal influenza. Swine flu will not become a pandemic until this criteria is met.

The worst pandemic of the last century occurred over 1918 to 1919. Often referred to as "Spanish flu", it killed between 20 to 40 million people worldwide. (Hey?????)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned the world is now in the grip of the fifth of six stages in the progression of a pandemic - which would be confirmed at phase six.

If pandemic flu does break out in the UK, the Department of Health gives the "reasonable worst-case scenario" as involving up to half the population falling ill.

The number of deaths could be anywhere between 50,000 and 750,000.

Perhaps, just maybe, I might take this one a little more seriously. Where's that vaccine?

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Stupid People Situation #796

Yesterday I was having trouble paying my tv license online. For some reason, I couldn't get past the first page where I had to fill in my license details. I wasn't too concerned - I have rather strange restrictions on my work pc. While I can go on facebook, gmail and pretty much any porn site I like all day (the porn came up when I was searching for pics of gay men - long story, honest!), I often can't comment on blogs or sometimes even get into my own to post.

So I did what any co-dependent would do - I forwarded the details on to my housemates and asked them to pay it.

Shoes was first to respond. He filled in the online form, including his bank details, only to be told at the end that as the license only expired end of May, it could not be renewed until 1 May. It seemed reasonable enough to us. So imagine our surprise this afternoon when Shoes checked his bank account and found that £142.50 (yes, you get done dry for tv over here) had been deducted by the tv license people. Again, this was not initially a cause for alarm. All I needed was an e-mail copy of the license, and we could forget about it for another year.

Imagine my bewilderment then, when the following conversation took place just half an hour ago:

Lopz: Hi there, I'm calling about a situation with my tv license, blah blah, error message, blah blah, money taken off, rhubarb rhubarb, need e-mail copy please.

TV License Call Centre Employee: Aaaah. Yes ma'm, I'm afraid it's not possible to e-mail you a copy of your license.

Lopz: *sensing Stupid People Situation about to commence* Really? Could you maybe perhaps tell me why that could be?

TVLCCE: Well, we cannot send you a new license until the beginning of the month in which your current license expires.

Lopz: Yes, and I would believe you if you hadn't already filched my money after your website said you couldn't take it. Strange that, isn't it?

TVLCCE: Yes ma'm, I do apologise, it must have been a glitch in our systems.

Lopz: *sensing business opportunity with systems designed to steal unsuspecting customers' money* Wow, what clever systems you have. So just to clarify, you have now taken my money, but you are refusing to give me a license. How are we going to work this one out?

TVLCCE: We will refund your money to you ma'm. Please give us until Friday and keep checking your account. If you have not been issued with a refund by Friday, please call us and we will take necessary action.

Lopz: I have a much better idea. Why don't you wait two days until it is May 1st, and then e-mail me my license? Otherwise I'll have to do all this again on Friday. It's so much less admin for both of us.

TVLCCE: I'm afraid that's impossible ma'm. Our systems do not work that way.

Lopz: So you are seriously going to refund my money, make me wait roughly 36 hours and then force me to go through the process again? I'm giving you an out - I'll ignore protocol until Friday when you can just press send on that little e-mail. Don't tell me you don't see the reason in this.

TVLCCE: I think it is perfectly reasonable, ma'm, but it does not work that way. I'm sorry, this is the procedure we will have to adhere to.

Lopz: *resigning herself to the inevitable* Fine. Fine. Just get that refund through by Friday or I'm charging you interest.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

It's the Small Things....

Some days are just true diamonds in the rough.

Train driver on empty tube from Kennington this morning:

Good morning ladies and gents! This train was empty on arrival but it takes 1000 people, so pile on, squeeze up and make new friends!

Mass e-mail around my building today:

Hi All-

Sorry for the mass email- although this may apply to everyone and anyone. I've been speaking to a potential client who runs a troupe of midgets/dwarfs/little people-

(that's an example of one of the guys available)

Aside from looking at potentially advertising with us, Mr X was keen to offer their services for parties (big or small), events and photo shoots.
I said I would pass his contact details around in case anyone may want to book them in the future-

Please email Mr X @ or call this number.


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Every Rose Has Its Porn

Every week at our house we have Sunday Night Movie Night, where OJ, Neutrino and more recently, Miss M and sometimes TheArtyOne, come over, fight tooth and nail for a spot on the three seater couch, and watch the movie of the week with us. The routine goes like this:

6pm: Miss M arrives

6:30pm: Much action in the kitchen as the Awesome Foursome and Miss M all try to make dinner at the same time

7:00pm: Neutrino & TheArtyOne arrive

7:30pm: Everyone sits down to dinner

7:50pm: Everyone is finished with dinner and waiting for OJ

8:00pm: MOVIE START TIME...still waiting for OJ

8:15pm: OJ arrives

8:17pm: OJ unpacks his KFC at the table whilst everyone else settles on the couches - fights ensue btw Miss M, Neutrino and TheArtyOne as to who sits where (the first three to arrive get to sit like sardines on the 3 seater. The 4th person has to shame it on the kitchen chair)

8:20pm: Start movie

8:25pm: Pause movie so OJ can go outside for smoke

8:28pm: Play movie

8:30pm: Rewind movie because Miss M and Scarf are talking so loudly no-one can hear

8:31pm: Play movie

8:34pm: Pause movie so Eyes can swap places with Scarf, as he is caught in between her and Miss M (the Axis of Evil) and is being deafened by their "whispers"

8:35pm: Play movie

8:30pm: Pause movie so everyone can argue about who's turn it is to make tea

8:33pm: The unfortunate soul who has been hen-pecked to the point of distraction gets up to make tea. Everyone else up for a toilet break

8:40pm: Tea is delivered

8:41pm: Play movie

8:55pm: Pause movie so OJ can go outside for smoke

And so on and so forth. Finishing a movie at my house is a notable achievement all on its own. Finshing a movie that everyone understands is like finding a rare pink diamond - it ain't gonna happen in this lifetime. We even have trouble with animated films.

This Sunday past can only be described as an Epic Fail. The movie - The International - was a bad copy, and the characters sounded like they were speaking underwater. Two minutes in and we'd all decided it was too bad to watch. You'd think that we'd have been able to find something else pretty easily, given that we have Sky TV (British version of DSTV) and have access to something crazy like 1000 channels (how many of these are actually worth watching is another story altogether). However, after 15 minutes of Britain's Got Talent, which OJ the reality TV hater grumbled throughout, we were at a loss.

Scarf: LET'S WATCH PORN!!!!!

Lopz: No dude, you have to pay for it.


Everyone: What is wrong with her?

Shoes aka Master of the Remote: *flipping through documentaries* How about the mating habits of the pink-tailed Australian bushbaby?


Neutrino: Dude, WTF (said double-yoo tee eff)??? Why do you want to watch porn?

Scarf: I don't know, it's what groups of friends do, isn't it?

Everyone: DUDE!!!!

I have weird friends. But not porn-watching ones.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Moving On Up

It's Monday morning and I have a serious case of Monday blues, combined with a decent helping of post holiday blues, topped off with the blues that come when you reach a turning point in your life and you're ready for a change, but you are unable to make it. Oops, I think this is turning into a serious discussion of my life post!*

Basically, I am ready to call time on my London experience. I've had a three and a half year run and it has been awesome. But in three and a half years, a lot has changed. I've gotten older - I will be 30 in 10 months (yes I know you're not supposed to count up like that; I should be saying I STILL have 10 months LEFT of being 29, but whatever!). I'm starting to get tired of the constant partying. I look at my peer group on facebook and find myself coveting what they have: a surburban life in Cape Town complete with house, dogs and kids. I am so ready to be a mom; I would love to have a baby and I want to get married and settle down. I've always wanted those things, but for the first time I find myself wanting them more than I want to travel and life the young, free and careless lifestyle that we do over here.

I can say with absolute certainty that I've gotten everything out of my 20's that I could possibly have wanted. A few years ago when Shoes and I talked about this, we were so scared of getting old and being boring. We did everything we could to stay young and feel like we were the same age as the majority of our peer group (I would say the average age now of my group of friends here is 26 - Shoes and I are the eldest couple at nearly 28 and 29 respectively). We didn't want to be the ones to settle down when everyone else was still having the time of their lives. I admit I used to really worry about that - would we still be living it large at 33/34 just so we could match the pace of our friends' lives? Would we start feeling like those creepy 40-somethings that go out clubbing among groups of scantily-clad 20-something girls? Would we feel like we were trying too hard to hold onto something that was already gone? I have no issue with people in their mid-30's living the life that we do now...some of my best friends are 30-something, single and can out-party me. But for me - for us - it was a cause for concern because we've always known we wanted a family, and we didn't want to leave it too late.

What I didn't count on is that nature has a way of telling you when you're ready for the next step, friends and family plans be damned! Now I find that what my friends do no longer matters to me. What matters is that I know what I want, and I'm no longer afraid of being the only couple in my group to take that step and make a home. Of course there's something called a biological clock that has a lot to do with what I'm feeling, but it's more than that. It's the realisation that what we're doing now, the way we're living - while it has been absolutely incredible and I have memories of this time that I will revisit with joy for the rest of my life, it will never be enough for me. I want more than this - or less, if you want to be technical.

So there you go - this is the moment that I know for sure I am ready to leave London. One of my dreams has always been to go to Thailand, and I know I'm ready to go home because for the first time I want that more than I want Thailand, and I'd be prepared to scrap that trip if it would help me get home faster.


With all choices, there are conditions, quid pro quos, or just bloody obstacles! Mine is that I can only apply for my British passport end of next year. Whether or not to wait is more my decision than Shoes' because he already has his passport, and can travel freely around the world. If I decided not to wait, he'd be on board with that. However, I decided a while ago that I wouldn't leave without one, and I'm sticking to that. I want it for many reasons, but that is a whole other post.

So, after all that, the earliest we can look at going home is end of next year, once I've applied. It can take up to 6 months to get the passport, but sometimes it takes 2, so we'll hope for the best. What we at least can do now is work out a timeline of goals for ourselves between now and then.

It's going to be hard, waiting another year and a half when all I want is to get on a plane tomorrow. But, since I don't have a choice, I have to get myself into a space where I can enjoy the last months of my time here, as I never want it said I wasted two years of my life moping.

*I meant to write about our failed Sunday movie night last night, but sometimes these things just get away from you! Will post on that tomorrow.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Every Breath You Take (Hurts Like a Bitch)

3 days on and I feel like I've settled back into my routine. Up at 7am, on the tube by 8:10am, working - or pretending to, a girl's gotta have a little downtime between holidays and work, you know? - til 5:30pm and then off home for gym/dinner/American Idol. What Cape Town?

Yesterday was my first day back in the gym in 3 weeks. This was the moment I spent my whole holiday dreading. Going to the gym when I'm in a routine is fine. It's so much a part of my existence that I tend to exercise on automatic pilot. It's an hour of my day where I resemble a blank canvas on the inside, and a juicy, overripe tomato on the outside. I never get tired to comparing myself to the other suckers for torture to see which of us is the reddest/sweatiest/making the most off putting faces on any given day at my local Virgin Active. However, going to the gym after a nearly 3 week break has its downsides, to channel the master of understatement.

Thursday night is aerobics night. Scarf and I try to go every week, and when we're fit, it's a great class. It's almost exactly the same routine each week, so as you get fitter, you can push harder and test your body's intensity limits. When we're not fit, however, it resembles being chained to the inside of a giant hamster wheel and forced to run for 45 minutes while pulling the weight of a mack truck behind you. And before you suggest it, we don't walk out of classes - we're too chicken shit for that.

So there I am, puffing away after the first 5 minutes - which only constitues the very reasonably paced warm up - and trying to stifle my gaping yawns. This yawning thing is a fairly recent development, I do it all the way through my classes. I can't decide if these are "I am so over this right now" yawns or nervous "OMG what IS she going to make us do next" yawns. Either way, I imagine my instructor must be wondering what kind of bitch not only comes to her class and makes this half-assed attempt that would make James Cordon look good, but also has the cheek to act like her class is more boring than a One Tree Hill storyline.

I managed to fumble my way through the cardio by making sure every leg lift was 2 inches lower the normal, and every squat was more like the gentle knee dip you make when you courtsey. Once we were down on the floor for toning, I thought I was home free. I may have eaten and drank too much while on holiday, so its understandable that my heavier frame has the buoyancy of a block of lead, but surely my abs have survived the trip? Ha bloody ha. We hadn't even completed the first set of reps when I realised that in fact, they are even more incapacitated than my legs, and the burning sensation was so bad I was twisting like a pretezel in an attempt to get away from my own stomach. Even the warm down at the end was embarrassing, with my whole body doing the Beyonce shimmy when it was supposed to be held still in a zen-like stretch.

My only consolation is that there were plenty of other girls who looked as bedraggled as me at the end of it all. Claire-Bear wrote the other day about the annoyingly perfect looking people at Constantia Virgin Active in Cape Town - well, I can safely say that across the pond, there are very few gym bunnies. All the beautiful people are at Mahiki with Kate Moss and her posse; they opt for the Starvation Method over the Step & Sweat Method. I am truly grateful for the normal human beings inhabiting London gyms. After spending 3 years attending Green Point Virgin Active in Cape Town, aka The Gym Where All The Models Go, I get irrationally enraged everytime a see a girl coming into a gym with loose, freshly straightened hair and perfectly applied make up. And then, when they do that kind of slow mo jog so the hair can billow in the blasts from the air is enough to send my sweat-soaked self into a state of treadmill rage, a far more dangerous syndrome than road rage (think of the damage potential in a gym...weights dropped on feet, people bumped off cross trainers).

I'm currently trying to work up the courage to go back for more tonight. My body is creaking like a cellar door, and some smoker has clearly stolen my good lungs and left their emphysema-riddled set in my chest as a joke. But I will persevere. Beautified gym bunnies, watch out. I will stairmaster your head.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

My So-Called Life

I have been back in London for about 32 hours now, and the most prominent emotion I am feeling is confusion. The last 17 days have been spent in a whirlwind of activity in Cape Town and Creighton (near Durban), visiting with our families and friends and attending my best friend's wedding. It was busy, it was decadent (in Cape Town we like to have a competition called How Many Times Can We Eat Out In 1 Week), it was gloriously sunny and it was totally fulfilling.

In short, it was home. It was absolutely where Shoes and I feel we are meant to be.

So to come back to London, to get on the tube this morning and go to work like I've done every other day for the last 3 and a half years, to see the people I usually see and talk about the things we usually talk should feel normal pretty quickly, right? After all, this is what I do; it's what I've been doing since I moved here and will continue to do until the day we go home for good. This is my life. Why then am I sitting in front of my pc feeling like I've accidentally stepped into someone else's life?

I am less miserable and more struggling to adjust to what is in essence a case of right time, wrong place. I shouldn't be here. I should be in Cape Town where I belong, close to my family, close to my sister and sisters-in-law, close to the beach and the sky so blue it is rated one of the top 5 blue skies in the world. I should be having braais in the garden under the sun, not on a corner of a first floor balcony in the grey drizzle. I should not have to comfort Mini-Me over facebook that the end of the airport goodbyes is fast approaching - I should be able to say you know what, that's it - that was the last one.

There are reasons why I can't do all those things. My friends and family know why we're still here, and they understand. We have a plan, and we're fulfilling our dreams as much as it sometimes hurts us and them to do so. I know I have more to do over here before we can come home for good, and I've made my peace with it.

But as much as I tell myself this is all how its meant to be, I still feel like I have hijacked someone else's desk, someone else's job and someone else's purpose. And the girl whose life I have right's not a bad life, and she's obviously a lucky girl. She just doesn't feel like me.

I've done this before, and previous experience tells me that this too shall pass. Maybe tonight when I go home, my house will feel like my house and not a friend's flat. We'll see.

In the meantime, I'll just sit here and spy on this other girl until it's time to leave to go and vote. I may not feel like myself today, but at least this afternoon I will join 7500 other expats in London in feeling proudly South African!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Acceptable In The 80's

What a feeling, being's believing, I can have it all now I'm dancing for my liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife......
Yes, I really am singing one of the 80's most definitive songs - under my breath obviously, as I don't want to drive my colleagues to raiding the team drinks cupboard. If I was at home in my room I would be flinging myself around in a dangerous imitation of Jennifer Beals as she wows the judges with her kind of cheesy, disturbingly aerobics-like dancing, after heroically picking herself up from that fall that was the lamest excuse for a stumble I have ever seen. I mean, they could have at least had her trip convincingly to make up for the, ahem, acting. Before you go all "yes but she's an icon" on me, I'm not hating on Flashdance - in fact, I adore Flashdance, and pretty much every other dancing flick ever made. Yes, even Make It Happen, and good lord that was a bad one. Never heard of it? There's a reason for that - don't look it up.

Flashdance is merely a teaser, just the tip of the iceberg of this mini 80's revival I am having at my desk. The 80's are officially back people! Now, I know the 80's have technically been back for a while, as evidenced by the reformation of Depeche Mode and NKOTB, and the startling recent trend amongst celebs to overdo the blue eyeshadow and pouffy back combs (Olsen twins anyone?). Thundercats has been re-released on dvd to a storming reception, and Jason Donovan is suddenly in great demand again. But there has been one thing missing that didn't just represent the 80's, it WAS the 80's in all it's glorious kitschness: NEON.

I was at River Island the other day exchanging a pair of jeans, and one half of the store consisted entirely of neon clothing. Among the trademark racks of "distressed" denim (insert said denim's feeble cry for help I the only one who imagines this?) was row upon row of lumo pink leggings, safety-marshall yellow jackets and dresses in greens so bright I was temporarily blinded, and had to peer at my surroundings as if through those nifty night vision goggles they use in spy movies. In a frenzy, I grabbed an armload of pretty much every luminous item in my size and rushed to the changing rooms, head spinning with the palette of colours I hadn't seen since we used to wear 4 rolly socks at once so our feet would look like they wore neon anklets. Imagine the thrill I felt shrugging into a neon orange t-shirt WITH A PRINT OF A LADY IN A HAT on the front (all the greatest 80's prints had ladies in hats).

My joy was slightly tempered when I realised that orange, having never been my colour, is still not my colour and is possibly even less so when it comes in an incandescent hue. Similarly, the yellow made me look like I was about to vomit on the changing room floor, and the pink, while not as awful, was a slightly salmony neon, and so gave me the appearance of a rather pallid fish with scales in all the wrong places (read: it accentuates curves that shouldn't be accentuated). To my relief, I found the lumo green dress looked pretty good, until I heard a commotion outside my cubicle and poked my head out to find a mother wrestling with a little girl of about 5, who was wearing a dress in exactly the same shade.

It left me with a nostalgic feeling for the days of my early childhood, when listening to Paula Abdul was cool and all the girls wore tommie takkies with their zebra print skirts. More about that tomorrow. It also left me with the distinct impression, though, that this summer we are going to see a great many jaundiced looking women walking the streets of London in their lumo gear, cracking gum with their mouths open and tossing their hair metal band coiffes in a tribute to good old days. I myself have learnt my lesson from those 5 minutes spent in River Island's changing room, and will leave the past safely in the past. I swear on my rolly socks.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Cry Another Day

I haven't written a party-related post for a while now. I used to cover our drunken exploits far more often on this blog, until my mother sent me an e-mail asking me in that polite but unmistakeably disapproving tone that mothers use if I was not at all concerned for my liver, because she certainly was, and perhaps I should pay more attention to my health and my AGE, thank you very much. Ok, maybe she didn't mention my age, perhaps that is my guilt talking. I then had to fling myself into furious back pedalling to convince her that I am in fact in very good health, and contrary to how it sounds, I don't actually spend every weekend pissed out of my head. Only every second weekend. Ha ha, sorry mom, just kidding - and I love that you care, really.

In all seriousness though, I am a lot better than I used to be - we all are. Nights would often end with one or more of my happy party in floods of tears (clearly not so happy anymore), falling off of or over inconveniently placed obstacles such as bar tables or bartenders, picking fights and causing an almighty scene (usually the girls), throwing up in the doorway of the club (the girls again), dancing like strippers on podiums (we still do that) or any number of other issues that befall the truly drink sodden. Did we have a good time? Hell yeah! But we are all getting on a bit now, and we've developed a sense of dignity. At least, we thoroughly enjoy watching our younger compatriots behave in a similar fashion when we're out, and smugly discussing how we've grown up since then (we choose not to notice that we were right in there as recently as 18 months ago). So we manage for the most part to party up a storm without behaving like chavs or taking a battering ram to our livers - just a solid mallett does the trick, we find. There are, however, always exceptions to any rule.

Saturday was one such exception. As I've mentioned before, there is a large group of us all born in March. Much discussion over beers (of course) has led us to believe that June, the month in which we were all conceived, is obviously a generally cold and boring month. Because our parents could not control their libidos during the early ides of winter, we now have to deal with what is a very expensive and physically exhausting 31 days each year, as we try to celebrate with each of the March babies. This year, we faced an expensive and physically exhausting March after having already faced an expensive and physically exhausting previous 6 months, due to the recession and our constant worrying about how to survive it (never mind those of who have actually been laid off as result). One thing was certain - the only way to deal with March in a credit crunch was to have one massive birthday celebration for everyone.

Saturday night was that celebration and it lived up to the extensive hype we've been feeding into it the past few weeks. We took over a pub in Wandsworth, having convinced the owner to let us have it for free in return for ramping up his weekend attendance, and we set up a sound rig in there that could have easily powered a small club. Since so many of our friends are up and coming DJs in the trance and electro scenes in London, they all volunteered to play, and the pub's owner kindly offered to lock the place down from 11pm - 2am just for us. For those not familiar with a lockdown, its when an establishment closes its doors to the public and allows the punters inside to continue partying. You can go out, but if you do, you can't come back in, as was discovered by my sweet but dopey friend P, who wandered outside for a smoke after 11 and never made it back (there was an alternative smoking area out the back, but there you go).

Everything was going splendidly. People were pissed and having the time of their lives. But as with anything, things are not always what they seem.....the drama started half way through the evening when Penguin ran into some trouble with the guy she's been seeing. To cut a long story short, there is also an ex-girlfriend in the picture, and one thing led to another and before we knew it, Pen was miserable and pissed off. I pulled her outside to do my friendly duty in telling her what an idiot he was, and my concern was met with a flood of tears. After a quick pep talk and make-up check - because we are all very experienced in How To Deal with Drunken Dramatics - we had her back on the dancefloor and in high spirits again. Later on there was a pretty much a blow by blow repeat performance, which ended with Penguin leaving and not telling anyone. I'd give that a measly 5 out of 10 in the drama stakes, although for Pen it actually deserves a 6, as it is quite out of character for her.

at 2am we left the pub and there was some confusion as to who was going where with whom. Miss M and Shoes had a little altercation outside the pub, with Shoes saying some things he shouldn't have in a very insensitive guy kind of way, leaving Miss M a little upset. In the meantime, Mandz was practically rolling herself down the road in the general direction of home. When I questioned G-Days and OJ about it, they said she had fought them off when they tried to call her a cab, and had insisted on walking home. As the poor girl was too drunk to coherently spell out her address, I made the boys chase her down and hail a cab for her, which they forcibly put her in. On my way to a friend's house to continue the party, I had first Mandz and then Miss M call me, both of them in tears for very different reasons. Miss M was unsure as to why she was crying, and was very upset that she was being "that drunk girl who cries about nothing". Mandz on the other hand was very sure of why she was crying - she didn't want to get in the cab and was forced into it, and then life, love and everything in general were all just too much and what was she supposed to do, and how could she go inside her house in this state (she was standing on her front lawn probably waking up the neighbours with braying sobs).

At one point, I had my phone in one ear with Mandz sobbing her heart out, and G-Days' phone in the other ear with Miss M bawling, and I very nearly started crying myself because I couldn't think of anything else to do! It took some doing, but I managed to soothe them both by talking about shopping (Mandz) and how everyone else was actually far more dramatic that she was (Miss M).

The best thing was the shameful texts the next morning, when no-one could quite face anyone else, or in Mandz' case, even remember what had happened at all! All in all it was a brilliant night, so good in fact, that the pub owner has agreed to let us have regular parties there over the summer. Next time I'll be the crazy one, and someone else can do the counselling!

Monday, 9 March 2009

I Touch Myself

I was going through my e-mails in my gmail inbox today, deleting old threads, sorting others into categories and labelling those I want to keep (yes, I am anal to the point of needing therapy), when I came across something that I just have to share with you. We all get bizarre spam messages, right? You know the kind: enhance your sexual performance / increase the size of your penis / introducing a new cure for some unspeakable condition, etc etc. Sometimes we get them delivered straight to our inboxes, with our names in the subject line.

Then there is the e-mail that is not spam, but you dearly wish it was. The kind that comes when you sign up to an online dating site, because you're tired of never meeting women as you're always going out with the same bunch of friends. You say in your profile that you're straight - of course you do. But you also put up a few pics that are a little, um, sensual that are meant to lure the ladies in by means of your six pack and well defined chest/arms.

Of course, this is risky, because there is always one person who will see past the chick-bait and assume your photos are evidence of unexpressed desires:

Hi X
Hope this doesn't offend you....

I'm Colin.Currently seeking fit uninhibited guys who want to earn spare time cash in hand (£160) for 1.5 hours modelling nude for photos & solo wank videos in London.

I give free photos to all models of themselves. References can be provided on request.

It's posing solo with erection & cum shots while watching hardcore porno. It's for an upcoming adult solo male nudes website I want to put together.

Take a look at my profile for sample photos of models.

If you'd be interested to know more, see recent samples of my work etc you can contact me on msn messenger.

Needless to say, my friend declined Colin's kind offer. If you're a pervy narcissist, however, this might be your dream job. If this sounds like you, IM me and I'll track down the lusty Colin for you.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Lopz Likes Jake's Lollipop

Right, I need to get something off my chest. For those of you who don't use facebook, you should probably stop reading now. However, if you are like me, and you know how lame it is to stalk your friends but you just can't help yourself, I would appreciate your input on this.

I have taken issue with facebook's new range of "actions". Recently the content providers, in their ever expanding quest for world domination and consequent willing contribution to the current economic downfall, have added a potential action for pretty much everything that your friends do. For a few months now, we've had the ability to "comment" on things. For example, I edit the music field in my profile, and my friends sees it and comments: "For the love of all that is holy, do you seriously listen to Def Leppard? You loser!" Or something like that. Kind of pointless, but not actually offensive, unless you have befriended offensive people (yes you, the one with the 650 friends. That is what happens when you befriend random strangers in an attempt to look popular).

Then there are the less inflammatory but more useful actions, such as being able to add an event to your calendar when you see it on a friend's mini-feed (a list of one's online activities, for those of you who don't speak Facebook).

From there, we turn a corner and begin an unstoppable slide down the slippery slopes of insanity, beginning with the "like" action. In my book, this one scored top marks for Most Imbecilic Idea Ever Had By A Facebook Employee. You can "like" anything from a friend's taste in music or a photo they put up, to their status update. So Jimmy writes "I'm tired" and you can like it (you literally click on a link that says like, and you are listed underneath the status / photo as "Lopz likes this". With a little thumbs up sign. No, really.) Am I the only one who is befuddled by the absurdity of this action? So you like that Jimmy is tired, or that he just ate an egg sandwich (while I may be a regular facebook user, I pride myself on not boring people to the point of artery severing with inane updates). So the fuck what? Does anybody out there REALLY give a crap that you like someone else's egg sandwich? And while I'm on it, I would like to beg mercy from those who insist on telling us they are eating egg sandwiches, or that they are are cleaning their rooms, or that their brains are about to explode from the effort of thinking of an original status update. Please people. No-one cares. If you must do it, go on twitter, where grinches like myself don't dare to venture.

So, in case I wasn't clear, the "like" action has been my facebook nemesis. Until today.

This is what I found on my friend's mini-feed:

Jake just got a fresh new lollipop. It looks like it could use some breaking into!
02:54 - Comment - - - Suck Jake's Lollipop

Suck Jake's lollipop????

The potential for taking the piss is so vast, I don't know where to start. Suffice it to say that I believe facebook is slowly but surely targeting a younger and younger audience, and at nearly 30, I think I might have to look at putting an expiry date on my account. After all, can you really consider sucking Jake's lollipop at 40 with a straight face?