Friday, 27 February 2009

Bucket List

This post is inspired by my sister, who recently sent round her bucket list to her close friends. She asked each of us to make our own list and circulate it. This is mine.

1. Spend 3 weeks in Thailand
2. Take a helicopter ride
3. Own a bookshop
4. Have two babies, and instil in them a love of life and a freedom of being so that they look back on their childhoods with no regrets
5. Run a small shelter for abandoned dogs in my backyard
6. Sky-dive
7. Get promoted to Marketing or Events Assistant, and get more money with it
8. Star in a nude calendar for my man
9. Spend a day in Los Angeles, followed by a day in Calcutta
10. Stop worrying about money
11. Take more time to reflect, pray and be thankful for everything I have
12. Backpack through South America
13. Get married outdoors in a simple ceremony, with just my closest friends and family present; before I’m 32 (have had to move my previous limit of 30!)
14. Join a Flash Mob
15. Learn fire dancing
16. Buy Starbucks every single morning without thinking about the credit crunch!
17. Own a 2 roomed house with a garden in the southern suburbs of Cape Town
18. Watch more sunrises
19. Stop reading so many tabloids
20. Read more newspapers
21. Learn how to salsa
22. Study something - what I have no idea, but for interest sake rather than necessity
23. Take a road trip without having a destination or route in mind
24. Laugh with abandon more frequently
25. Learn to speak Spanish
26. Give something back
27. Take one moment each day to appreciate how lucky I am to have fallen in love with the right guy
28. Give more compliments
29. Jet-ski, parasail and paraglide – preferably all in one holiday!
30. Bungi-jump off Bloukrans bridge
31. Drive a Ferrari, even if it’s just around the block
32. Go river rafting down the Zambezi
33. Define true happiness for myself
34. Write a book
35. Face my biggest fear, and beat it into submission
36. Stand on top of a mountain and shout out how I feel for all the world to hear
37. Cycle the Argus Tour with my dad again
38. Learn to play one song perfectly on the guitar
39. Master the art of sitting still
40. Go camping more often, and when I have kids, take them too
41. Coach young gymnasts
42. Take an incredible photograph and have it framed for my lounge wall
43. Never treat another person as if they are just a number
44. Swim with dolphins
45. Have 4 dogs: a pug, a staffie, a bull mastiff and a greyhound
46. Do some volunteer work
47. Eat 5 donuts, one after the other, and see what happens
48. Vote in every single election until the day I die, no matter where I am in the world
49. Go on a mammoth, no holds barred shopping spree with my boyfriend’s blessing!!
50. Cook from one new recipe every week

Monday, 23 February 2009

Beauty Is In The Eyelashes Of The Beholder

At least once in her life, every woman embarks on a quest to find the perfect mascara. It's a far more complex and frustrating undertaking that it may first appear. How difficult can it be to paint your lashes black, you ask, and quite reasonably so - it's not like we're attempting to surgically widen our eyes or perma-glue on lash weaves. The answer to that is: exceedingly difficult. If you are a man, you will never understand just how much - unless you are a actor or a tranny, in which case I know we have your sympathy vote.

You see, mascara is not actually a generic product. Different mascaras have vastly different effects one one's lashes, and that's without taking into account the length, thickness and general co-operativeness of the lashes with which one was originally blessed. You can find mascara that volumises, curls, thickens, defines, softens, creamifies, maximises, optimises or augments your below par natural lashes - indeed, there is even one that promises to "help prevent the loss of lashes", which is great as I am always finding the pesky things are just dropping like flies.

I always start off a search like this by going online. There is a wealth of information out there about mascaras, as well as other products and services ranging from the ordinary to the very obscure, as is evident by Google searches such as "When should you throw out old underwear?" and "What is something which is good to know" - but that is clearly a topic for another post.

There are several ways to hunt down information. The first is the obvious one; enter the name of a mascara which has recently been blasted onto your radar by means of the terrestrially-lashed model on World's Favourite Make-Up Brand's new TV advert. Read all subsequent information. If necessary, open a Word document and copy and paste key phrases such as "adhesive waxes" and "quick dissolve tubular system". The second is for the more adventurous, where you expand your search to "UK's no 1 mascara" or "miracle mascara". Sort through the thousands of blogs, third party retailers and the inevitable subliminal marketing content that follows, and try to ascertain who is making useful points and who is talking a load of bollocks.

Create a shortlist in your Word document, or, if you are supremely anal like myself, a new excel spreadsheet where you can have endless hours of fun by sorting mascara brands into columns according to "smudge proof" and "clump free" properties. Inevitably, you will come out with about 5 mascaras that are voted not only face-changing, life-changing and guaranteed to turn you into the women you've always dreamed of being, but they make your coffee in the mornings too (skeptics, this is no place for you; only enter this realm if you are prepared to buy into the impossible).

Then comes the million pound question: which mascara to buy? You see, even in the top set, each brand still has haters. For every 10 people who adore Lancome Hypnose for its apparent bewitching effects on the male species (I say apparent because we all know that men don't actually notice what make-up we're wearing), there is one who says it is the worst mascara she has ever bought, and if we try it we do so at our peril. Then the next poster on the forum gets exceedingly defensive about her favourite product, and proceeds to tell the hater that she is incompetent and must learn how to use a mascara brush, as there cannot possibly be a flaw in her trusty Old Faithful. Then the hater tells the promoter that she is a skanky bitch who spends too much time on forums dissing people she doesn't know, and then the promoter tells the hater that her mother is a whore, and then....well, you get the picture.

While this example of camaraderie between women plays itself out on on your screen, you either head off to your local Boots to road test the top 5, or if you are a Defiant Fashionista who laughs in the face of the credit crunch, you order all of them on eBay. Once they arrive, you inevitably find something to bitch about for each one of them, and return to the forum to tell the hater / promoter that they are absolutely right / that their daddy was the milkman. 3 months later, once you have used all 5 products and are left empty and unsatisfied, it's back to square one as you start your fruitless search all over again.

And they wonder why women are the more fragile sex.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Dear SeeFilmFirst

Dear SeeFilmFirst

As requested, I am writing to give my "feedback" for the film Confessions of a Shopaholic, for which I and 9 of my girlfriends got free tickets to see last night.

However, it is kind of difficult to give feedback on a movie WHEN YOU DON'T ACTUALLY GET TO SEE IT. Owing to, how shall I put this, a 'slight' over estimation of the number of seats available at the Panton Street Odeon, around 30 infuriated moviegoers were left stranded outside the theatre, armed with tickets and freshly bought popcorn.

Which begs the question, how do you over estimate a constant? It's not like the seats fought a battle in the middle of the night and some were violently dispatched. And even if such a preposterous notion came to be (because let's face it, it is a movie theatre and aliens have previously ridden into space on bicycles), do you not collaborate with the cinema manager who could inform you of a reduced number of seats by means of Seat Wars I?

You chuckle, but I can assure you that last night we were most certainly not laughing. I do realise that as our tickets were free, it's not quite the same thing as, say, paying £750 for a British Airways return flight to Cape Town, only to be told at check-in that BA has overbooked your flight by several navies, one Royal Parabat Battalion and the combined number of Allied Forces. And they'll get you on the next available flight, please calm down M'am, but they will not be able to guarantee that your luggage does not make a turn through Bolivia and perhaps take a short vacation in Yemen before it arrives on your doorstep.

Nonetheless, it was at your generous behest that we made our way down to the cinema last night, and the fact remains that we had every right to expect to see a movie. The fact further remains that the subsequent lack of free screenings of any sort forced us to make our way to Tiger Tiger for cocktails to calm our jangled nerves, and so we ended up spending money we don't have, on a night out we didn't really want, all to make up for the stinging rejection of the smarmy cinema manager at the Odeon who tossed us out of his establishment with all the aplomb of a shotput player.

SeeFilmFirst (or apparently in this case, SeefilmNotAtAll), we are sorely disappointed. More than disappointed, we are bereft, as our only reason for being last night was the prospect of watching Becky Bloomwood defy the credit crunch and shop up a storm up and down the streets of London.

Our disappointment would magically evaporate, however, if you organised another screening for those of us left behind. We're flexible on dates, really, although if you could avoid Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, that would be good. Oh, Mondays too - some of us are terrible company on Mondays, and it would be unfair to subject the rest of the group to the Grumps.

Thank you. I know you'll do the right thing.

Your previously biggest fan, now not so much, but with the potential to be so again,


Friday, 13 February 2009


In keeping with the theme of the weekend, I have been hunting around for anti-Valentine's Day sentiments to share with you this lovely Friday. Now, I have no particular reason to hate Valentine's Day. In fact, I don't actually hate it, per se. What I do take issue with is that "society" (don't you love that word) tells me that on this particular day of the year, I should be compelled, nay, shamed into, making my partner feel special. All because some patron saint of voetsek shot an arrow 5000 years ago and decided his action should put the modern world out of pocket. Why can't I make Shoes feel special on the 13th of Feb? Or indeed, for the other 364 days of the year besides V-Day? Take that, diminutive patron saint - and by the way, has anyone told you you're naked? Get some clothes on, for the love of Mary, this isn't Big Brother.

So when I found this, I thought it was a nice alternative to candy hearts and PS I Love Yous.

The Original
If you love somebody, set her free...
If she comes back, she's yours,
If she doesn't, she never was.

If you love somebody, set her free...
If she ever comes back, she's yours,
If she doesn't, well, as expected, she never was.

If you love somebody, set her free...
Don't worry, she will come back.

If you love somebody, set her free...
If she ever comes back, ask her why.

If you love somebody, set her free...
If she doesn't comes back within 24 hours, forget her.

If you love somebody, set her free...
If she doesn't come back, continue to wait until she comes back...

Obsessive Compulsive
If you love somebody, set her free ...
*If she comes back, and if you love her still, set her free again, repeat*

If you love somebody, set her free...
If she doesn't come back,
Hunt her down and shoot her.

C++ Programmer
if(m_she == NULL)
m_she= new CShe;

If you love somebody, set her free...
And throw paint over the sadists who captured her in the first place.

If you love somebody, set her free...
If she doesn't come back, take her for every penny she's got.

Bill Gates
If you love somebody, set her free...
If she comes back, I think we can charge her for re-installation fees and tell her that she's also got to get an upgrade.

If you love somebody, set her free...
She'll evolve.

If you love somebody, set her free...
If she loves you, the probability of her coming back is high,
If she doesn't, your relationship was improbable anyway.

The Terminator
If you love somebody, set her free...

A Little Possessive
If you love somebody, don't set her free.

HR Specialist
If you love somebody set her free,
By offering her pension and other benefits; then outsource her.

If you love somebody set her free...
Instantaneously...and look for others simultaneously.

If you love somebody, set her free...
If she comes back, her super ego is dominant.
If she doesn't come, back her id is supreme.
If she doesn't go, she must be crazy.

If you love somebody set her free...
If she comes back, it's a nightmare.
If she doesn't, you must be dreaming.

Rhett Butler
If you love somebody, set YOURSELF FREE
If she asks you why, say you don't give a damn.

ERP Functional Expert
If you love somebody set her free...
If she comes back, map her into your system.
If she doesn't, carry out a gap-fit analysis.

Finance Expert
If you love somebody set her free...
If she comes back, its time to look fresh loans.
If she doesn't, write her off as an asset gone bad.

Marketing Expert
If you love somebody set her free...
If she comes back, she has brand loyalty.
If she doesn't, reposition the brand in new markets.

And as a final nod to the holiday, Cupid sometimes works in mysterious ways, as shown by this swan's case of mistaken identity.

Germany: A swan that fell in love with a pedal boat is back courting its plastic lover after spending the winter in a local zoo. Swans choose a partner for life but the rare Black Australian swan, nicknamed Petra, made the mistake of falling for a pedal boat designed to look like a swan; and when Petra's pedal boat lover refused to fly south for the winter, Petra also remained - a move that could have killed her as the cold weather arrived.

In the end though local zoo chiefs took pity on the swan and gave her and her boat boyfriend a place to spend the winter, and this week the pair were once again on the lake together. According to biologists in Muenster, north-western Germany, Petra has been circling her plastic lover, staring endlessly at it and making crooning noises, all the typical signs of a swan in love.

The boat in the meantime is still being hired out to families who want to picnic on the Aasee lake - where the star-crossed lovers have become a tourist attraction. Zoo director, Joerg Adler said, 'This arrangement could go on forever, the swan obviously believes it has found a partner for life.'

*This post is dedicated to my gorgeous sister, for whom I would happily hunt down Cupid and wring his flabby little neck.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Frankie Says Relax

At long last, after 3 weeks of the kind of manic schedule usually reserved for Amy Winehouse on a bender, I have a moment or two of free time to bask in the success of my event. This morning was the long awaited Media Breakfast which I have been working flat out on. It's been intense, stressful and I have absolutely loved every minute of it.

I particularly love that everyone came up to me at the end with satisfied nods and sincere congratulations, and that news around the office has spread so that us lot who worked our asses off to make it happen have been given all due credit. It's very different from my time in Cape Town's Stills Production industry, which had me working just as hard, if not harder, but was an entirely thankless job. Production co-ordinators are the last people to be thanked - if they ever are - and they are the last people to receive any credit. That is reserved for the fahhhhbulous art directors, the seductively gorgeous models and the "overworked" agency reps, whose most difficult dilemma is deciding whether to have the smoked salmon or the caviar for breakfast.

My company is a very different place, and it means those of us working on the Marketing Events can thrive in an environment where hard work is recognised, rather than just expected.

Of course, that doesn't mean everything went 100% smoothly! What would an event be without a little bit of home-grown panic? Despite getting up at 5:10am and arriving at the Paramount Club (31 floors up with spectacular views across London) for 6:30 to give ourselves 2 hours to set up, we still found ourselves at 8:15am doing damage control with the presentation as earlybird guests started to arrive. The crux of the matter was that some sort of system overload was causing a loud buzzing sound everytime we connected the sound system to the laptop. This was elimated by pulling out the laptop's power cable.

So it was down to me to pick the lesser of two evils: have an unprofessional and distracting sound throughout the hour-long pitch or risk humiliation and the CEO's wrath should the powerless laptop die mid delivery. Luckily, Denny the IT guy and I are nothing if not resourceful, and although I will admit to a mild panic-related stroke at around 8:25, we came up with a viable solution. There were 5 videos embedded in the PowerPoint file. We plugged everything in as needed, and muted the sound. At my signal on the slide prior to each video, Denny was to pull out the power cable and unmute the sound via remote control, just in time for the video to play. Not an ideal thing to be doing mid presentation to media professionals, but we were pretty certain we could pull it off.

I was also responsible for following the script and clicking the slides accordingly. At 9am, everybody took their seats and our CEO kicked things off with a welcome speech. Denny was seated next to me and we were both poised to put our make or break plan into action. The first 10 slides were pleasantly soundless. Then we got to the slide before the first video. My heart was going at 3 hundred miles an hour; if I could have made a noise I would have been hyperventilating like a Britney paparazzo, but that would have been most unseemly. I forced down the urge to run screaming from the room, and signalled Denny. Deep breath...and presto! Video and sound running as expected. Enormous inward sigh of relief. A few more slides, and then the second video. Perfect. Hey, this isn't so bad! 3 slides before the third video, I notice Denny's remote has gone on standby. Instead of waiting til the pre-video slide, I signalled him an extra slide early. And thank all that is holy that I did. I could only watched in abject horror as Denny pulled out the power cable and turned up the volume...only it didn't turn up. The remote was frozen. On autopilot, I clicked on the final slide before the video and imagined my preciously built reputation crashing down around me as Denny reset the remote with about 5 seconds to spare. As the presenter introduced the video, my finger moved over the mouse button for the final click, and in slow motion I saw the remote kick back to life as my finger bore down on the button. With a fraction of a second to spare, the volume went up as the video started. The next three videos after that one were fine, but my nerves will never quite recover their former elasticity.

The adrenaline has finally worn off, and I am crashing like a mack truck on a hairpen bend. But it was brilliant, and as soon as I've knocked off early today and gotten some sleep, I'll be ready for the next one.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Everybody's Doing It

I don't know if it's the time of year (the whole New Year, New Beginnings lark) or the credit crunch, but there is definitely something in the air, and that something is making everybody start blogging! In the last couple of months, two of my very good friends have started their own blogs. I've also stumbled across some new links on blogs that I usually read, and there's even a couple of Big Link blogs, you know, the kind that are devoted to publicising other blogs.

So why the sudden need to put yourselves out there peeps? My guess is that in these uncertain times, the one thing that helps you to sort through the complexities in life is keeping a diary. Some of us have done that all our lives in one form or another (cringing now as I think of the embarrasssing diaries I kept all the way through high school: "Dear Diary, today John looked at me. OMG, he actually LOOKED at me! I thought I would die."), others are new to it and just discovering how fulfilling the pen can be (ok keyboard). All I have to say is, good on you guys! Way to keep me distracted from my work for even longer. ;-)

Actually, speaking of work, I am up to my eyeballs and then some. I haven't been this busy or worked this hard - or been this happy doing it - since I arrived in London. I won't bore you with the details; suffice it to say that my job is perfect, and I'm doing the things I've always dreamed of doing. The next step is negotiating more money for doing them, but for now, everything is awesome.

The last two days have been, as I'm sure you all know, rather frosty. London has just experienced the biggest snowfall in 20 years, and for the first time ever I have witnessed blizzards, knee-deep drifts and, most incredibly, complete silence in the city that never sleeps. Standing outside Tottenham Court Road station on Monday morning and not seeing or hearing a single car or bus was one of the most disconcerting things ever. You get used to the noise and bustle of London, so it doesn't seem intrusive in a routine day, but boy do you notice the silence! Those few die-hards who made it in on Monday left at lunch time to avoid getting stuck at work, as more heavy snow was predicted to fall. I took a detour past Embankment Park on my way home and took photos of the white-out.

The best part of this freak weather is how happy everyone is. At the tube on Monday morning, everyone was standing around with huge grins on their faces, cameras flashing and sporting expressions of wonder. No-one was in a rush to get to work, and once in town, people were having snowball fights on the side of the roads rather than making their way into the office. It's Wednesday now and back to normal, even though the now icy snow is still covering much of the city. But for the two days when it was at its heaviest, it felt like living in another world. I could get used to that world, definitely.

I have some great pics, but blogger on my work pc is very hit and miss, much like Zapiro. I'll try to post some later from home.