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Thursday, 31 July 2008

Save the ducks


G and I saved a duck the other day.

He and his friend had spotted it the the day before while they went for a walk on their lunchbreak. It had one of those plastic rings that are attached to bottle tops to keep them sealed (you know what I mean?) hooked in his beak and around his neck so he was basically collared. The poor thing obviously could not eat. G and friend tried to catch it with G's t-shirt but were unsuccessful.

The next day we went for a walk and saw the same duck, looking much weaker now, after a day of no food. G ripped off his shirt again (a very neccesary duck-rescuing procedure), and we managed to corner the duck against the wall of a block of flats. Then we wrapped the duck in the shirt and I tried to unhook the ring off the duck. Not happening. I was scared of breaking the duckie's neck, it was well hooked. I was wishing desperately for a pair of scissors, when suddenly a voice floated down from above us:

"Oh you've caught it, I was just phoning the SPCA, I've been so worried."

A little old lady was looking down at us from her flat. We asked her for some scissors. She passed them down to us, and recognised G. "You were here yesterday, I recognise the torso" (hey, lady, he is mine. My torso). 

We freed the duckie and he ran like, like... a terrified duckie to the canal. 

The old lady, who had clearly been watching too many episodes of McGyver, sent us down some wool, to which we attached her scissors, and she pulled them up again. Then G covered up his torso and we were away.

So if there was ever a time to realise how easily litter can damage poor innocent animals, this is it. Who would have thought those plastic rings could do so much damage?

So kids, remember, don't litter. And mari-joo-ana is bad, mkay?

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Skills theft

I was involved in a conversation the other day that got me thinking. It was the kind of conversation that was giving me an uncomfortable feeling. Basically a South African was telling an English guy how lucky the UK is because of the stream of highly qualified Saffas that are coming over. (The way he was saying it, it was as if the English guy should be on his knees, worshipping our awesome presence. I am sure that the UK does benefit from our skills, but trust me they can pick and choose from the best of Europe, SE Asia, Australia, and whoever else is desperate to work over here. They don't actually need us).

This conversation got me thinking about not what the UK has gained, but what South Africa has lost. In my case, I studied at UCT. Degrees are subsidised by the government, and I actually got a scholarship, so I did not pay a penny for my education. The country essentially paid for me. 

Now I did not mean to leave for a long time, I came over to the UK on a working holiday visa, with the intention of coming home after it expired. But things changed, and I have been over here using my degree and skills in the UK. I still want to come home, but I don't think I need to go into the myriad reasons why all of my family and friends are discouraging me from doing so, and why I am slowly but surely starting to have some doubts.

Now there are millions of people like me over here, whether they left intentionally or just stayed on after traveling. And they all got their skills in SA universities and tech's, partially subsidized by the government. The majority of us are white, but I have met South Africans of all colours and creeds over here. Just imagine the skills loss. I see it more as robbing the country of its investment in us.

When I put it like that, it really does seem that SA is boosting the UK, getting our skills for free. I wonder what the pro-African anti-colonisation people in SA think of our country contributing to the success of the old coloniser?

I am not a career oriented person myself, but in the field I work in, Biology, there is not a good future in SA. Equipment, job prospects and salaries are far better overseas. Most young scientists of any colour will consider leaving SA. 

I think that SA should try to tempt some of its skilled citizens back to its shores, because if you really think about it, the country is being robbed of the investment it has put into people.


Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The nature of belief.


Belief is a bizzare concept for me, one that I find difficult to define and understand.

When I was young, it could be argued that I believed in Father Christmas. However at the time, I treated his existence as fact. My parents told me that he existed, why would I doubt them? For evidence I had the fact that in the morning the food we left out for him was eaten. Was this really a state of belief?

If you argue that a state of belief is taking something to be true without actually seeing it with your own eyes, then yes, I was in a state of belief.

I have never been in a state of belief since.


Apart from the man bit, I agree. I am not sure if he meant this to be a negative view of tolerance or not, but it appears so.

I do not believe in anything myself, so I am entirely tolerant of other people's beliefs as long as they do not harm others or oppress anyone.

If you can conceive of something as possible, and believe it to be true, then I will acknowledge its possibility. That does not mean that it is fact, or that it is even probable, but it must be possible if that is what you conceive and believe to be true.

So I acknowledge all existing religions and anti-religions to be possible, thetans included.

However I do not believe in any of them myself. Maybe I will find out when I die, or maybe there is nothing after death, and so there will be nothing to find out. Either way, the notion of belief is as alien as thetans to me.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Leaving the house is overrated

The internet is truly amazing. Not only can you buy anything you can think of, but you can watch most things you can think of too, and listen to music for free on sites like lastfm.com. And you can speak to people for free over skype and other messaging programmes. You can book flights, hotels, etc, bank, pay bills, and waste hours and hours of time reading endless rubbish.




Today I found a site called http://www.virtualgym.tv/ where you can pay to download workouts by instructors. So now I do not even have to leave the house to exercise, and the online version is much cheaper than paying for a real life class.



I may never leave the house again. If only I could download sunlight and seaside at the touch of a button, life would be complete.

Is Qwelane's article in any way moral?


How can Jon Qwelane equate gay marriage to marrying an animal? As far as I was aware, gay marriage involves 2 legally adult people consenting to be together forever because they love each other. An animal cannot consent to anything. We cannot argue whether an animal can be in love with anything or not as it cannot tell us so.


I personally will never understand why people object to homosexuality. Morals are usually formed to protect other people from harm. How does two adults loving each other harm anyone?


I would argue that having sex with a minor is immoral, because the child is not emotionally ready for sex, and it may cause psychological issues later in life. A child may not truly understand what he/she is agreeing to, and fully understand the consequences thereof. That is why we have laws protecting minors from decisions that they are not ready to make. The same goes for animals.


But homosexual adults living together harm nobody and I fail to see how it can be deemed immoral. I am however aware that many people do believe that it is immoral, and they are entitled to their opinions.


I would hope that most people's reasons for disapproving of homosexuality are better reasoned and thought out than Jon Qwelane's though. His article amounts to pure opinionated bigotry. He has no reasoned argument for how he feels at all, he just doesn't like gay people, and feels somehow that he has the right to publish his views on a public forum. If the article contained an argument for his beliefs I MIGHT understand why he was allowed to publish it in the Sunday Sun. But in the end it is a poorly put together rant. Imagine if someone wrote a similar rant on how they despise black people! People's views, unless well reasoned and valid arguments, should remain in the personal sphere of life, and do not belong in nationally read newspapers.


You can argue whether homosexuality is immoral or not but what about publishing bigoted views in a country where lesbians and gays are murdered and raped for their way of life? Could it not be argued that Qwelane's article is immoral because it contributes to the culture of gay-bashing that in South Africa leads to the harming of these people?


South Africans should demand reasoned and intelligent arguments and points of view. We are intelligent people and we deserve better written articles in newspapers than this.

Friday, 25 July 2008

The vice-like grip of eating disorders





Eating disorders are scary and real. From the time I was in high school to the time my sister was in high school, the instances of eating disorders in the uptight all-girls school I attended had quintupled (ok I don't have stats but the increase was alarming). I can't imagine how it must be now, with the size zero insanity dominating the media.


I would do anything to prevent any future spawn of mine (if they will ever exist) from developing an eating disorder. That goes for boys and girls. It is such a misconception that guys do not develop eating disorders. But it seems almost like an epidemic. Will I have the power to prevent it?


I started young in my adventures with food deprivation; I was 11 years old when it all began. I was too young to care about fashion or looking good. I don't actually know what the hell started me off. It was so long ago. One thing I have noticed that I have in common with many sufferers is an extreme lack of self esteem. Once you start starving yourself your esteem hinges on the size of your bones in comparison to everyone else's, and it becomes a game you have to win or be destroyed by consuming self hate.


Eating disorders are mental illnesses, and they turn you into something ugly and shameful.They change you. Many anorexia sufferers describe their anorexic side as a voice in their heads and this is exactly how I experienced it. The voice became so much stronger than the real me that I forgot what it was like to be me. I became this self-obsessed, shallow, sick monster instead. A person who would lie, sneak, steal, do anything to please the voice.


The mind of an anorexic is a vacuum of twisted mundanity. I would spend hours staring at my classmates' wrist bones, checking that mine was still the largest. Other hours were spent listing what I had eaten, what I wanted to eat, what I could eat. To avoid eating, various ridiculous lies and pretences were upheld to fool family and friends.


Most of the time you are so weak that you can't think straight anyway. I suffered from insomnia for 8 years because I went to bed hungry each night. I had to stop doing sports because I was too weak. My love of sports is what saved me from full blown anorexia - I never got to the hospital stage, because I realised just how far from the real me I had come when I couldn't swim a lap of the pool any more.


So after a year of starvation, I compromised with myself and created my very own personal eating disorders that varied greatly over the years, from bingeing like a maniac and then starving myself, to eating only breakfast, to eating only a sandwich, blah blah blah. In 8 years I did not eat supper.


For 8 years my head was filled with selfishness and pettiness. If I thought I was gaining weight I would go into full on panic mode, even crying. I was a shadow of the young girl I once was, who cared about things that were actually important.


This is the part of this mental illness that I hate the most, what it made me become. I don't think I will ever fully regain the initial me. I have become withdrawn, shy and timid. I think I have also damaged my impulse control and my energy levels to some extent.


University was the turning point for me. It somehow clicked in my head that people would be friends with me no matter how I looked. And I discovered FOOD, which I must say, is fucking AMAZING. There were so many things I had never tried, so many things that blew me away.


I still have a love affair with food, (as well as some issues that will never fully go away), and I feel that today I have a better relationship with food than most women I know, including those who never had an eating disorder. In fact I am somewhat of a hog, but I sleep like a baby!


The reason I am so scared of any young kid developing an eating disorder is mainly because of the mental effects. Such a drastic personality change is difficult to correct. I think all sufferers must know what I mean when I say how ugly you become inside, how shameless and manipulative. And how shallow. And the worst part is, the only person who can pull you out of it is you. You have to be ready, and some people let it go too far and die before they can pull themselves back into life.


Food is awesome, and life is worth it, and I want no kid of mine to think otherwise, ever.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Let me wash my dishes in peace!


I was a shameful anti-feminist today.

A door-to-door electricity salesman came by while I was washing the dishes (God, can you get more domesticated? I was barefoot too) and tried to persuade me to change my electricity company to the wonderful company that he represented.

In order to get rid of him speedily, I told him that my partner pays the bill, that I don't even know which company we use, or how much we pay (me just the woman, me just do the dishes. Speak to the man).

He was having none of it. He wanted to explain to me how he could save us money, and then I could explain to my partner. IT would just take a few minutes of my time. I just was not in the mood for humouring this guy, so I told him again, no, it is no use, I don't know anything about our bill, you need to speak to my partner. Still he did not give up.

Eventually I managed to persuade him that I was too stupid to understand his little sales pitch and he left me alone. The things I do for a bit of quiet.

That is one good thing about SA. A lack of door to door salespeople. People aren't keen on opening their doors to anyone in case they have removal company tendencies. And you definitely don't get telephone and electricity companies trying to steal each other's customers like you do in the UK, because there is only one of each company.


I used to think that having many companies would be a good thing, and in some ways it must be. At least there is competition for good service.

But I am not convinced that having multiple companies to choose from drives down prices. There are so many companies and they all use subtle price tricks so that one company is the cheapest after 12pm, another is the cheapest if you are over 65, under 12, or a monkey, and the other is cheapest not at all but tells you that it is anyway.


There are so many companies with so many price plans and schemes that the consumer is completely bewildered and ends up using the first company to come along. And in the end they are all expensive, and can get away with crap service because it is such a pain to keep switching companies. I should know. G once switched electricity companies 3 times in 3 months. Which is one of the main reasons why I now avoid electricity sales people like the plague.

And there are too many door-to-door and phone sales people who refuse to give up and let a girl wipe her plates in peace.

Monday, 21 July 2008

The oppression of the left




I suffer from an extreme form of prejudice which will sadly never go away. The world is back to front for me. Yes, I am a left-hander in a world designed for the 9 out of 10 people who are righties. Bastards.


Everything, I mean EVERYTHING is made for the optimal use of right handed people. Doorknobs are one. Left-handed people have to form “T-rex arm” in order to open doors, and let me tell you, there is minimal manoeuvrability in that position. Bottle tops require a similar arm seizure. Guns, computer mice, rulers, books are all right-handed. Hence I read magazines and newspapers back to front. If only I read Arabic!


Scissors are another biased implement. I can tell you that I cannot cut well. It has always been so. My edges are always jagged and crooked and horrendous. Teachers were not impressed with my presentation in workbooks, it looked like a shark had been at my worksheets.


I was discriminated against at school (poor lickle me). In std 2 (grade 4?) our teacher announced to us that we would be allowed to write in pen. This was a huge step in our lives, we were becoming adults. We were very excited.


The teacher announced (in typical model C capitalistic autocratic manner) that we HAD to buy expensive blue rollerball pens. Rollerball pens have wet ink. She then said that any left-handers were excused from buying these pens because our arms would smudge the ink as we wrote. If we could lift our arms while writing then we would be allowed rollerballs.


Screw that, if everyone else got to use rollerballs, then I wanted bloody rollerballs. No crappy cheap ballpoints for me. For a year I wrote chicken style, wing in the air, and my writing was atrocious. Then I gave in, let my arm drop, and put up with ink all over my uniform.


Then there was the knitting debacle. No teacher could figure out how to teach me to knit. We were graded for knitting in those sadistic times. My teacher literally just shook her head and said she gave up. She abandoned me to a chair on my own. So what the fark was I, a mere 8 year old supposed to do? I asked my mother if she could teach me. She was convinced she could, but she ended up teaching me right handed. Lets just say my knitting was not great at ALL. But I persisted and eventually could produce super-duper knitting, by about age 14. So there.


If I am complaining now, consider how it was for my grandmother and people before her. She was forced by teachers and parents to tie her left hand behind her back so that she would not use it. Left handed people were said to be doing Satan’s work (he is supposedly a leftie) and the
Latin word sinistra (meaning left) has acquired the meaning evil. Great.


Add to that the fact that lefties are likely to die younger due to our clumsiness in a right-handed world.


Despite all this, I like being a leftie, and all the righties I know (basically everyone) go to great lengths to assure me that they can use their left hands for certain things and are probably ambidextrous, not plain boring rightie at all. Left-handedness has acquired a certain specialness that marks people out, and I am cool with that. People mumble something about us being more creative and intelligent too. Ha. You all are just jealous.











Sunday, 20 July 2008

Old skool poetry 4 - 2004

Warm Kiss

To kiss the sun

slow and deep and long
would be an experience
titillating I think

hopefully the tongue of flame
will reach right down into my inside
and warm me from the toes up.
It is too cold in this place
and lonely.


copyright of Po


Ok this one I can still relate to. I was clearly suffering my first endless winter in the UK. I feel the same way right now, someone cancelled summer for the last 2 years over here. I want to get the sun switched back on but I feel that the complaints department of English weather is a call centre based somewhere foreign like Timbuktu, and when I phone, after 4 days of endless repeat dialling, all I will get is the song "you are my sunshine, my only sunshine" played back at me.

Old skool poetry 3 - 2004

Desinconstructegration

I'ts buried deep and unseen
a sharp and silver stone
lodged behind the dutiful heart,
inflicting obdurate, yet subtle pain.
Enclosing them, both pump and flint-
a machine, cage construct, shell so cold
with glowering pallor it looms

motionless, with power off.

Decommissioned it comes undone

each screw loosenes, wires ripped out
and final crash into metallic heap
then with a sussurus of slow decay
the stone dissolves
and settles in a shimmering haze.

This molten mass of sharpened dust
that shreds the throbbing orb of blood
in a scream of minced up shards and flesh
is how it feels, chaos, collapse,
a secret stony storm of hurt
deep inside the ribbed cage
behind the plastic smile.


copyright of Po



Dunno what to say. I hadn't learned the art of "minimalism" at this stage of my life. And I clearly really wanted to use the word "sussurus". My word.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Old skool poetry 2 - Humpty dumpty



Fall



It falls slowly

tumbles

through a sludge of time and distance

the jelly of dramatic slow motion.

It's screams are silent

mine have more volume

the despair of the helpless onlooker

I watch with gravity

as impact occurs:

the shatter of shell and bowl

the spill of yolk and transparent goo

that egg is dead.



I must just point out that I was not smoking mari-joo-ana at the time of writing this.



copyright of Po

Old Skool poetry volume 1 - cow on a hot tin roof

I found this book of poetry that I wrote in 2004. The poems are awful but it is quite hilarious to think that I actually wrote this stuff!

I would love to know what I was smoking at this time.


Suburban cow

There is a cow on our roof
my sister told me
I ignored her
I thought it was April fools
until the mooing grew louder
then I went outside and there it was
a cow
on the roof of our suburban house
a bit embarrassing really
what will the neighbours think?
I know what they will think
It looks like there is a cow on that roof
but there isn't
cows do not stand on suburban roofs
and moo and moo til the...
cows come home?
So we did what seemed best
up the ladder and down again
with a bucket of fresh creamy milk.


(What the fack?)

copyright of Po

Friday, 18 July 2008

I know someone who met Madiba. And some of my best friends are black


Happy birthday Madiba, you are looking good for your age!




I respect and admire Mandela.


I know most of what is portrayed of him is image, is a story which the world wants to believe more than it is based on truth. We have turned him into a living symbol or a saint, when he is just a man.


But I don't care, the world is a mean and nasty place most of the time, and we, I need to believe that there are people like Mandela (or our image of him) in the world. I want to believe that forgiveness is possible, that peace of mind is achievable after great hardship, that people can move on and forward with dignity. And Mandela represents all that.


Also he has such an openness of spirit, a calm manner which welcomes respect and admiration. I can't quite put my finger on it, but his smile is all part of why people love him.


It is incredible to think that he has witnessed 90 years of South African history from total oppression to the freedom that he fought for.


I realise that some black people see him a panderer to the white man, as appeasing and negotiating rather than fighting. He is seen as the white person's hero to some. But although I see where that is coming from it is sad. Mandela risked the death penalty for his fellow South Africans. And when he finally got out of prison he fought hard for the ANC against an NP that wanted power sharing rather than a democratic government. He did what the situation required of him.

In a sense he achieved the impossible, creating a country where there was not one before, out of people who were anything but united, and would not take much pushing to start an all out civil war upon each other. Then he had to make sure that somehow, this bag of wet kittens held together, depsite the ten million reasons why it could not. And it did.



Yeah he made mistakes, did wrong things, did all the things that humans do, but who cares?


We are allowed to treat him as larger than life if we wanna, and we do.


I do.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Tyranny of the car guards




The best car guards: don't mess with those
horns.

(really I just liked this pic).

Car guards are a South African institution, albeit not a popular one. The "job" does provide employment where it is sorely needed, but they are still freaking annoying. It is quite depressing to think that I have met freaking accountants from Rwanda that were car guards in SA.

Amongst my friends in Cape Town, the term “car guard” was the highest form of insult. It meant you were beyond irritating. So the poor guys are not well loved. It does not help that half the time you are not sure if you are paying them to guard your car, or paying them to not harm your car.

As a scrounging student, I did not always pay car guards. But in April of this year, G and I were back home on holiday from the UK. As a “tourist” in my own home, carrying pounds, and feeling guilty about poverty and all, I felt duty-bound to pay all car guards. After all, R5 translates to about 30p, which is absolutely peanuts in the UK.

There was however this one day from hell, “the day of the car guards”, which I shall never forget. It was the day, on our trip up the east coast, where we drove between George and Plett. We stopped at pretty much each town along the way, and encountered at least 7 car guards. They came at us from nowhere. How come they are not to be found when you arrive, but randomly appear as you are about to leave, helping you to reverse out of a parking lot in which you are the only car? Are they helping you to reverse so that you do not hit them? (tempting…
I did not just say that!)

One of them kind of forced us to park in his area, although there were car-guard-free options elsewhere. He was an awesome guy from Namibia (I hope he is okay after the xenophobic violence in Knysna), but after conversations with x other car guards, we were worn out. We would have happily paid him to leave us alone. After we left him, we realised we needed to stop again at another shop, but after considering having to face another car guard, we decided to stuff it and keep on driving. It was all just too much for one day. I would say 6 car guards in one day is my upper limit.

The UK is conspicuously car guard free, and on the whole it is a pleasure not to need them.

However. In the last two years or so in the UK, G and my mom have had bricks through their car windows, my mom's entire road had their tyres slashed, G had a number 9 spray-painted on his car (of all the things you fear happening to your car, being "nined" must be number one), and my mom had her car “keyed”. My friend had two bricks through his windscreen in a week. And people here dent and scratch your doors ALL the time. They just don’t care.

The ironic thing is that G’s brick through the window happened the day after we got back from a totally crime-free month in SA. We were so sure something would happen to the hired car while we were there. We even forgot to lock the car once or twice, but nothing happened, probably thanks to the damn car guards, if it must be admitted. Typical.

In South Africa at least you feel consoled that people are assaulting your car for a reason, because they want either it or what is inside it. Here in the UK cars are vandalised for no other reason than the joy of pure destruction, and that is particularly annoying. Perhaps there is a niche for car guards here after all. Oh yeah.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Bring out yer snobs


I saw a headline for a local newspaper yesterday that read something like this:


"Is the town centre being overrun with snobs?"


Ah, you gotta love small town England, no murder/rape/hijacking to report (lucky buggers), but a scourge of snobs, better watch out for them.


I want to know where these snobs are, I have never seen one. The town I live in does have its posh bits, we do have the word "Royal" attached to the town name after all, but those bits are almost quarantined from the rest of town. 


All that I see on the streets are chavs, drunks and bums. I do not object to them, but that's the way it is. I have never seen anyone who could qualify as a snob in the town centre. Perhaps they teleport themselves into the shops, then make a sprint for their chauffeured cars in order to avoid the great unwashed. Dunno.


When I came to the UK I had an idea about English accents and manners (roughly based on Absolutely Fabulous, Fawlty towers and the Queen) which was smashed into smithereens about 2 seconds after I stepped off the plane. I still struggle to understand some of the accents I encounter. For example: 


"Goh-A loi?" roughly translates into "Do you have a light?" To which my usual reply is "sorry what?" and then the poor person moves on to someone less cretinous, who knows that the letter "t" is officially extinct.


I would love to meet a snob, just to hear that sexy accent, which as far as I can see, no real English person would be able to understand. But I feel that they all keep to themselves in their little suburb where there are actual gardens and actual spaces between the houses. They probably don't even know that my part of town (the wrong side of the tracks - the place for students, crack heads and foreigners, me being one and a half of these) exists.


Strange to think that by UK standards, myself and most of my South AFrican friends would qualify as snobs, whereas over here, we can barely afford to rent a flat next to the crackheads. 


Such is life :)


Monday, 14 July 2008

The UK files: mad but true disease.


Here are a few weird and wonderful stories emanating from the UK that all happen to be true:


In Wales:

Police recieved a call about a UFO. Somebody had noticed a large shining orb loitering behind a mountain (perhaps probe-ingly inclined?). They wanted the police to check it out. It turned out to be the MOON. (From BBC news). A very much identified flying object.



From my mom (a teacher in England):

She was attending a teachers meeting and they were dicussing the next craft class. My mom innocently suggested that the kids use toilet roll tubes (that ubiquitous craft material in SA). This caused shock and horror amongst the staff, who informed her that this was dangerous because the kids could catch germs. Now I am not English myself, but unless they are wired up to some kind of tubing system or all wear nappies, English kids surely have to visit the loo more than once per day? And are they not then exposed to the same germs?

My mom then suggested kitchen roll tubes as a substitute. But no, apparently those are germ - ridden too. Cos kids never enter the kitchen now do they? (I hear Jaws music in my head right now: dudududududu - When health and safety goes horribly wrong).



From my dad (a teacher in England):

He was telling the kids (high school) about his days hunting on the farm in SA . A girl was horrified and attacked him for such cruelty to animals. Fair enough, said my dad, but if you are so concerned about animal cruelty, are you vegetarian? The girl said no. What the hell has that to do with it, she asked.

My dad asked, "So how do you feel about the way animals are treated before they are killed for your meat?"

The girl exploded and attacked my dad. "How dare you say such ridiculous things, so insulting etc etc. People do not eat animals, that is terrible and cruel. Disgusting."

My dad asked, "but, but, where do you think meat comes from then???"

She informed him: "from supermarkets, from factories."

M'kay. Scary. But true.



From me (when working in a coffee shop in England):


During our training we were told that we must warn every single customer who buys a hot coffee to "be careful your drink is very hot." Every single one.

Now I feel that this is quite an insult to the intelligence. I would fairly resent someone telling me that my coffee is hot. I bloody know it is, it's bloody coffee! But apparently some people had tried to sue the company for serving them hot coffee without warning them, and they had burned themselves. Sigh.

In order to combat this evil scourge of hotness, we were instructed to offer customers ice cubes to cool their drinks down. You should see the looks you get when offering someone an ice cube in their Americano. Priceless.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

About Po



Things about me:


I already wrote this blog entry before I realized I was tagged by justB[coz] but I am going to use it becoz it lists at least 8 weird things about me:




1. I am dazed and confused

2. I like handstands

3. I am a nerd

4. I am totally uncool

5. I am totally cool with being uncool. Surely it is uncool to be too cool? Or to wish you were cool? I figure that I am so uncool that I am practically cool.

6. I drink too much coffee

7. I fiddle with bacteria plants for a living

8. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, which I figure will be when I hit 60.

9. I hate shopping and I have no dress sense

10. I hate make-up

11. I am a girl

12. I cannot drive

13. I am left handed

14. I am a Leo who is totally shy and avoids attention. And then seeks it, in a repressed kind of way, only to run away again as soon as I get it. See? Confused. Not that I believe horoscopes or anything.

15. I have brushed my teeth with shampoo before. Don’t ask. It was in Bulgaria. Desperate times.

16. I have lived for 7 weeks straight in a tent. In a field with a portaloo. To shower we had to go to the local swimming club and pay. Was working on a blueberry farm.

17. I do not believe in marriage

18. I once slept on the street in London outside Kings Cross station. I worked in Cambridge and missed the last train to where I lived, Stevenage, so I took the train to London (about an hour from Cambridge), hoping to take a train home from there. I missed the last train home. There were loads of other people who missed their train doing the same so at least it was safe.

The next morning, all trains were replaced by buses for some reason (a leaf or something, I don’t know what that day’s excuse was). Our bus driver got lost for two hours, started swearing, and threw his map book at us. We hadn’t even left London. I have had better times.

19. I have an obsession with peppermints

20. I’m alright really…

P.S. justB[coz]: you are wonderful.

Here are the 8 people I want to find out more about (write 8 unusual things about you, and if you want to, tag 8 more people). I won't be offended if you can't be asked to do this:







(OK that is only 6 people but I am new to blogging, I don't know 8!)

Friday, 11 July 2008

Poppin' pirate lockin'



Here is another true story from my so-called life. How these things happen to me I do not know.

A friend saw a poster for a show at the arts centre at the University where we work.

She told me that it was a break dancing show. I am into amazing feats of strength and acrobatic skill, so we decided to to go.

We paid (PAID) for our tickets and moseyed into the theatre. Something was...odd. The audience didn't feel - right. I couldn't put my finger on it. But whatever it was, they were all staring at the two of us.

I get that a lot, in the UK especially. So I ignored it. We sat down and surveyed the programme.

The title was something like ( I am making it up according to vague memory):

"Bringing Boys into Interpretive Dance"

I was puzzled. My friend insisted that it was break dancing fused with interpretive dance. I read on, and was not convinced. But I suspended all disbelief until the show began.

The curtain came up and there stood before us a horde of six year old pirates in tights. They began to...interpret pirateness via dance. We watched. Our row of seats quaked and puddles accumulated as we silently began to wet ourselves.

At the end of the pirate performance my friend was still trying to convince me that the breakdancing was to follow, possibly because she was afraid I would blame her for bringing me to a kiddies school play set to music. I blamed her.

The next piece was by some older boys and was an interpretation of a Magritte painting. It was impressive. For schoolboys. Now my friend started swearing under her breath. We realised we would have to sit through an entire show of schoolboy interpretive dance.

The strange looks from the audience took on new meaning. I am an Aunt! An aunt of...that one. I picked out a random kid who looked like he knew what he was doing. These parents probably thought we were female paedophiles or something.

The show progressed with a full on interactive get-the-dads-on-the-stage little dance that of course the audience must follow. One of the parents looked like a breakdancer, with the backwards cap and baggy clothes, but he held his skills back lest he overshadow his kid.

By the end of the show I had my favourite kid, who knew all the moves and signalled to the other kids when to go. My friend was in pain. I tried to figure out how she thought this show was related to breakdancing. It is still a mystery today.

We filed out of the show sheepishly, trying to hide our faces from suspicious parents, muttering, hmm, wasn't my nephew good? Then we ran.

I have looked at interpretive dance with new eyes ever since. Uh, and breakdancing too.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Fuzzy logic


I am off to Ireland for the week, so i shall leave the world with this piece of infinite wisdom:


You know the expression "overweight and underpaid"? It brings to my mind middle aged middle management and civil service type jobs (of course I am generalising). Then "underweight and overpaid" makes me think of Hollywood starlets, supermodels and popstars.


And "overweight and overpaid" reminds me of oil barons and politicians. "Underweight and underpaid" brings to mind third world farmers.


So, currently I am "average weight and not paid."


Whether I lose or gain weight, my pay situation should improve.


As they say, I have nothing to lose,everything to gain, passthecookiesplease!


I am recovering from an operation, so that is about all I can manage anyway.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

The world is ready for Kung fu Po


I just saw Kung Fu Panda, and the panda's name was Po! I swear I did not steal the name from the movie, although I do feel a certain resonance with the cuddly two-tone bear.

I can currently see my toes (bearly, if you will excuse the outrageous pun(da). Ok, stop this. Stop). But I think that I share his aimlessness, confusion, clumsiness, lack of kung fu skills, and obsession with cookies. Does this mean that I will nevertheless defeat all odds and become a hero? Kewl. And I can (or could) do the splits.


There is another cool looking animated movie coming out about a cute robot called "Wall E". Now funnily enough, one of my other long-standing nicknames is Wally. I think this is some kind of a sign. My time is coming, and it shall be good.

Be prepared world, for a kickass cuddly-bear robotty superhero (who trips over her own feet but knows how to do a tribal stick dance with real sticks) with a cartoon turtle tattooed on her ankle. His name is Norm.

The wise old ancient in Kung fu Panda was a tortoise. I see more connections between us all the time.

You have been warned.

(The movie was great by the way, first good animated movie I have seen in ages. Yay for Jack Black. There were no cringingly over-emotional scenes, and no rabid outbreaks of joyous song. Yes, no singing. Such a pleasure.)

P.S. There was a trailer for another animated movie about Kung Fu chickens. Now this is so unneccessary. Firstly, they looked nothing like chickens. They looked like weiners with hair. Secondly, it just so blatantly copycatting. It seems that this year's buzzword is kung fu, so just bung it in your movie title, and ka ching! Instant coiny coiny. It is just crass and so Hollywood.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Memories of our first ever democratic elections. Got your dead earthworms?

Anyone who is old enough can remember our first democratic elections in 1994, right? Pretty major event in space and time I would say. My dad was working for the IEC. You would have thought that with a parent involved in the whole process I would have taken the opportunity to see how the voting worked, perhaps even go and see people voting for the first time in their lives, in our first ever free and fair elections. Right?


Wrong.


I remember that we were given a whole week off school during the elections, because they weren’t sure WHAT would happen. In case of Armageddon or aliens in the anal phase, we were sent home. (We were all thinking, sweet, give us free and fair elections any time).


But, my school quaked at the thought of the state of our education after a whole week off. And so they gave us work to do. Roughly 3 weeks worth of work, all to be handed in the day we got back (such opportunists, those teachers, gosh, getting us to do all the work without them).


The week of the election was sunny and bright.

Which I am sure was nice, but I was inside wrestling with bits of gauze and clumps of soil. Our biology teacher had given us a project: to build a mysterious contraption of dubious usefulness that involved numerous bits of (s)crap. As far as I remember, it was supposed to be some kind of trap for soil flora, but how it actually worked I couldn’t tell you then or now. My memory of the whole thing is hazy. It involved a jar filled with turpentine ( or was it meths? Whatever it was, it smelled goood. Weeee. See why my memory of the thing is hazy?), a funnel layered with metal gauze, and soil.


The goggas in the soil were for some reason supposed to fall into the turps and die. Nice. And our teacher would score us on what bugs we had in our sick little death traps.


So, while history was unfolding around me, I was inhaling turps fumes and murdering innocent earthworms.


Now I think back and I wish I had gone with my dad to work, or at least with my mom when she went to vote. How could I have missed such a momentous occasion? I was a spoilt, self absorbed 13 year old horror, who thought of only of herself and of schoolwork. Too busy with my head buried deep in the solvent-smelling sand to appreciate something that would go down in history.


What a waste, I tell you, what a waste.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

I smell a giant rat!


I am a dazed and confused person most of the time so it is not surprising that I rarely know what is going on. But I think I have figured out a mystery in my house.


The mornings are not easy times for anyone. I tend to stumble about half-blind and drooling until I can find the kettle to make my coffee. Now there has been a recurring pattern of events in the mornings that has left me somewhat more confused than normal:


Scenario 1:


I decide to have some toast, as you do, and retrieve slice of bread from bag. Upon examination through gummed up eyes I see that my slice of bread has a huge bite taken out of it!


Scenario 2:


I decide to have a lovely slice of cheese. I fish out the cheese block from the fridge. Upon opening the wrapping I discover a 1cm cubed crumb of cheese. Who puts a crumb of cheese back in the fridge, all carefully wrapped up?!


Scenario 3:


I decide to have a yoghurt, hazelnut to be precise. I peel off the plasticky lid flap, to discover that the container is empty!


Is there some kind of a rat in your house, I hear you ask? Hah, no. I have traced this menace to my other half, whom I shall call G.


I figured it out because after my exclamations during the yoghurt experience, he burst out laughing. Apparently he had made a tiny hole in the yoghurt lid, and had drunk 99% of the thing, leaving 1% for later. And just WHY did he decide to drink the thing in this manner instead of, like a normal human, lifting up the flap? One of those unanswerables, I’m afraid. (I think he has some kind of guilt complex, causing him to put tiny crumbs/drops back in the fridge, so he can say he didn't eat it ALL).


The whole bite out of the bread thing has been going on for ages, and quite frankly does my head in. but he is useful for other things, so I must put up with my wholegrain half chewed.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Drying paint


I have noticed a worrying trend in my blogging. I am starting to write about the events in my life as if they are something fascinating that people would actually want to read about. It is becoming horribly self gratifying.

Now, I am 99.92% sure that no one reads my blog but me. (Mom, are you out there? Oooo, on second thought, I remember gently mocking my Mom’s faith in crystal skulls in a previous post. No moms allowed). But still.


Note to self:


You live a dull, dull life interspersed with rare moments of madness. Do not write about your adventures with drying paint as if anyone, including you, would wish to read them.