Monday, 30 March 2009

My daily exorcise

random photo of Cornwall that is completely unrelated to what follows below.

I feel the urge to moan a bit. For the most part I am the most laid back person on the planet, so laid back that I am practically upside down. But lately something has begun to irk me, just a tad.

My daily traintrips.

But before I rant, I must say, for the most part the train system in the UK is amazing! The trains are relatively punctual and heated, and the seats are comfy, and the odds of being mugged on a train is basically nil. And most of the passengers are dead silent and well behaved.

Lately though, certain things have started to get to me:

  • I travel at peak times
  • There are almost never any free seats at peak times
  • this means we have to stand between carriages by the toilet, or sit on the floor
  • I have a back injury where my vertebral joints slip out of place and it really hurts me to stand or sit on the floor for prolonged periods
  • we are charged more than double to travel in peak times. This is a laugh. There are always comfortable seats available in off-peak times. Surely we should be paying at least half in peak times for the privelege of of standing with our noses pressed to the fragrant toilet door? In fact I reckon my average trip feels about £2 worth, instead of £25.

Then there was the INCIDENT. There is always an incident that pushes one over the edge, not so? It was a one off but it sure sticks in my mind:

I was heading from work in Oxford to Birmingham, which is a  longer trip than normal for me. Lucky lucky. On this day the train was so packed that there was not even any floor space to sit on. We stood like sardines literally squeezed against the toilet.

This very day a horde of army recruits had been let loose for their night on the town. They were all hideously drunk and drinking more and more. They all needed to pee every two minutes. They stumbled up and down the aisle in which there was barely enough space to breath, rubbing their sweaty alcoholic selves all over us. They were either all from Liverpool or just beyond drunk, I have to admit it is difficult to tell the difference sometimes. But I still love the Scouse accent ok? It rocks.

But this was nothing.

There was this dude, not related to the army, who was off his head on something. He too needed to pee every two minutes. But he could not actually walk. He bounced from seat to person to wall. These two huge silent stone cold sober men followed him wherever he went, like weird guardian angels. I think they were from another dimension.

For his final toilet trip he stumbled into us and then literally fell into the actual toilet bowl. We closed the door on him and he started screaming and punching the toilet walls when he couldn't figure out how to get out. We opened the door for him. He was covered in blood. He was not able to do up his fly. He lurched out at us, and then fell into the baggage rack, dingle-dangling all the while. 

His two bodyguards escorted him back to his seat wherebye he started screaming and trying to punch them, and begging them to punch him. They stood over him, staring at him intently, blocking him off from the rest of us. They tried to give him water and at this point he went ballistic, kicking and screaming inaudibly. They kept staring silently. It was like being at an exorcism or something. Those two guys were like the priests.

When we arrived at the next stop pretty much everybody skedaddled off that train asap.

So yeah, forgive me for being an old granny but I do wish that
  1. alcohol could be banned on trains
  2. they would add more carriages to  trains so there would be a faint hope of getting a seat
  3. first class coaches could be abolished. It hacks me off to be in pain standing while only one seat is occupied in first class.
  4. they would charge less than laughable amounts for sitting on their floors
  5. they would use air freshener
  6. train exorcisms could be kept to a minimum. They can be a bit noisy.

I must be getting old like, but I prefer my exorcisms on the telly or at the pictures, what what?

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Blog awards

We are all unique and special snowflakes. We are all winners; participation is the most important thing. There is no "I" in loser (hang on, that does not sound quite right...).

This is what I am trying to tell myself in preparation for the South African blog award thingy results next week. Sheesh, it feels like it is the bloody Oscars or something.

Yes there is stiff competition for these awards, even amongst those of us who qualify by default just because we left the country. I am coming to terms with the fact that I have very little hope of competing with some of the bloggy powerhouses out there. The South AFrican blogosphere is small but incredibly strong, and these awards do drive bloggers to excellence.

Actually, winning is very appealing but it also scares the crap out of me. In the end I try only entertain myself on this here blog. What if people stopped by to see why I won and found my little bloglet wanting? Nooooooooo, the pressure!

I have never been very good with the concept of winning, I think I subconsciously run away from success in the form that is acceptable in our society.

What a big baby, huh?

Anyway, I think it would be interesting to see how I would cope in the face of pressure, so I am going to cast my pride aside and ask that if you like my blog, please vote for me? Voting is open to the whole wide world, not just South Africans. Voting closes soon. Almost no one who exists outside of my computer knows about this blog so I can only ask you virtual folk to vote. With your virtual fingers. And virtual mice.

I honestly don't know what the point of winning would be, as I do this blogging thing merely as a lark. It must be my latent competitiveness kicking in. I wrote this blog for 6 months without a single reader other than me. I could do it again. I think. I hope. We shall see.


Friday, 27 March 2009

Twisted tales

Meet my new pet, Boblett.

I am so spacey right now I don't even know what dimension I am in. I feel like I am on some kind of drugs, but never having taken drugs I couldn't tell you which one.

It does not help that I have been reading Kafka on the shore, by Haruki Murakami, which is a pretty spaced out novel. Colonel Saunders is a major character (finger-licking good!). It is brilliant. But it is messing with my sense of reality, which was shaky to begin with.

The novel reminded me of something I wrote for my first writing class ever last year. We were supposed to write a really short story of a few hundred words.

I am not comparing my writing quality with that of Mr Murakami, but the trippiness and the weirdness do slightly correspond.

Basically I am too dazed to write a real post, so here is my random story:

The magnifying glass


Walter tugged fractiously at his tie. The heat on the underground made his lungs feel as if they were coated with fur. His eyes darted over his newspaper.

The train stopped. Willie lumbered on, clutching a magnifying glass in his clammy hand. Walter could not stop himself from examining Willie, who was wearing a yellow Hawaiian shirt and blue Bermuda shorts. He was pink, and dripping with perspiration.

Willie heaved himself into the seat next to Walter.

“Of course,” thought Walter, “this fluorescent walrus would choose to sit next to me.”

Willie tapped Walter’s shoulder.

“D’yew know,” he slurred, “with this magnifying glass, I can see my very soul.”

“He is drunk,” thought Walter. “No, I think he is in fact high on something.” He continued staring fixedly at the headlines.

“D’yew wanna see your soul?” asked Willie.

Inwardly Walter groaned, “leave me in peace you damp fool.”

To Willie he replied, “No thank you, I’m afraid I am late for a very important meeting.”

He started to stand up, but Willie grabbed his arm, and spoke in an altered, measured tone:

“That is a pity, Walter, because any man afraid to look into his soul will be felled by his own shadow.”

A drop of sweat formed on Walter’s forehead and ran down into his eye. Things became blurry after this. On reflection Walter thought it must have been his swampy state of mind that had prevented him from questioning how the man knew his name.

“All right then. Show me my soul.”

The train stopped. Willie lurched to his feet.

“We’d best get off here.”

Outside the station, Willie held up the glass, and Walter peered in. He gasped. There was a gust of wind.

His shadow winked out.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Itsy bitsy teeny weeny harbinger-of-doom bikini.

You know that expression "duck and cover"? Well, duck and cover! Batten down the hatches, man the gates, and ring the bells of doom! For this seamonkey is going shopping for a bikini. Don't be surprised if fish and mutant hamsters start falling from the sky.

I know that it should be illegal in most countries for someone so white to even consider baring her flesh in such a manner. The resulting reflection could well cause a laser beam-like flare that will blind us all and possibly implode the sun. But it is what fashion dictates, and we all know that fashion is stronger than sanity.

I frigging hate bikinis. I never wore one as a teenager. I was the epithet of uncool. I wore my school speedo. And anyway, I had all sorts of neuroses and though I was a beached whale when really I was not. I was an idiot basically.

As soon as I became a bit more reasonable I prostrated myself in front of all that is "normal" and "cool" and other things in inverted commas, and bought a bikini.

I soon realised what a monstrous invention they were. And that I was still an idiot for buying one. Your stomach freezes, they slide up or fall down and expose your boobs to the world at the slightest movement, they ride up your butt, and you can only look good in one if you are a mutant (human, not hamster).

I am built like a prepubescent boy, so as you can imagine, there is not much to see. And then there is the whiteness factor. People say it is because I live in the UK, but it is not. I have always been fluorescent. However this winter has been particularly long and dark, and I think my final molecules of colour have leaked away. I am now anti-colour.

But we are (if the visas work out) going to visit the BFG's parents in Easter. They live in Thailand, and we are all going to Vietnam together (dassiesdassiesdassies!!*). And I have to swim. And no one wears sensible one piece swimming costumes on holiday or in fact ever. 

And I am a feeble sheeple seeking acceptance in this cruel world so I am trying to buy a freaking bikini even though this is cruelty to Thai and Vietnamese people and to me, and will cause widespread frying of retinas for them and general humiliation for me.

I tried every day last weekend but I chickened out each time. I mean, I don't want to have to see that white expanse of doom either thank you. And then there are those shop mirrors that make everyone look like a pot of cottage cheese. Shudder. 

Really I just want a nice sensible Victorian bathing suit. And for the sake of life, the universe and everything, I think you probably agree. So long and thanks for all the fallen fish.

* this is a metaphor for excitement, not a metaphor for actual dassies. As far as I know, there are no dassies in Thailand or Vietnam, or are there? But there are elephants, which is close enough.**

** apparently dassies are the closest living relatives of elephants***

*** sounds like a clear case of DNA cross-contamination in my opinion****

**** they must have had a research assistant of a similar calibre to me in the lab *****

***** If you don't know about Biology you probably have no idea what I am going on about******

****** sorry about that*******


Monday, 23 March 2009

Do seamonkeys get itchy feet?

Seamonkey on a trip.

or fins, or paws, or mandibles, or appendage of choice.

I have always been an eager traveller. I started young, surviving two-day long road trips from Botswana to Durban from the age of 1.

And some of my best memories are of the bus trips I took from home in Durban to university in Cape Town. The trips lasted anything from 23 to 32 hours, depending on how many times the bus broke down.

I loved driving through the Karoo and feeling overwhelmed by the space and emptiness. The huge skies, the scrubby plants and lonely koppies, the tiny towns along the way. I always found myself wondering, what is it like to live in a tiny town in the middle of somplaceobscurewhere? What is it like to say you are from Bethlehem, or Zastron? It was another world for me.

Not so fun were getting cankles the size of Nigeria, and endless Leon Schuster movies on repeat. "I told you to go down but you deed not leesen". Lawdy. Digression.

I have always intended to travel. To backpack throughout the world, living in tents or hostels, staying as long as I liked, and then moving on to the next place as the whim took me.

The reality is that it is not that straight forward. Money is an issue. One that I underestimated when I came to the UK. I figured picking fruit on farms would provide the dough for me to see the world. How naive. The money barely covered my chocolate digestives in the UK. Although, I required quite a few of those, it must be said.

So I got a real job with real money. And now the issue is time. Leave is miniscule. I have had to become a tourist rather than a traveller, making short trips and skimming cultures rather than immersing myself in their mysterious ways.

Life never quite turns out how you planned it. Sometimes I feel I have sold out by living this boring grown up life. I could just set off right now and travel until my money runs out. But there is something holding me back, some fear of something that probably needs to be kicked in the balls. Some sense of insecurity. Because yeah, it is so much better to spend my money on a vacuum cleaner, a pot plant, a washing rack, fancy hair masques, super strong Toilet Duck, and double glazing. Oh yeah. Oh baby.

But I do it, I plod on, never exactly sure why. Because I think other people expect me to? Because I am scared I will end up jobless on the streets otherwise? Because I don't know what else I can do? Yes, yes, and yes again.

I have travelled far more than I ever thought possible when I was an 18 year old who had never really left Durban. Back then a trip to the beach was a once-yearly road trip. A road trip that took 15 minutes. We never went places much.

But I dream of so much more. I do my mundane responsible thing, always with a giant question mark floating over my head. ? Always with one eye on my backpack and my walking shoes.

Maybe one day.

P.S. And don't worry, I am not considering giving up my day job to become a Photoshop graphic designer or wotsit. Not juuuuuust yet.

Friday, 20 March 2009

And swallow.

This week I have achieved much. Let me break it down for you:

1) After catching BFG washing the dishes with the floor sponge five baboonmarmosetgorillajillion times and politely complaining, I was amazed when he took control. He has now labelled the floor sponge with permanent marker: "FLOOR". Why didn't I think of this before? I must remember to label the bathroom sponge "E.COLI MAKES ME SAD". Or something.

2) I tried one of those sport supplement protein shakes for the first time. And something terrible happened. I stopped feeling hungry. This basically negates my existence. I live to be hungry and think about eating and then eating and then complaining about being full and then getting hungry again.

All of a sudden I could think about other things, like how if I concentrate really hard, 1+1 can equal 3*. And about noo- I mean cookies.
And how come I am not hungry when it is clearly time for second breakfast, and maybe I am dying because no normal human being could surely feel this... satisfied? 

It threw me off kilter, I tell you.

3) The sun came out. This is due to me. I told certain people on the train (in my mind) that they could shove their stupid bags where the sun don't shine. So then due to sods law the sun came out and now there is nowhere where the sun don't shine. So their bags are in limbo. All over the train.

I am not really complaining about the sun coming out. This is all lies anyway. Except for  the part about "politely complaining". That is the Absolut Vodka truth. Prost.

Or as they say in Russian: "Moj praded govoril: "Ya imeyu zhelanie kupit' dom, no ne imeyu vozmozhnosti. Ya imeyu vozmozhnost' kupit' kozu, no ne imeyu zhelaniya". Tak davajte zhe vyp'em za to, chtoby nashi zhelaniya sovpadali s nashimi vozmozhnostyami!" **

And finally:

4) I attended a talk entitled "fungal sex." This was not referring to what happens when infections strike your nookie bits, yet you insist on spreading the love fun(gus) around.

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fungis do it. You would be AMAZED at what goes on in your average pile of horse dung. Some of these fungi stay in a state of copulation for years. You could be eating a finely matured cheese that is in the act of getting it on while still in your mouth.

I will leave you to chew on that thought.

And swallow.

*not that hard. Actually it is about a 50/50 chance that on any given day my mind will achieve this sum without much effort at all.

** This is a Russian toast that translates to: My grand-grandfather said: "I have a desire to buy a house, but I have no opportunity. I have an opportunity to buy a she-goat, but I have no desire". So, let's drink to having correspondence of our wishes and opportunities!" (from Vladivostok News).

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Words don't come easy

I am suffering from blogging frustration. It seems that my blogging style has gone to pot and I cannot reel it in. My posts always get too long and out of hand, and no one can shut me up and I ramble on and on...

And my writing sense of humour has turned out to be incredibly lame and corny. My reading sense of humour is not like that. The things that make me laugh out loud are witty, ironic, sarcastic, quirky, goofy, rude, and other things as well. But when I write it all comes out as corny word games. I cannot move past my fascination with word games. I need humour therapy, people.

I have been blogging roughly a year now. I think (I bloody well hope) my writing style has improved since then, but it has a long way to go to satisfy me.

I read so many funny and beautifully written blogs. I feel they are what I aspire to in a writing style. I can't believe all the writing talent out there.

DT from Dancefloor tragedy held her own  blog non-awards, where she mentioned blog posts that really stuck with her, for various reasons. I think this is a cool idea. I have read so many blog posts that have inspired me or impressed me or stuck with me.

Here, in no particular order, are a few. Don't be offended if I don't mention your blog. This is just the tip of a huge iceberg for me.


brings tears to my eyes:

hilarious, made me laugh out loud:


just personally memorable:

chester pillow - no title (you have to read the comments to truly appreciate this one)

Being Brazen - a decade of me (I know DT listed this one too, but I just loved the way it was written, like a dreamy adventure).

I reckon I will do this again, because there are so many posts that I really enjoyed that I am having a hard time finding them again. Are there any posts that stick in your mind for whatever reason?

And at that I will leave you with this thought: Bugrit. Millenium hand and shrimp.


Monday, 16 March 2009

To bebby or not to bebby

So after my latest pregnancy scare I have been giving the subject much thought.

OK, there was no pregnancy scare, but some naughty Twitter folk managed to scare the crap out of me by merely connecting me with the word "pregnant". They gave me the willies, but I certainly will not be going near any willies any time soon I can tell you. Ahem. 

All because I happen to have an appetite that is off the charts. But it has always been that way. It is not my fault. The worms need constant nourishment.

The weird thing is, the night before the "scare", I had been lying in bed thinking about having kids. My reaction to the idea varies from blind panic to what the hell, everyone else manages, surely I can too? Sometimes I even think the little critters are cute and want one of my own.

But that night what I felt was a cold creeping terror. I honestly felt that if I had a kidlet, the chances are it would die. I would not be able to keep it alive. I mean, I have never even managed to keep a houseplant alive, and I am supposedly a Plant Scientist.

I am clumsy and careless. I lose things and drop things. I doubt I am capable of caring for another being. I feel like I have the mentality of a twelve year old. I am selfish and self absorbed. I don't behave like a responsible adult. And there are mental illnesses lurking in my bloodlines.

Also I have this innate fear that everyone I love is going to die on me. I often think about my loved ones dying, probably in a slightly unhealthy way. I should  address this issue at some point.

Perhaps a hamster would be a safer idea. I have successfully kept two hamsters alive, although one did have to have her foot amputated and had a run-in with a bird of prey... I never said how long  I kept them alive for, please note.

So ja. Everybody else is doing it. The bebby-making thing. Surely it is not that hard?

It is just that sometimes I think that there are certain genetic lines which are not meant to be perpetuated, you know?

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Strange Shores 5

The latest edition of Strange Shores is out on Lady Fi's blog. Go check it out if you want to read about the misadventures of expats in expatland.

Most of us seem to struggle to come to grips with the weather in our adopted lands. Expats, take the advice of Crowded House, and always take the weather with you. English expats, I hope you are listening to that piece of advice especially carefully. Take the weather with you. Far away from here. Thanks.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

How much poo would a dassie poo if a dassie could pooh pooh?

I was reminiscing with a friend, Mango*, about dassie poo the other evening, as you do, and thought I would continue here, as I do.

I have always had a thing for rodents in general and dassies** in particular. It runs in my family. Here is what happened when we took my sister, a dassie virgin, to Hermanus***:

Sister person: OMG dassies! Look at all the dassies!

Po: yes. Indeed. Now, If you look towards the sea, you may notice 3 breaching whales doing somersaults.

Sister person: Dassiesdassiesdassies look, they are eating out of my hand!

Po. Yes. They do that. Just mind they don't eat your hand off. Now, have you noticed there is a WHALE right here below us? You know, the animals we drove all this WAY to see?

Sister person: dassiesdassiesdassiesdassies!

As to my reminiscing, Mango and I were involved in a Botany project involving dassie poo back at university.

I took some random Botany courses at uni because plants are really interesting and and... weeell, that toooo. But I took Botany courses so I could go on cool field trips. We went all over the Western Cape on our quest for good wine I mean succulents, and once we even ended up on a climbing trip in Montagu, searching for those really hard to reach plants. Ahem.

This one time in Bainskloof we had to come up with a one day field research project. I was with Mango and Born Botanist. Born Botanist knew the name of every plant under the sun, and made sure he told them to us as we went. Plant spotting is a tedious sport. It's not like they move or anything. Walking was a slow process, is all I'm saying.

Born Botanist came up with our project: does the plant species Somethingus inlatinum use dassies as seed dispersers? Ie. do the seeds germinate only after being voided out of a dassie's rear?

There was only one way to find out. We had to uncover every dassie midden on the mountain and count all the Somethingus plants in and out of poo. Delightful.

We walked all over the mountainside that day, examining pile after pile of poo. Of course, to be thorough, Born Botanist took some poo samples back to the lab, made poo stew out of them, and poured the stew on soil to see what grew out of it. His parents are English, which explains things.

I am a bit sceptical about our findings though. Born Botanist pointed Somethingus out, but it looked like any other weed to me. And I can't say I measured accurate quadrants of distance between plant and poo or anything. I am not a natural born scientist by any means. I just liked walking around the boulders in the sunshine and spotting dassies. 

Who were not delighted at having us lurking in their toilets, I might add. Nobody likes to be watched mid-poo.

Out of interest, I googled "dassie poo" and came up with some goodies:

It is amazing, the shit some people get up to for a living. 

** they look like wild guinea pigs. See picture
***South Africans go there to see whales. Whales go there to have nookie.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Where's Wally?

I had this splendiferous post all lined up in my head, and then life went and got inconsiderately in the way.

Yes, it happens even to me. So instead I shall share something completely random with you on my favourite subject. Moi.

"Wally" is the nickname my best friend from school gave to me. For good reasons. So many good reasons that she gave me a "wally award" to commemorate my wallyish moments. It is laminated, with embarrassing photographs and everything. It is legend. It will go with me wherever I live.

I hope she doesn't mind if I share some of it with you. Here are some of the things for which I earned the award:

  • Singing a certain song about lumps of squishy goo ("dough, a lump of squishy goo; Ray, a male's name, me; a very short pronoun; far, add "T" and get a rude word; sow, a thing to do with farming"... It was this song we sang.)
  • Being a participant in a certain game called brush and koosh*  (it involved a balancing a koosh on a hairbrush and racing around the house. Obviously.)
  • Inventing an important dance: the Dinosuar waltz (sadly all my attempts at dancing look like a waltzing dinosaur.)
  • looking like a complete wally in ALL photos (sad but very much true.)
  • Having the ability to be sunburnt in the strangest parts of one's body (I will leave that up to your imaginations.)
  • locking oneself out of ones room on numerous occasions and being involved in compromising situations as a result (uni, res, me locked out, waiting in the lobby, 2 amorous ladies could no longer contain themselves and started performing complicated manouevres upon one another on the floor, me trying my best to sneak out oh you get the picture.)

I had to leave some of the more obscure and embarrassing ones out. But once a freak, always a freak. And I was not on drugs I might add. All that was achieved without artificial enhancement.

Anyone else have a juicy wallyish moment to share?

* a pompom made of rubber. You know? 

Monday, 9 March 2009

Another day in paradise

I feel it is time to say "enough about me, let's talk about life for a while". There is only so much one can say about one's self, right?

Um, no, I didn't think so either. But I am pretty much the same as ever. Nothing cataclysmic happened this weekend. I am still the same species, and still disguising myself as a mad scientist, when in actual fact I am just... mad. So let us take a peak at what is happening in the rest of the world:

Zimbabwe: Morgan Tsvangirai lost his wife in an alleged "accident". A pain I hope I never have to suffer. What more can be said?

US: A man shot up a church.

South Africa: Zuma announces that the next government will deal harshly with corruption. Let us take a moment to digest these words.


I assume he means that if any politician has the gall to avoid being corrupt, a machine gun will point out the error of his/her ways.

UK: A minister was splattered with green custard.

The usual then. Life streams on.

I have never been a glass-half full person. But I don't think of myself as a pessimist either. I don't have constant opinions about anything.

Today I feel fairly nihilistic. Nihilism is a misunderstood concept. Nietzsche tried to come up with ways to improve life here and now, not to negate it. He believed that the way we live now is what negates life.

Time moves forward, no matter what we do. It is unstoppable. People always think the world is going to end. The world is not going to end. Perhaps our tiny world as we know it will end some day, but time and matter will continue to plod along regardless. There is no meaning at all except that which we take from our experience of life. We have now, so we should make the most of it.

I certainly don't always think this way. I wish my opinions could be stable but then I would probably be sane. An unfortunate side effect. Belief is not something I am capable of. Ever.

Nevertheless, it is quite a liberating thing to feel. Nietzsche was on to something.

For today.