Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Just a wash, a trim and some aphid spray please.

I have been fairly secretive about my work on this blog, but I feel it is time that I came clean. It is time you know the truth. I claim to be a scientist, I claim to work with plants. Both claims are mostly true.

But what I failed to mention is that a large portion of my time each month is taken up by hairdressing. I am essentially a plant hairstylist.

I bet you thought there was a certain lack of demand for such a service right?

So so wrong.

You see, often we grow these weeds in big clumps and they grow fast and spindly and wild. And the result is one big tangled mass. It looks a bit like this (see unhappy plant with dry, tangled, er, stems)

So I have to tease out the stems/strands, smooth them (wipe off any outside invading seeds), detangle, straighten, and then separate the mass into two neat equal clumps. Then it is time to style. I form a neat bun, tie it off and voila, the plant afro is neatly tamed. Like this (see happy stylish plant. You're worth it):

Maybe the bun is a bit formal. Can anyone come up with better ideas for weed styles? I am thinking plaits could work well. Or a simple twist...

What can I say? There are some weird jobs out there. I happen to be the most useless excuse of a female who cannot manage to straighten her own hair without mishap, but I somehow ended up in charge of the plants' unruly manes.

Ok, often I pull whole clumps out (oooooops) by the roots. But if you just kind of poke them back into the soil, it looks like they are still attached, and erm no one shall know the difference. Except the weed who will now die a miserable and lonely death by dehydration. Of course.

So if your weeds ever need my services, a bit of a wash and a trim, or a neat style to impress the neighbours, you just let me know.

And if you could tell me how to get my hair straighteners to stop biting my ears, that would be much appreciated. The sizzle noise is getting to me.

Monday, 27 July 2009

I'm still here

Yes I am. My blogging has gone to shite recently, both the reading bit and the bit with the writing. But I'm still here. Recently I have:

-gone trad climbing
-read about 1 million books and counting
-watched Harry Potter AND
-eaten too many chocolate digestives.

How about you?

I have had a lot of stuff swimming around in my head lately. There are of course many things that go on in my life that I will never blog about, and I am sure most people are the same. Some things are not for sharing, tell that to your moms.

I have been thinking heavy thoughts lately, and having some epiphanies and revelations; the kind that make you revisit things in your past that you prefer to keep buried, you know? Some stuff has become clearer to me for the first time since I was a kid and it is all a bit deep and dark but also a relief to come closer to understanding what for me was an impenetrable time. These thoughts are intense and strange but probably good too.

What I am trying to say is that blogging has been far from my mind recently, seeing as this is supposed to be a happy, lighthearted little place and I prefer to keep it that way. I thought I would not have the mental energy to blog at all, but somehow I have managed to have sudden moments of inspiration and keep things going, and I am glad.

When I started blogging I actually had notions of my little words having some kind of impact and changing the world or some such utter crap. I was so up my own ass. It was all about quality of writing to me. What a load of poo.

Now I really just want to keep in touch with the people who have made my life far more fun and interesting, all the blog peeps in my computer, and I think even if I stop writing here some day due to the noisy madness in my head, I will definitely not stop reading.

So for now I will keep stumbling from post to post, and see where things go. Pretty much how I do everything in life.

You guys rock and you make me smile, so please don't stop writing, yo.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Getting your five a day

Judging by the number of hits I have had for my post about the naked statue in Oxford, and the searches leading unwitting googlers to me, there is a large demand for naked men, and naked South African men in particular on the internet.

Who would have thought? I can only assume they made a typing error when trying to search for naked South African molerat. Easy mistake.

Sexy! Take it off, oops you already have.

Too bad these people who yearn for a fine slab of boerewors are sent to the blog of an insane mutant seamonkey who waffles on about fly infestations and paying £75(!!!).

Mwahaha. No naked South African men here. It may surprise you, but down on the tip of Africa, they can AFFORD CLOTHES; you know, those things that cover up the meat and two veg in civilised places.

Is there some kind of world wide clothing shortage going on? Did I miss the memo?

Monday, 20 July 2009

Thank you dankie ngiyabonga.

South Africa rules! Well, obivously I may be a bit biased about such things, but I do have a specific reason for saying it this time.

I have to get a new passport because my old one is full. It is quite a procedure for people living overseas.

BFG has had to do this twice, so he knows the ropes. He gave me a printout listing all the letters and forms I need to send for and told me to do it asap as it takes an age.

One of the requirements on his sheet was a letter from the British authorities stating that I do not have British citizenship. BFG told me that they did it for him both times for free, but I got a letter from them stating that as of this year, they have decided to start charging £75 for the privelege. £75!!!

Wait, in case you did not catch that:


I admit that we should probably pay something for such a service, but to go from free to £75 in one foul swoop is a bit astounding. Let me say it one more time: £75!!! And why only now?

The whole procedure is costly, I need to pay a solicitor to verify documents, I need to get photos, I need to get my fingerprints taken and the police charge for that, and then of course there is the application fee, which is surprisingly little. But this £75(!!!!!!!!!) pushed me over the edge.

My only solution was to go back home. I have one spare page in my passport. I figured what the heck, I was being robbed blind by the fairly efficient British officials, so surely it would be better to move back home, and pay far less for the privilege of suffering through the special hell that is South African beaurocracy? Makes sense, yesno?

But then. I went onto the South Africa House website and saw that the requirements for getting a new passport had changed just a few months ago (hmmm, roughly around the time the British doodads started charging £75 for a letter). We no longer need that terrible letter of doom worth £75!!!


Now we just need 2 verified copies of our British visas.

I have no proof of this, but I can't help imagining some nice person from South Africa House down in London nearly keeling over at the amount of money we would have to pay that freaking letter, and deciding to change the requirements. After all, most South Africans I know cannot stand to feel ripped off. We are cheapskates by nature. And often a bit dodgy too.

So thank you, my dear South Africa House, for saving me the indignation of paying !£75! for a piece of paper. I love you.

Friday, 17 July 2009


I...... don't know. I just don't know.

Something about mutants. I am counting mutants, planting mutants, playing with the DNA of mutants. Sequencing and who knows what else with mutants. That is all I know and this intense bout of mutants has fried the rest of my brain that is there to deal with stuff other than mutants.

My brain is scrambled eggs.

Damn mutants.

Who am I again? Something about mutants? Oh and an accident with a fall into a tank of toxic sludge that was full of seamonkeys...

I need a weekend free of mutants.


Wednesday, 15 July 2009

POst me a POlony POny

Fame, boys and girls, fame and glory in the form of a London cab (only it was in Oxford):

Unfortunately the above-mentioned fame and glory is on the cab's ass, but we all have to start somewhere.

Maybe some day I will make the passenger door.

So, Po stands for Polonium, only one of the nastiest most radiotactive elements around, used for poisoning Russians and being generally volatile and terrifying.

It is also the name of a cuddly, lazy kung fu panda, who does know how to kick butt, or at least how to sit on top of butt.

Kind of a contradictory combination, but add to that mix a dazed and confused seamonkey who does not know her head from her shrimpy tail, and it kind of makes sense.

You try being a cuddly and loveable deadly toxic radioactive element. Melting people's hearts takes on a whole new meaning.

Friday, 10 July 2009

The day of the triffids in my eye

I think this may be my interpretation of a spacehip invading my eye but I cannot be sure. It could be a jellyfish.

I have had a piece of dried plant stuck in my eye for 3 days now and it is driving me neeeeeuuuuuuts!

Well actually it is just freaking sore. I think it is quite big and it moves up and down and is scratching my poor eyeball to shit. I have tried blinking, crying and dowsing it with water to no avail. I was blinded while walking to the train station today by this attack of plantiness so bad the tears were streaming down my face and it just kept on scratching and scratching. I was stumbling about like a very sad crazed drunk person.

I am not au fait with touching my eyeball or having someone touch my eyeball (just fold back your eyelid says BFG. Excuse me while I go to my quiet place, preferably lying down). I cannot look at my eyeball or look at someone else folding back their eyelid and prodding their eyeball (look it is easy I can do it for you. Oh. My. Gawd. I will hurl). I cannot even cope with eyedrops. Even the mere mention of an eyeball has them twitching and feeling tetchy and strained. Rubbing until it goes red and squelchy is about all I can manage.

Eurggh, I said squelchy. Shudder.

I have sensitive eyeballs.

I will have no eyeball left unless the offending piece of plant leaves me alone soon. Maybe if I lie face down in a bath and try blinking alot?

Else I will have to resort to taking the morphine they gave me for my shoulder operation and pray that it knocks me out or at least removes me so far from sanity that BFG can fold back my eyelid and prod my eyeball without me dying of horror.

Work hazards hey? Between mutant flies and killer plants I am starting to think I am in a bad Sci-fi movie, where the end will be death to all but the hero. I really hope that is me.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Why the World Cup could be bad for South Africa

From the school of the "NO DUH" comes something I thought of yesterday evening. I often have these supposed epiphanies and then discover I am centuries behind the world's greatest thinkers, and the plumber down the road.


As we all know, South Africa will be hosting the World Cup next year, and as we all know, some form of crime is going to happen to someone in that time.

It does not matter what type of crime. It probably does not even matter if the total crime rate in that time is lower than that of previous World Cups. Something will happen for sure. Crime will happen in every World Cup anywhere.

We all know that on the whole newspapers are vultures. And from what I have observed in the UK, newspapers here hold nothing back when it comes to slating anything they have decided it is fashionable and profitable to slate. They publish articles based almost entirely on conjecture and speculation, and it seems sometimes, blatant distortion.

I have no doubts that newspapers across the world display similar tactics. South African newspapers are pretty bad, but crime stories are not big sellers in South Africa any more.

What I fear, is that every tiny bit of crime that happens during the World Cup will be zoomed in on and picked apart and displayed to the world as a reason never to step foot in South Africa.

At the moment it is fashionable for journalists in the UK to publish articles about why you should not go to the World Cup in South Africa. It is fashionable to be against the whole thing. So you can bet that come the World Cup, they will be circling around any crime, and offering it up to readers whose minds have already been set before the games began.

Crimes have happened to foreigners before in South Africa, but this is different. There is an agenda. And this is a huge event that is big news anyway.

It is almost as if the newspapers are setting themselves up for their big sell: tell the people about the nasty crime, and then when the World Cup happens, they can sell their big crime stories and say, "look we told you so". Readers love a good bout of expectation and fulfilment, in the style of the Hollywood blockbuster.

What I am saying is no matter how good the Cup actually is, South Africa is going to be dragged through the mud by the international media. And this could persuade many impressionable people to never set foot there.

If damage is done though, I hope it will be short-lived. Travellers tend to depend upon the experiences of other travellers above all when deciding where to go, and if thousands of tourists have a great time in South Africa, the good news will spread quickly.

And travellers have remarkably short memories and strange standards. After the massacres in Kenya, tourism dropped for a bit, but people are still honeymooning there in droves from the UK. Both times I have been to Thailand there has been unrest in the form of a coup and attempted assassination. But, we had booked our tickets. It seemed safe. So we went. It was safe. It is a case of, if other people are going... why can't we?

In the end, I am hopeful that the good publicity will outweigh the bad in the long term.

What do people think about a potential media frenzy no matter what happens in the World Cup? Do you think it could happen? Will it be damaging?

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

fly me a river

The chronicles of the saga of the sequel to the prequel of the compendium of my fly infestation continues, much to my delight.

The flies, or rather the fat lazy sits are still around. Months of abuse have done nothing to whittle down their population. I have even seen one or two of their festering offspring wriggling around in the soil, despite all the poisons I have been feeding them.

And now there is a new type of fly! How can this be? These ones are also too wise to fly and get caught in the traps, but they are super energetic, not like the sits, and they zip about at quite a rate. I shall call them zips. And they have blue wings.

Talk about X-flies.

I can only think that these must be mutant flies from mars or they have mutated since I have been feeding them poison or.

No, there is no more OR. Where in Doom's name have these monstrosities come from, with their disturbingly coloured wings?

And even worse, these ones seem to be munching my plants. The little bastards are destroying my sweet innocent babies.

Never mind that in a week's time I shall destroy the same sweet innocent babies myself, by means of a mortar and pestle and some liquid nitrogen. That is not the point. It is my duty to crush those plants to within an inch of existence and then crush some more. These stupid flies have no right to get in there first.


Monday, 6 July 2009


My posts seem whiny these days; a bit soulless and uninspired, but that is exactly how I feel! I am completely blahhhhed out by life, and all I want to do is go and travel.

After reading
Sarah's awesome blog, Yosh! about life in Japan, all I can think about is going there. Her enthusiasm for the whimsical quirkiness of their culture is infectious. I have been fascinated by Eastern culture, and particulary Japanese culture for years. It looks awesome, like life is one big anime movie. Ok I know this is a ridiculous misconception, but really I cannot wait to go there and discover the truth for myself. I mean, the place has origame, Naruto, Murakami and roast potato and corn KitKats. What more could you possibly want?

There is much dissatisfaction and and lack of fulfilment, and yes, unhappiness mulling around in my head right now. In theory I should do something about it but I am suffering from a dire case of inertia, coupled with a bad bout of negativity.

I have always been a very negative person and have been trying to fight it. This blog was one way of combating negativity. But I don't want to pretend to be something I am not, and I am most definitely plagued by negativity and pessimism. It is a disease, man.

At this moment in time I see no way to change the blahhhhhh(x10)ness that is my life. I can' even go travelling because my skinny green mamba* is full and I need to apply for a new one and this appears to take a minimum of 4 months!

Eeep. I am trapped in the UK for the next four months. Why does this seem a little scary? I have used up most of my leave, so it is not like I would be going anywhere anyway. But it is nice to have the option...

What I really want is something random and serendipitously wonderful to happen to me. Something to lift the blahhhhhhh(squared)ness for a while. Something that requires no effort on my part. A chance collision of particles that happens to culminate in a glorious wonderfulness for me.

Being accidentally locked in a chocolate digestive factory for example. Or getting a kitten. Or a hamster. OR 2 hamsters. Or being discovered as potential World Champion climber, despite my cunningly deceptive appearance of being crap.

Or being given a villa near the Indian Ocean by a mysterious ancient and rich benefactor who wears a wedding dress and never leaves her room, and knits socks 500m long, for a fiancé who never comes for her, and whose legs will never be long enough anyway.

Something like that. Anyone with a knitting fetish out there? To know me is to love me.

P.S. sorry if my whiny posts are irritating. I can't help it though, and I am sure there are more to come. Taking out life's frustrations on one's blog is clearly easier than actually doing anything about them, not so?

*South African passport, so named for the apparent toxicity of the thing, as no country wants it near them.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Repost: summer torture in West-vile

Yesterday Anon asked me about living in Westville, and I thought I would dig up this ancient post and repost it because I am lazy generous like that. It has been slightly edited as the original was, well, crap. Here it is:

This is a memoir of the countless summer holidays spent in the suburb I had the delight of growing up in: West-vile, Durban (that's in South Africa, if the blog name didn't give you a clue). I spent at least ten years there.

There is no such thing as public transport in the outer Durban suburbs (well, none for small white children), so you are trapped. And if your parents don't take you places, there is NOTHING to do.

Westville is near the sea, about a 20 minute drive; we could see it. I went to the sea roughly once a year. Vaalies went to the sea more than me. I now have an obsession with living by the sea, after years of deprivation while it was staring me in the face.

Things to do in Westville when you are young and bored:

-Count monkeys.

-Count mosquito bites.

-scratch mosquito bites.

-kill mosquitos.

-chase hadedas.

-Swim until you cannot see and your body requires botox.

-hope that a snake appears in the garden - something to be excited about for 10 minutes.

-Read a book. Hell, read the entire Westville North library. Then move onto Westville Central.

-Walk up one of the mighty hills that plague the landscape. My favourite was Pitlochry road. Especially in the summer humidity, yeah.

-Walk to a shop to buy sweets. This entailed me walking for like 40 minutes up the aforementioned hill. It was not an expedition to be taken lightly. The sherpas cost a fortune.

-run around in one of the humungous storms and get soaked. This is probably my best thing.

-Rollerskate around on the pavements.

-Watch Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast once a day, and recite the entire script.

-Wave to cars driving by.

-Fight relentlessly and mercilessly with siblings.

-look at the sea.

-Shop at the Pav. Or in my case, walk around the bloody Pav until you want to die, but since you have no money, you are really just torturing yourself in numerous subtle ways. Pretend you are buying perfume and try every sample, so that you smell like a flower farm. Then you have to wait while your mom shops in Pick n Pay, which takes two hours longer than she thought.

That's about it really, the sum of my summer holidays. Bring on school, I was saying. I am starting to understand why I live in my own head.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Things I learned in the last week

1) There is a hairstyle, a "look", that defines Spanish climbers, and apparently Italian ones too. It has also been spotted on French climbing heads. So far British climbers have not been infected, but will they hold out forever?

The look is: a mullet with dreads. A mullet with these long disgusting scraggly tails that are either braided or dreaded or just loose and shaggy. Euuuuggh.

Dreads are kind of funky, kind of cool in a dodgy climber kind of way. Mullets, um, no. A mullet with dreads is just going too far.

I wonder, is it pronounced moollay in French? And in Spanish, mooyet? Is that a word for "monstrosity"?

Here is a link to another blog, Hive Mind Travels, with evidence of this terrifying anomaly, if you want to see it for yourself.

2)Europe is flipping expensive. When I was an innocent nipper in South Africa, I heard legends of the impossible expensiveness of the UK, where one could pay R30 for a coke. And when I first got here Europe was cheaper than the UK. Not any more, sheesh. Now the UK is a cheap destination.

A friend paid 2 euros and 30 cents for a tiny coke bottle that must have been about 200mls. Which translates to R43 for 350mls of coke.

How do you say RIPOFF in Spanish?

3) English people are into their fashion in a beeg way. Trends change quickly and you have to keep up, changing styles every few months.

BUT. When it becomes even slightly uncomfortably hot, all of their innate fashion consciousness just melts away. English people just cannot look good in the heat.

They do not do cool shorts here. Teeny tiny polyshorts and running shorts, and capri pants on men and oh dear. Even the baggies here are a bit circumspect. They look suspiciously like pantaloons.

And the legs, oh the legs, I thought I was pale but this is supersonic. These are legs that have never ever seen the light of day.

And then there are the strops and slops worn with thick socks. Just what is the point of having huge holes in your shoes to air your feet if you encase them in huge tubes of heat-inducing knitted fluff?

Most of the time they just take their clothes off and parade around in their underwear anyway.

English people, don't be offended by my amusement, I know for a fact that South Africans are the worst dressed people you could ever see in winter. We just cannot fathom the concept of fashionable and sensible clothing in the cold. We all look like bergies and we all freeze to death and complain about the cold while wearing a thin South African rugby jersey we have had for 10 years. Fact. The English pull off winter in style.

4) I love the heat. People have been complaining about the heat all week and I am in my element. I finally feel comfortable in my skin. My body feels fluid and energetic.

I am fantasising about moving back to Durban. I know I thought I would never live there again, and when I go back on holiday the humidity nearly kills me, but it seems to be the only place warm enough to keep me happy. A place where you drip with sweat while lying in the shade. Can I have some skin with that sweat?

Bring it on.