Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Beer, Lies, and Bikini-Models

It was Auckland Anniversary Day yesterday, so Mr Smith and I thought we would watch the regatta from Devonport. It had poured with rain in the morning, and the city had achieved a wet and sloppy 96% humidity, but by the afternoon it was lovely. We sat outside and drank beer at the Masonic Tavern (29 King Edward Parade, Devonport), which had a panoramic view of the harbour. I can recommend it as a very relaxed and low-key place to spend an afternoon.

Bikini-model Vicky-Lee and boyfriend Scotty Rocker obviously thought so too. I have met Vicky-Lee a few times before, but unfortunately she is a thoroughly nice girl, so I have nothing of further interest to say about her.

A Thoroughly Nice Girl

Thoroughly nice girls were lacking in abundance at Mrs S’s afternoon party. After the initial air-kissing storm blew over, the women settled down to the serious business of pretending to eat and ripping the shreds off each other. The men settled for stuffing their faces and talking about the cricket.


"His nickname for her is 'ponchik.'"
"It's Russian for doughnut."
"Oh. Is it because she’s cheap and has a big hole?"

Muffled laughter.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Let’s Go Slumming; More Auckland Facts

Auckland was not always the den of debauchery it is currently (in)famous for. It used to be much, much worse.

The suburb of Dedwood is a good example. In the 1800s, it was one of the least desirable places in Auckland to live. The area was heavily industrialised, and was home to the abattoir, the city morgue, and the 'nightsoil' dump.

Overcrowded slum-housing abounded on its swampy streets. Dedwood was considered synonymous with brothels and illegal beer halls.

A nearby bay once called Waiatarau ('Reflective Waters'), was renamed Waipiro ('Smelly Waters') by local Māori, due to the large amount of rum or 'smelly water' consumed by the drunk locals. This later became the site of the 'City Destructor,' Auckland's first rubbish furnaces. While the City Destructor is no longer used, it has been renamed Victoria Park Market, and still deals in rubbish, although now the rubbish is sold to tourists rather than thrown in a furnace.

When my mother was a child, a favourite family activity was going for a drive to this unappealing suburb. They called it "going slumming," and they would pile into the car, and drive around looking at the poor people.

In the 1930s, the city council set up "The Decadent Areas Committee," to deal with the area. It is still unknown as to whether they met with any success.

Incidentally, Dedwood was renamed Ponsonby in 1873.


I have decided to use some of my spare time to write a book. I have the entire plot in mind, and have already written the first chapter (it is only one page, so is not such a grand achievement as it may sound). My book will be a murder-mystery, and I'm putting thinly-veiled versions of everyone I know into it. I am, quite naturally, the main character; however, I have already killed myself off on the first (and only) page, which is probably not a very nice thing to do to oneself, but I died in very torturous and painful circumstances, which was quite exciting.

I do have an annoying tendency to never finish anything I start, so please no-one hold their breath waiting for editions to hit bookshelves. Having carelessly killed myself off, I wouldn’t like to be held accountable for anyone else’s demise.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Last night I dreamt that I had a baby. I put it in a room, and every so often I would exclaim, "Oh goodness! I completely forgot I had a baby! I haven't fed it since yesterday!" Then I would go check on the baby, and it was perfectly happy, and in good shape, except for being covered in pooh.

Mr Smith said the baby represented a talent I was neglecting. I asked why my talent was covered in pooh. He didn't answer.


Madonna may have transformed herself from American trash, to English treasure (complete with pseudo-clipped accent), but she did not invent reinvention.

Mrs D was dying, of breast cancer. The doctors originally gave her a matter of weeks to live, but they hadn't counted on her determination to tidy up a complicated life, and she lived on for months. Our last phone call conversation was emotionally muted - I was in New York at the time, and stunned when she said death was probably only a day away. She already sounded far away; a distance far greater than that between Auckland and New York. "Oh well," she said. "I suppose I'll just have to reinvent myself, again."

Many of the Parnell Old Girls have a less than sterling pedigree, although even to the tutored eye (and ear), it is hard to tell the thoroughbreds from the donkeys. Some of them changed once they married a wealthy man; others changed so they could marry a wealthy man. One of my aunt's dearest friends is a frightful snot; the ultimate moneyed matron who probably hasn't left Remuera's cloistered confines in a decade.

Her days are filled with the Bridge Club, bossing around the boy who cleans her salt-water swimming pool, and deciding which caterer to use for her next dinner party. She's the sort who thinks herself terribly egalitarian because she is on a first-name basis with the waiters at her favourite restaurant, but would probably trigger her silent-alarm if she saw one of them walking down her street.

The fakes are often so much more convincing than the real thing. It would be fun to remind her that she was once a Western Springs solo-mum on the DPB.

Mrs S emailed me that the funeral was just as Mrs D would have wanted (are funerals ever how the deceased would have wanted, really? I'm sure the ideal funeral would be any but one's own). Apparently, the champagne flowed freely. And then, everyone moved on. Within six months, Mr D was dating a string of interchangeable Russian blondes.

I suppose you can’t expect anyone to miss you when you're gone, if you were never really there in the first place.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Google Searches

Some people do seem to throw random phrases in the great, gaping Google maw. One can only wonder what it was they really wanted to know. One's site-meter displays fascinating, yet puzzling, results.

The person who came to my site via Google, using the search phrase trelise cooper favourite dinner, was no doubt disappointed by the lack of pertinent information. However, by the look of Trelise, I would say she is not a fussy eater.

Why would anyone want to know about toni marsh smoking? Unless she's on fire, I don’t see how that could be remotely interesting.

However, the searches for starving child louis vuitton stencil, and exercise for fatties, leave me speechless. And that I rate so highly in such searches is decidedly unsavoury.

Update: 26th January: Here's another one, for SELF MADE MASTERBATORS. The author's use of capitals denotes some degree of urgency. Ugh.

Of McNaught, I Saw Nought

Everyone has been banging on about the spectacular beauty of Comet McNaught, so I wanted to see it for myself. Apparently hordes of riff-raff were piling up on Auckland’s volcanic peaks with their cameras and telescopes, so last night I decided I would head out to Piha (a west-coast beach thirty-minutes drive from the city centre, for you unpolished, non-Auckland oiks).

Unfortunately, clouds and thick fog rudely rolled in, and I saw nought of McNaught. I took some photos anyway. My camera is completely rubbish (I have sat on it a few times, and now the battery compartment bulges open in a dangerous manner, and my water-bottle leaked all over it in my handbag yesterday), but the photos look quite marvellous anyway, which proves how talented I am.

Despite the lack of comet, things did get mildly exciting. At 8.45pm, we remembered the car-park locked its gates at nine. Unfortunately, sand-dunes tend towards uniformity, and we got quite lost, so there was a mad, undignified scramble over the beach and through people's properties to retrieve the car.

The lights were on at Les Mills' holiday residence. I wish he would clean his windows; I couldn't see in at all. Most disappointing.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Attention, Ladies!

While I am not at all keen on Trelise Cooper's designs, as a self-proclaimed maven of information about all sorts of Auckland stuff, I thought I should let my dear readers know that Ms Cooper is having a sale; nothing over $100.

This week only... Friday is the last day to snaffle up any bargains.

Location: 8 Lion Place, Epsom (just off Khyber Pass)
Hours: 9am - 8pm

While I wouldn't touch the rest of her clothes with a five-kilometre bargepole, I did end up spending almost $300 on lingerie. Silk knickers are marked down from $95, to a paltry $15!

It may pay to bring knee-pads and other protective gear. Some of those Remuera matrons are vicious; I got cornered by a particularly rabid one with a baby-stroller.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Thieving Scoundrel

I bought three pairs of Dior shoes last week – and this morning discovered a pair was missing. The cleaner, no doubt. I had no idea what she would do with them. Her feet are alarmingly large, like big blocks of Polynesian concrete. So I fired her.

Then I checked my receipt; whoopsie! I only bought two pairs. Oh well. I consider the dismissal a pre-emptive strike. Genuine thievery was an eventual certainty. They can't help it. It’s in their genes.

P.S. In case anyone mistakes me for being even more heartless than I actually am, may I point out that I fire my cleaner on a regular basis. She pretends not to speak any English, which gives her the perfect opportunity to ignore dismissals, or directives to dust the skirting boards.

I think she quite enjoys being shouted at.

Benediction, Alphabet Bistro, and La Bocca

I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. There are some truly excellent cafes in Auckland. However, I didn't go to any of them this week.

Benediction, 30 St Benedict's Lane, Newton

Decor: I have heard all sorts of marvellous things about this cafe, so thought it worth trying. However, the standard cafe minimalism, with the usual white walls and polished concrete floors (Zzzzz), did not work in Benediction's favour. The noise-amplifying ability of the masses of concrete, combined with throngs of shrieking people (the place was packed to the gills), did not complement my slightly awful hangover at all. In a sensitive state anyway, the sheer volume of noise meant I could not stay. I decided to try somewhere else.

Alphabet Bistro, 193 Parnell Road, Parnell

Looked very appealing, until John Banks walked in ahead of me. I have a delicate constitution, so left.

By this time, I was half-crazed with hunger, so went to the very next place I saw.

La Bocca, 251 Parnell Road, Parnell

Decor: Italianate cafe style – little wooden tables, banquettes. A welcome respite from concrete and chrome.

View: Parnell Road. Good place to sit and people-watch.

Clientele: None, other than ourselves. On one hand, that means I could say the clientele was the epitomy of style and gentility. On the other hand, I should have taken that as a dire warning sign.

Poached Egg Barometer: ($12.50 – above average price. Most poached egg breakfasts are under $10). The menu said "eggs any style, with bacon." I asked for poached eggs, no bacon. And lo! I got fried eggs, with mother-fucking bacon. My dining companion ordered Eggs Benedict, with salmon. “It tastes sort of... odd,” she said, politely. The hollandaise was alarmingly runny, and did indeed taste odd. It had separated, so assume it was reheated leftovers.

Coffee: A flat white; bitter and overly milky.

Service: Perhaps if the waitress had spent less time flirting with her boyfriend, and more time practising her English, poached eggs wouldn’t turn into fried eggs. When I queried my dish, she looked confused. “Oh no, it says bacon on the menu. It comes with bacon.” I eventually got what I ordered, but they had put garlic butter on the sourdough toast, which was a ghastly thing to do to innocent eggs. At least, I hope it was garlic butter.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Penguins & Pink Houses

I know that summer thus far has been bit of a fizzer, but I don’t think temperatures in Auckland are quite akin to that found in Antarctica.

However, the NZ Herald reports that the police had to rescue a penguin from the harbour-bridge yesterday evening:

But Operations Manager Murray Parker says it took all day to find it. He says when their barrier run was done at three this afternoon the penguin popped its head up. Mr Parker says his staff along with police safely rescued the bird. It appears the penguin walked from the Auckland side, almost to the top of the bridge.

The file picture used is of an Emperor penguin (until now, found only in Antarctica). The Emperor is the world’s largest penguin, and can grow up to 1.2 metres tall. I don’t understand why such a large penguin proved so hard to catch.

Perhaps the Herald doesn’t realize that there is more than one type of penguin. I think it more likely to have been a tiny Blue Penguin, not uncommon in the area.

I am also sad to note that the iconic Pink House on Mission Bay has been repainted in more sober olive hues.

Pink no more

Oh well. Owners Barry and Diane may have done us all a favour. Auckland has a dire shortage of olive and beige-toned houses.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

How One Cigarette Sank a Yacht (trip)

Mr X and his Baltic Bride have been making noises about taking their yacht out; a wee cruise around the Bay of Islands, and then to Majorca later in the year. Thus, I knew it important I become their New Best Friend. I engaged the Bride in conversation; the POGs ignore her with a vengeance, so this met with some success. We even got to the air-kissing stage of friendship! I started planning my Majorca wardrobe, and bought new shoes.

Yet, alas Dear Reader. I ruined it all by smoking. Ah, Dunhills, my favourite food-substitute. The risks bother me not. I throw La Mer night cream in the face of premature aging. If my hands become nicotine-stained, I shall paint them yellow, and say I'm wearing gloves. Yet - due to one small transgression - I now see the evil that cigarettes can do. They took away my yacht trip to Majorca.

We were at Mrs S's house, when Mr X and the Bride showed up. I imbibed just a sufficient amount of wine, that eventually a nicotine top-up seemed an utterly sterling idea. I excused myself, and went outside. Unfortunately, Mr X followed suit.

Now, there was nothing untoward in this. It is true that Mr X has a wandering eye (it's positively nomadic), but I don't flatter myself in his regard. It was unfortunate, because Third Wives are an insanely jealous species, and New Best Friends don’t wander off with the husband. The Bride was not pleased. She rushed after us.

"X! X! We are leaving now! I want to go. You said no smoking. You said we would only be five minutes! We. Are. Leaving. Now! I want to go!"

Mr X hastily stubbed out his cigarette, and galloped for the door. I still got an air-kiss good-bye from the Bride, but there was something decidedly wintery about it. Far too wintery for Majorca.

I haven’t seen them since.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Few Facts About Auckland

As I am sharing with New Zealand what life is like in Auckland, I thought it might be nice to provide a few interesting facts.

There are air-raid shelters under Albert Park, with a capacity for 20,400 people. They were built during WWII, when it was feared we might be bombed by the Japanese. The excavation was done by up to 100 council staff, by hand, without the aid of excavating equipment. It was the last time council staff did any real work. One of the original seven entrances is still visible, at the top of Victoria Street East.

Auckland was founded and thus named by William Hobson, after his patron, Lord Auckland. What a brown-noser.

Here is Governor Hobson's grave, in the Grafton cemetery on Symonds Street. It is covered in moss, and there is a plastic rubbish bag affixed to the railings. It smelled of homeless people's wee-wees. I know New Zealanders aren’t ones much for pomp and ceremony, but that all seems a bit rude.

Lord Auckland never actually set foot here. Can't imagine he would have liked it if he had. Queen Street was one giant lavatory; in the early 1800s, inhabitants would hurl the contents of their chamber-pots into the street. Proper sewerage treatment was not established until 1914.

The Māori name for Auckland is Tamaki-Makau-Rau, which translates roughly as 'Isthmus of A Thousand Lovers.' What a brilliant name. I wish we would drop the 'Auckland,' and adopt this name instead. It would annoy the rest of New Zealand immensely, especially those with horrible names, such as 'To eat worms' (Kaitoke), 'Ugly face' (Matakinokino), 'A meeting of hunchbacks' (Karangahake), 'Pulling the breasts' (Kumeu), 'Lazy' (Mangere), or 'Short-Man Syndrome' (Wellington). I think 'Assembly of Shags' (Kahui-Kawau), would be a good name for the Viaduct.*

*From 'A Dictionary of Māori Place Names,' by A.W. Reed.

I Spy With My Little Eye

Which Auckland millionaire makes up in theatrical flair what he lacks in emotional stability? A suicide note (written – appropriately – on toilet paper), and his prone body next to an empty bottle of sleeping-pills. A quick trip to the hospital, only for his wife to be told he was faking. What a lark.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The City Of Scribbles

Sometimes, you have to be away from something, before you really see it for what it is.

Last year, I escaped the New Zealand winter, and went to London for a couple of months. On my return, coming back from the airport, I was shocked by the proliferation of tagging that littered Auckland. I didn’t remember it being so bad before I left.

As much as I would like to think my absence rendered Auckland’s citizens so distraught they took to the streets in droves with cans of spray-paint, I think it more likely that one just becomes so used to it, it ceases to be noticed.

I notice it now. Everywhere in the inner-city and its nearest suburbs are so covered in graffiti, the city looks like a giant note-pad. The City of Sails has become The City of Scribbles. I am sure that anyone who spends any time in the city will realise I am not exaggerating the problem.

One can’t fathom why the city council thinks removing billboards will make Auckland a more attractive city. Until the tagging problem is somehow addressed, we will continue to look like a third-world war zone. I am doing my bit to help. Most mornings I walk around my block. If there are tags, I return with a can of paint. The immediate removal has meant tagging has (almost) entirely stopped.

However, some clever type in Kingsland has come up with a novel response to the problem. With the aid of a stencil, they have added their own insightful label to a tagger’s scrawls.

Couldn’t say it better myself.

Occam Cafe, Grey Lynn

I go out for breakfast about once a week, and like trying new places. I always have poached eggs, so have used that as my culinary barometer. It’s amazing how many establishments can balls up such a simple dish, so is probably quite accurate.

Occam Café, 135 Williamson Ave, Grey Lynn

Decor: Standard café minimalism; polished concrete floors, walls of indeterminate greyish/white. Zzzzzzzz.

View: Panoramic outlook on Foodtown.

Clientele: All either in their 20s, or 50s. Looked middle-class enough to afford a house in the area, but not quite hip or rich enough for Ponsonby. Busy and lively atmosphere. Obviously a very popular local hang-out, possibly because the only alternative is the rather grim-looking café around the corner, which had a large crowd of tattooed, urbanised ferals hanging around outside.

Poached Egg Barometer: ($8) Eggs come on toasted Turkish pide (pita bread). I am not keen on this. Pita bread is too thin and miserable to match poached eggs and it amazes me how many cafés use this stuff for egg dishes. One would prefer a couple of slices of toast; something robust enough to mop up the yolk. Sourdough or five-grain is as fancy as it needs to get.

Coffee: Good, although when I asked for my flat white to be made with low-fat milk, the server pulled such a dreadful face, I found myself apologetically telling her not to bother. She rolled her eyes in an unattractive fashion, and said, "well, it hardly makes any difference." If I were at all tubby, I’m sure I would have taken that quite personally.

Service: As above, although I was impressed with how quickly everything arrived, given the place was astonishingly busy.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Book (Title Unknown)

Along with the stupid curtains, my father gave me a book. I have no idea of the title or author, as the cover is missing, but appears to date from the 1880s. I suspect the book was purposely written for those who were going ‘to the colonies,’ and needed to know how to do and make anything and everything, in a country that had nothing. It is over 1500 pages long, with chapters on such topics as mechanical engineering, how to care for livestock, book-binding, knitting stockings, and even DIY surgery (worryingly, my father has bookmarked the section on how to make explosives).

It is a wonderfully mysterious book. I wonder who bought it, perhaps with great dreams of starting life anew somewhere distant. Did they read it on a ship bound for New Zealand?

Did shaking hands ever turn to the surgery section, in a time of dire emergency, and attempt the Flap Amputation of the Wrist?

Or perhaps this book had been urgently flung open to the paragraph grimly headed ‘Resuscitation From Apparent Death’? (The author recommends the following as having some success on the Apparently Dead: “pouring water from a height upon the pit of the stomach... the beating of a drum, a sudden scream, and especially music, when it is touchingly and skillfully performed”).

At first, it seems the 1880s was a lovely time to be a woman. Almost every feminine malady was cured by opium, bed-rest, and large glasses of brandy. Champagne is recommended for morning-sickness! Hurrah! Then I read that for inflammation of the labia (page 231), it was thought that if “the clitoris and nymphae [labia]... grow to an inconvenient size, should be partly excised.” Ouch! (How large is ‘an inconvenient size’? Knocking one’s knee-caps? When it is dragging on the ground? I wish the author had been more specific).

Interesting book. Still rather have had the bach, though.



My father 'left' my mother some years ago. They never formally separated or divorced (that would have required them agreeing on something), and I write 'left,' as he really had no choice in the matter. He arrived home one day to find my mother had changed all the locks. He got in his car, drove off to his place in the country, and I haven't seen him since.

That is, until just before Christmas. I rang him. I decided if I can forgive him for being an argumentative and unpleasant arsehole, he should certainly forgive me for taking after him. Driving out to see Father was difficult; I had no idea what to expect. I had to pull over and have a few nervous cigarettes before driving up to the house. What would we talk about? As a child, he was hardly ever around, and when he was, anything he had to say disappeared until the full verbal tide of Mother’s sherry-drenched shores.

I needn't have worried. He was delighted to see me. "Hello, darling!" he roared. "Merry Christmas! Here’s some money for you." He thrust an envelope at me, containing six hundred-dollar bills. We had coffee in the kitchen, the only room that showed any sign of occupancy. It was stuffed with a bizarre assortment of items; the family silver, fishing gear, tomato plants growing in buckets. I perched on a box.

"You just missed your sister. She was here, getting the girls' school fees. They are going to St XXXX, now." I hadn't seen my sister in years either, so was secretly thrilled that she was apparently short on money, but also extremely annoyed that my future inheritance was being squandered on her children. "Things not going so well for dear X?" I asked, feigning concern. "No, she's fine," was the reply. "On holiday at the bach in Paihia. I have these curtains I don't want. You can have them. An early birthday present."

I fumed. My sister gets tens of thousands of dollars for stinking school fees AND the use of the bach, and I get some cunty mother-fucking curtains. Second-hand, bottle-green, cunty curtains. I planned on how best to contest his will, so the school fees and bach could be deducted from her share. I was going to set fire to the curtains the moment I got home. And changing my phone number so the insane old coot couldn't bother me any more.

I chatted tersely for a while, until it was time to leave. "Lovely to see you again," he said, happily. "I think I’ll put you back in my will."


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Why Shopping Is Like Sex

The Tedious Acquaintance wants to meet up "for lunch, and then look around the clothes shops." I shall have to make an excuse, as I can think of few things more tedious than two or more hours of wandering aimlessly, looking at everything, and trying to politely suppress one’s yawns. I can't understand why some women treat it as a hobby.

Then I realised. Shopping, for me, is exactly like sex. And here's why:

  • When time is of the essence, it can be done quicker alone,

  • I don’t want my friends with me when I do it,

  • I know what I like. I don’t need another’s opinion on the matter,

  • Men can’t understand why women take so long, when they can be finished in a matter of minutes,

  • The more money you have, the more you can get.

It’s not a perfect analogy. For example, I don’t particularly like shopping. And when shopping, one always aims for the smallest size one can get to fit.

Feel free to add your own contributions to the theory.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Queen Street

Through necessity, I was forced to go into the city centre yesterday. I generally avoid Queen Street - Auckland’s main thoroughfare - as if it had a suppurating case of the clap.

Firstly, there are the Tourists. Mindless animals who, while possessing the opposable thumbs and dextrous digits required to fill out a passport application form, are too astoundingly dull-witted to realise that their bum-bags (intended to be a secure place to store their money), screams to all "I'M A TOURIST! HERE IS ALL MY MONEY IN ONE EASY TO STEAL PLACE!"

They are just begging to have mind-altering substances slipped into their bottles of water, and wake up somewhere the next morning with bleeding anuses and missing a kidney. My only regret is that is extremely improbable in New Zealand, and the worst that happen to them is that people will mock them mercilessly behind their backs.

Then there are the Asians. The Japanese are acceptable, as they are generally quite attractive and dress well, even if the women do have an unhealthy fixation on Louis Vuitton. The rest of them are filthy animals whose sole contribution to Auckland’s main thoroughfare is leaving large gobs of sputum on the footpaths.

Students are a necessary evil to the city, as there is a University and a Technical College* in the immediate vicinity (*AUT now calls itself a University too, but I refuse to call it that. It teaches cookery and beauty therapy for God’s sake. The day Oxford and Cambridge offer papers in Brow Shaping and Boiling Eggs, is the day I will admit defeat, and call AUT a university).

Students are all very scruffy, and it is hard to tell which ones are male, and which female. I do quite like the Goths, though. Everyone looks good in black, and they look suitably depressed, as I too would be if surrounded by bum-bags, spitting Asians, and polar-fleece everyday.

Monday, January 08, 2007


We are all quite bored.

The delightful excesses of the Christmas season are over, and it’s back to business as usual. Mrs L and Mrs S have both decided it might be fun to have some foreign students live with them. They imagine they both will be frightfully ‘Dead Poets Society,’ and meld young minds into a new world order, or some such tosh.

A Tedious Acquaintance who has always been frightfully earnest, has made me her New Year project, and decided I should do some charity work. Despite my protestations, she has added my number to the Breast Cancer Awareness database, and I am getting regular calls asking if I would like to donate my time to help them. I would not. I do not suit pink at all.

Nonetheless, what should I do this year?

Charity work is boring and pointless; I have seen starving African orphans on television my entire life and don’t care anymore (if I ever did), and don’t want foreign students cluttering up my house. I idly thought of having a baby, or maybe getting a dog, but Mr Smith isn’t keen on either (actually, I think he was more keen on the dog idea).

I am now thinking of doing an arty evening class, or a paper at university. I’m leaning more towards the university idea. It sounds like it could be fun.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Much Ado About Nothing

or Thank-You Daddy, For Teaching Me How To Throw A Punch

My God. It was a four-hour drive! I would never have gone, if I had known how long it would take to drive there. Imagine having a holiday house, so far away from Auckland, and no helicopter pad! Fools. Nonetheless, a magnificent location.

Nice, but needs a chopper pad

By the time I arrived, they had already sent the most sober to get more alcohol (an hour to a decent liquor outlet! An hour! Again, why no helicopter?). By Mrs L’s reckoning, they are spending about four hundred dollars a day on booze, which is quite a modest amount, until one realises that they have been there for almost two weeks. My liver is frightfully impressed.

I had fun, I suppose. It was the type of mildly-enjoyable fiasco that was inevitable when a group of JAFAs are trapped in a small house, with nothing to do but drink.

I remember now why I usually refuse Mrs L’s invitations to her bach parties. The place is infested with grabby-handed King’s Old Boys. They have all left their wives, or claim to be in the process of doing so, and think a few bottles of Pol Roger is an opportunity for a quick roll in the sand dunes.

My father, a belligerent misogynist, had always hoped for boys, but instead got stuck with two girls (yes, I have a sister. Ugh. More about her another time, perhaps). Still, he decided to make the best of a bad deal, and taught us both how to ride horses, fire a gun, and how to throw a punch. Truly useful skills, and at least things I proved to be fairly good at, unlike the execrable tennis lessons my mother forced me to take.

Thus, late Thursday night, Mr G attempted the simultaneous tongue-in-the-mouth, hand-down-the-knickers manoeuvre; once I had wriggled loose, he received a swift right hook. What a fine black eye he sports! Magnificent colours, quite my best work. Of course, he was so drunk, he doesn’t remember a thing, and thinks he gained the injury falling down the stairs. One wonders if he also blames the stairs for his bruised nuts. Ha ha. Serves him right. Stupid bastard drives a BMW.

Anyway. Came home early. There is only so much of nature one can tolerate.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

House Party

The message on my answering-machine was from Mrs L, and was typically brief, and to the point.
"Help!" she bellowed, "you'll never believe what has happened. You must come at once!"
I heard what I thought were screams in the background, and then the line went dead. I rang back straight away, fearing the worst.

"We’re at the beach," she shrieked, "and we’ve almost run out of booze."
"Dear God, Mrs L," I said, relieved, and more than a bit annoyed, "I thought something really terrible must have happened."
"Something terrible has. They only sell the most appalling shit up here, and charge an arm and a leg for it. Please come and rescue us."

She then detailed a lengthy shopping list of wine.

I immediately rushed off to Ergoline, my sun-tanning clinic, for a quick 'top-up,' yet despite having an 'open' sign outside, it was closed. I rattled the door plaintively, but to no avail. So I shall have to go to the beach today, in entirely less than ideal form.

The rescue mission is actually quite well-timed. My cleaner, despite my pleas for mercy, set her hairy jaw in a determined fashion, and managed to communicate that she was having a week off. At first, I decided to be very heroic about it and brave it out, but I can’t stand it any longer. The house is a mess.

Thus I am leaving for sandier shores, and shan’t return until Monday afternoon (the cleaner comes in the morning).

Not sure if Mrs L has internet access at the beach. Will check in with an update if possible.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The New American Cook Book

I freely admit I am a dreadful cook, and thus avoid the kitchen as much as possible. Occasionally I forget how bad I am, and attempt to make something. Yesterday, I tried the wasabi aioli recipe in the latest 'NZ House and Garden' magazine, and rather wished I hadn't. I now know to 'pulse' in the blender 'until combined' is not the same as whizzing at top speed for five minutes.

However, despite my culinary short-comings, I love collecting and reading vintage cook books. They prove to be a whimsical and entertaining window into the past.

For example, my 'Lily Wallace New American Cook Book' (1953), has a recipe for 'Planked Swordfish.' The instructions begin, naturally, with a plank;

Take a piece of well-seasoned oak, 24 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 3 inches thick, grooved around the edge... Put this in a cold oven, gradually pre-heating plank and oven to 450° to 500° F.

When roasting a pig, one is directed to 'Put cranberries in eye-sockets.' I’m not sure why one would do this. Perhaps they mean the pig’s eye sockets.

Instructions for cooking possum commence grimly with;

Plunge animal into very hot but not boiling water 2 minutes. ...Slit belly from throat to hind legs. Remove entrails, feet, eyes, and brains. Do not remove head or tail.

One must volunteer a 'big ups' to our female forbears. Reading this book, it appears housewives of the past were a canny combination of genteel Emily Post and Hannibal 'The Cannibal' Lecter.

There is advice on mixing cocktails, and proper attire for servants, alongside recipes for brain croquettes, and fried feet with tomato sauce. They boiled turtles, broiled squabs (I thought squabs were those cushion-things one sits on? I’m fairly certain they're not edible), and turned squirrels into pot pie (Take "3 grey or fox squirrels...").

Housewives of the past. I salute you.

A Day At The Races

New Year’s Day at the Ellerslie races. A lovely day out, except for a thumping hangover, and that every horse I bet on romped gaily past the finishing post, five minutes after the winners. However, I do have a few words of advice for the attending fashionistas:

  • Fascinators were fascinating two years ago. They can no longer be considered a viable substitute for a hat, and should now be called what they really are: novelty hair-clips.

  • Trelise Cooper. She designs clothes for over-weight, middle-aged women. If you are not an over-weight, middle-aged woman, you will soon look like one in a Trelise outfit. This effect, combined with Ms Cooper’s trademark frills, bows, and garish colour combinations, is guaranteed to make one look like an animated carnival tent. Avoid at all costs.

  • Gentlemen; quality speaks for itself. Obvious logos are like tampons; for women only.

Happy New Year!