Tuesday, February 27, 2007


The Spare Room has a news-clip about the managing editor of Forbes magazine who decided to go without technology for an entire week (‘without technology’ is actually not as stringent as it sounds; he just had to do without his cell-phone, Blackberry, and email). The editor was reduced to tears within forty hours, and begged for cell-phone mercy. Lacking the desire and the necessity to be constantly contactable, I was wholly unsympathetic.

However, I suffered my own brand of deprivation today. I did not resort to unabashed sobbing, but possibly this was only because I was rendered incapable of any vaguely human response.

I usually start my mornings in a veritable frenzy of stimulants. A pot of (very strong) coffee, an unmentionable number of cigarettes, and a Slimfast© tablet (with vitamin BZP) with breakfast. By 8am, I am fully functioning.

This morning I had to leave the house early - having had only half a cup of coffee, and no cigarettes. I felt utterly disassociated, as if my body was being controlled by a slightly inept puppet-master. I hoped it appeared I was walking and talking normally. It didn’t feel as if I was. Three large cups of coffee later, I felt like I was half-way to normalcy. I chain-smoked an equal number of ciggies, and the puppet-master had things running smoothly again.

I don’t know whether this is appalling, or not. I suspect it is.


Café Byzantium, Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby

Decor: Well! Byzantium could not be accused of minimalism. They have gone rather the opposite way. If one goes, do sit upstairs. The gallery of fake masterpieces, while initially alarming, is bound to keep one entertained. And they are for sale! If anyone wants their own, larger-than-life version of the Mona Lisa, or van Gogh's sunflowers, this is the place to go.

View: The café is up the unfashionable end of Ponsonby Road, but the view over Western Park is pleasant. It is also nice watching the worker-drones stuck in traffic while one reads the paper in a leisurely manner.

Clientele: Relaxed crowd of locals. I have been to Byzantium before, some time ago, and saw New Zealand’s foodie queen, Peta Matthias, dining there, which may be high praise indeed. Although, I don’t know if she ever returned, so perhaps not.

Poached Egg Barometer: (Whoops - I have forgotten the price. It was around $8, anyway). Mr Smith was under-whelmed with his blueberry pancakes, but to hell with him, I had the best damn eggs ever. Lovely big door-stopper slices of brown bread, and (most thoughtfully) the butter is presented on the side, for those who wish to abstain.

Coffee: Perfectly reasonable flat white.

Service: The staff seem perfectly lovely, if a tad depressed. It took quite a while to be acknowledged as we stood at the counter.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I was meeting a friend. As usual, she was late. Oh, how I despise people who are habitually late. I am sure everyone knows someone like this. Occasional lateness cannot be avoided; but when someone gets to the point where they consider themselves early if they are only twenty minutes behind schedule… well I don’t know, really. But it’s bloody annoying.

Especially when one’s solitary state leaves one as prey to Boring Acquaintances. His friend was late too, so he pounced on me immediately.

I was really hanging out for some Lanson, but couldn’t bear the thought of despoiling perfectly innocent money on him, so ordered some Deutz. He looked immeasurably smug. "Here, let me take care of this," he said, ordering the second-most expensive bottle in a very loud voice, and handing over his gold Visa with a flourish (I gasped, slightly. A gold Visa. How could he think I would be impressed with a gold Visa. For the love of sweet Jesus, even my fucking plumber has a gold Visa). "I really can’t drink red wine during the day," I protested, "it makes me go to sleep."

"Nonsense," he said, "You’ll love this."

The waitress bought the wine to the table, and poured a tasting glass. He furiously swirled the wine in his glass like he was trying to centrifuge it. Crickets chirped. The waitress started to age before my eyes. Several species evolved into new life forms. He slurped some of the wine, and continued the centrifugal process in his mouth. If the wine wasn't a vintage when he ordered the wine, it surely would be by now.

He spent many long minutes waxing poetical about the "rough reds" he had sampled in Italy; the philosophies of different grape varieties. "I really have little interest in wine," I said, "so long as it numbs the pain that is life, I really don't care what it is." He laughed uproariously, despite the fact that I wasn't joking, then continued, undaunted, with a sermon on Merlot.

My friend arrived, and Mr Boring Acquaintance thankfully drifted away, in search of a more appreciative audience. Ms Late (currently single) asked what the Acquaintance was like.

I poured her a glass. "The bottle looks good, but the wine has definitely corked."
We laughed.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


As a woman, I am expected to take infinite interest in people’s children, and I have learned to fake this interest very well. Although, I do admit, some babies are genuinely very sweet, until the moment horrid substances and noises start coming out of either end.

Anyway, the screen-printed t-shirts and accessories on the Babylicious website are so appealing, they would probably distract one from the pooh and the screaming.

Some of the t-shirts are not only cute, but are also instructional.

Nouvelle Vague

I like this album. It is an album of punk songs, performed in a light-weight, jazzy style. I admit that I am wholly ignorant of the original versions of almost every song on the album, which probably means I have missed out on some terribly intellectual irony of reinterpreting punk in this style, but I don’t care.

However, the tunes are dangerously catchy. I caught myself singing (under my breath), "Too Drunk to Fuck," while rifling through the sales-racks at Smith and Caugheys on Monday. The chorus is unambiguous; no more than several repetitions of the title. A fellow customer shot me an odd look, but didn’t say anything. It really is my favourite song du jour. Mr Smith is relieved. I think he had tired of my 'Forever In Blue Jeans' (Neil Diamond) phase.

Thankfully, the rudeness of the aforementioned song is what has probably saved this album from being on high rotate in every café in the country. Mummies don’t want their little treasures ears being assailed by such filth while sipping their fluffies.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Aotea Square

I went into Queen Street today, to go the the Smith and Caughey sale (great deals on lingerie, ladies!). I noticed a field of sunflowers planted in Aotea Square.

I think it rather nice, even if not everyone approves. Sunflowers are better than the less aesthetically-pleasing homeless people.

For starters, sunflowers don't smell of wee.

Cafe Melba

Café Melba, 33 Vulcan Lane, Auckland City

Decor: Polished-wood floors, muted tones, tasteful art-work. By no means exciting, but they have thankfully avoided the minimalist aesthetic that sends one into a boredom-induced coma.

View: The café is up the quiet end of Vulcan Lane, so a nice place to hide out from the city noise.

Clientele: I wondered at first if I had stumbled into some Secret Service hangout. Of course one spies on one’s fellow diners (well, I do), but a mother-daughter team at an opposite table watched me with open-mouthed interest. I assure you, I do not eat eggs in a particularly flamboyant manner, but apparently I was fascinating, nonetheless. The man at the next table also eavesdropped on my conversation in an entirely unsubtle manner. Perhaps I should give lessons on these things.

Poached Egg Barometer: ($8) The five-grain toast was a nice touch, but rather soggy.

Coffee: Lovely latte.

Service: The best service ever. The breakfast menu had finished, and poached eggs on toast were not on the lunch menu. "No problem at all," the waiter said. How unusual. I know I wasn't asking for Lobster Bisque, but staff do tend to pull monkey faces if you ask for anything not on the current menu. Coffee and food arrived with frightening efficiency. Water glasses regularly topped up. Staff friendly and professional. The tip jar that is placed on café counters, usually meets with my complete disdain, and I have never deigned to put any money into one. I did this time.

Friday, February 16, 2007


I do so hate it when people go to great effort to make ordinary sorts of things 'European.' While I am sure they think they sound terribly sophisticated, I think it makes them seem tragically middle-class. For example, one of my friends pronounces 'croissant,' in a terribly affected, French way - 'Kwa-saw.' It sounds alarming, like she is coughing, rather than ordering a pastry.

I called into Pandoro. I saw a courgette muffin.
"I'll have one of those, thank-you. A courgette muffin."
"Zucchini," she corrected.
"Courgette," I said.
"We're an Italian bakery," she retorted, "so it's zucchini."

I wanted to say that Pandoro is not an Italian bakery. It is a suburban bread-shop overlooking a Foodtown car-park. I wanted to add that in my experience, bakeries in Italy do not usually stock mince pies.

I discussed this later with a friend. A snob is someone who thinks they are better than other people (which I do, because I am), so we decided that as I look down on other snobs, this must make me the Ultimate Snob. A Snob-Snob.

One Tree Hill

Driving past One Tree Hill the other evening, I realised I hadn't been up there in years, not since the tree had been removed. So I made a wee detour.

I had forgotten how beautiful the view was.

I Spy With My Little Eye

With her partner’s connections to the movie industry, The Widow could play the starring role in "Basic Instinct: The Twilight Years." Although, surely she is old enough to know better than to leave the house, sans undergarments. Has the horrifying sight of Britney’s drooping lady-flower taught women nothing?

Like those primates that present an engorged bottom to prospective mates, The Widow hoisted up her skirt, spread her legs, and knocked back a glass of red wine. The poor man this action was directed at, had a coughing fit, and headed for the nearest door. "I’ll never be able to eat a mussel again," he wailed afterwards.

Far more horrifying, however, was the sight of a certain socially-ambitious couple slipping their phone number to Gilda Kirkpatrick, with the invitation to "Give us a call sometime. We’d love to catch up." Perhaps Gilda would, if she had any bloody idea who they were.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I saw Wayne Anderson AGAIN, walking along Ponsonby Road. Unfortunately, I was in the car, running errands, so my curiosity about the day-to-day activity of New Zealand's number one Tom Jones impersonator could not be indulged.

But next time, I'm following him.
Too much spare time can be a dangerous thing.


Mr Smith and I had only been going out for a month, when Valentine's Day rolled around. As he should have, he sent me an obscenely large swag of red roses. The delivery man could not be seen behind the bouquet; it looked as if the roses had sprouted legs. Getting them though the door involved some careful manoeuvring, and ultimately, some shoving.

I was awfully happy; my friends were all hushed into jealous-stricken silence at the sight of the extravagance, which, as far as I can tell, is precisely the whole point to Valentine's Day.

The following year, I told him not to bother, as the occasion is an American vulgarism that really should not be encouraged.

Last February, hapless Mr P, incorrigibly single, announced he was 'seeing someone.'

"Valentine's Day is only a week away," I warned him, gravely. "I do hope you have the flowers already ordered. Florists will laugh in your face if you leave it any longer."
He looked stunned.
"Well, no. Valentine's Day is just, you know, commercialised nonsense."
I gasped.
"Oh, come on, Mrs Smith!" he said, "You say the same thing yourself."
"Well, of course I do. And it is. But for at least the first Valentine's Day with someone, you have to front up with goods. If you don't, you look like a cheap, clueless bastard."

He shook his head. He is a cheap, clueless bastard, but of course, this is exactly the kind of thing one tries to hide from one's dates. He is not good at this kind of subterfuge, which is precisely why he is permanently single.

"It doesn’t have to be flowers, but if you don't give her something that will make her friends eyes pop out with envy, the relationship will be over within a fortnight," I said.

He didn't. And it was.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Friday Night

We parked the car, and walked towards the Viaduct. There is a point (just having crossed at the lights), where nothing of the riotous activity of the Viaduct can be seen or heard (from Quay Street you would hardly know it was there), until one turns the corner. Then one is confronted with the sheer mass of people; and the roar of the crowd on a busy Friday night is like a football match. There was a small group of girls walking ahead of us, and we caught up with them just as they reached this corner.

They stopped dead in their tracks, and surveyed the thronging bars and restaurants in silence.
"Oh God," said one. "Everyone will be able to tell we’re not Aucklanders by the way we're dressed."
They stood, unmoving, in glum silence.

I gave them a quick once over. They looked fine. Not remarkable, but they weren’t wearing gumboots or polar-fleece, or clothing smeared with sheep-pooh. Nothing that would excite the crowd to point and stare, or shout, "Huzzah! Non-Aucklanders! Let's throw them into the harbour!"

It makes me wonder how many New Zealanders are unnecessarily intimidated by Auckland. And why.
We haven’t thrown anyone into the harbour for simply ages.

I am a Man. Apparently.

Golly. Emails from readers are flying in thick and fast (emphasis on thick). Two in one week! But, alas, far from the offerings of lavish gifts one might have hoped for, I have been told off (I think), and now, my very existence is considered to be of questionable veracity.

Dear Mrs Smith
I enjoy your blog. But please rescue me from sleepless nights. You are surely, an undernourished male, living in Gore?

Dear Deborah,

Am I really a man from Gore? Gore! As if!
That you consider my really, very unremarkable life to be a work of fiction, is extremely flattering to me, but unfortunately demonstrates the paucity of your own existence.

Bugger off,

Mrs Smith

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Skinny (The Sequel)

Or Fat Is a Feminist Fashion Issue

Has anyone read the book, 'Fat Is a Feminist Issue'? I haven't. It sounds awfully dull. And having only read the title, I can already say it is wrong.

An article in the NY Times suggests thin cat-walk models have set a dangerous precedent for women.

"In 1986, the standard size was 4 to 6," Ivan Bart, the creative director of IMG models and arguably the most powerful agent in the business, said on Sunday at the Diane Von Furstenberg show, referring to standard sample sizes. "Then it was a solid 4. Then 2 to 4. Then zero."

How confusing. The news is riddled with tales of gloom about how obesity is on the rise. So how can the population be getting simultaneously fatter and thinner?

I have a theory, and it has nothing to do with super-models or patriarchal domination. Just like handbags or cars, weight is a status-symbol.

A status-symbol is only effective if the majority do not currently possess it. A 'tipping point,' however, arises when the majority achieve this symbol (or a 'knock-off' version of the item). At that point, the Fashionable Set perform an about-turn, and do the complete opposite.

For example;

Not (Too Common-Place)
4-wheel drive vehicles
Stainless-steel kitchen appliances
Tiny handbag-dogs
The 'Brazilian' (no muff)
Getting fatter

Hot (The Complete Opposite)
Vintage cars
White kitchen appliances
Irish wolfhounds
The 'Shag-Pile' (rampant muff-rug)
Getting thinner

Thus, models are getting thinner because everyone else is getting fatter. And this time next year, Auckland will be over-run with pubic hair, and feral packs of unwanted Chihuahuas. God help us all.

Auckland Buildings

Remarkably, there are still some nice buildings in Auckland that Sally Ridge hasn't demolished. Yet.

AEPB building, Corner Vercoe and Lincoln Streets, Ponsonby

I do so like the architecture of these old Electric Power Board structures. A utility building, stuffed with transformers, yet with sufficient Art Deco embellishment to be interesting.

D72 building, Dominion Road, Mt Eden

The D72 building looks like a giant, metal basket. Why can't more buildings in the inner-city look like this? I think it rather wasted in the scrappy hinterlands of Mt Eden.


After yesterday's post, I received a tersely worded email admonishing me for encouraging eating disorders. At least, I think I was being admonished. It was rather hard to tell, as the author's meaning was buried under a veritable avalanche of capital letters, phonetic spelling, and a complete disregard for full-stops. That someone so profoundly dull-witted and illiterate appears to be a regular reader of my lovely blog, was quite off-putting. I had hoped to attract a much better class of opponent.

I am not infallible. One of my most appealing traits is a capacity to acknowledge I might sometimes be wrong (although, thankfully, I never am), so I read my post carefully. I do not see how it could be construed as encouraging eating-disorders. To think otherwise is pure silliness.

Nonetheless, dear readers have left some interesting comments (except for the one by Cactus Kate which was unsurprisingly rude. Only she could swing the topic of anorexia to oral sex in a single sentence).

As I never tire of my own opinions on everything, I shall share my theory on eating disorders. As soon as I think of one.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


By the age of ten, I was already well-versed in various blow-job techniques.

My sister (somewhat older than I), had a stack of Cosmopolitan magazines in her room, and when she went out, I would spend furtive hours studying the articles on How To Please a Man. I believe every quizzical child should be made to read these things; the sealed sections (with graphic, colour photos of disease-ridden genitalia), guaranteed my virginity for many years.

Cosmopolitan also provided diet advice. I remember these diets, because my sister followed the Cosmopolitan regimen with a fervour that she failed to apply to any other aspect of her life. Breakfast was half a grapefruit, a slice of dry toast, and a cup of black coffee. Carrot sticks, or an apple for a snack. Lunch was half a cup of cottage-cheese and some grilled chicken; dinner a green salad (no dressing).

After her second child, my sister efficiently by-passed the effort entailed in chopping carrot sticks, and gave up eating almost entirely. A bottle of the purgative Ipecac in her bathroom cupboard, (purportedly there in case her children 'swallowed anything poisonous') was emptied and replaced with a regularity that indicated either her children were especially careless, or that she had discovered that one could actually have one’s cake and eat it too. As long as it was followed by a bout of vomiting.

My sister is far from unique. I used to know a staunchly feminist art-curator, who would disappear to the toilet after any meal, and return with watery-red eyes (she really needed to buy eye-drops, like everyone else); a top Auckland lawyer who actually lost weight during her pregnancy; the model who would proudly crow "I can eat whatever I want," when apparently whatever she wanted was prescription appetite suppressants, and celery.

The female members of my social group, can move food around their plates with such dexterity it actually looks like they are eating. It is an illusion of which David Copperfield would be proud. Mrs S's husband told her that the marriage is contingent on her maintaining her weight. She fears divorce proceedings are only ever a couple of kilograms away.

I suppose I am expected to add something sage and empowering now. Write how we women should all eat whatever we want, accept ourselves for what we are, and be happy.

It would be an elegant way to end this, but it would also be utter bull-shit.

The End.

Friday, February 02, 2007


I am not especially fond of children; they are far too unpredictable to be likeable. They have bowels and bladders that seem to spring leaks at surprising moments, gabble incoherent nonsense (which, as a woman, one is meant to find infinitely fascinating), and have the ability to suck the room dry of any intelligent adult conversation by their mere presence. (Having re-read that sentence, one realises how many elderly Rich-Listers share the same attributes.)

Another annoying attribute of children, is their parents. Middle-class ones, anyway. The lower and upper-classes seem to share a similar disinterest in their off-spring (although with varying degrees of competency), but the middle-classes tend to think the over-indulged fruit of their loins are a precious gift to be shared with all.

They are taken everywhere the parents go, even the best restaurants, where everyone is meant to be quite impressed with "how adult and well-mannered" they are, something the parents themselves have failed to achieve.

A slack-jawed child of indeterminate gender sits at the table. Mr Gormless (I have no idea who he is), is shovelling small pieces of food into its mouth.

"Since she was a baby, we have introduced her to a great variety of food. This is goat’s cheese. She loves it."

Mr G popped another morsel in her mouth. The child gummed it, unblinkingly, and swallowed. She reminds me of the mechanical clowns at the Easter Show, whose heads swivel as ping-pong balls are thrown down their fibre-glass throats. She demonstrates the same gastronomical delight.

"She's quite a connoisseur. She’ll try anything."
I am tempted to see if that statement is true. I have a lip-stick in my bag I don’t particularly like.
"Most children don’t like olives. She does."
He popped an olive in her mouth.
"Yuck," she said loudly and distinctly, and the olive rolled out of the infant's maw, trailing a long line of dribble. Mr G went red. I covered my laughter with a discreet coughing fit.

Another parent at the table is describing the secret to their parental success.
"We treat T just like an adult. We don't believe in talking to him like a child. Research shows that 'baby-talk' stunts their intellectual development."
"T," I said, "What is your opinion on the efficacy of the Kyoto Protocol in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?"
T violently shook his entire body, knocking cutlery to the floor.
"Interesting. How about stem-cell research? Yes or no."

The parent shot me a look of utter revulsion, and I went back to eavesdropping on the neighbouring table.

I Spy With My Little Eye

Announcement: The Rich List Lonely Hearts Club is meeting at HQ, Beaumont Street, every Thursday night. This weeks discussion question: Do blondes really have more fun? And if so, how do we stop them? BYO tissues.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I am feeling obliged to write something, but can think of nothing.

I saw a balloon fly overhead yesterday, floating gaily ever upwards, but low enough that I could see it was bright, cherry-red on one side, silver on the other. I watched as it went higher and higher, eventually becoming a black speck which disappeared into the clouds.

I want to be that balloon. Somewhere, a child was no doubt crying, but the balloon looked exuberant as it headed out towards open ocean.

Wouldn't it be nice to be that free? But our human frailties betray us; eventually we need sleep, water, food, company… Given a certain amount of time, there is always something we have to do. Somewhere we have to be. There is no freedom.

I need a drink.