It’s funny the things your parents teach you, that you can never quite shake off.
Mother was a chain-smoker, although few outside her nearest-and-dearest Circle of Hell would have known this. She never smoked in public, so lengthy shopping trips were constantly punctuated by a quick succession of cigarettes in the car. Mother always said, "smoking in the street is common." Of course, this was back in the glorious days when people could smoke wherever and whenever they wanted (I am sure I have a dim memory of our family doctor lighting up while writing out a prescription), so smoking 'in the street' must have seemed quite unnecessary.
Now the street is the only public place one can indulge one’s vice, so every time I stand outside a bar and set flame to Dunhill, I can feel Mother’s acidic disapproval burning away at my wanton vulgarity.
It’s actually quite a good feeling.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
It’s funny the things your parents teach you, that you can never quite shake off.
What a lazy arsehole! Defecating at the point of orgasm could be seen by some as demonstrating immense enthusiasm, but it does rather ruin the sheets. She has to go to a physiotherapist to get therapy for her enfeebled anus, but from what one has heard, the last thing it needs is more exercise. What do they teach those King's boys?
Labels: I Spy
Saturday, April 28, 2007
I caught a cold on the flight back to New Zealand. I am certain the germs must have wafted over from the economy section, as it is a wretched, poor-person’s type cold. My dulcet tones have been reduced to a timorous squeak by a saw-like cough, which is thoughtfully accessorised by the unimaginable horrors produced by my nostrils. I have also acquired the tendency to fall asleep at precisely 8.30pm, no matter what I am doing. All in all, rather a damper has been placed on my social life.
My loss, your gain. I have had plenty of time to read the May issue of (English) Vogue, so I can report what the fashion trends will be for the next NZ summer.
Hippy/Bohemian, Gladiator themes; The mini persists (God help us all. Too few people realise that just because one can, that doesn’t mean one should). Fashionable colours: Apple-green, Raspberry, Acid-yellow.
Dresses are in, but only the tragically déclassé will actually wear them. The truly fashionable will just clutch them to their ribcages.
Smiling is out; it is now much more chic to look like one is suffering chronic back pain, or straining to pass a bowel motion.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do have my favourites, which I consider utterly unmissable.
Lost (I love this show, and have sordid fantasies about all of the male characters. Except Hurley).
What Not To Wear (Watching this serves two purposes; I get to feel smug knowing that I already do everything just right already, and it proves that there is no excuse for looking crap. Trinny and Susannah make everyone look great, even the really old and fat ones).
My latest favourite is:
Style Me With Rachel Hunter (Living Channel, 9.30pm, Sunday).
I discovered the majestic glory of this programme just the other night. The premise is that a bunch of wanna-be stylists face a series of challenges, coming up with outfits for New Zealand’s own Rachel Hunter. La Hunter is not exactly a fashion icon; going by her usual sartorial selections, a more appropriate title for this show could have been, 'For The Love Of Sweet Jesus, Please Style Me Before The Fashion Police Beat Me To A Bloodied Pulp,' but I suppose it would take up too many lines in the TV Guide.
The premiere episode had the stylists running around a NY flea-market with $75, buying accessories for La Hunter to wear to a nightclub. A dismal array of cheap and nasty outfits were assembled, which seemed apt. But no. La Hunter scowled and glared at the contestants in an unsightly way, although one has to admire her great posture. In the thrilling conclusion, one contestant was eliminated because he stopped to buy himself a snow-cone.
Labels: Things I Like
Monday, April 23, 2007
She had a tub of La Mer cream sitting on the side of the basin. That the tub was not in her en-suite (which would have made sense), but in one of the main bathrooms, could have meant that it was there to impress. However, as the little spatula was there as well, I naturally took it as an open invitation to liberally apply it.
(Note To Readers: If you also wish to try your hostess’s La Mer, it would pay to do so when she is not going to be around. It has a distinctive perfume, which will instantly give away what one has done. Interesting that I only appear to feel guilt about my actions, when there is a chance of being caught out).
Some items are worth the expense – cheap lipsticks wear off in moments, a decent foundation a must. Nailpolish is variable; I have found that Chanel nailpolish chips as quickly as the modestly priced Revlon range (but Orly is good). With cosmetics, the results are immediate, and evaluating that a $60 lipstick is infinitely better than a $20 one takes no more experimentation than a single application.
However, having read Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me , by Paula Begoun, a few years ago, I am deeply suspicious of high-end beauty products. Is there any real difference between a $20 moisturiser, and one five times the price? It’s a dilemma.
The main purpose of moisturisers is to fend off the signs of aging, which is a long term process, thus one never really knows if the product is doing its job. If one reaches one’s twilight years (which, in beauty terms, is forty), riddled with wrinkles, one wouldn’t know whether to blame the product, one’s genes, or one’s misspent youth. I fear the ravages of all three, so tend to err on the side of caution, and buy Clarins and Dr Hauschka; brands cheap enough that one doesn’t feel like one is buying into a manipulative beauty myth, but with good reputations, so that one hopes they actually work.
However, $400 for 60 mls of La Mer cream? It claims to possess Miracle Broth, which sounds like an appalling load of cock. I couldn’t believe that it is that good. Surely, the price is designed to cover the putrid stench of desperation, turning fear of aging into a status symbol.
And then I tried it.
It was fabulously thick; the adjective ‘creamy’ is insufficient. My skin, which I always thought (thanks to rigorous care), rather good, was glowing with a previously unimagined splendour. I would say it was now softer than a baby’s bottom, but I have never touched a baby’s bottom, so wouldn’t know.
Filling in time at Heathrow, I commenced the mandatory duty-free shopping. I spotted a La Mer stand.
"Mr Smith," I said, "I would like to buy some face cream."
"Of course," he replied, obligingly. I pointed to a large vat of the splendorous baby-bottom formula. However, at the sight of the price (£2,700), his eyes bulged in an unhealthy fashion, so I quickly changed the subject, and bought a Lulu Guinness umbrella, and some YSL lipsticks instead.
What a meanie. Just as well Smith & Caughey’s stocks La Mer.
Addendum: I have discovered that Paula Begoun has her own website, Cosmetics Cop. Of this product, she writes, "It turns out that Creme de la Mer was, and still is, almost exclusively water, thickening agents, and some algae." Ms Begoun refers to the cream as possessing a "...range of hocus-pocus ingredients." So, put your credit cards away, ladies. It sounds like you could get the same thing for $10 from the supermarket.
Labels: Things I Like
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Am staying with Mr Smith's relatives at the moment. They will not stop talking.
My font of small-talk hath runneth dry.
Am fashioning a rope made from bedsheets, and will attempt to make a run for the Belgium border tonight.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Despite the many cultural differences I have experienced, it is interesting to note that Dutch hangovers and New Zealand ones are almost indistinguishable.
Everyone hates looking at other people's travel photos - go on, admit it. It's boring. But this is my blog, so I don't care what you think.
Our hotel is situated right on the river, and this is the view I enjoy as I have an early morning ciggie.
After I took the photo below, two tiny old men came out of the shop, looked at the sign, then back at me with looks of outright astonishment. I have no idea why.
I had a coffee at this cafe. I am sure knowing this will thrill many readers so much, that they will wet themselves with excitement.
That I found this sign at all funny, is quite pathetic, I know.
I do not wish to sound horridly ungrateful (thanks to the glossary at the back of your book, I discovered that the refreshing-looking drink I was about to buy, was actually a can of olive oil), however, I really think it time you updated your Dutch phrase book. Something more relevant to the post-industrial revolution would be most helpful.
For example, I don’t really think that being able to ask "Waar is de dichtstbijzijnde de ijzerhandel?" (Where is the nearest ironmonger's?) would be terribly useful to the average tourist, nor the phrase "Ik wil graag een vulpotlood kopen?" (I'd like to buy a mechanical pencil). How many people come to Holland, and suddenly find themselves in urgent need of any pencil, much less a mechanical one? Equally redundant, I think, are the phrases for obtaining furriers, wigs, kerosene, and discotheques.
While you are updating your phrase-book, you may wish to have another look at the phonetic English versions of the Dutch phrases. I have pronounced the words exactly as prescribed, yet the natives, far from looking impressed at my ability to ask for ironmongers and mechanical pencils, instead look bewildered.
Thanks for nothing, you bastards.
A Disgruntled Customer
You know that feeling you get when you are out somewhere, you feel well-dressed and attractive, and then you see someone so well-groomed, and so seemingly effortlessly put-together, that you feel positively shabby by comparison? Suddenly your nice clothes seem cheap and ill-fitting, and a quick glance in a shop-window makes you realise your mascara has smudged, and your knickers have created an unattractive arse version of the double-chin? You hate that woman a little, but you hate yourself a little more.
My sincere apologies, ladies, I don’t mean to make you feel that way. But really. Some of you could try a little harder.
Women do dress to impress other women, it’s quite true. If women dressed to impress men, Karen Walker would be out of a job, and the shops would sell nothing but mini-skirts and see-through blouses. I have seen women look at me, then half-heartedly straighten their clothes and their posture. Some small part of me feels a bit sorry for them, but mostly I feel a satisfying sense of power. Ha ha.
However, I am sure you’ll be pleased to know I got a taste of my own bitter medicine today.
Early this morning, I caught a train to Rotterdam. It was cold, so I wore wintery layers – jersey, coat, scarf, gloves. The day warmed substantially, and my poor map-reading skills meant I inadvertently wandered the entire length and breadth of the city (I circled the train station twice before I eventually found it), so I was feeling very hot and fatigued by the time I got back to the hotel. I got into the lift at the same time as another guest. She was tall, naturally gazelle-thin, and was wearing jeans, and a light, drapey top that accentuated her model-form. She smelled like flowers. So simple, yet so chic.
I looked in the lift mirror. I was hopelessly overdressed for the spring weather, mascara smudged, and my hair was a mess (why didn’t I get my roots done before I left for this trip!). I also realised I smelled rather sweaty.
I looked back at the Gazelle. She smiled, in a sympathetic way, as if she was sorry for me.
Oh dear. Thank goodness for the mini-bar.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
It is prayer-time, and I can hear the prayers bellowed out through loudspeakers from the near-by mosque. The view from the balcony is dust-coloured; the horizon disappears in the clouds of sand that swirl around the city, the buildings are almost without exception, also the colour of sand. The impression is that everything could melt back into the desert given a strong enough breeze.
Last night I convinced Mr Smith to go to Deira to see the gold and spice souks (shopping is insufferably dull to him, no matter how exotic the location). We caught an abra across the river, for 1 dirham (about forty cents). The English translation for abra appears to be ‘water-taxi’, which sounds quite sophisticated, but really these things are little more than planks with a motor. Passengers sit around the edge of this water-borne plank, and the driver aims to tip us all into the water by smashing into other abra, and veering into the bow-waves of other boats. The locals cheer with excitement at this. The exotic riches of the souks seemed positively dull by comparison.
Being a Muslim country, there are restrictions on the availability of alcohol; it is only available at hotel bars. We are not staying in a hotel. Mr Smith will pay for this unforgivable transgression dearly. However, I found a bar at a nearby hotel, and watched a curious scene unfold. Above the door, there was a sign that said ‘Members Only.’ I, of course, ignored this, sailed past the security guard, and found a suitable table by the door. Men came and went, but I noticed that women were being turned away. The women (all Asian) seemed quite familiar with the guard, and attempted to wheedle their way in, but he would insist that they could not. After some time, he would wave them in. I wondered why I entered unchallenged.
Insatiably nosey, I asked the guard why the women weren’t allowed in. He looked disconcerted, and mumbled that they were not members. I didn’t bother to point out that I wasn't either. Further observation revealed that the women were eventually permitted to enter, shortly after they slipped the guard something. Bribes? I decided in the end they were hookers. Perhaps some of my dear readers can enlighten me.
Leaving Dubai tomorrow morning, and heading off to Europe, which is good, as I need new shoes.
Mr Smith had to pop off overseas for some meetings, so I thought I would tag along. We are currently in Dubai.
I think I need to write a sternly-worded letter to the editors of my travel-guide. With their forbidding imperatives about the various ways Westerners could cause offense in this country, I was quaking at the thought of leaving our apartment, in case my wantonly exposed elbows caused the natives to start looting and pillaging. I really needn't have worried. Dubai is a super place, and almost everyone speaks English, just as they ought to.
I caught a 'Ladies Only' taxi, driven by a lively, veiled woman, who spoke perfect English, swore furiously at the other drivers, and used a vulgar hand signal several times. So much for the stereotype of the repressed Muslim woman.
Also went on a 4WD safari into the desert. And rode a camel. It was fun.
P.S. Sorry this was a bit brief, but I have loads more exciting things to do, than write to you lot.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
479 New North Rd, Kingsland
Decor: Kitsch-rustic French.
View: Of the other cafes in Kingsland I wished I had gone to instead.
Clientele: A contingent of mothers arrived with a battalion of strollers stuffed with screaming children. Despite the restaurant being otherwise empty, they thoughtfully decided to sit right next to us.
Poached Egg Barometer: T'est completement fucked! The eggs arrived on a crepe! A crepe! Just because it is a French restaurant, that is no excuse for destroying the classic culinary combination of eggs on toast. A measly crepe cannot mop up the lovely yolk. Zut alors! The combination is wrong wrong wrong.
Coffee: I can’t remember. The horror of poached eggs on a crepe extinguished whichever neurons took note of the coffee.
Service: Authentic French sourness in the suburbs. A refreshing change from boring Kiwi rudeness.
Metro gave this place the thumbs up. “You’ll love it,” they wrote. This only goes to prove what utter cunts the Metro writers are. With their cringing fascination with the French Café, and complete inability to recognise good food, I’m beginning to wonder if they were all born and raised in some execrable country town where rolled-up luncheon sausage on a toothpick was served as cocktail nibbles, and the annual wine and cheese evening in the school hall was the highlight of the social year. I hope the new Metro editor fires them all, and hires people with higher thresholds of quality.
Another building I like; the Bauhaus building in Parnell.
I also like the new Auckland City bus-shelters. The designs etched on the glass are iconic images of the city - Rangitoto, the Sky-Tower, the One-Tree Hill monument, and the description, ‘All that low land + high sky + wide water.’ I hate to think how much the glass panels cost to replace, after nasty little hoodlums have smashed them up.
I tried finding out who designed the images - I even emailed the company that makes Auckland’s bus-shelters, but did not hear back from them. I think it rather reminiscent of artist Nigel Brown’s work. If anyone knows, do tell.