Monday, March 31, 2008

Country Life

I'm so bored, and I don’t mean bored in the "Oh, I have nothing to do at the moment," kind of way. I'm bored in the "there’s barely any point doing anything, as it's all the same anyway" dogged ennui kind of way. I fantasize about crashing the car, just for the thrill of it. Terrible, n’cest ce pas? But there you are.

So when in doubt – go shopping. I rang a real estate agent. "I want something nice, out of Auckland," I said, "but not too far away from the civilised world. No more than an hour's drive would be super."
"Have you considered somewhere north?" she asked.
Oh God, I thought. She's about to say Omaha.
"If I wanted to be neighbours with a bunch of middle-aged Aucklanders, I could just stay at home, you fool," I roared.

No, of course I didn't, but she got the general idea, and I had a list of properties to inspect. What sugar-plum visions of a country-life danced through my head! I imagined stamping around lawned vistas in leather boots and tweeds, raising free-range chickens, shooting guns, and making jam. I even put Roxy Music's 'Country Life' album on the stereo to inspire me, but unfortunately, none of the songs had anything to do with tweed, or jam, or indeed, the country in any respect, from what I could tell.

Misleading Title

Anyway, so that is why, on the weekend, I was cursing the decision to wear heeled boots to an 'Open Home.' My god – the countryside is in desperate need of a few excavators and a decent landscaper; I almost broke my ankle on the bumpy terrain but a morbid fear of cow-pats kept me upright. A family of five was also inspecting the grounds – the children gave me some fierce stares of loathing. I have no idea why.

On the way home, I read an article about free-range chickens in 'NZ Lifestyle Block' magazine (the one with Sam Neill on the cover), and the article said vaccinations against salmonella were mandatory (for the chickens, not Sam Neill). Sticking needles into animals isn't quite my sort of thing, and to tell the truth, I don't even like jam, so am rather going off the whole idea, which is a shame, as the wardrobe options would be marvellous.

Just add corgis and stir;
Country-look from Dolce & Gabbana (Fall 2008)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Faux (Pas)

In the latest Fashion Quarterly, features editor Zoe Walker writes, "... there’s possibly no bigger fashion crime than carrying a fake handbag" (page 59).

However, in her profile on page 20, she announces "I usually carry vintage handbags but my favourites are a tan vintage Oroton, and my faux Chanel 2.55."

I think Zoe needs to find a new job.

Also saw David Hartnell the other day. From the sight of his florid Hawaiian shirt, I assume he will be putting himself at the top of his own Worst-Dressed list this year.


Easter weekend afternoons were spent drinking wine in the shade of a peppercorn tree, reading Fashion Quarterly, and eating feijoas from the surrounding orchard – they were still warm from the afternoon sun, and somehow all the sweeter for it. Fruit from the supermarket never tastes near as good.

I've been spending more time out of the city lately, and every time wonder why I should return. One can't help but feel in some ways that the life-marrow has been sucked from the city's bones. Who's left really, but the taggers, and screaming blonde girls in mini-dresses?

Last week - Ms S was in Yvonne Bennetti, trying on an embellished evening dress from the sale rack. Not sure I'm keen on Yvonne Bennetti. It's a place where a lot of the screaming blonde girls shop, and the sizing is obtuse – "What's a size 2?" I asked (it clearly wasn't smaller than a standard 8). "A size 10," I was told. This kind of in-house sizing system reeks of pandered vanities – many prefer to wear a single-digit clothing label, no matter how undeserved.

Mrs R flung back the velvet fitting-room curtains.
"Fabulous," she said, a-sparkle with silver bugle beads.
"You certainly wouldn’t go unnoticed," I remarked, "They could see that dress from Jupiter."
"Oh, good." She looked pleased, which surprised me as I hadn't intended my comment to be entirely complimentary.

"I hadn't intended my comment to be entirely complimentary," I said.
She stared at me, smirking. "So you don’t want to be noticed?"
"Not particularly."
"Bit pointless buying that Gucci bag, then, wasn't it?"

Hard as I tried, I could think of no response that would rescue me from my own hypocrisy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I have been so busy, my French lessons have been quite neglected.

Actually, that reminds me of a dear friend who lives in London, who saw a notice in a shop window for 'French and Greek lessons.' She was dating a French man who had a home in the Greek islands, so she rung the number with dreams of impressing her beau with a new-found grasp of the necessary languages.

She was utterly confused by the response she received from the tutor.
"...Then she said 'I don't do women, love,' and slammed the 'phone down."
We pondered this for a while, before I started to laugh.
"The sign in the window," I said, "It didn't actually say it was for language lessons, did it?"

She demurred that she didn't know, and didn't see what difference it made anyway. I pointed out that there was quite a big difference (need I point it out to my filthy-minded readers? I'm sure I don't), but thought the French beau would appreciate the benefits from either type of tuition.

Knowing what men are like, he would probably prefer she learned French. The non-speaking type.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Hello everyone! I'm back! Thanks to those who sent emails and comments. My pre-midlife crisis is over for now! (The emphasis on PRE).

I know loads of people who are having minor melt-downs. One fellow threw in a top executive position, and its eye-wateringly good salary, to be a motorbike courier in Napier. Another threw in a top executive position, and its eye-wateringly good salary to tend his olive groves somewhere near Coromandel. Ms R is redecorating. Again. I'm not one much for motorbikes, olive groves, or redecorating, so I went on holiday instead.

I went away, but unfortunately, wherever you go, you take yourself with you, which is a shame, as I find myself quite annoying. However, the last night away, I was lying on a sun-lounger, drinking a glass of wine, and looking at the night-sky. The pure swathe of the Milky Way was above. One never sees the Milky Way in Auckland, the glory of the universe just can't compete with the orange blast of the street-lights, and we get a watery, dilute version of the real thing.

But this – this was beautiful. Something about it was just so... well, beautiful, everything else fell into perspective. Our smashingly-pretty galaxy is so very big, we are so very small, and on the scale of it all, who really cares a jot about all the inconsequential annoyances of daily life.

Anyway. I have decided on a course of self-improvement. I am trying my hand at painting (pictures, not houses. I'm not very good), and writing (started my novel again). I also bought a Rosetta Stone language course, to improve my v v rusty French, which is quite fun, except I am not sure how useful the phrase "The ball is on the boy" will prove to be. The phrase "The man is under the table," might though. Oh la la!