Sunday, August 31, 2008
TO: NORTHERN HEMISPHERE
Dear Northern Hemisphere,
A quick note to let you know that we have Winter packaged up and ready to be sent off tomorrow, with estimated arrival to you in three months' time.
Looking forward to the arrival of Spring tomorrow, in the unlikely event that it doesn't arrive as expected, could you please advise of a tracking number - just in case we need to carry out a track and trace.
The Southern Hemisphere.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
It was saying while the IOC and China are happy for you to sear the two freaks of human nature, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, permanently into your hardrive forever, there are a couple of other names they'd really rather you never get to hear of.
Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying.
These grandmothers' story sounds like something straight out of Fawlty Towers.
They're 77 and 79, both walk with canes and Wang is blind in one eye. They used to be neighbours.
So let's talk about the 'used to be' bit.
They were evicted from their homes near Tiananmen Square in 2001 to make way for, oh, some new development and were then relocated to ramshackle apartments on the outskirts of Beijing. 'We're wrenching you out of downtown, and sticking you into the 'burbs where you'll only be a four hour bike ride from your family.You can thank us for the exercise later.'
Understandably these two were not entirely happy with their not-so-salubrious new addresses.
And they weren't the only ones. The Chinese were well aware of this ground swell of grumpiness about the Olympics, so they said 'Okay guys, there will be three parks around the city during the Olympics where you will be able to throw your wee tanties.'
And Wu and Wang must have waved their white canes firmly in the air declaring, 'Hell yeah, baby, we'll be there.'
However this is China. If you want to protest (and presumably not get shot or run over by a tank) you have to apply for a permit to protest.
So Wu and Wang took themselves off to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau to apply for a permit to demonstrate.
And guess what happened then?
They were held for ten hours and interrogated by officers.
But did that stop Wu and Wang? Hell no, they're Chinese. They returned five more times, until such time they were informed that they were no longer eligible to protest.
Why is that, you ask?
Protesters can't be over the age of seventy-four and a half? Protesters can't be blind in one eye? Protesters can't have something to protest about ?
They were ineligible to protest because because they had been sentenced to a year's re-education through labour for disturbing the peace.
Huh? But these ladies are in their seventies ? What on earth had been their crime? Is there something they weren't telling us? Do they have some sort of fabulous secret lives? Had they stolen some boy racer cars and were they burning it up around the streets of Beijing? Were they having all night raves in their ramshackle apartments and keeping the neighbourhood awake?
Why had they been given this sentence?
They had been given this sentence because (oh, this is glorious) because they'd been applying for permits to protest.
It seriously begs the question - is Basil Fawlty running the country?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Winter - over it.
I have a friend in Auckland (the city of perpetual rain) who a couple of years ago, when he hung out his washing, thought 'Screw you weather. This washing isn't coming inside until it's dry.'
He brought it inside seventeen days later.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
'Don't seem to be able to contact the Mother by phone or email, tell her I am in Sydney.'
Now a couple of things.
1.My phone tells me that this text turned up at 1.30 in the morning. Did he really think she was going to be up at that time time, surfing? She's seventy-two, not twenty-seven. This is the woman who thinks that going on line is what you do to the washing.
2.He's in Sydney?
Being the dutiful daughter I am, I did as I was asked and sent my mother this text, 'Pop is in Sydney (in case you were thinking he's just popped out for milk.)'
Monday, August 25, 2008
What am I saying? Of course that's what they are thinking (as they quickly inject their gymnasts with growth hormones and provide proof of an extra two years they have spent on the planet. 'This document state He Kexin,Yang Yilin and Jiang Yuyuan all work in fireworks factory from '91-'92 between age of one and two year.)
I am sure they will have Jacques Rogge's speech on high rotate on national broadcast, especially the ' These were truly exceptional Games!' bit.
But really, what was he going to say? 'Come on China, could have done better. You call ten years in the planning preparation? Sorry people, would have liked to see more effort, giving you a C on this one.'
How many people leave a dinner party and say to their hosts, 'Thank you for dinner, but it was shit. Remind me never to come back here again, oh that's right, I don't have to, I have dinner booked for the rest of my life.'
Anyway, good on them for providing the best fireworks spectacle of the century. From the highlights I saw I am picking that the closing ceremony was just as sensational as the opening (many fireworks, many many dancing people), but I have to say I remain a little dubious about the inclusion of the double decker bus. I have a feeling that its appearance would have sent many Brits crawling under the sofa, cringing. It was almost like a Dad joke.
I am not sure whose idea it was, and am wondering whether it was the Chinese just having the last laugh. 'We invented fireworks, you invented the double decker bus. Incorporate that into your opening ceremony, sucker.'
And I am not going to suggest exploding double decker buses because that would be a state-the-obvious joke and it would be immature.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I have a confession to make.
First up, this post is proof that I have no shame.
Anyway, there I was earlier in the week, competely over winter, pretty much sick of myself and just a teensy bit bored.
A film! I thought. I would take myself off to a film. It's a great way to put your head into another world when you're feeling like that.
But then, what to go to?
And here is where I start mumbling and looking at my feet.
See here's the thing. I had decided, based purely on the name of this film, that I was not going to to go.
But then I read a few things around the interweb written by people who had (pretty much) the same attitude as me, but admitted they'd had a rolicking good time. And then two very close friends also told me that this film was a bit of a hoot. One of them saw it at one of those fancy viewings and drank champagne throughout it and the other headed straight to a champagne bar after it, having being put in SUCH good spirits. They also raved about where is was set.
'Pah' I scoffed, you won't see me going to any film that's titled, 'Mamma Mia'.
But then, about half way through this week, desperate for some upliftion (my new word), my resolve faltered.
How bad could it be? I asked myself. Surely I could suffer through a few Abba songs in return for a piece of brainless entertainment in a glorious setting? (Insert all manner of other justifications here, ie it's got Julie Walters, always loved her since Educationg Rita etc etc.)
So that is how I found myself buying a ticket to Mamma Mia on Wednesday night.
I walked into the theatre, the air was thick with the smell of wine and I was just a little disturbed by the amount people who were there. There were far too many people in the theatre for a six o'clock viewing. And if there was a reasonable amount of wine going to be consumed, I suspected they were going to be enjoying it just a leettle too much for my cynical old self.
But anyway, I took my seat and settled in for the next ninety minutes, or so I thought.
The titles rolled and the first scene was shot on a jetty on some beautiful Greek beach. And yes it was truly stunning. There was a bit much female screaming for my liking but I thought I could stomach it.
And it slowly dawned on me.
Mamma Mia is a musical.
NO ONE TOLD ME THAT IT WAS A FUCKING MUSICAL.
I HATE MUSICALS WITH A PASSION.
I would rather do my tax return, without a calculator, than go to a musical. My version of Hell has musicals playing twenty-four hours a day.
So I sat there as my brain tried to process this information.
It went something like this.
GET ME OUT OF HERE!
You've just paid $14, at least give it a try.
GET ME OUT OF HERE!
Maybe you should give it a few more minutes to see if you might like it.
I AM ONLY STAYING IF, IN THE NEXT TWO MINUTES,SOMEONE TURNS UP WITH A GUN AND KILLS AT LEAST HALF THE CAST .
Lighten up, it could be just one song.
TWO MINUTES ARE UP, IF YOU DON'T LEAVE NOW I SHALL START SCREAMING, LOUDLY.
Look, when was the last time you saw a musical? You may surprise yourself.
HEY LOGIC, IF YOU DON'T SHUT UP REALLY QUICKLY I WILL SLAP YOU. HARD.
I lasted fifteen minutes, counting the previews.
Mental note to self:always, in future, read about what the film is about before committing to it.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
'FOUR BILLION POUNDS!' I choked, 'that's one hell of a budget.'
'Yeah', said another guy, 'but they've got a huge heating bill.'
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
'HI there Really Famous Film Director, great to see you here.'
'It's great to be here as well, I was really over living.'
'God is particuluarly excited about you being here, as well.'
'I am looking forward to meeting him.'
'And he you. In fact he has actually got a bit of a favour to ask.'
'What's that?' Asks the really weary Really Famous Film Director.
'God would really love you to direct just one last film.'
'Look, I'd love to,' sighed RFFD, 'but to be perfectly honest, I'm knackered. I just want to hang out in heaven and chill for a bit.'
'Look, God is really keen on this. And he will make it worth your while.'
'Shakespeare's agreed to do the script, Beethoven is doing the music and Michelangelo is going to do the set.'
'Oh really?' Said RFFD, perking up a little, 'oh well, why not? Just one last film for old time's sake.'
'Great!' Said St Peter and shook RFFD's hand, I'll get God on the blower. Then he stopped for a moment and said, 'Oh and, there's just one other thing....'
'What's that?' Asks RFFD.
'It's just that God has got this girlfriend who thinks she can act.....'
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
I am talking about their opening ceremony for their Olympic Games in 2012.
How on earth are they going to top the Chinese? Instead of a cast of 15,000 are they going to try and choreograph 30,000? Instead of spending U.S $100 million, are they going to fork out U.S $200 million? (Which I have to say is just a little bit silly, anyone heard of starving African nations? Or your own backyard that was recently annihilated by an earthquake? Isn't that bit like painting your house with nine carat gold paint while the neighbours are living in a tent fashioned out of supermarket bags?)
And if you go by figures being touted on the Internet (it's entirely up to you as to whether you believe it or not), the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony cost ten times more than Athens Olympics.
In four years time will there a nationwide talent quest (Baby Idol ) to find a three-year-old who can sing opera?
Anyway, I have a solution. I can take the British headaches away.
Don't try and compete with those who have gone before you.
Go minimalist. It's so much cooler.
Give everyone a pint, a packet of crisps and roll the Christmas Special of Coronation Street on the big screens.
Then tell them all to rack off home early cause some people have got to get in a decent night's sleep.
That way they will be able to save a headache, feed a starving nation, rebuild (insert name of recently devastated province/country) and still have money for hospitals, schools and roads once the whole circus has left town.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
And I suddenly thought of our family's rogue 'jumping' gene. It strikes at random in every generation. It's a terrible affliction, it results in red snow, cuts, bruises, broken and dislocated bones.
My brother Sunshine carries this gene. Now unfortunately Mrs Sunshine is also a fellow jump gene carrier, so we weren't that shocked when we realised that Little Miss Sunshine is afflicted with this condition. And at just ten sweet years old, she is already up to her second skateboard. Poor old Master Sunshine has a very severe case. Exhibit B.
Now I suspect those who carry this gene, can identify others like themselves.
So, when I heard what the four-year-old said to her mother and coupled this information with Exhibit C, I am afraid I can draw no other conclusion other than there is a high possiblility we have another jumper in the family. Poor wee lamb. I know already she will have a lifetime of doctors' visits ahead of her.
(P.S She is four in New Zealand years, in Chinese years she's actually twelve).
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
My cousin was telling me that my aunt had wanted her to check out flights for her on the Internet, but she had forgotten right up until she was having lunch with her a few days later. Lunching right next to a travel agent, my cousin suggested that they pop in and see what was available.
The travel agent asked exactly when my aunt wanted to fly but my aunt pointed out she didn't have a specific date, she was just wanting to find out about general availability i.e how often flights left to this destination on a daily basis.
Apparently the travel agent got quite snippy and told her that she couldn't check availability if there wasn't a date.
Which annoyed my cousin just a teensy bit.
'Look', she huffed, completely over the travel agent, 'It's for a funeral, it's just she's not dead yet.'
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
How much pleasure did we all get out of Tonya-don't-be-prettier-or-more-talented-than-me-or-I-will-get-my-ex husband-to-give-you-the-bash-Harding in 1988?
Or Zola Budd and Mary's Decker's did-she-fall-or-was-she-tripped collision in 1984 ?
If you look at 'Olympic scandals' on Wikipedia through the years you will find all manner of bashings, bombings and boycotts.
However, once you get up to 2004 you enter the era of the bannings and all the scandals have words with '-buterol', '-ozolol' and 'methoandrostenalone' in them.Makes for thoroughly dreary reading, after a while. I feel like saying, 'Lift your game people, drugs were, like, so last century, give us something new.'
And then along came the Chinese. The wonderful, wonderful Chinese.
God bless the Chinese, I say.
First up they fess up and admit that the amazing helicopter shot which captured the opening ceremony from the air was, um, actually, sort of, like, well, you know, computer generated. The fifty-five second sequence took over a year to make (and most probably cost as much as the fireworks display. Oh hang on, what am I thinking? This is China, labour is cheap).
Which begs the question -was the audience CGI'd in?
But my personal favourite so far this Olympics is that they fessed up that the cute seven-year-old who belted out a song at the opening ceremony was lip syncing - to someone else's voice!
Oh, I think that is beautiful.
Can't you imagine the conversation that went on?'Yes she sound good, but she got face like amputated foot. We don't want world to think we ugly. Pick a pretty one, we got millions to choose from.'
From here on in I think these Olympics should be known as the Keeping up Appearances Games.
Monday, August 11, 2008
1. What would be the easiest sport to qualify in?
See, I thought if you had ambitions to become an Olympic athlete you basically had to dedicate your life to achieving this goal. (Or if you were an Eastern European gymnast someone else would decide this for you).
But is there a sport that you could wake up one morning, say, aged twenty-four and think, 'I am going to compete in the next Olympics.' (And hacking off a limb just so you could compete in the disabled Olympics is not allowed.)
2. What would be the most boring sport to train for?
Team sports are immediately ruled out for this because logistics of each game are constantly changing and besides, you've got team members to talk to.
I was discussing this with some friends and it was mooted that rowing would be the most dull. Pull. Pull. Pull.Pull.Pulll.Pull faster. But then I pointed at that at least you were on the water and the scenery would change.
My pick is that swimming training would be the most dull. The view never changes, there's no one to talk to, the route never changes - it's boring. I know, I swim and generally the reason I get out of the pool is not because I am knackered, it's because I am bored out of my tiny little brain.
3. What sport would you have to put the least amount of training into, on a weekly basis?
What is the sport for the lazy athlete?
4. What is the most ridiculous sport?
You could argue synchronised swimming or synchronised diving. But then, the modern pentathlon is pretty out there. Cause let's look at it - fencing, pistol shooting, 200 metres swimming, show jumping and cross country running. And this all comes under one competition, people -it's the sport for those suffering ADHD.
But you will notice it's the modern pentathlon. I really like the sound of the plain old pentathlon - it was supposed to be a simulated experience of a nineteenth century cavalry soldier and you had to ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with a pistol and a sword and go for a run.
Now, that sounds like a competition. Bring back the ancient pentathlon.
Which leads me to ponder on what sports you would compete in for the Terrorist Olympics? There'd be Bus Blowing, Hijacking, Kidnapping - oh all manner of things. There would have to be posthumous medal ceremonies ('and the gold coffin goes to') and individual terrorist groups would enter, not countries.
Okay, I will stop now.
5. Who-is-the-hottest question, i.e which sport will give you the best body?
Could be too early to answer this one, at this point in time I am saying swimming for the blokes. Woof. Day-am they are fine. Beach volley ball too. And maybe beach volley ball for women as well.
6. And the last question I will leave you to ponder - at what point does a bottom.....
......turn into booty ?
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday, August 09, 2008
'I've had an absolute shit week. Thought I was going to be sued for multi millions of dollars. I literally had an entire sleepless night.Anyway I rang X (my mate I dreamt was going out with a Japanese dwarf with a really large head, some postings ago) to cheer me up. He's depressed, reckons his break up is like going through a divorce (she may have been a large headed Japanese dwarf, but she was his large headed Japanese dwarf) and he's just moved into a Polish slum in Hammersmith. Apparently Y has just realised that he's not going to get any better looking so now he is trapped in therapy. Oh and, now the girls want to get ponies.'
Suddenly my glass is really very half full.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Thursday, August 07, 2008
He had been standing in a queue in a very busy cafe. There were people in the queue in front of him and long queue behind him. The cafe was pretty packed and he saw there was an empty table but, out of respect for the people in front of him in the queue, he didn't claim it.
Those people duly ordered their food at the counter and found another table that had become free. Him and his mate were then served and he assumed that the free table would be rightfully theirs as effectively they were next in line to the throne.
Having ordered their food they went to move to said table when they saw that it had been nabbed.
By one of the two women behind him in the queue.
'I hate it when that happens. And generally it's always bloody women who do it. It's the worst form of queue jumping.'
Anyway he got me thinking. And I have to admit that I have been one of those bloody women before. But not I have never really thought about like queue jumping till now. But I think he's right.
Normally if I am going into a cafe, I will survey the room and the queue. If the room looks too packed and the queue too long I will generally abandon the cafe as I will never be arsed with the bun fight to snaffle a table.
If you're going to commit to the queue I am thinking you have to commit to the table lottery.
Cause queue jumpers make me seethe.
I recently unwittingly coincided a visit to a supermarket with the same night it was running a 'If You Come Tonight, Everything is Free' night. Okay, I am making a good story of it, but it felt like the entire population of a nation with a GNP of under two billion dollars had stopped by to do their shopping.
It was teeming with people.
Mental note to self: never bother with the supermarket if the car park is full.
But did I work that one out ? Oh no, I merely looked at the full car park as a challenge to get a park, not the beginning of what was about to become a major pain in the arse.
I managed to battle my way around the supermarket without suffering too much supermarket rage - until I hit the queue.
It was of biblical proportions. Wall to wall people attempting to proceed to check-out counters. This queue made a queue to the chairlift on the first fine day of the ski season, in the middle of school-holiday-madness, seem like a doddle.
It was a supermarket trolley clusterfuck.
People took it not too badly and, bonded by our supermarket trolley jam, we slowly edged our way up, inch by inch to the check out counters joking that we hoped we would get there sometime before Christmas.
In the middle of all this suddenly a woman, completely ignoring the lines of people waiting, steamed past all of us and headed around the corner where she entered - at the top of the queue. She would have walked past at least thirty people.
People yelled 'Oi queue jumper!', 'THIS IS A QUEUE, LADY' and other equally withering statements, but she didn't take the slightest bit of notice of any of us.
I am not sure if she didn't understand what was being said, or she couldn't give a toss - she was dressed in a burqa and that type of fashion has the tendency to demand a little respect (or instill a little fear/uneasiness) - you never know how explosively she may react.
(Okay that was lame, but burqas have had their share of bad press recently.)
So that's my indignantly furious queue jumping morning talk.
But back to tablejacking, what is the etiquette?
Is it 'If you're not fast, you're last ?'
Or, 'Stand back from the table, bitch, it's not your turn?'
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Could you get a creepier mascot?
(And just to mess with the whole image even more, did you know that the first Ronald MacDonald appeared in 1963 and didn't talk because he had a heavy Russian accent?)
Monday, August 04, 2008
Now I'm up to page three and so far he's pretty funny, he was speculating that possibly the secret to the good life lies in civilisation, and he has this to say about it:
'The Chinese had an ancient and sophisticated civilisation when my relatives were hunkering in trees. (Admittedly that was last week, but they'd been drinking.) In 1000 B.C., when Europeans were barely using metal to hit each other over the head, the Zhou dynasty Chinese were casting ornate vessels big enough to take a bath in - something else no contemporary European had done. Yet, today, China stinks.'
I wonder how many copyright rules I have just broken by quoting that? Oh well, this is the Internet, I don't even exist. I am actually a sixty-five year old man with fourteen cats living in Langdon, North Dakota.
Anyway, he's right, China does stink - of cigarette smoke. That's one thing I didn't know about the Chinese until earlier this year- they are outstandingly efficient at ignoring 'No Smoking' signs. If it was an Olympic sport (unfortunately you're going to have to wait until 2028 before it is introduced), I am sure they'd be medalists.
But then maybe it's just me, or one of those lost-in-translation things, maybe the English 'No Smoking' signs have actually been translated poorly and they should, in fact, read, 'Please Smoke Excessively.'
Moving right along, I think Mr O'Rourke is also (how can I say this without sounding like I have the IQ of a carrot), a little generous with his language for someone like me. We are talking about a man who throws around phrases like, 'no variety of love is too trivial for exegesis', and 'the most hardheaded and unspeculative of persons has his notions of eschatology,' and 'we are earnest scholars of amorosity and necrosis.'
Are you just trying to sound brainy or do you just enjoy confusing poor clods like me? I mean instead of saying 'no variety of love is too trivial for exegesis' why can't you say, 'we waste endless amounts of time naval gazing about love.'
And instead saying 'the most hardheaded and unspeculative of persons has his notions of eschatology' what's wrong with, 'everyone, regardless of religion or belief has their own theory about what happens after they kick the bucket.'
What's wrong with 'we will talk about love and death till the cows come home' instead of 'we are earnest scholars of amorosity and necrosis.'
Oh well, horses for courses.
Or, as Mr O'Rourke might say, equus caballus for bacchanalian feasts.
So I am going to leave you with a feast I didn't order earlier in the year. And I'm wondering whether any Olympians will get to taste this little delicacy I spotted on a menu in January. I know dog's off the menu in Beijing for the time being, couldn't tell you about the availability of the other tasty treats.
First, you must catch your rat.......
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008
That's my story and I am sticking to it.
Growing up I was blessed with chubby cheeks. Actually, they were a curse until I was about thirty-five as they merely served to be cheek stretchers. Made it very easy for people to grab a lump of cheek and pull it. It is actually thoroughly unfair as my sister lucked in and managed to get beautiful sky scraper-esque high cheek bones. I think it was very greedy of her in the gene pool stakes - she could have at least split the difference with me.
Anyway, as a result of these cheeks (and I suppose because of being short) I have often been mistaken for looking younger than I am.
AND DO YOU KNOW HOW UNCOOL THAT IS WHEN YOU'RE SEVENTEEN?
Not that it stopped me from attempting to get into pubs with my friends, however I think it served in my favour as I permanently looked like the young child who was dragged along and never ever got booked for underage drinking.
Being the Pollyanna that I am, I always claimed that it would work in my favour one day, 'Yeah but when I'm sixty I'm going to look twelve.'
So, you can imagine my delight when earlier this year I got asked for I.D in the supermarket (they have to ask you if you look twenty-five or under, down here). As the supermarket lady was asking me for I.D I was busy wondering whether you could download nominations for Nobel prizes online.
See, here's the thing.
I am forty. 40. Four-tee. (I had conned my nieces that I am actually fur-tee, which I much prefer, but my bloody brother-in-law keeps putting them right.)
And if I am being completely honest, I was fairly confident that that would the last time I would ever be asked.
Well I was nearly right.
Last night I was at the supermarket and there was a bottle of wine amongst my things. Young supermarket girl was needing her supervisor to allow the wine purchase. He, a twenty-something Indian man walked up to her, looked at me and said, 'Have you asked her for her I.D?'
My heart missed a beat.
I looked up, eyes full of anticipation, SO excited about the prospect of having to prove I was not twenty-five or under.
Young supermarket girl looked at him, half snorted, looked at me, half giggled and said, 'No.'
She might of well have said, 'Of course not, you fucking moron, take look at her, she's older than your grandmother.'