Friday, 29 June 2007

Like... a bunny?

The English language is a fickle and complicated beast. Apparently it’s one of the harder languages to learn, though personally I think Mandarin or Swahili would be much more difficult, but hey. I suppose in a language where many words - even if short and simple - not only can be pronounced in a variety of ways but also have vastly different meanings and yet be spelt exactly the same, there’s lots of room for (erm) poetic licence(?)

On top of that, I live in the Western Cape. Cape Town, to be more specific - and anyone who is familiar with Cape Town will know that we boast impressive diversity in terms of races and nationality. South Africa has a total of 11 official languages - and the list doesn’t include tsotsitaal and the oft-heard European languages, such as German, Greek, Dutch and so on.

So you take a relatively complicated language, gently mix it with a variety of cultural backgrounds, sprinkle in some colourful colloquialisms and accents and you’re left with a beautifully-corrupted version of the English language. This is the sort of thing that keeps a purist awake at night, and I’ve had my fair share of nausea waves, induced by seeing the English language misused and horribly abused. (Every time I see a misplaced apostrophe on a television or print ad, a little bit of me dies. [The plural of DVD does not need an apostrophe, as in DVD’s. It’s just wrong, wrong, wrong.]) In an attempt to control my inner nerd (because I sure as hell cannot control how people use the English language) I’ve been making a concerted effort to be less precious about how things are said and written. That’s not to say I don’t believe in keeping the English clean and unharmed, but ultimately, I guess it boils down to situation appropriateness.

There’s also a definite element of humour in the misuse of the English language - albeit unintentional. Some terms and expressions have become quite well-known and poke fun at ourselves in the larger-metropolitan-city-one-big-happy-family sense. (Think ‘I are wearing my jean pant’ or ‘eish, she’s broken’.) While these sort of expressions can be viewed as derogatory (though surely not if used within a specific context), these sayings are slowly emerging, finding their place and becoming widely accepted.

Then again, some people are just incredibly gifted at coming up with sayings that are unique, expressive and often, hilarious. Recently, one of my work colleagues was telling me how hungry he was - it was just before lunch time. ‘I’m so hungry, I could eat the ass off a low-flying duck’ were his exact words. I had to write that down somewhere. Classic.
One of my best friends often passes on funny things she’s heard. Recently, she was waiting in a queue for something (could’ve been the bank, or perhaps the Pick ‘n Pay - I can’t remember). A woman in front of her was waffling away on cell phone, and going to into detail about the cold weather and how she was ‘freezing like a chicken’. Since then, ‘freezing like a chicken’ has become somewhat of an insider joke within our friendship circle. At first glance, ‘freezing like a chicken’ makes absolutely no sense, and is a poorly-constructed metaphor, and yet we all know exactly what it means. I feel cold just thinking about it.
Another phrase that has recently ‘caught on’ is ‘soft like a bunny’. The same-said friend took one of her (four!) fluffy pussycats to the vet recently, who marvelled how Moses’ (I e. le cat) furry coat was ‘soft like a bunny’. Since then, this expression has been used on many occasions. I won’t lie - my cat is not quite ‘soft like a bunny’, yet I have (unintentionally) found myself using the term in many instances, substituting the ‘soft’ for a variety of other adjectives. Gymming like bunny... working like a bunny... eating like a bunny... drinking like a bunny? Somehow, they all make sense, (well, at least to me they do) even though they really shouldn’t.

I’m not entirely sure what this says about the English language. Are we ripping it to shreds. or merely expanding its borders and making it more widely accessible? I’m not ignorant to the fact that the purity of the language is melting into a sludgy mucky-bown hybrid. Yet perhaps the more colloquial version can happily live alongside its more formal (‘make-our-English-professors-proud') counterpart, Ideally, I’d like my (future) children to be able to explore their mother tongue, and embrace its little idiosyncrasies - more a product of the community in which we live. Yet at the end of day, I strongly believe it’s important to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s - and for heaven’s sake, there’s NO apostrophe* in CDs, DVDs, VCRs, photos, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s...
* unless you’re implying possession, in which case - give it horns.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Beware of gushing chick-lit groupies (and other scary phenomena)

Today, I met Marian Keyes.

It wasn’t a chance encounter - I had been planning this day for quite a few weeks - in fact, ever since my favourite mag announced that they would be hosting a breakfast in her honour. I immediately contacted all the girls* and excitedly shared the news. Sadly, when they realised sharing breakkie with Ms Keyes would set them back a small fortune, I received a flurry of replies that went along the lines of ‘would love to but have to pass. Sorry.’ It was then that I decided that I was going to fly solo and attend on my own (well, as alone as you can be with 600 other MK fans). So at the crack of dawn this morning, I switched off the alarm before it drove me to destroying it, switched on the kettle and started getting ready for my fabulous morning plans. (For the record, it is middle of winter and so very much dark at seven in the morning. It felt distinctly unnatural getting up in the dark on a Saturday morning. Or for that matter, any other morning. Bleuch. Anyway.) I smeared on some much-needed-crack-of-dawn make-up and put on a girly skirt and top ensemble. No need for practicality today! I then jumped in the car and made my way to the Table Bay Hotel, situated next to the V & A Waterfront. (Such a gorgeous drive there... the sun was breaking through the early morning mist and gave the mountain a distinctly ethereal make-over. Very pretty.) Registration opened at 8h30, which is exactly when I arrived - expecting to be one of the first. But on walking in to the ballroom after grabbing a glass of the early morning champers on offer, I was surprised to see the place fairly packed. Wot a bunch of keen little bunnies. I scanned the room for the podium (and then saw a table right in front of it - with (some) empty seats. I certainly wasn’t going to sit in the back - not a chance, so I went up to the table in the front and asked the ladies seated there if they minded if I joined them. They were super-friendly and invited me to sit down. So I did. :)

*‘Girls’ - as in the motley crew of fabulous friends that I have.

The breakfast was scheduled to start at 9h00, by which time I had nibbled on some fruit, munched on a beautiful muesli, yoghurt fruit and honey concoction, downed a cup of coffee and made good headway on my glass of champagne. Though sadly, yet no sign of the guest of honour. Probably a good thing as this gave us (my table) a chance to get to know each other and snap happy groupie pictures of each other. One of the Fair Lady representatives made an announcement that Marian would be there at 9h30 and so they served the main meal (yes, I was a real little piggy this morning - HUGE breakfast). Thereafter, Suzy Brokensha (editor of Fair Lady Magazine) gave a nice little introductory speech after which Marian Keyes took to the podium. I was in my element!!!!!! Here was an author who I have loved and admired ever since I read Sushi for Beginners way back when. Not only was it fabulous to see her in person and listen to her read from her book, but I was blown away by her modesty and general niceness! After being so widely published and hugely successful, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had been, well a little smug, self-satisfied or distanced. But here was a woman who seemed genuinely surprised at the warm reception. She was sweet and funny, and certainly lived up to my (dangerously overly-) high expectations of her. As she read from ‘fill in the blank’ I listened captivated by reminders of a riveting story I had already read. The extract was sharp and witty, without being too over the top. Her writing is fairly relaxed and conversational and had the room in stitches.

After doing the reading in her broad (fresh-off-the-plane) accent, the tiny Irish author took questions from the rest of us. The questions varied in seriousness and complexity, though the answers were always sincere and interesting. Through the questions section, we got to meet Himself and the reasoning behind referring to him as such (in Ireland, the men often refer to their spouses as ‘herself’. While it’s not a particularly nice thing to call your spouse, it was a kind of ‘women give it back’ type move, purely light-hearted. She also mentioned she didn’t want to mention Tony by name and yet felt it too stiff to always refer to him as her husband.) Another girl asked her what her secret to writing was. Marian’s answer was that there was none. It’s hard work and takes sacrifices, but that perserverance would eventually pay off. And also, never try to emulate someone else. Just be yourself.

One of the final comments came from the lady sitting next to me. She told us all how she was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, and while under-going treatment, had started reading Marian Keyes novels, and that she had been a fan ever-since. Marian was really touched by that, as was everyone else, it seemed. All very feel good.

After that, there were a few lucky draw prizes (can you believe I won a little somethin’ something’) after which I joined the queue to have one of my MK books signed. When I got to the front, I handed my camera to himself and started gushing to Marian about how one day, when I’m big, I’d like to be her. Then, just before having a picture taken with her, I asked her how old she was when she had her first column published. I’m hitting 30 and beginning to feel a little long in the tooth. She assured me that there was oodles of time and that she was 33 when her break came. She was so sweet and wished me luck. Like she really meant it!

So I left the Table Bay Hotel armed with a rather fabulous goodie bag, autographed book and photos of the occasion. What an awesome morning. Some people might think it’s silly getting so worked up about a chick lit author and anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not easily impressed by celebrity status. But I love what Marian Keyes stands for. Her life has been no picnic, and she’s struggled with some serious issues. Her books remind us that life is nowhere near a walk in the park. The protagonist doesn’t always ‘get the guy’. In a nutshell, they describe what modern women experience in a world that isn’t a bed of roses. They’re realistic. That’s why I love them.

Monday, 21 May 2007

‘Avoid the head of the table’ and other fun games for single losers.

Being single isn’t as bad as you may think. I get to wear what I want when I’m chilling at home, I can buy dessert and eat the whole damn thing and I get to hog the entire bed because it’s mine - all mine mwah ha ha! That’s not to say there aren’t moments when I think about how it would be nice to have someone ‘there’ but for the most part, I manage not to cry myself to sleep each night (unless I’ve spent too much time in the company of my good buddy vino - have you two met?), but really, that hardly ever happens. Not often at least. Ahem.

So yeah, I’m quite good being on my own - I like my own company and I’m slowly developing the confidence to do my own thing. I can even arrive at a restaurant before my friends and order a drink, on my own. Ooohhhh... aaaaaahhhh... But what I cannot - CANNOT - tolerate is going for dinner with a large group of friends and being seated at the head of the table simply because I have no ‘plus one’. If you’ve ever watched Bridget Jones’ Diary (what am I thinking? Of course you have!) picture the scene where she goes for dinner at a friend's house and is seated at the head and singled out for being, well - single. That was me.

So sorry to upset the balance of the table, but seriously - did the punishment really fit the crime? No, I didn’t think so. Nonetheless, there I found myself heading the table and feeling all-too-single while my friends took pity on me and went out of their way to include me in their conversations. Multiple. Oh poor little me... my extended pity party (more on that another time) caught its second wind and so there I was - ordering the waiter to keep the wine coming - anticipating its ‘everything’s going to be alright’ effect yet painfully aware that I looked like a lonely alcoholic. Even the waiter made a light-hearted comment about (and I kid you not) my alcoholism. (Goodbye Mr. Tip!) I knew he was joking but it still cut deep.

A couple of hours later, I abandoned my post at the head of the table and limped home, tail between my legs. It’s funny how a person can feel fine with being single when they’re in their own company but as soon as they’re treated as a single person, it starts to hit home. Not nice. I’ve tried to enjoy being single - after all, I won’t be single for ever, and I want to make the most of it. But what’s not cool is being made to feel a little pathetic, even though it was completely unintentional on the part of the dinner organiser. A word of advice for the future - unless the table is round, always book for an even number. There’s the odd chance the chair may not be filled but at least it won’t single out the person who was brave enough to go out on their own.

Moan session over.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

White men can dance

Finally, it would appear that winter (or at least autumn) has arrived. I’m sitting in my office wrapped in a warm woolly jersey, listening to the sound of rain. I love this sort of weather though make no mistake - I’d much prefer to be at home, sipping hot chocolate and snuggling under my duvet with a good book. (sigh) Especially as I’m feeling rather delicate this morning - a result of last night’s red wine pig out. Why oh why do the things I love hurt me so much? Red wine, chocolate, cheese... It makes me sad.

I’ve been trying to compensate by going to gym more frequently, which is in itself a v. difficult exercise! But once I’m there, it’s generally alright. Entertaining even, at times. Last Thursday I went to a hip hop class at gym. (Virgin Active have added various dance classes to their group work-out list. I tried the general dance class a while back but gave it a miss after finding myself jeté-ing across the floor feeling like a ridiculous flying hippo. My fears were confirmed by the mirrored walls of the studio. Delicate? No. Graceful? Hardly. Sexy? Definitely not! The hip hop classes, however, are more my style - not because I’m a natural candidate for the next LL Cool J video, but rather because hip hop is not meant to be graceful and delicate. Instead, it pretty much involves a lot of ass-shakin’. And that I can do.) Anyway, there I was in the hip hop class preparing to get down with my funky self when a late attendee rushed in and assumed a position in the back row, next to me. In a class dominated (entirely) by females (though led by a male instructor) I couldn’t help but notice the late arrival was a (very) middle-aged white guy. Anyway, I quickly forgot about that I as tried to focus on remembering the steps the instructor was teaching us. Until later, that is. The routine we were doing involved a lot of jumping about and turning around, providing a generous 360 degree view of the rest of the class, including the guy next to me. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this guy getting his groove on. I’m aware that we all look fairly ridiculous pulling off our hip hop moves, but this middle-aged white guy was giving it some serious horns. While the class was practicing the choreographed routine, this guy was having a little improv session - leaping into the air, swirling around and doing a pretty mean Johnny Clegg impersonation. It was hilarious! He really seemed to be enjoying himself though, which is - after all, the best reason to dance. He looked like the type of guy who most likely wears suits to work, where he is a director of sorts - if not the owner - so when he was dancing like a crazy person it was, well, funny. But funny in a good way, along the lines of ‘You go, boy - shake that money-maker!’. He made me laugh.

So yup, I’ve been going to gym though I certainly haven’t noticed any affect on my physique, fitness levels or scary weight. In fact, I’m convinced it’s doing nothing at all. But Queen Oprah tells us the key to losing weight is to eat less and move more, and so eat less and move more I will. (Well, eating less is step two of my plan - I haven’t quite gotten there yet.)

All hail Queen Oprah.

As mentioned previously, I’d like to get in shape for my overseas trip which is happening later this year. Yes, it’s booked so I’m definitely going! Yay! There’s also the bridesmaid thing in January, and again, no one likes a fat bridesmaid so I intend to be thinner and more svelte by then.

So, it’s dawned on me that all this self-obsession is tediously boring, making for awful reading, so I’m going to finish up with something that’s not all about me! me! me! Memoirs of a Geisha. Okay so I haven’t read the book but I watched the movie on DVD over the weekend - what a truly BEAUTIFUL film! I highly recommend that everyone and their dog watch it. If not for the bitter sweet story line, then most certainly for the absolutely gorgeous cinematography (is that the right word?). Visually, it’s a really stunning movie so do yourself a favour and watch it. Speaking of movies based on books and all that, I’ve just finished reading Beloved (Toni Morrison). Think I’ll watch the movie too, just to see another take on the novel. I have very mixed feelings about the book - it was really well written but I found it an intensely sad book to read. It’s captivating yet in a slightly macabre sense. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and will continue to do so as I’m working on my studies. Some very interesting books in the mix. I’m studying American Literature this year, the reading list of which comprises timeless classics including The Great Gatsby ( I really enjoyed that book), Beloved, Leaves of Grass and a whackload of others.

Tomorrow is a public holiday. I have no idea what public holiday it is and frankly, I don’t give a rat’s bottom either. I’m just uber-grateful to have a day off. Depending on the weather and my mood, I may spend the whole day in bed. (Oh sublime bliss!) ‘Will have to stock up on beaucoup toast and hot chocolate if that’s the plan. Gee, I simply cannot figure out why I’m not losing weight. Awooooo. Oh well, blame it on the weather.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Bridesmaids, bikes and buffets

I’m in a bit of a foul mood today and in a bid to avoid working (which I generally do at all costs) I thought I’d update my blog - an exercise long overdue.

So anyway, a lot has happened over the last few weeks - some of it rather blog-worthy. Yet sadly, and in spite of all my (ahem) BEST INTENTIONS, I haven’t had the chance to sit down and write anything until now. (Pathetic but true.) So this will be the condensed version of some cool things that went down recently.

To start off with, I recently found myself camping in unseasonably wet weather at the BMW Bike Club weekend away. Yes, you read right... prissy princess me spent the weekend with leather clad biker boys (and girls) and it was (surprisingly) brilliant! Like I said, it started off on a really wet note, with me hurtling down the N1 in very unpleasant weather - Destination Unknown. Well, not entirely unknown. I knew I was heading somewhere towards Paarl... (to be specific) a wine farm called Nelson’s Creek. I knew it was the BMW Bike Club weekend away. And I most certainly knew that in spite of the anti-rain dance I had done earlier in the day - I was going to get a little soggy over the weekend. Not entirely looking forward to spending Friday night in a tent, I arrived at my destination with frayed nerves (just not a fan of driving in the rain) and looking forward to sampling the red wine. And I wasn’t disappointed. As the wine flowed, I soon forgot about the rainy weather and my slightly leaky tent and by the time my head hit th
e pillow many hours later, I drifted off to a lovely sleep in The Great Outdoors. The next morning, we (my friend Karen and I) saw the bikers off as they went on their different drives, after which we got in my car and headed towards the nearest wine farm. After a rather long drive which involved many wrong turns and unfamiliar territory (a polite way of saying we were very, very lost) we ended up very close to Nelson’s Creek - at a gorgeous wine farm by the name of Fairview. If you ever have the opportunity to pay this place a visit, you won’t be disappointed. (Apart from their famous cheese and wine, they also have the most bizarre goat turret!) We had a decadent cheese platter for lunch which, topped with crisp wine, was possibly the very best lunch I have ever had the pleasure to eat. Mmmmmm... yum!

Later in the day, back at ‘camp’ we watched the GS (or X something) Challenge, which basically involved an obstacle course and the guys showing off to see who’s the most agile on their bikes. I must say, it was very, very impressive - good to watch. The evening ended with a large buffet dinner and dance that felt very much like a wedding, sans a bridal party! There was lots of food, flowing wine, fairly cheesy band and the usual drunken festiveness that make wedding receptions famous. In all a great evening with lots of interesting people, good chats and laughing. Towards the end, general silliness reigned supreme, and I knew it was time to hit the ol’ tent when I caught myself frolicking around the dance floor (along with a few others) pretending to be a pretty ballerina. Pretty, I’m sure, it was not!

I left early the next morning, (not out of shame as you may think but rather because I had some early lunch plans) with an entirely new respect for the biking fraternity. Mind you, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill bikes - they’re BMW bikes. (Gasp. Ooh. Aah.) Esteemed prince of mechanical steeds. So a degree of class was to be expected. But what did surprise me was the different types of people I met - varying in age, background and outlook. Really interesting. And most of all, the passion these guys have for biking is almost tangible. I was a little jealous they had realised their passion and were able to enjoy it on a regular basis. That’s pretty rare. Anyway, bottom line - next time you’re invited to a weekend away with the BMW Bike Club - say yes.

10th Design Indaba at the CTICC

A couple of weeks after my foray into the biking world, I was lucky enough to attend the Design Indaba, held in Cape Town at the CTICC. This was the first time I attended the Indaba and I was really stunned in oh-so-many-ways. Spanning over three days, the Indaba consisted of numerous talks by some of the world’s most impressive creatives - from creative directors to cartoonists, architects to artists. For the most part, each speaker was riveting, with the exception of maybe one or two. (Mr. Frere-Jones may have contributed numerous fonts to the global collection, but listening to him describe how to design a font just didn’t rock my world.) Guys that stood out were Alistair King (creative director of King James), Brian Eno (who needs no introduction), Hella Jongerius (a Dutch product designer), Jaime Hayon (brilliant industrial designer and artist), Jurgen Bey (product designer with a really beautiful take on life), Keith Helfet (who’s designed a couple of Jaguars in his time), Paul Davis (interesting and outspoken illustrator), Milton Glaser (artist who, among others, coined the phrase/logo I New York and designed a famous Bob Dylan poster) and Zapiro (brilliant, contraversial newspaper cartoonist), who earned himself a standing ovation. In all, very, very, über-very inspiring. I also swung by the expo a couple of times and saw a lot of amazing stuff on offer. Most of it was too pricey for me but I ended up buying two beautiful candle holders from Light from Africa (a foundation that raises funds and facilitates skill development as well as job creation. Sales of their pieces benefit the artists and communities affected by HIV / Aids.) I also loved, loved, loved Hennie Meyer’s ceramic blocks. After a quick Google search, it appears his trademark pieces are bizarre but beautifully crafted ceramic teapots (sadly, not on show at the expo). The blocks blew me away but alas were too expensive for my lowly copywriter salary. Pity. Heath Nash’s lamp shades also caught my eye, as did the various jewellery collections on show. Anyway, enough perving over expensive material objects I can’t afford...

Hennie Meyer ceramic blocks

Those pretty much are the two major highlights of the last few weeks, though on a more personal note, Nicola (one of my best friends) is getting married and asked me to be one of her bridesmaids, along with Karen and Nicky. It’s such an honour and very exciting. The wedding is in January and there’s lots to be done, (including embarking on a radical weight-loss programme, because let’s face it, no one wants a chubby bridesmaid!) so the next few months are bound to be busy. They’re such a great bunch of girls - I’m really looking forward to it all.

Well, that’s my bit for now. I’ve successfully used up the last bit of what has been a tedious and dull work day. Time to head home now and start preparing my abused liver for tonight’s book club and the weekend ahead.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Unleashing the Inner Psycho

This post used to be a LOT longer but I'm removing its contents because it makes me sound crazy, bitter and a little freaky (and no one needs to know how crazy, bitter and freaky I can be ;).
Instead, here's a picture of my pussycat.

Friday, 2 February 2007

Happy New... February?!?

I’m feeling really tired today. I had a few friends over for a little dinner party last night (ooh yes, on a ‘school night’). Coincidentally, one of the couples had got engaged the evening before, so we had lots to celebrate. The wine and champagne flowed and so in spite of not-too-late-a-night, today is not being kind to me. Still, ‘had a great evening - worth feeling a little crappy this morning, and today’s Friday - which always puts me in a ‘happy place’.

Anyway...I blinked, and now somehow February is here. Last month flew by at such a hectic pace - I really don’t know what happened. I remember New Year’s Eve (though certain details are sketchy)... I remember making a short list of resolutions (more on that later)... I certainly remember feeling misery and dread as my last day of leave dissolved into my first day back at work... and I remember cramming for an exam I wrote soon after that. But nope, the rest is a mystery. Maybe it’s true - the older you get, the faster time tends to fly.

So, more about those resolutions! First of all, I hate making resolutions because I feel I’m just setting myself up for failure. And so far, this year has been no different. My new year’s resolutions usually entertain the notion of going to gym (regularly) and eating more sensibly. Well, total visits to gym in January... zero (to be fair, it has been unbearably hot and so, you know...). As for the eating thing - no comment. More importantly, however, I added two new resolutions to my list - ones I’m actually excited about keeping.

First of all, I’m going to concentrate on focusing less on work, simply because the last year or two has been tough (work-wise) and the more stressed I get at work, the more miserable my life gets. So this year is going to be different. No, really! What happens at work, stays at work - and while I’m still set on building a career, this job is a mere stepping-stone. A means to an end. Secondly, and most importantly - this year I’m going on an overseas trip! I’ve been threatening to do this for years now but have never had the guts and got my ass into gear. It’s always been a case of bad timing, insufficient funds and all the other usual excuses. Not much has changed but this year I’ve decided not to let anything stop me. I’m going, damnit! The POA is to go over to the UK in September/October and spend about three weeks travelling around. I’d like to visit my brother while I’m over and also spend some time in Scotland. (I have lots of long-lost relatives who live there and it’s high time we all met.) I’d also like to go over to France while I’m ‘in the neighbourhood’ - though this is entirely budget-dependent. Anyway, I’m quite excited about doing this trip - it’s good to have something to look forward to! But enough about resolutions and my overseas trip (don’t want to jinx things). Moving on... I was surfing the ‘net the other day and came across This site has an impressive variety of posters and I found some funny ones that I thought were worth sharing. I really hope the nice guys at don’t mind - I really don’t want to be sued (it would be a sucky way to start the year). Anyway, here are some of the posters that made me laugh out loud...

'Til the next time, ciao4now.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Previous Pics of the Week

January 29th: Sedgefield, Garden Route

February 5th: Fetch. (Two Oceans Aquarium)

February 16th: Goat turret at Fairview
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