Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rolling In The Aisles

Brave New World

New World on College Hill is not only the second most expensive supermarket in all of New Zealand, but it’s also one of the worst ones I’ve ever wheeled a trolley around. No New World Sympathy from me.

With all the glamour of Kwik Save, but with the price of Waitrose, the narrow aisles are blocked by undead members of staff unloading their Toyota Yaris-sized cages of Campbell’s Soup, whilst the meat fridges look like an explosion in an abattoir. Portions of meat come in two sizes: breezeblock or the entire cow, whilst the bagpackers clearly have no grasp of physics or the inelastic properties of polythene, loading up your carrier as if they’re trying to break some world record. Or at least the eggs they’ve put at the bottom the fucking bag.

All this means, then, that for a 30-something male who steadfastly rejects the Jamie Oliver-isation of his dinnertime (spinach and radiccio torte with warm parmesan squash, anyone?), for me trips to the supermarket are a perfunctory affair. A blank-eyed wander round the aisles, automatically and nonchalantly selecting items from the pre-prepared list in my head, never altering it from week to week.

Yesterday’s shopping trip, however, proved to be a little different in that three slightly off-kilter things happened within the space of about 12 minutes; nearly enough to wake me from my shopping somnolence.

Dwarves, Duncan and Drink

First, I saw a colleague from work. Not ordinarily confusing, if it weren’t for the fact that she was 6 inches shorter than the day previously. I immediately wondered if she had perhaps fallen down a pothole or had her legs severed, but since there are few potholes in supermarkets these days, and she was definitely still wearing shoes, I discounted this possibility.

No, the reason, I later concluded, was that most of the women in my office wear very, very high heels, possibly because in the world of PR, they equate height with stature. And it was heartening to see that although, at work, stood next to me she seemed a giant among men, in reality she was just a dwarf on stilts. One day, I may consider going to work wearing Elton-John-Pinball-Wizard boots to prove the point.

Three minutes later, a second thing happened. I realised, as I waiting for Louise to finish choosing an onion or something, that I was staring at someone I hadn’t seen in 10 years – Duncan. er….thingamajig….er…. Duncan....er….whassname.

Duncan, myself and a whole host of other people from various Manchester Universities helped set up Storm Fm, a student radio station in 1997. And as I looked at him packing away his shopping, I immediately realised who it was. He momentarily glanced up and looked down again. Then realizing, too, he’d seen someone he recognized, looked up and down again as if trying to place me, before pointing and saying “Phil!”.

I responded by pointing and going “Duncan!”. We had a brief chat, exchanged numbers and generally, mutually puffed out our cheeks and shook our heads about what a huge co-incidence it was.

Last, 5 minutes later and still trying to get my head around the fact that I’d bumped into Duncan, Louise and I had almost finished packing our stuff at the till, when the cashier refused Lou some cider because she looked underage.

Being nearly 32, this was obviously a shock to Louise and she immediately produced her driving licence. Yet, for the cashier, this was still unacceptable – “NZ Driving Licence or Passport only, please”. Now, I’ve never been refused alcohol in New Zealand, which meant that despite the fact that I am younger than my girlfriend, I am able to buy beer and she’s not. And the fact that despite the number of Europeans here, European Driving Licences are not valid ID seems to be ridiculous.

The upside to this, however, is that I am going out with a girl who looks young enough to be refused alcohol. And that can only be a good thing.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Some Birthday Photos

Loulou checks the menu

Blurred photo from the window. That's the camera doing that - I'm not pissed

Always room for desert

My birthday cake(s)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Birthday

If 21 is key of the door, then I don’t know what 31 is. The key to the Volvo perhaps. Or maybe the key on the Dulux Colour Swatch - if you’re currently deciding whether to paint the nursery with Cinnamon Sunrise or Domestic Violets.

So anyway, 31…….

Lou arrived last Friday which of course is fantastic for so many reasons, not least because I get to move into my own double room free from people snoring and farting. Actually, come to think of it, that was me. Anyway, last night Lou wanted to surprise me with a birthday dinner, but ashamedly I relentlessly badgered her until she let slip the location: the revolving restaurant at the top of the Sky Tower.

As I’ve stated in this blog before I’ll go up anything high. If it’s got an observation deck, then in my eyes, it’s a winner. Thinking about it now, I’ve been up the Tokyo TV Tower, the Fuji Observation Deck, The Tokyo Government Towers, AMP Tower in Sydney, Eureka Building in Melbourne, the Sentosa Tower and then the Swissotel in Singapore, The World Trade Centre, The Empire State Building and even the Space Needle in Seattle. If I ever visit Dubai any time soon, then let me tell you……

I’m sure a philosophy student from Liverpool John Moore’s might say that, as a shortarse, it’s indicative of some subconscious desire to lord it over other people. He might call it something like “Ivory Tower Syndrome”. But he’d be talking nonsense. So I’d probably knock his beret off for that comment.

I met Louise on Queens St and we wandered round to the Tower to collect our reserved tickets. Once in the lift, however, as I was staring down through the glass floor, it was obvious that Louise was not comfortable with the ground falling away beneath her and was now peeking through splayed fingers. The actual observation deck was pleasant if unspectacular, and whilst Louise gingerly remained at a safe distance from a glass floor revealing a 328 metre drop, I failed miserably to take any decent night shots, each successive image resembling more and more the daubings of a child let loose on black sugar paper with an army of crayons.

To the restaurant, then. And whereas Lou had been a bit fazed by the height issue, after sitting down at our table, I realised my middle-ear had a movement issue. After a few moments, I felt a little queasy and as I looked across the table at Lou, I could sense I was moving I just couldn’t tell how, or where I was moving to. Similarly, one thing they never tell you about a revolving restaurant that when you go the toilet, you come out 3 minutes and 18.4 degrees later only to think your girlfriend has buggered off, when in fact she hasn’t left her seat.

Soon, however, the feeling had passed. Enough for me to order beef filler with kumara mash (NZ Sweet Potato) and a triple chocolate icecream.

Last year I was on Bondi Beach for my birthday. This year I was up the Auckland Sky Tower. I’ve set the bar high for my 30s. I only hope I can keep this up.

Photos to follow............

The Breakfast Club

A while ago now, Pink House crew members Chris and Simon launched Lunch Club.

Whilst the moniker they bestowed upon it best conjures up images of captains of industry meeting at an Edwardian high-rise in Mayfair to discuss the Gold Standard and have a spot of tiffin, it was in fact an excuse to spend the hour between 1pm and 2pm stuffing their faces with home-made burritos. And most of the time, Chris and Simon were the only two members.

One year on and here in NZ I find myself one of the inaugural members of what I am calling Breakfast Club. Not a reference to the daft-haircut-sporting, none-more-80s film of the same name, but rather a meeting of like-minded people whose only thing in common is that they have to get up bloody early for work.

Initially Breakfast Club was just Bev and I, but its ranks are slowly swelling with new bleary-eyed additions of Nick from Seattle and Benjamin from France. There are also honorary mentions for Jens who, being German, is up and gone long before the rest of us, and Manu who, despite being German, stumbles into the kitchen at 7.55am looking like he’s been woken by binmen emptying the skip he lives in.

Breakfast Club has a fairly loose agenda. If you feel like joining, here are some of the regular activities:

* Wearily watching the kettle boil as you ask your fellow member if they heard some twat in the top bunk snoring last night

* Groggily reading instructions from a Weetabix Box (“Oh look I’m getting twice my RDA of nyacine”) and missing the bowl with your milk
* Staring blankly at the newspaper. Deliberately ignoring stories about Obama vs the Superdelegates because it’s too early, and instead settling on an article about a man who crossed the Attacama on a spacehopper

* Yawning while you hack your toast to splinters with the rock-hard butter you forgot to take out of the fridge last night

I suspect, however, that Breakfast Club is not exclusive to The Brown Kiwi

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ou-es Tu?

Of late, readers of this blog, of which I sincerely hope there are some, may have noted a recent drop off in the frequency of posting.

It pains me to report, then, that nothing really has happened. I am currently locked in a cycle of alarm clock, breakfast, front door, work, lunch, work, front door, TV, curry/spag bol/supernoodles, more TV and then bed as I wait for the cash to roll in and for lovely Louise to arrive.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a routine, but I am closer than I have been in two years to recreating my past life in London. This is both a blessing and a curse: although this rediscovered “routine” rewards me financially and also career-wise, I can’t help hearing the echoes of people who have returned permanently to Blighty, their travelling and perhaps their youth firmly behind them, moaning about how they’ve found “settling down” inherently depressing.

Still, regrettably, I can’t travel forever - I am not “The Littlest Hobo” – and so at some stage a return to orthodoxy and normalcy is as expected as it is inevitable.

I can’t complain at the moment, the hostel is as empty as my work email inbox, and my bank account is filling up faster than my internet browser’s history bar. Work alternates between a mad flurry of presentation writing and frantic bash-typing of emails, contrasted with extended lunch breaks, lengthy pisses and Youtube afternoons. Feast and famine. Bella Emberg and Kate Moss.

It’s not long now though, I think, until I’ll have something blogworthy. So hang on in there…..