Archive for June, 2009
I awoke several times in the night. Sleeping alone does that to me. That and not being able to write. The thrill has gone or the enthusiasm to sit down and put things down on the blank page.
I listened intently. Could I not hear the sounds of small creatures snuffling around outside? Or was the sound coming from closer. Maybe someone sliding in commando fashion down the hall – ready to leap up and plunge their serrated knife deep into my virginal body. No! It was definitely coming from further afield. Maybe the back yard or even. Then it struck me. Rubbish day tomorrow and the weeks cleansacs were under the eave of the verandah. Probably a possum or a cat trying to get into them. Unless I got out there the possibility of stinking rubbish being strewn from front door to gate would be inevitable. I jumped out of bed and crossed to the front door and gingerly opened it. I don’t quite know why I was being so tentative. A large black labrador was head down in the second of three bags. Rubbish was everywhere and he seemed oblivious to me as I shouted my disgust at his abhorrent behaviour. Although he shrunk away with perhaps his hunger disturbed I was left with the legacy of cleaning up the mess and I tossed and turned for most of the night imagining the smells and the feel.
Morning came and my dignity was further hurt as inn the act of rebagging the incredibly horrible mess the parcel tape took a spin down the front path-out the gate-down the road and then disappeared over the bank. The week was not starting well.
To breakfast and more grief. I rarely eat breakfast but this morning I think I will try some freshly toasted white bread with liberal lashings of cholesterol inducing butter and some organic raspberry jam smeared an inch thick over the top. I carefully toast the bread and the miracle of freshly toasted bread wafts through the kitchen as the coffee , freshly perked, adds its own unique scent to the mix. I carefully apply butter and jam and place the four perfect pieces on a plate and then, to my horror, on the journey from bench to seat they slide off and land perfectly, upside down, on the tiled floor. It continues . The top of the toothpaste rolls off and ends upside down in the drainhole of the sink where large clumsy fingers struggle to dislodge it. The toilet paper has run out and the towels are all wet. I can’t find one of the cats and I waste quarter of an hour to find it sitting in the garden cunningly disguised as a plant, waiting for a bird to fall out of the sky into its upturned mouth.
SUNDAY SAIL AT PORTOBELLO 6 September 1992
As I write this with my bloodied and blistered hands – a sure sign of a brilliant and punishing sail, I am both physically and mentally fatigued. What a pity it started so early in the morning. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well last night because I forgot to open my windows and so I was awoken, at what seemed an inhuman hour, with my cup of tea in the infamous Stewart Island mug. My only reply to this generous and loving gesture from Graeme was ‘It’s too bloody calm to sail, what are you waking me up for!’ without even looking out the window. He smiled his all knowing smile that adults seem to have perfected and said,’ Fifteen minutes! Get up, come on, it will be great.’ For once it was me who needed the convincing and after I had my cuppa and listened to some music I was rearing to go – only I acted is if it was an inconvenience so as not to let Graeme know that he was right and I was wrong! I complained about the empty teapot, the last person who folded the genoa, how close the Alfa was parked to the Triumph, the state of the weed on the boat , how short crewed we were (me, Graeme, and Val) how much work I had to do, how slow Graeme was in winching in the Foresail, the halyard tension on both the main and the foresail, the new sail and how it just didn’t look right and generally anything else I could think of! Despite this we managed to motor over to the start in Lower Portobello Bay underneath an oppressive grey morning sky with little sign of the long awaited spring. Amid the largish fleet of yachts there is a friendly camaraderie that only the factors of Dunedin and people mad enough to sail in winter can produce. Luckily the wind was almost perfect for Faith’s new sail, about fifteen to twenty knots, the lee rail was just occasionally dipping under water, the woollies were all flying straight as arrows and the helm was as light as a feather. The log was steadily whirling and showing an average five knots of boatspeed. The start is usually a great strain on the friendly camaraderie that precedes a race. Suddenly boats are crammed together as the top skippers and the people who think they are the best skippers vie for the best position on the start line, unfortunately twenty boats won’t fit into ten metres of water and with monotonous regularity boats exchange french kisses and skippers exchange something far removed from kisses! We tend to try and start apart from everyone else but today we were on the outskirts of a scuffle between a twenty foot trailer sailor, a forty foot ketch and a Laser sailing dinghy – guess who won? We watched astonished as the trailer sailor tried to pass in front of the ketch without actually being ahead. It was quite comical to watch the crew of the trailer sailor try to push(!!) a rather large and solid bowsprit out of their cockpit. We have an uneventful first beat and get to the first mark and it’s time to launch the spinnaker – a hard enough job sometimes with a full crew. We weren’t to have an easy time with this sail all day, a lion tamer and Edward Scissorhands would have helped in some of our moments of woe. We launched it with a wine glass that would not come out, (instead of looking like a balloon it looks like a figure of eight) and so while it was fighting like a caged animal we were losing ground to corinna . A complete and utter waste of time launching the spinnaker because we only have it up for about five minutes before we have to drop it again to go around the bottom mark and reach off towards the start again, the reach was really good for us though, by continually dallying with the sails all the way down this leg we managed to overhaul earenya who just set their sails and pointed for the mark – lazy buggers! The second beat into the wind was magnificent, the wind was very kind to us and as we approached the buoy it continually lifted us higher and higher, much to the dismay of our fellow competitors! At this stage in the race when everything was just beginning to come together in perfect harmony the sun knifed through the evil sky to fry the hapless sailors who dared defy the sun’s tyrannical rule over the temperature. It is a hard life sailing every weekend! So another successful beat and then a shocking spinnaker hoist again, no excuses – I didn’t do it! Despite the bitching and carrying on by our usually (when fully crewed) well behaved spinnaker (blood frenzied demon from hell) we manage to get it under control for half the leg but the Demon had another chapter to write in it’s book of spinnaker mishaps. As we rapidly approach the mark it becomes time to drop the caged terror (we were hoping it would get itself down and into it’s bag!) and even though the genoa is up inside the spinnaker, blanketing it, it is a monster on steroids. After the pole was taken off it was time to lower the spinnaker to deck – this may sound easy but this is only thought by the truly naive! Spinnakers have minds of their own and when they decide to cause mischief they can bring obscene language to even the most gentile crew member who has the misfortune of trying to tame the beast. (Usually the youngest or unluckiest!) As I held on to the foot of the sail for grim life, almost going overboard, I was heard to exclaim ‘ You @*!!@*! !@#^ *& a @*!!@*! %$#&@ of a sail!!!!!!’ Before my poor shoulders were about to finally break the halyard was released and instead of being wrestled over the leeward side of the yacht I was on my back on the windward side under a mountain of now tamed sail and all the thanks I get for it is ‘Quit playing around Demian and get back and bring in the genoa!’ and an extremely large bruise on my shoulder. Unfortunately even the sheeting in of the genoa turns out to be a major chore. The cockpit was a mass of slithering snakes of sheets which made it impossible to do anything major like tacking so while I was taming the serpents the skipper was muttering about ‘wrong way’ and ‘nobody else is going this way’ and ‘running out of bloody water’ and ‘have to tack soon.’ Finally we tacked and although nobody else was anywhere near us it soon became apparent to the delight of us and the utter disbelief of our rivals, that we had miraculously passed our nearest competitors and rounded the mark well up on our proper place in the fleet! Ha! Suck! ‘We did that on purpose’, ‘Why did all you guys go the wrong way?’ The grins on our faces did nothing for the now exasperated skippers of faster boats behind us, nothing however could remove the evil and despised U’s that marred our faces that were usually pictures of pretended concentration.
The buoy now rounded we were again in the wild beasts territory, only an executive decision saved us (thank goodness) so we run under main and genoa alone. I don’t know if my hands and shoulders could have taken another beating! Two places back and two legs later we roared over the finishing line quite spectacularly as the wind increased so we finish with masks of concentration on our faces (so as to look good for the committe boat) and the log hits eight knots! After a splendiferous sail back home with me on the helm (only to stop me from complaining I think!) I even managed to do a perfect piece of marine manouvering and have the boat drift on to the mooring and stop practically dead on the buoy as the wind opposed our forward motion. Ha! What a great day, although I’m not admitting it to anyone (‘just normal mundane average sail’ I’ll say to anyone that asks!). Demian. (the son)
A word from the skipper (the father)
Despite the lads protestations he was successfully roused from his slumber in plenty of time for the race. His sister, however, was a different matter. Lying in bed has become something of a habit for Naomi and this disgusting habit is not helped by staying awake until after midnight watching sweating, overmuscled men throw a piece of leather and each other around a paddock. Naomi had been up the night before to watch the league semi-finals on the box and there e was no way she was going to rise to the occasion.
Sailing shorthanded on a day like this does not allow one to either make mistakes or to relax. The spinnaker has been described as something on steroids , but I can assure you that the genoa is also virtually uncontrollable when the wind gets into the 10-15 knot region. Trying to put the spinnaker up alone is also rather difficult and in the switching wind ( from the North mostly but occasionally going into the Northwest) it is difficult to predict which side of the boat the pole will go, out and I was more often than not, launching the spinnaker inside the genoa . This resulted in more than a fair share of snarl ups , crossed lines, tangles in the jib hanks and other assorted nightmares.
Miriam Spickler is a “replacement driver” who makes her living these days by delivering inebriated people and their cars home. There are tens of thousands of Miriam Spicklers operating in this hard-drinking metropolis of 4 million people. Ever since the ‘it’s not what we are drinking but how we are drinking’ campaign New Zealanders have really embraced the concept of not drinking and driving. Maybe, for women, it was the sight of the young woman vomiting out the back of that cab, but it has been particularly successful with the fairer sex. Now, as the city neon clocks sign off from one a.m. they are accompanied by the ringing of cell phones around city centres where drinking establishments are sprinkled as inebriated patrons ring for the replacement drivers to get them and their expensive Porches, Audi’s, Mercedes, and Mazda RX’s, home.
Miriam Spickler has no delusions about her status in life. Recently made redundant from her job as a research chemist she now is of very low status. As well as her low status Miriam and other replacement drivers have an obvious occupational hazard: their customers can become abusive. Miriam herself has on numerous occasions stopped in traffic and simply walked away, leaving customers raving incoherently in the back of their own cars because of a missed or crunched gear, a tire on the pavement, a near miss with someone who has not availed themselves of the replacement driver service.
Occasionally Miriam Spickler will be called by a drunken male and, inevitably, he will hit on her. For a former research chemist Miriam Spickler has had to develop a whole range of skills for her new CV. Whereas formerly such things as ‘proficient in Excel, PowerPoint, SPSS’ were her stock in trade she now relies more heavily on ‘recent martial arts course’ and ‘advanced automobile detailing’ for job advancement. Not that it pays very well. When payment can be collected Miriam Spickler might be lucky to collect $20 a delivery and $500 a week is about average.
PRICKLY ROSE a blogger from Auckland who has worked in corporate all over the world is one of Miriam Spicklers idols. Well, really her only idol. Some of Prickly Roses quotes which have particularly tickled Miriam Spicklers imagination.
– can’t stand cyclists. Rude, arrogant, think that roads are for them and the taxpayer has to pay for their divine right to put their lycra on, strap silly shoes to their pedals and ride. I have news for them. They look stupid, they smell when they get to work and guess what? We don’t want to see your bike and your helmet in the workplace cubicle or anywhere near a table at a restaurant.
Why so passionate about bikes over the motor vehicle? And now these vigilantes are to have a $50 million Snail Trail courtesy of a dumb idea from a real estate agent Mr Graham Wall who I imagine will never get out of his leased late model European car to join cyclists around Auckland. Because guess what, he can’t show clients around luxury homes …… on a bicycle! Real estate salespeople need cars. “
On the recent overweight Somali hi jacker who sparked a very public debate about increasing airline security on domestic flights – a plan that would dramatically increase the price of domestic flights.
“Drunks, people with a metal illness and those holding an excessive grudge posed the biggest threat on domestic flights.
Well ban drunks. Those with severe mental illness and those nut bars from flying, or
A far easier solution would be to give the head steward and the pilot a gun so mad bitches like this can just be shot on sight.
A $5 a flight increase per flight is enough to justify deportation of the bludging Somali refugee. Why wait until September? Move the trial forward.”
On taking cocaine –
“Generally heavy users of cocaine are not that concerned about their own health, why would they give a f**k about destroying a piece of a renewable rainforest?
I say to Colombians, it’s a business and you need the forest to hide your dens in ——- simply plant more trees.”
On Mexico and swine flu
“Pigs have given President Obama now has the largest chance he will get to legitimately close the border with the hell hole of Mexico. The least pleasant place I have visited so far on the Earth (Bulls and Marton included).”
On the IRD
“The IRD are a gutter scum government department. They are agents of legalised theft. Those too thick to join tax accounting firms or dropkicks from academia. Smart IRD agents get up and leave for fear of the standard of their colleagues. And smart IRD agents are better to deal with than the stupid ones who read parliament intent into every piece of the Act and start from the position always that the taxpayer has to pay what they want them to pay until they prove beyond reasonable doubt they don’t.”
On Fat People
“I boarded an old style Cathay Pacific long haul plane where the seats in business class are lying flat but right next to each other with minimal division and privacy. Air New Zealand of course has superior seats in Business Premier as they are separate and therefore more female friendly.
To my disgust on rolled an obese Australian man who would have tipped the scales at 140kg. He parked his lard arse and bearded face next to me. Shaking in anticipation of the night ahead I warmed up the earplugs (a man that fat just HAS to snore) and changed into my pyjamas. No way were they coming off. He had already parked his fat arms all over the shared arm seat.
After take-off I slipped the seat into bed mode and off to Noddyland I went.
Only to be woken with a large arm resting not so gently on my shoulder just inches from my breast. Disgusting. This obese piece of horrible form was never going to be able to sleep in his allotted space. He was too fat and fat men don’t sleep easily. In revulsion I used both my arms and threw his fat smelly grubby paw off me and tried to put the very small divider down between us but he resisted.
It was quite obvious to me that it was unintentional as the Sleeping Mammoth was snoring his head off so there is no need to press criminal charges as I would of had I been from Hand Mirror or in an Arab state (I recall a Western man was jailed for a similar unintentional act). His snoring continued, failing to be drowned out by engine noise and ear plugs. When he woke he would breathe but so fat he was that he would make a groaning sound on expelling air.
Now is the time for woman travelling alone on aircraft to demand that
a) we are only seated next to really hot men, or
b) a spare seat is left next to us if no one is suitable to be seated next to.
If it is good enough for unaccompanied children then it is good enough for us.
While I do not wish for this man to end up in a jail, I think a complaint letter to Cathay Pacific asking for my concerns to be relayed to the man in question is an appropriate action.”
On the state of the work restroom
“Every fucking day I go in there for the last 4 weeks and the hand towel is lying on the floor. The lazy Chinese son of a bitch who I hear was a doctor or lawyer or something in his own country (where he should be now sucking up pig flu) hasn’t the brain cells to get a new key to the towel dispenser and PUT THE TOWEL in it. God! Why do we allow people like this into our country so they can moan and whine about prejudice and discrimination? “
“A Chinese nursing student is taking her tutors and university to the Human Rights Commission, accusing them of failing her in her final year of her bachelor of nursing course because of her accent.
“My tutors failed me because they said the way that I speak meant people couldn’t understand me, and they said it meant I will not be able to provide proper care to patients,” said Linda Tang, 42, who last week decided to drop out of her course at Unitec because she believed the tutors were making it impossible for her to pass.
“To say my English is not good enough is just an excuse. I feel that what they have done is discriminatory, especially to the Chinese, because we are penalised not for our lack of knowledge or ability, but simply because of how we talk.”
I feel very sorry for Ms Tang who is obviously keen to be a nurse. But the ability to communicate in English is important, and some accents can make it very very difficult for others to understand.”
The real Prickly Rose is currently circulating quite close to Miriam Spickler and their orbits are bound top collide.
A scene from within the Prickly Rose camp.
“Bit pissed really”, Prickly Rose aka utters Samantha Obering-Tate as she lurches through the door of Cancum the upmarket Cuban restaurant featuring genuine Cuban cuisine.
“What the f’’’k do Cubans know about cooking is way beyond me’, she scowls as she down a Dirty Monkey ay $38 a shot and puffs on her Bachillere. She felt the 3 ½ doz Foveaux strait oysters she had already consumed mix with the alcohol.
‘Is it rum or whisky or vodka’ she thought to herself and had a slight touch of reflux as she opened the menu.
Meanwhile Miriam Spickler was but two blocks away engaged in an animated conversation with her co-worker (they worked in teams sometimes so one drove the client’s car, the other the car that would retrieve the target driver).
“My karate will disintegrate your genitals,” screeched Yi-Lin, spiky black hair, red jersey, bright crimson lip stick, tight black trousers, lace up canvas combat boots in contrast to Miriam Spicklers more formal jacket and suit pants, loafer, no makeup, hair tied tightly back.
“And what do you think that’s going to do to your and mine bottom line Yi Lin. If you attack all our customers, word will spread. Pretty soon Spickler and Young will be Spick and Span”
She giggled at her own little joke and thought that her imaginary idol could use that in one of her blogs – then again Prickly Rose would have thought of something altogether smarter. Why – she hobnobbed with practical royalty and led a sophisticated life in Asia, Europe and occasionally New Zealand.
Prickly Rose has a moustache
Prickly Rose has offensive body odour.
Although Miriam Spickler was occasionally offended by some of Prickly Roses missives on fat people, welfare recipients, deadbeat men, liberals,, or held different opinions to her on politics or religion or anything really. She was a role model at a time when there were few female role models apart from females who may as well have been men.
The conversation continued with Yi-Lin but in the vein of Yi-Lin doing harm to unpleasant customers and Miriam Spickler reminding her to keep a cool head and preserve business.
The call came at 4.27 a.m. A rather slurred and incoherent voice with a pronounced Irish accent loudly demanded that Spickler and Co. were required to ‘get my hot ass home”
Miriam could hear thick male laughter in the background and suspected another difficult end-of-shift encounter with some rich male prick with his wife/mistress/girlfriend and alcohol and bad behaviour. She just hoped that Yi-Lin would behave.
The three of them sat in the back seat of Miriam Spicklers Ford Falcon stretched limo with Yin-Li riding shotgun up front and occasionally adjusting her vanity mirror to monitor the back seat activity which there was an increasing frenzy as they neared the destination tendered by the very intoxicated woman who was clearly the alpha of the group. Sam something was all she had picked up from the heavily moustachioed woman, but her attention was drawn to the rather obese smarmy man in the group who had been repeatedly swearing and making racist and sexist remarks. Yi-Lin was becoming more and more animated as she kept adjusting the mirror and glancing sideways at Miriam. Suddenly Miriam Spickler realised who this grotesque caricature of a man was. He was the prominent journalist and blogger and son of a former Minister of the Crown.
They turned gently down Seaview Drive and passed a fellow replacement driver of obvious Arab descent, ushering a client from the confines of yet another limo into a well appointed residence illuminated by soft lighting. Miriam Spickler thought it summed up what the job was all about, duty, safety, service.
Her thoughts were cut off by the sound of a large burp and then yet another torrent of abuse from the rear seat.
“Fucking immigrants. Can’t get a real job. Have to bludge of the rich. Probably expects a fu***kn tip”
Miriam Spickler blushed and looked sideways at Yi-Lin who was staring into the vanity mirror and clenching and unclenching her tiny fists.
Then her attention was drawn back to the man again and she heard him call the alpha women as Prickly Rose. It couldn’t be. This woman who was now vomiting loudly in the rear seat of her car and the horrible stench of faeces suggested she had lost all control of her bodily functions. Yi-Lin quickly adopted her tigerish pose and looked ready to leap into action.
“Who are yooose looking at ye yellow bitches,” the woman now clearly identified as Prickly Rose gushed as the foul stench of oyster, cigars, salsa, rum and cognac pervaded the cabin space.
Miriam Spicklers world had fallen apart in a latter of hours. She looked at Yi-Lin who smiled gently and whispered into the still night air.
“Careful about what you wish for the prophets say “”If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”””
D had just committed lactomangulation for the second time that day, manhandling the “open here” spout on a milk container so badly that he resorted to the illegal side. All-in-all it had been a frustrating day.
They had been hung over from the night before so resorted to confabulation.
“Dollars to doughnuts they’ll believe this one”
“D here” he mumbled in his best phlegmatic tone “I seem to have been influenzidized”
Midday they had gone to a movie and the inevitable game of elbonics had turned really nasty. M claimed she had the choice of the front part of the armrest. D remembered it differently. Then the popcorn had spilled onto the floor as the argument heated and he had tried to disconfect it. After expending good air M just knocked the container from his hand and roasted corn obscured the delights of Reese Witherspoon doing her Little Red Riding Hood act in Freeway.
Then as they were preparing to go out for the evening she really put the boot in
“If men can run the world, why can’t they stop wearing neckties? How smart is it to start the night with a noose around your neck?”
Always with the smart cracks and the male put down, though he secretly admired her very astute and funny eye.
So D decided that they would eat in –
‘Do you know what I would like’ he started off,”fish eggs on toast, followed by a game soup so gamey you can taste the rabbits foot. Then something fried in so much animal fat that you can feel your blood vessels clogging. For desert something with chocolate. So much chocolate that your head hurts and you feel like sneezing. They settled on Indian takeaways.
An hour later and the food still arrived. M started off on another little tirade. D teleprocrastinated for a while then eventually got through to Prasads Popodoms.
“Oh! Yes sir! Sorry sir! Our driver has been in a bad accident and delivery will be delayed. Its very near where you live kind sir and if you are so vishing you could retrieve your tasty morsels from the delivery car”
D shcmoosed into the cold night. Down the block he saw the flashing lights of a police car and an ambulance. A white van, doors open, bonnet popped, sat at a strange angle to the curb. A bus, seemingly accidentely unchallenged was surrounded by a gaggle of passengers, muttering and ooying aahying amongst themselves. As D got closer he could see the glass scattered over the road and the unmistakable red of a pool of blood near what was obviously a crash site. Two policemen, notebooks drawn were detectivising near the van. The Prasads Popodoms insignia was cruelly dissected by a large metallic gash. D spotted the white boxes in the rear with the familiar markings.
“ Excuse me- I know this may seem inappropriate but that’s my food in the back. Would it be possible…” D’s voice trailed off.
The two policemen looked into each other eyes, the back of the van, surveyed the carnage, the blood, then looked back again.
“Forget the food son, it’s a goner”
The GENE POOL is a social and digital media project I’ve been involved with and its starting to bear some fruit.I am not sure where my contribution has got to as the site is rather hard to understand at times but I loved this . (Its best viewed with Firefox browser at this stage rather than Internet Explorer by the way).
The Gene Pool Group where works are being uploaded is here. Once you register with POOL, join the Gene Pool group, and then you can upload your own items and comments on others.
It’ll all culminate in works being selected for possible broadcast, and/or a public display at RMIT University later in the year.
Some are uploading photos, written pieces, others are sharing songs they’ve written, or slide shows. Your contributions can be as simple or complex as you like. I found this slide show by a contributor called Mandrillus especially mesmerising (he’s used an audio clip we also uploaded from the ABC archives as the base of a soundtrack).