Friday, 30 May 2008

Us

poop indeed

For the last three weekends, Flatmate and I have finished off our Saturday nights by cwtching up on the sofa until daylight sends us to our separate beds for some proper sleep (as opposed to ‘don’t want to move in case I disturb them; mustn’t breathe in their face; and definitely no farting’ kind of sleep).

This has prompted BK to come crashing downstairs, as abruptly as possible in a house with extremely creaky floorboards, at intervals throughout the night ostensibly to get a drink of water from the kitchen but presumably to try and catch us in the act of Doing Something Naughty.

Each time, he has found Flatmate standing ruffled yet nonchalant in the kitchen while I lie bleary-eyed on the sofa with an obvious, person-sized space next to me.

I suggested to Flatmate it might be better just to let BK find us snuggled up and sleeping than to let his imagination run riot and torment him with thoughts of what we might be doing behind his back.

So Flatmate found a suitable opportunity this week to drop into conversation with BK that he and I “sometimes have a kiss and cuddle” when we’re drunk.

I now find myself in a situation where I feel alienated and awkward with the person I consider my dearest friend, while the person I long to have a deeper relationship with forever keeps himself at arm’s length, and in a month I will lose him anyway when I move away.

Tonight, life really sucks.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Flush

he's a diamond geezer

Saturday night, post-pub:

“Carrot?" said Flatmate, munching hard on one as he joined me on the sofa.

"No thanks," I said.

"Pick a card. No, pick two,” Flatmate demanded, thrusting a deck of cards at me as he got himself comfortable under the blanket and leaned in close. “I want to see if I can read your mind.”

He has been studying the Derren Brown book rather a lot recently. We picked two cards each, and stared into each other’s eyes.

“Tell me, in your head, what your first card is.”

‘Five of clubs,’ I projected, ‘Five of clubs.’

“Really really concentrate. Think it hard.”

Five of clubs! I screamed it silently. I visualised it as a picture. I thought it as a written word. I made the five of clubs ooze from every pore.

It was actually the seven of diamonds but I wanted to see what would happen.

“Is it… is it… the seven of clubs?”

"Bloody hell! Kind of."

I explained my deception. He nodded thoughtfully. “I see,” he mused. “Next one.”

I didn’t cheat this time. King of diamonds! King of diamonds!

His psychic powers were presumably depleted by the effort required for the first guess. After he rambled through most of the pack I felt obliged to put him out of his misery.

“Ah," he said. "Ok, your turn.” He stared at me with wide eyes and flared nostrils. “I’m sending it to you now. Concentrate.”

Spookily, I guessed the right suit first time and got the correct number on the second attempt. My psychic powers however were also drained for the remaining card. Maybe psychic power demands the spiritual equivalent of lithium batteries?

Flatmate laid the four cards on the table. Then he jumped. “Look at that!” he yelped.

I looked. Seven of diamonds; King of diamonds; six of diamonds; ace of diamonds.

“What are the chances of randomly pulling out a flush?” he squeaked.

“Wow. And look,” I said, “Not only are they the same suit, but you’ve got the two centre cards and the ones on either end. The two in the middle and the two extremes.”

In a drunk and modestly stoned state this was Very Significant Indeed. We pondered a while in awed silence, then Flatmate turned to gaze at me with serious eyes.

“What do they add up to?"

"Twenty four," I said. "And thirty five."

"Twenty four," said Flatmate, "And I just ate a carrot. I found that diamond earring in the road today. Maybe that earring is not cubic zirconia after all. Carrot. Carat! Twenty four carat. It's a sign. I could be rich!"

I nodded, too happy to care.

"And the other way," he continued, "They add up to thirty five, which is my age." He shook his head in disbelief. "And they are all the same suit, and they are the cards at either end and in the middle. What are the chances of that? What are the chances?

He frowned. There was a long pause. “I reckon it’s going to be something like one in fifty two times one in fifty one times one in fifty times one in forty nine. So that’s, er…”

While he was working it out, we both fell asleep.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Also

This made me laugh.

Cardifferent

the world's nicest present

Saturday p.m.: I went to Newport, which is the town next door to Cardiff. I went because it is the town next door to Cardiff so it would be rude not to visit it during my time in Walesland, and because the Lonely Planet says it has an interesting Transporter Bridge (it has. It also has a cool museum with several fossils and a mannequin dressed as a surprised-looking Roman).

When I got back, I found BK and Flatmate already supping Erdingers at our favourite watering hole. Flatmate was in high spirits, having just spent £60 on a new shirt. Flatmate is not the sort of man who regularly spends £60 on a new shirt. Flatmate is not the sort of man who regularly spends £60 on anything, being generally skint. Fortunately he wears the ‘trendily unkempt’ look very well.

“It’s to die for!” he said, glowing with pride as he pulled it out of its bag. "It is the world's nicest shirt."

It was nice. He looked so happy even BK cracked a smile.

“Is your t-shirt still there?” BK asked me.

This bar supports local artists and designers and runs a monthly craft market. A rack of clothes had stood by the door for the last few weeks displaying a mix of quirky second hand outfits and new t-shirts. I’d had my eye on a particular t-shirt for a while, but couldn’t justify buying it when I was a month behind on the utility bills. I’d consigned 'my' t to the mañana pile and just kept hoping nobody bought it first.

I glanced over to the rail. A sky blue sleeve poked out halfway along.

“Yeah, looks like it’s still there,” I said.

“Are you ever going to buy it?” asked Flatmate.

“I nearly succumbed this morning when I walked past on the way to the station,” I said. “But I didn’t want to carry it around Newport.”

“Is that so?” said Flatmate. He reached into the shirt bag, pulled out a sky blue t-shirt, and threw it at my head. “Present for you,” he beamed.

I gasped. Flatmate is not the sort of man who goes around randomly buying t-shirts for people. “What? This is my t?” I stammered.

“Yup!” he said. “I couldn’t go and spend £60 on the world’s nicest shirt and then not get anything for the Weasel now, could I?”

Monday, 26 May 2008

Seduction

good clean fun

Saturday a.m.: I am fresh out of the shower and still wrapped in a towel when Flatmate appears at my bedroom door to say good morning.

"How are you today?" he asks as he pecks me half on the mouth, half on the cheek. His beardy bristles scratch soft against my skin.

"Well actually," I say, "I woke up feeling a little flat. You know, in a 'there's more to life than this' mood, and I was kind of in need of a cuddle. Just a cuddle though! I don't want to have my wicked way with you or anything."

"Oo-er," says Flatmate, who is wearing only a beaming smile and a pair of pristine white underpants. "I might, er, you know; hang on, I'll put some trousers on."

He reappears a moment later with his lower half respectably clad and gives me the kind of prolonged cuddle that makes the sun come out.

It was a white lie about the cuddle: I actually do want to have my wicked way with him. He is so beautiful. I am wearing only a towel. My bed is right behind us, unmade, beckoning. He is looking at me with those soft khaki eyes, smiling and stroking my hair and his trousers have done very little to curtail his physical appreciation of our hug. We have the house to ourselves - BK has gone to work.

It is a testament to my seduction technique that, moments later, instead of being on my back I am on his back and he is carrying me around the house piggyback-style, visiting every room in turn to spin me around until I squeal for mercy.

He deposits me back on my bed with a kiss and an exhortation to change out of my damp attire before I catch a chill. Then he goes back to his room as happy as a sandboy having given me exactly what I asked for and made me laugh, and trims his toenails.

Sigh.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Ephemera

kisses to all my wonderful (and rather sexy) readers

I haven’t been able to summon up the time or enthusiasm to write any more about what I started to talk about in the last post. So rather than write nothing while waiting for inspiration and a spare few hours I've decided to write about something - anything - else because quite honestly all the deep and thinky stuff gave me a touch of writer’s block and I’ve missed just yammering away about all the usual nonsense.

That said, your comments were wonderful and very encouraging: thank you one and all for being so goddam lovely. As soon as I get over The Fear I’ll get back to it, I promise.

So, what’s been happening on Planet Weasel, I hear you cry?

Work want to keep me til the end of June. Hurrah! The contract was due to finish next week but the manager sidled over to me yesterday and asked in hushed tones if I’d be interested in staying on longer.

“Yes!” I said, for I am Keen and Helpful. And quite poor.

“That’s great,” said the manager, “But keep it to yourself, because we’re not going to be keeping everyone.”

Oh no. A cull. I hate that. And I am always asked to stay on in jobs when I temp: I hate that too. I take no pride in being considered good at jobs for which the only qualification is having opposable thumbs. I is just payin' the rent.

The other female on my team, a happy, outgoing 24 year old who prefers to read the paper, surf the net, initiate games of Would You Rather?, text her friends and draft her first novel longhand, rather than pore over boring old spreadsheets, showed me a text a mate had just sent her.

‘My boyfriend and I had sex yesterday,’ it said. ‘He spanked me and said I was a very naughty girl.’

“Eh?” I said. “Did she just send you that apropos of absolutely nothing?”

“Yes!” the happy soul chortled. “She’s a one! Her last boyfriend told her he was in the army but really he’d got kicked out for selling drugs and was living with his nan making porn movies!”

Is nothing sacred to the young?

Flatmate wants to tell BK about ‘us’. Our strange relationship has now developed to the point where there are frequent unsolicited cuddles and, boldly, I have insisted on giving him a peck on the cheek once a day every day until I leave. We also seem to be spending as much time together as possible, while pretending that we’re not. Even so I'm still not sure if there's an 'us' to tell BK about.

Here’s Flatmate's new joke:

~ Knock knock.
~ Who’s there?
~ Europe.
~ Europe who?

(Say it fast. Or get an eight year old to help you. The man is a genius.)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

The Unspoken

the truth is in there

Apologies for the long hiatus.

This is mostly due to reading the following quote from J M Coetzee in a magazine:

“Til we have spoken the unspoken we have not come to the heart of the story”.

The words hit me like a punch in the gut.

Suddenly, the silly everyday things I usually record in this blog started seeming not quite enough.

I couldn’t just go prattling on about what happened at work and not give the questions you posed in the previous comments a proper reply. So I spent over a week avoiding my laptop while wondering how to tell you about the unspoken stuff going on at Chateau Monkey. It’s a murky pool to peer into, and frankly not half as funny as the silly everyday things.

What I decided to do is give some context to what I’ve written to date. For the benefit of new readers (hi Reluctant Blogger!), I’ll recap on how I came to be living with an ex-boyfriend (BK) for a year.

I’ll expand on how I became the ‘girlfriend-for-now’ of Flatmate, BK's younger brother (Flatmate's description).

And I will tell you about how I really feel about these things, thus sating my current quest for the heart of the story and maybe getting my head out of my arse and finding some clarity in the process.

It might take several posts and I hope it won’t be too dreary. Just let me get it out of my system then things will get back to normal, I promise.

Let’s start with BK.

In May 2002 I was sleeping on a friend’s floor in New Zealand, while the man I thought I wanted to marry (let's call him Rebound) waited for me in England. I’d met Rebound hot on the heels of an amicable break up from the lovely man I’d been with for ten years.

Rebound and I spent a year tearing each other’s hearts out pretending it was love. Then I told him I was going back to New Zealand. My residency visa was running out and I needed to renew it in person. Once renewed, it’d last forever and I could come and go as I pleased. If it expired, my chance of living in NZ would be forever kaput. It was too precious for me to just throw away. I had to go. He said he wanted to marry me. "If you loved me," he said, "You'd stay." I told him I’d renew it and come straight back.

Away from him, I had space to think. When I tried to compile a list of things I liked about him and could only summon up one item (“funny”), I knew I should probably sell my return ticket. The day I phoned him to tell him I wasn’t coming back was - coincidentally - the same day I met BK.

I was at an interview for a temp job at a call centre. It was one of those group interview days with team-building tasks and psychometric testing and other hideous stuff. Arguing with my bunch of youthful and earnest potential colleagues about whether to throw the paedophile cancer-cure discoverer or the much-respected-yet-adulterous world leader out of the hot air balloon, I heard people at another table shrieking with laughter. I looked over and saw that a short, chubby bald guy with a cheeky look was causing the hilarity. I remember thinking, ‘I wish I was sitting with them. He looks nice’.

On the first day of the job, I was pleased to find myself on the same training table as the short chubby bald guy. In the ‘introduce the person sitting next to you’ session, I told the room ‘this is Emma, she’s from Auckland and she used to work for an insurance company’. The short chubby bald guy pointed to the guy on his right and announced "This is Ben, he’s from Shetland and he likes getting pissed and going to strip joints".

There was a stunned silence, into which Ben eventually spluttered, "This is BK. He’s from Somerset and he’s a c**t!’"

At lunchtime, I left my name badge on the table and came back to find ‘Is A Monkey’ added in BK’s distinctive hand. And so it began.

BK was the person who brought everyone together. He talked to everybody the same way, from the canteen ladies to the MD, and the word ‘irreverent’ didn’t begin to describe his attitude. He wanted to be in on everything, liked having fun, and he made sure everyone got involved in his schemes and outings.

Even quiet, serious Weasels who tended to keep themselves apart from the crowd.

I was pleased but suspicious when he focussed his attention on me. One on one I found him difficult to talk to. While he was clearly shy, bumbling awkwardly over words, he was ever the clown. He took the piss so artlessly you felt like you’d been savaged by a kitten. But so accurately: somehow he saw through to your innermost self and liked to rip to pieces the self-pretence and vanities he found lurking there. He was ruthless - and possibly naïve - in his directness. His ability to cut through crap was inspiring. He was as sharp as a knife and even when riled I admired how he challenged everything I thought I knew. In spite of his razor wit, jokey insults and subversive tendencies, I felt safe with him. It took him weeks before he managed to make eye contact with me while we were talking and when he finally did I was touched by his bravery. There was more to him than met the eye.

Then I found out he’d told everyone he was going to go out with me. I kept telling him I didn’t want to see anyone, but I couldn’t shake him off.

Eventually his persistence wore me down.

BK and I started going out in August 2002 even though I knew a) I didn’t fancy him in the slightest and b) I really needed to be single for a while.


(To be continued)

Thursday, 8 May 2008

What's The Story?

when monkey butlers go wrong

It is good to go to work because you learn useful things while you are there.

For example.

I have learnt the Polish word malpa, which means ‘monkey’. I have learnt the Polish word dupa, which means ‘butt’. Therefore I have learnt how to call someone a butt monkey in Polish.

I have learnt that the majority of my colleagues would choose a talking dog over a monkey butler but we are evenly divided on whether we would prefer to be buried or burnt alive (games of Would You Rather are helping to pass the time as the work we do is rather dull).

Thanks to Ian from Tasmania, I have learnt that voting in federal elections in Australia is compulsory. Cheers Ian. You're a mine of information but you're still wrong about Shihad, ok?

I have discovered that you CAN hire goats to graze your lawn, in California. Brilliant!

And I have been introduced to the works of Richard Cheese, a man whose musical genius knows no bounds. Buy this man’s albums, all of them. His rendition of Closer by Nine Inch Nails is the most provocative you will ever hear. The man is a god.

It has been a fruitful fortnight, workwise.

On the home front, things continue in their usual surreal fashion.

Flatmate and I went for a swift half in The Claude on Saturday night and ended up strolling the streets of Cardiff until ten past five Sunday morning because neither of us wanted to go home.

We talked. We agreed again that our strange relationship is just for fun, to pass the time. There's nothing in it, because we are just friends, it's just a drunken fling, and because Flatmate still needs to get the whoring thing out of his system, and because I'm going back to New Zealand soon with BK.

Then he told me when he's ready to settle down, his soulmate will be 'someone very like' me. He told me he will miss me so much when I go. I asked him if anyone outside his immediate family had ever told him they loved him. He said no. I took a deep breath and said 'Well I do. You're loved. I love you. Get used to it.'

This statement provoked an awful lot of canoodling from Flatmate even though we were definitely both sober, and even though there’s nothing in it what with us just being friends and the whoring thing and all that. He didn't let go of my hand for the rest of the night.

As is typical following a Saturday night of canoodling we avoided each other most of Sunday then on Monday, when BK went to a concert, we canoodled a whole lot more.

Today there was full-on canoodling before we went to work.

This week, in the presence of a solicitor, I have signed a form saying BK and I are partners in a genuine and stable relationship and I am happy to sponsor his application for New Zealand residency.

Why do I have a feeling that one day soon life is going to turn around and kick this malpa right in the dupa?

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Belonging

you're not having Flight of the Conchords; they're definitely ours

One thing guaranteed to piss off a Kiwi is having an Australian claiming a New Zealand band as one of their own.

Today at work Ian from Tasmania assured me Shihad were from the West Island.

I nearly flew at him across the desk with a sharpened pencil. The cheek of it!

“No they’re not!” I gasped.

“I think you’ll find the lead singer’s a Kiwi, but the rest are Australian,” he replied in a pompous, irritating, and possibly racist manner.

“Bullshit!” I cried, not truly sure if it was or not but needing passionately to defend my chosen land’s favourite rock behemoths. “They’re from Wellington!”

I had the satisfaction of seeing a flicker of doubt cross his face. "Well, they live in Aussie anyway," he countered.

We bickered about ownership a while longer in true trans-Tasman style. Then we bickered about Crowded House. When we got to Russell Crowe we petered out. Neither of us wanted him.

“What makes you so qualified to stick up for New Zealand anyway?” he asked. “I mean, I know you lived there, but you’re still a Pom.”

In June 2006, in an ornate room in a town hall, I strolled up to Wellington’s deputy mayor, shook his hand, took the certificate he was proffering, said “Cheers Alick!” and walked away a New Zealand citizen.*

I loved New Zealand the moment I stepped off the plane with a travel-worn backpack that first time in 1998. I emerged from the airport, looked up at the crystal clear sky, and knew I was home. That feeling has never left me, and when I’m not there I miss it with a kind of longing that aches my bones.

I may be just a Pom but New Zealand is part of me in a way I can barely describe. That’s why. So don’t pick on me, you great woolly Taswegian. At least I've been to Sydney.

I’ve ended up in a great team. Nobody had to do the Walk of Shame so we remain the Magnificent Seven. Five guys, two girls, and none of us slackers. The work is (predictably) as dull as ditchwater but the banter is great and getting better.

It’s going to be a good month.





* My casual thank you was not because I knew him personally, I just didn’t like the subservience I’d seen in the other people going up to collect their certificates. He was only the deputy mayor, for God’s sake: an elected representative, a civil servant. A man in a suit. Not a demi-god, like, say, Robbie Fowler. No need for obsequiousness, fellow new New Zealanders. He’s not going to snatch the certificate back and say ‘I’ve changed my mind’ just because you’ve been a bit cheeky, is he?