Thursday, 29 January 2009

Oh The Irony

"let's face it, Weasel, you rock"

It's official: I am fantastic.

After twelve gruelling and largely fruitless years as a temp; after finally moving to escape the temping grind, this afternoon two smartly-dressed ladies from my employment agency sprang me at work to present me with a 'Temp of the Month' award.

The prize?

A $40 gift voucher for a local Stuff emporium.


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

They Really Should Finish That

Tough Ask

Anand Satyanand, please don't bite my bum

So, a phone interview containing a short test of my general knowledge and current affairs, eh?

Seeing as I don’t watch TV unless it’s America’s Next Top Model or read the paper unless it’s free and try to avoid anything sensible on the internet I thought perhaps some homework was prudent.

My research was meticulous and incisive. I read Saturday’s Dominion Post and this week’s The New Zealand Listener. I perused the BBC website and that of the Southland Times. And I took myself off to a café to scrutinise their recent back copies of Time magazine, feeling obliged to order their fabulous $11 all-day breakfast and a huge bowl of latté to justify my presence there.

(One day, it’ll all go on expenses).

After my tireless investigation I now knew Barack Obama voted Democrat and his Vice President is Joseph R. Biden; I knew the Aussie PM is Kevin Rudd and the Kiwi PM is, er, John Key.

I knew plastic bags are banned in some parts of India and Christian Cullen has scored the most tries for the All Blacks and there are elections in Israel on 10 February.

I also knew that Henry the Tuatara has just become a father for the first time at the age of 111; that 15 million computers worldwide have been infected by a virus called Conficker; the mayor of New York is called Michael Bloomberg and there are twelve daily regional newspapers in New Zealand.

I knew that a ten year old boy had taken his mum’s car and gone on a 100km joyride up in Taranaki while in Wales, a 24 year old woman got a 40 week suspended sentence for child cruelty for blithely allowing her three year old son to develop a nicotine habit.

I knew Neil Young headlined The Big Day Out and that 2009 is the Year of the Ox.

But still, when I clearly knew everything there was to know about EVERYTHING, when that phone call came, I was nervous.

This is what the nice man from Invercargill asked me:

Who is the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand?

What happened in Mumbai at the end of last year?

Who or what is Al Qaeda?

Who is New Zealand’s Governor General?

Kiwi Steve Williams is associated with what sport?

Who is the US President?

Name one of the Maori Party leaders.

OPEC – what commodity does it regulate?

What sport is the Hillary Shield associated with?

Which organisation provides all weather reports for the NZ media?

Where is the Gaza Strip?

Name one of the large companies who produce newspapers in New Zealand.

I got nine out of twelve. I bear no shame in not knowing the sports ones and wouldn’t know the Governor General if he or she came up and bit me on the bum.

(Not that he or she is likely to, having more pressing matters of state to attend to, I hope).

How did you do?

Could YOU be a journalist?

The nice man from Invercargill concluded the conversation by saying he would be delighted to have me on his course and where should he send the confirmation letter?

Shock.

I won’t believe it until I see it in writing.

Have I committed myself to a career, at last?

But more interestingly, what other dreams could be transformed to reality, if I really put my mind to it?

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

seeing the light

Those of you with razor-sharp memories and too much time on your hands may recall how I mentioned here my Grand Plan to get home to Flatmate.

And here, how my Grand Plan hit an obstacle when I realised just how much Stuff I possessed.

Well, please stand by for a Grand Plan update.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The lease finished this week for my temporary digs. Of course, in spite of all the filthy extroverts and toothpaste theft, I enjoyed it there. They were sweet people and the house was a home.

Am I sad to leave?

NO!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am now dossing illegally in a squat.

It is the bedsit I lived in for almost three years before I went to Cardiff to live with BK and Flatmate! The building it's in has been sold, and awaits demolition or refurbishment according to the whim of the new owners. The tenants were given eviction notices for mid December.

The obedient left. The blasé stayed on, as did those lacking other options, including my friend David, the unofficial ‘on-site security’, who has somehow managed to obtain for me my old front door key!

There is hot water, electricity; a fridge, a cooker, a shower. It is shabby and unkempt, but it is private, safe and peaceful. I will stay here for as long as I need to, or as long as I can get away with, whichever comes first.

Am I looking desperately for somewhere permanent to live?

NO!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am working again as an office temp, even though in 2004 I swore to myself I would never, ever temp again.

What keeps me in this most unsatisfactory loop? Not ‘knowing what I want to do when I leave school’, that’s what!

But these last couple of months have motivated me. Not finding a job shook me up. I want to be able to create my own work, not rely on outside agencies. And when I meet new people I want to say ‘Hi, my name’s Weasel, I’m a [insert occupation here]‘, instead of cringing when they ask me what I do.

I REFUSE to go back to the UK and have to temp because I can’t do anything else. I’m sick of living like that. I want to take something I’ve always had an interest in, develop it, and give it a proper go.

I want to write for a living.

If I become qualified to write for a living, I can go home to Flatmate knowing I used our time apart fruitfully, with an eye to the future. I will earn proper money and know what to put under ‘Occupation’ when completing forms. I will learn lots, and get to do interesting things. I will be able to work from home, probably in my pyjamas, and I will also be able to go anywhere in the world, slob about being nosy and opinionated, and turn it to financial advantage.

And then I will be a Real Grown Up.

I have applied for a place on a one year National Diploma in Journalism.

In Invercargill!

Do I want to live in Invercargill for a year?

NO!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

But the course there is free, and the same course in Wellington (or anywhere else) costs four and a half grand.

So I need to buy a van to take all my Stuff down to Invercargill (Invercargill is right at the bottom of New Zealand, next stop Antarctica, and once famously described by Keith Richards as the ‘arsehole of the world’. Invercargill has to lure people in by offering free education at its Institute of Technology).

Do I have enough money for a van?

NO!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

No matter how many charity donations I make, my pile of Stuff still looms over me like a spiritual slag heap. I do not want it, yet I cannot throw it away!

Part of the reason I cannot throw it away is because I have a nagging sense I could make money out of it if only I were cannier and bolder.

So I steel myself and take unwanted CDs to the secondhand record shop; unwanted books to the secondhand bookstore; unwanted clothes to the Recycle Boutique.

I venture into the unknown world of internet trading, and set myself up as a seller on Trade Me (New Zealand’s homegrown Ebay).

I enjoy modest success. This, and various Christmas and birthday ‘donations’ from kind, generous and Very Lovely relatives, means my bank balance looks healthy for the first time in ages.

I still don’t have enough money for a van but I can now afford an old banger. I buy My Little Car (that’s its name) for $750.

Is it big enough to fit all my Stuff into?

NO!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It takes three carloads to transport all my Stuff from my old place to my new place.

Curse you and your emotional attachments, Stuff!

In despair, I text Flatmate, just needing to wail.

His reply blows me away:

I feel the same sometimes! But as long as you take a moment to grab a last look, memory and embrace with some of the junk items, not forgetting to make a wish for each, then chucking things out for your furtherance in life has to be considered natural, ineluctable, and most desirable. In short, your unfettered momentum is vastly more precious x big kiss

Unfettered momentum!

Wow!

I text back:

If anyone were to ask me why I am so impressed by you I would show them that text and they would understand. That was just what I needed to hear. Thank you, my amazing friend xxx

I tackle my mound of stuff with renewed vigour. I am confident that I can reduce it to just one carload and progress through life with unfettered momentum for evermore.

With each item I ask myself: do I need it, or merely want it? Is it serving me? Would I take it back to Britain if I was leaving tomorrow?

NO!

I buy myself a modest, non-hoardable bottle of bubbly to celebrate my new-found clarity, and dream of a one-rucksack future.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The course starts on 16 February. I have only just applied, therefore I haven’t yet been accepted. I have a phone interview on Monday, to chat to the tutor and undergo a test of my ‘general knowledge, spelling and grammar, and current affairs’.

Do I have any knowledge of current affairs?

NO!

Barack Obama’s a black guy, right?

I am spending Sunday in the library, swotting.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If I am not accepted on the course, Plan B is to pay off my credit card bill then get on a plane and go home and do the proof-reading/editing course I would’ve done before if I hadn’t spent all my time and money having a Very Nice Time with Flatmate.

To achieve this I would continue to redistribute Stuff to new homes, sell my car, and carry on working at my temp job at the hospital where I am very happy thank you very much.

(If nobody noticed I would also continue to squat in my old flat, thus saving considerably on rent and bills).

It would probably take me until summer’s over down here and summer’s starting in Europe to organise all this...

Coincidence?

NO!

I like the summer, all right?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For the first time in my life I know what I want to do, why I want to do it, and how I’m going to get there.

I am experiencing the coming together of various random threads into one superb, delicious, exciting whole.

My life as a Trained Professional starts here!

My dreams are of a house in the sunshine. Flatmate sits on the internet making small daily fortunes on the stock market while I grow vegetables, bake bread, dash off articles for Reader’s Digest and write the occasional, splendid, book. We share happy times, and much canoodling.

It could happen.

Meanwhile, I sit here in the dark and type this by the light of a Tilley lantern.

I don’t have to. I just enjoy living like an outlaw.

Je ne regrette rien.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Deliverance

moon mice beware

A darkened corridor. Fairy lights strung haphazardly across the ceiling.

An eerie hush.

Lino floor.

Artwork on the walls. The theme 'if cats could fly'.

If cats could fly they'd fly away from dogs! Be friends with unicorns! Get milk from the dairy! Play in the clouds!

If cats could fly they would fly up to the moon and scare the moon mice.

Heavy smears of paint, and lots of glitter.

Young voices in unseen side rooms.

A faint smell of antiseptic and stale pee.

The handle on the door to the stairs is mounted five feet off the ground. Why is it so high?

Oh, of course.

I deliver the urgent file to the children's ward, and am glad to get out of there.

Kids and suffering: a brutally unfair pairing.

The business end of the hospital makes me shiver.


Monday, 19 January 2009

Whether

extended ridges of high pressure may cause drought

The WeaselService has today issued another severe lack-of-internet warning, with no broadband or dial-up availability likely from Friday over all parts of Island Bay.

Forecasters said internet access is expected to worsen rapidly on Thursday night and batter the Weasel’s blogging options for up to four weeks.

The WeaselService warnings said: "The end of Weasel’s lease in her temporary accommodation combined with her choice to move into what is effectively a squat - and if she gets kicked out of there, then her car - will severely affect her ability to post on her blog. Gale force northeasterlies are likely in exposed blog archives but at this stage disruption is not expected to be as sustained as during her stay in France, and is expected to improve by mid-February with a frontal move to the south.

"However, trees and buildings badly affected during Weasel’s previous disappearance from blogworld may experience further damage. People in these areas should watch out for rapidly rising streams and rivers and keep up to date with the latest warnings."

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Fruju Blues

i wish i'd never suggested it

"Let's go get an ice cream from the Starmart."

"An ice cream? From the Starmart?"

"Yes. It's just up there."

"The Starmart?"

"Yes."

"An ice cream."

"Yes."

"Oh, if you like."

[Weasel and Brendon enter Starmart]

"Oh, an ice cream. I thought you meant an ice cream. I don't know if I want an ice cream."

"Don't have one then. I'm going to have the caramel one with crunchy biscuit bits. "

"Caramel eh. Biscuit bits. What's that like then?"

"Nice."

"Nice is it?"

"Yes. Are you going to have anything?"

[Interminable pause as Brendon studies ice cream selection]

"Memphis Meltdowns. Are they all right?"

"They're yummy."

"Chocolate... raspberry... boysenberry... what are they like then?"

"Nice."

"Aren't they a bit sickly?"

"Well it depends on what you like, doesn't it?"

"I feel a bit full actually."

"Then don't have one. Come on, let's go."

"No, I'll have one, I just don't know which one to have."

[Further protracted pause]

"It's difficult!"

"What about those ones there - the fruity sorbet ones? They won't be sickly."

"Oh, I didn't see those."

[Brendon walks to other side of freezer compartment to examine contents from a different angle]

"These fruit ones, what are they like?"

"They're nice."

[reads] "'Lemon and lime sorbet over a vanilla ice cream centre.' That'll be all right, eh?"

"Sounds good to me."

[Another lengthy interlude as Brendon continues to peruse ice cream selection. Weasel rolls eyes and grimaces behind Brendon's back]

"I can't make up my mind!"

"Ha, ha ha ha."

"Which one are you having?"

"The caramel one with crunchy biscuit bits."

"What's that like then?"

"Well, it's kind of caramelly with crunchy biscuit bits."

"Nice is it?"

"Yes."

[No, I deliberately selected a really unpleasant one, one likely to make me barf in the back of my mouth. Dear God, please make this stop]

"I'll have one of those, shall I? But I don't really like caramel."

"Right. Why not have one you do like?"

"Yeah. Memphis Meltdowns. What are they like then?"

[Suppressed scream knots in Weasel's throat]

"They're good. Very good. Why not try one?"

"But which one? White chocolate, dark chocolate, raspberry, boysenberry, nuts... or shall I have a Cornetto?"

"Have. Whatever. You. Want."

"No, Cornettos are no good are they. Or are they?"

"They're all right."

"Are they?"

"Yes. I don't know. Dude, hurry up."

"I just can't decide eh! What about a Memphis Meltdown?"

"YES."

"Ah no I'll get one of those sorbet ones. They'll be all right eh?"

After what seems like an extended, tormented lifetime, but couldn't have been much more than twenty minutes, Brendon and I emerge from the Starmart with an ice cream apiece.

Walking back down the road, he takes a bite.

"Fuck! This ice cream's cold."


Monday, 12 January 2009

Justin Timberlake Has Magical Powers

taking 'em to the bridge, the chorus, and to Island Bay

I walked to work this morning, as I usually do. It takes around forty minutes and gets me good and sweaty for the day ahead.

I raced around at work like the Duracell bunny, as I usually do. I emerged from the depths of the hospital at half past four into blinding sunshine.

It wasn’t hot, you understand, due to the ever-present northerly that can blow your hat off any day of the year, but it was definitely warm. I decided to stroll into town, and even removed my cardigan for the journey.

The slightest hint of pleasant weather brings Wellingtonians out in hordes. A nice day in Wellington is a rare occurrence and one has to make the most of it. I found a spot to sit in the sun for a while, then meandered along the length of Oriental Parade (Wellington’s charming beachfront).

There were a lot of tans on display, but the ones that drew my eye the most - even more than the topless boys playing football on the sand - were the ones that were clearly, indubitably, ostentatiously, fake.

I saw girls whose faces, arms and shoulders were a perfectly nice shade of golden brown, but whose legs were the colour of Bisto.

Let me just say this - like Michael Jackson, I don't blame it on the sunshine.

My suggestion to ladies eager for a ‘healthy glow’ via the medium of tanning product is that they should first learn how to use a mirror. If help is needed with this, click here. Then, they should ask themselves carefully, ‘Do my extremities match?’. It is for the best.

(If your legs are naturally the colour of gravy browning whereas the rest of your body is yellowy/pinky/beige, or indeed if you are the offspring of a Battenberg cake, then I apologise for my cynicism.)

Around 7pm my feet reminded me I’d been on them for almost eleven hours, and wondered how I was going to get them home as they sure as hell weren’t going to do it. I tried to reason with them, telling them it was only another hour to Island Bay, but they weren't happy.

‘But I don’t want to get the bus, I’m trying to save money!’ I pleaded.

‘Should’ve thought of that before,’ they replied.

While they were grumbling, I whipped out my MP3, a surefire distraction technique.

‘Oh, it’s Powderfinger! We like this one’ they said, and plodded along happily enough for a while listening to my random selection of tunes.

At the bottom of the first serious hill, though, they piped up again.

‘Ain’t no way we’re going up there, honey!’ they informed me.

‘You have to! We're only forty minutes from home!’

‘I don't think so.’

But then Justin came on.

Sexy Back!

And to my surprise, my feet picked up the rhythm and strode up that incline. It was the perfect tempo for powering along to.

When I got to the next hill, I replayed Sexy Back, as The Stranglers just weren't doing it.

The sluggishness evaporated and I went up that slope like a whippet on speed.

Miraculous! My brain couldn't quite believe what my feet were doing.

I therefore recommend Justin Timberlake to anybody having trouble walking up hills.

NB He is rubbish for getting down the other side.


Friday, 9 January 2009

Get 'Em Off

while the cat's away...

Best typo-stroke-Freudian slip of 2009 so far:

"The worst thing about a long distance relationship is not the lack of sex. While that is irritating, it’s relatively easy to bare."

From the mighty Todger Talk.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Earworm Emergency

god help us

I like small speakers, I like tall speakers…

I am enjoying my new job.

Even though it is ‘just another temp job’, I am loving it. It is fun!

If they’ve music they’re wired for sound…

Fun as in extremely demanding, physically and mentally. Fun as in, blimey, I actually need to step up to the mark here, this is full on. Fun as in, beautiful, sensible, librarianish geek qualities demanded - and respected.

I am working at the hospital in the central records department. It is busy. Whenever a person (and thankfully they are still called ‘patients’ and not ‘clients’) ends up in the hospital, whoever deals with them needs to see their file. Most of the files languish in the central records department.

I check the File Requests database. The database says, Weasel, go and look for these fifty files, they are needed somewhere right now!

And off I trot.

Walkin’ about with a head full of music, cassette in my pocket and I’m gonna use it stereo out on the street you know woh oh woh oh woh woh woh woh woh woh…

When I have found these fifty files I come back to my desk and send them to wherever they need to go and I check the database and it says, Weasel! Go and look for fifty more files! Now!

And so on, throughout the day.

But sometimes the files are not where they should be. So Weasel doffs her deerstalker and tries to work out where the hell they are. And all the while the phone is ringing: 'I don't suppose you could dig out Mrs Sherbert's file for me urgently could you?'. 'Sorry, but we need Mr Mugwump's file down here right now'. Oh, ok, seeing as it's you.

So I spend my days scrabbling happily amongst the stacks, hauling piles of heavy files around with my delicate little Weaselly arms, and occasionally racing along to a ward to deliver a file in person. I get to move, I get to think, I get to focus. I get tangible results. I get to sit on the floor, drawing all over myself with permanent black marker pen (unintentionally), and wear jeans and T-shirts and flip flops. I get to stride around the hospital with a harried expression and my official swipe card looking as though I might be a doctor or at least a physiotherapist, and I get free coffee in the canteen. I get no time to get bored. I get very little interaction with idiots.

Which is all exactly the kind of stuff I like.

But best of all I actually get to do something real. Some doctors will refuse to see a patient unless they have the notes in front of them. A not-actually-dying person can sit in Emergency Department untreated until their file arrives. So I think what I do is real*; pushing bits of paper around on behalf of, say, an insurance company to me is not real. Neither is writing parking tickets.**

I like real jobs. Hospitals are great.

I met a girl and she told me she loved me I said you love me then love means you must like what I like my music is dynamite woh oh woh oh woh woh woh woh woh woh…

Unusually, I feel happy and confident. I have only worked there seven days. It is rare for me to settle into a new job so fast. I usually skulk about trying to be invisible for weeks. I am not even afraid of using the phone! Normally in jobs I am very afraid of using the phone but oh no, not here. It appears medical folk do not perturb me the same way other office folk do.

Power from the needle to the plastic

The only minor setback in this job would be the choice of radio station. There are several radios positioned strategically around the department, and they are all tuned to The Breeze Easy Listening FM.

I have heard songs I haven’t heard for thirty years. Like this one! Yes I can barely believe it myself. Another thing I can barely believe is that at least once a day

AM FM I feel so ecstatic now

I am forced to listen

Its music I’ve found

to Cliff Richard.

I’m wired for sound…

Earworm. No doctor can fix that.





* Not as real as this kind of stuff though, obviously.
** Every time I see a traffic warden I think 'Get a real job you useless c*nt'. Just thought I'd mention that.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

It's Arbitrary List Time!

i'd like to thank...

My recent forays into Blogworld have revealed it is de rigueur to ‘do’ a list of some description because it is (or was) New Year.

Henceforth I shall provide you with a list of ten utterly random songs.

It’s Awards Time, folks! Welcome to the Not Quite 2008 Anymore Weasels!

Best Song Featuring The Words ‘One Fine Weasel’:
Step up Goodshirt and receive first prize. Although it's fair to say Rodders & co probably didn't have too much competition in this category. If you click on the link you will find it at Track no.5 (Slippy) – the only place I could find it on the whole wide tinternet. Don't hide your light under a bushel, boys. Those nights we shared at The Kings Arms were magic, magic I tell you.

Best Song About Wanking:
Turning Japanese by The Vapors. Well it had to be, didn’t it?

Best Song Featuring Sexy Cartoon Fox:
Sorry but I just really fancy that fox, all right?

Best Song About Killing Your Wife:
Morcheeba featuring Slick Rick: in a class of its own.

Best Song For Making Weasel Cry Like A Bastard:
Mike Scott, will you please stop breaking my heart.

Most Piss-Awful Irritating Song Ever:
Urgh. I can't even bring myself to type the title. English version, German version, it doesn’t matter. Both will make me be sick into the back of my mouth at the sound of the first chord.

Song Most Likely To Remind Weasel of BK:
Stone Temple Pilots – Pissing On A Hole In A Velvet Glove, or something. Oh, how we danced.

Song Most Likely To Blow Weasel’s Mind When She’s Had Too Much Spacecake:
I thank you, the ineffable DJ Shadow.

Soppiest Beatles Song:
He never was the same without John.

Least Shocking Attempt To Be Shocking Through Repeated Use Of The Word ‘Fuck’:
Congratulations Disturbed. Last but by no means least.


Next year: Weasel reveals Books She Has Read!!



You Are So Far Away, My Lovely

Daniel Noteboom setting Cardiff on fire

Today's text from Flatmate:

"Bonjour ma petite light cinnamon dusting on my favourite cereals you! X Can't believe it's not been 2 months yet seems like ages. I felt quite alone in cardiff today it really struck me. 728 days to go tho mustn't grumble! I've given up the lattes for chai tea. Strattie got me the other day purely from a stamina point of view no filthy stuff we weren't pashing out together or anything anyway I've got the blacks tonight trying the little known Noteboom on him applying new principles to an opening I'm familiar with. You're right - even tho I was winning my last game I didn't ensure I closed the centre before embarking on my flank attack I agree with you this did allow him too much counterplay thereby diluting my onslaught X damn you're good!"

I would marry this man tomorrow!

I would marry this man today.


Thursday, 1 January 2009

Tonight I'm Going To Party Like It's 1999

you'll find me in the mosh pit

New Year's Eve Part Two:

I spent the last few hours of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 with Brendon.

Did I have a choice? Late afternoon he sent me this text:

"Hi call me wen yr home frm work i can come pick u up! Would really like 2 spend eveng with u n more than happy 2 run u home nxt day"

Only a cold-hearted person could've replied to that with 'actually I'd prefer to stay in on my own, and how come you never want to drive the half hour down to Island Bay any other day of the year?'

I called him. He said: "Weasel, I'm glad you phoned. You will come out with me tonight, won't you? I really need you to come out with me. I thought we could have a few drinks at home and then go out to the pub. I really want to go out. You will come out, won't you? I'd be so depressed sitting at home on my own."

How dare he demand I go out and have fun! The Weasel does not like to be manipulated, and is wary of desperation. But the Weasel also does not like to tell people to fuck off, especially when they have shown her great kindness in the past.

In a straightforward choice between assertion and passive-aggression, I will always opt for the latter. So I reluctantly agreed to join him, gathering up my toothbrush, a clean pair of knickers, Downstairs Monkey, a sleeping bag, and the supercheap bottle of bubbly I'd intended to drink in Glorious Solitude, while deciding then and there to be churlish all night and not to enjoy myself at all.

"I've been flat out at work all day so I'm very tired and very hungry, and totally stressed out about money and stuff, and I'm down too because I'm missing Flatmate," I informed Brendon when he arrived. "I'm not spending a cent tonight - I can't afford to. I'm not going to change into 'going out' clothes. I don't want to drink. I hate pubs. I hate drunk wankers. Normally I like a quiet New Year's Eve. I'm not a going-outey kind of person."

Brendon looked at me and laughed. "You will give me a snog at midnight though, won't you?"

"Urgh, FUCK OFF."

"Come on, please: loosen up, enjoy yourself, for my sake. Forget your troubles. You won't have to pay for a thing. I've got beer at home and I'll grab us a takeaway. I really want to have a good time tonight; have a few bourbons and hit town."

"Well I don't." (And I think I may have actually stuck my bottom lip out).

"You don't. But you will, though, eh. For me?"

"For you."

I'm such a hero.

Five bottles of Heineken, a shrimp curry and some Banrock Station chardonnay pinot noir at midnight put paid to my best intentions. And so it was I spent the early hours of 2009 leaping around to a metal/rock covers band in a half-empty pub with sticky carpets, having a thoroughly wonderful time.

Brendon, swaying slightly, stared mournfully at girls from the edge of the dancefloor. From time to time I forced him to dance, but even when I managed to make him smile he still looked miserable.

"Come on mate! Perk up! Get with it!" I urged.

"Aren't you going to buy me a drink?"

"Nope. I told you I've got no money."

"What are you drinking?

"Water."

"Water? You stupid bloody Pommie prick. What are you drinking water for? Have a proper drink for fuck's sake! Oh God. This is awful. I can't do this anymore. I need bourbon. I need a woman. I need a woman to sort me out. I want to be settled down by this time next year. I can't go on like this."

"You're not going to get a woman by standing there staring at girls' tits. Try smiling and talking to people. Try looking like you're enjoying yourself."

"Enjoying myself? I hate pubs. I hate all this. It's no good. I'm too old. I'm never going out to pubs again."

"Did we swap personalities at some point tonight?"

"You stupid bugger," he said. "You're funny. You're not like anyone else I've ever met. And you're hot. Even with glasses on and no make up, you're hot."

"Don't start that crap, you stupid bloody pissed-up kiwi."

"I love it when you give me shit. You're the hottest chick in here tonight. I wish you hadn't met your boyfriend when you went over to Pommieland. Come here." He tried to grab me for a cuddle. I twisted out of his clutches, fast.

Unhand me, fool, and Let Me Dance. I slid back to my place in front of the speakers and bonded with my fellow moshers until the band packed up and went home.

Eventually Brendon's staring paid off: a very drunk plump girl in a low-cut dress bought him a drink. He trailed off after her like a lurcher on a string, so, after chatting for a while to a pleasant, interesting man who'd studied psychology then decided to be a motor mechanic, I slipped quietly out the door.

My throat was sore from singing too much, and my face ached from laughing. I was merry, but not too pissed. It had been a good New Year's Eve. Certainly better than last year's. And Brendon wouldn't even notice I'd gone.

Jogging home, I thought of Flatmate, and it made me smile.



Work Is Fun After All!

oh what a tangled web we weave

New Year's Eve Part One:

"...And so it's always been my dream to live in a van and just drive around the place like a pikey," I explained to the Rather Handsome American Chap at work as I searched for a file and he worked on his rubber band ball. "I don't need four walls. I thrive on chaos. It's much more fun."

"What's a pikey?" he asked.

"Um... Is that just an English word? Don't you say 'pikey' in the States?"

"No. The only place I've ever heard it is in that film Snatch."

"Ah yes. 'I fuckin' hate pikeys.' Brilliant! Pikeys are... people you wouldn't want to invite into your home."

"Gypsies?"

"Yes, but without the romantic connotations. Just general undesirables, really."

"So you're a pikey then?" the Rather Handsome American Chap asked cautiously.

"I just like the idea of being itinerant. I've lived in a van before! Seven weeks. With a friend. Well, he was a kind of boyfriend, at the time."

"A kind of boyfriend?"

"Um, yes. I kept dumping him but he wouldn't go away. BK is a very persistent man. I once mentioned to him I wanted to buy a van and go off around New Zealand on my own, so one day he turned up with a van and we ended up having a seven week road trip in it together. The van was the size of a shopping trolley! I dumped him again the instant we got back to Auckland even though we weren't technically going out. Then a few months later I needed to get down to Wellington for an open day at this art school I wanted to go to, so he bought another van, offered to drive me down there, and we ended up having another mini road trip. BK has a habit of hijacking people's lives like that, but don't worry, I've since learnt how to say no to him. We're still friends. Kind of."

"Kind of?"

"Yeah. The person you feel closest to, but want to kill the most. I just spent some time with him in the UK, actually. It was, er, interesting."

"Why?"

While I pondered how best to answer this question, I noticed again the Rather Handsome American Chap really was rather handsome. Young, and classically good looking, with everything on his face arranged in just the right way and those lovely white teeth Americans are famous for. Silky straight hair down to his shoulders, chocolatey eyes, and a sexy Oregon accent. Just the right height too. Surfer dude. Tasty indeed.

No, Weasel. Avert your eyes.

"BK had to leave New Zealand in 2004 because he couldn't get a visa to stay. He's English, right? So last year I went over to live with him for a year so we could pretend to be a couple so he could get a visa," I said.

Rather Handsome American Chap's eyes widened. "You lived with this guy for a year and pretended to be his girlfriend just so he could get a visa?"

"Um, yes." Was that so wrong? BK loved New Zealand but couldn't live there. I was a newly-appointed New Zealand citizen. I thought the world of BK and wanted to help him out. "It ended up being a year and a half in the end. We lived in a house with his brother. I, um..."

This was not going to sound good.

"I copped off with his brother." I laughed: a brittle sound. "We just really hit it off. He's lovely. I'm going to marry him, in 2011, but he doesn't know that yet."

"You dated his brother while you were living with this other guy? All three of you, under the same roof?"

"Yeeees."

"Did the other guy know?"

"He didn't want to know. When it stopped being just fooling around and started getting more serious, we tried to tell him, a couple of times. But he didn't want to hear."

"And is he in New Zealand now?"

"He's living in Auckland."

"So where's your boyfriend?"

"Still in Cardiff. He's paying off a huge debt so he can't go anywhere for a year or two. He's not really my boyfriend - "

"Why?"

"Because he's 12000 miles away. And he's a bit afraid of getting into a relationship with anyone. He just wants to play chess. He's happy being on his own." I shrugged. "So am I. But we're bookends. A pair. He knows it too. He's the only person I've met I'd want to settle down with; I'm not really interested in anyone else. So I'm working on him, from afar! It'll work out, when the time's right, if it's meant to. I'm quietly confident. I'm not in a rush. Subtlety and patience, mate, subtlety and patience. I'll get there."

Rather Handsome American Chap leaned back in his chair, placed his feet on the desk, cupped his hands behind his head and gave me a quizzical look.

"What?" I said.

"Oh, nothing," he said.