Tuesday, 31 March 2009

God Bless The Dish Fairy

you rock, lady

It is one of my worst fears to confront people with complaints face to face.

And yet it is another one of my worst fears that I become a person who writes notes like this.

So what does a Weasel do with all these worst fears when there is a festering kitchen humming quietly in the corner of the house?

She screws her courage to the sticking post and has a friendly chat about it to the Indians, that's what.

And they say 'we hired a car and went out at 5.30am on Sunday to sightsee the nicer parts of Southland and we didn't get back til late so we didn't have time to wash up those pots and pans, sorry'.

They also say 'yes, it's bad, but to be fair it's not all our mess'.

So Weasel says 'ah, you know what, I do remember seeing N use that feculent frying pan and that plate on Saturday night as a matter of fact. And the sticky saucer and all that crap over there is definitely D's. Oh, and did you know N moved out on Sunday when you weren't here? Suddenly, like, and didn't tell the letting agents or anything?'

And conversation ensues, and rapport established, and agreements made, with smiles. With N gone, we think, there is a chance we can make this a nicer place to live. Because, frankly, he was not a poster boy for Good Housekeeping and there was an element of futility to the whole cleaning lark.

Then Weasel goes to her room to do her homework and when she emerges at the end of the night to visit the kitchen she finds that the Dish Fairy has been and not only washed everything up but has also wiped down the cooker and cleaned the surfaces too.

She missed the food spillages on the floor and the rice all over the dining table, but yay for the Dish Fairy; the girl done good.


Monday, 30 March 2009

New Toy!



Click here for the best damn time-waster on the internet!


Sunday, 29 March 2009

Grease Is The Word



This was the kitchen this morning.

Feel free to enlarge to squeals of horror.

There's a saucer in the middle photo on the right. When I tried to move it so I could put my cup of coffee down somewhere, I couldn't. It was stuck to the worktop.

I have been looking for a new place but the only flats in my price range are in or around Earn Street. So I might hold out for a while.

(I have a horrible suspicion Tourism Southland is not going to be sponsoring my blog anytime soon.)



Friday, 27 March 2009

Chez Weasel

you heard what the rabbit said

The policeman who came to do the fingerprinting yesterday looked deep into my eyes and said “We’ll do our best to get your stuff back.”

He was so nice I almost believed him.

He also said, after looking around the premises and seeing my housemates, “How can you live like this?”

He had a point.

I am living in a bizarre parallel world I don’t recognise or understand.

To explain, let me introduce you to my seven cohabitees at Chateau Weasel.

N has a heart of gold, but is a few cakes short of a coffee morning. Currently unemployed, he got sacked after two days from a job packing salad because it was too demanding. Walking through town once I observed N standing motionless in a municipal flower bed. He resembles Randy from My Name Is Earl in many ways, only not as sharp.

N punctuates his speech with an ear-splitting pneumatic-drill giggle. It is exacerbated when he is stoned. He is mostly stoned. He thinks I’m hot stuff, and lets me know it. When I emerge from my room, he follows me around the house and flirts with the subtlety of a deranged rhinoceros. So far I have resisted his invitations to join him for “a bit of playtime”.

N, being a friendly person, has lots of “friends”. All his “friends” know how to let themselves into the house if he’s not home, and they do. I have come home many times to find people I don't know watching telly in our lounge. N’s phone was stolen by two female “friends” who came round to see him on Sunday. He lent it to them so they could make a call, they walked off with it, he hasn’t seen them since. He doesn’t know how to get in touch with them. One of the “friends” who nicked his phone had only just got out of prison. I suspect a female with a penchant for criminal activity and knowledge of this house nicked my phone too. Hmmm.

D is a young dude with lots of tattoos who always has the TV and a hat on. When he goes out he never shuts the front door behind him. He eats only takeaways, or cauliflower. D has barely said a word to me the whole time he’s lived here, being a quiet type. And yet on Tuesday night after the burglary, he knocked on my door to offer me comfort.

Comfort, I said?

“Comfort,” he said, ducking into my room uninvited and pushing the door shut behind him.

“What do you mean, comfort?” I said.

“I just thought you might need cheering up,” he said, moving in close.

Was he suggesting what I thought he was suggesting?

“Er, actually, I’m all right thanks,” I said.

“I reckoned you might be, ah, upset and need, you know, comfort,” he said, moving in closer.

Yes, he was.

“You’re lovely,” I said, “But you know what? I think I’ll be ok. Bye.”

What the???

R, F, V1 and V2 moved in three weeks ago, international students fresh off the plane from India. They are lovely people BUT they don’t come with volume control.

They keep late hours. They congregate in the room next to mine and dial up their internet-video-phone thing to folks back home around midnight then shout, scream and laugh til two in the morning.

Every night.

I ask them nicely, I ask them not nicely, I bang on the wall, but still it goes on.

They also leave the communal areas in a terrible state. How exactly do you get diarrhoea on the underside of a toilet seat? Why is the hall carpet outside the shower room always flooded? What is this sticky liquid on the toilet floor? Why are my teabags in your cupboard? Since they arrived it is impossible to use the kitchen sink or worktops due to the mountains of filthy dishes and pans left lying around.

Once they – and I shudder to think of it – used my frying pan without asking, and scratched it, then put it back in the wrong place.

They never empty the bins either.

And housemate number seven, H, a Brazilian chap?

Quiet, friendly, doesn’t slam doors at 3am, doesn’t hawk into the sink at 800 decibels every morning, doesn’t leave the oven on all day for heating, doesn’t knowingly consort with criminals, doesn’t hit on me.

He’s fine.

Nevertheless, it could still be time to think about moving.



PS Treaty of Waitangi essay handed in a whole two and three quarter hours ahead of schedule! I now have my life back.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

But On A Positive Note

wooooo!!!

Three great things:

1. My lame 281-word story about something completely unrelated to tertiary education was published in this week's community newspaper! Go me. And go the one other classmate who also got published. The fame and glory of ultimately writing for the Southland Times beckons. We. Are. Mighty.

2. I found a jacket yesterday for $9 in a secondhand shop; it's similar to but nicer than the one I lost.

3. The policemen who came round to talk to me about the burglary were Really Rather Handsome, making the whole process much more palatable.

Thank you so much for your comments. You are lovely.


Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Walk

possibly too good for Invercargill

It is a nice evening.

I go for a walk.

Two or three days of good weather can lull you into thinking Invercargill’s not so bad after all.

As I walk I try and make a list of all the things I like about it: the course, my classmates, the parks, the big sky, the sunsets, the chickens, the art gallery, the, er, um…

I come home.

I chat to my Indian housemate about how she’s finding it here – it’s the first place she’s been to outside India. Like me, she’s here to study.

It’s cold, it’s boring, we agree, laughing.

I go to my room, wondering if Flatmate’s replied to the text I sent him earlier.

Just thought you should know I still love you madly! I’d said.

My phone’s not where it usually is on my bedside table.

I slide my hand under my pillow, its alternative hideout.

Not there either.

Strange.

Then I simultaneously notice these things: my perfume’s gone from the windowsill, and the window’s open.

The window wasn’t open before.

A horrible coldness surges through me.

I look around wildly for the perfume, the phone.

No.

Not my phone. Please, not my phone. Every message of love from Flatmate is saved on it. It is our daily contact, our connecting thread, my solace.

And not the perfume. It was my mum’s, I brought it back to New Zealand with me after her funeral.

No.

I tear off the bedcovers, hoping to find the phone in there somewhere, but only my mascara falls out. I look back to the windowsill where my make up lives and see that the blue eyeliner pencil is missing. This was Mum’s too. She’d had it forever. I used to play with it when I was a teenager.

A nearly empty powder compact is also gone. I cannot believe this is happening. I cannot believe someone would steal an ancient, mangy old eyeliner pencil and a nearly empty powder compact. This is not possible.

What else?

My jacket. My one warm jacket. It had been on my bed.

I stand there for a while, blunted by shock. My jacket, my phone. I cannot afford to replace these things.

Then I realise my bag is on the floor – I hadn’t taken it on my walk. My wallet…

Still there, camouflaged in a rucksack full of homework. And, thank God, my camera. If I lost my photos...

Ohmygodmylaptop.

Still there, in its bag that’s not a computer bag, tucked away quietly under the desk.

Relief first, hollow relief; then anger.

I want to text Flatmate. I want to cry. I want to find the girl who is wearing my jacket and rip her fucking throat out.

I want to leave Invercargill now, tonight, immediately, and sod the sodding course.

I want to scream.

I cannot tell you how much I hate this charmless bastard town.


Monday, 23 March 2009

Debut

well, that was easy

Traumatised.

Beaten.

Spent.

I just managed to get a completely lame 281-word story about something not at all related to tertiary education in for the 4pm deadline.

Pub, you say?


Saturday, 21 March 2009

This Is It

oh. my. god.

With just over a month of ‘study’ under our belts, the twelve budding reporters in the Diploma team are facing our first big test.

‘DEADLINE: 4pm Monday, March 23’ the Unit Standard barks.

‘For your first news story assignment, you must write a 250-300 word story about a topical and ‘newsy’ subject related to tertiary education.’

‘You will choose and research your own story idea. You must use at least two sources. You must make it clear to your interview subjects your story may be published.’

Okaaaay.

Our ‘study’ so far has gone like this:

Mondays: a 10am start, and a day of News Writing with 'Bad Cop' tutor. The day finishes at 3pm and includes an hour for lunch. News Writing involves setting out pretend information in the ‘inverted pyramid’ style, and having a laugh. The second part is easy, the first part deceptively hard. Mondays rock.

Tuesdays: typing. An 8.30am start (often 8.34am for Weasels), then an hour of shorthand. Shorthand is difficult. Shorthand is dull. Shorthand is vital, and without a pass in it we don’t get the Diploma. The shock of shorthand is soothed by a morning of News Practice with 'Good Cop' tutor, and then an afternoon of Grammar. Grammar is brilliant. Chocolate can be won for good use of commas and apostrophes. It is easy, it is fun. I win chocolate. I could get used to this.

Wednesdays: 8.30am, shorthand: will this hour never end? Phew, 10am brings more News Practice. News practice involves reading the newspaper and having a laugh. The school day ends at noon. I love Wednesdays.

Thursdays: 8.30am, shorthand, kill me now. Media Law with 'Bad Cop' tutor straight after. Somehow, 'Bad Cop' tutor makes Media Law fun. It is possible to leave Media Law with cheeks aching from mirth. We are meant to do Government and Economy in the afternoons, but are frequently sent home or given more News Writing exercises. Thursdays are brilliant.

Fridays: 9am brings the weekly News Quiz, in which we demonstrate how much or how little attention we gave the Southland Times the five days preceding. Win or lose, it is always a hoot. Then two hours of Industry with 'Good Cop' tutor, who tells us things like journalists think sub-editors are bastards. In the afternoon, Bi-Culturalism, in which we discover New Zealand history from the Maori perspective: English are devils, Scots and Irish are ok (no mention of the Welsh), now will you manipulating honkies please give us our land back? I tend to keep my mouth shut in these lessons, just in case. Laughs are frequently had regardless. The tutor is an impressive lady, a dignified and knowledgeable speaker. Ka pai.

Thus equipped, tomorrow we are expected to produce something publishable.

“If it’s good enough, we’ll send it across to the paper,” we are told.

And twelve pairs of hopeful eyes gleam with terror and excitement.


Sunday, 15 March 2009

Governor Hobson Killed My Blog

bastard

Sorry.

For a over a week I have been researching and attempting to write a 1000-word essay on the Treaty of Waitangi, outlining first its historical context referring to both versions, then how the media covers the Treaty claims process and current issues, with a focus on one Treaty claim (it sez ere).

My brain has absorbed so much information my head is swelled to the size of a Fiat Punto, and what I don't know about Ngai Tahu could be tucked comfortably under your foreskin (assuming you have a foreskin).

It is my first attempt at academic writing since I left school in 1985 - well actually, let's make that ever - and I am having trouble squeezing the wealth of information I have garnered (not all from Wiki!) into a paltry 1000 words.

The task has, frankly, taken over my life, but the good news is the essay is due in on the 27th and once I have typed that last full stop and pressed 'send' I will be able to resume enthralling you with tantalising tales of chickens, my idiot housemates, and all the giddy delights of being a student in Invercargill.

Believe me, I cannot wait to start writing about sensible things again.

Please address all complaints re lack of service to the British Crown.


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Meanwhile, Somewhere In Wellington...



...further proof, if proof is required, that 'THEY' are taking over.


Sunday, 8 March 2009

Get In Behind, New Zealand

i'm all white mate

Support your team!

Saturday night. A free bus to Dunedin, three hours away; a free bus back. Discounted tickets to the rugby match being played there. Attendance has been poor this season. We need bums on seats.

Get in behind the local boys!

Two big teams! And Shihad are playing after the game, at no extra charge. If you want to stay for the gig a late bus will stay behind to bring you home to Invercargill. Only $30 for the bus, the game and the concert - it’s too good to miss! Bring the family. Please note the buses will be alcohol-free.

Come on New Zealand, rugby’s your game! Get involved!

“Where ya from, mate?” a drunk, chatty girl asks the bus driver. It is after midnight, the evening is over, the rugby was terrible, the music first-class. We are waiting for the stragglers to emerge from pubs before we start the return journey.

“Invercargill,” he replies in a heavy Indian accent.

“No, I mean what country did you come from before?”

Kiwis. They always want to know where you’re from. It’s the first thing they ask after they’ve found out your name.

“I am from Fiji,” he says, but won’t be drawn into conversation. I can’t blame him. He’s already been at work nine hours, has a demanding three hour drive ahead, is the only sober person on a bus full of pissed, raucous New Zealanders, and doesn’t appear, from the sound of it, to be too confident with English.

A tall white man with a shaved head gets on. He is carrying a 24-pack of beer.

“Sorry my friend, you cannot bring that on board,” the driver says.

“What?”

“No alcohol on the bus.”

“Says who?”

“It is the rules. Please, step off the bus.”

“Look mate I only want to have a couple.”

“No alcohol. I cannot let you on with the beer.”

They step off the bus, and continue their argument on the pavement. Next to me across the aisle, an old man taps on the window and shouts encouragement at the tall man.

“You tell him son. Tell him to use his bloody brain. What does he think this is, a Sunday school outing?”

The old man gives the driver the finger. “Bloody Pakis,” he says.

The tall man gets back on, sans beer – it is stowed in the trunk of the bus.

“Who does he think he is?” the old man says. “Coming over here telling us what to do. He should get some sense, use his brain. It’s all bloody PC these days. No alcohol? Bus full of wowsers. It’s a bloody disgrace.”

“The beer’s in the boot, what’s his problem?” the tall man agrees as he sits next to the old man. “I told him, Dad, I told him what’s the bloody difference if it’s in the boot or in my bag? All these Punjabis coming over here laying down the law – “

“Phil, Grandad, shut up,” says the girl sitting in front of them. “The guy’s just doing his job. It said no booze on the bus when we bought the tickets.”

“It didn’t say that on mine.”

“It was in the newspaper, on the radio! Now you’ve gone and upset him: look, he’s on the phone. He’s probably calling the police or something.”

“Probably calling his supervisor, the spineless wanker. It’s half past midnight! The guy’ll be in bed. I just told him to use his bloody brain. What’s wrong with that? Useless bloody Paki.“

“He’s not a Paki, he’s from Fiji.”

“I don’t care where he’s from, he can’t come over here and start telling me what to do. Can’t take a bit of lip either, the useless fucker. He’s trying to get me arrested for having a couple of stubbies? It’s pathetic.”

A girl gets on. “He’s not moving until somebody gives him an apology.”

“An apology for what?”

“Somebody called him a black cunt.”

“Oh for God’s sake. The beer’s in the boot, what’s the problem? He should just do his job and drive us home like he’s paid to.”

“I fought in the war to protect us from people like that,” the old man says. “You know what they do in those countries? Rape. Torture. Engaged at eight, married at ten. They cut your hand off. And he comes over here and starts telling us what to do? He can bugger off back to Pakistan.”

“Grandad, will you shut up?” the girl in front hisses. “That’s disgusting.”

“He should use his bloody brain,” says the tall man. “Use his bloody brain.”

The police arrive. The police move up the bus, confiscating beer. The police remove the tall man and his dad, speak to them on the pavement for a minute or two. The police depart.

The tall man, his dad, the bus driver get back on board. The bus starts.

Four rows behind the driver, the tall man and his dad start a scornful hand-clap.

“About bloody time. Don’t know what all the fuss is about.”

“The beer went in the boot, I cannot see what the problem is, I do not understand why that bloody Punjabi went and called the police.”

“It’s not a Sunday School outing, bloody wowsers, telling white men what to do, fresh off the banana boat, I fought in the war for this country.”

“I was just standing up for New Zealanders. These Punjabis come over here and and they can’t even take a bit of mouth, boo hoo.”

“He shoulda used his brain, but no, he wouldn’t do that would he? They force you to get married at ten and then they come over here telling us how we should live? They can just go back to Pakistan.”

“People call me a skinhead every day of the week because I shave my head but you don’t hear me go crying to the police about being abused do you?”

“Nobody’s got the guts to stand up to these people anymore. Even the police are bloody PC these days. Did you see them? Useless PC wowsers. They’re on the side of the blacks.”

Dunedin, Mosgiel, Milton, Balclutha. Outside, the moonlit countryside rolls by. Inside, the indignation rolls on. Other family members, further up the bus, bring Phil and his dad smuggled bottles of beer. Phil and his dad continue to stoke up their outrage, loud enough for the driver to hear.

“He said I was a nazi, said ‘sieg heil’ to me, can you believe it? Gave me a nazi salute with his arm.”

“The blacks are what’s wrong with this country. It’s PC gone mad. Telling us all what to do.”

“Look at that, he’s not even driving at the speed limit. Can’t even bloody drive. You can go a bit faster, mate. We want to get home today not fucking tomorrow.”

“He should use his bloody brain. He should know his bloody place.”

“Oh look there’s an empty beer bottle rolling around, what’s he going to do about it? Put us off the bus? He wouldn’t have the guts. What you gonna do about it mate?”

“Bus full of wowsers, they should stand up for themselves, not be pushed around by a bloody Paki.”

“The beer is in the boot. I do not see his problem. Somebody has to stand up for New Zealanders. Coons are here to do the work, not tell us what to do.”

“You should teach him a lesson, mate. Teach him a bloody lesson.”

And so it went on. Balclutha, Clinton, Gore, Mataura. And, at last, the hotel in Invercargill where our journey began.

Three long hours. 217 long kilometres. It’s over. Finally. Thank God.

Over for whom?

Not for the bus driver who went to work like he usually did, in this bright new land of freedom and promise, and ended up in a situation where he felt the best way to preserve his safety was to silently swallow hours of humiliation. I'm guessing he will feel soiled, threatened, trampled, angry and many other things for a very long time.

Not for me. I am shaken by what I heard. I am appalled. But most of all I am deeply ashamed I pretended to be asleep to avoid ‘getting involved’.

Other people sitting nearby voiced their disgust – I saw how easy it is, you just open your mouth and speak – but I chose to say nothing. How did that look to the driver? If you look away while someone is being victimised you are complicit. Fear, futility: not good enough excuses. Blind eyes have allowed every atrocity in history to unfold. Blind eyes, individual and collective. I opted out of a micro-Zimbabwe right under my nose and I am as guilty as hell.

It is also not over for our two white-skinned heroes, who will be talking about this night for the rest of their lives as yet another example of the world gone mad. And who, when the day comes when enough is enough, will feel justified in plunging a fist or a knife into another man’s skin because that skin contains a nigger who is getting uppity.

Get in behind your team, people! Our pride is at stake.

Stupidity, insanity, or evil? Hard one to pick.

I get off the bus, drive two classmates home, then return to the hotel. I am expecting to see a group of rednecks kicking the shit out of a Fijian Indian bus driver, but the bus is gone, the car park is empty.


Thursday, 5 March 2009

Lunchtime Crosswords With The Hard Of Thinking

what's another word for 'dumbass?'

I’ve been going through my Stuff and have unearthed some gems in my ‘Things I’ve Jotted Down Because They Amuse Me’ folder.

I may unleash some on you from time to time, especially on days when I can’t think of anything else to write about.

Like today!

The following is a transcript of a conversation I overheard one lunchtime at a place I temped at a few years ago.

Two full-time staff were attempting a general knowledge crossword in a tabloid newspaper.

Sadly, I was so bewitched by what I was hearing I didn’t think to take up my pen until halfway through.

...‘Capital of Italy?’

‘Spain?’

‘No, Italy.’

‘Don’t know then.’

‘Leaning Tower of?’

‘Pizza.’

‘Who invented the telephone? Alexander Graham…?’

‘Ask me an easy one!’

‘Flee to marry?’

Flea to marry?’

‘No, flee, like run away.’

‘Um… don’t know.’

‘Rivermouth?’

‘Nope.’

‘Picture border?’

‘Would it be frame?’

‘It would. Street car?’

‘Vehicle?’

‘No, only four letters.’

‘Bus? Taxi?’

‘Hmm, it might be taxi. Rugby goal.’

‘Try.’

‘Is try like try? You know, T – R – Y?’

‘Don’t know.’

‘Closed, four letters.’

‘Shut.’

‘Yellow citrus fruit.’

‘Lemon.’

‘Resume. Ten and five.’

‘Start?’

‘No, ten and five.’

‘Begin.’

‘No, it’s two words, one ten letters and one five letters.’

‘In that case I don’t know.’

‘Sibling.’

‘Daughter.’

‘No, sibling’s like your brother.’

‘Niece?’

‘No! It’s like your brother or your sister.’

‘Oh, I thought sibling was, like, your sibling.’

‘Next one. Upper limb.’

‘Thigh.’

‘Three letters.’

‘Arm?’

‘Is it?’

‘What is it?’

‘Arm.’

‘I’ll go with that.’

These people are working in a bank/council office/insurance firm NEAR YOU.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear

St David with his favourite Sebright, Matilda

I would like to apologise for the previous post.

It is clear that last weekend I was in the grip of an Invercargill-induced mania.

However I stand by my Sebright comments: they are brilliant. And anyone who knows me well will testify to my enthusiasm regarding chooks in general.

My joy in finally cornering and picking up a random chicken after an afternoon spent chasing it around a garden in Otaki, June 2003, knew no bounds.

It was my first and only chicken coup.

But that’s another story.

You bet I went back to see my Sebright chums this weekend.

But first I visited the Queen’s Park aviary.

Weka, kea, kakapo, cockateels, parakeets, doves, peacocks and lovebirds, all trapped in miniscule enclosures.

I got into conversation with a galah who was chewing obsessively at its chain link prison.

“Get me out of here,” it said.

“Mate, I’d love to,” I said.

“I just need to chew through this wire.”

“Yes,” I said.

“I’ve got about six feet to fly around in,” it said. “It’s fucking ridiculous. And that poncey git on the floor there, he doesn’t say nowt.”

“I know,” I said. “Guinea fowl are not renowned for their conversational skills.”

“And those bastard ducks over there by the pond, how come they get to go wherever they want? It’s not fair.”

“You’re right,” I said.

“I’ve got to get out. It’s driving me mental.”

“I can see,” I said.

“If I work on this wire every day, one day I’ll chew through it. Then I can go fly around in the trees like I want to.”

“You will,” I said. “Keep chewing. I wish you luck.”

I walked away thinking of galahs I've seen flying free, pink, and glorious in Australia, and felt sad.

Chickens, though, take pleasure in incarceration which is why one can enjoy them without guilt.

I’m pretty sure the foxy Sebright winked at me.

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

While I’m on the subject of birds, there is something I need to mention.

I have been in Invercargill almost three weeks, and in that time have roamed the city on foot, by bike, en voiture: the streets, the parks, the estuary, the bush, the beach - nowhere is safe from my Weaselly peregrinations*. I have driven through miles of dairy flat, 80km east to the wild, rugged Catlins, 30km west to the rocky Riverton coast.

I have seen birds. So many birds! Hawks, tui, magpies, kereru, silvereyes, the full set of shore and estuary dwellers, and all the usual avian urbanites: sparrows, finches, thrushes, blackbirds, starlings, gulls, ducks. Also, brilliantly, a kingfisher.

So what’s missing?

Pigeons.

Not one, anywhere.

What has Invercargill done with its flying rats?

I need to know. It’s bothering me.

I kind of miss them.




*STOP PRESS: I have discovered there is somewhere nice in Invercargill! It is a suburb called Windsor and it displays signs of civilisation and I rather wish I lived there.