Friday, 30 October 2009

Angels With Pencils

it has been scientifically proven that merely owning the stuff makes you healthier

When I withdrew my operations at home into the sanctuary of my room, seeking to avoid polluted kitchens and voluble, moronic housemates, I purchased a small, cheap table thing from an old lady charity shop to put my kettle, toaster, fruit bowl and muesli collection on.

I bought this table many months ago. I carried it home with my bare hands. I dusted it, gave it a wipedown, and arranged my kettle, toaster, fruit bowl and muesli boxes on it.

Every morning, I leapt out of bed (...kinda) and rushed across the room to whip up a cup of instant coffee and two slices of toast to start my day (muesli is too demanding to actually eat - I don't have time for chewing).

Every morning, I looked at the table and saw nothing but crumbs.

Yesterday morning, as I waited for the kettle to boil, I glanced down and noticed something odd. Something written, in large letters, near the corner of the table. A pencilled message. Right in the gap between the kettle and the toaster.

What did it say?

I leaned in. It was upside down, facing the wall. I turned my head.

It said, "I love you".


Faced with a straightforward choice between 'that has always been there and I just haven't noticed it' and 'I have been visited overnight by pencil-wielding angels', a Weasel will always go for the sexier option.

Squealing quietly with delight, I immediately texted Flatmate to tell him about this exciting angelic development.

That is scarily cool, he replied. I have been wishing a lot of good things for u recently but a talking coffee table, well! I love you too x x

UPDATE: I went out and bought batteries for my camera today just so I could show you the angelic endorsement on my table thing. Here it is. Unfortunately while the camera failed to pick out in any meaningful way the pencilled message, it certainly knew how to focus on the crumbs. Angels clearly don't mind sloppy housekeeping.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Hair Here Hair

oh i curled up and dyed

Okay, so perhaps one afternoon you were all shorthanded out and so to take a break from all the studying you decided to pootle about on the internet for a bit.

And so you went to Google image and typed in the phrase "hairstyles for a 42 year-old woman", because you happened to be a 42 year-old woman who needed a haircut.

I'm guessing you wouldn't be too surprised to find pictures like this:

Or this:

Or even this:

But this?

(Actually I really like the orange one).

Remember these are all results meant to be offering styling advice to the, ahem, more mature lady:

But this was my favourite:

"Cut my hair like Josef Fritzl's, bitch, and no I'm not doing anything nice at the weekend."

Sunday, 25 October 2009


(i also have a digital voice recorder)

Too much shorthand hurts
All day I have toiled but still
my pencil fails me.

Just a little haiku there to get things started (blame the man with no accent).

The excitement is mounting. Shorthand exam no.2 came and went with yet again not one solitary soul passing the damn thing. I cannot describe to you what a foul mood that put me in, as I had convinced myself that this time I would scrape through using a combination of 1) a swig of Baileys just prior to the test, and 2) rat cunning.

Now the awful truth looms - I will actually have to do shitloads more practice.

Life just like totally sucks sometimes.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Teeline Is My Life

on the other hand, i'm not doing too bad

We had our first shorthand exam today. The first of nine - we have to pass two to get the diploma. Dictation at 80wpm for three minutes; today a passage called 'The Art of Listening'. Ha bloody ha.

I failed.

The great news is, so did everybody else! Including the only person in the class who's been blitzing the 80s up until now.

I am immensely cheered by this. And having made a mere 25 errors out of potentially hundreds - nay, thousands - in today's transcript, I have vowed to devote my life to shorthand until I crack this thing.

Today in class the tutor said the word "sphere". I only realised I'd traced a 's', 'f' and 'r' in the air with my finger when everyone laughed at me.

(That says 'bring it on' in Teeline, by the way. And no Beadle jokes please).

Monday, 12 October 2009

Reasons To Be Fretful, Part III

and now i'm not just worried about the baggage retrieval system they've got at heathrow, i'm also worried about the weird cat thing in the video too

OK, so where do I start.

I'll start with this baby, spotted last week in a local newspaper - a graphic depicting every single earthquake on my doorstep between 15 July and mid-August this year:

That's a lot of earthquakes. Pic nicked with thanks from LINZ. But that's not all. The whole of New Zealand appears to be being tickled by tectonics at present. The last one was yesterday in Gisborne, and there was a reasonably big one the day before in Wellington. Click here if you don't believe me. I know it's a rickety old country but still. Next!

Now this very attractive graphic is nicked from Stuff and it's about the recent Samoan tsunami. It's not the times of impending tsunaminess that worry me, it's all the other little dots showing all the other earthquakes around the place. (If you can't see the pic very well click here to big). And of course we've had the Vanuatu one since.

Now have a look at this:

Unfortunately, nicking all these graphics has made them go squished and fuzzy so to see the above pic clearly I suggest you visit USGS here to see all the world's earthquakes in the last month.

My point is this. All this seismic activity is making me jittery. I can't help but feel we're building up to a big one. I don't like earthquakes. Before I moved to New Zealand I used to scoff at those fools who made their homes on fault lines. The thought of nice, solid, dependable terra firma going postal on my ass is not a pleasant one. And yes, yes, I know the earth moves around all the time, I've read books you know.

But here's the thing. Take a squizz at the USGS map. Top left. Up there, tucked away at the top of Europe. See it? Little green place. Wales. Cardiff, in particular. Not one bleeding earthquake. It's kind of making me want to go there, immediately. But only because it's statistically safer - nothing to do with Flatmate, honest.

Up next is this: NZ$208. Not only is this my weekly income, it's also the approximate state of my bank balance. Yikes. My car's WOF (MOT, in Pom-speak) ran out in July and I haven't had the dosh to patch up the stuff that needs doing to get it roadworthy again. But I will need my little car ready for my escape from Invercargill in six week's time. What is a Weasel to do? Good thing I love a challenge! And good thing I know that everything always works out in the end, somehow! And a very good thing I am able to survive on dandelion leaves, breadcrumbs, and moisture from the air when necessary.

Then there is this: my living arrangements are stressful.

I share a house with three people. One keeps crying all the time, because she is a long way from home, and she cannot find a job, and she has no money. "Weasel," she cries, wringing her hands, "You must help me. You must know someone who can give me a job because you are a journalist!" I am forced to admit my contacts extend to the man at the council who does drains and sewerage, and two old ladies involved in Good Works. Her boyfriend, who lives in the house too, is a recruitment consultant. He is also a long way from home, but is dealing with it by being a pompous arse who cannot get his girlfriend a job. They are harmless people, but tend to watch TV at a volume that threatens to shake ones eyeballs loose from one's skull, talk VERY LOUDLY at all times, leave floods of water on every bathroom surface after they have been in there, and dedicate ten minutes of their morning ablutions to noisily hawking, snorting and retching up the contents of their noses and throats. As a Quiet Person with Impeccable Habits, I find this trying.

The third housemate is a Nazi. He watches Nazi documentaries late into the night, chuckling away as the Messerschmidts whine and the machine guns rattle. He plays death metal "music" at ear-splitting volumes on Sunday afternoons. He has stuck up a picture of Rommel on the noticeboard in the lounge. He wants to get a swastika tattoo. Also - and this is the worst bit - he turns off the taps so tightly my little Weasel paws struggle to undo them. He would be a blog post all by himself if I could bear to think about him. As it is, I don't want him in my head. So I will just add that since I stopped using (and therefore cleaning) the kitchen it has unpleasant stains on the tea-towels, mouse shit on every surface, and thick furry black mould in the microwave thanks to Nazi's overflowing instant noodle preparations.

I stay in my room with my breadcrumbs.

And then of course there's school. First day back and by lunchtime I am already swearing at Kad for being an annoying tit (well, he was) and the retards are getting to me and I have two essays, two stories and a scholarship submission to do by Friday. And shorthand. Bloody, bleeding shorthand. To pass the diploma, I have to increase my speed by at least 20 words per minute within, oh, a week.

I suspect this ain't gonna happen.

But hey.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


because I'm worth it

I am very excited about being three quarters of the way through my course.

I have been sorting through the mound of notes and handouts I've accumulated in readiness for throwing it all in the bin in two months' time. It is a nice feeling. And instead of being filed in piles on the floor, my academic output is now stored in three neat, smart, colour co-ordinated folders. It looks kinda sexy.

Work Experience II was lovely. If I wanted to work as a reporter and if I wanted to stay in Invercargill I would definitely want a job at this place. I worked with a small team of friendly, unfazeable people who asked almost nothing of me and gave me a thank you card and a box of chocolates when I left.

They said I did really well which is astonishing as they hardly forced me to do any work. When left to my own devices I tend to follow the advice a friendly Buddhist called Neil once gave me: Do as much as necessary and as little as possible (he was a fine fellow).

What I did at this place was chat to then write stories about: a chemist, a violinist, a lady who'd lost weight on some diet programme, a window dresser, the receptionist of the local backpacker's hostel, a teacher who'd organised a school's art exhibition, a lively woman who runs a speed dating business, some kids who were learning how to grow vegetables, the owners of a noodle restaurant, and some people at the polytechnic who were doing a computer course.

I also stood in the street and asked five people how they would feel if Invercargill's name was changed then wrote down what they told me (and took their photographs), watched a school production of Guys and Dolls, wrote 300 words about Pink Ribbon day, and took photos of the mayor outside a fish & chip shop. On my last day I strolled with a real reporter along to the library to ask some children about their favourite books.

That, my dears, was it. Sum total of a fortnight's toil. It felt wrong. Work, to me, involves sweating and frowning and going home physically exhausted at the end of the day. One of the main problems I am having with journalism is that it doesn't truly feel like work.

The blondest thing I did was to write a photo caption that started "Fourteen people...". When the paper came out it was hard to escape the fact the photo was of nineteen people. But I need Tutor Smartypants' withering sarcasm to survive.

I still got a box of chocolates though; he can't take that away from me.

One term to go.