The situation was very nearly funny. Nearly. Someone else’s words coming out of someone else’s mouth. It’s not you. I’m moving. I don’t want to ruin what we have. I gobble them up. Grateful. Let them keep me warm at night. Like a faithful old dog. It is there, mid Parmesan sprinkle, fork raised to mouth as the waiter leers like a withered old pervert, that I develop a hatred for spaghetti carbonara. My cashmere jumper clings. My lip wobbles. I begin to sweat unhelpfully. I try to be adult and mature, like something in a film or a novel or something, and gracefully kiss his cheek. I stub my toe and butt him with my nose. Comic. Tragic. I reel. I am a stammering, quivering lump of rejection. My mortification appalls me. It is not the He, even, but everything that went with it. I stupidly, blindly wandered into a flat-packed, ready-made Ikea experience. Another everyday. Another routine. Another adopted life I’m politely being asked to give back, give back now. It is everything I have failed to do on my own since I got here. A self flagellation of curses burst like sewage through my self conscious. My eyes glaze over as my plastered smile, grimace, leaves the restaurant. Cannoning into people like the fat girl who got stood up at Prom. I fumble up the stairs. My mouth is dry. I feel about eight times bigger than normal. Everyone can see me. I half think about vomiting dramatically over the edge. A waterfall of speckled bile, peppered with the briefly swallowed mouthful of bacon I was so graciously allowed to eat before We Need To Talk. My stupid, bruised heart flailing about in the yellow liquid like a doomed fish. No. It’s too sad. If my life was a film someone would sympathetically pat me on the shoulder. Give me their hanky. Offer some advice on how love always finds a way, that I’m better off. Then he’d wink and take his sweet old beard (kind, older men always have beards) off into the sunset. But it’s not a film. Its life. Real, shitty, grab you firmly at the elbow, the bit that hurts, life. I think of my mother. She won’t be surprised. She almost never is. When I call her voice seems horribly far away. I have to suffer the indignity of hiccuping the news over the office phone, surrounded by pricked ears. My voice soars with the effort of not dissolving into hot, angry tears. Of course I fail. Of all the indecencies it is the toilet I turn to. It’s so cliched it’s cruel. This is not what I had in mind.
Langebaan. A teenage boy’s wet dream. An older man’s guilty, frantic fantasy. A veritable wank bank. Acres of plump, bronzed flesh stare boldly at me. People seem shinier here. Thin strings of bright fabric, wispy silk and crocheted flowers graze nipples and hug firm bums. Underneath they are hairless, obviously. Everything is pristine. Hair is vulgar. European. Shrieks of self-conscious giggles and thought-out laughter put up vast unconquerable walls. Stare sadly at the white goose bumped skin of the foreigner. Like a fat, plucked Christmas turkey. A little girl inside looks up, no thank you, I don’t think I want to play with these people. I’d like to go home now, thank you ever so much. The sun hurts. White teeth flash. Like angry predators. Eyelashes flutter and droplets of water run down bodies. Artfully placed. Considered. The ocean twinkles. It is paradise. And I hate it. I ache to fit in. To sit at the cool table. I tell jokes but my voice is loud. My accent is wrong. I guffaw like a donkey. I’m brash. Silly. Not pretty and delicious and achably touchable but wrong. Out of place. I am an alien. Predictably, I burn. Badly. I clutch my after-sun like a comfort blanket. Strain away from the sun. Red blotches throb. My skin puckers. I am a walking sign of inappropriate. Tears well up at the slightest, stupidest thing. I want to shake myself. I feel so needlessly sorry for myself. Here, in perfection. My move I longed, pined for and boasted about, has become a fat, unwanted baby. Grabbing fistfuls of hormones and throwing them cruelly around my body. The girl who hasn’t lived at home since she was 7, aches for her Mummy. My boyfriend is impatient. Someone will find out we don’t belong and Put Us Back Where We Belong. I need to stop sniffing. Sniffing isn’t South African. At home it is freezing. Snow falls. Grey descends. Fog suffocates. Rain clings. I want to be there so badly I could scream. I am in the VIP lounge I dreamed of for years and all I want to do is scoff a bag of Walkers on the airport communal toilets.
D Day. Bags are packed. Finally. Packed lunch is concertina crumpled in my too small handbag. Wedged in with my book, of course. Dogs are hidden - fiendishly clever sausage dogs with calculating eyes and tendency to stroppiness when not involved. Car drive. Laborious. Forced jollity - M craning around from the front seat to say encouraging things. Her voice is high and bright, like cut glass. D just squeezes my leg. It feels horribly final. Traffic. Temples thumping. Rain, lots of it. We all check our watches constantly. Heathrow. We park illegally and I am lobbed from the car. Goodbye is a luxury. I feel small. My lip quivers. Elvis. Squint-eyed with the effort not to cry. Rush onto plane. Desperate need to talk to someone, to not feel so alone, but neighbour has strategically placed headphones and hoody. A Keep Out sign. Inevitability looms. It only sinks in now. The wheels move and New stretches out in front of me. Obligatory gaze out of window at retreating speck of lights, of the known, and then it is dark.
Excitement greets me with the sun. Even plastic scrambled eggs and flaccid, wrinkled sausage, grey as old bodies, seems appetizing. Touch down. I wait to feel different. Better. I walk through the airport with a smile so big it is heavy. Painful. My bag falls. Crashes into someone else as doors open and I officially arrive. My new home. I don’t see anyone, anything, I know. Strange eyes stare. Pick at me. The act of what I have done sits in my throat like a hastily swallowed tablet. Lumpy. My heart heaves and smashes into my ribs. I spot a face. Not my boyfriend. His friend. He is my welcome wagon. No confetti. No stupid sign. A stupid sign my stupid body is itching for. I gulp in air. Adrenalin fires. Sweat prickles my body. This is Africa.
I just wanted to write this letter to thank you, from the bottom of my stress-shrivelled heart, for the outstandingly average quality of my flight from Johannesburg to England and, lucky me, England to Johannesburg, too.
I cannot thank you enough for overbooking the outbound flight, a policy I understand “everyone” is guilty of; like occasionally jumping the queue or baby seal clubbing. It was an utter delight to arrive at the airport and understand that I had been entered into some kind of aeroplane seat lottery. Hurray for me, I cried, as I jumped up and down gleefully. I didn’t want to sit next to my boyfriend, whom I was travelling with, anyway. I mean, obviously.
Finally being given a seat a full eight rows away from my boyfriend (I realise how jolly lucky I was, having paid a measly R8000 for a ticket, to get a seat at all - I would of course have been very happy to be stowed in the overhead locker) I delighted in the excessive time spent on the runway while small children squawked and wailed, kicking the back of my chair with jack-hammer force, my knees somewhere around my ears as I mercifully chugged back mini bottle after mini bottle of cheap merlot in a bid to blot out the terror.
Of course, my favourite bit was getting off the plane and watching the carousel go round and round, chuckling evilly at me as I watched every other person on the plane haul their luggage off and abandon Heathrow as fast as they could. Why was my luggage not there? Because you had oh so cleverly put it on the flight after mine, knowing that I would rather be crammed into a full flight and wait for my bag the other side, then take an emptier flight an hour later. This brilliant stroke of genius did not foresee that the following plane would be two and a half hours late, but that’s ok, I really enjoyed sitting on those metal bear-trap excuse for chairs in the lobby, my crumpled face and slept-in clothes just how I’d envisaged my WOO I’VE ARRIVED look.
Of course, my lovely holiday and time with friends and family at home made me almost, but not quite, forget all the excitement of my outstandingly awful flight. So joy in abundance when I trotted onto the plane, took an actual seat that I had actually been given with my ticket purchase (I was readying myself for a Battle Royale meets Hunger Games-esque death match between me and any other travellers at check-in, charged with scrapping over the last seat; I had been practicing my round house kick googlie punch and everything) and listened happily as a disembodied, ludicrously posh voice told me that there was a small technical glitch. No problem-oh, I thought, runways are fun places to sit after all.
10 minutes passed, then 20, then 40 - my teeny tiny lady bladder began to grumble. One hour, an hour and 20 minutes - harassed looking air stewardesses sashayed furiously past, expertly trained to be unable to catch any desperate-for-answers eye in the entire cabin. An hour and 30 minutes, two hours, two hours and fifteen minutes - at this point my eye began to twitch rapidly as my empty stomach growled like a feral beast, my clenched jaw slowly grinding down my molars. Finally taking off almost three hours later was just peachy. Fabulous, I thought, settling in for supper at 12:50 am, turbulence jerking my fast asleep bottom and pins and needles riddled legs.
Best flight ever, I wailed.
So until recently I only owned two pairs of high heels (I’m about 5”9, plus I have less grace than an epileptic eating a bowl of soup) both of which can be found at the back of my wardrobe. Both boast ambitious heels that I saw in the shop and thought would make my legs look all long and delicious and giraffe-y but in actual fact just give me sore feet and a death wish. In fact, I think the record for length-of-time-spent-in-heels belongs to the chunkier black pair that stayed on for a whole two hours. (Largely due to the fact that I was at my brother’s passing out Navy ball held in a beautiful building that has been around for centuries surrounded by lots of very important people. This still didn’t stop me, two hours in and defeated, kicking them off in the cooling, stone hallway and crouching down to massage my bashed feet whilst horrified faces in silk ball gowns gawped on.)
My heel history is less than glamorous. I am what my Mother describes as ‘heavy footed’. (Which almost sounds as bad an excuse as ‘big boned’, doesn’t it?) This means that I have an elephantine walk, crushing and squashing my poor, innocent shoes as I tramp mannishly from place to place. Picture this is in heels. This is not the kind of walk that lends itself to heels. This is the kind of walk that lends itself to a drunken cross-dresser. I also have an aversion to something I can’t run from a zombie apocalypse in. I would kick myself *badoom boom tsch* if I got gobbled up just because I insisted on wearing spindly heeled Manolo Blahniks, pretty as they are. I also refuse to wear kitten heels. Firstly, the name is fiendishly misleading. What on earth is the relation to those heels and cats? Or any animal, come to think of it? It baffles me, like A Level Maths or why Katie Holmes is still with Tom Cruise, so I reject it. Secondly, unless you’ve just walked off the set of Clueless or are going to a fancy pants cocktail party where they serve itty bitty food and the woman wear pashminas, there really is never an appropriate time or place to wear them.
So those were my absolute heel no no’s. I had resigned myself to a flat-soled-fate and the knowledge that at least nothing and nobody was going to gobble my brain should the occasion arise.
But then, came The Day Heels. Firstly, and bestest of all, I found The Day Heels while I was aimlessly mooching around the back of Mr.Price. They caught my eye, all cute and English-y looking with their at-first-glance-brogues-at-second-yummy-heels. The Day Heels have little laces and the heel is comfortingly manageable. And sort of chunky, too, like they knew I was the only woman in the world who visibly wobbles on absolutely anything raised even minutely off the ground. Plus they were tan. Everyone likes tan. And tan likes everyone. AND they were on sale for a measly one hundred rands. I get paid in penny sweets and buttons but even I can afford that. Ker-ching. So I blew caution to the winds (don’t judge, you’ll be alarmed how much you ‘age’ from 25 and suddenly how going out boozing seems way less fun than lolling on the sofa gazing at Bill Compton and giggling girlishly every time he growls ‘Sooki’) and tried them on. And. They. Fitted. Like a glove, I might add. I’ve even RUN IN THEM. (And when I say run, I mean ran-downstairs-to-the-kitchen-to-grab-tea-before-a-meeting, not run-from-a-flesh-eating-zombie. I’d still choose actual trainers for the latter but still, you get my point.) They make that satisfying clip-clop noise all girls really only buy heels for (true story) and they make me feel all grown up and that without being way overdressed and over the top. In short, they are a dream. So much so that, yes, I felt compelled to write an entire blog about it. Get over it. Be happy for me. A’thank you.
Well quite. And tragic it is.
Aristotle would uniterruptedly tell everyone what theatre and tragedy was: catharsis which is a term that can be tied in with tragedy (crying, having your period etc) is a term that Aristotle had come up with and firmly believed in.
Firstly, I realise that this is my second blog in as many days which, for someone like me, is extraordinarily organised. Don’t get your knickers in a twist. The thing is, my partner at work is away and trawling the Daily Mail Femail is just too depressing (are they outraged by EVERYTHING?), so I thought I’d be good (ish) and do some sort of constructive (ish) writing. And my work. Of course. But this… too…
I am proud to call myself a Marmiter. (See above.) And, as such, have been plagued, yes plagued, by a question that haunts me, a question I felt I needed to pose to you. What’s that? Am I going to tackle life’s age-old conundrum of why we are in fact here, bashing out bamboozling and highly confuzzling rhetoric; wrestling the great unsolved dilemmas of our time?
Sorry what’s that? Yes you, in the back. Speak up. You want to know if this is the workshop on how to knit your own bootees for your slightly mauled and over fed gang of tabby cats? Erm, no. That’s next door. Sorry, everyone. Sorry. Where was I… ah yes. Unsolved dilemmas.
Do you really like Marmite? In fact, how do you like your Marmite?
(I’ll just wait to let you digest that, for a second. Allow the magnitude of it to sink in.)
Ok, so I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to Marmite. My cousin professes to like it and yet has the most measly whisker of it across her toast when she eats it. It makes me think of rationing and the butter just looks sort of dirty. Now, I don’t mean to say that I know best (I do) but surely that doesn’t count? You either LOVE it or you HATE it, you don’t scrape-a-teeny-tiny-millimeter-on-your-toast it. Being a lover of the gooey, brown-black angel food, I slather mine on. Bite marks is the real measure of whether you are a true Marmiter. In fact, I have a squeezy tub of it on my desk which I tend to open and pour directly into my mouth when I’m peckish and the Marmite crave strikes. (Obviously this is not weird at all.) I mean, look at that picture at the top of this post. Doesn’t it make you want to release doves and confetti canons and sing ‘Ah’ at the top of your lungs in an appropriately Hand of God kind of way? Well it should. This could be construed as a mite Hitler-y, but if someone asks for a ‘smidge’ of Marmite on their toast (I tend to be delegated toast maker, being English an’ all, well, I think it’s because of that…) it’s the same as asking me if someone can have their steak ‘well done’ or if they can put mayonnaise on their spag bol or put Coca Cola in their red wine. The answer is NON, pedant! It’s time Marmite was treated with the respect it deserves, friends. I’m very reliably informed (I’m not) that Dean Martin was going to add this very question into the song right after he heard back about the eggs, but it was so obvious (“How do you like your Marmite in the morning?” “I like mine 3 inches thick!”) that he left it out. True story. So people, Marmiters of the world, unite with me and help fly the flag for appropriate shows of Marmite love. No more sissy slither helpings. No more opening a jar of Marmite and allowing it to gather dust in the back of a cupboard behind that packet of dried petunias you bought on a whim. No more eating Vegemite or Bovril if you can’t find anything else. *shudders* Down with faux fans and maurading Marmiters.
It’s time to represent (yo). Time to give Marmite the props it deserves and restore it to to it’s sort of former glory. GLO - REE! *shakes fist manically and adopts zealous glare*
And that’s all we have time for. Next week, croissants: cwa - son versus cre - sont. Which one is it to be?
Firstly, please note that what you are about to read is the exact opposite of what you should ACTUALLY be doing when living with your boyfriend/girlfriend/trio of Russian dancer lovers. Don’t read this if you think you’ll get some valuable advice on how to manage the groceries or get him to clean the pubes out of the shower. This is not the blog for you. Ho no. I will not be held responsible for that vase your Grandma gave you getting smashed into teeny tiny pieces as you hurl it at your live-in lover’s head. In fact, rather use this as a warning. A few nuggets of wouldn’t-do-that-if-I-were-you.
My boyfriend and I moved in to our place *gasp* just over a week ago. (I moved into his place while we were waiting for the lease to start - what he sweetly calls ‘The Trial Period’ - but it wasn’t our place so I’m not counting it.) Now, I’m supposedly a nice English girl whose parents taught her that using her knife as a pen was BAD and men wouldn’t marry you if you moved in together AND THUS MOVED INTO SIN before you were married. My parents are actually totally cool beans with the whole thing now that they’ve met Carlo, but when I first told them I swore I could hear my father moving swiftly to his gun cabinet; a comforting revolver pick-me-up if you will.
So everyone’s hunky dory with my living in sin thing, which is nice, but I’m still adjusting to the whole sharing a home with my boyfriend thing. NOT, I assure you, because I get heart palpitations over commitment. I’m not someone who has planned out every miniscule detail of their imaginary wedding (“I want, like, eighteen cupcakes, not nineteen, because it’s our birthdays divided by how much we love each other, times how many toy poodles we own, and then I want a flock of wild swans to carry the ring -“) far, far from it, but I’ve equally always been the kind of person who bounces happily into relationships like an over excitable springer spaniel puppy. So lucky me, I have a lovely boyfriend who actually likes me back (wahoo) but my springer spaniel puppy-ness is a bit of a problem. Por que? you muse. Well. I’m not very mysterious. At all.
My aunt once told me that to keep a relationship alive you had to ensure you laid off the carbs and always got out of bed earlier than him so you could ‘put your face on’. Not sure I completely agree, but she had a point. (No, really.) If you’re going to share a house with someone, you need to try and stay just the teeniest bit mysterious and womanly and exciting. Now I don’t think for a minute that Carlo is going to run off and roger some bird because I forget to put mascara on, but the familiarity that is bred from sharing a home is both wonderful and, well, a bit dangerous.
I am a useless girl. No, seriously, my sex would shun me if only they knew the half of it. My mascara is the one that came free in Cosmo three years ago. I buy whatever toiletries are on offer, always. I have no idea what the difference between day cream and night cream is. I don’t own toner. I absolutely don’t own cleanser. I tend to take my make up off with hot water. Sometimes I scratch my nail polish off. I own a pair of knickers with holes in. Fine, two pairs. Don’t even get me started on my food habits (I once ate a piece of bread that I’d fished out of the top of the bin because I was really, really hungry.) I don’t do yoga. I’ve never had a facial. I’ve never been to a gynecologist. In short, I’m pretty shit.
HOWEVER, in normal day-to-day goings on I can sort of hide this. When my friends ask if I want to eat lunch at a veggie sporting, all natural, no carb, low gi food spot I say, of course, why it’s my favourite! I have the obligatory bottle of water on my desk. I pretend that my hair has 2 inches of root ON PURPOSE. But when you’re living with someone it is hard to lie about this stuff. There is literally nothing you can say when your boyfriend walks in on you tweezing a nipple hair you found, mortified, when you were in the shower. Nothing. My body betrays me when I wake up in the morning to be confronted by an unimpressed Carlo who tells me I was farting all night. What? Me? Moi?? I don’t fart! I’m a girl! We don’t DO that sort of thing! And some of it’s not even accidental. I proffer how Unmysterious I am. I’ll walk out of the loo and exclaim, “So weird, my wee smells of asparagus but I SWEAR I haven’t had any in ages, don’t you think that’s weird?!” (This is where I’ll stop, realise what I’ve just said, realise how UNfeminine it sounds and begin to lamely back pedal.) “And when I say smells of asparagus, what I mean is smells of rainbows and ice cream and happiness and…” *trails off sadly*
Do you see my predicament? Do you?! Anyway I might as well get some kind of cathartic based therapy out of this by writing it all down. (Much cheaper than a psychologist.) So I’m going to document just how rubbish I am at all this - feel free to give me hints and tips and how to be less, well, rubbish. It’d be greatly appreciated. And who knows - maybe I’ll actually get better at this! *dips serving spoon into jar of peanut butter for at-desk-snack* *looks at spoon* *doesn’t hold out much hope*