Month: June 2011

All Alone With Champagne

Well – that weekend was a mixed bag.

Only two responses to my shout-out for a Sunday lunch – one a raincheck, and the other a declaration of interest in an unrelated gig.  So – I was left with a fridge full of champagne to myself.

But – I did manage to get a haircut.  And buy some picture railing hooks – although I didn’t get around to actually hanging all the photos.  I did drink a couple of bottles of champagne on the Saturday – one each for Kadin Jason & Kruze Ken.  And then Sunday came about.  Only a magnum left – for the twins combo.  And it was a lovely sunny day – so I decided to get some scallops, fill my ice bucket with ice – and sat out on my window ledge in the sun with champagne, scallops, and a book.  Unfortunately – when soaking up sun on my window ledge – I only really get sun on my left side.  Unless I trust my full weight on it – which I’m not quite ready to do yet.  So – by about 4pm, I was a little light-headed from 1.5 litres of champagne, and a few hours in the sun.  But being so early – and having only gotten sun to one side – the logical(?) choice was to go down to the pub to catch the evening sun.  But at the pub – one needs to drink.  And I don’t like to mix drinks – so I asked for a bottle of Veuve.  Which they didn’t have – the barman offered a bottle of prosecco instead.  I hummed and haa-ed, until the manager overheard and offered to go buy me a bottle of Veuve.  And a complimentary ice-cold beer while I wait.  Oh well – I guess I’m mixing my drinks after all.  And after that – I have vague memories of lifting and moving my table to escape a table of loud-talking american girls.  At some point paying for the champagne (I think).  But I am a little fuzzy on my leaving the pub and returning home.  Not entirely sure if I left in disgrace or not – but pretty sure I would remember if I had.  Pretty sure.  Anyway – woke up on Monday morning, still wearing shorts, with my bed strewn with phone and electronic-book – and all fresh and ready for another working week.

So yeah – that’s what happens when nobody comes to help me through a weekend.  I hope you’re all happy.

Final champagne tally: One bottle each for Kadin & Kruze, a magnum for the deuce, and another bottle for me.  Not quite to the same scale as Brisbane – and never got that terrible terrible “razorblades in my oesophagus” sensation – but still… too much.  Too much.

I’m Growing Up…

.. but into what?  Anyway – I’m not really growing up – but I did learn to shave last weekend.  I did it all by myself, and drunk, and didn’t even die once.

To clarify – I recently decided that I wasn’t enough of a wanker, what with recent purchases of an “eReader”, a water purifying jug, rowing machines, sweatbands, playing cards made of metal, etc, etc.  So – the obvious clincher on the deal would be to start shaving using an old-school razor.  My first thought was a straight-edge (cut-throat) razor, but after some research – I figured it was too much work.  Honing the blade before every shave?  Not for me.  And the straight-edge razors which use razor blades – all just looked nasty.  So – the compromise was reached, and I ordered an over-priced double-edge safety razor.  Turns out it’s pretty much hand-made by a New Zealand chap.  And a pretty wee thing it is.  Also got myself a decent badger-hair shaving brush, and some shaving soap.  And set aside the weekend in order to learn to shave – so that all the cuts/etc would hopefully have some time to heal before Monday.  Of course – I needed to make things a little more interesting – so I hadn’t shaved for a couple of weeks.  And, had a bath and bottle of wine beforehand.  So – all ready to start shaving with a brand new razor blade – not really knowing what I’m doing, slightly drunk and light-headed from wine and heat, and with a bit of a beard to make it much more difficult in judging razor-blade-to-skin angle/distance.  And net result ended up being – not a single instance of me trying to hold in a gushing jugular.  In fact – not a single slash, cut, or even nick.  Success.

Of course – this euphoric cloud of success had a dark lining.  To be honest – I was a little disappointed.  I had carefully planned out my first attempt, fully expecting a nicely lacerated face.  So – I had another go on Sunday.  This time – 2 bottles of wine at the pub beforehand.  Come home – run a bath again, sit there in a sauna drinking another bottle of wine – and let’s see how safe I can be with another brand-new blade right on my throat after three bottles of wine?  Yet, once again, a disappointing lack of injury.  But – a very nice smooth shave.  To all and sundry – I fully recommend throwing away all your 3, 4, or 5 blade fusions and super-vibrating mach9s, etc – and going old-school.  Of course – I’m forced now to get a cut-throat razor, as a last ditch attempt to cut up this pretty face.  But I might wait a while – until my next bout of not-having-bought-anything-wanky-recently.

So – a lengthy babble about shaving.  To follow that up – I’ve had a couple of decent midweek binge-drinks with workmates over the last couple of weeks.  And got 300 or so photos printed off – spanning the last 12 or so years.

And therefore the plan for this weekend is: hang up 350 photos or so in some kind of wall montage; get a haircut; restock my wine ‘cellar’; drink a heap of champagne (haven’t had the chance to celebrate the birth of twins Kadin Jason & Kruze Ken as yet, so this weekend – the bubbles will be a-flowin’); hopefully have some kind of Final-Sunday-Of-The-Month Lunch; and maybe start looking at upcoming gigs once more (for now – I have tickets to see Flaming Lips, Portishead, PJ Harvey, Grinderman, MF Doom… July is gonna be a good month).

Beats – of the Rough kind

Rough Beats 2011 – there were indeed Beats, and they were Rough.

Even more rough, however, was returning to work after 3 days of little-to-no sleep.

Anyways – the weekend started on Friday – with my walking up to a car rental agency.  Very small office – apparently the office had opened that very day – and I was the very first ever client.  Which, I guess, is why my ordered “compact 5-door” turned out to be a big powerful Citroen.  All the better for speeding in.  I allowed the errand boy to drive my big powerful Citroen to the service station, in order to fill it with diesel – which he did with gusto.  Young man with big powerful Citroen – bad combo.  Overtaking on London inner-city streets – in front of a police station.  Anyways – when we returned to the office, my fellow Rough-Beats-traveller was awaiting – and getting her name added to the insurance, such that she may drive our big powerful Citroen.  And we discovered that as big and as powerful our Citroen was – it did not have any satellite navigation system.  Or a TomTom, as his friends call him.  Nope – no TomTom.  But – we knew which direction our Rough Beats were… north.  So – we drove North.

And kept heading North – Mary trying to tell me to take offroads towards getting on the M1, and me panicking at the last moment and constantly veering across traffic whenever I saw a sign which stated “The North”.  After an hour or so though, we’d had enough chit-chat that I trusted my navigator enough to leave the trusty A1 – and found our way onto the M1.  And continued North without incident – until some ridiculous little town called Piddle or some-such, where we got horribly lost once more.  Eventually, after Mary’s iPoone failed us, and my HTC SuperPhone saved us – we did some shopping, and left Piddle behind.  And found our way to Rough Beats – despite me once more ignoring Mary’s directions, and therefore going the wrong way.

And then Beats were had.  Tents were erected, warm beers were consumed, cold beers followed, more warm beers, cold beers, and just a general evening of beers and Beats.  The pub took a visiting, but refused to serve us any food other than pork scratchings and ‘crisps’.  Warm beers were a-had.  And a leisurely stroll returned us to the Rough Beats campsite – where Beats were still playing from tents, and a bus.  Friends were a-caught-up with, dancing was done, people were met.  And then it came time for sleep.  But it was cold.  Oh my friends, you can’t imagine how cold it was – in our tents, in the middle of the Yorkshire dales, with nary a heater available.  But we did what we had to do to survive.  For me – that was dressing from neck to ankle in that wonderful material which is true-blue New Zealand merino.  Unfortunately – I had no socks.  Not a one.  But – I survived the night, and that’s all that matters – is it not?

Oh, but had I known what I would have to endure the next day – would I have wanted to survive the night?  For the next day – every single conversation at this festival of Rough Beats was based around “Oh gosh oh golly – wasn’t it cold last night?”  And being less receptive than most to idle chit-chat smalltalk natter – I slunk off and hid.  Got my hammock slung up between two gate posts at the top of the hill, and read me some book.  eBook, to be precise – as I have moved my attention from trying to destroy the music and movie industries – and decided to include the publishing industry in my ePiracy attacks.  (Not really – I pay for every single movie/album/book I’ve downloaded – ‘onest officer!  But seriously – I do pay for as much music and literature as I can.  Well, a fair bit anyway – “fair” being the key word.)

Anyways – my peace and quiet was destroyed when a posse of raucous yooves sat down nearby.  Katie, Chook, Tom, Mary – and none of them had thought to bring me any delicious breakfast, despite the fact that by this time I’d worked up quite the hunger.  Eventually food was attempted – but my efforts were lacklustre, to say the least.  Muesli & yoghurt turned out to be a whole heap of muesli, with insufficient yoghurt to moisten even a part of it.  A litre of milk later – and I was still pretty much trying to swallow a thick cement paste.  Wandering to the pub again in the early afternoon, we fared no better.  Once more – no food to be had.  Beers though – delicious warm beers.  Returning to the festival, Beats were STILL happening!  So we enjoyed these Beats, Rough as they were.  And the beers continued to flow – a crazy hodge-podge of cold and warm.  But then midnight beckoned – and there was a great joy, for at midnight – I did slip behind the bar, and the whole process of buying beers became that much more magical.  Or something.  Anyway – I’ve neglected to mention that as dusk fell, I had donned something a little more formal – as befits a Saturday evening.  So, when I took hold of barman duties, I was dressed in quite a fetching ensemble – consisting of (from beautiful bottom to tasty top): kung-fu slippers, black suit trousers, white wing-collar shirt with black/grey paisley waistcoat, and white paisley bowtie.  Not your regular pot-bellied barman, oh no – being served alcoholic beverages between the hours of 12 & 3 at Rough Beats was a delightful experience.

Yep.  Moving on… the bar closed at 3, and I rejoined the general public.  And mingled, met a swiss sex maniac (self confessed), and ran away from her.  Eventually, the sun began to rise, and it was time for sleep.  Not much sleep – and then it was time to arise, and listen to some Beats.  For yes – there were still Beats to be had, and they were still as Rough as ever.  But today I was tired, so my day consisted of: lying in my hammock reading, lying in the main tent reading drinking bloody marys by the pint glass, sliding down the grassy embankment in the rain on an inflatable mattress trying ever more dangerous routes in an attempt to hurt myself, sitting in the bar tent reading, drinking red wine, getting lost, eventually finding my tent and collapsing into it.

And Monday arrived – time for the long trip back to London.  Mary took the wheel of our big powerful Citroen, while I struggled valiantly to stay awake for chit-chat, but failed.  I woke at some random service stop, where we bought bad overpriced food and coffee.  And then I drove our big powerful Citroen the remainder of the way to London.  I drove the wrong way up a one-way street in order to drop the car off – thereby scaring the errand boy.  He was also startled that we would have the nerve to drop the car off early.  Eventually he agreed to take the car off our hands – and we wandered to a pub for some afternoon shandies.  Chit-chat was done, and we eventually parted.  Mary off to the train for some more travelling – and me to my local pub for more shandies.  Or “lager-tops”, actually.  And food.  I ordered carlsberg-tops one after the other, and then ordered meals one after the other.  All while looking quite the mess.  Jandals, mud splattered dress trousers, and a dishevelled dress shirt half-opened – carrying a plastic bag of wet clothing, a big old backpack, and reading my eBook.

After many a “lager-top”, and a couple of meals – I started the final leg of my journey home.  One flight of steps, collapse in the front door, and fall into bed.

And those were the Roughest of all the Beats you will find anywhere, in 2011.

Ukkle Doose

Well – thanks to everybody who hosted me on my recent trip around New Zealand/Australia – and apologies to people who I didn’t get to see.

But – the trip was a success overall.  The main purpose was to spend some time with little sister Angela, littler niece Meiken, and smallest-of-them-all nephew Cohen.  So – after a weekend in Sydney to try and get rid of the jet-lag (Pen deciding the cure for jet-lag was a big old night out at the pub) – I arrived in Rotorua and just chilled out for a week or so.  To be honest – I was planning on maybe doing some day-trips here and there to visit people, but once I got there – I just collapsed into sloth.  But it was all good – Meiken’s actual birthday was the day after I arrived – and after a quick visit to the playcentre for cake/birthday-songs/etc – we hung out at home all day.  Trying to get Meiken to remember/meet/trust/like me.

I was supposed to be doing a bit of cooking and what-not also, to take the load off Angela – but didn’t really end up doing much of that.  My bad habits of cooking late at night don’t really suit the ‘young family’.  Anyway – it was all good.  A week of sitting around the house, playing with Meiken, watching Cohen, and watching daytime television.  (To all those who blame the degradation of society on violent movies and/or videogames, etc… you’ve got it all wrong – it’s mainstream daytime television)  The birthday party per se was on the Saturday – which was handy for catching up with a few more people without having to make the effort to travel to them.  Muhammed and mountains, or some-such.

And then the fruits of my postponing the travelling and visits came home to roost.  (Trying to figure out how to mix another metaphor into that, but I just cannae.)  So, after a week of sitting still, I embarked on a whirlwind tour of the North Island.  I missed Hawkes Bay this time, as most of my family from that way were at Meiken’s party (sorry to everyone else down there) – so the trip was just Hamilton – spent an evening catching up with the Wards, including Shainee & Tylah who have grown a ridiculous amount since I last saw them; Taranaki – catching up with Dad’s side of the family; Wairarapa – catching up with an auntie who has rather the sweet set-up, self-sustaining vege gardens etc, a bus for road-trips, and a decent collection of wine – I’m thinking about retiring myself and turning up on the doorstep; and finally Wellington – for a rather boozy night, starting with Bob & I drinking whiskey from the bottle in a primary school carpark, ending with H & I drinking red wine and having chit-chat, and my spilling of red wine all over the carpet and laptop.

And then I fled to Melbourne for a bit of a rest.  Yep.  Still a little intoxicated from the previous night is never a good time for me to find a CD store on my last day in New Zealand.  Despite having bought a dozen or so albums in Rotorua – I somehow managed to find another 20 albums of kiwi music to purchase.  (And remember – it’s only been two months since I was last in NZ, and did a binge buy then also).  And then I rushed through security because I thought I was late for my plane.  I wasn’t – I had misread the time by an hour.  So I was stuck on the wrong side of security/immigration from the Icebreaker store – which is probably a good thing.  I’ve had my eye on a coat from there for some time, but it is rather pricey… and it is summer in London.  But, this still left me on “airside” with nothing to do, really, except drink.  So, I set up a bartab, and had some delicious NZ boutique beers.  And then get on the plane, and had some wines.  And then landed and bought duty-free, and had some beers while waiting to be picked up from the airport.  And then had some delicious Bailey’s in the car on the ride into town.  And then beers at some dodgy little bar.  And then it was time for dinner, and there was wine, and ouzo, and just all-round silliness, and then it was the bar with the champage, and then when I asked for milk with my Bailey’s I got told I wasn’t allowed to drink anymore – and really… fair enough.  About bloody time, in fact.

The next day I spent catching up with little Eli – and being convinced that it was a good idea (considering the number of young children I caught up with on my trip, and those here in London) for me to set-up some kind of competitive rating system for everybody’s children.  Perhaps even with some constructive criticism for the mothers of those children who were struggling in certain areas.  Still not sure if I’m going to follow through on that – it just seems all too likely that I will at some point have my eyes raked out by some mother objecting to my describing their child as anything but the next messiah.  Anyway – Eli did display some aptitude in several areas – while struggling with such simple concepts as “Salad Fingers is no good.  No good.  No no good.”  Anyway – after that, I returned to Elise’s place to watch something much more appropriate.  Thor.  Starring Natalie Portman.  Whooaa.  What a movie.  (Terrible).  And then I woke up, feeling very very ill, and had some champagne, and got the hell out of dodge.

Back to London.  Just in time to go home, have a shower, stagger to work, and discover that absolutely NOTHING had been accomplished in my 2 weeks absence.  Which is to be expected – I fully expect that after I have been back for 2 weeks, absolutely nothing more will have been accomplished.  Except for the one project where I have sole responsibility.  I have just nailed that in the last couple of days – up until the point where I first rely on other people to do their jobs.  And have resigned myself to the fact that this project will now also stagnate in the Pit of Apathy.  Still – for the last two days, I’ve done stuff.  Yay.