Top-of-the-Mountains Treffers in Saalbach


After my two prior skiing experiences in the cosmopolitan resorts of Zermatt and Vail – Saalbach, is proving to be a bit of a culture shock. Our group (consisting of 5 Saffers, 1 Russian and 1 Bahamian) pulled in to this Austrian Alpine resort on Saturday afternoon and decided to hit the après-ski scene immediately. It was about 5pm and the party was pumping. To be precise, I don’t think I’ve seen people this paralytic since Monday nights R5 drink-all-you-can at Springfield (circa 1998) or Sunday afternoons at the Pitcher & Piano in Putney. At first I thought we must have accidentally hit happy hour at the student local but when my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realised that the average age was somewhere between 45 and half-dead. And then I saw two wasted old-timers, beer in hand, sucking face like standard sixes. Gross! I have to admit I couldn’t stop staring. No-one else seemed to bat an eye-lid – perhaps because they were all so dronk they couldn’t see straight. They did, however, have just enough co-ordination to bop to the beat of the music.

Speaking of music, it appears that the beer is not the only thing that’s home brewed in this part of the world – the tunes are delightfully local too. The “Top of the Mountains” CD in the picture for this posting should give you a sense – the one with the cover photo of a brunette, looking as wholesome as Heidi from the chin up and as tasteful as a Teazer’s billboard, from the chin down. Sort of Amor Vittone on top, but a lot more risqué below eye-level. The music itself is kind of hard rock meets Eurotrash pop, meets folk, meets rave, with some “yodely-yodely yo’s” thrown in. Und one more thing: alles is in Tjerman – ja? Not to knock Germanic music talent – what with Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and all those wunderkinds – but there’s just something about German song lyrics that make them sound like someone barking out orders. It’s just so guttural, so…so scary, ja? So to numb our fears we reached out to Herr Jagermeister. In defence of the music (and the Jagermeister) it did inspire some priceless holiday in-jokes. Not least was the famous “heil five”. This involved two individuals (i.e. two wasted Saffers) looking at one another earnestly, raising their right hands in a militaristic semi-salute, shouting “Heil Five!” in their best German accents and then slapping their palms together in mid-air, before collapsing into fits of very macho giggles.

By 7pm (8pm on our body clocks) we were ready to return to the hotel for dinner. The Husband and I just needed to collect our skis and poles and we’d be right there.

Right.

The Husband could not remember what his skis looked like and we spent the better part of an hour searching for his gear amongst thousands of skis and poles all stacked up outside the bar. He eventually located a pair of skis that he thought looked familiar but his poles were nowhere to be found. Finally, we decided to take advantage of the ski gear insurance and he grabbed a pair of poles that best matched his ski suit. (We later discovered that the name “Angela” was etched onto them so we’re still waiting for a Germanic-looking shot-put champ to attack him on the ski slope. So far so good…)

With all this excitement, it took us a while to join the others back at the hotel. By this time, we were late, sweaty, flustered, exhausted and ravenous. We flew into the dining room, trying to locate our mates. The restaurant staff was looking at us askance as we swished through the dining room in our ski pants and thermal Cape Storm tops. (The next day we came across a discreet little note, which read “Please to dress appropriately for dinner, please. No ski gear or sweatsuits”. Oops). We finally found our table and, as we sat down, we realised that while we were out stealing ski poles, our friends had managed to get spectacularly wasted. The waiters looked decidedly unimpressed with our table (it’s worse when they give you the hairy eye-ball in German – trust me) and the other diners were clearly “not amused”. It was then that I noticed that our fellow diners were actually the PARENTS of the old-timers in the bar. My God. We’d booked into the old age home. Seriously: the guests were 75 in the shade and they were sitting there in their bow ties and dinner jackets. WTF? Any hopes that we’d simply have a great time and ignore Shady Pines, were dashed when the dronkest member of our party decided to audibly enquire:

“What the eff is up with all these OLD PEOPLE???”

Needless to say, we’re about as popular as puffadders in our hotel, but I still maintain that, until the folk dancing entertainment arrives, Shady Pines is lapping up our table’s conversation – not least because it’s the only conversation going down in that dining room. Plus, the waiters asking us to “keep it down” are grown men in New Buck leather pants. I mean, what does one say to them, except for “Yodel-ay-hee-hoo!”

Pinky & the Brain – Again

It’s official: the more The Husband and I travel together, the dumber we get. First there was the time we missed our international flight out of the Bahamas because we meandered to the check-in desk 61 minutes before take-off. We sort of subconsciously assumed – since the whole of the Bahamas has a population the size of George – that backwater airport rules would apply. I mean you don’t need to rock up at cute little George airport a full hour before your flight, right? Turned out that check-in closed 60 minutes before take-off and so (after being duly cr*pped on) we were hastily checked in. We then got stuck in an almighty US immigration queue (yes, US immigration INSIDE the Bahamian airport – who knew?) and missed our flight to Miami. So instead of flying Nassau-Miam-Vale, we flew Nassau-Miami-Dallas-Vale. Perhaps the greatest punishment of all was not the three back-to-back flights. Rather, it was having access to nothing but Delta’s wholesome selection of on-board potato chips and peanuts for 12 hours straight.

Next, there was Pinky & the Brain Part One. This occurred two months ago, when we (okay, I) miscalculated our arrival date in Buenos Aires by 24 hours, leaving us without a hotel room the day before Christmas Eve.

Thirdly, ladies and gentlemen, may I present the absolute coup de grace on the International Travel Dumbometer. Pinky and the Brain Part Two has a similar beginning to Part One. At 5am on Thursday 4 February The Husband awakes with a start. We are booked to depart for a skiing trip in Austria at 5pm on Friday 5 February.

“Do I need a visa for Austria?” he goes.

We both freeze. Okay, deep breaths. Let’s apply our minds. (Where are our minds?) We locate the passport. We check the Schengen visa expiration date. 31 January 2010. Four freaking days ago! We are screwed. I can’t quite believe it. We planned this trip months ago. We’ve been lining up our gear on the bedroom floor for the last week: ski jacket, snow boots, ski goggles – the works. We even have the little thin, thermal gloves that go under your ski gloves. But the rather huge matter of eine kleine visa for Osterreich just did not cross our minds. Not once. Not until 36 hours prior to departure.

On the bright side, yours truly is A-for-away with my British passport. Screw Stuyvesant cigarettes: an EU passport is the international passport to smoking hot, travel pleasure. Every time my eyes rest on that burgundy beauty I sigh happily and thank my grandmother over and over again, for giving birth to my father in the snow.

I pretty much resign myself to the fact that it’ll be solo skiing for me for at least three or four days until The Husband can sort out his paperwork. I spend the whole of Thursday moping around and wondering who the heck is going to carry my skis from the hotel to the ski lifts? Those bad boys weigh an absolute ton. Life is so unfair. (And we are such morons).

In the meantime, the husband manages to secure an interview at the Austrian embassy first thing on Friday morning – i.e. the day of our supposed departure. Upon arrival, he is greeted by the following sign: `’POOR PLANNING ON YOUR PART DOES NOT NECESSARILY CONSTITUTE AN EMERGENCY FOR US” Er, good point. The only option is to plead complete and utter stupidity (not an act, if you think about it), to apologise profusely and, well, to beg. All of which The Husband duly does. He then endures a justifiable amount of finger wagging and tongue lashing from Klaus von Whats-his-face (deservedly so), before – miracle of miracles – Klaus marches over to a computer terminal, starts punching in data and tells The Husband to report back at 12pm when there may or may not be an answer from the Motherland. “But,” Klaus counsels, “don’t be too hopeful because all civil servants knock off at 12pm sharp on a Friday.” ’Course they do. Das is der government!

Mercifully, Pinky and the Brain Part Two has a happy ending. At 12pm yesterday The Husband was issued with a 7 day, multiple entry Schengen visa. Look out Austrian Alps – Dumb and Dumber have arrived! (Plus we’re Saffers on skis which means we’re armed and dangerous…)

Merry Menses, Everyone!


Last night we wanted to show the Icelanders just how cool Jozi is. My huge personal bug-bear about our city is: there are no bars. And I say that because anything that comes in two’s, three’s or more doesn’t count – e.g. The Baron, O’Hagans or The Snooze Cafe. And hotel bars in international hotel chains with the atmosphere of a morgue, don’t count either. And anywhere where people don’t brush their hair also doesn’t count, so that rules out The Parkhurst Country Club. (Not my nickname for the Jolly, but a great one, methinks. Incidentally, it was coined by a man with the same surname as the Jolly, so thanks, Mr Rogers).

Anyway, I’d heard about The Attic in Parkhurst and decided to take advantage of the rain-free evening to check it out. The Attic’s cocktail bar and its Mojitos (especially its Mojitos) did not disappoint. My heart did go out to the poor Icelanders when it came to the Parkhurst toilet situation, however, so I decided to do a guided tour of the route to the toilets – through the kitchens, next to the dustbins, etc, etc – all the while trying to evoke the charm of simpler times and making up lots of lies about architecture, plumbing, south facing ablutions owing to the African sun, blah, blah, total hogwash. The two girls looked a bit skeptical but mercifully were too polite to start poking holes in my explanation. To make it seem as authentic as possible (and also because by then I was on a pathological role), I continued the history tour inside the actual cubicle, spewing forth about the special post-war ceramic used for the cistern etc, etc. And then (perhaps out of genuine curiosity but most probably to simply shut me up) one of the girls pointed to a business card stuck above bog. It looked like some sort of party planning company or something but the company name, the strap-line and the web address all went by the deliciously classy name of: “There’s a Party in my Pants”. “Contact Raul”.

Seriously, Raul, honey. Not a lekker name for your little business.

The name has been tickling me since last night (perhaps young Raul is smarter than I think and perhaps this is the whole point…). Anyway, because I wanted to share the joke, I’ve spent this morning trying to remember the exact URL and have been googling up a storm trying to find Raul’s party company on-line. I can’t say I’ve succeeded. There’s a Facebook group that goes by the same tasteful name (with a very sad number of members, I might add) and some references which indicate that There’s a Party in my Pants may be a band or the name of a DJ.

In my searches, however, I’ve just come across something absolutely priceless. A company in Wisconsin called (you guessed it): Party in my Pants. The company makes organic, cotton, panty pads. Yes: wash and re-use your pads and save money while you save the earth! And because Party in my Pants can be a bit of a mouthful, the company also goes by the abbreviation 'PIMPs'. How cute is that? The first lines on the home page read: “Has a tampon ever made you look forward to your period? Does your maxi pad make you smile? Nope. Most menstrual products only make the whole affair more uncomfortable. What's up with that? Women deserve better. Women deserve Party In My Pants.

You heard them, girls. You DESERVE a party in your pants!

If you think I’m making this up, go to http://partypantspads.com/ And if all that isn’t enough to entice you, allow me to introduce the their special festive season range: “Merry Menses”. The hilarious, wet-your-pants copy goes like this: “Happy Holidays from Party In My Pants! If you're in search of unique gifts that your gal pals both want and need – plus are handmade, gentle on the earth AND save $$ – then look no further. Party In My Pants goods have all that going for them and more. Party In My Pants are terrific for teens, new moms and ladies of all ages, even grandmas.

If you STILL think I’m making this up, check out: http://partypantspads.com/health

Merry Wednesday, everyone!

Brunettes Bite Back

The Husband and I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona last night. About two seconds into the movie it becomes patently obvious that blondes have more fun. Granted, “blondes” in this case equals Scarlett Johanssen who is no ordinary blonde, but still…

I know the “blondes have more fun” thing has been a universal truth since before Marilyn, but I still think it’s unfair. Last night, I was feeling a tad more upset than usual about this state of injustice. Out of nowhere, I found myself throwing a tantrum in front of the TV, “I hate it! I’m Vicky, the boring brunette and the blondes get to be Scarlett. IT’S NOT FAIR!”

I’m not normally this unhinged (okay, not always) but I think I was feeling extra brown-haired and banal after a little episode the day before. I’d just finished a fun-filled Chardonnay lunch with two girlfriends and was dashing to my 3pm hair appointment when Ballito Babe (the little beetch has just fallen in love with a hot, older man and is upping and moving to Ballito this weekend – hence the name) goes: “Are you getting highlights? Get some highlights. No really, Nats, you should get some highlights.” I was trying to shoot daggers at her with my eyes for moving to Ballito, but now, she was insulting my au natural, aw so BROWN, hair-colour. Just to explain: when I first met Ballito Babe I went blondish for a couple of years. Just to test the “more fun” theory, you see. (And the answer’s yes, BTW. Men really are that shallow). After month 22 of peroxide sessions, I had a hunch that things were starting to go a wee bit pear-shaped in the hair department. But when my father (he’s a man of few words, to begin with, but when it comes to the topic of my sister and my appearance, he’s practically mute) said,”You look common,” I knew my blonde number was up. Ever since then, I’ve been brown and proud. Well up until last night, anyway.

When I announced that I was “Boring Vicky”, I did realise that I came across as a completely lame, self-pitying female. What I hadn’t bargained for, however, was The Husband’s response. “Great, so that makes me Dependable Doug!” (Doug is Vicky’s super dull, fiance). This may have been kind of amusing for five minutes, but instead, he sulked the whole way through the movie. No matter what I said, I could not convince him that the whole Scarlett/ Vicky/ blonde/ brunette thing had NOTHING to do with him whatsoever. To make matters worse, Doug’s character got more and more loathsome as the movie progressed. “I can’t believe you’d compare me to that guy!” I was like, “I’m not! This is so not about you”. And then the movie would flash to a shot of Doug in his neatly pressed fawn-coloured Bermudas, with his iron-over side parting and his preppie accent. He’d be boring Vicky and co. to death about his latest golf game. Snore. And I’d try again: “You don’t even play golf. In fact you HATE golf. You’re a sexy cyclist…”

“Baby………..?” I tried again. I have to say that his lip did start to pick up a bit when I mentioned ‘sexy’ and ‘cycling’ in the same sentence.

In the midst of all this, I was still silently seething as Scarlett’s character continued to, quite literally, have all the fun, as she lived out her sultry, romantic dream with Javier Bardem in balmy Barcelona. (Blonde beetch).

And then, all of a sudden, the brunettes bit back. Enter Penelope Cruz as Javier’s magnificent, fiery, talented, dark-haired ex-wife, Maria Elena.

Sweet revenge.

Even Scarlett’s character with her comparatively goody-two-shoes, all American twang was starting to look a bit washed out in comparison. (And that’s saying something). Of course, Maria Elena turns out to be a stark raving lunatic but by then, Scarlett’s Cristina character has been exposed as immature and flighty.

So maybe blondes don’t always have more fun.

Anyway, I will soon find out since four ice blonde Icelanders have just stepped off the ’plane and into my living room for a week-long visit to Africa. Two years ago, I spent four days in Iceland in mid-summer with chattering teeth and cobalt blue lips, while the North Sea winds whipped through every bone in my body. I don’t know if it’s universal karma but the torrential Joburg rains should have them feeling right at home in no time. Or perhaps it’s another form of revenge against the blondes?

It’s not the BFG: it’s the GHD

I was in Dischem the other day, when I overhead a little interaction that took me back in time. I was instantly reminded of a rather memorable project meeting a few years ago. It was during my former life at one of the Big Four Audit firms. I was in a division with a far lower concentration of auditors and tax advisors than the rest of the firm, but, in general, the auditing culture prevailed: risk averse, polite, professional, etc. However, the meeting in question was the kick-off meeting for a ten-person project at one of the firm’s clients. Okay, fine. I’ll give you a hint: the client has been referred to as Incestec Bonk (but I’m sure only by less refined members of Jozi society and certainly not by my ex audit firm). Anyway, this meeting should have been like any other: timelines, roles & responsibilities, blah, blah, blah. Instead, it felt more like a meeting amongst a Cosmo team preparing for a Hugh Grant interview. 33 year old women in pin stripe suits were giggling like teens, before collectively panicking about what they’d wear on Monday when we be in the midst of these Incestec homo sapiens (the male variety). The atmosphere was filled with palpable excitement; sexual innuendos were rife and the poor male Partner in charge was powerless to stop it. It was almost surreal.

That weekend, I had lunch with a friend employed by Incestec. I’ll call her Nigella (since Nigella is almost as gorgeous and almost as good in the kitchen). I described the reaction of my female colleagues to the news that we’d soon be working amongst her male colleagues. I wanted to know if they were just off the charts good-looking, or what?

“Yes, they are,” she said straight away.

“But…”

Ha! There had to be a ‘but’ – the stats just didn’t make sense.

“You see, the thing is…” Nigella continued but then tapered off again. “The thing is…”

She looked almost pained by what she was trying to say and once again she stopped mid-sentence.

“Well, the thing is, they…”

Oh for Pete’s sake, what is it? By now I was thinking she was going to tell me that they were transvestites by night or that they all lived with their aging mothers.

“The thing is, (deep breath) they do their hair”.

Monday rolled around and proved Nigella right. Virtually every member of the male species had about enough gel in his “do” to stop a bullet. (Thankfully, that didn’t deter my female colleagues).

The other day in Dischem, I witnessed first hand how it all begins. It was mid-morning and the store was quiet enough for me to bump into a yummy mummy and her teenage son several times over. The third time I encountered the duo, I was picking out shampoo.

“Oh, look. They’ve got the GHD,” the mom was saying.

Then she turned to her son. “Do you have a GHD, Kev?”

I was like, “he’s a guy (and he’s 15) but mainly, he’s a guy – of course he doesn’t have a frigging GHD, you silly woman.”

And then came Kev’s reply, “Jaw. I usso got a GHD. For shaw.”

I guess who needs the Big Friendly Giant when you have the GHD?

The Massage

To my knowledge, The Husband has always been vehemently against massages of any kind. “I don’t like people touching me,” he’s been known to say to innocent holiday-makers who happen to recommend our hotel spa to us. (The friendly Americans look taken aback, recover quickly but then politely back out of our dinner date later that evening). So when he suggests that we celebrate my 31st birthday at our local spa, I’m like, “Since when does the Spar do dinner?” Turns out he’s talking about a hot stone aromatherapy thingie at the Radisson’s wellness centre. Ah! Much better.

Birthday eve arrives and we set off for the spa. We get there, change into our fluffy robes and velvety slippers and shuffle over to the heated pool “where our therapists will collect us”. I’ve followed instructions and am clad in the disposable g-string and gown provided, but The Husband’s able to whip off his robe because he’s in his swimming shorts. Our therapist comes through and asks if we have any special requests. The Husband (I should just call him The Cyclist since he’s currently THAT obsessed) wants a sports massage. (I’ve been spared an hour on the stationary bike just beforehand “to earn our massage”, thanks to phenomenal cost of an ad hoc work-out on the Platinum Planet. I mean, it’s my bl**dy birthday, for Pete’s sake.) Anyway, the sports massage request from hubby prompts the therapist to ask if he “would like his glutes massaged.” Now, I’m no expert but it sounds like a fairly standard question to pose an avid cyclist, given that they sit on their gluteous maximus for like, a million hours on the trot. Evidently not, though, because The Husband’s eyes widen and he freezes. The therapist tries again and Lance Armstrong finally responds: “Under …..no…..circumstances…..will…..I….be…..taking….these shorts off”. Ohhh-kay, then, baby.

And off we go to the massage chamber…

We’re asked to lie down on the massage tables (as you do when you’re having a massage, right?) so I duly begin to de-robe when, out of nowhere, a body flies at me from across the room. I’m knocked to the ground and end up in a semi-fetal position, sandwiched between the hard floor and my fluffy terry-cloth robe. My robe is being held in place by the full weight of The Husband.

“Um, what are you doing?” I ask from under my gown.

“What are YOU doing? Why are you taking your clothes off in front of everyone?” comes the shocked response.

Oh boy. I don’t think the previous regime had ANY idea that banning topless tanning would have such a lasting psychological impact on the generations it affected.

“Sweetheart,” I say, “Give the gown to the nice lady. She’s only going to massage your quads and your calves and make you the biggest, strongest cyclist in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. She won’t bite. I promise.”

Silence. For what seems like forever.

Eventually, I hear, “How big and strong?”

Phew. Progress.

Once I’ve finally coaxed and prized The Husband off me, have helped strap him to his massage table and have left sign language instructions for the therapists to drug him with aromatherapy oils, I sprint out of the couples chamber to the safety of the indoor pool. Thank God the Veuve’s already on ice. I figure that a girl deserves some birthday bubbly after all that. I’ll share it if he comes out of his ylang-ylang coma before I finish it.

Home Exec Seeks BFF


During my sabbatical, there’ve been some signs that the whole “Home Exec” thing is not exactly for me. This morning I awoke to another such sign. Overnight, the ceiling-y-thingy underneath our upstairs balcony collapsed. It collapsed in exactly the spot where The Husband spends a significant amount of time puffing on his Peter Stuyvesants. Of course I was suitably grateful that the ceiling-y-thing did not fall on his head, but it would really have killed two birds if it had fallen on a couple of hadedas (‘scuse pun). At least that would have solved one home improvement problem (apparently it’s illegal to shoot the b*ggers) so a fatal piece of falling rhinoplast would have been ideal.

“Oh, Mr Conservation Officer, there’s been a terrible accident…” Instead, nothing but more Home-Maker maintenance. Not my strong point.

On the bright side, however, “my renovator” (that’s what I’m calling him from now on, even though I only met him this morning) could not be sweeter. He’s been running to me excitedly every time he figures out yet another source of our internal waterfalls, looking like he’s cracked a code or something. He then proceeds to explain the solution in great, painstaking, slow motion-like detail. Bless. Now, I want to live in a house where I won’t get rained on while I’m watching TV as much as the next housewife, but it really is a struggle to stay animated about drainage, plaster and pipes.

Aside from the fact that project managing home improvement is not my forte, there’ve been a few other signs that full-time home-making may not be for me. Looking back, I think I began to realise this a couple of months ago. It was after I got it into my head that I needed a partner in crime to help me through this life-changing phase. I rationalised that new mothers had Mom & Snots, the baby boomers had bridge and bowls and the kugels had Tashas. But what about us child-free ladies of leisure? What did we have?

I decided I needed a friend. I just needed to find her. Shortly thereafter, I started seeing this nice, normal-looking girl at the gym in the middle of the morning. She looked about my age and she wasn’t drawling “Hiiiiiii!” to every second gym-goer. “Aha!” I thought. “A fellow outsider! And if she’s working out at 9:30 in the morning she can’t have a regular day job. Maybe we can be friends!!!”

All these thoughts were racing around in my crazy little head, but of course, I was far too cool (too shy) to introduce myself. Then, later that day, I saw her at a coffee shop at the Blubird Centre.

“Oh my God,” I’m thinking, “This is DESTINY! We’re like…TWINS! We hang out at ALL the same places! And she doesn’t have any friends either!”.

It got even better: she had a huge slice of carrot cake in front of her! “She does gym AND she eats cake – OMG, she’s PERFECT”. I’d just arrived at the coffee shop with my current best friend (who was up from Cape Town) and I didn’t want her to think I was completely loony, so I just said, half-joking, “Hey, that’s the girl we saw at the gym this morning. She obviously doesn’t have a job either. Maybe she can be my friend”.

Now, Current Best Friend (CBF) is all about the confidence. At 19, she dragged me into London bars frequented by Naomi Campbell. (Not kidding, I actually saw Ms Campbell once). CBF would walk in looking like she owned the place and, more importantly, like she was simply born to drink champers there. I, on the other hand, would be hiding behind her, praying no-one recognised me as the waitress from the Spur-style joint down the road. So Current Best Friend leant over to New Best Friend and went:

“Hey. We really should sync our schedules”.

New Best Friend looked a bit confused but Current Best Friend was undeterred:

“We saw you at the gym this morning,” she explained.

By this point I was bright red but simultaneously imagining us as mid-week pilates partners and godmothers to our unborn children. I also seemed to have swallowed my tongue but fortunately, Current Best Friend is never short of a word or two, so happily, the conversation was flowing.

As I was half-way through my speech (in my head) for her kid’s christening, we learnt that she was out from London for two weeks her best friend’s wedding.

And that she had a job – and a personal trainer (thank you very much) – in London. (The little beetch). And that’s when I realised I needed to get a life – or a job. Or more Facebook friends. For now, I’ve settled on the latter.

And yes, it’s working pretty well. Thanks for all the birthday messages Facebook friends – you’re the best!

Vanity Fair at The Lab


I have to admit that I’ve worked hard at taking my sabbatical seriously. Having said that, travel research, travel bookings, packing for travel, actual travel and then recovery from travel, should not be under-estimated.

As a result, I was still deep in recovery phase late last week when an ex-colleague called about some contracting work (bearing in mind that I have not engaged in actual work, per se, since April ’09). When we met to discuss the project, she looked so fab in her tailored shirt, fitted skirt and pointy shoes that I felt a rush of nostalgia for the glamour of a working wardrobe. “I miss suits and heels!!!” I thought and promptly accepted the piece of work. As it turns out, I ended up doing the work at home in my PJ’s. I can’t say it was exactly brain surgery but it was a bit of a shock to the system – what with its deadlines, timelines, frameworks and all those other workie-type things.

So when I finished the work yesterdday, I really felt as though I deserved a reward. I thought about it and then settled on a mani and a pedi at the Blubird’s Nail & Body Lab.

There are many things I love about The Lab. I love settling down into the big, leather Lazy Boys and coming out with perfect little, bright red fingers and toes.

The part I enjoy less is the: “Howz-i-i-i-i-t, D-o-o-o-o-o-o-ol!” (think: ULTRA nasal).

“Ah my G-o-o-o-o-rd! You look a-MA-a-a-a-a-zing!”

“ Ah my G-o-o-o-o-rd, I’m so exh-a-a-a-a-usted. Ricky had a Board function last night and all I’ve had today is two freezocinos and a Super C.”

“Ah my G-o-o-o-o-rd!” And so forth.

Obviously if the cheerleaders actually spoke to me, I’d put on my best nasal drawl and drawl right back,

“Ah my G-o-o-o-o-rd! You ‘usso’ (read ‘also’) look aMA-a-a-a-a-zing!” But since they don’t, my strategy is to look intellectually intimidating. I take along a copy of Vanity Fair and smugly immerse myself in one of the regular articles by Nobel Prize-winning economists such as Joseph Stiglitz.

That’ll teach ‘em. Today, however, I have a somewhat post-modern moment at The Lab. Instead of the latest Vanity Fair, I take along the book I’ve just started reading: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young (it inspired a recent movie by the same name). Turns out, the book is actually based on Toby’s experiences as a writer for Vanity Fair itself.

A chapter or so in, it dawns on me that my visions of the magazine as the seat of cutting-edge journalism and the mouth-piece of world-renowned economists, may be somewhat off-base. From Toby’s descriptions, Vanity Fair is starting to sound more like Cosmo – except the editors are richer and bitchier.

And then comes the quote that pretty much settles it: APPARENTLY (according to Toby), Vanity Fair was once described as “a magazine read by women in Illinois while they get their nails done.” Touché, dol.

Alarms & Shorty Pyjarms

I have to say that being on sabbatical after a December holiday really helps the back-to-school blues. Despite having trouble keeping track of the days of the week when I got back to the Big Smoke, I managed to rock up for my bi-weekly personal training slot.

At 9am.

I’ve had this decadent, late morning slot for the past 6 months but have struggled to find a training partner – go figure. So when The Iron Man (my personal trainer) asked me whether I’d like to join his A-team of female clients at 6am in the morning, I found myself saying ‘yes’. The word just flew out of my mouth without any instruction from my brain. I think my brain may still have been on South American time, which tends to be a little “behind”.

In order to make the red-eye slot, I calculated that I’d have to get up at 05:30. I also calculated that to get 8 hours sleep (another New Year’s Resolution which is danger of being struck off the list for non-implementation) I’d need to be asleep by 21:30. And so, on Monday night, I dutifully climbed into bed really early and willed myself to sleep. I then fell into a a state somewhere between slumber and alertness, with my mental alarm going “FIVE THIRTY! FIVE THIRTY! FIVE THIRTY!” Needless to say, when that delightful hour finally rolled on, I felt like I’d been hit by a TGV. It was, after all, the crack of dawn so I figured the gym would be a morgue and I figured I could roll out of bed and stumble through the doors without so much as a smidgeon of mascara.

Apparently not.

Who would’ve thought it but Melrose Arse was positively heaving. Even the normally ultra-calm Iron Man was in overdrive. I was hustled to the step machine with the A-teamers and told to “warm-up quickly!”

Jeez, dude. There was none of the customary “hey, how’re you doing, how you’re feeling”. Which was just as well since I would have launched into a long lament over my lack of sleep, how the red eye slot might not be for me after all, etc, etc, etc. But none of the A-teamers had spoken a word so far, so I felt compelled to shut my mouth and to try and imitate their seemingly effortless pull-ups. Each of the girls was even tinier than the first and when The Iron Man did eventually initiate some conversation it was about their marathon training programmes.

“Ja, you need to be doing about 20-30km per day,” he was saying. WTF? (Mind you, I have also heard him say that he “chats to Lance” (Armstrong) on Facebook, so perhaps some of his assertions need to be taken with a pinch of salt.)

Then I learned that super sexy A-Team Member 1 has given birth to two kids and that A-Team Member 2 is in her early forties and five-months pregnant with her third kid. I think the three of them (2 A-teamers plus 1 unborn baby) collectively weigh less than I do.

Suddenly, in my semi-sleepless hungover state, I got the Iron Man’s plan for me: competition. I decided to chill out and just enjoy the work-out. The great thing about Melrose Arse is that no matter how gruelling one’s programme, the characters that frequent the place provide you with priceless entertainment. My current fave is what I’ve termed the “shorty pyjamas”. A few of the guys wear the tiniest, teeniest little pairs of shorts imaginable. I’ve seen similar proportions on Clifton beaches, but these are even better, because they’re nice and loose – they let the breeze in. And then a loose T-shirt is worn so it’s impossible to tell, for sure, how high the shorts have been pulled up. The whole ensemble is just a beaut. The best is – it cracks me up and improves my mood every single time. Bring on the pull-ups!

NYR Countdown


I’ve always firmly believed that actioning one’s NYR’s (New Year’s Resolutions) on 1 January is just irresponsible. Probably mainly because NYR No. 1 – i.e. Getting in Shape – on holiday, is just no fun. Although my holiday is not quite over, the fat lady is starting to sing. (‘Scuse the pun). This hit me when we landed on SA soil in Cape Town yesterday morning. And so I decided that the thing to do was to walk up Lion’s Head – being in Cape Town and intending to Get in Shape and all.

The vibe, the view, everything, was so invigorating that I started lamenting the fact that if only I lived in Cape Town I’d do this every day! Imagine! That was before The Husband reminded me that in four and half years of residing in Cape Town, I’d walked up Lion’s Head exactly once.

Oh ja. I remember now.

My No. 1 NYR became even more real when there turned out to be two models amongst our Lion’s Head group. And I don’t mean gorgeous girls who really just should have been models – I mean actual, professional schmodels. One of whom I learned is on a diet. She’d already done a round trip on foot from Vredehoek to Loop Street as a warm-up that morning and was now ascending Lion’s Head at a vicious pace. In a long-sleeved black fleece in the midday sun.

A model as my role-model? Nah, probably unhealthy and will only result in psychological trauma. Scrap that.

List of NYR’s:

1. Get in shape/ lost weight/ achieve goal weight etc etc

2. Start a business

3. Master my Mac

4. Become fluentish in Italian

5. Develop sufficient skill (and confidence) to participate in social tennis

6. Read the paper – get a Business Day subscription (and not just for the Wanted mag)

7. Quit Coke Lite

Think I’ll stop there. Problem is I’ve been Lost In Translation-style awake since 2am this morning. (Last night’s flight from Buenos Aires was Concorde-like quick – 7 hours. Hardly enough time for dinner, a movie and a decent kip.)

What to do when one is wide-eyed at 5am? I wonder if the gym’s open yet? Nope – that won’t work – middle of night snack not yet digested.

Would have begun eating plan but then realised today’s Tuesday and you can’t start a diet on a Tuesday. Duh!