A roachy encounter

– and what I learned about myself from it.

I was feeling particularly smug about life that morning. I’d hopped out of bed with that feeling I sometimes get: the relish of living alone in my little flat and the freedom I have to do whatever I damn well please – like eating Reeses Cups for breakfast – because I’m a grown-ass-woman and I can take care of myself. Smugly smug smug. And that morning I was going to take care of myself via yoga in my PJs.

I like a bit of morning yoga; I open the curtains and go through a couple of sets in the sunshine. I like the feeling when I’m done and I’m a bit sweaty and my muscles have gone all shaky. I feel like I’ve done something good for my body but also nice and balanced and peaceful and, to be honest, even more smug.

So, this particular morning, I open my curtains and a massive winged cockroach flutters out. It stutters, falters and crashes drunkenly down on my bedside table and I SHRIEK and fling myself across the room. A proportionate response, I’m sure you’ll agree. Here I stand – panting – and consider my options.

I’m not sure where it landed exactly; it could be down behind the dresser or it could have fallen amongst the teddies who inhabit its surface. (A rag-tag bunch, they include Claude the French Christmas bear, Margery the floppy dog who insists on wearing broken aviator shades, and Space Bunny.) I’m scared that if I go over to investigate, it’ll fly out from among them into my face.

In order to ascertain its roachy whereabouts, I decide to send in an advance guard. Lionel, a beany-bottomed lion, is perpetually grumpy and this will do nothing to lift his mood, but there’s nothing for it. I hurl him into the midst of his furry colleagues. No movement. Not a flutter. And suddenly I am very aware of myself, throwing teddies across the room, because I’m scared of a bug.

cockroach-joe

I gird my loins and approach with caution. On closer inspection, the roach is indeed crouching behind the dresser and it occurs to me that even if I get him out in the open, I need an exit strategy. I open my window and aim the fan at it, wondering if he will get caught in the slipstream and just be wafted out.

That’s IT! I’ll just leave everything like this, go to work, and he’ll make his own way out.

Wait, no. What if I get home and he’s not there, I won’t know if he’s gone or merely lurking somewhere else, like my pillow case. No. I must deal with this now, like an adult. I get the broom.

After a rescue mission in which my fluffy friends are gingerly airlifted to the relative safety of the bed (Lionel eyes me with even deeper disdain), I hover uncertainly, with a broom handle pointing down behind the dresser. Nope, I can’t do it. My aim is terrible and I anticipate the scuttling. Shudder. ‘Aha!’ thinks I, ‘Bug spray!’ I grab the massive can under the sink, shake it thoroughly, aim it down the back of the dresser and let him have it. Scuttle scuttle scuttle! Unngghhhhhh.

So now I’m chasing him; he isn’t flying, thank fuck – he’s definitely already pretty busted, but fuck me, the fucker can scuttle. The spray is puttering but I keep it trained on him doggedly, round the bed, across the floor and almost to the rug where he gives up and collapses, legs in the air, twitching. I scoop him up with a post card, dump him out the window and slam it shut. And now I too collapse in a sweaty, shaky heap. The irony is not lost on me that the very yogic effect I enjoy so much was this morning achieved by something so un-zen as killing a fellow living creature. With poison – the weapon, as they say, of women.

As it turn out then, I am a grown woman, who lives alone and takes care of business; I can take care of myself and my home… by offing, in the most cowardly fashion, a tiny, injured creature that had infinitely more cause to be afraid of me, given he was entirely less well armed.

I am not so smug anymore.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Here is a little cautionary tale, friends, at which you will want to curl up and dye.

PING goes Facebook and there it is, an appeal from a friend asking for people who want to get paid to have their hair cut, for a hair show.

Great! Says I – notoriously lazy about having my locks shorn, usually opting to wait til I go home to England where I get my mum to just chop off the dead ends. My hair, in short, is looooong.

But it needs a trim and I fancy a  bit of a style and maybe some fun colour, so along I go to the casting and to my delight I am selected. The stylist, a suitably fabulous Italian man in studded loafers, named Silvio (obviously), points at a hairdo in a magazine – this is what he will do with my hair. ‘It is ok?’ It looks fine – mostly some cool blonde highlights and a lot of curling and volumising, but, with all that, it’s still below shoulder length. ‘OK, so it’ll still be long, right?’ I ask. ‘Sure, suuurree,’ he says confidently, if a little dismissively. This very exchange is repeated after they apply the colour and I sit in the cutting chair: ‘Because, my hair is the source of all my powers you know,’ I half joke, ‘I like, reeaalllly like my long hair. So, not short, right?’ I add, as he brandishes the scissors.

‘No no, not short,’ he sings just moments before he merrily chops METRES off my beloved locks. I let out a scream as I see the chunks fall on the floor.

‘No no!’ He cheerily assures me, ‘Is layers! Bottom layer, he is still long. Same long as before! No problemo!’

Bottom layer, he is NOT same long as before.  As for top layer, he is the same length as my fucking fringe. So now I have molto problemo in the form of a stupid haircut, which may, to Silvio, be the height of style, but looks to me like what is essentially a boofy mullet.

never trust a hairdresser

The next installment in my journey of humiliation was the prep for the hair show itself. Silvio, like any hairdresser worth his salt, absent mindedly runs his hands through my newly hacked tresses while chatting away to the colourist about another model entirely. I am, it is clear, simply the pesky human attached to the real star: ‘The woman under this hair, why is she crying?’

He applies BOTTLES of product to it and teases it inexorably upwards, curling and scrunching and pinning. Next up: make up. The bejewelled gentleman tasked with attending to my face has a particular disdain for my eyebrows. He seems unconvinced by their shape, blithely scraping at them with a razor. Now he has evidently decided they are rendered too flimsy – damn these feeble things, he thinks. I know, a lovely bricky brown, ooh yes, nice and thick. And now, for the eyelids. They shall be pink, of course!

The over-all effect was that of a terrible 80s drag queen with patchy facial eczema.

photo(2)

Perhaps, under the lights, it looked effective, I do not know. What I do know is that I am now faced with the daily reality of wrangling what amounts to a bowl-cut atop heavily textured layers, in Bangkok’s notorious humidity. This morning I washed it to see what I was actually working with and applied a metric shit ton of serum to it before venturing outdoors. This morning, I expect Silvio merely flipped his Skrillex mop top to the other side of his stubbly undercut and went for a cigarette and a stroll, ruffling the heads of passersby. Skipping probably.

The moral of this fable of follicles is simple: NEVER trust a hairdresser. Especially not a fantastically gung ho Italian one who is paying you to whatever the shit he likes with your locks.

Upon being clumsy with my eaves…

overheard on the tube

In February, I went home to England to meet (begin training) the newest member of my sister’s ever-growing brood of unfeasibly gorgeous offspring. It was predictably lovely with lots of beige food, endless cups of tea and cosy fires.

Unaccustomed to certain things about Blighty as I have become, I was ill-prepared for the arctic conditions awaiting me at Heathrow. I did, however, manage to catch (and marvel open-mouthed at) that fleeting pre-spring where the biting cold seems to sharpen the winter sun so that the snowdrop scattered fields of the shire I’m lucky enough to hail from positively sparkle with hard, dazzling glitter.

Besides the divine providence of my own provenance, there were other things that I realised I had hitherto taken for granted. They include Nandos, ethnic diversity and Shoreditch, but most of all, being able to eavesdrop on people.

Darling readers, the delight and greedy glee with which I applied myself to listening in on other people’s lives bordered on the indecent. To find myself back in a country where most people spoke my first language amongst themselves was almost too much. As luck would have it, I had received from my best friend, as a late Christmas present, a rather gorgeous notebook.

And so below are – verbatim – the wonderful and utterly contextless snippets of things that floated into my ears while I was variously on the street, at a party, on the train and elsewhere. I have also added a few corkers gifted to me since returning to Bangkok:

I only realised last year that the Romans were Italian.’

Right! And the way they looked at me, you’d have thought I’d said something racist!’

I bought non-alcoholic beer once. Tasted like crisps.’

Hey, did you know — Bob Marley was 70 the other day.’  Yeah. Dead though.’

You know, an elf. Like a little fairy boy.’

Nah, he’s in the Congo at the moment, mate.’

I always think Helsinki sounds like it should be in Hawaii.’

I don’t want another man’s penis on my phone.’

Can you feed a pig bacon? Seriously, can you?’

When the Dutch were rife — you know, in the old days. I mean, I know they were bastards, but they fucking ruled.

‘So I bought some gin. Because, y’know, we had all this tonic lying about the house.’

‘So there I am with this bird sitting on my face, casual as you like.’

‘She just can’t seem to control the calories. I mean, she’s not fat…’ *leans in and lowers voice* ‘but she’s a bit… round, you know?’

‘I don’t care, they can block Facebook, Instagram, whatever. Just don’t mess with the porn, man!’

I think i will revisit this post from time to time, with any glorious additions I am lucky enough to catch. See you soon, XO

Also, if you like silly pictures along the lines of the one above, you might enjoy my deeply ridiculous tumblr: http://punbletumble.tumblr.com/

Wonderfruit festival: outlandish outfits and budding romance

I spent the last weekend of 2014 in a field in Chon Buri with ALL of Bangkok’s hipsters, a lot of whisky and some yummy food. Noteworthy appearances were made by, y’know, Little Dragon, De La Soul… no big deal.

de la soul live in thailand

For about 72 hours, those present willfully flung normal behaviour out of the window and pranced, cavorted and caroused, dressed like this:

festival fashion at wonderfruit

I feel it’s safe to assume that such conditions probably sparked a few romantic moments. And, I imagine that if Wonderfruit had a daily newspaper, the ‘missed connections’ section would read something like this:

‘You were dressed as a Pokemon, I had the Indian headdress, our eyes met across the drum circle. My heart pounded louder than the congas. I looked for you at the wood-bending workshop the next day… Let’s whittle something together sometime.’

‘To the guy in the velvet fez I snogged in the Green Quarry on Friday night: I overheard you in line at Kuppadeli in the morning, ordering soy latte and complaining about all the ways Burning Man is way superior. Lose my number.’

‘You appeared like a sprite in the middle of Woodkid’s set, covered my face with glitter and whirled away. I’ve never seen a man wear sparkly leggings with such panache before, take me shopping?’

‘To the guy in the neon green boxers  who made it all the way to the end of the Greasy Pole and gracefully swan dived headfirst into the lake – I hope the bleeding stopped eventually.’

‘Cute folk-dancing girl from the vineyard – you can stomp my grapes any day.’

‘Hey, hot blonde from the beach bar, I like the way you hula.’

‘Hey stilts-guy, you look like you could use some head.’  …(ZING!)

wodnerfruit festival in thailand

Romance in a field, among loonies

Meanwhile, back at Wonderfruit HQ, I imagine the ‘lost and found’ notice reads something like this:

lost items at music festival

 

It really was an unforgettable weekend, well done Wonderfruit. And you, did you go? Did you dress up? Find love? Steal an air conditioner?

Big thanks to Christian Hogue for the use of these gorgeous photos. Check out more of his stuff at: farfromthemaddeningcrowd.com

A Yule Tale

– Gather ye round for a heartwarming festive story

Say what you like about Bangkok’s execution of Christmas (and I have), what it lacks in polish, it makes up for in effort. I happen to think that any predominantly Buddhist country that gets tinseled up and fairy-lit in the name of blatant and shameless commercialism spreading festive cheer deserves our appreciation.

It was in this spirit that I attended the Hilton Sukhumvit’s tree lighting evening and sure enough, they had gone for it gamely, with all the trimmings – all of them, indiscriminate about trimming use, they were. A brightly lit display of all the traditional Christmas items welcomed guests and warmed hearts.

Christmas display at Hilton bangkok

It’s just not Christmas without Limoncello and monogrammed handbags

We admired the unconscionably long chocolate log over steaming glasses of gluhwein (hot wine… in the tropics… cuz nothing says Christmas like sweating your Santa hat off).

Better crank up the air con, the wine's a-mulling

Better crank up the air con, the wine’s a-mulling

But the real magic was yet to begin. From nowhere, a shambles of adorable cherubs, attached to various stringed instruments, traipsed messily to the stage area, only to be hurriedly shooed away by their formidable ensemble mistress. Interest piqued, I found a spot with a good view and lo, a mini Christmas novella unraveled before my eyes.

The prettiest young lady remained seated, neatly arranging her skirts about her cello, demurely receiving the ardent attentions of the young chaps either side of her, one a gangly, awkward fellow cellist and the other casually wielding an acoustic guitar. Ahhhh me, sighed I, ruefully remembering the flutters of those early high school flirtations, oh and the complexities of the social hierarchies – how fascinating.

chirstmas choir bangkok

Cella-bella handles the love triangle masterfully

No time to linger, though.

pushy-choir-mum

Clap clap, Pushy Choir Mum had the stage to herself, having cleared the musical youths and, revelling in her moment in the spotlight, bade us attend the sweeping stairwell. A moment of hush, the sigh of a violin, and down they came, a harmonious troop of bobble hatted youngsters, shyly sawing and strumming at their instruments.

christmas kids music

As the Bangkok Von-Trapps played sweetly, PCM directing them with aplomb, I couldn’t help but notice, not every member of the ensemble shared her enthusiasm…

little violinist

Mini Taylor Swift is OVER it

The song finished to beguiled applause. The musicians relaxed a moment; swaggering guitar-player turned to joke with neighbouring cheeky-chappy violin dude, and I caught a glimpse of his face.

WHAT?!

buddy the elf

This guy is way older than these kids! Princess Cello remains remarkably poised considering she is sitting next to Buddy the Elf.

Luckily the day was saved. From back-row obscurity stepped a slip of a thing, clattering a little in her mum’s shoes. Handling the mic awkwardly, she lifted her little chin and sang ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ in a high, pure soprano.

This picture is fuzzy to recreate the misty eyes she elicited

This picture is fuzzy to recreate the misty eyes she elicited

An audible sigh rippled round the room. Having stepped out to have a word with a colleague, Buddy the Guitar Elf and his (much more age appropriate companion) fell silent and watched in wonder.

Grown up elf love

Grown up elf love

…leaving adorkable cello fellow free to make his move and woo the princess.

cello love

An egg-nog after the show?

A happy ending, a Christmas miracle. My cockles have never been more toasty. Even mini Taylor Swift cracked a smile.

merry christmas

Merry Christmas every one!

 

For more of my thoughts on Christmas in Bangkok, click here.

For another uplifting little story, try this one.

Nyooooooo Shoooooozzz

– and the very visceral response they inspired.

Perhaps it’s just me. But I suspect not. Do you ever re-purpose songs to match what you’re doing?

For example, I never seen this…

lock the taskbar

The shareef don’t like it

…without humming The Clash.

And whenever we go here:

maggie choos bangkok

I sing (in my head… usually), ‘Maggie, Maggie Choooooooos’ to the tune of Boney M’s classic, Daddy Cool.

And the moment that I spied these molten beauties winking naughtily at me was no exception.

gold ked-style plimsolls

No sooner had they seduced me into procuring them, weaseled their magical way onto my wiggly feets, that the ol’ cranial orchestra struck up a jaunty ditty to mark the occasion.

The song in question, was (for reasons fairly obvious) New Shoes by Paolo Nutini. It goes like this:

And I,  indeed,  went like this:

happy feet in new shoes

Hey, I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything is right,

moves in my shoes from Zalora brand Ezra

I said, hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody’s smiling, it’s so inviting,

back slide like a pro

Oh, short on money, but long on time,
Slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine,

no excuse new shoes

I’m running late and I don’t need an excuse, coz I’m wearing my brand new shoes

Disclaimers:

– Buying new shoes may not be a clinically approved cure for depression.

– Your friends may not consider your recently purchased footwear an adequate excuse for tardiness.

Additionally, on closer inspection, Paolo’s little tune, while indisputably catchy, seems to be about some crafty moccasins that have some sort of adverse effect on the wearer wherein he develops short term amnesia, coming to only to discover his friends have been enjoying a frenzied, debauched bender in his house during his unconscious episode. Say no to clog-drugs, kids.

Unlike some fashion snobs, I have no compunction about sharing whence come these little masterpieces du pied. The sneakily gorgeous sneakers featured above came from online fever (perhaps related to the fever that knocked out dear Paolo)  – a rather nifty new Thai brand (buy local, guyzz).

And on the subject of sharing, if you enjoy the sort of silly scribbling in evidence above, you may be interested to know know i have started a new tumblr dedicated to my ridiculous little visual jokes.

Disclaimer part deux: if you do not enjoy crudely scrawled cartoons rendered solely for the sake of a laboured pun,  definitely don’ t click here: punbletumble.tumblr.com

The Taming of the Shoe

– Or: ‘Why do men date awful women?’

tip for breaking in shoes

I have never understood, as an onlooker, why so many fellows date really horrible, horrible women. You know the ones, the mean, manipulative, unreasonable, princesses that have otherwise rational chaps running around after them, blindly acquiescing to their madcap demands. ‘It’s the crazy/hot scale,’ my male friends would explain to me patiently, their compadres nodding sagely. ‘The WHAT?’

Perhaps you are not aware of this phenomenon, as I was not. Here, Barney will explain:

This, ladies and gents, is an actual THING; a fact of life to which many sensible people subscribe. The notion that humans will put up with something that is causing them damage because it is aesthetically exceptional – and, indeed, the more beautiful it is, the more pain, confusion and misery it is entitled to inflict – is one to which I instinctively responded, ‘PIFFLE! And WAFFLE!’

Until, this was, the Cinderella Carvela debacle of 2014.

I was to be a bridesmaid for Cat (she of My Popfession); we have been friends since we were nine and she is the most radiant and beautiful creature there ever was. Careful now, don’t jump to conclusions; she – though undeniably beautiful, is not among the aforementioned women. In fact, she might be the kindest, most considerate person I’ve ever met. She will remember your hamster’s anniversary, and buy him the most elegant gift, expertly wrapped in his favourite colour. As for her bridesmaids, Cat was determined we would have something lovely to wear and when it came to the shoes, she utterly outdid herself. The Swarovski encrusted stilettos were not only mesmerisingly sparkly, they were by Carvela. ‘Hurrah!’ whooped I, ‘They will be comfy and springy and I shall twinkle-toe my way around the South of France like a bridesmaidly fairy.’

They were not. They were pointy, pinchy, torture chambers of foot-death, contorting my toes, and reducing me to a hobbling, wincing cripple. But, my oh MY, they were pretty. And for this reason (not to mention that I would do anything for Queen Catherine, Bride of Provence), I ran round the house, wearing thick socks inside the buggers day and night, in a frenzied bid to loosen them, or at least train my tootsies to handle the agony.

And it gave me a little insight into the logic of the crazy/hot scale. Here I was, willfully making allowances – the balls of my feet burning, my hitherto graceful gait rendered a tottering mince – just to wear something beautiful. Maybe, I mused, I had judged these chaps too harshly and actually, the pain and discomfort of dating someone ‘crazy’ is worth it for the the payoff.

Bridesmaid shoes

But, on the day of the wedding, though my feet have never looked so elegant, or been so frantically instagrammed, I had to surreptitiously ease them off at dinner, eyes a-watering, to give my screaming toes some respite. Later, the time came for dancing; and though they continued to twinkle prettily from the ledge upon which I carefully placed them, they took no part in our wild and joyful rumpus. And I concluded, just as the shoes that threatened to prevent me dancing – though undeniably gorgeous – were cast aside, so too would any person who threatened to impede my happiness. Probably faster, and no matter how beautiful.

I remain unmoved in my stance on the crazy/hot scale.