Saturday, 27 September 2008

Change of address

Am planning on deleting this blog fairly soon, but first need to figure out how to put on a redirect.

If you happen to land up here, click on Trinklebean's travels for all my archives as well as new posts. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Family conversation XI

Pim: Would you like to drive my car?
Kim: Actually, I´d prefer to drive Mim´s.
Pim: Mine is an automatic, so you wouldn´t have to bother about gears.
Kim: But that would require a shift in mindset.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Family conversation X

T: Did you speak to Pim about going to see Chris Chameleon on Monday?
Mim: Ja, but he didn´t seem that keen.
T: I´m sure it´s not that he´s not keen; he´s feeling too stressed and busy at the moment.
Mim: Ja, you´ll just have to go with one of your friends.
T: None of my friends will want to go to the Barnyard Theatre. It´s so not cool. That´s why I enjoy hanging out with you. It´s like if you have kids and you can take them to see Kung Fu Panda.
Mim: Thanks very much!
T: It´s not a bad thing. I like to think of you guys as my older housemates, rather than the parental unit.
Mim: That certainly explains a lot...

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Family conversation IX

Mim talking on the phone to sundry family members (I´ve heard this conversation more than once) about her trip overseas.

Mim: No, I didn´t really like Amsterdam; I wouldn´t go back there. It was so flat. It had no vibe - people were just wandering along the streets, doing nothing.

Somehow I think she might have been missing out on something - perhaps the very reason some people want to go to Amsterdam.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Family conversation VIII

Sitting in the lounge, watching The Queen; the scene where Helen Mirren is determinedly driving through the Scottish highlands or wherever, in pursuit of that elusive stag.

T: I suppose, if the queen can drive, so can I.
Mim: Yes, but she doesn´t have to drive in public.

Thursday, 07 August 2008

The sweetest dreams

Am tired but buzzing after a hectic evening at work. Had to dash off some admin mails when I got home. And over-organise stuff for tomorrow. But, after receiving the following message from my dear friend Sebastian in Germany, I feel the right kind of tired... dreamy tired.

So sleep tight and dream about whatever you wish. But flowers, butterflies and a nice forest with cloudy red-blue heaven is the best, and suddenly a soulfly passes by just in front of your eyes, and suddenly you are asleeep... Have nice dreams... some surrealistic ones.

Monday, 04 August 2008

Family conversation VII

My gran is so achingly cool, it´s hard to keep up with her. After a 10 minute discussion on her latest plans to purchase a webcam, we starting chatting about her favourite South African band.

Gran: Freshlyground have really made a name for themselves; I hear them all the time on the radio.
T: Mmmm...
Gran: Ever since they had that hit with Scooby-Doo, they´ve been doing well.
T (stifles a giggle): Mmmm...

But perhaps the joke´s on me, and it´s the younger family member who is hard of hearing. Whatever - I hope I still listen to contemporary South Arican music when I´m eighty!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Bangers and mash

For the best new blog on the block, and a sneak peek into the sexual shenanigans of suburban South Africa, check out Bangers and Mash. Compellingly nasty reading!

I don´t want Harry´s sleep to be further disturbed, but I do hope the Saucemeister gets it up again soon. He really is the man - performing not only for the pleasure of the Screamer, but several interweb voyeurs as well!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Three questions that keep me up at night

1. Why do I always start sneezing whenever I pluck my eyebrows?

2. Why is SAA still serving Vito Palazzolo mineral water?

3. Why does Graeme Smith so often put the other team in to bat? It only makes it worse on the rare occasion that it´s the correct decision, as this lets him justify all the other times when it´s so obviously the wrong one.

Whosoever can answer any of these burning questions shall be the recipient of my eternal gratitude!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Friendly Conversation III

At ATOM...

Dick-the-barman: "What are you doing here?"
T: "I´m down from Jozi for the weekend."
Dick-the-barman: "Oh, I thought you were out on a day pass from Valkenburg."
T: "Actually, the last time I was in a psychiatric institution was in Switzerland."
Dick-the-barman: "It´s hard to know how to respond to that."

Dick-the-barman virtually speechless - a rare occasion, which banished all vestiges of depression from my psyche ;)

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Family conversation VI

If you have a five-litre jug and a three-litre jug, how do you get four litres? Or, if you take one set of parents and a 20-something who's returned to the nest, how do you get a book out of it?

T: "It's very fashionable to write books about one's parents these days. Everybody is doing it."
Pim: "I know, you told me the other day."
T: "I just thought I'd mention it again."
Pim: "If you wrote one about us, no one would read it; it would be boring."
T: "No, it wouldn't; it would be hilarious."
Pim: "I suppose you could put a different jug problem in italics at the beginning of each chapter."
Mim: "Don't encourage her!"

Friendly conversation II

GX: "So, you're a fan of James?"
T: "James the band?"
GX: "No, James my friend."
T: "Dude, I was being facetious!" ;)

Wednesday, 09 July 2008

(Other people's) family conversation V

Mel: "You're so tiny."
J: "Mom, don't be rude."
G: "At least you're the same height as me!"
T: "How old are you?"
G: "Nine. How old are you?"
T: "Um, 28."

Good thing I don't have a complex about my height...

Tuesday, 01 July 2008

Family conversation IV

T: "So we can go and book my learner´s tomorrow?"
Mim: "No, I told you we´re going in the opposite direction."
T: "Surely it´s not that far? The longer we wait to do it the longer I´ll be at your mercy."
Mim: "No, the longer I´ll be at your mercy."
T: "I guess we´ll both be at each other´s mercy... Or throats."

Half-year´s resolutions

There´s only two of them. But they´re biggies.

1. Get my driver´s license.
Primary motivation: When I have a car I can play my music in it.
Additional considerations: Have realised it might actually be easier to obtain license than constantly have to manipulate/beg my friends for lifts. And I will be independent and feel like I´m 18 again.

2. Get a job.
Primary motivation: I will have a business card to give to people at parties. How is one supposed to have a social life worthy of a young professional without this essential accessory?
Additional consideration: I will stop feeling that I am turning into the Hugh Grant character in About a boy.

Monday, 30 June 2008

Friendly conversation I

JK (on hearing that I may apply for a job at a lad mag): "The pen has power... so does lipstick."

Am still trying to work out the implications of this one, so all interpretations welcome!

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Family conversation III

Mim: "Pim will have to go to the movies (to see Nuclear Comeback at Encounters) by himself then."
T: "Why don´t you go with him?"
Mim: "No, I don´t want to."
T: "I would go, if I weren´t busy."
Mim: "I know you would."
T: "Don´t you care about the environment?"
Mim: "Pim can look after the earth; I will look after the computers."

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

"Darkest Africa"

My friend Bean has just written a wonderful post about Western perceptions of Africa.

I thought of it this morning when I woke up and there was an unscheduled power cut. But you know, I don´t live in a mud house or a tin shack, and I´m lucky enough to have power most of the time. I don´t like what power cuts are doing to our economy. And I am unable to function without my morning cup of tea. But really, there´s not much to complain about compared to Nigeria.

Mim and I were just about to head off to Hyde Park* to get our caffeine fix, when Ceremony started blasting out from the sound system (bizarre, as it wasn´t playing when the power went off). My spirits immediately lifted and I tripped off to the kitchen to switch on the kettle.

* All the shops here proudly display "we trade during power outages" signs in their windows.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Family conversation II

Mim to me: "You can cook whatever you like for supper - it doesn't have to be pasta."
Nim: "I don't want fish in Jojoba oil wrapped in barbed wire, or whatever."

For the record, I stuck with the pasta, fearful of incurring the young master's wrath.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Subeditor at large

When Eszter and I were in Poschiavo last year, which I will get round to blogging about sometime, I spotted the following board outside a restaurant. I can´t vouch for the Italian and German spelling, although the English is now correct, thanks to my pedantry. I did receive some stares from a little old Italian lady out on a morning stroll though.

I thought back to that incident when I came across this fabulous blog the other day. Does the concept of a Typo Hunt Across America sound crazy to you? Personally, I only wish my red pen and I could´ve gone along for the ride!

Btw, some of you may choose to question the spelling of "subeditor" in the title of my post. That´s a tricky one. I go with Collins, which, incidentally, doesn´t even list an alternative spelling. But I suspect that other dictionaries list it as "sub-editor", since that spelling seems to be prevalent, even among subs themselves. The real problem arises when applying for jobs: I don´t want prospective employers thinking I don´t know how to spell my job title. Generally I go for whichever version has been used in the job ad. I suppose I could always call myself a "copy editor", but I don´t approve of Americanisms...

What NOT to get me for my birthday

From "Death to the 20´s" to "Finos Mafioso" it´s all about birthday parties among my Jozi friends this week.

I still have a few months to go, but see pic on the left for what I do NOT wish to receive as a birthday present. I mean, the teddy is kind of cute (and the revolting green of the school uniform cunningly misrepresented), but Aloysius is the only bear for me.

See below for the mail that accompanied the text - the original message looked like it had been written by an 8 year old with a fetish for coloured fonts and excess punctuation. And the image attachment was a mere 4MB. Damn, the old alma mater should hire me to do their newsletters, not that they could afford me, or that I would care for the job. I´d rather stick needles in my eyes - or play bridge!


(see picture attached)
Don't waste time to order, limited number available!!

Next new addition to memoribilia ........................... dsg bridge cards!!!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Family Conversation I

Mim: "No, I´m not going to watch Lord of War. You already made me sit through it once."
Nim: "Why won´t you watch it again? How many times have you read The Poisonwood Bible by Margaret Atwood, hey?"

Monday, 02 June 2008

Blogging bean

The latest of my friends to join the blogosphere is Bean. Check out The Candadian Chronicles. Interesting reading about her adventures in Vancouver; and respect to the Bean for finding ways to deal with a cold new culture!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Societal relativism

When I went to London, at the end of 2006, I thought everything was wonderful. Public transport that worked. And I felt safe, even when I was walking home alone in the dead of night. Of course, I was subconsciously (and not so subconsciously) comparing London to Cape Town.

When I visited again in October 2007 it was great to return to the familiar home of HP. But some things had changed. I found myself clutching my bag to my chest whenever I ventured outside, and complaining if the train was a couple of minutes late. Now I was comparing London to Liechtenstein/Switzerland, and it didn´t quite measure up.

Three things that annoy me

1. Mim and Pim's Internet is very slow and temperamental. Also, I can't use the HTML edit function when writing my blog cos of some strange setting on both their laptops that we haven't been able to fix, despite recourse to blogger help groups. I can't access the Internet on my own laptop, as no one can find the password for setting this up. If anyone knows how to solve any of these grave problems, please give me a shout!

2. Pim is constantly listening to talk radio. Talk, talk, talk. It is driving me crazy. What's wrong with a good, old-fashioned melody?

3. Even though our ground-floor apartment is north-facing, it still receives little sun, due to a wall, a tree, and the fact that Jozi is having unaccountably rainy weather for winter.

Monday, 26 May 2008

A few more comments about comments

According to this blog post, brought to my attention by Mark, I have committed the cardinal sin of writing a "nobody is commenting on my blog" post. It seemed to work for me, though. I don't feel like conducting a detailed statistical analysis, even supposing I were capable of one, but I can confidently say that comments have increased since the post in question - thanks guys!

In the course of my extensive research about blog comments, I came across an article by one Rachel Johnson, sister to the 21st-century reincarnation of Bertie Wooster. Despite Ms Johnson's whining, I find the blog a rather amusing read, although she seems to have discontinued it. Perhaps now she's found the carpet of her heart, "a beautiful jewel-hued Roger Oates runner that comes with darling pewter rods and will, trust me, look utterly super on our stairs", there's nothing more to live for, or to blog about.

But enough of other people's blogs, lets return to my own. Like I said before, thanks to all of you who made the effort to comment. If you don't yet know how to comment, just click on the "comments" link below each post, and it's simple from there. If you do post a comment, please click on the "Email follow-up comments to" box, and then you'll be notified when I reply to your comment. If you write frequent comments you could even have your own 15 minutes (seconds?) of fame by being recognised as one of the top 10 commentors on my blog. Congratulations to Kim, currently the #1 commentor!

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Are you a winner?

Competitive comments result, at last. Sorry it took so long, but am having Internet problems.

General notes: many of my readers appear to have felt too much pressure to be witty. So from now on, I think I'll just do a best comment round-up at the beginning of each month, without making the process overtly competitive.

Best comment by a Saffer goes to ABJ for his comment on Comment is free, for telling it like it is:
"Trinkel, you are so funny! And a complete jealous, feckless, blogger-comment-whore! haha. Can't wait to see you... Bring me a present. ;-)"

Best comment by someone overseas goes to Zsa Zsa, for her comment on On the wrong side of the (smoking) law - my dear, your English is much better than you give yourself credit for!
"Well, I must put a comment, because it's such a nice blog about Liechtenstein.....
But it's gonna be hard, because my english isn't that good. Actually, I guess, you should wrote "than I went"....... ;-)) So my english is starting to be good enough to enjoy your humour:-)))))"

I guess now I should start thinking about your prizes ;) But before I forget, there are also some honorary winners.

Most frustrating comment goes to anonymous, for their comment on Random fact of the week:
"to "life, left liech":
What does doubly landlocked mean? 2 countries between it (the country) and the sea? Did I just answer my own question? was i correct? does it matter? I suppose it does for those doubly landlocked, but I am getting off the subject.
From an anon person who you know but you dont know who. ay shall give you a clue. i am friend of the monkeys."

At first, I thought I had an idea as to the identity of anonymous. But now, I don't feel so sure, and it's really bugging me. Whoever it is obviously knows just how to get under my skin!

Most helpful comment goes to Mark, for his comment on Comment is free:
"T, As discussed, my effortless wittiness has dried up under the pressure of this competition.
So I have decided to post a link to a blogpost advising people how to get more comments. Here it is
OK it is not looking like a link. I don't know how to link things in comments yet. Hope this wins me the prize. Although, I think I might've missed the deadline. Too frazzled right now to check."

A very useful link; have discovered I have broken all the rules about how to get more blog comments - more on this issue in a future post.

Funniest comment goes to Leez, for his comment on A royal day:
On a different note... I thought that champagne socialist was exactly that: someone who socialises when under the influence of champagne.
Followed the link and found out something new. As a teacher you should be proud."

Not a bad definition of a champagne socialist, actually ;)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Stella's birthday or, selling my soul for Freshlyground

Saturday night in London, and I could either go to N's birthday in Soho, or Stella's birthday in Putney. Of course, I wanted to do it all, but didn't feel like spending half my evening travelling across London. I'd already seen N for my own birthday celebrations, so figured I'd go to Stella's do. Also, she happened to be in possession of the latest Freshlyground CD, which ABJ had left with her for me.

So, off I went to Putney. Walkabout in Putney. KR had warned me not to sully my soul by entering this den of iniquity, but I really wanted that CD.

It was lovely to celebrate with Stella, but the rest of the evening was a shocker. I mean, it never ocurred to me that I would ever find myself inside a Walkabout, so I was ill-prepared for the many drunken Ozzies and Kiwis, Saffers and Brits. They were all wearing T-shirts featuring slogans such as: "My drinking team has a rugby problem." Well, that was the polite version.

Up until now, I'd been happily oblivious to the fact that the rugby world cup was taking place. Liechtenstein does in fact have a rugby club, but it's not exactly the national sport. Thankfully, I was able to ignore the first half of the actual match as it took that long to get to the front of the queue at the bar and procure a beer. England were doing well, and all I remember of the second half was the repeated refrain of "Swing low, sweet chariot". No one seemed to know the rest of the lyrics, so it soon became rather tedious.

At the end of the match everyone was in high spirits due to an English victory, but I didn't fancy spending another 40 minutes getting a drink, so I left pretty sharply, clutching my new CD to my chest. Big thanks to Stella for sending P home to fetch it!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Random fact of the week

If you bothered to click on the link in my last Brighton post, you will already know that Liechtenstein and Uzbekistan are the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world.

Bizarrely enough, I met someone from Uzbekistan when I was in Liech. He was doing his masters in business and wrote all this bumph on his application letter about being an ambassador from one doubly landlocked country to another. Seemed to work though... Personally, I'm very glad to be home, if still some distance from the sea.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Mahendra´s wet dream

During my time over the seas there have been many people, places, and weather patterns that I´ve missed. One of these is the indomitable Mr Raghunath. Why, oh why, can´t I watch the SABC3 News over the Internet?

As I was walking back to the train station in Brighton, I had a particularly sharp pang of Mahendra nostalgia when I passed At first I thought it would be Mahendra´s wet dream, but realised most of the ties were too garish even for the Raghunath´s tastes. Unfortunately, I couldn´t go inside, as it was closed, but had some fun window shopping - with Mahendra in mind. I think he might have liked the purple tie (second row, fourth from the right). Which one do you think would have taken the Raghunath´s fancy? (Btw, you can click on the pic for a close-up view).

Brighton "beach"

I ended my time in Brighton with a trip to the beach. It felt like forever since I´d seen the sea. I guess that´s what happens when you live in a doubly landlocked country. Although it had stopped raining, and was almost sunny, nothing could compensate for the horrendous pebbliness that was the beach. Sure, I´ve seen films of beaches in Britain. But I didn´t think such beaches actually existed in real life. Certainly not any more. I imagined they were a quaint feature of the "olden days" before people had it so good. You know, that long-ago time when the world was only in black and white, as evidenced in classic movies.

But finally my oversized bag came into its own, as it provided a comfortablish seat: certainly better than those bloody pebbles. I plonked myself down and took out my copy of Odd Girl Out. There was a rather cute girl also sitting on the beach who looked a bit like Saint from Sugar Rush, but alas, she didn´t seem too interested in my choice of reading matter...

A royal day

Have been doing some higgledy-piggledy posting recently, but this post marks a return to my Brighton excursion. It was still before ten in the morning, so the rides on the pier weren´t open yet. I just wondered around in a daze, bombarded by loud music and flashing lights (these were working in all their technicolour glory). "Kitsch" doesn´t quite describe it: I think "tat" is more apt.

I really wanted to explore the lanes next, but in a rare moment of pragmatism I had to admit that it is easier to lug a heavy bag around museums than shops. So I checked out the Brighton Museum, an Art Deco wonderland. But my favourite piece was from the surrealist school: Mae West Lip´s by Salvador Dali and Edward James. Such a pity I couldn´t sit on this artwork! (NB. I took the pic before I discovered the "shooting-behind-glass" function on my camera).

Then it was off The Royal Pavilion. Wow: the Prince Regent could teach today´s celebrities something about conspicuous consumption! I loved the banqueting room, but my favouritest was the music room - simply glorious.

You know, I don´t always love visiting places such the British Museum, full of artefacts plundered from all corners of the colonial empire, deprived of their original context. As a nominal socialist, I do find the Pavilion´s unashamed ostentation somewhat grotesque. That said, I really appreciated seeing the all the prince´s treasures (and modern replicas) in the surroundings that were their home, instead of at some stuffy museum.

And, since we all know I am really a not-so-closet champagne socialist, I began mentally planning a dinner party (with postprandial entertainment in the music room, naturally) hosted by myself and ABJ. Hiring the Banqueting Room, Great Kitchen, and Music Room would only set us back £4 520 after all. And room hire isn´t even subject to VAT - what a bonus!

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Theresa´s friends

You know, one of the reasons Pim left academia is because he saw no reason to do his PhD - not such a hot idea in terms of career advancement. But why bother to write it all down when he has "at least seven PhDs" in his head?

I myself have a couple of MAs, an MSSc, and an MBA all fighting for space in my head, but haven´t quite graduated to PhD-level fantasy yet. Perhaps it is a genetic condition? Or merely the human condition ;)

Then there are all my other unrealised cutting-edge concepts that have nothing to do with academia. One of these is an annual magazine called Theresa´s Friends. Features in the mag would be about, um, my friends. The target market would be people who want to be friends with all of us, cos we are that cool. But now that several of my friends have started their own blogs, you don´t have to wait around for some magazine that will, most likely, never make it into print.

On that note, it´s time for an introduction to my friend (no acquaintances for me!) Sue´s blog. I may bitch and moan about being depressed in Liechtenstein (a tautology?), but really, I have nothing much to complain about. Sue has had an unbelievably tough 18 months, but her fighting spirit shines through, and hopefully she will be all fixed up soon soon soon!

Sue and I also have a cunning plan that currently is pretty much at the "Step 1. Collect underpants, Step 2. ?, Step 3. Profit" stage, but she will make it happen (not suffering from fantasy-PhD syndrome) with a little help from her editorial lacky. Watch this space for details...

By the way...

Bean pointed out to me that she hadn´t commented on my blog yet because I didn´t allow peeps to comment unless they have a google account. Thanks Bean, for bringing this major defect to my attention. I have changed the setting, so now anonymous and sundry are free to comment away...

Friday, 09 May 2008

Comment is free

I know that I have some loyal commentators (commentors?) out there; you know you are, and thank you muchly. Nevertheless, it has not escaped my attention that my friends Bec and Mark consistently receive more comments per post than me.

Not that I´m competitive or anything, but I think it is time to rectify this situation. Of course, as well as promoting activity on my blog, I would really like to hear how you all are, as well as as your responses to my writing. So, for the next week there will be a running competition for the wittiest comment on my blog.

The rules:
1. There are two categories. The best comment by a Saffer (prize: a present from Liech, TBA) and the best comment by anyone else (prize: a present from South Africa, TBA).
2. Comments may be on any post; I am notified whenever anyone posts a comment, so don´t be shy to comment on older posts.
3. Past comments are not eligible for the prize, although may receive an honorary mention.
4. You may post as many comments as you like. But if they are spammish, I will delete them.
5. I reserve the right not to award prizes, should comments be of insufficient standard.
6. Closing date: 16/05/08, 11:59pm.
7. Winners will be announced before 18/05/08, 11:59pm.
8. I will make every effort to send winners their prizes, but am not responsible for any failings on the part of the South African postal system.
9. Please note, the judging is an entirely subjective process. However, while my decision will be final, I will gladly enter into correspondence with any agrieved entrants, if it means more comments on my blog ;)
10. Anonymous comments will not be eligible for the prize.

Right, that´s it. Now, get commenting!

Thursday, 08 May 2008

On the wrong side of the (smoking) law

When I was in the UK, I wanted to see as many friends as possible. "Come to Brighton," suggested KR, so I came. After a suitably decadent Friday night, KR was up brighton early (sorry!) to go to work, and I was at the train station. With a lamentably heavy "overnight" bag. (My packing problems are documented here, and here). In the rain.

I was only due back in London that evening but, despite my heavy load and the shite weather, I was tempted to spend the day exploring Brighton. First up, I asked a policeman at the station if there was anywhere to leave my bag. Now, KR had already informed me that there wasn´t, but I figured there was no harm in a second opinion. The policeman dispelled any lurking doubts with a brusque retort: "We don´t have lockers. Terrorists are likely to put a bomb in them."

I was tempted to reply: "And Eid Mubarak to you to sir," for it was indeed Eid, but figured that wouldn´t go down too well.

I decided to have a cigarette while I pondered my plans for the day. I went and stood outside the station, but under the shelter, due to the rain. At which point the policeman chased after me, to inform me that the station was a no-smoking area. Apparently, you can´t just be outside the actual building to smoke, you have to walk a few metres to outside the station gates, because what I took to be outside is still technically part of the station.

Pernickety fucking Brits. In Zurich, you can smoke in the train station itself. However, I duly had my cigarette outside in the rain, as I am scared to death of the British police. Gone is the image of the friendly bobby from my childhood; instead I live in fear that one of the paranoid freaks will randomly gun me down just because.

The altercation had put me in a defiant mood. "Damn my packing skills, and the bloody weather," I reasoned: "When am I ever likely to be in Brighton again?" So I set off for the pier weighed down by my bag, but buoyed up by an intrepid spirit.

Monday, 05 May 2008

From a disgruntled passenger

What with my busy schedule in London I spent a fair amount of time negotiating the tube, and South West Trains. Never mind the gap, while travelling by train I had to contend with the following announcement:

"This is a passenger announcement. Beggars occasionally board trains, and ask for money. Please do not encourage them by giving any. If you see a beggar on this train, please tell a member of staff."

A "passenger announcement"? I noticed when I was in the UK that the Brits (recently?) seem to have developed an annoying habit of stating the bloody obvious, at least when it comes to officialese. And "beggars"?! It beggars belief... I suppose being PC isn´t that high on Londoners´agenda, considering their newly elected mayor.

Having to listen to this announcement roughly every 30 seconds (or so it seemed), was certainly just as intrusive (albeit in a different way) as any number of people asking me for money. (And I used to travel by train in Cape Town, so I have also experienced the latter.)

My levels of irritation rose to such heights that I took to scanning the carriages for anyone who looked likely to approach me for money, just so I could defiantly give them all my small change. There were people snogging, and reading, and talking too loudly on their mobiles, and reading, and drinking beer, and reading. But no one ever asked me for money, which was perversely disappointing. Time to can that announcement, methinks.

Sunday, 04 May 2008

Subscribe to my blog

Hey guys, am finally starting to get (slightly) more hi-tech. Now you can subscribe to my blog by clicking on the link at the top right of my page. If you do so, you´ll automatically be sent an email every time I update the blog.

This means I will probably close the facebook group I created about my blog. Unless you´d like me to keep it running? Please give me feedback!

A night at the theatre

Back to my time in London. My friend (like I said, I don´t do acquaintances), Martin McCutcheon (that´s Martin, not Martine) was appearing in a play at the Pacific Playhouse while I was in town, so naturally I said I´d go along.

Cut to my birthday celebrations in London. My friend Warwick and I were making plans to see each other again. "I´m busy tomorrow," he said. "Going to a play." "What play?" I asked, curious. Turned out we were both going to see Martin´s play, and London was starting to feel as small as Cape Town.

It was ages since I´d seen any theatre, and Kikia Te Poa was just the ticket. Boers, Kiwis and rugby, not my usual style, but it worked. Aaron Hapuku was outstanding as the half-Maori/half Irish soldier, and Martin held his own as a boer commando, although I did tease him about his Afrikaans accent (more than passable to an English ear, but may not have cut it in Pretoria).

However, I was somewhat distracted by the conviction that the people sitting opposite us in the small theatre were none other than JM and Dot. Considering the man has written about rugby, and that it was a play with a South African connection, this hypothesis seemed not inconceivable. I asked Warwick for his opinion. "You would know," he said. But in the absence of my glasses (a story for another post), I didn´t.

So, after the play, I covertly followed the couple out of the theatre to see if I could garner any further clues. A few metres down the road, I realised this was supremely stalkerish behaviour, and decided a couple of drinks and post-performance shmoozing was the more dignified option... The "night I saw JM and Dot at the theatre" still makes for a pretty good story; who cares if it´s "true" or not?


A friend just sent me the link to another friend´s blog, Arselickocracy. I guess Mark is more an acquaintance than a friend, but I don´t do acquaintances, only friends and enemies.

Acquaintance, friend, whatever: his blog is a cracking good read. And he updates a lot more frequently than I do. Welcome to the blogging world, Mark!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Berry suspicious

While I was sprinkling Tibetan goji berries on my muesli this morning (actually, I lie, it was this afternoon), I pondered if eating them would be helpful or harmful to the people of Tibet. The fact that on the packaging it says: "Grown in Tibet (Product of China)" conjured up visions of Tibetan exploitation at the hands of the Chinese eager to supply Western markets with "the world´s highest antioxidant food!".

According to the "naturally goji" packaging: "The Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) test is one of the most accurate ways to measure the levels of antioxidants in food. Goji berries contain an amazing 25 300 ORAC units per 100g, which is the highest antioxidant score of all kown foods. In comparison, blueberries contain 2 400 ORAC units per 100g."

Whatever. I received my goji berries as a gift from Kim on her recent visit. But they haven´t worked for her: during her stay she discovered that she is allergic to said berries (not to put too fine a point on it, they make her puke).

Now, I would never advocate using Wikipedia as a reliable source, but their article on goji berries does ring more true than the marketing drivel on sites such as this one.

Some of the more pertinent points:
* The goji berry is also known as the wolfberry or snowberry.
* Many goji berries are claimed to be "organic" when they are no such thing. (I no longer trust the USDA Organic sticker on my package of berries. I also find it suspicious that the original best before date, Oct 2008, has a sticker over it that reads: Oct 2009.)
* There is no such fruit as the "Tibetan" goji berry. This is a myth dreamed up by health-food marketers. "Tibetan" goji berries are most likely grown in China.
* Read more about the goji-berry scam here.

I guess I´ll finish my packet of goji berries. They´re kinda tasty and, although they don´t agree with Kim´s sensitive stomach, at least they´re not making me sick. But I don´t think I´ll be buying more any time soon. And I´m sure as hell hoping Manto doesn´t find out about them.

Wednesday, 09 April 2008

Mahendra ties up awards

I´ve been slack again. I suppose I might have got around to posting the results of the SA Blog Awards 2008 sooner, had I actually won. So, a belated congratulations to Cook Sister!, who won the Best Overseas Blog category. And, if the results are laid out in terms of precedence, I did achieve a respectable third myself. Thanks to all of you who voted for me!

But who cares about coming third, when there is far more exciting news to announce! Mahendra´s Ties has received top honours in the South African Mahendra´s Ties Blog Awards 2008. Read about the tie-wash here.

Tuesday, 01 April 2008

Ankle tan

It is beginning to frustrate me that I'm so out of date on my blog. I mean, in terms of posting, I'm still in London, but in real life I'm actually in Dubai.

And some posts just won't wait. I'm distraught, because I've just discovered that I have an ankle tan, courtesy of the Capri trousers I wore on the city tour yesterday. At least it's not a sock tan. And after winter in Liech, I'm glad I've got any sort of tan at all!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Those handy cellphones

When I got a Swiss sim card for my cellphone, I sent Pim an SMS: "Ich habe ein handy."
His reply: "Das ist gut, oder handy."

Yes, 28 out of 32 of you knew the answer: a handy is a cellphone. Thanks for voting in the poll, or rather, answering the quiz question - I'll try to come up with a new one soonish.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Hair today, Proust tomorrow

Sometimes people think I am shallow. You'll agree or disagree depending on where, when and how you know me. A couple of random quotes to illustrate the "shallow" hypothesis:

Kim: "When did you become so shallow?" (2004)

Early Bird: "When Theresa first started working in magazines she was an intellectual hippie from Grahamstown, but look how shallow she´s become!" (2006)

In 2005 Mim gave me a hair-straightener for my birthday. I was delighted with the present, and had painstakingly straightened locks for a month or so; then I shaved all my hair off. I also demanded (and received) the box set of In Search of Lost Time for Christmas - to pacify my pseudo-intellectual side. My hair has since grown back. And I´m only halfway through The Guermantes Way. But reading this poem, first brought to my attention by Early Bird, makes me feel better.

Anyway, while I was in London, my dear friend Caramello gave me a very generous voucher for my birthday. And it's not all about hair and lipstick, so I was glad it was for Waterstone's rather than The Bodyshop. A list of my purchases follows.

1. Complicity
Iain Banks
GX and I have a running argument as to whether Iain Banks or Iain M Banks is the better writer. Considering I have read only the former, and GX only the later, it's never gonna be settled until one of us becomes less precious about our selection of reading material.
2. Odd Girl Out
Anne Bannon
The first lesbian pulp fiction novel. Despite the wimpy main character and surprising lack of sex scenes, it's still a classic.
3. The Road to Oxiana
Robert Byron
The original Bruce. Byron is the hero of my hero, which makes him a super hero.
4. The Princess Bride
William Goldman
An epic tale of "true love and high adventure". I never tire of it.
5. Atomised
Michel Houellebecq
I revelled in discovering Houellebecq. But honestly, there´s only so much of ageing Frenchmen fucking hot young things that one can take before it begins to pall.
6. Confessions of Zeno
Italo Svevo
Actually the book I bought was called Zeno's Conscience, but I prefer the translation above. I first came across this novel through William Kentridge's opera, and have spent years searching for my own copy after UCT library rudely demanded I return the one that belonged to them, as well as issuing me with a hefty library fine. The book sits by my bed for the day or night when I am inspired to give up smoking. Until such a time, I am a devotee of the last-cigarette ritual.

'To reduce its outlandish appearance, I even tried to give a philosophical content to the last-cigarete disease. Striking a beautiful attitude, one says: "Never again." But what becomes of that attitude if the promise is then kept? It´s possible to strike the attitude only when you are obliged to renew the vow.'

pp 13 to 14

Right, it's 1:.29am on 27.03.08, hardly an auspicious date to give up smoking. So I'm off for a "last cigarette" before bed.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Believe it, because it´s true!

Rumours may have reached you that I am a finalist in the SA Blog Awards (category: Best Overseas South African Blog). These rumours are indeed true, and you can vote for me by clicking on the widget (have to keep up with all the blogger jargon, you know) on the right of your screen. Voting closes on 19 March 2008.

A few thoughts on my nomination (since I don´t think I´ll be in a position to make a speech at the awards dinner, you´ll have to bear with me now):

1. Thanks must go to RK and The Raghunath. Without the former´s unerring focus, and the latter´s sartorial vicissitudes, I would never have become a blogger. The good news is, Mahendra´s Ties is also a finalist (category: Best Group Blog).
2. Thanks also to all of you who nominated me! Without my readers, I suspect I would´ve discontinued this blog long ago. Although I also suspect I would update it more frequently if larger numbers of you deigned to submit comments.
3. I´m really looking forward to checking out all the other blogs that made it to the finals, although will naturally be voting for myself, Mahendra, and Overtone in their respective categories - I´m a loyal, if biased, supporter of my friends.
4. No one in Liechtenstein knows what "overseas" means; they all say "abroad".
5. For me, writing this blog has been about updating my friends, rather than becoming part of the "blogging community". In fact, I don´t know how many of my friends read other blogs. I certainly don´t - except for those written by said friends (see loyalty, above). To this end, I created a group on Facebook that people can join if they want to find out when I update my blog. I suspect there might be a more simple way of achieving this (by installing something called RSS?) but I have no idea what this is exactly, although I intend to find out. What I find interesting, is that enough people from one platform (Facebook), voted for me to propel me into the finals of a contest on another platform (blogging). Perhaps it´s something to do with Web 2.0? (Note to self: must find out more about this as well).
6. I´d say the major flaw of my blog, although you´re welcome to differ in the comments section, is that I am still way behind real time - currently writing about October 2007. So until I catch up to the present, which will only happen in the future, I´m missing out on one of the best features of blogging: up-to-the-minute news and views. Laziness is probably the reason. But in my defence, I also didn´t want to force myself to churn out banal posts just for the sake of it: "Today was cold and boring in Liechtenstein, so I went shopping in Austria in the afternoon, and clubbing in Switzerland in the evening," etc. Although that´s hardly banal, is it?
7. Part of the idea of me coming here was to foster some sort of "cultural exchange" between Liech and SA. I´m co-teaching a course on SA history and culture at the Gymnasium. And I hope, by reading this blog, Saffers will gain more exposure to the principality, even if it´s only through my idiosynchratic eyes.

Friday, 07 March 2008

Axel from Belgium

As you already know from Daniel in Vaduz, I am not the only resident of the Hotel Schlössle who´s been writing a blog. Another student, Axel from Belgium, who was here for the winter semester, also has his perspective on living in Liechtenstein. You can read about it here.

I didn´t get to know Axel well while he was Vaduz, other than a brief conversation in Afrikaans / Flemish at one of the first parties. But it was fascinating to read his blog - you´ll particularly enjoy it if you have an interest in architecture; he also has some great photos of Liechtenstein.

Wednesday, 05 March 2008

How to be a perfect host

For my time in London, I stayed with my saucy HP cousins, and their kitty cat, Muffin Pants. They are definitely top contenders for the Consummate Host 2007 Awards. Here´s what they did right:

1. Gave me a room and their spare key.
2. Did not comment on my comings and goings in the early hours of the morning.
3. Went away on holiday for a large part of my stay.
4. Lived their own lives, and let me live mine.

It´s simple really. All too often, when you´re staying with friends or family, both parties end up bending over backwards to accommodate each other, and end up with a compromise that leaves everyone feeling disgruntled. HP just continued about their daily lives, and assumed I´d look after myself.

Perfect, and no feelings of catholic guilt to haunt me. Sure the evenings when we all managed to be home at the same time were few and far between, but this made them even more special. It´s a rare gift indeed to give you guests the space they need... Perhaps it´s because HP are cat people?

Tuesday, 04 March 2008

Birthday V2.1

I´d already had a pre-party, a party, and an after party with my new friends in Liech. Why stop now?

I rounded up my friends in London for another celebration. The very lovely Leti suggested Candid Cafe as a venue - reminiscent of ATOM sans copious alcohol consumption, sexy waiters, surly barman, and infamous bathroom shenanigans.

But hey, I´m not complaining - it was definitely the closest I´ve found to Obscurvitory in London. It was fabulous (dahling!) to catch up with friends from Cape Town and Grahamstown days in a setting that felt a just a little bit like home.

Another poll

This will be the last, for now, in the "German-English" series of polls. There are only 14 days to vote before the result, so don´t miss your chance! If, like me, you lack peripheral vision, the poll itself is to the right of your screen.

Monday, 03 March 2008


I found the following video on the interweb. Seems to have been an "innovative" viral-marketing campaign commissioned by the publishers of The Gum Thief. Since I read the book before I saw the clip(s), it´s hard for me to tell if they work or not. I mean, they´re funny, in a The Office / ´50s camp / teenage angst kinda way.

But do they stand alone, if you haven´t yet read the book? Do they make you want to rush out and buy it? Readers, please share your thoughts. Personally, I´d rather read the book before I see the movie, but maybe I´m just old skool.

Meeting Mr Generation X

As we were all milling around in the foyer of the Bloomsbury Theatre, I spotted someone I knew - not a common phenomenon for me in London. By "knew", I mean I thought this person might be the brother of an ex-housemate. I´d only met him once before, years ago - the brother, not the ex-housemate - but like, we are "friends" too, on the interweb. And the person across the room from me, did bear a striking resemblance to the profile pic of my "friend", TX.

I was at a book reading by Douglas Coupland. Would TX go to a Douglas Coupland reading, I wondered idly? Based upon my limited knowledge of his personality, I reflected that he very well might. Would a Douglas Coupland reading be the kind of gathering where it was likely I would bump into someone I only knew vaguely through the interweb? For sure!

I ended up sitting a row in front of the person whom may or may not have been TX, and finally said hello and inquired as to his identity. It was indeed TX, and there was just enough time to check out some pictures of his cutie-pie progeny before Coupland took the stage.

He was reading from his latest novel, The Gum Thief. At first, I was disappointed. I mean, this guy looked older than my parents (for the record, he isn´t). And he read in a soothing monotone, with the emphasis on "monotone" rather than "soothing". But gradually I began to realise this style suited the sterile and pre-packaged world his characters inhabit.

I read two-thirds of the book while I was sitting in the queue to have it signed (for the record, I read the rest in the tube on my way home). And what I do love about reading Coupland, is that almost every line is a fridge quote. But part of me can´t help feeling, at least in his latest offering, that´s all there is to it: an assortment of sentences and phrases that would make me laugh out loud each morning if I had bothered to copy them down and stick them on my fridge. But I didn´t, and now I can´t remember a single line, and I don´t really care.

Typically of Coupland, The Gum Thief contains characters who struggle to break free of their McJobs; sadly, this results in little more than fast-food literature. Don´t get me wrong - I loved reading the novel. But there weren´t any new flavours; only reprocessed ideas and characters that left me, if not exactly unsatisfied, then certainly unaffected. Perhaps this is the point?

Literary groupie that I am, it was still fun to have my book signed. And Douglas Coupland called me "glamorous", even though I was only dressed in jeans and I had been unable to reapply my lipstick for fear of losing my place in the queue. But then he ruined any advantage gained through his flattery by drawing a sparkly heart in my book, which was a trifle disturbing.

Sunday, 02 March 2008

Latest poll results

In German-English, what does "beamer" mean?

Well 14 out of 24 of you guessed correctly: the answer is "a data projector". But my heart is with the maverick who said it was "a large grin" ;)

Thanks for all your votes, and keep reading: I´ll post another poll in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Hairy Tales II: Judys Hair

Naturally, I was delighted to discover that there was a hairdressers, Salon Birgit, attached to the Hotel Schlössle, my accomodation in Vaduz. However, I was somewhat less delighted to discover it would cost CHF86 for a simple cut and dry. This was roughly the same amount I´d paid for all the stripping, dying, cutting, washing and drying I´d had done at H.A.N.D. And I even had a head massage thrown in.

I resolved to get my hair cut more cheaply when I was in London. Walking to the station in New Malden one fine afternoon, I happened to chance upon Judys Hair. There was a notice in the window saying ladies' haircuts cost £24*, and I was in there like a flash.

The only problem was, the hairdresser was no Beauty. She didn´t know what I wanted; I didn´t know what I wanted; and the result was a presentable trim, but not what I would call a haircut. Granted, there was no longer the possibility of an unwanted mullet sprouting forth from my skull, but that was the best that could be said about it.

I continued the walk down to the station, the customary post-haircut spring in my step strangely absent. Out of the corner of my eye I spyed Sam´s Barbershop. I learned something that day. Never trust a hairdresser who can´t apostrophise. How can someone incapable of constructing a correct sentence, or in this case, phrase, be trusted with the inifinitely more finicky task of creating a proper hairstyle? I couldn´t help thinking I should´ve rather gone to Sam´s, and shaved my head again. If his grammar is anything to go by, at least he would´ve made a decent job of it.

* Trying to convert between francs, euro and pounds (and with those pesky rands demanding to be taken account of also) was, and still is, beyond my elementary mathematics. On that particular trip to England, I later found out that the CHF/£ exchange rate at the time was something like 2.3/1. I had been innocently working on a 2/1 ratio (don´t you just love whole numbers!), so didn´t save as much on the haircut as I originally supposed.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Hairy Tales I: a work of Beauty

Hair is very important to me. Which isn´t to say I don´t shave mine all off with some degree of frequency. But this means finding a good hairdresser is vital; my hair is perennially growing out, and needs to be skilfully coaxed towards the desired level of chic(k)ness.

Before I left Cape Town, I was fortunate enough to work for a company where everyone understood this hairy imperative. I don´t know if it was official policy, but in our corner of the office it was perfectly acceptable, even encouraged, to take an extra-long lunch break to get your hair cut, as long as we weren´t actually on deadline.

Witness my last haircut before I left. We´d just finished the nine o´clock meeting, when I casually mentioned I was thinking of dying my hair chocolate brown.
"Chocolate brown," my editor enthused. "That will look fabulous. You must do it. Make an appointment for today!"
"Ja, well," I hesitated, disingenuously. "I have a long list today, and we´re going to print next week. Perhaps the week after that?"
"Nonsense," she countered. "Call your hairdresser right away. You can have an extra-long lunch."

A few hours later, I waltzed into H.A.N.D in Green Point. Luckily Beauty, my favourite hairdresser in the whole world, had a free slot. The truth is, I´m not actually that picky when it comes to my hair. I´m not going to bring in some picture of this week´s latest celebrity haircut, and demand to look exactly like Katie Holmes or Posh Spice, or whoever. I mean, why would I want to look like Katie Holmes, or Posh Spice, or whoever? I just want to look like me. But it is beyond my limited linguistic skills to explain what "me" is hairstyle-wise, especially since I don´t really know myself. In true passive-aggressive style, I want my hairdresser to access my subconscious; analyse my bone stucture and hair type; and come up with the precise haircut I desire, without me having to actually tell her what it is.

Beauty can do all of these things, which is why I love and miss her. On this particular occasion she stripped my hair of its previous redness, applied a gorgeous chocolate-brown dye, and rounded off the effect with a haircut that was the frigging shiznic. Everyone in the office was so dazzled by my transformation they failed to comment on the fact that this time it had been an extra-extra-long lunch.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Alabama 3

As I walked into the Astoria, I was hit by some truly sweet muthafuckin country acid house music. No matter that I didn´t know the actual song, I was hooked...

On paper it didn´t look like this was gonna be my best concert ever. I was there on my lonesome; familiar with just the first of the band´s six albums; and my only buzz was from lack of sleep. But bear in mind my previous concert excursions have generally involved two or more of the following:
a) American rappers;
b) the Belleville Velodrome;
c) the company of drunken adolescents;
d) a parking problem;
with only the lure of freebies to sweeten the experience (thanks Moral Squeeze!).

On this occasion I had spent my own money to see a band of my choice, and at a decent venue, nogal. If Irvine Welsh could dance to the boys from Brixton without chemical assistance then so could I. I promptly befriended some middle-aged men wearing cowboy hats; they hoisted me up onto a conveniently placed ledge; and I partied the night away from the best view in the house, at least until the belligerent security guy flashed his torch in my eyes and told me to get down.

I knew a few of the old favourites ("Woke up this Morning"; "Ain´t going to Goa"); and discovered some "new" ones ("Too sick to pray"; "Hello... I´m Johnny Cash"). The evening ended with a triple encore: the sublime "Holy Blood", "The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness", and "Sweet Joy", which gives "If you were the only girl in the world" a 21st-century makeover.

And then the show was over, bar the after party. As I drifted out the theatre to the strains of "Sweet Home Alabama", I contemplated whether to continue my night in Brixton. I wanted to, I really did. But I was by myself, had no idea as to the exact location of the venue, and was about to collapse due to lack of sleep, so I wimped out and caught the next train to Bedfordshire.

I haven´t really told you about the music yet, have I? I tend to agree with whoever it was that said "writing about music is like dancing about architecture", if only because I am a) lazy, b) intimidated by my lack of musical knowledge, and c) all too aware that my measly words won´t measure up.

But what I love about Alabama 3 - apart from their gravelly vocals, their irony-laden personsonae, their intertextual lyrics, and the fact that they have all the right politics - is the way their songs seamlessly provide a musical education. Their mishmash of country, blues, and gospel over techno beats has got me hunting down influences, references and sequencers all over the Interweb. Oh, and my CD collection is sounding rather different than it did a year ago. Long live Presleytarianism!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

The morning after the night before, and the rest of the day after the morning

I managed to get barely an hour´s sleep, only to be woken by Kate´s panicked voice: "Trinks, you´ve pressed snooze twice already. Your bus leaves in half an hour. You need to get up!"

I staggered out of bed. I really needed a shower. I also needed to finish packing. Admittedly, I had half-packed the day before, which, at the time, I thought was a supremely cunning plan. Alas, it turned out to be only 50% of a cunning plan.

I stumbled round the room, randomly chucking items in my suitcase. One of these items was my new laptop. Somehow it didn´t occur to me that a) there are computers in the UK, and b) their plugs are different. As well as the laptop and attendant paraphenalia, I blithely packed my camera charger, my phone charger, and my iPod charger. Overall, I must have lugged at least 5kg of incompatible technological equipment across the sea for no good reason.

And this was before I even began on the clothes. I was at a loss without Moral Squeeze to restrain me, and packing, as you may have guessed, has never been my forte.

"Should I take the long black dress or the little black dress?" I asked Kate indecisively. She patiently advised the latter, while I stumbled around some more. "Where is my eyeliner? I simply cannot go to London without my eyeliner," I declared. (Nevermind the fact I rarely use eyeliner, since I am unable to apply it without looking like some kind of racoon, despite having previously worked at a fashion and beauty magazine).

"Trinks, I think you are still drunk. And in the throws of an extended Bridget Jones moment!" said Kate, barely surpressing her laughter. "I don´t want to be Bridget!" I wailed, conveniently forgetting that some years ago I had attended a fancy-dress party (theme: the fictional character you most resemble) as none other than Ms Jones. Call it part of my mispent youth.

Back to the dilemma of the moment. "I don´t want to be Bridget!" I wailed. "I am a strong independent women. Without issues. And with sexy underwear. Not at all like Bridget!" I sounded pathetic, and strangely unconvincing, even to myself. But, despite histrionics, we were in fact (almost) ready to hit the road. I grabbed a bottle of chardonnay and my Silk Cuts and we made a dash the bus stop.

My day didn´t get better. Without Kate around to jolly me out of my hangover, I was stuck in travelling hell. In brief, my itinerary looked like this:

1. Bus from Vaduz to Sargans
2. Train from Sargans to Basel
3. Bus from Basel to EuroAirport*
4. Flight from EuroAirport to London Luton**
5. Bus from Luton to Victoria***
6. Train from Victoria to New Malden
7. Walk from New Malden station to Elm Road
8. Collapse into bed****

* The EuroAirport is cool. One airport, three countries. Believe it, because it´s true! I also ate some very expensive food there, which made me feel slightly more human (although still primarily alien).
** Note to self, and other travellers. It is a much more pleasant experience getting felt up by svelte Swiss security staff than their British counterparts.
*** There is a reason that flights to Luton are cheap. Because it isn´t even in the middle of nowhere. It´s like, far out on the edge of nowhere, when "somewhere" is on the opposing edge.
**** That would have been nice. But I had plans for the evening. Plans that had been booked and prepaid on the Interweb.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Club 14

I live in Room 13 of House B (Hotel Schlössle), which means I have the good fortune of living in all-too-close proximity to "Club 14", opened by the enterprising J&B.

Until the night of my birthday, my interactions with Club 14 management had largely consisted of me asking politely that they keep the noise down; J&B accusing me of being unfriendly for not joining in the parties; and me then pointing out that I was no longer a student, and had a class to teach in the morning.

Our conversations would always end amiably, with both parties smiling. But although I generally managed to fall asleep, the music never became any softer.

Cut to my birthday celebrations. At some point in the wee hours, Kate sensibly decided to call it a night. I say "sensibly", because we both had to arise at some ungodly hour to catch the bus (me to Sargans, her to Feldkirch). Alas, all sense had deserted me...

For some reason I cannot recall, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to make my virgin Club 14 appearance. J&B were characteristically generous of spirit, and I ended up chilling with the regular Club 14 boys until such a late (or rather early) hour, that there seemed little point in sleeping at all. I was to regret this during my arduous travels "tomorrow".

Birthday princess

Kate and I eventually made it back to Hotel Schlössle just before ten, and we still had to primp ourselves for the party. I had told everyone that we´d be in the common room from eightish, so we were very unfashionably late...

But everyone was happy to see us, and I enjoyed chilling with new friends, and making some even newer ones, while improving my pidgin English. Eszter gave me some bangles, and Kate gave me a good-luck charm from Naples. My funniest present was from DJ Daxxter - a princess tiara.

It was DJ Daxxter´s birthday on 7 October (he shares it with thom e. yorke), so as the bells chimed midnight (and they really do in Vaduz), there was another surprise for both of us...

Charles and Lufa and the Mona Lisa had baked us two birthday cakes. But first we had to search the common room to find them, with Sebastian accompanying our hunt on guitar, while singing "hotter / colder". Eventually we located two gorgeous cakes (one chocolate-orange, and one a fruit tart), balanced on the window ledge.

Everyone wrote birthday greetings in my notebook, in an international array of languages: Deutsch, Čeština, Magyar, Italiano, Vlaams, الْعَرَبيّة, and last, but not least, English. A suitably fabulous occasion, and I was very glad I´d decided to stay in Vaduz for my birthday and party with my cosmopolitan new friends. But the evening wasn´t over yet...

Bec´s Plan B

My fabulous friend Bec is not from Liechtenstein. Nor is she a student here, having chosen more verdant pastures of knowledge. However, and it deserves another mention, she is fabulous. Read her blog, and you´ll think so too!

Look out for further mention of Bec when I finally get round to recalling my weekend of Oxonian debauchery - if indeed, I still maintain any recollection of it.

Fun at the fair

Kate and I spent our afternoon catching up on "Internet admin". Then we headed down to Vaduz for some "party planning", that is, we intended to grab a bite to eat, and buy copious amounts of beer for said party.

However, once we descended to the city centre, we found it magically transformed into a fully fledged fun fair. I hate to think how much it cost. But it was my birthday, and I didn´t want to sully my mind with hateful thoughts, so I didn´t think about it, and drank some beer instead.

Kate wanted to go on a ride. I am scared of rides. But, in case you forget, it was my birthday, which meant one of two things: either I oould stamp my foot and refuse, or I could embrace the new experience, in the guise of one who gains maturity with age. I chose the latter course of action, and finally realised why fairs are fun.

We went on some kind of higgledy-piggledy ride (I´m not an expert, so couldn´t give you its proper name, even if I cared). I managed to flash the whole of Vaduz, but I didn´t care about that either. There was a moment, when the ride paused for a couple of seconds, and we were looking up directly at das Schlöss, which was bathed in light (think Table Mountain), when I wouldn´t have been anywhere else in the world...

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Third visit

6 October 2007

Today was an exciting one for me. Not only was it my birthday, but my dear friend Kate was coming to visit. I had actually planned to be in London, but for once my indecisive nature and lack of forward planning had paid off! As it was, I rose early to meet Kate at the station in Feldkirch. It was marvellous to see someone from UCT days, and I literally ran into her arms.

After joyful greetings, it was time to go for coffee, and hear all about Kate´s experiences with yodelling Austrian boys the evening before. Naturally, an extended sex-in-the-mother-city chat was called for, as we had much gossip to exchange about mutual friends. "Are you sure the people at the next table can´t understand what we´re saying?" Kate asked nervously. I didn´t notice any widening eyes or blushing cheeks, so I assume we were safe.

Next we met up with Eszter and hit the shops. My first salary was burning a hole in my pocket, and it was time to do some serious spending! We made a pilgrimage to H&M where I splurged out on two "birthday" dresses, Kate bought a top and skirt, and Eszter bought some trousers. Whenever I go shopping in Feldkirch, I think of Kate.

Bear in mind, Kate was only my fourth visitor. Some way to go until I reach my 20th visitor, whom shall receive just recognition: a case of Liechtenstein´s finest brew!

But Kate´s visit wasn´t yet over. After a quick lunch, we headed back to Vaduz to do some party planning for the evening´s celebrations. To be continued...

Visitor count: Mim, Pim, Rude Larry, Kate (4)

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

SA Blog Awards 2008

I have a friend, "a man", as it were, who is a synchronicity scout. And I thought of him this morning. Because, a week after I have started rejuvenating my blog, nominations open for the SA Blog Awards 2008.

Come on, nominate me, I know you want to! While you're at it, why not also give a shout out to Mahendra's Ties? Nominations close on 22 February, so don't delay!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

New poll

I've had a couple of requests for another poll, so find the latest German-English question on the right. The poll is open until the end of February, so get voting, and good luck!

Wednesday, 06 February 2008

House of cardboard

For weeks my friend Eszter had been telling me about the cardboard house the architecture students were designing to be used as a workshop. Cardboard as a building material? Coming from South Africa, it didn´t seem that far out.

But there necessity, rather than choice, dictates its use. And since Liechtenstein is far from impoverished, I was somewhat perplexed as to what the architecture school was up to. Try as I might, I couldn´t imagine any construction other than the most ramshackle affair.

But I went along to the grand opening; and it was curiosity rather than the free wine, which dried up regrettably soon, that motivated me. Suddenly, there it was, stood before me: an igloo palace of cardbord and (de)light; the epitome of functional grace. And the only poverty was that of my imagination.

Tuesday, 05 February 2008

Daniel in Vaduz

New Year´s resolutions didn´t survive January, so I will have a new-semester resolution of updating this blog more frequently. If you´re starved for reading material on Liechtenstein while you wait for my creative spark to reignite, check out my friend Daniel´s blog. You´ll find out more about the history of the principality; studying architecture at the Hochshule; and perhaps even improve your German.

Poll result

In German-English, what does "tumbler" mean?

Okay, it´s been rather longer than a month... But I thought it was kind of fitting to post the results of this highly pertinent poll on Super Tuesday. For those of you who´ve suspended your lives until you know the answer to this all-important linguistic question: it´s "a tumble-dryer".

Three out of ten people guessed correctly, so congratulations to you clever folk!