6 February 2011

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

I write this week in embarrassment; normally I proud champion my Malawian heritage, the place of my birth is democratically flawed in many ways, but nevertheless still is a beautiful place. The problems seem always to be associated with the males of the political class and this week is no different. The President of Malawi has decided to outlaw farting in public; apparently passing gas is a public health issue and might offend the ladies. The same bill seeks to ban duels and fortune tellers as well!

One would think that the President might have more pressing demands on his time; poverty or healthcare perhaps. In the days of President Hastings Kamuzu Banda women were forbidden from wearing trousers or skirts that showed the knee as well as halter neck dressers in public. And men didn’t get away unscathed either – no bell bottom trousers or hair below the collar. Oh to be a control freak in a position of real power – oh yes you call that a despot!  All of this from a man who was known as the doctor who performed abortions when practising medicine in the North East of England; all of this before the Scottish Presbyterian Minister returned to rule the homeland.

In these stricken times I am casting my net more widely in terms of work and was amused to receive (via Sell2Wales) a call for tenders for the kennelling of stray dogs in Wrexham. I wondered quite how I could apply my varied skills to this one; how complicated can it be? Surely it’s a matter of spot ‘em, catch ‘em, kennel ‘em and advertise ‘em as found! I jest as I am sure there is a science behind it and people go on special courses with certificates.

So I have been busy doing other things, still hampered by a lack of sleep, and still not actually earning any money. It’s more of a research phase peppered with shameless marketing although this is the bit I’m not exactly very good at. I am too nice and have decided to offer my services for free to a select group of organisations until something with a cash price attached comes along.

And before anyone says anything about undercutting fellow freelancers most of these non clients wouldn’t have the money to pay me anyway. Providing the odd coaching session to advert someone having a crisis and going into complete melt down is a good investment of time in my book.

I have confirmed, for definite this time, dates for Auntie to come and stay. Somehow this makes me see the state of the house in a new way; suddenly I see cobwebs, picture with smeary glass, marks on the carpet, and, and, and – stop now! Please! As stood in the shower this morning I realised that I will probably have to get the obscuring (vanity) panel put on the bathroom window before she arrives. I like to be able to see the trees when luxuriating in the bath and have clear glass in the window. Unless you happen to stand upright in the bath leaning towards the window when someone is in the garden next door then no one can see you – honestly!

Besides which obscured glass isn’t the modesty shield you might think. I was in the kitchen at a friend’s house recently and we were sitting chatting at the table. Thankfully the only thing on the table was a laptop as what happened next could hardly be called an appetiser. The male neighbour got into the bath in front of the window and yes we could now (probably) accurately buy him underwear! And all that information exchanged whilst all parties were in a relaxed state.

Remember I mentioned the Osprey Saddle Bag I received for Christmas from Auntie and the contrasting fabric strap? Well I have found yet another downside to not having a complete leather ensemble; you can’t brush (or easily wipe), off bits of food, well chocolate fragments to be exact. Now I know I shouldn’t eat whilst driving, whether it’s one of my five a day or not, but I’m afraid I do.

When the Wispa bar first came out I turned my nose up at the blatant Aero copy. I have never been a fan of lightweight chocolate; it seems neither  solid indulgence nor part of a cocoa combo. I do like a bit of resistance when biting into a sneaky treat; be it biscuit, nougat or toffee. But now I find myself a convert to the fine dense bubbles of the Wispa especially in the duo version. 

But if you imagine holding the mini chocolate log approaching a junction, turning right or left – I leave the choice of direction up to you. To safely remain in control one needs to place the bar between ones teeth so both hands are on the steering wheel. The key is not to hold it too firmly and bite through it hence releasing a shower of chocolate crumbs! Why don’t the empty vacuous spaces get caught on your clothes? Don’t answer that!

So you can see how the mark got on the fabric strap of said Osprey bag. And quite how unsophisticated my habits can occasionally be, for which I (of course) apologise unreservedly.

I was wearing the (marked) bag on Friday night when I went to the Wales Millennium Centre for the launch of a book published by Cinnamon Press. As I enter the foyer I could hear VERY LOUD pulsating nay THROBBING pop music. There are often events on the public Glanfa Stage and I saw a notice advertising a preschool event so walked towards it thinking how inappropriate it was to sexualise tots with pop music. Beware ill informed judgements!

Before me was a crowd of screaming young girls and women wildly waving pink paddles (table tennis bats to you and me). When I walked towards the throng I cast my eye onto the wall above the ice cream shop to see Gok’s Road Show so that makes sense I thought! I stood watching from a vantage point by the cash machine from where I saw Gok himself being whisked off by security guards! He is quite a tiny man in reality.

Ignoring the sign that the lift was out of bounds I went to find the publishing people upstairs in Bar One. As I had fought my way through the wind into the Centre I had seen a youngish dark haired bearded man reading to himself by the Alfa Romeo. I assumed he was the Bosnian writer I had come to hear and on arrival at the venue my assumption was confirmed as correct.  He stood by the table of books as women of varying ages set up around him. He looked nervous and utterly bemused as Gok’s girls pranced suggestively up and down the makeshift runway.

Having introduced myself to the publisher, with whom I had corresponded on and off by email for several years, I leant (and sympathetically leered admiringly (with more than a degree of envy)) on the balcony. I assumed the models were local girls and asked the usher who I was next to if this was the case. He responded with a hint of disgust that he didn’t know and did not approve either! Teach me to assume that all men of a particular (any?) age would enjoy this free spectacle!

As the launch was delayed due to tardy time management of the part of Gok’s production team I went downstairs for a coffee and my favourite yogurt topped raspberry flapjack. See what the sight of slender nubile female forms does to me! I was exhausted and had thought a 7 pm start was manageable but the delay is pushing it.

I was sitting quietly scribbling in my note book when the author of the book on the table arrived. She was coming to the Launch too which is great – at this point at least. After a chat we wander upstairs as the Gok extravaganza has finished. It’s all going fine until the point when, there is no easy way to say this, well I fell asleep. I don’t know how many of the tiny audience noticed but I felt obliged to buy both books!

The drug regime I referred to last week has been changed but the sleep issue has not yet been resolved hence the Bosnian Book Launch embarrassment. I am confident the matter will be concluded soon. Besides which the tedium of my chronic health problems frankly bore me!

So once again I sign off with sophistication wishing I had the caustic wit of Dorothy Parker!

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