Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Vikings on Valium

OMG I feel as if my hair is standing vertically on end purely as a result of my current state of sheer hysteria. Life is getting beyond me. Tomorrow I am flying to Orkney; my non-British readers may have to reach for an atlas at this moment. Here’s a quick clue, small islands off the top right hand corner of Scotland. The reason for this flight to my Viking inspired roots, (my paternal grandmother was an Orcadian) is that I am taking Drama Queen No.3 to spend a week with my parents and they happen to be in Orkney this weekend before returning to home base of Edinburgh. The flight from Sydney to Orkney is an interesting one involving a number of changes and taking in total 33 hours so I have a suspicion that by the time we land in Kirkwall that I may be doing my own Viking invader imitation of the wild and woolly sort.

This trip has a number of serious implications for maternal sanity; a) DQ’s 1 and 2 feel they have been discriminated against and have taken to referring to DQ no.3 as ‘The Chosen One’ b) military planning has been required to ensure the mother taxi service operates in my absence and no teenager is left sitting in the gloaming as evening falls by an abandoned netball court and c) DQ no 3 will see this as a rare chance for 33 hours of my undivided attention and unlike most plane companions will not be deterred by earphones, eye shields, hard stares, blanket over the head and my pretending to read my book. The other slight problem is that she has a saxophone exam four days after we get back so guess which small and totally portable instrument (pause for sarcastic laughter if you can hear it over the screams of pain as I bark my shins on the wretched thing) we are dragging round Scotland and if anyone would like to open a book on how many times it actually gets played, I am cornering all the low numbers as after all I do need to recoup the cost of the fares.

If this wasn’t enough, Husband is in the midst of a major dental crisis and spent most of this morning in the dentist’s chair having eye-wateringly unpleasant things done to him at an equally eye-watering cost. Our lovely female dentist – I always choose dentists on the grounds of sex and physical size as I feel it is important for my personal sanity to know I can overpower them and get away if necessary, spotted that the term reluctant patient is a complete understatement in Husband’s case. Following a couple of preliminary meetings she ended up prescribing a large amount of valium to be taken beforehand in a bid to ensure he was sufficiently relaxed to drag himself to her front door – I had concerns that he might be so away with the fairies given the copious dose that I left him with a card to hand to the taxi driver with the dentist’s name and address on it, just in case he tried to do a runner or in a moment of drug induced insanity ordered the cab to go to the airport instead. I resisted the temptation to add a Paddington Bear inspired note to the effect “Please look after this man”.

When I went to pick him up, he had that slightly swaying glazed look of the punch drunk and it brought back my valium experience. When we lived in Hong Kong I had to have wisdom teeth removed and I confessed to my male dentist that I was not good at dentists, said with the kind of little laugh that made it quite clear to him he had a wall climber here. Note I had made an exception to the small and female dentist rule as he was, I thought, the most handsome man I had met in Hong Kong. He kindly organized a large injection of valium and I have to say it was a breeze having the teeth out. I have, however no memory of the next few hours, but some of my exploits obviously included giving the dentist my full and frank opinion of his physical charms as he blushed bright red when I went back for the check up and seemed very nervous of being left alone with me. I also seemed to have rather bizarrely made a new best friend of his previously snooty receptionist who greeted me with a kiss and shrieks of “Sweetie”. As for the unfortunate couple deputed to pick me up – Husband being absent overseas at the time, they were treated to me insisting they come into the flat and sit down, I then apparently whizzed into our bedroom and reappeared modeling my maternity nightie – possibly the least flattering outfit anyone in their right mind eg not bombed out of their skull on valium, would choose. In comparison Husband has shown no tendencies to model his underwear, and both dentist and receptionist still seem to be on good, but not overly friendly terms with him.

Such is the state of the packing and general lack of organization that had he any valium left I would be strongly tempted to swallow one – in the hope the so called ‘housewife’s friend’ might transform me – on the other hand I am not sure Sydney Departures lounge is ready for the maternity nightie experience.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Name your type and other trivia questions

Happy Glorious 12th! I hate to grouse (ho, ho) but am totally fed up of wet and damp as a weather default setting. However let’s get off Sydney’s weather, about which I have nothing positive to say, and onto something definitely more interesting.

Maggie Alderson, who is a columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend magazine, (and another transplanted Brit), wrote a piece last week about people having a definite physical type to whom they are attracted, to the extent that they can end up with a series of near identical partners. As with all good theories I immediately tested this one on both myself and my nearest and dearest.

Being a male, Husband is much more predictable and definitely has a track record with blondes – though with variations in size, for as his father charitably pointed out when he started going out with me, “You’ve had a fat girlfriend, and a thin one and now you’ve got an in between one.” I recovered pretty quickly from this ranking, young love being a thing of great resilience. However twenty years on, I feel less benign towards Drama Queen No. 3, who when I was repeating this story to her today, said with interest, “So were you the fat one then?”

When I reviewed my own list of official and potential boyfriends – and for potential, read men for whom I yearned and tried, but failed to convert to my potential as girlfriend material, the one thing that stood out was the complete lack of any physical type whatsoever. Prime specimens included, in no particular order, a mousy haired chap, topping six feet with feet so big he had to have his shoes specially made, a small red head, tall and dark with curly hair (when I described this last one to the DQs they thought he sounded like the dog!), small blonde and balding and thin and dark like an emaciated Mr Darcy. I won’t go on, apart from anything else there aren’t that many, even with the yearnings included, but you get the general drift, you would never line them up together as look alikes in an identity parade.

We are off to a school fundraiser trivia night in a couple of weeks. Trivia nights are a bit like IKEA, doesn’t matter what part of the globe you end up in, chances are there’s one near you. I shouldn’t be too rude about IKEA as based on experience there is nothing to beat it when you land in new country minus any furniture and then discover none of the stuff lovingly packed in the ‘all at sea’ container is actually going to fit the new rented house. I am considerably less fond of trivia nights, mainly because we are so shockingly bad at them. Not only has popular culture and sport apparently completely passed us by for the last two decades but we are both such competitive con artists that we can’t resist blurting out complete rubbish in such totally convincing tones that it generally takes the rest of our team at least one round to spot us as the traitors in their midst. We are a man short for this particular event and the lonesome wife has suggested putting up a wanted poster describing her perfect man and waiting to see the response.

This of course has got me thinking what I would put on my own ‘Wanted’ poster – ‘all physical types considered’ would obviously be an honest start given my liquorice allsorts track record on the types of male I find attractive. I came to the conclusion that the key driver for what I find attractive in a man is a mix of two factors; interesting conversation, I love that moment when you suddenly move beyond the commonplace with someone, secondly and probably most importantly, being able to make me laugh. There are obviously a range of minor factors such as being willing to share chocolate with me, and laughing at my jokes, but I don’t think it is any coincidence that I can always remember conversations I have had with people I find attractive but can never recall accurately what they looked like or what they were wearing – though candidates wearing socks with sandals will not be considered and bearded types will have to be pretty damm funny to get beyond first interview. Husband would also like me to point out the position has actually been filled!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wolf whistles and a wine that froths

You can tell it is over halfway through the year in that it has taken me until now to get to the post office to send off this year’s, (and I do mean this year in the sense of 2010), photo calendar to my family along with grovelling little notes along the lines of ‘better late than never’. As we spent Christmas in the UK in the bosom of my family I had lots of good intentions re a speedy turnaround on the calendar front and talked gaily of having it done by February at the latest. It is now August and I have finally organised myself to capture images of all three generations of our extended family and to ensure that every one of the eighteen members appears at least once, though not necessarily in a pose they will be happy with – (sorry about the earmuffs, Brother no. 2). One of the my many problems, apart from the fact it is going to be difficult to pass the calendars off as a late or early Christmas present, is that I had of course far too many photos to just fill the remaining four months of 2010. In a typically optimistic approach to the problem I have now produced a calendar running from July 2010 (recipients will have to just turn back a month) to June 2011 – how useful is that!

In the run up to the Australian elections I have had to apply for an early ballot paper as I am out of the country for the crucial day. Voting is compulsory in Australia and it is amazing how the prospect of a financial penalty concentrates the mind in terms of organising myself. Along with an enforced duty to cast your vote, Australia is the home of many quirky inventions including the drive through bottle shop (off licence/liquor store) concept. I particularly like the ‘browse’ and ‘express’ car lane options. Woe betide you if you are in the express lane and can’t decide whether to go for a Merlot or Pinot Noir or in my case another great Aussie innovation on the alcohol front, the Sparkling Shiraz. Prior to landing in Sydney I had always regarded red wine that frothed as belonging firmly in the home brew camp and treated it with extreme caution – experiences with home brewed ginger beer having given me a major aversion to potentially explosive drinks. However like all converts, having been introduced to the joys of the bubbly red, I now drink it with enthusiasm.

Drama Queen no 2 came home last week with the news that a number of her friends had been given detentions. Usually this is a punishment for uniform infringements such as not having a hat or taking the school skirt to new heights on the length front. This time however it had been handed out for the crime of wolf whistling at the builders working on site at school – a classic case of role reversal that made me laugh uproariously – or maybe that was just the Sparkling Shiraz.