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Let it go

Tuesday April 11th, 2017 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

“He was rude to me once, and I’ve never forgotten it.” That could be be my catch phrase.

I would like to believe that I am a tolerant person who can see both sides of the coin and the apple. In some ways this is true. I am quite good at forgiving and moving on. IF there is a conciliatory conversation.

For example, someone at work once spoke testily to me. I had done the wrong thing, but there was no need for him to question whether I could read. I was furious and determined to be frosty with him forever and ever. I arrived at work the next morning to a voicemail from him apologising for being stressed and rude. I called him back immediately. ‘Say no more, think no more about it, it was really all my fault, would you like to get a coffee? Of course I’ll look after your dog for the weekend!’ I said, and I meant it.

The problem comes when there is no conciliatory gestures or acknowledgement. Then things fester. Once at work some executives were rude to me. I was trying to get the glasses cleared from the boardroom so I could catch a train to visit my dying grandmother. They thought I was intruding, and I thought I was heroically doing my job under difficult circumstances. In any case, there was no need to say ‘When Penny finally leaves the room we can continue our discussion’ in that icy manner. Even as I’m typing a blog post about letting go, I feel angry recalling that day. They addressed me in the third person! How. Dare. Anyway, they never apologised and I never forgot.

So clearly, in practise I’m a great upholder of the right to bear grudges. Over the course of the past 35 years of living I have amassed a small concert hall’s worth of people who have pissed me off. This crowd needs to move to a bigger venue to add all the people who have gained my disdain by being mean to my friends or family. I will often keep them in the freezer long after the person who was actually wronged has moved on.

This has led to a situation where I’m having trouble keeping my indexing system up-to-date. With the passing years I’m struggling to remember who I’m supposed to hate and why. I sometimes ask my friends, ‘Why don’t we like him again?’ The other day I searched through my emails because I had a vague feeling I didn’t like someone, but had no idea why. When I found the reason, it really wasn’t the outrage I’d felt it to be at the time.

On this search I also came across some bizarrely cold emails I’d written to a very close friend. At first I couldn’t work out why I’d taken that tone. Doing some more research I found the reason. I had hurt feelings. And instead of saying ‘I’ve got hurt feelings’ and telling the friend how they could help, I’d let it leak and been hurtful in return. I have completely moved on with this friend, but with other people I never do, and years after the problematic incident I retain a kernel of hurt and mistrust. Occasionally something happens and I realise I’ve been petty in focusing on the one time they were rude or thoughtless rather than the many times they were kind.

There are some grudges worth keeping, and there are some incidents that beg for poetic justice. I make no judgement about anyone else’s grudge cupboard or revenge fantasy drawer. But I do know that some of mine are silly. (Note this does not include you Executives Who Address Assistants in the Third Person).

And yeah, I know I shoulda turned the phone around.

Sparkling

Saturday March 11th, 2017 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

 

 

Hotel signs

(Image shows hotel room signs reading ‘Please service room thank you’ and ‘DO NOT DISTURB thank you’.)

This is a short story I wrote a long time ago about being a hotel cleaner. Never has the phrase ‘It’s always about the dishes, but it’s never about the dishes’ been more relevant.

At school I had low expectations for myself. Or at least, I would only admit to aspirations that were unquestionably achievable. I would never have guessed I could become a Hotel Cleaner. When I was accepted into Room Attendant training everything changed. I opened the letter and the words ‘Congratulations. Accepted’ floated up from the page and danced. It was a rosy, sparkling, world-as-oyster kind of day.

 

Six years later and technically, I’m living the dream.

I shove my trolley and let it go. It galumphs forward and comes to rest exactly parallel to the wall, a centimetre away from it. I grab my blue cleaning bucket and rubbish bag. My first room is Room 305, a King Deluxe. I feel good. This room will be perfect.

I knock on the door and say ‘Housekeeping.’ No sounds from inside. I say, ‘Housekeeping’ again. There is still no noise so I grab my key from my pocket and slide it in and out of the slot. I say, ‘Housekeeping’ one more time as I push the door open slowly.

I have learned to be cautious. One day I barged in on a scene. I remember the bouncing breasts, gasps, before I turned and ran back to the corridor where a dreadful sense of incompetence came over me.

From the silence and the darkness Room 305 is empty. Unless there’s a dead person. It happens all the time on the news, and we’ve been trained in what to do, but so far I’ve been lucky.

Certain that I’m not interrupting a living person I push my light card into the slot and the lamps switch on. I prop the door open with the doorstop and look around

the room. It’s messy but there’s no luggage. It’s definitely Vacant Dirty.

I picture Cameron leaning on the doorframe and saying, ‘You really brought the sparkle to this room.’

Inspired, I surge to work. I flush the toilet. I spray the sink with cleaning fluid. I pick up all the towels and pile them near the bathroom doorway. I pick up the detritus of hygiene – the used shampoos, shower cap and soap, abandoned toothbrushes – and throw them in the bathroom bin. I remove the bin liner and put it in my large rubbish bag outside the bathroom door. I spray the shower with cleaner and I tip blue liquid around the rim of the thankfully unstained toilet.

When I’m cleaning a toilet I find it hard to believe that room attending is a respected profession. Although I suppose doctors deal with bodily fluids too, and that used to be a respected profession.

I grab the mop from the linen cart outside and rinse it from the tap in the bath, squeezing out the water. The mop head is dirty and needs changing. I lean it against the wall.

I scoop up the towels from the floor and carry them into the main room and dump them on the bed.

Starting at the door I move in an anti-clockwise circle tidying around the room. I remove all non-hotel-standard materials and place hotel-standard objects in position. I turn on all the lights. I pick up pieces of rubbish.

I go to the bed. I take off the pillowcases and throw the pillows onto the armchair. I strip the doona and throw it onto the luggage rack. Pulling out its corners I use the under sheet as a sack to gather up all the linen and dirty towels. I take them outside and dump them in the bulging linen cart.

Where is the houseman? Bloody Cameron. Not so brilliant after all.

From my trolley I take a king size sheet and doona cover, and four pillowcases. Back at the bed I throw the sheet out across the bed in one movement. It unfolds midair and lands softly, flatly covering the bed. I move around it tucking in the corners, making sure the sheet stays taught and flat.

 

Cameron and I were taught how to make beds together in Room Attendant training. He was terrible at first, so slow and nobody thought he would make it. But after two months Sandy, our tutor, was calling him a genius.

Guests think Cameron’s good, but they can’t fully appreciate his work. It’s only Room Attendants who can really understand it. When you change one of his beds the corners are so tight that it’s hard to believe that anyone has slept in the bed. It amazes me.

One day Sandy sent me back to Room 411 to re-sheet the bed. I had been warned that I wasn’t tucking the top of the sheet in properly, but I kept pushing the boundaries of acceptability until I became unacceptable. I was upset about it, I confided in Cameron. He offered to help me. He came back to my house and we practised hospital corners in my room.

My housemate thought he liked me.

I explained to her that going into someone’s bedroom doesn’t mean the same thing for Room Attendants. He really had been tutoring me, it wasn’t a euphemism. But she kept asking about him, her curiosity fuelled my hope.

 

Taking the doona cover from the chair I flick it out so that it unfolds to flatness in the air. I pick the doona up off the chair. This part I am good at. People are stunned by how quickly I can put a doona cover on. It looks like one fluid motion, but it’s really one step after another ending with tying the four sets of strings at the end into bows. I pull the doona up to the top of the bed, moving around the bed to pull up both sides so that it is even. I imagine I have an audience now. They applaud.

 

Six months ago, I heard a voice as I bent over the doona cover. ‘No-one gets the bed as flat as you do.’ I jumped, surprised, and turned to the door. Cameron was leaning against the doorframe, but only his shirt touched the door, so he wouldn’t leave marks.

‘Shit! Sorry. You scared me.’ Heart beating. A good thing, but it’s more noticeable than usual.

‘Are you coming to lunch?

‘I was going to finish this room.’

‘I’m going now.’

‘Oh. I’ll come now.’

Other people, thrillingly, noticed. Cassie said, ‘You guys always have lunch together. He doesn’t talk to anyone else.’

‘Really?’

‘To be honest I assumed you were going out.’

 

But then only a couple months later Cameron was kneeling, his body tight and compact, tucking in the corners of Room 703. I’d chosen then to say everything. As he knelt and kept working he said a number of things…delightful – friends – thank-you – flattered… though more pauses than anything else. Embarrassment hits me coldly in the stomach, remembering my fruitlessly, stupidly plucked up courage.

Remembering all of this I hiss, ‘I hate myself.’. I give the doona corner a vicious and unhelpful tug adding contours and folds. I pick up the pillows and pillowcases and hurl them onto the bed. I shove the pillows into the bottom of the cases. I place them two by two at the top of the bed. I move around giving two tugs on each side, fixing my mistakes. I stand back to look.

No-one gets the bed as flat as you.

Trying not to think, I pick up a feather duster and a rag from my trolley and clean around the room in an anti-clockwise direction. I dust every surface. I note spaces where hotel-standard objects are missing. When I see a mark on the wall I use the magic eraser from my pocket to scrub at it. I flick the feather duster behind cupboards. In the mini-bar I turn labels to face the front. The Smirnoff is to the left of the Baileys. Make sure there are three (not two, not four) pieces of notepaper.

There are a thousand tiny rules to follow. Millions of unacceptable variations. To place everything within millimetres of its proper place, to remove all marks and all imperfections, to remember everything while hurtling around the room. Most people can’t do it.

I should feel happy to have reached this standard. But I want more. Cameron and I started training together but he’s the houseman now. Superstar.

 

Last week I was accepted into Room Attending College, the necessary theoretical component to becoming a professional Hotel Cleaner. I worked so hard for it, my parents are so proud. But yesterday, sitting in the lecture theatre all I could think about was the physicality of Cameron in the chair in front of me. He sat with someone else, and told a story I’d heard before about dusting air-conditioning vents. I could barely breathe.

Sandy began the lecture by saying, ‘What makes a truly great Room Attendant is attention to detail. It may seem impossible to master now but remember that great improvement is possible. Some of the best Room Attendants were incompetent as trainees. For example, Karl Studberg once failed to remove a used condom from the bedside drawer and passed the room as Vacant Inspected.’

Cameron nudged the girl next to him. She giggled.

That stupid simpering bitch!

 

I return to my trolley. I take one piece of notepaper, one robe, one can of coke, one pen, one envelope, two pairs of slippers, and place these carefully in their place. When I first started I always forgot things and wasted precious time going back to the trolley. Then I developed a system to remember. I counted how many items were needed. That way, when I collected them from the trolley I would know if I’d forgotten anything. Other people started doing it that way too, but no one called me a genius.

I go back to the bathroom. I put on my pink rubber gloves. I pour some cream cleanser onto the abrasive side of my yellow sponge and, with the hot tap running, I scrub the bath and tiles. There is a grimy ring around the bath, I doubt it was scrubbed after the last guest left. Tut tut tut. But then I think, As you’re perfect! God, I’m a bitch.

I spray the mirror with window cleaner and use a clean dry rag to wipe it down. I spray on more chemical and then use the rag to dry the bathroom sink and bench. I spray the silver taps with window cleaner, which makes them shine. I remember the first compliment I ever received from Sandy, she said, ‘You really brought the sparkle to these taps.’ For the next few hours I was awash with excruciatingly pleasant feelings.

I pick up the toilet brush, but don’t bother to scrub much as there is no need. I

I dry the shower thoroughly with my towel. Every drop of water is soaked up, starting by shining the taps, then the walls, then the bath itself. I arrange the shower curtain so that it rests inside the bath.

I return to my trolley piling up two towels, a bath mat, a hand towel, two face washers, two soaps, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, comb, shower cap, sanitary bag, and a roll of toilet paper. This is all loaded in my arms when I hear a ding from the service lift.

Resting my load against the trolley I turn.

Cameron steps out.

We nod. He says, ‘Your linen cart’s pretty full.’

‘I’m aware of that.’

‘How are your rooms today?’

‘Fine. This one’s pretty messy.’

‘Yeah, well, they stayed for nearly two weeks.’

‘Yeah, I know.’ But I hadn’t noticed, hadn’t read the information on my board. That explains the dirty bath. Cameron has remembered the occupancy of a room he’s not even cleaning.

‘Could you bring me a new mop head?’

‘Sure.’

‘Mine’s filthy.’

‘Sorry.’

‘Whatever. Just soon would be good.’

Cameron moves to the linen cart and pushes it to the lift. I stalk back into the room. My hands shake a little as I position the soaps and shampoo. I hear Cameron transferring the dirty linen from the cart into lift. Then he pushes the empty linen cart back outside the door. I expect him to come back, look around, notice that my dusting has been particularly thorough. He used to make a point of complimenting me, in a mentoring kind of way. Perhaps I’ve disappointed him, not lived up to what he thought I could be.

But fuck that! He’s only two years older than me and we started training at the same time. We’re both in training college now. Why should I be under his wing? I won’t be patronized.

I fold towels. I position the bathmat and facecloths. I shine the bathroom door handle. I’m wasting time because I’m expecting him back. Eventually, I put my head out and see an empty corridor. He must have used the stairs. A moment passes then the rage. How dare he ignore me.

I’m shaking a bit as I pick up the bucket and wet rags and take them out of the bathroom, leaving only the mop. I go and get the vacuum cleaner and drag it into the room. You are such a stupid bitch, I think as I plug it in. Why would he want to talk to me? I’m horrible to him. I’m horrible. I adore him.

I vacuum furiously jabbing the vacuum under the bed as far as it will go. There is flaky dead skin and a big toenail near the edge of the bed. I carefully move the slippers near the bed to vacuum under them. There are spots on the carpet. I fetch the carpet cleaner and spray it on. After it turns white I jerkily suck at it with the pipe attachment. I vacuum the bathroom. Slurping up hairs lying in puddles of water. I turn the vacuum off and roll the cord up.

Cameron still hasn’t come back, I use the dirty mop head to mop the bathroom floor. I hang the mop back on the cart.

I step into the room for one last inspection. Room 305 is not a masterpiece. As I look at the carpet I see a spot I missed. The slippers aren’t parallel after I moved them to vacuum. There is a streak in the corner of the bedroom mirror, a mark on one of the walls. I can’t fix it all, I’ve already spent 31 minutes on this room, three minutes over schedule. I yank out my light key, take out the doorstop and leave the room knowing that I don’t deserve applause.

Cameron is standing near my trolley with a new, too late, mop head.

‘Thanks,’ I say, trying to be friendly, feeling guilty from before.

‘No worries. It’s my job.’

He’s so casual, so successful. Every day he receives shiny baubles of praise and recognition that add to his magnificence. He wears his confidence like a halo. My chest tightens with the old feelings, but I don’t know if it’s jealousy or love.

Sorry, you’ve been making your instant coffee all wrong

Tuesday February 28th, 2017 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Instant coffee

(Image shows a jar of Nescafe, kettle and two mugs)

You might think that a hot beverage with a maximum of four ingredients (coffee, water, milk, sugar) and which only requires three implements to make (kettle, spoon, cup) would be hard to get wrong. But guess what? There are lots of ways to fail at making the perfect cup of instant coffee. Here are the common mistakes that people make, which you won’t after reading this.

Adding the hot water before the milk

For the love of God, when making a white coffee, please mix the milk and coffee together first. Dissolving the granules of coffee into the milk means they won’t feel scared when the hot water is poured from the kettle. Frightened coffee equals yucky coffee and a ruined day, so please protect your coffee’s emotional well-being with a milky blanket.

Using white sugar

Nothing says ‘I have no class’ like pure white crystals. What you want is tan-coloured lumpy raw sugar. As well as oozing sophistication, raw sugar is a healthier option because it hasn’t been cooked, which is the only thing that makes sugar bad for you.

Using the wrong mug

This is subjective. Everybody draws the line in a different place, but it’s important that you stay behind your own. For me, the green mug with pictures of candy canes and santas is a bridge too far. If candy cane santas is the only mug left in the cupboard I will give it to a visitor or wash something else for myself. I know this seems drastic but you will not be able to enjoy your delicious coffee if it is presented in the mug that makes you think ‘Not that mug. I hate that mug’.

Spooning International Roast into a Nescafe jar

You fool no-one and you will probably lose all your friends and die alone. I know people think I live in a gilded cage of privilege and to that I say squawk. But even from my diamond encrusted perch I can understand that not everyone can afford Nescafe Gold. And I believe that some people actually prefer the brands they purchase in bulk from cut price foreign supermarkets. And that is fine. As long as you are up front about it.

And put the milk in first.

Valentines Day at the Moonlight Cinemas: AKA A Mistake

Tuesday February 14th, 2017 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I love PT

(The image shows a badly drawn love heart with ‘I heart PT’ written inside’)

I once thought that it would be Fun to see Casablanca at the Moonlight Cinemas in the Botanical Gardens on Valentines Day, with a group of couples. When I was single.

The evening was actually less fun than it sounds…

To begin with the people I’d chosen to go with were less than ideal. Firstly, there was my sister and her boyfriend Daniel. They got along very well on this occasion although she dumped him a month later because he was a massively bigoted tool. For example, while glaring pointedly at two men sitting in front of us who were holding hands, Daniel explained to me that the Roman Empire fell because of their acceptance of homosexuality. I remarked that it was more likely that one of the bats flying over the Botanical Gardens was actually batman. Daniel then went into a half hour rant about how batman could be made to be more bat-like and less like a person dressed unconvincingly as a bat.

The newest couple in the group, Robin and Miles had only been going out for a week. Their relationship was based entirely on nerves. They were incapable of having a conversation if they were touching each other. Robin could talk to you if Miles was more than two meters away. But as soon as they so much as held hands all conversation would dry up and they would simply smile and stare straight ahead. Twitching occasionally.

Then there was my friend Tanya and her boyfriend Glen who continuously humped each others legs throughout the entire evening. At leas they were able to chat to others at the same time.

Of course, I was not the only single person in the park. There were many groups of single girls. They were in high spirits at the start of the evening. Opening their picnic baskets and champagne, they had a devil-may-care attitude that screamed to the world, ‘We’re single on Valentines Day. And we’re having a great time! Pass me the Camembert!’ Half way through the film however they started to see the injustice of the film. ‘She had two men! Two!’ Faces curdled and you could see the devil-may-care attitude slip into mild depression (some people actually sobbed quietly and not at the sad bits). By the time Bogart was reminiscing about Paris I could hear dozens of singles muttering, ‘Why couldn’t we have gone to Ferris Buelers Day Off?’ and flicking Brie at anyone who looked like they might be in love.

There were many people there who looked like they might be in love. The Moonlight Cinema is a popular romantic choice for couples at any time, let alone on Valentines Day. It was a lawn covered with cuddling and I was struggling.

Generally, I like to see myself as an internally self-sufficient person. I don’t need to evaluate my happiness by externally imposed expectations and material standards. However, I must admit that I began to feel increasingly jealous of some of the people at the Gardens who were obviously in a better position than me.

Of course, I’m not talking about having a boyfriend. I’m referring to the fact that I was starving, uncomfortable, and freezing to death. I mean it sounds nice, doesn’t it? Sitting in the park on a summer evening watching films and enjoying a picnic. In reality, the ground is extremely hard when you sit on it for three hours. It was also cold. When I left the house at 7:00pm it was a balmy 25 degrees. But by the time the film started at 9pm there was an unrefreshingly cool breeze. As it began to get properly dark I started to shiver and noticed more experienced Moonlight cinema goers had brought sleeping bags, doonas and a pillow. Sure, some of the single ones still looked like they wanted die, but at least they were suicidal within a warm, cocoon. In my group, we only had one blanket, which had been claimed by Tanya and Glen. They were using it as an ineffectual veil over their dry rooting.

Even worse, everyone else in the gardens had brought better provisions than we had. Not being very organised we managed to scrape together a tub of hummus, some semi sun-dried tomatoes and a packet of Captains Table watercrackers. Between seven. Meanwhile all around people with more boy scouting ethos had brought champagne, strawberries, cheese platters, chocolate cake and so on. One lucky couple had a lobster.

After awhile I started to feel aggrieved with these people who were touting their comfort, food and boyfriends in front of me. Everyone was showing off what they’d brought with the result that almost everyone ended up wanting something on someone else’s picnic blanket. Some people were crying because they didn’t have a boyfriend. Others cracked it because the dip ran out. I couldn’t wait to go home on my own and be able to compare myself to myself and realise I pretty fabulous after all.

When the film finally ended everyone filed out of the gardens towards St Kilda Road. Tanya chose this moment to confide loudly to us all, ‘Glen and I really need to spend more time together as a couple. You know, just to be together. Just to really love each other.’

A girl walking ahead of us turned around and said loudly but calmly to Tanya, ‘Do you mind? There are single people present.’ Then she turned and strode out of the park.

Several of us could not contain our applause.

Effort

Tuesday August 16th, 2016 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Titanic

(The cake before Kate Winslet’s face fell off. Gluten-free iceberg not pictured.)

There are some things that I think I don’t really care about, but having put a lot of effort into them I find that I actually do care about them.

In Year 10 I gave up doing Physics and swapped to Cake Decorating. The reasons behind this are depressing and is enough to say that they relate to sexism and painful shyness.

I did not do very well in Year 10 Cake Decorating, but I didn’t care. It didn’t bother me if my cakes got Bs and Cs as long I didn’t have to sit in a class full of boys mortified because I was too timid to ask to share a textbook with anyone.

Cake Decorating sounds like it should have been easy, but I had no knack for it. And the semester’s studies didn’t build my cake decorating skills much. The only thing I can still remember is that you can rehabilitate melted chocolate that’s ‘gone funny’ (you see, I don’t even remember the technical term) by adding cream.

I’m not good at cake decorating and I don’t care. And yet, on the weekend I made a Titanic cake with a gluten-free iceberg. And once I started I found that I did care about it. I’d been cavalier about the whole enterprise until about 10pm on Saturday night as I started to fear people might say ‘That’s nice. What’s it supposed to be?’ when I revealed the cake.

If only I’d tried harder in Year 10 Cake Decorating, I thought. I would have known not to make a chocolate cake and put white icing over it. Maybe if I’d paid attention the funnels wouldn’t all be different sizes and the deck on a weird slope. Perhaps if I’d applied myself harder to my studies Kate Winslet’s face wouldn’t have fallen off.

Then at the party everyone said it was great. The cake was wonky, but recognisable.  Words like ‘hero’ and ‘amazing’ were thrown around and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I begin to think they were appropriate.

I still wish I’d stuck with Physics though. (I should acknowledge that my partner decorated the Titanic cake with me but I was solely responsible for the gluten-free iceberg. He is a physicist but that didn’t seem to help him much.)

(TLDR: I made a Titanic cake with a gluten-free iceberg and am pretty much looking for any excuse to go on about it.)

Titanic and iceberg

How to Get a Love Life (first you need to get a hot boss with good taste in jumpers)

Saturday August 8th, 2015 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
I’ve just finished listening to How to Get a Love Life by Rosie Blake.
This is the second audio book I’ve listened to where the female protagonist, a secretary, who is searching for love, ends up with her boss. The last one was The Chocolate Lovers Club, which I pretty much hated.
I didn’t hate How to Get a Love Life, perhaps because the boss, James, seemed like a fairly nice bloke. However, the concept of boss-as-ultimate-love-interest is one that I find it hard to go along with. I accept that there are times when a relationship between employee and employer springs up and it’s quite lovely and based on equality and mutual respect. However, in general the power dynamics make it a less than ideal set up for love, and it sits uncomfortably with me, meaning that I can’t get swept away in the unresolved sexual tension.

In my own private life, I’ve never been remotely interested in any of my bosses, not even Bernard, Head of Cheese, who was masterful in the deli, so the scenario is not one I can relate to.
Also if you were planning on listening to this book to get some tips on how to get a love life the take home message is: Be a hot secretary but don’t realise how hot you are, go on a few disastrous dates while waiting for your boss, who dresses extremely well, to fall in love with you even if he apparently has a super hot model bitch girlfriend.
I think that will work for everyone, yes?

10 things you should never say to someone who can’t find their keys

Tuesday March 24th, 2015 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

When someone is going through a difficult time, even people who mean well can say hurtful and unhelpful things. I’ve found that when I can’t find my keys, many of my friends, family and even my partner become quite intolerable and more part of the problem than the solution.

So read the list below to learn how to actually support people through this difficult time in their lives, rather than just being annoying.

1. Where did you last have them?

If I knew where I’d last had them, chances are, I would know where they are. Don’t assume that someone looking for their keys has not already been through the extremely basic first steps towards finding them. Now is not the time to be patronising and obvious.

2. Have you checked on top of the fridge/beside the door/in your pocket/in all the most obvious places?

Yes. Yes, I have checked those places. That’s why I said that ‘I can’t find my keys’. I didn’t say that before I’d looked for them.

3. They’ll turn up.

Yes they probably will ‘turn up’, but will they do this in time for me to make it to my yoga class? Maybe not. Do I look like I can afford to miss that class? No. I’m really stressed and uptight right now.

4. I bet you’ve put them somewhere really weird.

Yes because wouldn’t that be hilarious! If I’d put them in the freezer! Wouldn’t that funny joke make it all worthwhile? No. I just want my keys now. I am never going to laugh about this.

5. I’ll help you look.

Let’s be clear, this is the MINIMUM you should be doing. Don’t offer to help like you’re in line for sainthood. You’re just not being a complete arsehole…yet.

6. I know it’s so frustrating when you lose something.

This kind of comment is all about making it all about you. Yes, maybe you have lost something in the past. Maybe it was important to you. Maybe you did feel frustrated when that happened to you. But nothing is more important to me, right now, than my lost personal item and you can’t understand how that really feels. So save your ‘empathy’. This is not about you.

7. Do you have a spare key?

I did have a spare key. I lost it. This is not the best time to remind me.  If I still had the spare key, do you think I would be throwing all the cushions off the couch and upending the occasional tables.

8. You can borrow my car.

I don’t want to borrow your car. I want to drive my own car. And I also need my keys to get back into my house.  Arsehole.

9. I can drop you at yoga and then pick you up when you’re done.

I suppose you can do that. Because you have the keys to your car. I hope you’re enjoying rubbing your privilege in my face. I guess you’ll expect me to say ‘thanks for the lift’ as well. You want me to be in your debt, forever grateful for your generosity. I don’t want to be dependent on you. I don’t want your strings attached ‘help’. I just want my keys.

10. I’ve called the yoga teacher and she’s offered to do the class at your house instead.

People who have lost their keys want to leave their houses. Don’t think that offering an alternative to the immediate reason we want to leave the house is going to the fix the problem. We want to choose when we leave our homes. We want freedom, not luxurious house arrest.

The one thing you should say:

Here are your keys. I found them for you. They were in the gravy boat.

Creepy

Thursday November 24th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’m listening to Heavenly Date and Other Flirtations by Alexander McCall Smith. It’s a collection of short stories and is read by “various narrators”.

The blurb for the book is quite misleading. It refers to “hilarious stories” and I would not have described any of the stories as even amusing.

And some of them are quite sick. The second story in particular is unsettling. I was unsettled from the get go because the various narrator, Simon Pebble had a creepy tone (sounded like he might be about to say, “He looked down at his hands and saw the blood. Blood. Blood. So much blood. He screamed but there was no sound.”) At first I thought it was an appalling choice of reader for a light-hearted McCall Smith romp. Then I realised what was going on in the story and I gave the narrator’s inflections a big tick of approval.

Most of the the stories are engaging enough, but some don’t really go anywhere. What carries the story tape is the various narrators who a really good job of making something out of not much really.

Getting started

Thursday November 17th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’ve just finished listening to The Women in Black by Madeleine St John, which I loved.

When I’m listening to a story tape that I’m enjoying I find it very hard to stop. I end up listening to them at inappropriate times. While in the shower (can’t really hear), while doing my tax return (can’t really concentrate), while getting ready for work (can’t really justify the 35 minutes it takes me to eat a bowl of cereal while listening to an audiobook).

But now, having finished The Women in Black two days ago I’m experiencing story tape apathy. Heavenly Date by Alexander McCall Smith is ready when when I am and I’m sure it will be delightful but I just can’t quite come at it. I just don’t really want to listen to it, even though I know I’ll probably love it when I do.

And it’s at these weak, uncommitted moments that I turn to Toddlers and Tiaras.

The Women in Black

Sunday November 13th, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’m listening to The Women in Black by Madeleine St John read by Deidre Rubenstein (does good voices: from posh to stridently ‘strayan, to hammily continental). It’s about the lives of four women who work in the frocks section of a big department store in Sydney in the late 1950s.

I’d seen this audio book in the library a few times but passed over it. Without fully forming the thought, I  dismissed it as chic-lit. I should know better than this (as I’ve said many, many times, books about women are not necessarily bad) and The Women in Black is very funny and warm and well observed. St John is economical, yet interesting with words.
The only problem with listening to such a cracker jack tape is that it will be difficult to find something to follow it. I just want The Women in Black to go on and on.
Here is a sample.