Hi, my name is Tarquin. I don’t watch Game of Thrones.

Scene:  A typical white middle class drink-up.  It’s late.  People are barefoot and sitting on the floor.

Jonathan:  (pouring a large bowl of Pinot Noir)

So, is everyone ready for Game of Thrones?

Helen:

Oh yes. It’s amazing.

And people break off into small private conversations about other shows they are currently watching featuring home bakes, gun battles and guys with wires. These folk live in Meadowbank, Auckland. They drive a large Skoda to work and attend the Catholic Church just next to Countdown.

But there is one, just one human here who is different.  He is quiet. He is measured. His drink of choice is a Tiger beer straight from the bottle. He’s been listening, silently necking 25 standard drinks in the face of this gathering. Out of nowhere, he says:

I’ve never watched it.

You could slice through the indignation with one of the swords of Visenya Targaryen or whoever.

Jonathan rises, calmly resting his booze on the occasional table, made from blonde wood ethically sourced from Freedom.

What did you say, Tarquin?

Tarquin shrugs.

I dunno, I watched one episode and small kids were being murdered and there was rape in bulk format.

Jonathan is incensed.

He pulls out a small handgun and slowly orientates it sideways.  The people in the room are beautifully turned to tilt shift miniatures.  The glow of the room is stunning as Jonathan’s sweaty trigger finger becomes the focus.  Ex-members of Linkin Park are brought in to create an overproduced soundtrack—like listening to music while having your eardrums dewaxed.

The kind of occasional table you might find in this situation.

The kind of occasional table you might find in this situation.

Tarquin squints his eyes, tears seeping like broken guttering.  He shakes his head.

You won’t Jonathan.  You can’t.  You’re just like me.  All of you.  Just like me!

Helen, still in miniature tilt shot form, is seen stirring in the background.  Suddenly she looms at Jonathan and knocks the cocked piece from his hand.  It slides over the floor, ricocheting off the Ottoman and into the feature wall, discharging its magazine into the Smeg brushed aluminium dishwasher. One bullet lodges itself into the bottom independent dish drawer. The other, in slow motion, redirects to Tarquin’s thigh. He screams like some kind of wounded extra from The Wire.

Oh well.  That’s the price you pay. It’s only $10 a month.

says Jonathan in a cruel voice, one he would normally use when turning a client down for finance.

He sits down in his special large leather chair, the one no-one, not even the kids are allowed to sit in. He fingers his vast glass receptacle of red wine, and watches Tarquin squeal and cry on the Cavalier Bremworth “Cromwell Autumn” carpet.

The room is back in normal focus. The guests return to sit in small groups. Nora Jones is now the background music. Jonathan places his index finger on the Sky menu button and selects SoHo>Game of Thrones>Series Link.

The room is silent, except for the screams of little Tarquin.

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Ciaran waiting for his MySky to warm up.

Two-star review

Yeah, that flat white from BBs Cafe. I’m not letting that go, ever.

You can review anything these days. Anything.

Once, it was just movies or restaurants. Then the reviews were about the teachers. Remember Rate My Teacher?

Mr Tobley is ok I guess, I did get an Outstanding in Scholarship but I suggest he gets more with the times. I myself was a complete prick for the whole 13 years I was at school though.

Joffrey Lannister

Now it seems you can review almost anything, and the Trade Me feedback system was probably the gateway drug to this scourge.

Unbelievably, you can review the Flavian Amphitheater, the Trevi Fountain and other landmarks, and people are actually only giving two or three stars.

You can now review your local native bush. It’s not as if reviewers are necessarily angry with the ponga or bird call, but there are those that will take to the keyboard at absolutely any opportunity to audit a person, a business, an inanimate object. Where will it lead?

Google review: The carpark at Countdown Grey Lynn

“Get ready to rumble. I’ve been in heaps of carparks and this wasn’t great tbh. Management need to step up as my Prius was low on juice and there were no charge stations. Also, heaps of people walking in the carpark, please provide cycle ways also.”

Paul Le Croissant

Trip Advisor: Cobb ‘n’ Co, Invercargill

“We just wanted a table for 50 of us, they were pretty unaccommodating actually. It was Friday night, we were completely faceless and just felt like giving them our patronage but they turned us away. We ended up in the gaming room adjacent, waiting for 20 minutes until a table came up. The one plate of narchoes (sic) we ordered between us looked a bit sad.”

Dazza B

Google review: The piece of grass between the district council buildings in Gore and the public footpath next to it.

“It’s like they’ve let buffalo grass seed there, very uneven, you could trip over it. Bad look, Gore.”

Satan

Please stay tuned as we continue next week with reviews of the toilets at the Metallica gig, the water machine at Lunn Avenue White Cross and the Greerton bus stop outside the RSA.

The Mobile Drape Ladies

Today on my errands, I happened upon a pair of mobile drape ladies, one of the most terrifying archetypes in human existence.

Mobile drape ladies are a pair of ladies that travel in a Spotlight-branded van. They park up outside a house during daylight hours and their mission is to measure your window fixtures and frames, then go away and sew the custom-made drapes.

On the surface, it’s pretty innocuous. What could go wrong?

They enter your house. They are no-nonsense women who survived the ’50s ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and most importantly, now. They are called Margaret and Sheryl. Margaret has a plume of coloured bright red spiky hair which she gets set once a week by her daughter, Sandra.

Sandra has three or four small dogs or guinea pigs, or perhaps they are actually cats.

Meanwhile, back on the mean streets, Marg and Sheryl are whipping out the tape measures and tut-tutting at the net curtains.

Who hung these? They’re bloody terrible Marg.

Incensed, she rips down the set and swishes it into a ball, all the while making a series of huffing sounds.

Soon, they break into easy banter. Marg is doing a fish pie for tea tonight, and Sheryl is going to watch Married At First Sight Australia. Husband Don is off at the Dennis Marsh gig.

Sheryl’s son is getting remarried. Sheryl tells Marg she doesn’t trust his new bride.

She’s older than him by two years. Has three children. From a previous de facto. They weren’t married. Those poor children. (more audible huffing and general resentment.)

They’re almost done. The windows will require a robust, lined drape made with the kind of precision only seen elsewhere in either brain surgery or microblading.

The ladies board the drape-bus and give it a good rev, before heading back to drape-base.

Sure, enough, within possibly a nano-second, the drapes are ready and dispatched. One time Marg made up a pair blindfolded, to the delight of her colleagues.

If you ever want to truly terrify a mortal enemy, dispatch a pair of mobile drape ladies immediately.

Do You Ever Feel Like A Plastic Bag?

A person with colour-coded bags is a person who will never forget their bags

Never before have I felt more like a plastic bag.

I feel I want a plastic bag every time I enter the supermarket now, and see the signs everywhere, screaming

REMEMBER YOUR BAGS

I imagine it’s being said in a chipper yet patronising voice.

By the time you’ve spotted the sign, you’re already halfway through the turnstiles and there’s a queue of people behind you. Other times, you’ve managed to turn around and fight the unnatural spikes out of the way, and traipse what seems like 1500 metres back to the car to get the bags.

You know there’s bags you can buy here, though, as you absent-mindlessly grab a basket, even though (given you’ve forgotten the bags) you’re a no-list graze-shopper who at some point will have to go back through the turnstile and get a trolley.

And off you go into a wonderland of plastic-covered everything, and you wonder at what point in civilisation did everything become about…plastic?  We’re doomed with it and without it and you are absolutely doomed if you turn up to Pak’nSave on a day where they’ve run out of saleable plastic bags.

I was there yesterday. A young couple, wide-eyed with innocence and the anticipation of being able to bag-up their 2000 metric tonnes of groceries, were met with the concrete wall of

“We’re out of bags.”

They stood there, bereft, silent. There was nothing to say. It was like death. There was nothing to negotiate, try as you might.

“But the groceries.”

said one of them. The cashier just stared, we all stared at the empty hooks where the bags should be. Certainly there were boxes, but at a time like this, boxes may as well be your own hands.

The devastation and enormity of the situation was so great, I thought of offering up my small alms of four plastic bags, recently purchased at Countdown because I’d forgotten them that day, but not today I hadn’t.

The Countdown plastic bags were so notoriously good, one day I overheard a lady ask for lots of them because they made amazing bin liners.

But back to our couple.

Off they went, slowly past the checkout area towards the sliding doors, to what fate we’ll never truly know. An archway of flames awaited them in the car park and they walked into the incendiary tunnel.

Locusts swarmed overhead as storm clouds gathered just above the bit where you can get the cheap fuel.

I imagined them picking up one or two items and putting them in the boot without bags, then having to get some bags from the house at the other end and bag up the groceries but in their own driveway like some sort of reverse weird torture ritual.

Every time I have a human interaction from now on, I’m going to say “Remember Your Bags”.

“Hi mum, I need a shower.”

 “Remember your bags.”

 “Hi, it’s Jason from Fisher Funds here. Have you                                 thought about changing your KiwiSaver plan?”

“I haven’t got time because I need to remember my bags.”

“What’s for dinner?”

 “Bags.”







Forty-five

I’m white and 45.

When I was 25, I used to look at those birthday cards in the supermarket. The ones with ‘Naughty 40’ and ‘Nifty 50’. The card-makers would run out of ideas for the 60 year olds and just put on a gran-type figure on a walker, hastily making her way toward a Speedoed lifeguard.

Naughty 40 (to me) looked like a shocker of a place to be. It looked desperate. It was as if the brainstorming team at Hallmark were trying to make something good of it.

So, you’re 40. Boom, boom. Woof. You sexy old thing. Cor. I bet you’re a dirty, sexed up old 40 year old aren’t you. You can’t get enough.

And then you get to 40 yourself, and then to 45—which is nearly 50—and you are there. You are the person they refer to on the cards.

But what are you?

You are a lot of things. You are the same annoying Smiths-loving, wine-drinking lush you were in your 20s. Except you are now even more insufferable.

You now know every Smiths and Radiohead lyric. You argue on Twitter daily. You post your herb garden on Facebook and over on instagram, images of your prune tea beverage.

However, you notice that the only things that have really changed are that you do most of your Smiths-drinking at home because invariably, you have children or needy dogs or cats, or a full Netflix watchlist, and there’s really very few chances to get out and anyway, half the time you just can’t be fucked.

How do you spend your time? Here’s a short list:

1. You start to talk about politics, almost daily

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A typical group of women talking about politics

Your brain is less addled with cheap Rheinecks, so you can think deeper, and your arts degree has made you a critical thinker.

2. You try to avoid looking old

Twitter handle: @kstew70

How many sad, 45-year-old women are there walking around with Hollister hoodies on, trying to be funny on Twitter. Be warned.

3. You are curious

kinopoisk.ru

Curious at its absolute worst

You really want to know everything and you find that the more you know, the less you know. You want to do everything, which is why every single night class and university is crammed with 40-somethings learning Dutch and trying to make polenta smoothies, blindfolded. In the dark.

4. SoHo

Neither of these two guys should drink beer.

Neither of these two guys should drink

You are not 45 unless you are glued to SoHo, living out your last days vicariously watching bad, violent medieval scenarios and then stroking your talking fridge—or your FitBit—and sipping your Sam Neill Pinot Noir and thinking, “I wonder if I should @ Sam Neill right now with an image of my own hand cradling Sam Neill’s wine?”

5.  You actually made a comment about Richie and Gemma’s baby

Be it “leave them alone” or “haha anyone can procreate”, you still went there.

_______

What are your thoughts on being in your mid-to-late 40s? Are you listening to more Anderson Paak than ever? Do you try to hide your age by calling everyone bae?







When Trades go bad

We’ve all had a bad experience or three on Trade Me.

It’s not the company per se, it’s the people who use it.  A bit like hand guns.

You’ve wrapped the six sets of Merino wool, never-worn socks.  The money has just gone in your account.  You decide to post the item right away, because you are magnanimous.  Your Trade Me handle is turntheothercheek2001, and you have one thousand successful trades to your name, all with positive feedback.

You post the item, and wait for weeks to receive the positive feedback you crave.

It never comes.

On another occasion, you are attempting to sell a car.  It’s straight as a die, and your thesis-length description covers the condition of every bolt, washer and that you have recently replaced every single car part.  As soon as you click the ‘Start Listing’ button, a barrage of questions ping into your inbox like bullets being fired into a tin bucket.

When does the WoF expire?

Has the cambelt been done?

I’ll give you $500 for it.

What’s wrong with it?

And, quiet as a mouse, you duly answer:

Thanks for the questions.  They are really well thought out, and I love the way they probe me.  As mentioned in the very first sentence of the description, the WoF has just been issued.  This car does not have a cambelt to begin with, so we’re alright there.  As specified in the description, I have requested no low-ball offers, or actually any offers, because it is an auction.  There is nothing wrong with it, I just want to upgrade to something a bit gruntier.  Thanks!  🙂 🙂 🙂  A+++++++ questions.

and soon after …

Can I pay you for it in a series of installments, of $20 a month?

and then the unthinkable …

$350.00      22 Nov      2:05 am       uselesslifeform(0)

 

Yes, despite your best efforts to shy the above-mentioned bidder away from your completely transparent trade, he’s put a drunken bid on it.

Hi again Mate.  I’ve put a bid on, not sure if I’m near the reserve?  What’s the reserve?

and …

Thanks for your ever-poignant line of questioning.  I don’t wish to reveal the reserve.  If I am honest, I’d like to get as much for the car as I can, not just reserve.  Thanks, happy bidding.

Then …

There’s heaps of these up at the moment, all going for $1500 or less, it’s not the only one, so you might find you are the one who looses (sic) out.

so …

Thanks for that.  A cursory look at your feedback shows a person who has never actually completed a trade, although there’s been many attempts by people to get you to.  Are you sure you want to be bidding on this item?

resulting in …

So you a stalker now too Mate?  Bad look, remove my bid loser, there’s heaps of Toyota Corolla GLs on, gonna go get a really good one, not this piece of crap.

Think once, think twice, think “why the fuck am I doing this?”