Wicker Chair

On Monday there was a wicker chair,

its threads woven into the frame in a lacklustre taupe

next to a rusted lamp stand.

The shade askew

and its plastic backing peeling.

On the Wednesday it rained

and the soaked carpets spored black.

The vans stooped and floated

past the busted plastic chairs

towards the power drill

with its cut cord.

Friday the men in trucks came

loading great armfuls of wet curtains,

carpets, a wedding gown and lovers’ beds

into the crusher

angrily staring at the vans who raced ahead

to get the last peeling wooden drawers.


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


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


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?

Mothers without mothers


My mother’s mother died when mum was 15.

Mum cannot remember a time when her own mother wasn’t sick. Back in the 50s, people who needed long-term care were shunted from place to place. At one stage her mother was cared for in a geriatric hospital even though she was only in her late 40s.

She had hypertensive issues and became bedridden. My mother recalls a time when they needed to care for her at home. Mum was in the forth form then, at Hutt Valley High School. She loved basketball and had taught herself how to flick-flack, and to do the splits. She was probably quite a confident girl. School was everything for mum; she wanted to become either a pharmacist or a concert pianist.

All of the money and effort was, however, put into her brother, who was lined up for medical school.

Once her own mother came home to die, mum was taken out of school to look after her. The other sisters were much older, with young children and those sorts of serious commitments.

Mum was 15. She recalls standing on a chair to look out a high window with a view towards the school field, filled with uniformed and hormonal teenagers, getting on with their lives, unaware of the girl left behind to be at her mother’s bedside.

No teenager wants this, no matter how much they love a parent. Kids are kids—they are supposed to be selfish. It doesn’t last anyway; pretty soon the world has you in the grip of compliance.

It was much sooner for mum. Once her mother died, my own went out into the workforce to earn. She became a proficient typist and shorthand-taker in Wellington at a shipping company.

That was that. There was no ‘discussion circle’ or ‘family group conference’ about what should happen to my mother.

Mum’s life of ‘have to’ must have been overwhelming, but the other thing here—the intangible—is that she never knew what it was to be mothered. Fathered, certainly. But mothering?

She had to imagine and invent; and when she became a mother herself, she had no context from which to draw inspiration or just plain practical common sense.

I know of many motherless mums, and on this year’s Mother’s Day, I am thinking about them, and hope that the dead piece of heart can radiate, even just a little.

The Lazy Susan: Sex on a Plate


On The Chase a while back, there was a question:

The decorative circular item that sits in the middle of a table and can be spun around is called a Lazy what?

Is it a) Sarah b) Stella or c) Susan?

Of course there was much pretending not to know, but eventually all agreed on c).

It reminded me of times in the past, long summers and somewhat unkempt nights at Chinese restaurants in Half Moon Bay …

Ostensibly a way of avoiding eye and body contact rather than a social lubricant, the Lazy Susan was almost like an early app for getting salt and pepper in front of you without the messy discourse of having to ‘ask’ beforehand.

It was usually glass, because green frosty glass is so chic and sexy.

My most enduring memory, though, is hand-tapping the rotating platter in order to get the Coruba rum in front of me or to get durries from one side of the table to the other lightning fast.

There was something about this device that fostered romance, too.

It was all too easy to get someone hot on the other side of you to get things around to you, like Coruba, durries, and a few grains of rice to line your stomach, and he could show off his sexual prowess by making the spin action go ‘just a bit too fast’, attracting the Confucian wise-eye of the nearby waiter. Eyes that said:

Silly fuckwit.  I hate you. Get out my restaurant.

But you didn’t get out, because the rotating device was hilarious and you were on your seventh Coruba ‘n’ Juice, since you’d run out of mixer earlier on.  Small pieces of fried rice peppered your handbag, and the walls of the restaurant, and you were an oblivious moron, all because of the Lazy Susan.


Lazy Susans aren’t just for meaningless dinner cavorting or a sexual hook-up tool!  You can get them to spin your spices as well as your cold cuts.  Only the best from the Briscoes Lady, here.


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?”


The Worst Ad In New Zealand History


Look into my eyes, not around the eyes; into the eyes.


And the gong goes to…the Chanui ad.

I know I am about 6 months to a year behind here, but I was just sitting there tonight, watching the farce that is House Rules — you know, the one where the millionaire gentry are posing as first homeowners (cough) — and up it came.

The guy from the Chanui ad.

I’m immediately thinking “raised on a fundamentalist Christian commune for sure”, and all the people who jump in to support the brand look like colluders in a great mind-bending tea scandal.

But of course, it’s just tea.  Tea for the workman.  Tea for the housewife.  Tea for the lonely housewife.  Tea for the fucking business analyst.  A tea for each and every demographic and type of New Zealander.

If you hate the tea, you’ll get your money back.  But, who in their right mind would want to deal with these people to get $3.36 back?  You might never get your mind back, let alone your money.

Your money back and (or) be drawn into the dark recesses of the proprietor’s madness.

Those eyes.  He searches your every mental crevice for weakness.  You know you want the tea.  You’re thirsty.  You need a good strong breakfast tea before hitting the building sites of the infill housing boom.  He knows, and you know.

From the company website, people are SAYING THINGS about the tea.

Jason, from Palmerston North, doesn’t usually like the sharpness of green tea.  But Chanui is different.  It treats his palate gently.  Gently stroking it, with overtones of honey and eroticism.

Even Kerry from Auckland — who was a dyed-in-the-wool Dilmah girl — has made the switch.  The switch of her life.  To Chanui, with a 100% money back guarantee.

Listening to this advertisement, and the selection of words in the script, makes me feel like I don’t need a cup of tea — I need a prescription for booze to ease my unease after seeing these unhinged people talk about tea as if it’s some kind of holy grail — of tea.

This advertisement is only rivaled by one other:  for wool insulation under the guise of a company called Earth Wool.

Earth Wool?   That sounds strangely similar to ‘toe jam.’

A man and wife duo shift large phallic objects around and into a very plain dwelling, while a rock tune that’s somewhere between Keith Urban and John ‘Man in Motion’ Parr drowns out any dialogue.  It doesn’t matter anyway because there’s subtitles.  Misspelled subtitles.


I love recylced things. Recylcing. The way of the futrue.

And most perplexing of all — the product is pixelated, making it one of the most unintentionally funny advertisements in the history of humanity.

There is nothing more comic than a dude walking toward a woman, with a bit fat pixelated cylinder.


A pixelated cylinder.

These two advertisements have one thing in common: the man who runs the store has made the ad; and it shows.

Congratulations on winning the Golden Chanui, for Worst Possible Advertising, and the Earth Wool Chalice for labyrinthine weirdness.