Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Never again...

I would probably wake up once every month and proclaim, “That is it. I am NEVER drinking again”. This reaction may or may not be caused by moments like this:

"I was having the TIME OF MY LIFE" - Kelly Collier (pictured)

The morning after nearly always brings a heavy weight of regret, disappointment and a bullshit headache. “Why did I drink that last head sized cocktail? Why did I assume that just because I’ve seen people break dance, and did eight months of beginner's tap, I can head spin? When I pantomimed the story of the outdoor shower I was forced to use as a child, did I really hit the punch line?” And so on.

Inevitably though, we’ll always go back for more. There are lots of reasons we jump back on the booze bus, even when we swear black, blue and hypercolour that no drop shall ever touch our lips again. Mostly it’s a lack of will power, but the other factor? You’ll never guess…

Its 33 degrees and you’re getting out of work a little early on a Thursday night. The sun is gently sinking, you spot a huge free table in your local pub beer garden, friends start arriving in vast numbers, and you end up smashing 10 ice cold beers and locking and popping your way home.

Its 9 degrees, blustery and wet, but you’re oh so cosy inside your weekend abode, with its roaring fire, cheese board and bottle of red. Another glass? Why not. In fact, we should probably just open another bottle and then eat this entire block of toblerone. Night cap of port? Having never actually drank port, nor feel like trying it, of course! Make mine a double. Of port.

It’s the WEATHER which makes you do it. Like when people go all rogue with their sprinkler systems in the heat or wear the most ridiculous outfits in the cold (turtle necks), the external forces of nature dictate our drinking habits. Why else do you think Australians are so renowned for their beer drinking habits? Its 24 degrees in the winter, that’s why.

As we approach a mild (to say the least) start to summer in the UK, the desire for sickly sweet fruit cider begins, dangerous cocktail ideas start brewing (anyone for an ‘Angry Russian’? It’s mostly just straight vodka, but the glass is really tall), and every shopping list ends with BEER. We try, but often we’re unable to resist the lure of weather booze. You have every good intention, I know, but when the temperature planets align, one thing is certain. You, glass, headache. *

The weather. A vicious contributor to our most damaging inadequacies. Damn it.

London tomorrow, let's not talk about the summer. Instead, pass me one of those Angry Russians...

* A massive disclaimer here that if you do, genuinely, have a drinking problem, don’t blame the weather. It will be super unproductive and will only add to the external perception of your insanity. Only crazy people blame the weather for their problems, and you’re not crazy, right?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We are family!

A journey back to the family home this week had me uncharacteristically surprised (I write a lot of lists and check every room in my house four times before going on holiday, surprise and I never go for coffee). It wasn’t the jet lag, the seeing of people I went to school with who now have about 18 children or the fact that my mother called me to check up on THE DOG, it was the weather. I came totally unprepared for the climate change presented to me.

When you spend most of your childhood in one place, you pretty much think you own it. From the road rage you feel when driving with non locals, to the best bakery (Pt Elliot) or knowing if you order a schooner or a pot, you feel a sense of unique familiarity and comfort on arrival in your home town. That is until you turn up in open toe shoes and a cardigan when you should be sporting that Icelandic knit you so love.

With a confidence akin to my recent foray into mini van pole dancing I bounced into my old city with a spring in my step not weighed down by the fortunate burden of additional clothing (much like my pole dancing). This decision proved to be one of the worst a weather watcher can make, as I was chilled to the bone in a freezing whirlwind (weather to the extreme!!) trip that crossed two Australian states. What was I expecting? Put simply, warmth. I hadn’t been away for that long, roughly over a year, but what greeted me on arrival (apart from lovely smiles and grown up babies) was the pre-winter chill I had completely forgotten about.

From this week at ‘home’ I deduced that we acclimatise to our current surroundings, subtly influencing our weather muscle memory (which is definitely not something I just made up). We buy clothes to adapt to our new surrounds, we use heaters in a way our mother would never have approved of (“just put on a jumper”), we know what it means to include parsnips in our diet and we begin using the new weather vernacular common in our adopted home. Sounds obvious, I know, but when we become used to our new environment we seem to forget the one we were formally familiar with, which stands in complete contrast to our ownership of it when we return.

My newly developed home time weather ignorance made me think about what else surprises us on a return visit to the family abode. Is it the greying hair on our parents? (Damn straight. They don’t call my Dad ‘Richard Branson’ for nothing. And by ‘they’ I mean my brothers. ‘They’ also call him Old Man Winter. Poor guy). Is it the fact that there’s a new dog on the scene to replace the one which died 2 months ago, a small piece of news every family member thought they’d told you but didn’t? (Yes. See aforementioned ‘checking in’ on the new dog…) Is it that your brothers now showcase a commanding physical presence but still refuse to pack the dishwasher or be designated driver? It’s all of the above and everything else, the small changes that develop in an environment which, in essence, always feels the same.

So besides knowing I’m not winning a packing room prize anytime soon, this climate change made me feel a little more distant from my home. Not in a bad way, in fact it was almost in a more inviting way. It’s like there’s still more the ol’ hometown can teach us, and that maybe, just maybe, there’s a local veggie pasty on offer better than one you discovered 10 years ago.

Adelaide tomorrow, I’d actually be okay with open toed shoes and Basil* certainly won’t be needing his puppy jumper…

* Not an actual photo of Basil, but close enough.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Smug in the sun.

I’ve recently been introduced to a little habit called the ‘humble brag’. The humble brag is a not so subtle way of big upping yourself, whilst being seemingly self deprecating or modest. For instance: “Oh, my pants keep falling down, I really need a smaller size…” or “It was SO awkward being hit on in the line for the chemist. I mean, I was buying tampons, come on guy! Enough!” The humble brag is like the backhanded compliment; its real intentions have a little more sting than the actual pointy end.

The weather “humble brag” happens when we’re on holiday. In order to have the best holiday ever we need weather so good it mocks everyone still at work. If we’re offered what we believe is our Mother Nature given right we need to ensure we don’t LOOK like we’re bragging, so soften the brag blow with a complaint/whine. Facebook is the perfect vehicle for this: “Trying to relax in the pool at resort in Fiji, but the couple next to us keep arguing about what they’re ordering from the bar. UGH”. Or “Wow, jogging in the Caribbean in 29 degree heat is SO much harder than at home. I’m in pain. SADFACE”. This will often be accompanied by a photo of said gorgeous beach, with an ice cold beer placed strategically in foreground.

The Guardian newspaper wasn’t quite this humble about their weather bragging last week. They probably could have added a pinch of that to the smugness they dished up when delivering these headlines…

Yep, England has been sunny. Like, unseasonably sunny. So sunny that you suckers who chose to chase the probable Easter sun in Spain, SPAIN!, are un-English, have no faith in your country’s ability to produce golden rays and are probably a little bit simple (that’s what I read in the subtext. You?) Reporters and punters alike have been unable to contain their smug, English pride in the glowing weather and have been grabbing the back of necks left, right and centre for a good old fashioned nose rubbing. I’ve deduced that the English become SUPER smug about nice weather because their normal expectation is something altogether different. It’s like when you take a long haul flight and find yourself uncomfortably seated next to a sick, cranky baby, but then the baby ends up being drugged and sleeping the whole time and it has a hot single Dad who doesn’t want his desert so gives it to you and it’s the first class dessert because they ran out of economy sludge and you look like you deserve the best and they’re playing four movies you haven’t seen but really wanted to and you also sleep for 14 hours. That kind of surprise event.

This past Friday, when a certain WEDDING event took place, weather watchers were so focused on predicting the exact second, weight and dimensions of the rain which would most definitely fall and how it’s watery presence would RUIN EVERYTHING that when a sliver of sun oozed out during the unveiling of the newly married couple, warming their faces for the ENTIRE duration of the open coach ride, disaster (people were using this word in all seriousness) was averted. The commentary (and I’m paraphrasing here, mostly because I cannot be bothered sifting through photos of Beatrice and Eugenie’s head creations to find the actual quote) went a little something like this: “Here are the royal couple, stepping out of Westminster Abbey, and now, as expected, out comes the sun. It’s chosen to shine on this incredible celebration, as if Mother Nature herself is showering the royal union with her very own gifts. What a truly amazing British day”*. A little smug in the sun, England?

Whether you approach it with humility or not, I like giving the weather credit for making a nice day. It’s also quite fun to have something that other people don’t. So did England deserve the bragging rights for turning it on over the past few weeks? Damn straight. Now can you believe I have to leave all this and get on a really long flight to Australia next week? Ugh, my life sucks.

London tomorrow, seriously the idea that London is grey and rainy is a misnomer. Cold? Yes. Raining? Um, nearly never…

* This is a gross misquote and is actually much more poetic than the original commentary. I just can't help but use effusive language when talking about the weather, I thought you knew that about me.