The Confusion of Dips A.K.A. Making a Lasting Impression

There are five people living in my flat and every so often one of them moves out.  When this happens the great flat mate search beings where we hunt London for the person to make our flat whole again.

This involves a bizarre speed dating night where around 12 people come by our specially cleaned flat and sit with us for 15 minutes as we terrify them.  These people are selected from a large group of applicants based largely on whether I know what their job is or not and the movie they say they would show for a flat movie night.  If they say a Vince Vaughn movie they are automatically ruled out.  If they say Mrs Doubtfire, a weird art-house movie or Game of Thrones (even though it’s not a movie) they are automatically in.

Things start our nice and  calm and normal as we introduce ourselves and ask questions about them.  By about person 6 we have lost our minds and are generally just talking amongst ourselves and swapping jobs when they ask.  It’s a fun wild night that leaves you exhausted and normally results in a new person who thinks we are crazy in all the right ways moving into our little world.

Normally.

This time we are about to do our third night of viewings, it usually only takes one.  Night one ended with us hating everyone.  Night two ended with us wanting to live with two people who didn’t want to live with us and another couple that were a maybe.  Maybe isn’t really good enough when you are inviting them into your home based on a hurried 15 minute conversation full of polite conversation and delirious in jokes.

So for the first time int he history of the house we are about to do night three. I normally get quite excited for these nights, im not so much for this time round.  The blame for the need of three nights can be placed on a girl I’m going to refer to as Sami.  She came into our lives like a loud whirlpool of energy and broke us.

Because we are trying to be good hosts we provided a few snacks for the guests.  Some crisps, dips and a few mini eggs, it is nearly easter after all.

This selection confused Sami.

Upon seeing the dips she asked what they were.  We told her they were dips for dipping things in.  She picks up a chocolate egg and looking concerned goes to dip it in the dip.  We go to say no, don’t do it.  She said ok, but I kinda want to.  We say go for it.

She does it.

It tastes terrible.

We loose our minds.

Whoever came after that was just a blur really, we spend the rest of Sami’s 15 minutes barely holding it together as she instantly became the ‘Egg Dip Girl’ who also couldn’t remember how many Tinder dates she goes on.  She will forever be in our hearts and minds completely unforgettable, but in no way someone you wanted to live with.

Everyone from the first night couldn’t complete with her impact, the people on night two just seemed dull by comparison.  Sami wanted the room and a small part of us wanted to say yes just to see what would happen.  It would be disastrous, hilarious, but disasterous.  We would hate her, she would keep us awake, we would regret our decision, but we will forever be curious as to how quickly she would burn the flat to the ground.

I feel this is the same thinking that got Trump elected.  Fortunately we were wiser in this instance, but just think of what could have been.

Rogue Seal vs Death

I don’t have alot of friends, I’ve never been that good at keeping hold of them, as I move through each stage of my life I struggle to bring relationships with me.  I’m too comfertalbe being on my own and being on the sides, not good a putting myself out there, happy to be forgotten, to be good at maintaining friendships.

When I moved to London I knew noone and it forced me to get over that comfertable independence.  No one was going to take me under their wing and guide me through this mass of people, I had to figure out how to be semi normal and quickly.  Part of that was entering the world of online dating, not only to find a boyfriend, but to meet people full stop.  It was way beyond me to meet friends in a bar, or however you’re supposed to do it, so dates was a way to get me out of the flat and start living.  And as a result the only friends I’ve made not through work or the flat are poeple I’ve met via online dates, as strange as that may be.

One of those friends messaged me this week that his mum was very close to death and only had a few days to live.  This is not a situation I’m socially equipped for.

I’ve met him a total of three times.  The first time on a date where I kissed him at the end of the night.  The second time on a date where he told me he didn’t want to date me but wanted to be friends.  The third time we went to an art gallery and had lunch.  So not a long history, but I still count him as a friend even as I remained perplexed as to what makes an adult who has lived in London his whole life decide he wants to be friends with the guy he had a date with and then actually follow through on it.  The act of bringing on adult friends is rare, it takes alot of energy to bring somone new into your life, if you have a circle of friends its big to meet somone and welcome them into your life.  I’ve never asked him what led him to this decsion, I think about it all the time, and appreciate it every time I do.

But now his mum is dieing.  This makes me unbarably sad.  I’m terrible in sad situations.  I feel that half the time I’m in a serious conversation I have a wierd smile on my face.  I’m obviously not happy but its just an instinctual response, my body just panics and decides the best course of action is to grin, and somtimes emit a laughing noise.  Its one of the many things that make me socially awkward.

The majority of my friendship with him has been farcicle joke based.  The main reason we met up was because when we were chatting online I got wierd, as i always do, and he decended to my level of weirdness without hesitation.  The conversations we have a sarcastic and ridiculous, dead pan and hilarious.  Most of the messages I send him are New Zealand news story related, serious issues like loose seals, a girl riding a cow like a horse, or Canadian cat smuglers.  You know normal everyday New Zealand news which is 90% animal based.

But now those messages are inapproriate.  I don’t know how to say comferting words, either in person or via messages.  I end up talking in gerneal platatudes, the same things that everyone says, thinking of you, call if you need anything etc.  This is because I know there is actually nothing I can do.  This sucks, its one of the worst moments in someones life and there is nothing at all i can do or say to stop it, to minimise it, to help it.  I, like everyone else in his life am powerless against the forces of time and nature, the words i’ve said to him will have been said by everyone else, people who know him so much better than i do.  My animal stories are powerful, but nowhere near powerful enough to defeat death.

I know that when it happens for me there isn’t anything I could be told to help and the reality is that this momment is quickly coming all the more closer as an event of trauma for me to survive.  The ineveitablity of the death of my own parents is the though that I can’t remove from my mind when I talk to him.

The fact that I live on the other side of the world makes it all the more painful.  If somthing happens I can’t get there quickly,  I cant rush accross town to be there in a moment, I have to fly.

For 24 hours.

One day I will get a phone call that one of them is gone, or that one of them has been given a terrible diagnosis.  And i will have to drop everything and go there and spend that entire flight regretting the fact that I wasn’t there for them more in their final years.

Its the one and only thing I dislike about living in london.  I know I have to be here because its better for me.  I’m happier, I’m more comferatable, I like the person London makes me and I don’t like myself in New Zealand.  But knowing I’m not there for the people who made me and who raised me, that made me the person that was able to come to London and be taken into its arms hurts.  Hurts a hell of a lot.

I don’t like that when I think of my friends pain I turn it into thinking about my own future pain, that I turn his current real hurt, into my imagained, but i can’t help it. I can’t begin to know the darkness he’s going through, and the only way I can process it is by thinking about the hurt that I know is coming.

So now I wait, he needs time, there is nothing I can do in these moments that others he know far better cannot.  But while I wait I check the New Zealand Herald for news.  Ridciuous news about sheep and whales and goats and just the general wierd and wonderful people that make New Zealand.  Becasue while the rest of the world is involved in grown up issues New Zealand is just there doing it own thing giving me links and articles to stockpile ready to dispatch at a moments notice when the time comes when he is in need of some nonsense.

Bewildered Observer

The Pilfered Paperclip 

I am now in possession of the worlds most beautiful paper clip. How it came into my possession is a tale of theft, misinformation and architectural wonders. A tale to be told for generations, but first the paper clip itself. Just look at it:

Here it is again:

And once more for good luck:

It’s just an elegant piece of design. Its copper colouring, its subtle little bends, its longer than normal length, the way it clips paper. Just looking at it makes me happy. Good design makes me happy, there is something just joyful about discovering finding an object that does its job functionally while also being pleasurable to look at.
This paperclip doesn’t fasten paper together better than any other paperclip but the mere fact that it looks better give the things it hold more importance, more weight. Like this is a paperclip of note, the things that it secures should reflect that.

I actually do not own anything worthy of this paperclip. This makes ownership of it slightly stressful. It needs to be used or else it’s not doing its job, fulfilling its destiny. It needs to be seen or else the world will not know its beauty. But I have no documents of world interest which need to be collated. Its currently holding the papers it came with in an envelope on the floor. This is sacrilegious. Thoughts of it consume my mind, nagging me to help it reach its full potential.

How did I come to become the guardian of this entity I hear you ask? Well let me detail the caper.

Twas a radiant summers day in London, the city was alive in the magical way it does on those rare long hot days. It was a Monday afternoon, my weekday day off, not a day that a crime is expected to take place. The city is supposed to be mine to do with as I please, but it isn’t. the parks are full with people inhaling the sun on one of the 14 days it shows its face. They should be working. I don’t know why they are not. I ignore them. They are not why I’m here.

Its summer so the Serpentine pavilion is up, I love this. It’s like the paperclip, beautiful. Thought has gone into it, it’s a focal point, it brings people there just to exist in a space. It captures the eye and is fleeting, gone by autumn. The paper clip is more functional though. This pavilion encloses space but doesn’t protect from the weather.

As I meander through the pavilion I crave more information about who made it, what influenced them, what it symbolises. As I sit tolerating a terrible M & S sandwich I spy a stand with A4 sized envelopes. I see people picking them up. I assume this is an information pack full of glossy images and inspirational quotes.

I finish the sandwich and move over to stand, not entirely sure I’m supposed to take one so trying to avoid the looks of the attendants. I inspect the stand, there is no sign saying what they are or inviting me to take one. They are larger than I would expect for a free brochure.

I take one.

As I pick it up I see the words on the top of the unit. They are faint and hard to see. As the envelope comes closer to me I realise I’m supposed to be giving a suggested $1 (this should be a pound sign, but my keyboard doesn’t have one) donation. It’s too late to put it back but I don’t want to donate and I see no box to do so in. I take it and move away, knowing I have effectively just stolen from a non-profit arts organisation. I’m a criminal.

I move back to the seats to inspect my prize as though I’ve made a contribution like a conscientious citizen and am enjoying the results. It’s not information about the pavilion. It’s a “Architecture Family Pack: Loose Parts Kit”. Kids are supposed to use all the perforated paper parts to create stuff, and bond as a family unit in the process. Learning through creating. I don’t want this, I’m not going to create something with it, I have no children, it will just sit there cluttering my small room.

But then I see it holding everything together. My prize. I didn’t know it was there but it had been calling me all along.

The paperclip.

I stash the envelope in my bag to keep it all secure and to properly admire once I get home where I head immediately. Its glorious and mine. One day this will be seen as the start of my career as a well-designed objects thief, the point where it all started to go downhill.

I still just sit and admire it, it’s my precious. It needs a name, but no name is worthy of it.

How long this paperclip will be in my possession is up to the clip. I feel it moves about as it pleases, working its way to its destiny of fastening a document of world changing importance. One day it will no longer be mine, I may give it to a great love as a symbol of my feelings or it may be taken from me by a great enemy, or it may be pried from my cold dead hands. However it leaves me and wherever it goes it will be where it needs to be. This is a paperclip that is going places.

930 words about a paperclip complete.

Bewildered Observer

BREAKING NEWS: Ice-Cream of the Summer 2016

BREAKING NEWS.

I have found the ice-cream of the summer 2016.  This is the ice-cream that I will be going out of my way to be in the vicinity of as much as possible over the summer and beyond.

And the winner of the 2016 best ice-cream of the summer is ……..

 

Peach and Prosecco from Udderlicious in Covent Garden.

 

It is beautifully fresh and smooth and light, and all you could want from an ice-cream on an hot summers day.  Congratulations.  Please note this award can be revoked at any time without prior notice should I stumble upon another even more amazing ice-cream before September.

It should be noted that I really really really like ice-cream.  Like my two favourite foods are sandwiches and ice-cream.  Ironically though the ice-cream sandwich, not a huge fan.

The two things I miss most from New Zealand are the fresh fish we used to get from my uncle and the quality of the ice-cream.  As Rachel Hunter so wisely said “you just can’t beat a trumpet”, and its true the cornetto continues to disappoint me constantly simply by not being a trumpet.  It looks like a trumpet, but its ice-cream is of an inferior quality and a lack of thought has gone into the mixing in of the flavours.  Trumpet for the win.

Rachel also said “it won’t happen overnight but it will happen”, truly a fountain of wisdom she is.  We should all try and live our lives like Rachel.

Now as a professional ice-cream connoisseur there are two things that bug me.

Firstly, when you get an ice-cream in a cone and the stick a spoon in there.  I’m obviously getting it in a cone so I can lick it in the way you are supposed to eat an ice-cream.  What am I going to do with the spoon, it’s just creating waste and hinders the licking process.

Secondly when you ask for two scoops and the put the scoop you said second in the cone first.  Clearly if I ask for two scoops one peach and prosecco and one chocolate and coconut it’s because I think I’m going to like the peach and prosecco more so want to eat that one last.  I was right on that one and was unfortunately left with the still delicious but not as amazing chocolate and coconut in the cone.  I feel like as an ice-cream scooping professional they should be able to follow the order in which ice-creams are given, I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but just do better next time.

And those are my concerns with the ice-cream industry, those and the fact that I need an ice-cream parlour much closer to my flat, like halfway between my flat and the tube station would be perfect, is that too much to ask.  I would make it worth your money, I’ve had three ice-creams in three days, and am not looking at slowing down anytime soon.  Now to find an excuse to head back to Covent Garden.

 

*********

On a semi related side note I also discovered the sweater of the summer 2016 today as well.  Truly a productive day it’s been.

And the sweater of the sumer is ………

 

A mesh top made of wool.

 

That’s right it a full sleeve mesh top like you would wear if you were someone who is definitely not me, only instead of light thread it’s made of wool.  Fantastic.  For when a black sweater is the look you always want but it just that little bit too hot and your nipples need to breathe.

Please note, and I cannot stress this enough, I didn’t not actually wear the sweater of the summer, just saw someone wearing it, and high on the success of finding the ice-cream of the summer just decided it needed an award cause its special and you all need a little love every now and then.

Also through the entirety of this post I wrote ice-cream icecream and just went and changed them all cause my page was full of red squiggly lines and that just can’t happen.

 

Bewildered Observer

A Wall Full of Nothing

I don’t really care that it’s your birthday.  Facebook always makes sure I always know but I’m probably not going to post on your wall.  You won’t notice I’m not among the well-wishers.

This is because I almost never post anything ever on Facebook, I’m basically a crotchety old man trapped in this hot young body waiting till the day I can be grumpy and complain about emojis and snapchat and have it just be accepted cause I’m old.  Looking at my wall it’s a few pics from a trip and a check in at a concert.  Also because I don’t really care that it’s your birthday.

However, when it comes to my birthday I expect a wall full of messages from people I haven’t seen in years who are all much more settled and adulty with their kids and backyards and mortgages. I expect to be lavished with praise and congratulations for successfully completing another year by continuing to be alive.  In return I shall like your post.  That is all.

But when it came to this most recent mid-life crisis birthday, there was nothing.

A few texts or Whatsap messages but a wall full of nothing.

It was a little bit unsettling, had all these years of not caring finally caught up on me and my friend list made a simultaneous and unanimous decision to spurn me?  Had I forgotten the date of my own birthday and started checking too early?  Had the internet broken?

All these fears rushed through my head, until I read a message from my cousin.  She wished me a happy birthday and commented that for some reason she couldn’t post on my wall.

Whoops my bad, I had put it on a setting that meant no one could write on my wall full stop so all the thousands of well-wishers weren’t able to send me their heartfelt messages as I entered a new decade of my life.

How it got on that setting was all my doing.  Basically it was because I overthink things too much and wanted to have complete control over what goes on my wall and how all these people I don’t care about see me and judge me.  It was mainly because I moved to London and immediately started being gay on arrival while also finally accepting my mums friend request.  So for a while there were two separate worlds, my London world where people knew I was gay and my home world were people knew cause they guessed but it hadn’t been spoken about.  This duel world lead to a paranoia of someone from London world posting something gay related and my mum and the rest of home world finding out via facebook.  So it went the way of nobody can post anything ever, and for good reason, I’m looking at you guy who checked me into that terrible gay night club with the doof doof music and dark corners whose check in approval is still in my inbox waiting never to be approved.

When I changed to this setting I thought to myself ‘you must remember to turn it off when it gets close to your birthday so you can accumulate all the wishes and store them in a jar’.  Obviously this didn’t happen and I’ll never know how my primary school friends feel about me turning 30, find out who the true friends are and who is just lurking on Facebook to observe and judge.

Post Birthday Wall Drama 2016 I’ve changed the setting so that anyone can check me in anywhere and post away, like my flatmate who posts random videos which my mums friends then comment on.  I care less, because I’m happier.  My worlds are more overlapped, like a Venn diagram of home and London with people who know I’m gay in the middle getting slowly and slowly bigger.  I’m blogging away to the whole world letting my thoughts loose, all be it under a mask of anonymity.

On Facebook I still post vary rarely, but that’s mainly because I don’t think my day to day life is interesting enough to keep the world informed of every detail.  If I post something its because I really love it, find it really cool.  If I comment its cause what you have posted affected me in some way.  If I even like its cause what you have posted is brilliant or moving or just simply sticks its head above the chaff of baby photos and motivational quotes.  I’m selective in what I say, so when I say something it means more.  But still honestly, feel free to wish me a happy birthday, you have got 11 months to work on your post.  I promise you won’t be blocked.

Bewildered Observer

Behind

Behind.

This the word I say more than any other.  Its followed by ‘sorry’ and ‘say again’ because I’m overly apologetic and deaf, but ‘behind’ would take it out by a large margin.  This is because for 9 plus hours a day, 5 days a week I work in a kitchen for a living.  I’m a chef.

A pastry chef to be exact.  This is where everyone asks if I can make them something, what my favourite cake to make is and what I think of ‘Great British Bake-off’.  The answers to which are:

  • probably not, unless you pay me, it’s your birthday, or we are trading job skills i.e. legal advice for apple pie. It’s a good deal, I make good apple pie.
  • I don’t have one thing I make every time as my signature cake like your Aunty Irene’s famous chocolate cake, I’m much more likely to try and be creative, more for me than anyone else, and create something custom and unique. Show of my mad skillz when all you wanted was a plain chocolate cake just like your Aunty Irene used to make.
  • I don’t watch it, not because I’m looking down on it or think I won’t like it, I’m 100% confident I would love it, but there is too much TV to watch and there are things I will like more. No lie, the customs officer checking my visa asked me if I watched the show, no questions about my extensive criminal background just that I really should start watching it.

Why I work in this industry is something I’m currently not as sure of as I once was.  A year ago it would have been because I love it, the energy of the kitchen, the way it leaves you exhausted and shattered in the most satisfying way.  The fact that you get to make things and see exactly what you did with your time at the end of the day.  I love the process of baking, the specific way things have to be done, the precision and patience and the understanding of why things happen the way they do.

These things are all still true, but recently the downsides of kitchen life are becoming less appealing.  Namely the hours.

I’m a bit of a looser, not much social life, so the working weekends, and early starts have never really bothered me before.  In fact is has been an excuse for never doing anything exciting.  “What did you do this weekend?”, “I was working”.  But now it’s starting to wear me down.  There is no escaping it, weekends are the busy days, everyone is there, and if you manage to somehow always get weekends off you lose a bit of respect from everyone else, like you are not working hard enough.

But now I’m in London, I’m happier, I’m more social, I’m dating.  But really who wants to date someone who they can never spend an entire weekend with.  Can’t stay out all night, sleep all morning and emerge for brunch with.  It’s the brunching that is getting to me recently.  Everyone I talk to seems to be brunching.  I have never brunched.  I want to brunch.  The gays I see brunching at work seem to be having a great time.  I want to have a great time.  But I can’t.

This is not to say that I never ever have a weekend off.  If I ask for one I will get it off not problem, no questions.  But I only do that if I have something important to do.  You do occasionally just get random weekends rostered off.  This is gold, a gift from the gods, you must make every minute count not just because you don’t know when you will get another one, but because the entire kitchen, nay the entire restaurant industry is living vicariously through you.  I have not had any of those unrequested weekends off in about 9 months.  The other members of my pastry team have.  This is because I’m the head of the team. And people keep leaving.  Just as you are close to having a fully trained team and be able to get some weekends off, another one leaves and you are back to square one.  So I’m long overdue for a weekend off and live in hope it will happen every time we get a new rota, I’m always disappointed.

Partly because of these hours I’m considering finding something outside of the kitchen.  Something Monday to Friday 9 to 5ish.  Where I can spend weekends with the rest of London, or with a special someone, maybe the Grindr guy I was trading elaborate essays with who I’ve now seen twice, he seems swell and nifty.  But I don’t really know what else I’m skilled at.  I’ve never worked in an office and when I read normal job ads I don’t know what it is they do.  I know how to cook.  And the truth is I do still love it.  It frustrates me and angers me and annoys me, but I love it.  Plus, I get sweet job perks like the trip I’m going on today to see how salt is made. #livingthedream.  So for now I’m in my job feeling all these mixed emotions about giving it my hours, still loving it slightly more than not and still saying ‘behind’ 30 thousand times a day so that if I hit you with a hot tray it’s your fault not mine, because I said behind.

Bewildered Observer

*You’re

I have become dumber since I moved to London.

I came to this conclusion upon realising via Grindr I didn’t know the difference between your and you’re.

It is not possible that I graduated high school and university without using the word you’re, but it feels like a word I’ve never written before a guy I was chatting to corrected me.

Several times.

So many times it made me slightly paranoid.  This guy’s lasting impact on my life is to make me double check a message for correct use of you’re before sending.  Or to follow up with a simple *you’re when I fail.

The feeling of dumbness isn’t just from going my whole life without mastering the word you’re but also just the general feeling of not understanding the cultural history of my new home.

Moving to London was the best decision I have ever made, it gave me a new burst of life, it was exhilarating and terrifying in all of the right ways.  But I have struggled with adapting to the British news narrative.  It has been a bit like starting to read a novel 70% of the way in and then trying to have a conversation about it with someone who has read the whole thing ten times over.

In New Zealand I had grown up with the story, I knew who the players were, who’s important, who’s insane, and who’s just waiting to make a move and take power. I knew that you should pay attention when ever Winston appeared cause shits gonna get entertaining.

Here I knew no one beyond the big brand name characters, the Camerons, Millibands, Johnsons and Farages of the world.  Beyond them it’s a murky mess of not knowing who I’m supposed to dislike and who’s the underdog I’m wanting to go all the way.  Whether I’m supposed to be a Guardian or a Daily Mail reader.

Even worse is my understanding of the pop culture characters.  I have had conversations with many a local about British bands that made it to New Zealand normally as a result of them collapsing in shock at me not knowing who E17 or Take That beyond Robbie Williams were.  Amazing bands like Steps and S Club 7 and 5ive made it my way, but those other two who are massive cultural moments here, not so much.  I never know who the people are on Pointless Celebrities.

Having this gap in knowledge is challenging in conversation, you don’t get the jokes or know how your supposed to react.  Your quotes of “always blow on the pie” or “it’s on the floor” don’t get the reaction they truly deserve.

I’m working on it though.  During the general election last year I had big conversations with dates about how the political system works here.  Learning what’s up with the House of Lords and bits and pieces of the history.  But the political climate at the moment is my big golden opportunity to jump on in head first.  We have a new Prime Minister and a new cabinet on their way so I can attempt to take it all in as the old characters reconfigure to continue the story.  Plus, the whole series of events of it all is simply just so dam fascinating and dramatic you can’t help but be drawn in and my policy researching flatmate is keeping me all up to date on the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

But this doesn’t mean I’ll be giving up on my true news passion, New Zealand news stories.  I’ll take as many tales of rampaging seals, avocado thefts and dildos to the face as they can provide.

 

Bewildered Observer