Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Writing Class - An essay

I’ve met so many amazing writers on my quest to becoming a writer. I started to care less of the end results. It was the people, the community, this other world I belonged to that none of my friends and family were party to, which mostly spurred me on.

The NZ literature community I discovered from the get go is full of smart, funny, humble, generous souls. The fact that I showed a hint of talent may have buoyed their encouragements of the characters I put on the page.
That first character was Lily Max. For me to take time away from young children and attend a week long writing course in Wanaka, even with the hours drive each way was my equivalent of a Polynesian day spa with the full monty hot rock treatment. I’d return home exhausted. Mute. But my brain was a steam engine - all pistons pumping.
I sort of became an annual course-a-holic. Just once a year I’d take my mental-health-week. First up, I attended a picture book making course with the handsome softly spoken author/illustrator Gavin Bishop. I couldn’t draw to save myself so I made pretty collages with triangle shaped people.  It was Gavin’s writing I was interested in. Some of his work retells fairy tales. His version of I was a Crooked Man is the perfect board book for infants. I pasted up a hokey book that week while Gavin read from his own collection. I sent the text to Huia Publishers. My first ever submission. They said they couldn’t look at it because I was white which was confusing because it was about my children who are part Maori. On the second to last afternoon I sheepishly gave Gavin my Lily Max manuscript, asked if he’d mind reading it and scarpered.
‘It’s fun,’ he announced the next day. ‘She’s a bit of a smart Alec. I’ll put you onto someone who writes Junior fiction.’
I spoke to Tessa Duder on the terrace of my brother in law’s house on a sunny Saturday morning looking over a glistening Hauraki Gulf towards the flat triangle of Rangitoto. I’d readNight Race to Kawau. We had oceans in common. This was the start of the generosity of wordsmith strangers. Tessa had already sent me a lengthy email but wanted to discuss it on the telephone. I hung on to her compliments, “You have a great ear for dialogue and the rhythm of language generally, an uncommon lightness of touch…” And was mindful of the massive amount of work to be done. Plotting. Structure. Minor characters. She didn’t like the adult-knowing-in-jokes that were creeping into children’s literature. I secretly disagreed. I liked the subtle nuances that gave something for the child and something for the adult reader.
I was actually on my way north to a weekend writing retreat with Kate De Goldi, author of the sophisticated Clubs picture books, Lolly Leopold and Billy.
Before the course we had to write detailed bios of our characters. Kate said, ‘my firm belief is that good story (in whatever form) grows out of well-realised character’. I found that bit easy. Lily Max was already alive and well. I loved decorating her bedroom and filling her treasure box. It was describing her enemies I found difficult. But a character needs problems. The beginnings of Violet Hughes began.
Arriving at these courses is one bit anticipation/will-I-write-something-okay combined with a huge amount of what-the-hell-am-I-doing I cannot write to save myself and I’ve never met these people before. However, it’s pretty easy to make friends when you spend three days in a remote bushy retreat with likeminded strangers trying to perfect their craft. And the moment I met Kate I wanted her to be my new best friend. Her infectious smile, her bubbly personality and her genuine interest in people are all endearing qualities in a tutor. We all habited minute wooden cabins with walls so thin, at night you could hear the person next door reading. We woke to birdsong and breakfasted in a wood panelled A-frame dining room overlooking kauri and karakas, chickens and an orderly Dutch garden. Next we’d adjourn to a semi-circular conference room.
Kate took centre stage.
She worked us hard. Each set exercise referenced an authorial voice from her childhood. Her favourite novel back then, Father’s Arcane Daughter, E L Konigsburg, 1976, was used as an example of voice. I still have two folders of photocopied book pages with handwritten titles. Along with an impressive alphabetical list of must-read children’s authors from Joan Aitken to Jane Yolen.
While we wrote feverishly trying to conjure sentences that would impress, Kate wrote the 10 pm Question on a fat white Apple Mac. Tapping away with two fingers (if my memory serves me correctly). She explained the story was based on her son coming into her bedroom each night at precisely 10pm to ask a question that was troubling him. Kate read out fresh paragraphs. We felt privileged. Knowing. Once you’ve heard Kate read you never forget the sound of her voice. When I read her touching junior fiction novel, The ABC of Honora Lee, in a firm single bed in my sister’s draughty flat in Island Bay, it was Kate’s voice reading it to me. She says voice (within story) is a ‘revelation of class and culture’. Kate’s voice is theatre.
Kate went for a run each day around four, said it kept her on top of things. I was impressed. I walked. At one lively dinner she told a story of throwing her sister’s handbag out of a moving car during an argument. She also pointed out that my father’s three wives’ names all ended in ‘ee’. Felicity. Marjorie. Hilary. A Freudian fact perhaps but one that I’d never noticed. I learned writers must ask questions. Kate gave so much, but when she’d given enough she’d quietly slip back to her cabin.
We all returned the following year for an editing course. Kate laughed at a couple of my sentences. I underlined them and made sure they stayed. She never gave much else away.
The weekend had been set up by a group I’d joined called Kiwiwrite4kids, the brainchild of Matakana non-fiction writer, Maria Gill and fiction writer, Melinda Szymanik. The group has now disbanded, but it created a great support network of children’s writer friends for me. Along with courses, I’ve attended conferences here and in Sydney. Honestly, if there was a WINZ subsidy for lowly-writer-pursuant-of-the-literary-good-of-our-young-nationals (or bloody-trier) I’d qualify. Nevertheless, the kiwi writing community is a fun, multifaceted tribe to belong to. And it's the grafters - the cool writers and illustrators - who hold the whole thing together. They are the ones who read manuscripts, offered encouragement and kinship, and pretty much kept me going when the glacial pace of the submission process made me want to taxidermy myself. You know who you are! Respect.
Back at the Wanaka Art school I spent a great week with veteran children’s writer, Listener columnist, wit and all round nice guy David Hill. I sold my first short story after his course. And sent off many others after seeking his guidance. Once again I was on the receiving end of the generosity of a professional writer. One morning we did an exercise on description, David described the contents of his fridge and his hostess at the Kanuka Motel. His cheese had crust. I was fascinated how the mundane could sound so … exciting when coaxed into simple detailed layers. I also have to confess I’ve stolen his line - the moon was a pearl button - on more than one occasion. Apologies, David.
I envisioned his motelier in a mauve nylon housecoat with her hair pinned in a French bun, set once a week and wrapped in toilet paper each night (like Aunt Enid use to – true story). I named her Maude. She became a character of mine and reappeared when Dame Fiona Kidman stayed at that same motel and tutored at the school. A class member I’d met before said she felt like a clichĂ© – a middle-aged woman at a writing class. I didn’t consider myself middle-aged in my early forties, so I wrote ‘The Writing Class’ a short story about exactly that. Fiona tried to coax me into reading it at the mid-week show and tell. I feigned children duties but felt flattered. I asked Dame Fiona if she’d written for children. She said she’d tried but she couldn’t. She wrote me a note when I bought her second memoir, I hope you keep writing. I still have it somewhere and often re-read Kate’s early short story collection Unsuitable Friends. It’s an ex Queenstown library copy I bought for two bucks (their loss), she wears a white shirt on the back cover and an impressive shaggy dog haircut. We examined poetry and felt confident to write our own. I wrote about my dad, I should thank Kate for that. One day three of us were discussing how to handle - sex in fiction – Kate who is small of stature, with a kind and earnest demeanour and cropped grey hair came out with something really quite profound. So profound I cannot pass it on. Sometimes what goes on in class, stays in class.
One of my all-time favourite children’s authors Roald Dahl says, when you’re old enough to write a book for children, by then you’ll have become a grown up and have lost all your jokeyness. Unless you’re an underdeveloped adult and still have an enormous about of childishness in you.
We that could be me. Having your own children, or nieces and nephews is also a great trigger to rekindle long ago memories. How you reacted aged seven at the Christmas you got one up on your big sister for the first time. She wanted the Indian squaw outfit in the photo and the wig. But it was mine. All mine. It looks a bit like she might have chopped my arm off as penance. 
A lot of children writers say quite smugly - I always wrote stories as a child. I didn’t. I was silent. Watching. And too busy writing aerograms to the parent I was not with. That expanse of pre-folded pale blue paper is an image that taunts.  Just when you thought you’d got through the weather and school and could lick the bastard down you had another DLE equivalent to fill. Haunting.  I also wrote diaries. Insanely boring diaries with scarcely a hint of emotion just endless lists of what I’d eaten. Where I’d been and with whom but not what I felt and smelt and touched when I got there. No spousal spats. Nothing. Only food. My boarding school diaries are more like confessions of a trapped sporty person bordering on a food disorder. Sadly, because when you decide to write for children you need to find the child you once were.
One October I attended a picture book course on a pre-quake Christchurch weekend with Joy Cowley. She is small with a round face and a wide smile. Her peak creative time is 4am. She gets up and writes in the dark. I get up and let the barking dog out at 4am. My peak creative time is mid-morning. And mid- afternoon. I’ve forgotten to collect the kids from the school bus on more than one occasion. Joy had just written a book on how to write a children’s book. She instructed from its pre-published pages. Over the weekend, she told stories about Roald Dahl. Dahl purchased the film rights on her first novel, Nest in a Falling Tree. She and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at his English country home. Cowley did the most inglorious thing you could imagine … On a warm summers afternoon, after drinking martinis, she vomited in his solar heated swimming pool.
Obviously placated by gin and vermouth Roald was unfazed by this young kiwi womans inability to hold her drink. Only a few peas and carrots floated about*. His pool was heated by solar panels placed over the roof of his office; underneath sweated a moist enclosure where orchids and stories grew. When his actress wife, Patricia Lee had a stroke she said she wanted a budgie. Roald bought fifty. He said they were ‘noisy little bastards’.  He also said children were, ‘noisome little bastards.’ Though it seems those stories change.
Joy Cowley said, when you write for grownups you just do your best writing. When you write for children you need to speak another language, especially to get dialogue correct.
I happily read piles of picture books to my children and loved participating in their language development. This reading no doubt fuelled their imagination. Quentin Blake with his lyrical style, hapless adult characters and wacky illustrations were always a hit. Especially Mister Magnolia with only one boot and Mrs Armitage on Wheels. My son, Jasper at three changed his name to John. Each day for a time he attended to a massive hole he was digging in the side of a bank. When it became cavernous and his little body and spade partly disappeared down it as he worked I asked, Where are you going, Jasper?
I’m John. I’m digging to the other side.
John took the wrap for a lot of things.
Why are you eating dog biscuits, Jasper?
John made me do it.
The second to last week long course I’ve taken was with Owen Marshall. Again it was stimulating, if formulaic. And mostly attended by men. We women, have more fun at these courses. Where else would you laugh like banshees while making up masturbation haikus over chunky cheese sandwiches at lunch time. Still for me to go to courses, as my own writing progressed to the stage where I had my second agent, but was still on the trying-to-get-published-treadmill, just provided the freedom to write. To forget about commodification. To explore ideas. Chip into subconscious memory files. And complete new work. I wrote a short story from the perspective on an adolescent male. I'd never tried that before. It was exhilarating. All the while witnessing the other crazies who habitually attend writing classes. There was this one elderly gent with a hate for his brothers so intent, venom seemed to leak from his pores when he discussed them during a group exercise. The same gent who when it came for the class to read a piece of their work has read the same piece in three different classes. Over three different years. The same guy who attacked a woman in Fiona Kidman’s class for bravely penning a story about her stillborn child. A real course crazy …
I haven’t course-d it for a while. Steve Braunias’ Class of 2011 was hard to top. When he asked why I was there? Simple, I loved his writing. The whole class made it, my eyelids included into, into Steve’s book – Civilisation, Chapter 16 – Wanaka, The Story of Others. Like double-sided tape, impressions made were two folded. I finally worked out how to write a decent non-fiction piece in his class, sold a few pieces, placed in a national writing award and started up my blog – truth is stranger than fiction soon after it. I thought that I’d freelance to support my fiction writing desires after that. Ha ha on that one.
Steve showed us how to interview. Ferret about for ideas, find the backstory, then read body language/clothes/jewellery ask a question and shut up. Steve had found an ex-pro English footballer coaching kids on a nearby sports field after reading the college noticeboard. The guy came in. Sat in front of the class and told us his life story. His fall from grace. With damp eyes. Just a foolish decision in a moment of anger, under the influence.
Steve said he thinks in sentences. Starts writing his article in his head while the tape’s running. It’s no wonder then that his sentences ping and resonate with a clarity similar to the first strike of a beater on a copper triangle. He is a hugely generous guy. A mentor of many writers. Quick witted, sharp, funny and sweary. His expertise of the written word and narrative form, his eagle eye for detail along with his praise and encouragement often makes you do your best work. All that, while churning out 70,000 words per annum himself. Legend. Facts, we always needs facts.
With Lily Max finally in all good book stores my days of attending classes is not over. I’d happily make the trip over the crown range each day for a week if another of my favourite authors signed up to offer their wares. One day maybe I can give something back and offer my story to new writers - 12 and under only. Although, I’m probably more suited to running island retreats.
Next year, I’m planning a writing retreat on Stewart Island. If everyone pulls out at the last minute (like this year) I don’t mind. I know Stewart Island. I’ve cooked up kilos of macaroni cheese in the soft green bowling club building in Oban during school camp. I know how to back a ute laden with camp firewood down the jetty to a water taxi while every worker from the fish factory watches. I’ll wear my white gumboots down to the pub. Ask for a Speights tall neck, a deep fried blue cod dinner and observe.
*I made the bit up about the peas and carrots.
**This essay also appears on my publisher's website Luncheon Sausage Books. It took me ages so I've printed it twice! 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Book Launch Book Launch Book Launch

Come along, munch on a pink cupcake, eat some pink fruit, sup an Out-Ray-Juice, the most pink juice around. Buy a book and get a free bookplate...

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Are You His Gran?

Writers are solitary folk. Books don’t write themselves. They take time. Lots of alone time. So much alone time your arse goes flat and the children cry for their supper. Probably about like a whole winter of alone time.

Then after this redic expenditure of hours in solitary selfish pursuit, crafting your creative imaginings into a printed objet, you must emerge. Put your PR hat on, along with your marketing and sales hat, your hell-YES-I-know-how-to-do-THAT hat and your eager public speaker face hat. All on.

‘Prostitute yourself!’ Mandy Hager offered at the Indie Publishers panel at the Tinderbox Children’s Conference in Wellington. ‘Get a professional author photo done as well.’

Mmmm. Everyone likes an easy buck. But. Standards. The latter I can manage. Then moments before my time of putting on my town clothes and trying to pretend I am not a total fake - even though I made it all up in the privacy of my own tower-office. This.

Me: Can I get a parent pass please?

Her: Do you have a child in the competition?

Me: Yes. (Names child. Meets curious gaze.)

Her: Are you his Gran?

Me: MOTHER. (Actually it was more like - Mother!!!!!! with a what-the-actual-hell emoji)

(It’s fair to say at this point I was dying inside. Yes my hair is white-ish blonde-ish grey-ish, I can and often do look tired due to hooded eyes and under eyebags (thanks Dad). Sometimes my pallor is dull. I can see how you might make a mistake. But my face is not total wrinkle. I’m 51. I’m not a grandmother. I burned inside. I lost my words. I would have given HER an Irish kiss but I am not a violent woman.)

Her: But he’s so young.

(OUCH. Easy does it. This makes me even older, lady.)

Me: He’s twelve.

HER kept talking. Making small talk by way of the apology she could not voice. I did not want to talk. I wanted to pay and LEAVE. I was booking a hair appointment in my head. I needed more yellow blonde. More youth.

My daughter came in. ‘What’s taking so long?’

You and me both. It was a bad start to a good day.

I had to send a simple email. Agree to some copy for the imprint page of my book. I couldn’t decide whether to have a wee at the base building or at my destination, let alone sign off something that would be in print forever. Daughter got sick of waiting. Left.

I gave up. Skied over. I greeted The H. He was talking to some old mates who’d obvs gone for a boy’s day out. Drinking Steinies mid-morning amongst a kid’s event they looked like a bunch of pedos. I went into the cafĂ© and ordered a coffee. It was strong. I got palpitations. Added angst. Got a water. Drank it. I managed to do my work. I went for a ski. By myself. The spring snow was soft, light, springy. A sparkly carpet of microscopic icicles in the sunshine. A stellar rug. God, I love nature. My world was spinning. On the third chairlift ride I patted my jacket pocket. Then I patted every pocket. I had misplaced my phone. I was having my first senior moment. On a chairlift. In the sky. I skied down. I rode up. And looked for my PHONE. Snow moves when skied on. Gone in 30 seconds. Like an iPhone in a snow pack.

My family was sitting outside on a wooden trestle. Eldest daughter called me Grandma. I did not laugh. I sloped inside. Silent. And asked the barista, who was all of 18. Have you found a phone?

Him: What kind of phone.

Me: (nearly kissed him). iPhone 6.

Him:  What’s on the lock screen …

Reunited and it felt so good.

The gran calls wore off after a couple of days. I explained it’d involve teenage pregnancies to validate.

But I kept wondering. If growing old is such a privilege, why are we so afraid of aging. Vanity. It’s impossible to let go our golden time. Our moment. Now it’s just downhill. Flat out like a beetle on its back. My great grandfather lived till 97. One of his diary entries in his later years was a simple inscription – Big Fuck! Two words that still make me so proud. Go him!

Time moved on. Press releases were preparing to woo the major dailies. I booked myself in with a local photographer. Hey, I’ve been headhunted at a pop concert before. I’m okay. For a gran.

In I went. Beautiful she kept saying. Oh that light is perfect. Look at me. Chin up (I thought it was always down). Try not to tense your neck when you smile.

So encouraging I thought. I’m rocking it. If what she saw on her camera’s screen was crap, her face never showed it. Beautiful. 100 times at least.

The pics arrived. 16 selected about of about 600. I looked good. Anyone would. I’d been so air-brushed the pattern on my blouse had faded as though it’d been on a permanent hot cycle swirling in an overdose of Persil automatic for 51 years.

Talk about faking it. But hey, I need all the help I can get. I’m a gran. Just don’t call me Gilf.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Best Friends are Baches

Sometimes I wonder why home owners rent their holiday homes. Oh. Right. Money. Aside from your cash, I think, they'd prefer all out of town guests to be IMAGINARY. Yep. Seen briefly, then vanish leaving only a Pledge worthy shine.

Next time you load the fridge into the chilly bin, throw towels, raincoats, warm coats, walking shoes, polite pyjamas, sun hats, sunscreen, bike helmets, bikes, canned food, WINE etcetera into and onto the car and drive for two and a half hours on a Friday evening you can RELAX. Because on arriving at your spic and span spacious abode you'll be calling the shots. Once you've handed over your dosh, tucked your HOUSE RULES out of sight, you can play a simple game-of-pretend yourself. Bach-bitch. 

Rule One:
To pretend you haven’t been fossicking through their well stocked pantry helping yourself to: loose leaf tea for your morning brew, rice bran oil to fry slices of halloumi to top your two tin homemade organic cannellini baked beans, fresh grind salt and pepper, slightly stale Coleman’s grainy mustard and two Panadol from the silver foiled plastic pouch tucked squarely in front of the ex-butter dish (home of the S&P). Simply replace all items exactly where you found them! Hells bells no one remembers everything!!

Rule Two:
But if you do forget to bring your own sheets - as instructed, borrow theirs. Who wants to sweat between a polyester mattress protector and a polyester filled duvet inner under a two toned brown Dacron bed spread, when you can sweat between pale brown slightly pilled polycotton sheets instead. No one will know. You showered daily and wore pyjamas. Simply: cool those sheets while you're watching some world cup rugby, shake them out and fold them ever so neatly. While trying to remember that how-to-fold-a-fucking-fitted-sheet diagram you once glanced at thinking - stupid waste of time, who actually NEEDS to know that shit. Then stuff those barely used sheets back into the groaning linen cupboard right at the back, under another set, for pressing.

Rule Three:
When vacating - follow to a T the A4 page of cleaning instructions that begins with a long tirade about how lucky you are to be staying in a lovely home for a lot less than you would fork out for a motel because of the generous privilege bestowed upon you: "Self-clean". Rejoice when you open the cupboard under the sink and your chemical free sensibilities are bombarded by an army of cleaning products that could sterilize a small third world country and satiate the most manically OCD of cleaners for a whole lovely long weekend. You grab a cloth, select the Jiff and do your work. You are thorough. You make sure you swipe the bog last. Two sport-support-mums do not a lot of soap scum make in a plexi-glass shower when afforded no soap (and have to resort to antibacterial handwash). One who forgets sheets, and buys last minute feed-fourteen-lasagne and home baking from the deli, is hardly likely to remember. SOAP.

And as you jiff, rinse and dry surfaces as instructed you think it might be a motel next time. A motel where you can leave your dishes (if your inner slob so desires). Where little pottles of uht milk and sachets of coffee and tea will welcome you. Beg you to use them all up and take home the sachets of Milo if you bloody well want to. Where on checking in you’ll receive 350mls of fresh milk. Green or blue? Not a sheet of 150 Cleaning Commandments. A motel where freshly made white sheeted beds and small but fluffy bath towels await you. Along with little packets of soap you'll rip open and happily lather with. Little soaps that will dry and cling to the side of your sponge bag until you go back to that spacious sunny holiday home …

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Mirena and The Menopause - a twisted tale

You can laugh all the way down the feminine product aisle for five happy years a time until you get your letter. White. A5. Typed … Your name has appeared on our Mirena IUCD recall list.

You read it out to the H.

Who replies, ‘Don't you have two?’

You look at him like he's a complete twit. Because. Hello. Where have you been keeping that SECOND one? Only one uterus per person. That is the rules.

Unless your intrauterine device has mutated. Oh that’s what that intermittent throbbing pain behind your left ear all day has been. It’s a new born. Gynaecological sci-fi has taken place. You’re gonna be world famous in Southland again. The woman that spawned an IUD baby. Behind her ear. Magic.

You make to ring your practice nurse as advised. Only the new phone system at the med centre now only allows you to speak to the nurse on duty so you have to tell THEM your problem. When all you want to do is talk to SHARON.

All the while you are wondering - my time flies. And why have I had no warning that my supersonic Levonorgestrel releasing machine was powering down. No spotting, no mini cramps. No urges to maim or kill. The H.

I thought some more ... Am I post-menopausal? Have I CHANGED? Gone through to the other side. Has an oestrogen holocaust taken place without me even knowing? I do have regular night sweats ... I thought that was mostly due to my extra Fairydown Espresso blanket in duck egg blue and the 7 kilogram/3 foot cat who insists on spooning me nightly. I have been suffering bouts of quite profound anxiety of late. Oh yes and sleeplessness. But as soon as I take Vitamin B12 and Blackmores Herbal Sleep tabs I get some relief. My face does not flash or flush. Nor do I become drenched in sweat thrice daily. Or forget EVERYTHING.

Sharon calls back, ‘You can just leave it IN.’

‘Leave it? Hasn’t it run out of hormones? Won’t it do me harm? Left in situ?’

‘The Mirena manufacturers recommend removing them after five years. But we advise a lot of women to just leave them. Especially if you’re perimenopausal.’

The ovaries were in my court. I had no idea what to do.

Long silence ... ‘Is there a blood test I can do, to know where I’m at? You know peri, during, or post.


I book in. A needle prick was starting to seem so ... simple.

The day I go in a bearded guy is sat in the waiting room. He holds a bulky box of (obviously free) Durex in his hand and covers them with his blood test request when he senses me staring. I doubt his was a hormone screen. Randy young thing.

I waited over the weekend. Waited til Tuesday then left a long message on the nurse line. For SHARON.

A nurse (I'll call) Anne rang me back. Giggled quite loudly and announced, ‘You’re definitely POST-menopausal.’ 

As though I’d just won Powerball.

Not really funny cos it felt more like a big hairy slap in the face. Bam! I mean, hey thanks for letting me in on the action. Ya know. What am I to you down there? Chopped liver. You had-it old marbleised ovarian maze - how dare you shrivel up and leave without saying goodbye.

‘I’m only young. I’m 51. And a half.’

‘It’s happening to women younger and younger nowadays. I’m seeing more and more post-menopausal women in their forties.’

Crikey am I part of a female hormonal-exodus-pandemic. I know women in their forties still trying to have babies. What about them? It’s all those dairy cows in the MacKenzie country. All those poor four-legged docked ladies forced to produce bairns and milk year round in exchange for over fertilized, over irrigated verdant pasture and getting up in the dark ... It’s something in the water …

I needed solace. I turned to the Net. For pities sake. A woman MUST have blogged about this … this strange phenomenon of not knowing what’s really going on. INSIDE. I’m in tune with my body ...I practise yoga at least once a month. Results: nada.

Is it happening earlier because we’re having children later I pondered? I produced my three babies aged 34, 36 and 38 respectively. Clipped my ticket - one way to Pussy Pensionville. Please.

I resort to typing the dullest words I’ve ever written ... average age menopause nz and discovered I’m AVERAGE. Bang slap on the button - 51.6. God I’ve been average my whole life. Couldn’t I be above average. Just once.

That night The H and I drank champagne. Celebrated what exactly I’m not sure. Just sometimes WINE. I told my daughters. My sister. My mum whose reaction was a bit odd, like she’d forgotten I'm over twenty.

I checked my jowls in the mirror. I’m on to you I thought. I know why you’ve sagged. Perhaps Prematurely. I wished I’d chosen to have the brown spots on my jawline IPL’d at another time. Not four days prior. Having sloughing skin akin to thick fly poo on your face (which will not be disguised by any amount of makeup); along with half the sparse prairie of your right eyebrow missing due to zapping a spot there too, all the while grieving the end of your oestrogen making mechanisms DOES NOT HELP.

But hey, don't bother googling menopausal this or menopausal that or menopausal vagina, lady friends because I’ve pretty much researched the shit out of this topic for you. And you know how they say you should never read medical guff on the internet - well you shouldn't. It's grim. It will make you weep, weep some more and most likely write a list. Because you'll be needing lube and moisturizer. Massive tubs of the stuff apparently. Good god. Actually, good god, vagina! Yep, as soon as your toosh hears the words POST it’s gonna pretty much pack its trunk, catch a camel train and head on out on a Saharan safari … 

Just looky here and you’ll discover that once all the lovely oestrogen making vibes stop your fan wah might also suffer a thing. A thing which has its own medical term: Vulvovaginal atrophy. Even spellchecker laps it up. Shut the front door, and check out the pretty pink diagrams! Squeee. Snakes alive, not only does your foo foo take an outback sabbatical, if you abandon it completely according to the literature it’s goodbye Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe hello 3-door electric. 

Talking of vehicles, I had a farmer mate who fondly called his ute – The Uterus. A personalized plate now that could be cheering. Sadly every variance of uterus was taken, except UTERON. Just no. Us uteri have grammar standards even if travelling gynaecologist salesmen flogging oestrogen pessaries don’t.

My advice IUCD users, for what it’s worth is - keep that Mirena in, if advised to do so - you may go through to The Special Club … and be none the wiser.


For more facts and less emotion on Mirena this.

**(The average age of a first time mum in NZ: 30)
ps. I just pinched that pic from the Net. I have no idea who Louise is but, thanks a bunch.

Monday, 19 October 2015

How To Be Invisible When You're a Teenage Billet

I can forgive the shyness of youth: lack of self-confidence, out of one’s zone, away from one’s tribe. But when is shyness just plain old bad manners, lack of etiquette; being an ignoramus of the airs and graces required to get by in this world. Socially.

As a parent I’ll try anything. Once. Recently I hosted two teenage billets. I deducted, after four days, shyness is: mostly-trying-not-to-be-a-bother. Mostly.

How to make yourself  invisible and other stuff when you’re a teenage Billet:

1.       Do not respond effusively to any landmarks of significance pointed out to you while driving around the picturesque countryside from activity to activity with your host. In fact, best only to make remarks in a low voice to your co-billet in the back seat should the urge arise.

2.       Do not under any circumstances get out of the car when taken to see something as dull and interesting as a crumbling historic homestead surrounded by heirloom spring flowers. Remain in the backseat and eat your ice cream like good children. Wait patiently while your host gets out to snap a pic of the springtime ambience. She might look like a nong tip-toeing through the tulips, but she can’t see you either. The windows are tinted.

3.       Learn the map of the house ie. the direct route to your bedrooms – through the blue door at the front of the garage door, down the hallway. Never deviate from this route when in transit, vacating or returning to your host-house. The views are pretty shit in the country, who’d want to walk on front lawn and look at them, let alone scramble down a private track to the river. Did I say shit. I meant SHIT.

4.       Only speak when spoken do. Do not try and create conversation of any kind with your host unless you use, ‘Toast’. ‘Where are the cups?’ Or ‘We’ve run out of toilet paper’. As conversation starters while being served breakfast. Please. Just keep it to yourself. This is actually a four day silent meditation retreat with sightseeing and a bit of sport.

5.       Avoid at all costs a family meal. At home. Best get clean away and spend time with your school mates. In town. Sucks meeting new people anyway. Especially those who might put you up for a night or two when you rock up on your gap year in the middle of the ski season. They’re probably arses anyways.

6.       Do not use your host’s name when saying endless thank yous for drop offs. Or at any time. Total giveaway that there are two teenage strangers in the house, living in the resident teenage children’s bedrooms currently bunking in the living room. Unless of course you want to go to TOWN again.

7.       If you get spoken to for not getting the bus home as planned after that last evening trip to town. Make sure you message your group chat straight away. WTH. The billet is always right.

8.       By the following day you’ll find boutique chocolates and a scented candle are real levellers. Witch hunt complete. You really did have a nice time. Looking back. And you need one last favour. A taxi to the airport.

9.       This host home is now invisible also. Black listed. They may never billet again. They know your names. They’ll probably forget them. But their children won’t ...

I've thought a lot about these teenagers, their families, their home life. Maybe they learned something about themselves. About the company of strangers. I know my children did. And we ate barbecue for a week!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Namaste, Cleaning Monitors

If you are the Cleaning Monitor in your home you might return your palace to its gleaming newly erected self once or twice a week. Lucky you. Or you may have a more erratic janitorial approach if preoccupied with other pressing matters like the care of an aging father, and delivering a book baby. All the while secretly hoping one of your slobby flatmates might suddenly recall where the vacuum cleaner lives –

Mrs Nilfisk
Behind the Blue Doors
Under-stair cupboard

And take charge. They don’t. So when the dust bunnies knit themselves a scarf along the skirting boards that would make Nom D proud you shriek in disgust. This place is a tip.

Instead of going skiing - because it’s another beautiful frosty morning in Queenstown and it snowed 5cms last night - you embark on a cleaning frenzy. You dust, you vacuum - with the pipe only like a crazy nesting woman. You use a whole can of Murray’s Cavalier Bremworth Dry Stain remover on the yellow blobs all over daughter 17’s once plush grey carpet, repeat three times while enjoying a chemical high. You mop the polished concrete floors. You scrub the dunnies. You fold washing and PUT IT AWAY.

Your lower arms and triceps ache. You perspire, kick off your slippers and strip to your merino singlet. Whoop whoop! Who needs to ponce about at the gym enveloped in Lulu lemon. Clean-yo-house is the latest craze-ercise. Tone those batwings and get yourself some satisfaction, Cleaning Monitors!

Talking of monitors, my 81 year old dad is the self-appointed recycling monitor at his rest home. I've watched him attack a cardboard wrapped mini fridge sized package with the zing of a child undressing presents on Christmas morning. And like that child, he has no care for contents. Only wrapping. Plastic is ferried to its rightful bin, followed by cardboard squares carefully cut with scissors to theirs.

His dexterity makes me proud. Still using his hands now he has no daily chores to attend. For 38 years he prepared his breakfast each morning, and delivered his partner a tray in bed. Latterly, the boiled egg may’ve been missing. Or the spoon. But the small Bodum of coffee was always made. Never broken. The few times I took his partner’s place and cared for Dad at home, the exact same tray was laid out for me.

The day before Dad was legging it down the drive when I drove up. He’d managed to push a chair over to a 1.5 metre, key-padded gate, reach over to the handle on the other side and release himself. I was proud again of his escapist spirit. His wanderlust. Incarceration be damned. The staff’s running a Breakout Sweepstake with another resident who’s memorised the gate code. So far the other guy’s winning. Come on Dad!

But it’s actually quite a dangerous pursuit for an old guy. Brittle bones, brain in a whirr, what with falling and all. Clearing the garden of magnolia seed heads and biffing them over the fence is a safer option.

‘You got a potato patch under those nails, Dad.’

It is the games of children now. The unwrapping. The giddy excitement of a chocolate biscuit. Ooh could I have another, a different one. A buttered scone and three lettered scrabble. Picking fluff off the carpet and pulling the curtains after lunch.

He made it all the way to the main road last month and headed north.  A frail leggy homing pigeon, shoulder sloping heavily to the left, a mop of badly trimmed white hair on a road to nowhere.  No prison stripes though. He’s sartorial almost in his camel corduroys, brown brogues, blue checked shirt, and soft green v-necked sweater. A similar shirt and sweater combo he insists on wearing under his pyjama top each night. Well, he is the Recycling Monitor.

Come Monday this Cleaning Monitor will be donning her Lulu lycra and heading to yoga. The dust bunnies can boil themselves into a rug of dog-hair-felt for all I care. This CM needs to restring some sinews; take her body through a meditation. Plank. Cobra. She’ll be downward doggy dogging it all the way to the best part. Shavasana. Then prostrate, eyes shut, hands on belly in simple silence. For a moment – a five minute moment – she’ll be somewhere else …

She’s in a bare apple tree on a sunny winter’s morning. She’s a baby bird sitting on a branch. An old tui clambers in and drinks sugar water. Then a bellbird. A waxeye. A tomtit. A yellow eye. It’s Noah’s flippin aviary arc in that tree. Sound comes. It could be whale music, it’s calming. No, it’s birdsong - lobble lobble lobble click scrick click. And feathers on feather. Scriffle scruffle. The air is crisp. She breaths it down. Squinting now, the sun burrows into her irises. Warms her wings. A heat she wishes north … 

She'll recall a conversation.
He says, ‘It’s wall to wall rain up here.’
‘The grey makes you feel gloomy doesn’t it.’
‘Yes, there is a certain sort of feeling like that on top of it.’

... But her sky radiates royal blue. The best colour. It covers the land ...

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Buy Books

It was Friday afternoon - I strolled along Camp Street to the ASB bank. On the doorstep, a middle-aged Maori dude, with a full face tattoo and black Dirty Dog wraparound shadze, was selling books. He looked friendly, not imposing. I stopped and picked one up.

“TRUE RED, The Life of an ex-Mongrel Mob Gang Leader”.

A younger version of himself was on the cover. His hair and beard have turned salt and pepper, a bushy brown pony tail was just visible.

‘You must be the author?’

‘Co author.'

‘You’re a long way from home, I grew up in Hawkes Bay.’ (Home of the mung-ie mob, as we used to call them.)

‘You on holidays then?’

‘No, I live here.’

‘Poor you,’ he chuckled.

‘What’s your name?’

‘Tuhoe,’ he said, through inked lips. He lifted his shades and greeted me with soft eyes. ‘What’s yours?’


‘Plain Jane!’ he chuckled again.

‘Thanks a lot.’

‘Where’d you live in Hawkes Bay, I boxed in Waipukurau?’

‘All over. Onga Onga, Takapau. We were farm managers. Waipukurau. Wanstead. I worked in the Freezing works in Takapau once. Stuck out a bit.'

‘I bet.’

I skim read the inside front of the book. ‘Did you have a ghost writer?’


‘How much is your book?

‘Forty five dollars.’

Jeesh, I would have whistled then if I could. I know books, how much they cost to print. Maybe he had to pay his ghost writer, bulk, like those All Black books. ‘Have you heard of Jarrod Gilbert? He wrote a book about New Zealand gangs. "Patched". It won an award.’

‘Yes, I’m in his book, but it’s all summation. This is the real thing,’ he tapped an inked finger on his book. ‘It’s from the heart.’ He pumped a thick fist onto his chest.

‘I’m publishing a book before Christmas,’ I blurted out. ‘It’s a children’s book. It’s ultimately about believing in yourself,’ I explained before he felt obliged to ask.

‘So’s mine.’ He opened the book and read out a random passage that genuinely needed some Steve Braunias editing.

‘I’ll take one.’

He signed my copy with a blue Bic and his un-inked right hand. Tuhoe Isaac. Best wishes. 14.8.2015. He took my $50 and reached into the bumbag strapped tightly across his bulk for a five dollar note.

‘Can I take your photo? I’ll put you on my twitter feed. Might get some publicity for your book. Help sales.’ (yerp with my massive following of 360).

‘Sure,’ he said, and shuffled slightly taller and posed like an important tribal chief might. ‘I’ve got to get in touch with my co-author soon. We’re writing another book.’

‘Cool, good luck with that.’

‘Yeah, good luck with yours too. Kia ora.’

On the way home I collected a friend’s daughter. ‘Oh I bought that book about six months ago,’ she said.

‘Did you? What did you pay? He charged me 45 bucks!’

‘I don’t think it mine cost that much.’

I read the inside front cover. First printed 2007.

Eight years ago. Time flashed forward. I had a vision – of my 59-year-old self, sitting on the cobbled pavement outside the ASB Queenstown, on Friday afternoons, sat on a collapsible picnic stool, invisible behind wrap around shadze with reflector lenses, selling remaindered Lily Max books for $50 apiece.

I hope it doesn’t come true. Then again, too bad if it does. 

Buy books people. That’s all I can say. Buy books!

Friday, 14 August 2015

When and If - About Time

When you’ve written a book and done final edits you will find yourself doing final final edits. At the same time you will most likely develop INSOMNIA. Well, a version of. You can go to sleep, but you will wake any time from 1, 2, 3 or 4am onwards. Worrying about any number of things, like how to organize a book launch, what to wear to a book launch and what to SAY at a book launch. As well as how to fix that re-worked sentence that just doesn’t seem quite right. Yet.  Moreover, WILL THIS BOOK EVER BE FINISHED.

No matter, because when you’re awake in the middle-of-the-night it’s the perfect time to take your iPhone under the covers and check your emails from your illustrator, going about his arty day in Barcelona. However, when an hour and a half has passed you might find yourself looking at your facebook, twitter and Instagram feeds hoping your eyes will get really tired and send a message through to your brain along the lines of - go the fuck to sleep.

If you are the nominated Supper Monitor in your home, sometimes you wish this wasn’t so. Times when you are frazzled, knackered, anxious, oh and preoccupied with finishing that exciting thing which has paper and a spine and YOUR name on the front. You might say out loud at 5.30pm, “I’m going to school interviews, we’re having steak and potatoes,” and nod towards the bucket of freshly dug early potatoes. The ones the seed suppliers stated were not keepers, but have been preserved for months deep in the potato patch under a crust of frozen earth. At the same time, you’ll send a telepathic message, ‘roasted would be nice, garden salad also.’ Upon your return at 6.55pm you might be greeted with a cheery, “What would you like me to do with the potatoes?”

WTH. No mind, The H is on overdrive too. Organizing an event. A series of events in fact, ultimately celebrating a friend and a hero. Youth and life. You sip a black ale. Peel and chop and microwave those Murphy’s for 4 minutes, mop up all the ju ju they expel, drizzle them with olive oil and rolled rosemary and blast them for 20 mins in your preheated oven. Fry the steak, toss the salad and serve. Because YOU are the Supper Monitor.

When  you’re trying to get out the door, the following night to the main event, which starts at 4pm and it’s 3.45pm (and you’ve just got home) you might ask daughter 16, to put the chickens away. ‘Don’t get chook poo on your Docs though,’ you warn, as she strides off. Chances are, on her return, she races through every carpeted portion of the house with a fresh avian turd squidged into the tread of her left boot. No mind. After promptly abandoning the house and letting it dry for 14 hours approximately you take the hoover pipe to these khaki heel prints and they come clean away; without having to employ Cavalier Bremworth Dry Stain Remover. (BTW this stuff is brilliant and is marketed by this really nice guy called, Murray.)

If the following day, you find yourself trying to get the next event on time, 20 minutes before departure you naturally decide the time is right to experience the, Dr Lewinn’s Private Formula – Line Smoothing Complex High Potency Mask. The mask that has been waiting patiently beside your basin for well over two weeks. You apply the hydrogel sheets to your face correctly. You allow the potent ingredients to activate as you RELAX. Hurriedly getting dressed and drying your hair. Realizing you must remove the mask in order to draw in the sparse prairie of your eyebrow etc, you whip it off and gasp at the ‘instant smoothing radiance’ your $20 has achieved. You make note to self: will buy again! And apply more carefully so’s not to make MORE creases.

Thankfully the eucalyptus and freesia wreath you felt moved to make for the commemoration service is complete. You grab it and run out the door. Drawing a lipstick line into the fading points of your cupid’s bow in the car mirror as you zip down the road, praying as you do when you pass the mad cat lady’s house (only 46 furry residents at last count) that none of them cross the road at point of passing.

When you reach the quiet gathering of friends and family beside the 20 year old rata tree, the massive rock and the brass ice axe sculpture that marks the climber friend and hero, you’re early. You place the wreath, you’d planned to be small and discreet and which turned out 40cm across, upon that rock alongside the spring posies wrapped in tinfoil. You stand square footed and listen to the tributes, try to imagine that mountain summit. K2. You see a smiling face, a strong chin. You only lean on The H when the Cold Play chorus sings about skin and bone. But for the first time in 14 years you don’t think of your own lost brother. You think only of theirs.

The family plant a kowhai tree. Friends plant daffodil bulbs.

Time moves on. If and when.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Stuff That Any Fool Could Predict

If you go to a ladies luncheon wearing the navy blue slacks you bought from Zara, while on holiday with The H in Sydney after a particularly busy week in which you skipped more than two meals, the fancy creased ankle breezing slacks with gold chinky bits that gave you camel toe a month after purchase, they will look good with your navy blue shoes but HELLO they will still give you CAMEL TOE.**

If you go to the trouble to send back a microscopic piece of over roasted nut bit (I know enough of the ORNB already) to its rightful place: king size chocolate bar quality control department, you may get a phone call from HQ two days after you have returned it in its prepaid courier back which goes like this: “It’s not the right bit… This is the bit from April, we need the July bit.” WTF. Okay, son 12 did take this message but that’s the last time this Ausgustine Gloop comes out of the chocolate factory to assist a market leader increasing its market share. Stuff the free bloody chocolate.

If you have a lot to say but don’t get enough sleep on account of being woken up intermittently during the night due to SNORING. Not mine. It’s possible you could enter your writing in the Guinness Book of Records longest-sentence-with-crap-punctuation-record and win.

If you live in Central Otago and take the rabbit proof guards off your lovely native seedlings which are looking blimmin rambunctious at summers end, because those guards are so plastic-y and brown-y and damn ugly, come July Mr Peter Rabbit and his merry band of mofo munchers will have trimmed your native seedlings back like a mad woman in charge of battery powered weed trimmer. Or an extremely severe 1970s bowl haircut. Take your pick.

Rabbity Fact of the day: "Wild Rabbits gestate for only 30 days, and usually have litters of between 4 and 12 babies (kits), depending on the breeds. Once the babies are born, the doe can mate and get pregnant again as soon as the following day." Looking at the worst case scenario: 12 x 12 that’s 144 kits per year per randy rabbit couples (no calculator was used in that calculation.)

If you have a game of rest home Scrabble with your 82 year old Dad it is likely he will cheat. In the nicest possible way by putting two words down at once. Quite sensibly so, I mean what good is ‘gin’ without ‘mug’ or ‘wine’ without ‘tavern’. He will also be able to assist when you cannot remember if oboe has an ‘e’ on the end? It does.

If you are at a social gathering and someone asks you an open-ended question like, ‘tell us about the children’s book you’re writing?’ It is likely at least one person present eyes’ will glaze over and before you have had a chance to say what your book is about in one Hollywood pitch worthy sentence, they will be showing the room pics of their step daughter giving an elephant an enema in Thailand on their iPhone. ATP you will be thankful because you’ll realize you need to work on that pitch worthy sentence pronto. Hashtag #HowToNotLookLikeADickWhenYou'reAWriter

If you write and complete over days and nights and weeks and months, after fiction edits and beta readers, the above children’s book, because a much awarded and well-respected writer has offered to publish said book under their publishing house this will eventually happen. This year. You might even right now be looking at the FIRST covers prepared by your fabulous and talented artist friend, Gustav from Russia, now residing in a lofty apartment in a picturesque plaza in Barcelona.

I'd do a show and tell, but that would be giving away secrets. And I’m a very secretive person and also very serious in real life. SIRL. So serious, I do not actually write this blog it is someone else. Someone funny. Not me at all.

Oh and ps. If you pop into a vintage boutique in Parnell, on a day so gloomy the sky may have fallen in, in search of something exotic and Haute couture-ish which just happened to be dropped in by a local-Iris-Apfel aged a sprightly 95, you may be rewarded. One early 1970’s Christian Dior silk Escharpes scarf, 20% off today - $69 buckeroos, thank you very much… On arriving home you may jump on the internet and google ‘vintage CD scarfs’ to see just how much you saved off that sweet old lady, because golly everyone loves a bargain right. As you look around you start to get suspicious. Your scarf is not hand rolled – it’s machine edged. It has a logo, yet bits of the C are wonky, and it has no label stating fabric content and where it was made. The print is equally vibrant on both sides. Phew. All the same, 2 out of 3 says it came from a hawker in Hong Kong not the Champs Elysees. Nevertheless, it will look fab with the navy blue slacks if they ever amble out of my wardrobe again...

Because that was July and carbs can now be trusted.

**(NB. Do not google 'camel toe' to find a pic of an actual camel’s foot - you will not find one).

Monday, 13 July 2015

Really Important Shit You Need to Know

·      1.   You will NEVER get the label off a Pic’s peanut butter jar if you soak it. Even if you soak it for days and scrub it and scrub it, put it through the dishwasher then soak it again, finally resorting to scraping that scabby old glue with your fingernails. It will NOT come off. I have many skanky sticky reused glass jars full of organic nuts and ground flaxseeds to prove this theory. However, if you take the time to read the DIRECTIONS (squinting hard, arm outstretched) on your empty jar of yummiest Australian peanuts smashed into a creamy crunchy nutty mess, the ones with the lovely black tops with red-stars-upon-thars, you will discover that by pouring hottish water INTO, not feckin ONto your jar(s), that groovy label will peel cleanly off. Did I say cleanly? I meant without trace. You will even have a nice poem, or a whimsical thought (written by brothers Pic) on the inside of the label to read while you wash the dregs of the nut-butter out of your jar.

·         2. Radio host, film maker and regular good guy, Marcus Lush is currently walking the Otago rail trail. A straight and mostly flat track created for cycling from Clyde to Middlemarch, in July. Mad. Below freezing. Lonely. If you want to follow his pictorial progress of empty pastoral scenes or send him some Jimmy's Pies vouchers or woolly mittens it's @marcuslush #walkingtherailtrail

·      3.   If you are lucky enough to bite into a really hard piece of over roasted almondy nut bit and you make the effort to ring the 0800 number on the back of the chocolate bar the manufacturer will be mighty glad you did. Attention to detail and innovation – that’s why Whittaker’s are conquering the cocoa candy market in NZ. AND have become my go to brand way over and above master of old school and deleter of Spearmint leaves, Snifters and NOW Licorice Alsorts, Cadburys. Whittaker’s bless their forced draft cleaner, de-stoner, x-ray machines, metal detectors, live PEOPLE detectors, plus their New (and no doubt jolly expensive) density-sensitive-foreign-object-rejecting-machine will also send you not one but THREE complimentary king size blocks of choc by way of apology. Plus a nice letter and prepaid courier pack for you to whip the offending particle right back to them. Thank you, Whittaker’s. You rock.
       4.  If you buy a second-hand book from Amazon it may cost a paltry $2.99. Of course any savings are blown away when you add the stupid shipping fee ex US. Disclaimer: I do support and love local bookstores, but their stocks are limited. Anyways, your ordered book will no doubt arrive way earlier than targeted dates suggest and if your ticked supplier was a charity,, it may come with an inscription. A stranger making a personal message to another. This will leave you with a feeling of weird. WTH. Dominique? Ericka with a K? Because the subject of said book is an author/artist working through a very severe depression. It’s funny. Sad. And very real. I of course wondered if Ericka had gifted the book to Dominique because she was depressed. On the verge. And is she okay now? Xmas 2013.  …thanks for being such a great friend! It said. Maybe D hated it. Hiffed it straight into the inorganic collection bin. It was an expensive mis-order on my part – I only wanted it for the pictures.

Tbh I really feel for those living with depression. And wish the world offered better support for them. I fell into a dark hole after each of my three children. I know that. But mine was a hole. A mini culvert, Author of ‘Hyperbole and a Half…’ by Allie Brosh was in a well.

·        5. Male horses, geldings, stretch out all four legs, straighten their backs and lift their tails slightly when they pee. They do this so they don’t get splashes on their hooves. Actually, I don’t know why they do it. And I can’t be bothered typing why do geldings stretch out to pee and sifting through the search results. Soz. I shouldn’t look outside my window when writing fun fact filled piffle for my blog.

·       6.  My newly created health initiative, Low Carb July is quite doable. Although the H was being so thick about whether beer was a carb I just gave up trying to hammer that one home. Roundabout day five. The three eldest members of our family have been enjoying massive veg fest high protein lunches and dinners for 13 days! Okay there has been the odd slip-up. But mostly. I can’t say I am filled with ants in your pants type energy, but I feel smoother. I can see why body builders dis carbs now. Although I note Crystal or is it Krystal*, ex Batchelor contestant now samba-ing up a storm on Dancing with Stars has had to RE-introduce carbs into her diet. Small portions of potatoes and kumara help her remember her moves apparently. I thought it was omega-3 wot revved up our remembering carburettors??? Maybe exercising vigorously in a teeny spangly suit held together with bits of nude tight material assists brain function also. Getting your heart rate up and getting sweaty for at least 35 minutes 3-4 times a week is supposed to help stave off Alzheimer’s. I read that somewhere and follow that regime religiously.*fact correction: it's Chrystal with an h-ache.

So GOOD luck with your endeavours people. Only ONE more week of the school holidays to go. Remember it’s way more fun to DO than BE. Spangly suit, bulk free chocolate or not.

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