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Willow’s Hypothesis

October 3rd, 2011 by admin

On a rainy Sunday morning, Willow has begun to pack for her move to Oamaru. Winona is keeping her company and helping her decide which clothes to keep or discard. “I love my little house, but if you’ll be renting it I can stand to leave it. And really, I don’t  mind moving, because Wellington is turning into Auckland.”

“Nooo-o. It can’t be,” Winona protests. Surely, this is just something Willow’s come up with to make herself feel better about moving away? “You have to explain.”

“First, it’s abnormally warm. I haven’t worn half my fleeces this winter, and I’m wearing spring clothes in the spring. Since when does that happen here? Do you want this fleece? I know it’s a bit big for you but you are, well…”

Winona eyes the pilled forest-green fleece fastidiously. “I’ll be most preggers in the summer, I should be all right.”

The fleece is tossed aside. “Second, everybody’s going out for brunch, just like in Auckland, it’s quite ridiculous. Since when did we all forget how to cook eggs?”

Winona rolls her eyes. Disliking brunch is a hobby-horse of Willow’s – granted, brunch as a singleton in Wellington was always supremely awkward.

“And third, everybody’s got a South African boyfriend. I remember when I lived in Auckland, half the place was Saffies, and I moved down here and they’d vanished. But they’re here now. They’re like meerkats! They’re migrating towards the warmth as the ecosystem changes!”

“No, no, the meerkats are from Namibia. And surely it can’t be everyone?”

Just then, unexpectedly, a sun-worn man stumbles through the door and blushes. “Looking for the loo, hey? Other door, is it? Sorry!”

Winona glances after the broad shoulders and green-and-gold boxer shorts that have vanished through the door. “Is he here for the Rugby World Cup?”

“Piet’s been here all week. Wazzer said she was going to try and work her way through blokes from all the Cup countries but she got stuck at South Africa.”

“I can see why!”

Willow bops her with another polarfleece.

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Less Drama?

September 21st, 2011 by admin

The retirement party for Walter Wellington is going okay, thinks Wazzer, taking a quick look in. Downstairs, it’s a pre-rugby zoo.

Her friend Winona sneaks to her station. “Wazzer, darling! Have my bubbles? I’m not drinking right now!”

Reluctantly, Wazzer takes the flute glass (she knows just how little those “bubbles” cost wholesale) and asks, “It’s all going good?”

“The family’s loving it. And all Daddy’s colleagues love the pie. Thank you so much. I think they’re ready for the cake to come in?”

“Choice, I’ll get it brought up.” Wazzer goes, pours the “bubbles” down a bar sink, and summons the new waitron, Chelsea.

Together, she and Nigel picked Chelsea out rather ruthlessly, not wanting a repeat of Rosie’s good-looking vagueness and mood swings. She and Nigel agreed: a good solid young bogan would be better value and less drama. Slim-hipped, bleach-blonde Chelsea is a little hatchet-faced, but she was eager to quit tending bar in Petone, and is handling the World Cup crowds with sensible authority.

It takes a while for Chelsea to plate up the cake; after she drops a piece, Winona kindly takes over. Wazzer goes to see what’s up.

Uncharacteristically, Chelsea is nearly in tears. “My mother who gave me up for adoption is out there!”

“What!” Riveted, Wazzer peers out at the crowd. “Which one is she?”

But Chelsea has dashed off to the ladies’ room. Just as Wazzer has glimpsed a profile, and thought to herself, “Oh, I know who…it’s got to be HER.”

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The Great Cup Battle: Locals vs. Visitors

September 13th, 2011 by admin

When Nigel decided that his bar would support Namibia in the Rugby World Cup, on the basis of a maybe-booking from the Namibian team, if they made the finals, there was staff grumbling and eye-rolling. Nigel, no fool, was well aware of it. And who’s laughing now?

Despite the naysayers, the “it’ll never work,” the punters came.  South African supporters decided Namibia was close enough and came in for their fish and chips, or for $22 pot pies. Hipsters who grudgingly got swept up in the Cup energy at the last minute decided that a bar on Cuba Street covered with Namibian flags was the outsider way to see the games. The ostrich burger didn’t pan out, but there’s no Namibians around to criticize the Groundnut Bird Burger he put on instead, or point out that it’s really lavished with half-decent sate sauce (peanuts are peanuts, he thinks). He’s even caught the staff playing with the cuddly toy meerkats on the bar.

His gloating over the accounting software is disrupted by his day manager, Wazzer. “Nige, a reminder, we’ve got an event booking this Saturday.”

“This Saturday? But…that’s a Cup night.”

“Retirement party. They booked for June, then they asked him to stay on a few more months, so they rebooked.”

Nigel calls up the details, unhappily. They booked before he “adjusted” the menu prices for the Cup. The beef and Guiness pot pie and the chicken filo wraps are now priced at $5 more – and they’re just the sort to complain about it. They’ll take a lot of staff, he knows the type, when he really just wants his staff to shove beer and chips at the punters. But the Cup is going away, and the museum and the government departments (Wazzer noted the connections) will be scheduling their Christmas parties soon. “Can you come in that night and take it, Wazz? Get them in and out?”

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The Diagnosis

September 8th, 2011 by admin

“Is it going okay? Being pregnant?” Wazzer eyes her friend Winona, curious for her to show signs of the state that Wazzer herself has carefully avoided all her life.

Winona’s not showing anything but glowing happiness so far. “This time around, it’s marvellous. Will’s keeping the smoothies coming, and he’s not allowing me to lift anything bigger than a breadbox. No more carrying groceries home!  Plus, I say whatever I like and blame it on hormones.”

“Wazzer, I’m busy, can’t it wait a minute?” Willow is at the stove in the small galley kitchen, food thermometer in one hand, spoon in the other, painstakingly replicating the scrambled eggs from Bill’s in Sydney, as a brunch treat for Winona.

“All I want is the kettle. I’ve been waiting twenty minutes for a cuppa – ”

“Stop it! You two,” Winona declares, “get along everywhere but when I see you here. It’s a clear case of flatmate burnout.”

“Flatmate burnout?” Willow parrots.

“Flatmate burnout! Wazzer, how many flatmates have you had?”

“Too many.”

Winona throws up a hand. “And you, Willow?”

“None since university. But – I like you, Wazzer, I don’t mean to be cross -”

“I’ve known you since uni and you never really liked flatting. You need to do something if you still want to be friends.”

Wazzer and Willow exchange a look.

Winona goes on. “So here’s what we do. Willow, you go down to Oumaru, live happily ever after, and rent us this place. I know what you’re paying for the mortgage and rents have gone up so much that we could cover it. And Wazzer, you move into our flat.”

“I think I speak for both of us when I say that the only reason we aren’t killing you is that you’re right. And bloody brilliant. And preggers,” says Wazzer.

Winona beams. “I know! It’s marvellous!

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A Ten-Year Plan

September 6th, 2011 by admin

Will and Winona find themselves in a renter’s catch-22. Their landlord is hemming and hawing and dragging feet about fixing a problem. Inadvertently, he let drop that he was planning on renovating the flat, and maybe selling it – when they moved out. Will has been in a fever ever since.

“So we could, maybe, possibly, buy the villa, rent out the front flat while we live in the back flat and fix it up. We’d gut the kitchen and the bathroom, and put in new carpet, and insulation, I suppose the windows need double glazing. Then, we switch and live in the front flat while renting out the back flat. The front flat needs all that too. Eventually we’d get planning permission to turn the two flats back into one house again. Hopefully sooner rather than later, because the whole building needs to be reroofed. What do you think, Win?”

“How long would this take?”

“About…ten years.”

Winona sits there for a moment, trying to find the best way to say it. “Just because our mums and dads spent their thirties and forties patching up houses while bringing us up, does that mean we have to do it, too?”

“There’s no other way we can afford a house where we’d like to be.”

“If we saved up more…or if my mum and dad wanted to downsize and rent us their place…or…” Winona sighs in frustration. “I do think it’s ridiculous, for two people who make what we do, that it’s like this.”

“I remember when I could be a flatmate for $35 a week. How do the people who work at the grocery store do it? Listen to me! Wellington real estate is making me a codger before my time.”

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Five Of Them

September 1st, 2011 by admin

Part III by guest writer Rhiannon Davies.

“WHY DO PEOPLE HAVE SEX IN TOILETS?!” Steve’s voice rang out over the empty bar. Steve was the newest of Perry’s Children, fresh of the boat from old Blighty, and an absolute God when it came to handling a bar.

“I don’t know, why DO people have sex in toilets?” Tui asks, a cheeky grin on her beautiful face. The magic of bars is that the women are ALWAYS beautiful. And if they aren’t classically beautiful, or perkily cute, then they have a certain something that makes the punter go phwoar, I’ll have some of that, and maybe even buy her a drink! Bar owners know this, and employ beautiful women in order to make drunk men spend money. Don’t hate the player, as they say.

“I don’t know!! But I found five used condoms in the bathroom just now. FIVE OF THEM.” Poor Steve is horrified.

“At least they’re being careful…I mean, can you imagine what it would be like to be told that you were conceived in the bar toilets during a particularly lame gig? How bad would that feel?” Tiny Charlotte, another Brit Import, was Perry’s Secret Favourite. Not the best bar tender in the world, it was true, but her Sarcastic Charleston [TM] was second to NONE. She was endlessly cheerful, worked tirelessly, and had the sweetest nature of anyone Perry had ever met. Also, she was the only person on the bar that was shorter than Perry, which endeared her automatically.

“Ok, I’ve had sex in some seriously weird places” Steve says, ” but a toilet? That’s just horrible. And it’s not like our toilets are particularly sexy.”

“Yeah man, if it was leopard print and velour I could understand! But this?” Tui’s delicate nose wrinkles in disdain.

“Note to self. Tui likes…leopard print and velour…and toilet seats!!” Perry laughs and the empty bar holds her voice like a carillion. Tui promptly busies herself in cleaning the spilled Red Bull off tables while the others chuckle up their sleeves.

Not a bad night, Perry thinks to herself as she takes note of what needs doing and what has been ticked off. Quiet Rosie needs to work on her speed. Charlotte needs to NOT be afraid of pushy punters. She’s too much of a sweetie for her own good. Tui needs to learn to drink water while being bought shots by the punters or she’ll wind up trashed before cleanup, which is never a good thing. Perry is also plotting to steal Steve away from his day job so he can become one of her Children permanently. Stupid day jobs don’t appreciate good folks anyway, she mentally growls. The man tends bar like most people breathe, he’s not meant to be a bloody accountant.

She claps her hands like a kindergarten teacher and the others prick up their ears. “Well done, my Children. I think it’s time for a cup of tea, don’t you?”

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Earning A Cuppa

August 31st, 2011 by admin

Part II from our guest writer, Rhiannon Davies.

Perry stands in the back corner of the bar, surveying her Kingdom. Her bar tenders are hard at work, slinging booze across the bar like Spiderman flicks his web between buildings. She calls them her Children, and much like a broody hen, she watches them unblinkingly and verbally pecks the eyes from anything that might make them even vaguely unhappy. She’ll gathering her charges under her wings and feeding them tequila from her own special tea cups while the boss turns a blind eye to her “cups of tea”. Like most mothers, she has her secret favourites on the bar, but it doesn’t do to let the other children know.

It’s the same for her regulars. There are those among the public whom Perry genuinely adores. There are also those whom Perry wouldn’t cry to see fall under a bus.  She cringes internally at the approach of THAT Guy.  Bar tenders everywhere know and hate THAT Guy. He magically appears from nowhere after three a.m, buys one drink, but is too drunk to actually drink it, so will sit on the damn thing until security boots him out. On he shambles, like a reanimated corpse, already two drinks past his cut-off limit and it’s starting to show. He careens off the bar stools and trips over imaginary lumps in the floor. He has a brief argument with one of the potted plants. Perry and her Children give him an identical flat glare as he staggers to the bar. Water jugs magically appear from nowhere and the house lights go from Mood Lighting to Get The Hell Out. THAT Guy’s lips move like he’s spent the night at the dentist’s, complete with ropes of drool.

“JD and Coke?”

“Sorry darling, I think you’ve already had a few too many of those. How ’bout you have some of this instead?” Tui, Perry’s Number One Girl, plants a glass of water in front of the swaying man.  THAT Guy looks vaguely perplexed and hurt, like someone’s just run over his dog and expected him to clean the body out of the radiator.

“Go on, love”, Tui says. Her voice drops deceptively into what could almost be a seductive tone. Her eyes did not reflect the warmth of her voice, however. “You’ll thank me for it in the morning”. Tui had timed it right, and THAT Guy was exactly as malleable as she thought he’d be. He downs the pint of water and slams the glass on the bar, just in time for the bouncer to appear. “Sorry sir, the bar’s now closed. You’ll have to leave.”

Perry eyes Tui approvingly. “Nicely done, madame. Spot of tea?” The plummy accent could have come straight from Windsor Palace and the girls head to the end of the bar where Perry’s Teacups waited, full of tequila.  “Pinkies up, dahling.”

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Queen of the Bar

August 30th, 2011 by admin

Part I from our guest writer, Rhiannon Davies.

Her name is Jones. Persephone Jones. Perry to her mates. She’s the Queen of the Bar. It might be that a bar-is-a-bar-is-a-bar, and the building is just made of paint and wood and furniture. But it’s the PEOPLE that make the bar the place to be, and Perry knows this. She worked in a place in Berlin before she came back  to Wellington that was the size of an ATM. It had a couch, a wee bar that was a plank of wood ontop of two stacks of beer crates that stood two high, and she made thousands of dollars off it.

She’s THAT girl. It’s all about the saucy, sultry smile and sassy temperament. It works as a brilliant smokescreen while the price of the alcohol she’s pouring does to wallets what Hitler did to Poland. Her ego outweighs her body, and she’s going to get a belt in the chops, one day, but that day hasn’t happened yet. On she goes, the cheerful juggernaut, with a glass in one hand, and a bottle in the other. The fully-automatic 50-calibre smile on her face dares you to stop her, and the sly-yet sweet look she gives you as she pours your drink knows you never will.

Four other staff work under her, junior and complementary. Together, those madcap, charming five have a piece of wood that’s about a foot and a half wide between them and the rest of the roiling drunken mob. It’s their job, nay, their sworn duty to get you as legally intoxicated as your wallet will allow. That is to say, before you hit critical mass and vomit all over your exquisitely-chosen well-worn-in-all-the-right-places-faux-povvo-but-cost-three-hundred-dollars-Chuck-Taylors, and those jeans that you bought with the holes ripped into them just so. Keith Richards would be proud to blow something like you out of his left nostril.

And on you come, a hideous wall of people, with your VODKA-LIME-SODA and your BOURBON AND COKE and your WHAT’S CHEAP AROUND HERE?

You, darling punter. You are what’s cheap around here. Leonidas had it easy at Thermopylae. All he had to do was kill a bunch of Persians. They’re not allowed to kill anyone, which, perhaps, is grossly unfair. Although Leonidas didn’t get to narrate his night using David Attenborough’s Wildlife Documentary Voice [TM] though, so they win. Just.

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How’s Rosie? Ask Our Guest Writer This Week!

August 29th, 2011 by admin

Wazzer’s leaving work in the evening when a familiar Justin Bieber haircut goes by. “Rosie! Hey, Rosie!”

Rosie jumps as Wazzer runs out into Cuba Street and grabs her arm. “Hey, how’s it going? Did they take you on over there at Perry’s? They called us…”

“Oh! They did, yes! Perry’s just amazing. Thank you so much!”

“Good, good.” Wazzer can’t resist asking, “What’s it like over there?” She’s heard the stories, some of which are surely too outrageous to be true, even by hospitality work standards.

But Rosie is still on the quiet side. “Oh, it’s…good. It gets crowded.”

“Beats the alternative. Hey, wanna grab a bite or something on Monday night?”

Rosie blushes. “I’m already – that is – some of us are going over to Perry’s for pizza. Monday.”

“S’cool, mate. Maybe another time.” With a wise nod, she lets Rosie dash on to work. If Rosie has any taste in women at all, she is, Wazzer bets, beyond crushed out on Perry right now…

This week here at It’s A Wellington Life, we are going to have three posts by a fantastic guest writer, Rhiannon Davies. Get ready for another kind of Wellington story, rollicking, merciless, and with teacups like you’ve never seen before.

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Self-Made Beauties

August 26th, 2011 by admin

Ulrika is quivering with excitement as she waits to go on stage. It’s such a cliche that a dance class changes a single woman’s life, but it happened to her. Her great and good friend Angela from Auckland suggested over Skype that she take a burlesque class, to shake her out of moping over the Wayland-and-Will disaster while she saved up money to do…something. She wasn’t sure. Her friend Bohemia encouraged her, too. So, she went.

With her Swiss accent, vivid sapphire hair, and skier’s grace, she was an instant success. Now, she has a pack of other women that she runs around with, gushing via Facebook in between cocktails and macarons and not-very-taxing sewing projects.  They are all determined to be beautiful. The rest of Wellington, amused at this new subculture, goes along with it. Best of all, next month Ulrika is making her public burlesque debut.

For the moment, she’s smug about being chosen as a model in the biggest style event of the Wellington year, thanks to a tip from the dance teacher. All around her, Wellington’s beauties and dancers are being groomed for the stage by Wellington’s stylists and hairdressers. Some of them are grumpy at being hidden inside black-light assemblages or three-metre ambulatory baskets. Ulrika, giddy with success and inclusion, is more charitable. It’s all Wearable Art, isn’t it? And she’s going on first for her group.

“And now…the Architectural division…”

Ulrika hoists the dodecahedron-shaped assemblage that she inhabits, and tiptoes onto the World of Wearable Arts stage.

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