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“Was That Me?” And Mark Your Calendars

June 17th, 2011 by admin

It happens to me occasionally: I get cornered at a party and someone says, “That was ME in your blog, wasn’t it? Tell me!” It was you…and somebody else, too. I see social phenomena a few times before I go, “There’s a story there.” I’ve met four Bohemian Couples and I visited Nappy Valley twice last week. (Both times, my mere presence set off baby sound effects – if your child is constipated, have me around and things will get moving right away).

Film Festival’s coming up, get your film pretension berets on! And Wellington on a Plate looks pretty stellar in August this year – there are going to be 50 burgers to try in the best burger competition. Walking home to Brooklyn never sounded better, eh?

August 25 – September 10 is the World of Wearable Art. This has a happy overlap with the Jewellery Show, September 9 – 11.

And that Rugby World Cup is from 11 September to 9 October. So now we know when to…what are we supposed to do about the Rugby World Cup? Besides kowtow to well-heeled rugby fans? Nine games, and adult ticket prices range from $66 to $491. I can’t make this up. So, IAWL’s rugby world cup recommendations are to: leave town, enter prostitution, or make the children stay in a tent in the yard so you can rent out their bedrooms.

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Bohemian As

June 16th, 2011 by admin

For every twenty normal couples in the Wellington area, there’s a duo that are like peacocks amongst the pukeko: the Bohemian Couple.  Will and Winona have been “collected” by one of these couples,  due to Will’s software expertise and Winona’s vivaciousness.

The Bohemian Couple may be into the arts, or science, or run a specialty business together.  Some of them offer visitors chocolate-chip cookies, others, absinthe-kissed martinis. Whatever their inclinations, one of the couple is a flashy extrovert, the other a staid introvert, both anywhere between forty and sixty. The way they dive into everyone’s drama is both lovable and troubling. If it all gets to be too much, they swap houses with somebody in Stockholm or take a weekend’s refuge at a friend’s rural hideaway.

Friends and strangers, straight and queer, coupled and single, gather around the social hearth that they create in their childfree, art-laden, cleverly located abode.  Everybody is welcome, except for children under a certain age. The Bohemian Couple, who unfold expansively once a child is old enough to talk to, dislike loud infants and art-crushing toddlers.

Occasionally, their own grown-up child or stepchildren come to visit and are baffled by the crowds of strangers. Bohemia’s daughter, who hasn’t yet learned how to upgrade being plain into jolie-laide, told Winona how upset she was that Mum won’t come to see Bridesmaids on opening night because she’s going to a “girl talk” dinner with a beauty improbably named Ulrika.

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Nappy Valley

June 14th, 2011 by admin

It just seemed to happen, sooner than anyone expected: the nice couple who bought that house in Karori, or Island Bay, or Petone, had a baby. They’ve named the infant Ada, or Austen, or after grandmum or grandpop – those 30s and 40s names are fashionable again now. Callers were welcome to meet the newborn over cupcakes last weekend.
The abode in Karori, or Island Bay, or Petone, was once furnished in a tastefully inexpensive way with prints and throws from craft fairs. It is now overwhelmed with baby impedimentia. The early-thirties mum was bushwhacked by how difficult childbirth was and how demanding the baby is. The slightly-older dad is amazed at how pleasant fatherhood is. And the baby is certainly a lady magnet. Their friends are all circling around, the childless ones uneasy and groping for conversation, the ones with children serene; these friends, once they recover, will now join their parental circles.
Soon the baby will be bundled up, like an infant burrito, and hauled around to friends’ houses and café gatherings for the next eight months. Both sides of the equation, childfree and not, are tolerant of the occasional baby wails. They all know that when a stroller becomes required, all this will come to a screeching halt.

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Two Paths Diverged At A Cafe, And I…

June 13th, 2011 by admin

Winona is nervous. Marianne Swatch liked her talk. Marianne Swatch! And now, after a series of penetrating questions and how-do-you-like-where-you-are-now, Marianne Swatch has invited her for Coffee. “Stop by and meet the team, and then we’ll go for coffee and chat,” she said. Winona fudged a morning off of work for it. She’s so nervous that, after putting on her crispest suit, she throws up a little.
What’s her problem? This isn’t like her. What if it’s not nerves? But another change in her anatomy, finally making its presence known? She doesn’t have any pregnancy tests, and she won’t have time to get one before Coffee.
Reels against the wall. Two visions of her future unfold before her, both made manifest in friends she and Will visited last weekend…

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Rather Too Victorian

June 9th, 2011 by admin

Wazzer gets home from the women’s business meeting to find her flatmate-cum-landlady, Willow, perched in the breakfast nook. “Hey, mate, how’s it going? Want to order pizza?

“I – yes, that would be lovely. Here’s your corset back. Thank you so much!”

“So, how’d the long weekend go?  Hot guy? Steampunk Ball? Hey? Hey?”

Willow turns pink. “It went so well.  I had such a good time. You would have loved the clothes. Such great people in Oumaru.”

“Including your boyfriend, Owen?” Wazzer grins.

Willow goes red. “He’s thinking of coming up in two weeks. Winona’s having a midwinter party -”

“Yeah, she told me. So you guys can hang out here!”

“And, um, are you okay staying somewhere else that weekend?”

“Hey, he’s your boyfriend, he’s gonna stay in your room, right?”

Willow says nothing. She simply flushes beet-red.

“Aw, come on, you can’t be that loud!” Wazzer half-shouts.

“Please, Wazzer!” Willow’s face, purple with embarrassment now, is really anguished. “I haven’t had a proper boyfriend in years. And never when I’ve had a flatmate. Just Friday night?

Wazzer sighs. “I’ll figure something out.” Then she clumps upstairs in her platform boots, pizza forgotten. In all her other flats, everyone pretended not to hear flatmate rumpy-pumpy, and a stranger in the morning kitchen was greeted with a nod. But it was easier in a sprawling six-person villa than in Willow’s compact townhouse.

What a frickin’ day. In her room, Wazzer waits for her wheezy laptop to start up. Then she looks up plane fares to Amsterdam.

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Special For Matariki

June 7th, 2011 by admin

Winona wraps up her talk for the women’s business group by trying to undo the misunderstanding about Wazzer.  “Just a little note – there was a mix up with some business cards – please note that Waz – I mean, Wha – um – Wai – ah – Miss Thompson is the Business Manager, not the owner, at…”

Not everybody is tuned into this jumbled statement. Wazzer, for one, is having her hand pumped enthusiastically. “So nice to meet another Maori restaurant owner! Are you doing any specials for Matariki?”


By the time she extracts herself and returns to the drinks table, Winona pounces on her. “Why didn’t you tell us you were Maori?”

“It’s not that big a deal, all right? I’m just an eighth. Dad named me after his mum. Have you seen my sister? She’s blonde! They named her Sharon after mum’s mum.”


Wazzer shrugs. “Dad didn’t know enough Maori to speak it – Grandmum’s generation got beaten at school for speaking te reo.”

Winona’s eyes widen. “That’s so tragic! Are you doing anything for Matariki?” Before Wazzer can groan in frustration, Winona adds, “Because we were going to have a party! And now that you’re not working nights we’d love to see you.”

After a moment’s silence, Wazzer relents. “Sure, I’ll come. But just so you know, it’s Miz Thompson.”

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It’s Business Time

June 2nd, 2011 by admin

“So this is a women’s business group,” Wazzer murmurs, glancing around a repurposed conference room on The Terrace. “They do themselves well, don’t they?” She smooths down her skirt. Her platform boots don’t look too out of place.

“Movers and shakers. Mummy pulled a few strings so that I can talk to them about the TPPA. Thank you so much for coming,” says Winona, looking around beadily, nervous as a baby kiwi.

“Your mum invited me. I’ve got no idea why – ” Wazzer is cut off by someone tinging their two-centimetre manicure against a flute of Marlborough-produced “bubbly.”

“Soon we’re going to have our speaker, Winona Wellington, telling us all about “The Risks of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Is Free Trade Free?” Also, I’m ever so pleased to introduce two ladies joining us for the first time. Marianne Swatch, CEO of the International Trade Board, ” a stylish, full-figured brunette nods, then the announcer gestures at Wazzer – “and Waikomanawa Thompson, the owner of one of our favorite ‘local pubs’ on Cuba Street.”

Owner? Owner??? Wazzer flashes a frozen smile as she processes this, while everyone applauds her presence.

Winona, looking equally stunned, is swaying over to her data display. Wazzer grabs her arm and hisses, “You told everyone I own that bar!?”

“You’re Maori? And I have to talk in front of the ITB CEO?”

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May 31st, 2011 by admin

Will and Winona have been a little preoccupied lately.

After their engagement, Will escorted Winona to a GP consultation about fertility. The GP took one look at Will, hollow-eyed, weedy yet pudgy after too many late nights software programming, and lined him up for some tests. The results – well, Will’s not talking about them with anyone. But he’s changed from briefs to boxer shorts, and has taken up a new hobby: making organic smoothies.

Winona happily accompanies him to the markets on his organic fruit quests. It’s the perfect opportunity for her to indulge her latest obsession; battling the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. “I’m protecting our rights and jobs and medical care here in New Zealand! And I’m meeting the most interesting people. Ooooh, don’t get those blueberries, Will,  they’re imported from one of our major trade rivals.”

Later that evening, she and Will are both enjoying the fruits of their labors. After an overpriced glass blender roars away for five minutes, Will deems its contents sufficiently macerated. “Banana-coconut-feijoa!” He pours off a glass with a flourish. Then he ignores it and sculls the rest directly from the blender jug, for an extra manliness boost.

He’s lucky that Winona doesn’t see that. She’s tapping on her laptop, firing off the latest message. “Sign TPPA petition today – strength of NZ dollar proves we can go it on our own!”

“Aaaaaah. Antioxidants! Good as! Saved some for you!” He plunks the dewy, creamy glass next to Winona’s laptop.

She knows a metaphor when it’s offered to her. “Thank you, darling. You make the best smoothies.”  After a sip, she blinks. “Oh, that is nice. You should give the recipe to Wazzer for drinks for her place. I’m seeing her at Mum’s business group tomorrow night. I can’t believe they haven’t heard about the TPPA yet.”

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Aren’t We All Crazy Once Winter Starts

May 26th, 2011 by the_lifer

Right before the lunch rush begins, Rosie edges into the office. “Wazzer? There’s a…a crazy lady who wants to talk to you?”

“Cool!” says Wazzer, springing up from the desk.

When she sees who’s waiting, she makes a note to herself to have a word with Rosie about moneyed Wellington. Though she has to admit, it can be challenging to tell the difference between a crazy lady and a rich lady. Especially on days like today.

A raddled, wind-swept old woman is peering around. But Wazzer remembers that rectangular face. “Wilhelmina, right? Win’s mum? How’s it going? Bit of weather, eh?” Wazzer says.

“Summer,” says Wilhelmina Wellington, “is most definitely over.” She places her sodden bag on a table and whisks off her rumpled, rain-dappled coat to reveal avant-garde merino and pearls beneath. A pass of her hand across her forehead, and her exquisite haircut falls into place.  “So I thought a nice pub supper would be just the thing for my husband’s retirement party. Do you have any Fridays in June for a function?”

“We might! Come back into the office!” Wazzer beams.

The booking is soon made (“beef and Guinness pie, just the thing”), and it’s all very jolly and amenable, and Wilhelmina even says, “I’m a sponsor of the Women in Business group, do come along to our next meeting, it’s just next Tuesday, drinks and nibbles.”

Wazzer happily agrees.

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48 Hour Envy

May 24th, 2011 by admin

Wazzer thumps downstairs unwontedly early on Saturday, startling her landlady, Willow. “Oh! Did you just get in?” Willow asks, surveying Wazzer’s black crinoline, platform boots, and elaborately scrolling eye liner.

“No, I’m going to be in somebody’s horror film today. They’re doing a 48 Hour film.”

There are many signs that one is entirely and comfortably established in Wellington. The barista who says, “Good morning,” and starts to make your regular coffee, unbidden. Never having to invite anyone anywhere, because you are confident you’ll always run into someone you know. And the text message on the Friday night of the 48 Hour Film Festival, asking you to be an extra. Maybe Peter Jackson didn’t need you to be an elf, a hobbit, or a dead orc, but you can still participate in some Wellington stardust. That’s the way to do it, not by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on some naff copyright violation.

Wazzer and her tulle take up most of the small kitchen as she tosses some food into a grocery bag, humming happily. “I’ll be back later, around four,” she says. “We’re gonna be up at the cemetery in Karori.”

As she goes out the door, Willow calls out, “If they need anybody else, um, you can send me a text! I can come by

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