A Most Disgusting Man

I’m sure we’d all like to think that New Zealand has evolved its attitudes towards women since Katherine Mansfield’s patriarchal, colonial society where feminism was seen as a restorative experience only existing as a reaction to the patriarchy, rather than a movement in and of itself. While I’m not trying to be dramatic, I think it’s important to remember the role feminism has played in New Zealand since these early times. And sure, we can vote, we have equal rights, we can all marry who ever we want, but although laws have changed dramatically, I’m learning that attitudes are still lagging behind.

I live in a very small town, where even the cultural minority play into this idea of prescribed societal norms. I know an older Maori man who refers to effeminate males as ‘faggots with purses’, and seems to have a cultural bias against Asians – who make up a lot of the tourist population here. Being different, in any way, here means you’re either frowned upon or, in my case, treated as a novelty, rather than just another human, capable of sharing the same experiences, feelings, and goals as any ‘normal’ Kiwi. Being a female with black hair, tattoos, and piercings makes me stand out in a way either draws criticism or makes people feel drawn to me as some kind of novelty. Like accepting me for who I am counter balances any and all other biases.  Maybe I’m just overly sensitive having come from spending the last two years in the ethnic and cultural melting pot that makes London one of the most exciting cities in the world, but I know that a majority of what I see here is archaic and contrary to the progressive nature that New Zealand tends to pride itself on in the media. It’s hard, and because I know I’m not here for the long haul, I ignore it, and just try to accept that everyone’s background makes them different to me. I like to be open-minded and unfortunately sometimes that means accepting flaws such as these. But sometimes it goes too far.

On Saturday night I had the gross displeasure of becoming the target for 3 increasingly intoxicated males. Things started off innocently enough with Asshole A and Asshole B who were giving me a bit of grief which I initially perceived as (and most probably was intended as) just a bit of light banter. I can hold my own in these situations. However, as the night went on, my experience with Asshole A and Asshole B became more and more negative. Asshole A requested a cocktail from me, which I couldn’t make due to the liquor laws and regulations requiring I stay under 30ml of alcohol, a fact I very simply explained to him. But, rather than respecting the fact that I had said no, he continued to berate me, assuring me that he wouldn’t tell my boss if I broke the rules, just this once of course. That alone is indicative of the out-dated attitudes that run rampant in small town New Zealand (and I’m sure in plenty of other places too). It’s an unwavering assumption that there must be some male around somewhere who I have to answer to; I couldn’t possibly be the manager – my tits and rapid mood swings are sure to get in the way. While I did politely bring this up with him, I felt it wasn’t worth my time taking a stand just yet. Nevertheless, my “outburst” prompted the accusation that I was “so angry … why are you so angry? … just smile for me”. If only I weren’t at work …….

For the most part I managed to avoid Asshole A and Asshole B. They were quick to ridicule my choice of tattoos and piercings, but it all remained harmless, albeit extremely annoying, and pretty rude, banter. That was until Asshole C, heretofore known as A Most Disgusting Man (AMDM for short) joined them. Early 40s, pot-bellied, flashing his money around and betting big on the horses, AMDM locked onto the youth of Asshole A and Asshole B and decided to show them what being a real man was all about.

Some background on AMDM before I divulge the reasons he garnered this nickname. I first met AMDM on Thursday night, when he joined a regular customer for drinks and a punt at the TAB. His friend, the regular customer, was a nice chap with a good sense of humour who I had dealt with on previous occasions. By proxy I had assumed AMDM was similarly affable. Which he was in the beginning. My only interaction with him being once every couple of hours when he would come to the bar to order a double vodka with Red Bull, and a Jim Beam RTD for his friend. Outside the chat required for the exchange of money for booze, nothing was said between us. AMDM and friend placed $150 bets a piece on various races throughout the evening, but didn’t appear to be getting any returns on their investments. They were the last to leave on Thursday night, full of drunken promises to return the next day to try their best at seducing lady luck again. Which they did. And their night played out much the same way as it had the night before. Nothing of note happened, except for AMDM making an enemy out of one of my male colleagues for reasons which remain unclear, and I heard, from my colleague who took AMDM home in the courtesy van, that he tried very, very hard to entice a young English girl to join him in his hotel room where (oh my! Lucky her!) he had a whole bottle of vodka. She politely declined.

So on Saturday night, when they both showed up again, I paid them little attention – after all, I had other annoyances to deal with.

As we all know, alcohol has a tendency to change people’s behaviour, for better or worse. I know that after a couple of beers, I become a lot chattier, and after a few more I just won’t shut up. Alcohol can give people confidence, and in the case of AMDM, alcohol makes your masculine confidence soar and compete with other, younger males, to prove how strong your game is, and how masterful you are at seducing the opposite sex (homosexuality is seemingly unheard of in this town).

To get my attention, AMDM started referring to me as “oi big boobs”. Every time he said this, I shook my head in his direction and refused to serve him. Since living in this small town, I have considered my experience as one of a social anthropologist, documenting my experiences living in a cultural wasteland that lauds masculinity and rugby, and shuns diversity and minorities; anything ‘other’ than a “normal Kiwi lifestyle”. Setting myself as ‘other’ to this kind of culture is the only thing that allows me to feel OK about having to leave my life in London behind. So the three men at the end of bar kind of fascinated me initially, and I hung around the glass washer a lot in order to overhear their banal, chauvinistic conversations. Of which there were plenty, mainly stemming from the bragging rights AMDM seemed to think he was entitled to with every sexual experience he’d ever had. As it turned out, Asshole A, Asshole B, and AMDM had all slept with the same woman. She was “a good girl” and had a pussy “like Vietnam”, whatever that was supposed to mean. Keep in mind that these were three Kiwi males, all under the age of 45 who had never been to Vietnam, and I assume had no relevant experience, or knowledge, of the war that had begun in the 1960s. But they all corralled each other into telling more and more explicit stories of their dominance over various sexual partners, their egos fluctuating depending on whose story was better. AMDM was always quick to one-up the stories told by Asshole A and Asshole B, his language and descriptions becoming more and more lewd. The way he was talking about women was disgusting to say the least. But it turns out this was just a warm up.

AMDM was quick to tell Asshole A and Asshole B about how much pussy there was in the bar the night before, calling on one of my colleagues to back him up on this fact. And said colleague (always one to please) was quick to assure these men that yes, in fact there was a lot of pussy in the bar the night before, so there’s every chance they’ll show up tonight. Fingers crossed, yeah?  My colleague did make quick feminist defence statement, assuring the three men that even if the women weren’t attractive, they did have great personalities (I know this seems a very tongue-in-cheek response, but I believe he didn’t mean it as such) but they weren’t interested in their personalities, telling my colleague “hah, that doesn’t mean anything! What we want to know is if they had vaginas? Did they have vaginas???”. Laughs and high fives all round.

It was at this point the three men once again focused their attention on me, or more specifically, the size of my bust. Not surprisingly, every attempt I made at rebuffing them or just generally standing up for myself by telling them how inappropriate they were being was met by accusations that I was a bitch, or I needed to “chill out”. Because god forbid a woman stand up for herself when being heckled by three increasingly aggressive men. I should be forever grateful to be paid attention by such charming, willing, and sexually capable males.

I spent a lot of Saturday night gawking at Asshole A, Asshole B, and AMDM in disbelief. Did they not have mothers, sisters, grandmothers? Did they not understand the derogatory, and downright offensive way in which they were talking about the opposite sex?  I know for a fact that AMDM had a young daughter. Did this not give him some parental protectiveness against the predatory way in which he was speaking? The fact that the answer to this question was clearly no gave me considerable pause. It made me wonder what his reaction would be if, in a few years, a group of males were talking about his daughter in the same way. Would he defend her? Would he protect her? I would like to think he would, as all fathers feel protective of their baby girls (as all men, in an ideal world, should feel like protecting females), but by the way he was acting, his daughter would grow up to have some serious trust issues towards men.

While AMDM’s comments towards women was the most obviously disgusting and outwardly chauvinistic way in which he portrayed the general feeling of small town New Zealand males, it was his obliviousness towards the women around him that affected me the most. I’m not, in any way, excusing the things he said (because of course he’s not the first man to express these opinions while in the company of other men), it was the fact that there were plenty of women around who had every opportunity to overhear the things he was saying, and he never blinked an eye.  It just never occurred to him that what he was saying could cause offence.  It was as though he thought that his self-confessed ability and dominance over women was a quality that women actually found attractive. Like the louder he talked about how he would “destroy” any women he slept with made the idea of a night in the sack with him wholly appealing. It’s this exact attitude that I think founds the basis of rape culture. This idea that a male’s attention is a reward for a female. Like having sex with a man is a privilege for a woman; like any woman should be grateful that a man would talk about her with his friends. And obviously that most of all, a man has the right to assert his dominance over a woman without fear of retribution.

The worst was yet to come.

The pub emptied out considerably once the rugby game we were broadcasting had finished. As is the case every weekend, the rugby crowd dispersed and an hour or so later the young crowd who had spent the last few hours ‘pre-loading’ at their own homes descended upon the pub for what we call ’round two’. This is where AMDM found his real audience.

Surrounded and encouraged not only by Asshole A and Asshole B, but by a gaggle of young, eager males, AMDM got out his cellphone, and proceeded to call his wife (?!?). It was 11pm, and I assume she was in bed, having put their child in bed hours before. His side of the conversation went as follows:

“Hey baby, what are you doing?”

“I’m at the pub but when I get back home on Monday I’m gonna destroy you and fill your asshole”

“Yeah you’d like that wouldn’t you? Don’t you love it when I’m the big man?”

This man, in his 40s, with a young daughter, deemed it appropriate, nay, necessary, to call his life partner and speak to her, with an audience she was unaware of, and divulge the details of their personal, sexual relationship. I couldn’t help but think that his attitude reflected the idea that sex is something that belongs to men, and that women are merely vessels through which a male’s sexual prowess is realised.

Meanwhile a group of 7 males surrounded him and guffawed at the way it seemed he so clearly dominated her. As his feathers puffed up, he told his young proteges what a “good girl” his wife was, and how she would do anything he told her to. I’m sure he felt like the biggest man in the pub. His perceived dominance over his wife was lauded as an end goal for males everywhere; play the field until you find a woman who will accept her role as your own personal sex slave. I found myself worrying about what kind of a role model AMDM was to these young, susceptible males, the oldest of whom couldn’t have been more than 23. But also, if this was the type of man that they were looking up to, then what did that say about the future of feminism in small town New Zealand?

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But at the same time I guess it didn’t shock me as much as it should. Sadly I’ve come to expect this kind of behaviour from the male patrons in the pub. Although AMDM was surely the most disgusting man I had come across so far, this attitude towards woman was one I had noticed as rampant. From explicit and obvious disrespect, to a general, learned ignorance of women, small town New Zealand is a hot bed of sexism. Even when men don’t realise they’re being offensive – in itself disrespectful because they’re unable to even consider the opposite sex.

AMDM eventually left the bar after being cut off from buying alcohol. It wasn’t so much that he was overly intoxicated, I just think we all got sick of hearing his booming voice over all other conversations in the pub. As bartenders, we reserve that right. I quietly rejoiced and got on with slowly cleaning down the bar. It wasn’t until half an hour later, when I went outside to see if anyone needed a ride home in the courtesy van, that I realised he was still there – he had just found a new audience, one that was 50% female. I could only imagine what stories he had been entertaining them with. Because the pub was closing, I asked if anyone needed a ride home as a way of getting rid of them. I would have given AMDM a ride home if he’d needed, after all it is a part of my job, but instead of answering my question in a productive manner, he replied,

“did you ask if I wanted a ride home or a ride at home?”

I ignored him and looked to the others sitting at the table, asking my question again, as no one else seemed to hear me. They shook their heads no, and AMDM figured I hadn’t heard him the first time,

“did I want a ride home or a ride at home?”

I looked him in the eye with a scowl on my face, turned around and walked back inside, happy to have an excuse not to take him home if he needed.

When I had to go outside again to take one of the indoor punters home, AMDM tried again!

“before I wasn’t sure if you were offering me a ride home, or a ride at home”

No one laughed, and at this point I had had enough so I turned to him and told him that he was the most disgusting man I had ever met. He recoiled, confused as to why a woman would think such a thing of him, this God among men. Wounded, he turned back to his table mates and said to them,

“shit, what’s her problem?”.

And thus ended my interaction with A Most Disgusting Man. He squirreled off into the darkness, back to his lonely hotel room where the only company he would have that night would be his bottle of vodka, like some sad cliche. I’ll bet he fell asleep with porn on the tele and his dick in his hand, only to awaken the next morning to wonder what the hell happened last night.

It’s hard to imagine any progression in terms of feminism in this part of the country. Everyone seems very set in their ways, and it’s become apparent that even the women aren’t bothered by it, chalking it up to the old adage, ‘boys will be boys’. Just last night I watched as one of the young girls who can’t be older than 20, coyly scolded an out-of-towner for trying to put his hand up her skirt in plain view of other patrons. She was suitably bashful, but offered no further retribution to him. Her reaction must have left him thinking that he was in with a chance. Her youth, and the fact the she grew up in this town, plays a part in her willingness to accept this kind of behaviour. Of course, I don’t really know her intentions, but it just seemed sad to me, that she felt it was OK for a man to touch her without her permission. But that’s just the way it is here.

Despite all this, honestly the most disappointing part was the reaction from my two male coworkers, who mainly seemed annoyed by my refusal to deal with these customers, rather than understanding what an uncomfortable experience I was having. I was told to just ignore them and get on with my job. My right to stand up for myself was not only denied by two men I thought were my friends, but it was ridiculed, and plainly dismissed as just a part of the accepted experience of a female working behind the bar. I have never felt so unsupported.

I’ve always had a desire for equal rights of the sexes, as all woman, or people, should, but have never labelled myself a feminist. Living in small town New Zealand has changed that for me though. Now, I proudly call myself a feminist because shit, someone’s gotta be – even if it means being labelled the local lesbian, I’ll proudly wave that flag.

 

 

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Today the Mountains Look Small But Last Night They Loomed

At around 5:30pm when the sun starts to set, the mountains look the most imposing. The fading light sits behind them and they appear harsh against the sky.

 

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I don’t know what it is about them but they scare me. I’m currently trying to find the words that articulate this feeling through a short story I’m writing that I want to call A River in Winter but Laura thinks that sounds too much like a gay porno. The story is taking a while to properly form but it stems from the feeling of being trapped in a valley with two looming mountain ranges on either side. When I first moved here, the fog was unrelenting. And then came the winds and I stopped being able to sleep properly. My sleep deprived self still blames this on the mountains – like they have some kind of control over me. And it feels really menacing.

 

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The Village That Didn’t Exist but at Least the View was Worth a Drive.

I made a friend and took a drive to a place that didn’t exist.

There’s a relatively popular ski field nearby that sits atop one of the windiest, steepest, and there’s-no-fucking-way-I’m-driving-up-there roads in the South Island. Needless to say we didn’t go skiing. However, both of us had heard of the ‘Ohau Village’ that lead us to believe there was some kind of explorable town centre in which there was, fingers crossed, a bar of sorts. No.

There were three potential sites for said non-existant village. The first being the eponymous Ohau Village.

“Ah, yes!”, we both cried, “this has to be it!”.

It was not it.

Instead what we discovered was a very well paved hill that dipped and turned through many sloping crescents leading to the driveways of million dollar holiday houses. Village my ass.

But imagine waking up to this view.

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Back down the hill we went.

The next potential site took us down a gravel road. I’m not the most confident at driving on gravel roads at the best of times, let alone when I’ve got a rock face to my left and a steep drop to my right. The speed limit was 100kph but you better believe I was only doing 50kph. The view was beautiful but I wasn’t ready to die that day. Honestly I think I still had yesterday’s knickers on.

About 5km in, logic prevailed and we figured that if there was a town centre in a popular tourist spot, it wasn’t likely to be down a gravel road. So I performed a very nimble and necessary 10-point-turn and we headed back down the gravel road, this time with the steep drop right outside the passenger door.

Just before the beginning of the gravel road, we had passed a turn off with an accompanying sign that was directing people towards the Ohau Lodge and Ski field. As our only remaining option we thought, to hell with it, let’s traverse this dangerous road. The need for a bevy was strong.

Oh what joy was thrust upon us when we discovered the the lodge was not up the same hill as the ski field. But there was no town center there either … So we doubled back and doubled our efforts. Back up the wealthy winding way and even braving the gravel road again. My companion talked me into persevering for the mere 7km indicated, by road sign, to be gravelled.

This time we almost made it to the end of the gravel road but were stop by a ford in the road which I didn’t want to risk getting Lil Suz (my car) stuck in. But have I mentioned the views yet?

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It looks more like a puddle in the picture but this is the ford I couldn’t drive through … 

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Well, shit.

As it turns out, there is no town center in Ohau. But there is a lodge. And the lodge has a bar, although the bar isn’t open until 4pm so we had to settle for coffee.

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Hard to concentrate on having a conversation with all this holy bullshit going on out the window.

Like I’ve been saying, fucking beautiful views that serve to keep me distracted from thinking about the concrete jungles of London that I so long for.

We’ve even got a bit of Deliverance country down this way too …

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A Series of Pictures That Could Have Gotten Me Killed.

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Yes, I am a genius.

While driving to Geraldine on Tuesday morning I got this really bright idea that I could totally take photos and drive at the same time! It’s these kinds of ideas that get people killed on the roads around the Canterbury and Mackenzie Districts. The same kind of ideas that see tourist’s Juicy vans parked dangerously on the sides of the roads while they set up their tripods right on the center line. Never mind the blind corners either side of them. This shit happens, I’m not making it up. I get it though. And these photos will show why. It’s all just so goddamn beautiful.

London has cocaine but New Zealand has the real snow.

*all landscape pictures taken on SH8 between Twizel and Fairlie

 

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Empty roads are a city slicker’s dream come true. Probably saved my ass a few of the times I slightly drifted over the center line. Hard to think I’m not one of the idiot tourists, really.

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While I was moaning about the lack of snow where I live, everywhere else within a 100km radius had a snow party.

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Gotta admit I stopped to take this photo – would be kinda hard to get the same blurry zoom quality at high speeds. And if we’re being totally honest, I didn’t stop specifically to take this photo. I had bought a pie from the garage and kept spilling steaming hot mince on myself so that mess needed sorting out. 

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Filters would have just ruined this image

 

From here the photos get a bit grubby and blurry because they’re screen grabs from the videos I took. If you wanna see the actual videos (accompanied by the weird mix of music I was listening to in the car) head over to my Instagram page linked somewhere in my profile, or whatever …

 

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Grubby car window 

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Every time a car passed me I would try to hide my phone in case it was the Police.

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Yeah yeah, the mountains are real pretty and shit. They still scare me at night though.

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What would have been the money-shot had I been trying harder. This is the point a lot of tourists just straight up slam on their breaks as they round the corner and get their first glimpse of Lake Tekapo.

 

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And finally, this cutie pie almost mauled me to death (as you can see) in the morning. Just to add insult to injury.

Any Excuse to Drink

Friday night at the pub. Probably one of the quieter nights I’ve worked since starting there just over a month ago and would have also been one of the most boring if not for the trio of pharmacy ladies who were out celebrating the launch of their new range of incontinence knickers. You can’t make this shit up.

One of them, let’s call her Michaela, spent an unnecessary amount of time trying to convince me the new range was sexy, while my older gentleman co-worker cracked awkward jokes about wanting to see her knickers. Much fun was had at at the expense of the poor souls of the town who were in need of sexy incontinence underwear. I wasn’t previously aware there was such a need. Now I know.

Oh how they danced.

And Maggie from the bank, who loves a dance, joined in. I watch Maggie sometimes and just really hope that when I’m older I have as much vigour as she does. I mean, I don’t have any vigour now, so hopefully it shows up if I make it past 40.

Just when I thought watching middle aged women dance and sing along to Bon Jovi was going to be the evening’s highlight, a giant dog who sat on a ladies lap and whinged about his Mum being inside without him showed up and MADE MY FUCKING MONTH.

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His Mum said he couldn’t come inside because he would have just been all over people and knocking other things over. His name is Ronnie. Ronnie. Adorable. And geez what an idiot. He got so excited about nothing that he knocked his water bottle over. His Dad is away at the moment so Ronnie’s been pining for him and I think his Mum needed some Ronnie-free time with a couple of Coruba and Colas. She had another dog, an old black lab called Max who was allowed inside and spent the better part of an hour and a half making laps and getting pats.

They all left together, Max with a firm hold on a stray piece of Ronnie’s rope. Disappearing into the fog like some beautiful illusion.

Red Velvet Cake

I reckon this cake always sounds fancier than it really it. And because it sounds fancy, it also sounds difficult to make. Which it really isn’t. It’s just important that you follow the instructions and don’t deviate from the techniques needed to make it dense and heavy light and fluffy. I sound like I know what I’m doing, right?

I made this cake last Saturday for Dad’s birthday. He’d requested I make a banana cake but that sounded too boring at the time, so I had a go at this one. I’ve made it in the past with varying result but it always tastes pretty fucking great. Oven troubles persisted however, and the cake overcooked itself. I was annoyed, Dad didn’t care, and everyone lied to me, assuring me that “wow this is really good!”. But I knew deep down it wasn’t. So here I go again, this time baking it for a coworker’s birthday.

I also made an 11+ hour long Doom Metal playlist for said coworker, and then cried a little bit because of the overwhelming homesickness for London (and Desertfest 2016) that I’m trying so hard to ignore. The playlist can be viewed here.

Before you start, change out of your Sunday best, and your before Labour day whites because this cake calls for food colouring and if you’re as clumsy as I am, you will get red dye on yourself, despite your best and most sincere efforts not to.

It’s also a good idea to have the ingredients measured out beforehand as well, as I find the vinegar in this recipe has a tendency to react very quickly (with the buttermilk maybe?) so you wanna get everything together and in the oven as quick as you can.

CAKE!

2 1/2 cups all purpose white flour

1tsp baking soda

1tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3 large eggs

340g melted butter (clearly this cake is not for the calorie conscious)

1tbsp white vinegar

4tbsp red food colouring

1tsp vanilla essence

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the over to 180.

Sift all the dry ingredients apart from the sugar into a large bowl and set aside.

Beat the sugar and eggs together with an electric mixer. Honestly I can’t stress how much better shit it when you use an electric mixer. Handheld or not, they are akin to our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, Amen. Also this is where I fucked up last time I made this cake. I mistakenly put the butter in with the sugar and eggs which is a big no no, I guess, since I figure this is what made the texture of my cake a giant dickhead.

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Super into this old school vanilla essence. Anyone else remember No Frills?

Once the eggs and sugar are all nice and creamy then add the butter as well as all the other wet ingredients before combining with the sifted ingredients. Mix until smooth. Sometimes I find, regardless of how well everything is sifted, the mixture is a little bit lumpy but I tend to ignore that and hope that everything works itself out in the oven. Which it usually does.

Put in a tin. I’ve got a medium sized tin that I use for everything but I think for this cake it’s better to put it in a larger round tin otherwise that shit’ll start peaking like a 14-year-old on acid. I mean, it doesn’t really matter but if you want a nice, flat finished product then use a bigger tin.

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Bake for around 30mins. I have a terrible oven so baking time usually varies. This time it took closer to an hour to cook. If the top of the cake starts to burn, chuck a bit of tin foil up on top. It’ll both help to cook the cake faster, and reduce the amount of burnage.

The sink looks a bit wild upon clean up since everything is pink.

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Leave it to cool for about 10 minutes in the tin, that way the cake solidifies a bit more and ensures that it comes out nice and clean.

For a super deluxe ++ finish I usually make mascarpone icing but can’t really afford to be that fancy at the moment so a simple cream cheese icing will suffice. Either way you’re having a good time. Here are the recipes for both.

MASCARPONE ICING:                                                                CREAM CHEESE ICING:

115g cream cheese                                                                       250g cream cheese

1/2 cup mascarpone                                                                    125g softened butter

1/2 cup softened butter                                                             3 cups icing sugar

2 cups icing sugar                                                                           about 1/4 cup lemon juice

2tsp vanilla extract                                                                        2tsp vanilla extract

The process for making both icings is practically identical. Just made sure the butter is nice and soft before you start doing anything otherwise your icing will be lumpy. If you do forget to soften the butter at first, you can put the bowl of icing in the microwave at any point during the mixing process.

I always cream the butter first, then add the cream cheese (and the mascarpone if that’s the icing you’re doing) and give it all a good Jake the Muss beating (sorry it’s all I can think about when I talk about beating something) before adding the icing sugar 1 cup at a time. While your adding the icing sugar, keep an eye on the consistency and add lemon juice (only for the cream cheese icing) and vanilla essence to keep it nice and creamy. It’s always a good idea to taste as you go to make sure you’ve got the balance of flavours right.

Normally my cream cheese icing comes out nice and lemony but I overindulged in the vanilla this time around which made the icing taste like one of those Tall Boy thick shakes. I could have added some more lemon juice to bring out the flavour but I reckon the strong vanilla was more than just A-OK.

Presentation isn’t my strong suit here. I just don’t have the right instruments to ice a cake so it’s all smooth and shop-worthy so let’s just pretend the rustic look is intentional.

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I’m feeling pretty jealous of my coworker right now. I’m hoping he decides to cut the cake tonight at work so I can get a good look at how it turned out and get a photo. The contrast of the deep red and the cream looks pretty badass.

I think I’ll give him a gentle nudge in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Significant Event.

The weatherman always talks such a big game, doesn’t he?

“A significant event”, that’s what he’s been saying all week. Snow is coming and it’s going to be a significant event.

Phooey.

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See those white spots? That’s the significant event we all woke up to this morning. I say “we” when in fact I didn’t get out of bed until well after 9am 11am and, according to my Uncle, “there was a pretty decent dump around 6am”. But I figure it can’t have been that decent if this was all that was left of it by the time I got up.

I’m still holding out for the main event.

 

That Time I Got Into an Argument with a Teenager on Instagram, and Other Shortland Street Related Offences.

So I guess sometimes I get bored. But it’s not really boredom is it? More like complacency. Or a general dissatisfaction settles over me and it makes me feel angsty and argumentative. And superior. So superior. Like I get this craving to prove a point. Any point. And I just can’t let things go.

I guess that’s what happened this one time I decided to comment on a picture on the official Shortland Street Instagram page. Like, what am I even up to? Sometimes it’s just so frustrating when you remember that people take Shortland Street seriously and how are people so stupid?

It starts off with a picture of a universally hated character, one who had tried to murder another character. I’d only just tuned in after two years abroad, but already I could see how this character had come to be so hated. I think, for me, a lot of it was to do with how terribly the character was portrayed. In the past Shortland Street has been notorious for it’s seemingly oblivious hiring of terrible New Zealand ‘actors’, and maybe it was my period of absence that made me see the situation in such an acute light, but geez, this actor was seriously unconvincing.

So when my friend put me on to this actor’s personal Instagram account, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by it. It was like a train wreck that you just couldn’t look away from. Very quickly it became evident that the actor was a pretty high functioning idiot; hyperactive in nature, and *really fucking quirky!! 😉 ;)* In nearly every photo, she was pulling some ‘goofy’ face which just irritated me far more than it should have.

Now, the picture that caused me to revert to a pre-teen brat, was of the aforementioned actor with a kid that belonged to some charity that Shortland Street was involved with somehow. And wouldn’t you fucking know it? She’s pulling a face. It’s still imprinted in my brain. Sure, it’s somewhat normal to pull faces in selfies and photos with friends, but when it comes to a photo in a serious context like uh, a charity publicity photo, silly faces are inappropriate, no? Maybe it’s just me but here’s this dying kid (probably? I don’t actually know the context in that much depth) being hugged by a ‘famous’ actress from New Zealand’s worst daily soap, and she can’t even get a nice memento out of it. If the kid was also pulling a face that’d change things, like perhaps they’d prearranged to be goofy together, but this kid is just putting on her best brave faced grin and this other goddamn bitch is ruining it. Like, I should probably calm the fuck down but at the end of a week when I had been obsessing over this actresses stupid Instagram account, this was just the icing on the cake.

I don’t have all the screen grabs but the comment I made that started the avalanche of abuse was this:

“What is wrong with her face??”

Simple enough. Immature enough. Really unnecessary but it had been a long week of looking at this idiots face. Again, what the fuck am I even up to? I am 28 years old …

This is what followed.

 

In between mintysweet112’s comment and my YouTube jab, awesome_hannah threw some vague insult in my direction which lead to my feigning of offence. I say the offence was feigned, which for the most part it was, but there was a small part of me that recoiled, if just for a second. I had to remind myself that this person doesn’t actually know me and therefore can’t mean anything personal by their remarks.

Again, I am a 28-year-old woman …

Two days after awesome_hannah’s request to message her privately (at least I think that’s what DM means) which of course I didn’t do, she private messaged me asking what I was up to, just in general. An attempt to start a friendly tête a tête. I didn’t respond but she persisted by telling me that she had just been to “a really kewl beach”. OK awesome_hannah, I’ll bite. The following interaction then took place:

“Shouldn’t you be at school?”

“Iz ur mum proud of u?” [sic]

“The fuck does my Mum have to do with anything?”

“becoz ur mum iz a toilet”. [sic]

There is no salvation for the new generation.

On top of this shameful behaviour, I recently did another stupid Shortland Street social media related thing. Just before every ad break there’s a live Twitter update. At least I think it’s Twitter. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve got no business pretending to know the difference between all the various social media platforms. One’s a bird, one’s an ‘F’, and one’s a multicoloured box that’s supposed to look like a camera.

Something dramatic happens, the theme music briefly plays, a dark purple screen appears, and on it a pearl of wisdom from one of Shortland Street’s tens of followers. Some personal favourites have included “Woah, I wonder what’s going to happen” and the equally vague, “DRAMA!”. But I got to wondering, how can I get my Shortland Street opinions out to the masses? So I made a Twitter account. During Monday night’s hour-long episode I tweeted some witty and up to the minute commentary such as “love it how Lucy and Ali can throw an extravagant engagement party at the last minute and all the main characters are able to attend”. Then I waited, very eagerly, for the ad break. Alas my comment proved to cynical to make the cut. So I tried again, “good luck Lucy and Ali!”. Still nothing.

So I gave up. I know, I know, two attempts isn’t exactly a good effort but there are still so many days left in the year.

Like I keep on saying, this town is going to drive me insane.

 

Vegetable Soup Like Mum Used to Make

I keep finding myself baking or cooking out of boredom.

I hate cooking. Or at least I used to. On days like today though, where we’re all willing it to HURRY UP AND FUCKING SNOW; where the sky is white and the town has a cold, grey hue to it, it’s kinda nice to hang out in the kitchen and make some hearty feasts.

And so far all I’ve eaten today is a piece of banana cake.

A gargantuan pot of vegetable soup is quietly simmering away on the stove top and the house smells like many Sundays of my childhood.

This recipe is mainly improvised but it’s a throwback to one my Nana taught my Mum, and Mum in turn taught me. My Nana on my Dad’s side used to make vegetable soup with a big pork hock slowly softening in the centre of the pot. Forever a farming family from the South, no one got it when, during my vegetarian years, I refused to eat it. I’m not a vegetarian anymore but the idea of putting meat in a vegetable soup still just doesn’t sit right with me.

Here’s what I did today:

1/2 a green skin pumpkin. Any pumpkin will do, this one was just on special at the shops.

2 medium kumara, peeled

4 large carrots

an entire bunch of celery, leaves and all. Now, the celery is the most important part of this soup. I don’t know why but Mum told me to never forget the celery. I’ve never had the courage to make vegetable soup without it either so the theory is yet to be tested.

2 large brown onions

a shitload of garlic (personal preference)

8 cups of vegetable stock (I use Oxo cubes but this is just a convenience)

about a cup of some kind of dehydrated soup mix. I don’t know what this is exactly but it’s just a bag of wheat, barley, and dehydrated vegetables or something?

heartyverglowsalt.jpg(this guy, or something similar)

Salt and pepper to taste

Chop up all the vegetables except celery into small cubes (this just makes them easier to mash in the pot). I don’t bother peeling the carrots or the kumara because I reckon the skin adds flavour and nutrients to the soup. Also because I’m lazy and in my 28 years have never been able to master the potato peeler. The celery you just wanna cut up width ways and roughly chop the leaves too.

Sauté onion and garlic in pot on high heat before adding all the vegetables, as well as enough stock to just cover the vegetables. Add some salt and pepper before turning the heat down. Put the lid on the pot and you’re basically done.

IMG_1440

After while the veggies will get all soft and juicy and that’s when you want to jump on in there with a masher (is that what that instrument is called?) and get freaky with it. It’s perfectly OK if your soup looks like something the dog threw up at this point, because you know that’s not what this it.

NB: I absent-mindedly cut the carrots wrong so there’s not a great deal of success going on in the mashing process. Does it matter? Not in the slightest.

Simmer simmer, mash mash, season season and there ya go, some tasty as shit vegetable soup.

Of course no soup is complete without a side of bread. Because I love onion so goddamn much, and let’s face it, I’m not getting laid anytime soon, I made this slap dash cheese and onion mix and whacked it on some ciabatta. Probably more calories than I deserve at this point but you can’t beat the satisfaction of shovelling greasy, cheesy bread in your face.

This isn’t an exact science but here’s the cheese and onion mix just to give you an idea:

1/4 red onion

100g (ish) grated cheese

1tbsp butter (or margarine)

Mash it all together, whack it on the bread and grill it until it’s all melted and golden.

IMG_1442

Get it in your face!