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Posts tagged ‘mid life crisis’

Monsoon bucket of suck

In the weeks leading up to the move, everything that could go wrong went wrong.

Well, ok, maybe not EVERYTHING. I suppose Husband could have succumbed to a critical mid-life crisis and left me for a pole-dancing accountant. But strictly speaking, that’s more deviant than ‘wrong’. So I stand by my original statement, as long as I don’t have to defend the position or address any pointed questions about it.

Three weeks ago, we were driving down Opanuku Road when we heard a strange noise coming from the back of the Hilux Surf.

At first we ignored it, because it was virtually indistinguishable from all the other strange noises coming from the general vicinity of the car. However, within a short space of time/distance, an expensive ‘CLONK!’ could be clearly heard – and felt – reverberating joyfully above the cacophony of mechanical acoustics.

After we pulled over, I tramped back up the road in my three inch heels in search of mobile reception. Then we all – my parents, Husband, Jed and I – milled disconsolately around the deceased car until rescued by Flame Haired Titan.

While the Surf flirted with the scrap heap, the parents magnanimously gave up custody of the MR2 during the last week of their holiday. Yet the 2-seat MR2 was not ideal for salvaging packing boxes, nor even transporting two humans equipped with 35kg dog. I was also anxiously conscious that the Surf was scheduled to relocate us and a trailer to South Island in less than 10 days.

Andrew discovered that, by disabling the rear differential, he could operate the Surf in modified four wheel drive. We coaxed the car to a garage; later that day, someone called to inform us that – as suspected – the rear differential was poked; he could replace it with a second hand part for $1000; and he had just got a limousine in for an emergency service so could we collect the Surf because there wasn’t room to store it – oh and he closed in 10 minutes, so before then.

Andrew decided to do the job himself. When he extracted the differential with a lot of swearing, two of the teeth on the cog were completely snaggled, shards of metal in the surrounding oil.

He managed to source a second hand rear differential for $275 on Trademe (when we turned up to collect it, there were about seven Hilux Surfs parked outside this dude’s house; according to his business card, he was a ‘South Auckland Toyota Surf Parts Consultant’).

Then Andrew spent two mornings rolling around under the car covered in grease and oil. I maintained a continuous supply of coffee and occasionally handed him a spanner. There was a tense moment when he removed a section of engine to facilitate the fitting of the 55kg diff, then couldn’t figure out how to get the complex and rather-crucial looking piece back in. With my assistance (I inadvertently hit him with it) he eventually manoeuvred it into place.

That crisis narrowly averted, I received the proof of About Time from my editor, who required a response within a week. For Smart/Casual, this stage of the production process was a soul-sucking, energy-sapping, time-consuming, will-to-live diminishing, hive-scratching, panic-attack inducing suckfest unrivalled in relentless tedium.

Proofing About Time was no different, except for the added frisson of packing crockery between adverbs. Also finalising the moving company, booking the ferry, changing address, cleaning the house, selling items, cancelling accounts, and setting up electricity at the new place. When I called Telecom to request a new landline, there was already a request pending for that address; this took another half a day to sort out.

Three days before we were due to move, the radio reported a fire had broken out 200m from our new house. People evacuated the area, the main power lines between North and South Island were shut down, and helicopters equipped with monsoon buckets were brought in.

For a while, we weren’t sure whether we even had a house to move into.

Great drying weather

Earlier today, while hanging out the clothes:-

“God, it’s great drying weather,” I said.

This isn’t the first time something I’ve said, totally divorced from my brain, has afforded me a moment of terrible clarity even before the words have stumbled out of my mouth to roam at will about the world wreaking havoc.

Not only did I realise I sounded just like my mother,

“Husband,” I whispered, “I’ve just achieved a new stage of middle age.”

I am comforted by the fact that ten years in Dubai didn’t bring it on sooner

Finnegan’s rocks

Last night, my friend Emma and I went to Finnegan’s. We usually play squash, but Em had toppled over snowboarding in Ski Dubai and damaged both her wrists (our friendship is anchored by mutual premature midlife crises).

 

Outside of The Cyclone, Finnegan’s is possibly the sleaziest pub in town: viscous fog of cigarette smoke, women of ill-repute, men of worse repute. There is always at least one beer marinated hound slumped on the bar, serenading his pint with a medley of Irish classics and weeping bitter tears for Ireland down his dishdash. Well, it IS an Irish pub. Even though most of the clientele are locals, they really get into the Irish spirit – heck, they don’t limit themselves to just the one.

 

On the plus side, Finnegan’s is just across Interchange 5 and boasts three underused pool tables. The peanuts are an instant boost to the immune system. And there is an entertainingly appalling band, fronted by a singer who wears trousers so tight she has a front bottom (affectionately known as ‘Camel Toe’).

 

Although I blend chameleon-like into Finnegan’s, my friend . . . well, Em looked a little out of place. Em is slender and delicate with flawless skin. Apologies for the clichéd description; normally I would be the first to point out that skin is never ‘flawless’ after the age of nineteen. But trust me when I say that there were times Em materialised out of a cloud of smoke and if the woman had been carrying a harp I would have opened my mind and seriously re-evaluated religion.

 

Although Finnegan’s was bustling, we were the only women in the place apart from Camel Toe and a waitress. Due to a miscommunication with the barman, we had a pint glass full to the top with dirham coins for the pool tables. However, there were none free. We charmed a pair of be-dishdashed men into giving up their pool table by hinting we might be prostitutes.

 

While Em and I played, the group of blokes mentally grasped our bottoms and chatted us up. Every time one of us took our turn, they chorused: “I think YOU’LL win,” and winked lasciviously. One of them winked so slowly, the manoeuvre took a full ten seconds from the initial eyelid twitch through full corneal coverage and back. They really were a winsome couple and we were almost disappointed when their prostitutes turned up.

 

Camel Toe finished flaying ‘Love Me Tender’ and came around brandishing sheets of paper and pencils.

 

“Pub quiz!” she chirped. I don’t know about Em, but I was desperately trying to keep my eyes fixed on her face. I’m sure Camel Toe thought I was very intense.

 

“It’s free,” she said over our polite rebuttals. “I’ll leave these with you just in case,” – her sudden movement as she gave me the paper seriously tested my resolve not to look at her crotch – “there are great prizes.”

 

I assumed that meant a garden hoe without the handle, rather than an all-expenses paid weekend for two in the Bahamas.

 

Two pool games and one tussle over the third prize Finnegan’s T-shirt later, Camel Toe announced: “And the winners are . . . THE BIRDS!”

 

Well, I hadn’t seen that coming. I mean, one of the four categories had been ‘Geography’ – not my strong point as you know. Mind you, even I know what the capital of Spain is (well now I do, although at the time Em and I had to flip a coin between Barcelona and Juventus).

 

“Come up here . . . THE BIRDS!”

 

I gave Em a push in the direction of the stage, but she hauled me up after her. I was mortified.

 

“What’s your name?” asked Camel Toe and stuck a mic in my gob.

 

“Er, Niamh,” I muttered.

 

“Emma!”

 

“You look pretty surprised to be here. How surprised are you, on a scale of 1 to 10?”

 

“Er, twenty.” That was me again. Then all of a sudden it hit me: the microphone, the captive audience (albeit only half of them conscious), the snore of the crowd, the smell of the greasepaint (or it might have been Camel Toe’s deodorant).

 

“So, will we be seeing you back here again?” Camel Toe said, the last words trailing away as I grabbed the mike.

 

“DEFINITELY!” I beamed, waving at the cheering fans. “I think this place is GREAT! I LOVE it here! FINNEGAN’S ROCKS!”

 

Camel Toe tugged the microphone, but I had my teeth embedded in it.

 

“You have won-” she managed, before I got the mike back again.

 

“We’ll DEFINITELY be back here next Tuesday, won’t we Em?”

 

Emma’s reply was lost in the acoustic screech as I grimly wrestled Camel Toe for possession of the microphone.

 

“Get off-” she panted, but my grasping fingers had good purchase.

 

“You can have your microphone back now, PAHAHAHA!” I roared.

 

Camel Toe – with what I felt was unnecessary aggression – snatched the microphone and held it out of my reach. I swiped at it.

 

“Can I?” I pointed, but she shook her head firmly.

 

“Just a-”

 

“No.”

 

We won a bottle of Smirnoff’s vodka and a hair set, blow dry, manicure and pedicure at Juan’s Salon. When we checked our quiz form, it appeared Camel Toe had erased some of our answers and pencilled in the correct ones. Turns out the capital of Spain is Madrid – who’d have known? Hey, she only amended four of our answers – we conclusively outplayed the Arab clientele in the Popular Music section.

 

At the end of the evening, going through the hotel lobby:

 

“Look!”

 

Em pointed. It was Juan’s Salon! A faded poster with curling corners featured pouting models with bubble perms and shoulder pads.

 

Shame our winning voucher was only valid for two days

Satan’s School of Upper Management

The other day I got reacquainted with my bitching skills. Over the years the disintegration of my cells has been accompanied by a general mellowing. I haven’t started to wear slippers regularly but it’s probably only a matter of time – and a short matter at that.

Well, the other day I was really REALLY bitchy. A friend of mine said, “You mean more bitchy than usual?” But bless him, he’s just being kind.

So ANYWAY, I was at the tailor’s in Satwa to collect a shirt, when behind me I heard someone say, “Is that Niamh?”

It was Dom, an old boss of mine. Before I joined Ex-Employer I used to work for a small publishing company that always did everything on the cheap – no corner went uncut, no vendor escaped unscrewed. I lasted about three months.

Normally I have more sticking power – witness five point five years with Ex-Employer – but the main reason I left was Dom’s business partner Eileen. This fascist witch, a graduate of Satan’s School of Upper Management and Psychological Torture, transformed my life into a living hell. Really, she didn’t take to me at all even when exposed to the face-melting force of my full charm offensive. (This involves lashings of sycophancy and gurning. To date, Eileen is the only human on record as having failed to succumb to it.) She undermined me wherever possible and once described me as a ‘half wit’ in front of my colleagues. Since I’m at least two-thirds wit, I bitterly resented her shortchanging me by one sixth. Another time she stole my stapler and blamed it on Tim.

To be fair, Eileen is a tortured individual with Problems, some of them likely psychopathic. She’s an alcoholic and her husband left her. I only mention this in the interests of full disclosure, so that you have some basis for sympathy if you feel so disposed or wish to save her soul via religious prayer.

Personally I am simply not that big a person. In fact, I would seriously consider murdering the woman if I knew for sure I’d get away with it, but I’m not keen on jail time and lesbians. No sorry, I don’t wish to discriminate against lesbians – more generally women with beer bellies for whom the definition of ‘exfoliation’ is limited to their cranial region.

(I’m hoping that she doesn’t cark it from sudden liver failure, or being pushed in front of a speeding car by someone completely unknown to me, because this blog post rather incriminates me. But I’m not too worried about it – I’m not generally that lucky.)

In short, I have no sympathy for the woman; in fact, I hope she has a miserable life accompanied by pubic lice.

So, I was chatting away to Dom, and he mentioned that Eileen was in the changing rooms. I wondered whether he was referring to the same rancid slagheap, since when I resigned I cited Eileen as the main reason. Also, Dom and Eileen had acrimoniously parted ways a year after I left.

Next thing Dom exclaims: “Eileen, there you are! You remember Niamh?” with a vague flourish in my direction.

“Hello Eileen,” I said politely if not entirely enthusiastically.

Eileen, for indeed it was she, looked me up and down like I had just slid out from under the sole of her shoe. Then she emitted a blood-curdling sneer and, with what can only be described as a sniff/snort hybrid lubricated with excess mucous dredged from the far reaches of her nose, she turned and goose-stepped off.

“Er, Dom, you know Eileen and I are not that fond of each other,” I said in an undertone, demonstrating what you have to acknowledge might be a world-class talent for understatement.

“Oh god!” breathed Dom. “I forgot you two don’t get on.”

A talent almost matched by Dominic De Souza.

“I see you two are still friends though.”

“Well, life’s too short innit?” said Dom.

“Certainly too short to be bumping into that mouldy old slapper. HA HA!” I responded, whereupon next to me there emanated a noise akin to a vulture choking on a piece of gristle. Yes, I hadn’t noticed Eileen standing right next to me polluting my personal space.

You know when someone is so angry they can’t speak? She was making little skreaking noises, veins standing out on her neck, big bright red face featuring throbbing, bulging eyes. I stepped back fairly sharpish because there was a distinct possibility her eyeballs were going to pop right out of the sockets:

“Watch out, they’re gonna blow!”

It was terrifying.

“WELL, it was LOVELY to see you again Eileen,” said I in a rush. “We MUST have COFFEE some time, BYEEEEEEEE!” And then I charged out the door.

It’s been so long since I was last incisively bitchy that I nearly lacerated myself sheathing my claws. I feel very proud of myself. Such a sense of achievement and fulfillment. I have resolved to be snide to pure evil (it’ll be a sliding scale) to at least one person a day, although I do want to make sure they deserve it – perhaps I’ll goad them a bit before unleashing my inner bitch

Boycotting Sony products

When Andrew and I first met (ah! Those halcyon days when Andrew didn’t maim me), all our friends were getting engaged. Then we went through a wearing wedding phase and now there’s a bumper crop of babies. It was therefore refreshing to attend Mark and Sarah’s wedding on Thursday.

 

It was held in Jebel Ali – the same church where Miles and Sharon practiced their knot tying in June. I love weddings – the ceremony always grabs me by the gut and gives it a vigorous massage. I find it very moving, even with Andrew hissing, ‘Are you crying yet?’ at intervals. Mark and Sarah had opted for the reading from 1 Corinthians 13, and the signing of the registry was accompanied by Bob Marley’s ‘Let’s Get Together and Feel All Right’.

 

When Miles and Sharon married, their minister exhibited a set of frankly scandalous toenails in a pair of sandals. Sharon later reported that she had never encountered anyone so in need of a caustic acid pedicure. The last thing you need when you’re making that ultimate decision as to whether to spend the rest of your life with someone are great horny toes with wedges of cheese on the side.

 

In Mark and Sarah’s case, although the Reverend’s wife later confirmed that his toes are perky and free of mould (one assumes you can trust these people), we were all thankful that he did not feel compelled to air his little piggies. Having a vocation is no excuse to neglect personal hygiene. My dad has lovely feet of a light, fruity fragrance and always keeps his nails well clipped – he’s a shining example to the ministry.

 

After the service everyone piled off to the Royal Mirage for lunch on the beach. Although lunch was fabulously nouveau – a veritable treat to look at – the meal was half a casserole short of substantial. But there was plenty of booze on offer . . . and this is where the rot set in.

 

By the time we went back to Mark and Sarah’s house for some serious celebration, we’d been fairly chugging it back. Mark and Sarah had hired The Fairmont Hotel to do the catering. In other words, there was always someone unobtrusively on hand to top up the drink.

 

It was CARNAGE. I sang. I vaguely remember drunkenly discussing Darina Allen’s sex appeal and the minxy way she mixes up a cake. Andrew evicted the Barman and concocted tumblers of B52s, spending an hour pouring liqueur over a teaspoon with his tongue clenched between his teeth. Then he fell asleep on the sofa, whereupon I took over and treated guests to the ‘Shaw Shooter’: 1 measure each of Sambuca, Tia Maria, Watermelon Liqueur, Jack Daniels and Gin mixed with 2 measures of Amaretto. Or whatever else is at hand – the beauty of the Shaw Shooter is that it is a constantly evolving phenomenon. Everyone pronounced it ‘outstanding’ – everyone left standing that is, bipedals being fairly thin on the ground at this stage.

 

Being too drunk to take a hint, we were still present if not correct long after the remaining guests had left. Sarah eventually had to kick Mark (Fitz, not her new husband), Andrew and I out. Luckily Mark lives just up the road so we crashed at his place.

 

The next day was pretty grim, I can tell you. Andrew and I clambered back into our wedding kit. My formerly elegant frock was stained with half a pint of Shaw Shooter, and my heels – so sexy for a mid-day wedding – were frankly sluttish at nine o’clock the morning after. Mark, Andrew and I sat in Mark’s living room balefully glaring at each other, wafting furry tongue breath and swallowing stomach acid-laced burps. Mark was kind enough to drive us back to our place where we crashed for a few hours, then lay around moaning for the rest of the day.

 

I am now harboring a range of bruises coloured peppered mustard to mouldy aubergine; still feeling sore and crotchety and rather old.

 

Speaking of which, I’ve noticed that people no longer ask my age and on the rare occasions they do I can never remember whether I am 33, 34 or 35. I have to mentally subtract 1972 from the current year. Another thing: these days the calculation is much harder to perform – it really wears out my aging synapses. If someone asked me to perform some on the spot calculus I’d probably wipe out half my brain.

 

While I’m on the subject, another adjustment I’m finding hard is the filling out of forms where they thoughtfully provide tick-boxes next to the age brackets, in case you are too ancient to remember your date of birth. Up until relatively recently, I always happily ticked the first box. It was a tragic day when I went to the Sony site to register my MP3 player, and the form read:-

 

What is your age?

Under 10 c

10-14 c

15-19 c

20-24 c

25-29 c

Over 30* c

 

* This site is geriatric friendly. If you do not have the energy to tick the box we will understand if you leave it free

 

I’m THE LAST BOX!! I’m thinking of boycotting Sony. At the very least, it is now a matter of principle not to recommend Sony products

Onslaught of middle age

It’s Friday afternoon and Husband is out in the garden winning friends and influencing neighbours by trying out his new circular saw. Hard to believe it’s only cutting through wood; it sounds like it’s crushing metal. I can tell we’re going to be popular around here.

As you may have guessed, Andrew has become frightfully domesticated in our new home and strides around measuring, taking cryptic notes, photographing what I would describe as blank walls, drilling, screwing, and threatening to drill and screw.

For eight years we have managed to hold middle age at bay, largely by dint of living in a city apartment barely large enough to hold a pot plant.

These days Andrew and I actually go shopping (together) and I find myself saying things like, “OOH, fabric softener – four litres for the price of three! And look Darling, it ‘conditions your laundry and gives it deep down softness with longer lasting freshness.’ How have I managed without this product for all these years?”

The other day I bought myself a pair of pruning shears with a safety catch.

I’m telling you, we’re bobsleighing down the slippery slope with no handbrake

Saudi Arabia: 5km

About two months ago Husband was gnarly with flu – hacking cough, sore throat, masses of snot and the sweats. At one point he asked me to take him to see a doctor so that gives you some idea of the severity. He’s also suffered on and off from a dicky tummy, but I’ve been dosing him with spuds which has lent a robustness formerly lacking in his constitution.

I think some of it is stress – he’s had a lot on at work recently. The company was booted out of their office and had difficulty finding alternative premises. Rents have gone psycho in the last year, and The Company eventually had to take an office at twice the price they were paying. The building is not great and is host to a cockroach orgy, so they are hoping it is a temporary measure.

Generally Dubai is going through a psychedelic phase, and we’re wondering how the place will shake down in the next couple of years. Residential and commercial rents have risen so sharply that many cannot afford to live or work here any more. Rents have increased on average 30% with the prospect of further hikes next year. There are no laws protecting the tenant – in fact, the government recently announced that the market would dictate rents.

There is plenty of hype about the hordes flocking to the UAE; but there are also swarms of people stampeding off into the sunset. Government charges are creeping into the formerly tax-free haven and with many Expats being hammered by adverse exchange rates, people are questioning whether it is worth their while staying in Dubai.

I am getting quite nervous about being in this place, but then I am a worrier. (It’s always particularly worrying when there appears to be nothing to worry about.)

We are still planning on two more years in the Middle East, but we are relieved not to be renting from the end of September.

Speaking of which, we are still waiting on Emaar to announce the availability of our house. Andrew and I paid a visit to the estate last month and evaded the security guards by dodging behind a pile of rubble. Andrew boosted me into the back garden over a nine-foot wall. (I am frankly amazed – not that my husband fired me over the wall – but that he persuaded me to do it in the first place.) The house is finished – tiled, painted, wired and garnished. The surrounding infrastructure is also complete. We’re not sure why Emaar is waiting to release the property, but we are not counting on getting it any earlier.

After we have moved in and settled the dust, we are looking at taking a break in Thailand or Sri Lanka. In the meantime, I am planning a solo trip back to Ireland in early August, stopping by Róisín on the way.

Last month Andrew went to India over the weekend on business. We can spend a fair bit of time apart since I have frequent business trips, but I was not prepared for the impact of Andrew traveling. I am so used to him being part of the fabric of life that it feels all kooky when he’s gone. I had to throw his clothes all over the floor to make the place feel normal.

The first morning after he left, I decided to get up really early and go to the beach for a swim. I was on my way out the door when I noticed a spare car-key hanging by the door.

I was delighted with myself, since I didn’t even know I had a spare car-key.

Once at the beach, I removed all valuables from my bag and, with the door open, locked the car with the main keys. Then I placed the keys carefully in the ashtray and slammed the door to. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the waves were lapping, there was not a care in the world.

Unfortunately, it was only at that point that it occurred to me to check that the spare key worked. I mean, why wouldn’t it? It was the same as my master key, with a black rubber fob and ‘GM’ stamped on it.

But er, it didn’t.

Never mind, I thought. The door locks are pretty heavy on the Yukon. I just needed to give it some welly; woggle it around with a bit of spit.

But it didn’t matter how much I woggled or spat: the door was not budging.

The key was similarly ineffectual on the remaining doors. I might as well have been jamming a fork in there.

I experienced an overwhelming compulsion to scratch my head – but it didn’t achieve much (and I gave it a good five minutes).

Well, there didn’t seem much point in standing around half naked staring at my car in total confusion. I was a bit worried about my state of undress – but at least I had a rubber hat and goggles. I tramped out to the road and managed to flag down a taxi.

Of course, my wallet was in the car with all my cash, ATM and credit cards.

There was only one thing for it. In the absence of Andrew, Danny was my best option. So I asked the taxi driver to take me to TopBiz. It took Danny a while to answer the door – well, it was 08:00 in the morning and we had been out on the lam the night before.

“HI!” I chirruped. “Would you mind paying the taxi driver, there’s a good fellow.”

Armed with coffee and Danny’s mobile, I texted Andrew. Helpfully, his set of keys was in his trouser pocket in Mumbai. The dysfunctional ‘spare key’ turned out to be for the glove compartment of his new Chevy Lumina. Chevrolet being a sub-division of General Motors, explaining the black key fob with ‘GM’ stamped on it in a muchly similar if not frankly identical fashion to my Yukon key.

Once he fully woke up, Danny derived great amusement from my predicament. He presented a hammer and crowbar ‘just in case’, and was mad keen to smash a window – ‘if we lob a rock through the windscreen, you might be able to claim it on insurance’.

However, I thought there might have been a spare key cut for the Yukon back in the days when men were men and against Danny’s protests, deemed the first course of action to be hunting it down. Remarkably, after the security guard had let us in to the apartment, I found the spare key relatively quickly and – what d’you know? – it worked.

The whole weekend I was lost without Andrew – and literally so on Friday night. I’d been invited out for dinner. Although I’d visited the Arabian Ranches on many occasions, it was always with Husband. Either he was driving, in which case I didn’t pay any attention to where we were going; or if I was driving, I didn’t pay much attention either since Andrew interjects with directions.

Anyway, I ended up in the middle of the desert on a dark potholed track (‘Off The Beaten Track’ in the UAE means any road less than three lanes – so you can imagine how far I had strayed). Every now and then a truck would roar up the road at me and honk their horn.

Poor Andrew was on the phone from Mumbai: “Ok, where are you now?” and I’d go, “Well, there’s a sand-dune here, and another over there, and I’ve just passed the bloke from Deliverance who’s the first person I’ve seen for over an hour. Oh look! Here’s a signpost . . . hang on . . . it says . . . Saudi Arabia 5km.”

I finally arrived at dinner – an hour and a half late. When I got home, there was 270km clocked on my speedometer.

Having sproinked the Alpha just before Christmas, Andrew treated himself to a new car a month ago – a Chevrolet Lumina. He has turned into a menace on the roads. (There’s no doubt that Andrew always had the potential for vehicular menace; he just lacked the means.) He likes to sit at red lights revving the engine and staring moodily at the car next to him; then squeal off in a cloud of vaporized rubber leaving a zigzag trail of skid marks in his wake.

I have sometimes worried that his new car is a Chickmobile, but he doesn’t appear to be ogling eye-candy and anyway he’s too young for a mid-life crisis (I think) (although he recently suggested taking a course of Grecian 2000) (but that’s been a bi-annual discussion for seven years). My role is to sit at his side all lipglossed up, oozing sex appeal and cleavage and laughing gaily at his every utterance. So far I am a grave disappointment, since I spend most of the time fighting g-forces with my face smushed up against the passenger window.

Not only am I tarnishing my husband’s image, I also leave greasy nose prints on the glass.

In contrast to Andrew and his speed machine, I am currently driving a Fiat Uno. Or it might be a Fiat Halfo. 0 to 60 kph in 7 minutes, as long as there is no hint of headwind or incline. Two months ago, I brought my Yukon in for a service and was hammered with a $2000 bill. Half of that was for the air-conditioning unit, which was exhibiting distinctly rock star behavior at the time. Whilst hyperventilating over the invoice, I seriously considered trading it in but I get very emotional about my cars, stopping just short of signing birthday cards ‘Love from Andrew, Niamh and The Yuk’ decorated with a couple of tyre prints.

Unfortunately, with spectacular timing given that we are stuck in the very bowels of Summer, last week the A/C packed in again. They charged me $120 to replace the compressor fan, and returned the car to me with assurances that there would be no further problems. I believed them, since at the time Andrew gave them a piece of his mind (they tend to completely ignore me) and Husband can project excellent controlled psychotic anger when he puts his mind to it. He got all flinty-eyed and thin-lipped and throbby-veined. He really was as manly as can be without a handlebar moustache and rippling hairy chest.

Sorry: I realize I’ve just described one of the Village People, but I come from an era where Tom Selleck was considered the epitome of XY karyotype.

ANYWAY, they assured us that the Yukon was fixed. The following morning, I got into my car to drive to a meeting and far from being spritzed with cold air, I got a faceful of car fart.

Hardly the ideal means of conveyance, but at least they gave me the Fiat Halfo to drive in the meantime. It’s better than a bicycle I guess.

Six months after the New Years Resolution was minted, I am still going to the gym three times a week. I got myself a heart rate monitor in February, which makes sweating a bit easier. My company gave me an iPod Shuffle MP3 player, so I plug myself into the headphones and belt out/massacre eighties classics on the treadmill. I like to do the instrumental bits too and am proud to report that my electric guitar impression is as a chainsaw to the nerves.

I have successfully cleared the gym of all other life forms.

Andrew sometimes accompanies me although it’s tough on his ears; even when he’s plugged into his iPaq he can still hear me burbling away. His gym attendance is sporadic at best.

I still fail to be convinced that exercising is good for you. Personally, I suspect it is an urban myth perpetrated by gyms and the sports companies to make money. Weird muscles ache all the time. And it’s not restricted to muscles – ligaments, bones, tissue, veins, even my eyeballs throb after a workout.

I don’t feel any fitter – or healthier. After six months of concentrated push-ups, triceps dips and extensions and lateral raises, I seem to be physically incapable of executing a pull-up – not even the one. Sometimes for real sport, Andrew likes to lift me on to the pull-up bar and chortle as I grunt and heave and kick impotently at thin air in order to raise myself half a centimeter.

Additionally, for the first time in three years I have been experiencing back problems again – I have renewed acquaintance with my Osteopath. He likes my underpants. (There aren’t many people get to see my underpants, so I appreciate when those who do notice.) I am also halfway through a course of Pilates but thus far, the benefits have been minimal

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