Saturday, 23 June 2012

grey day

A bleak and rainy morning. Was confined to the house for the whole day due to the presence of workmen replacing some tiles in the lounge floor, which regularly erupts upwards in mini seismic events. With the level of skill found in the original construction of this house, the tiles are essentially stuck to the floor with chewing gum seemingly. This procedure took up most of my precious Saturday, and coated the contents of the house in a fine layer of grey dust.

When it was over I was left with a bin bag full of building debris to carry out to the refuse area. The bag was stupendously heavy and could only be moved by dragging it painfully along the ground. It soon became a little easier to pull, but it dawned on me that this was because the bottom of the bag had been worn away, leaving a trail of concrete chunks and dirt all the way to the bins.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tunnel, light

Toilet Phone is gradually regenerating itself in a quite miraculous way. This could be attributed to the fact that its immersion was pre rather than post-toilet use, so it was saturated only by untainted H20. Today it regained the ability to generate sound, certainly a quality one looks for in a phone. The little flash light is also no longer permanently switched on. This is all very impressive since that phone was well and truly submerged for the time it took me to overcome a natural aversion to plunging my hand into a toilet. Actually I suspect the battery life of the phone may even have increased as a result of this incident.

Monday, 18 June 2012


Just been reluctantly fishing my brand spanking new iPhone 4S out of the toilet bowl. That's the one I received from insurance a bare 3 weeks ago when my car window was bashed in and my beloved iPhone 4 snatched by a criminal lowlife. It still sort of works, except if you want to hear what the people you're calling are actually saying. Also the light on the flash helpfully stays on now even when the power is off.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

fast food nation

The new job proves demanding. Spending two hours a day in traffic, sitting in endless meetings and checking peoples' dodgy layouts leaves little time for activities like cooking an actual evening meal. Regular consumption of KFC plus no exercise will soon render me a flabby, stressed-out wreck. Rehydrated instant mashed potato seems likely to become my primary intake of vegetables.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Cruel fate

Back to buying lottery tickets again. Got really excited checking today's ticket: 9... YES!  11... YES! Then for every following number, I was just one digit away. ie. 48 when the winning number was 47, 15 when it should have been 16 etc. Why does the universe taunt me like this? 

Monday, 11 June 2012

winter of discontent

Thanks to the cold snap currently going on, I awoke to the bleak reality of monday morning curled up in the foetal position in one corner of the bed. I have been managing to drag myself out of bed in the stygian pre-dawn gloom in order to get to work on time, but at what cost to my mental well-being I would like to know. Whoever made up this 8:30 rule did not foresee the exponential increase in city traffic of the last decade.

This past weekend was delightful not least because of the novelty of being at home during daylight hours. I stumbled in after nightfall this evening and knocked over the DVD stand while trying to turn on a lamp. Admittedly it is not the most stable of furnishings, since I made it myself during a period of enforced austerity years ago. It's toppled over a couple of times in the past. Now it's become a bit of a health hazard with pieces constantly being knocked off the glass shelving leaving some rather jagged platforms for the discs to rest upon.

At work, we have now moved offices. Only to about 20 feet away, but at least now when standing up I no longer slam my chair into the the back of the person behind me. I have a sliver of window with a view down into a sunken courtyard containing a Wendy house used by the smokers during inclement weather. S'great.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Days 4 & 5

Made a supreme effort and arrived on time at last. Today we trailed around grim 'emerging market' shopping malls with a Polaroid camera and notebook, checking out the merchandising efforts of our biggest client. Then back to the office for some inadequate sandwiches and a four hour meeting, during which the morning's observations were discussed at length and with unflagging enthusiasm. By 5 o'clock I personally had long ceased to care about the consumer path from the customer's car into our shop.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Day three

Late again, thanks to some legitimately dreadful traffic. (Will I ever manage to get here by 8:30am? It seems increasingly unlikely). Then a series of endless meetings until lunchtime. On the plus side, the canteen here is a far more professionally-run and hygienic affair than at the last place. The actual kitchen part is hidden behind a door with access only for canteen staff, so any dead underwater chickens or other food-related horrors are mercifully concealed.
Since advertising is a relatively tiny industry, I keep bumping into people I've worked with or known before and whose smutty pasts I am privy to. Most entertaining.
On the minus side, the internet connection here is just pathetic. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Day two

Late again. Although by fewer minutes this time. I picked up my new company 'You Count' mug to get some tea this morning, and found a cockroach kicking weakly in yesterday's dregs.

Monday, 4 June 2012

New job

Day One: got up much earlier than usual, in keeping with the stipulated commencement of work at 8:30am (at previous company breezing in at 9 onwards was deemed acceptable). But thanks to the hanging out of much holiday washing, watching of Sky news and being trapped in horrendous traffic, I contrived to be late for my first day.

Most of the morning was spent in meetings, where people discussed important matters. I didn't contribute much (or anything, in fact) as I had no idea what they were on about. I did find out where the toilets were and procured an access tag with which to open doors. I now have an enormous wedge of forms to fill out for Human Resources, and a pretty handbook setting out the ethos of my new company. Must get to work on time tomorrow. That might go some way towards demonstrating the passion and commitment demanded by the handbook.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Return to the concrete jungle

  Arrived back in the smoggy old city this evening. Before I forget, here are some further highlights of the Amazing Safari Adventure:


-       Driving under a tree and disturbing a huge Martial Eagle perched there. It flew off overhead, dropping its mangled prey into the road ahead of us. This turned out to have been a tiny Steenbok, of which only one hoof and a head remained. Minus the eyeballs.

-       Spotting a nocturnal civet quietly ambling along by moonlight in front of the house. It was similar to a badger or raccoon in shape, but with cat-like markings. The secretions of the civet were apparently used as a fixative in perfumes for thousands of years.

-       Achieving the worst scrabble scores in the history of the game.

-       Shrinking down in an attempt to disappear under the dashboard as two lionesses sauntered towards our game-viewing vehicle. They stopped a relatively short distance away in order to start licking each other, thank God.

-       Almost seeing a leopard: last night its loud, sawing cough echoed out of the dark next to the house, greatly upsetting the troop of baboons roosting in a nearby tree and sending the humans scuttling for lights and binoculars. A large male leopard was seen by the carport, but not by me as per usual. Once again I failed to charge out with the required speed to glimpse it. 


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Close Encounters

Yesterday we drove out before sunset to set up a little table and camp chairs on a vast, empty plain and watch the sun go down while dining on leftover pasta. A wildebeest wandered in the middle distance.

We packed the hamper away when darkness fell and then got out the spotlight for a night drive. Sightings were few and far between until we rolled up to the edge of a small watering hole. The driver continued forward, having spotted some wading birds to the right and momentarily oblivious to the enormous rhino rising up in the spotlight dead ahead of us as it emerged from the water. I helpfully trilled ‘Rhi-nooooo!’ in a panicky falsetto to draw everyone’s attention to this sudden apparition, upon which the engine and spotlight which had been causing it annoyance were hurriedly shut down. Thankfully it lumbered off to one side instead of trying to impale the vehicle on its horn (my door being the closest to it).

My bladder and I were terrifically grateful to return to the safety of the house later that evening. But an hour later as I was luxuriating in the bath and adding a hot water top-up, I heard an ominous sound from outside. I turned off the tap and recognized the quite unmistakable sound of a lion roaring in the immediate vicinity. Had I been on my own, I would have locked myself in a cupboard. But I was emboldened by my bush-wise hosts to drag on a towel and follow them outside with a spotlight to look for the animal. The baboons in the surrounding trees were grunting their alarm calls. A huge male lion with a black mane was sighted just around the corner of the house, but not by me as I was hovering within dashing distance of the lounge door.

My dreams last night were troubled…

Sunday, 27 May 2012

In the Bush*

After a distracted last day ever at ********** (company name), and a modest farewell which left me reeking of various dodgy perfume brands due to being hugged by a series of female colleagues, I am on holiday for a week.

A kind friend has taken me away to her holiday pad in a game reserve adjoining the Kruger Park, and a great time is being had by all. Where the huge national game reserves have to idiot-proof their operations and manage risk as far as possible, the share-block holders in this enterprise are presumed experienced and responsible, and therefore in possession of their own open-top game viewing vehicles in which to trundle around.

This is great and at the same time slightly hair-raising. The big cats are not in a fenced-off section but roam freely amongst the other game (and the houses). Fortunately my hosts know what they are doing, and can tell when an elephant is feeling irritable and likely to try and overturn your vehicle. My bladder is a source of concern however. It’s an impossibility for me to get through a lengthy game-spotting expedition without needing the loo at least once, and it’s hard not to wee on your shoes while staring manically in every direction for lions and making sure you’re not about to squat on a scorpion.

Monkeys are also a problem. Constant vigilance is required to stop them making off with your possessions. Last night one of them pissed on us from a tree while we sat parked by the river watching some elephants (fortunately the canopy was on). But none of this is can blight the amazing experience of watching wild animals browsing right before your (relatively safe) balcony.

hey hey it's the monkees

*3G coverage is hard to come by so updates may be infrequent
Brilliantly framed iPhone photo

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Return of Sputnik

Predictably, much of the day has been spent in efforts to restore my personal transport and communications infrastructure. Even in the instant of being showered with broken glass at the traffic light yesterday, I was calculating the enormous amount of aggravation, administration and time spent on hold to the insurance company that lay ahead. Incidentally, I've noticed that the one thing you could really do with when your car window gets battered in and your phone snatched, is a phone.

I do now have a passenger window again, a lengthy procedure which involved the dismantling of the entire door. But at least now there's more than a Jiffy bag separating me from the smog of leaded petrol fumes. Since my iTrip was yanked out during the car invasion (hardly a great gain for the robbers; it had been trodden on and was held together with glue), there's a danger of being left without in-car entertainment. This means I'll have to bring my former radio-mp3 transmitter model out of retirement: a bulky & cumbersome device which some have compared to antiquated 1970's Soviet space technology. But what do they know.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Driving to badminton practice tonight, I got off the highway at the notorious Corlett Road off-ramp. I know of several people who've been the victim of smash-and-grab incidents there, so I usually approach the intersection with caution.

It was very dark, but as I crept slowly up in the right hand lane I spotted a man loitering near the curb. He turned and began to approach my car from the rear on the driver's side. I darted forward and changed lanes, fervently willing the traffic lights to hurry up and turn green. As I was peering suspiciously at him in the rear view mirror and plotting further evasive action, my passenger window exploded inwards with a huge bang and a shower of glass. The man's hitherto-unseen accomplice lunged right into the car and grabbed my iPhone from its cradle. The soothing melodies of Roxy music abruptly died as he ripped out the phone and its iTrip cord, and I watched nonplussed as these two fuckers scuttled off up the embankment.

Resigned, I drove to the nearest police station and went through the incredibly long and pointless charade of giving a statement to the superbly pointless South African Police Force. Fortunately both car and phone are insured. At last I was free to drive home, with arctic winds blasting the interior of the car and bits of glass embedded in my backside. I have now fashioned a truly classy interim replacement window out of a dry cleaning bag and some packaging tape.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

doing time

I grow weary of that friggin' office. This is the seventh day of toil in a row. At least with skateboard guy off gadding about in Europe, we are free to indulge in as much bitter moaning as we like while we work. His enthusiastic & high-energy presence would not be welcome here at the moment. Fortunately this pain will all be over (for me, anyway) on Thursday, when my week's leave begins. I pity those who remain.

Friday, 18 May 2012

indentured labour

As predicted, a rendezvous at the office is on the cards for Saturday morning. Among the gang are several resentful freelancers who have been refused overtime payment by the company, a lethargic deadbeat drunk (not in fact the MAM, but a prime candidate for the post), and yours truly. Our new boss has buggered off to London with his jet-setting Brazilian lawyer wife to attend a wedding. But not before delivering a lecture on the necessity of dedicating our entire lives to advertising, and threats of chaining us to our desks in the event of us not giving 100% to this project.

We now have a review with him via Skype at 12 noon tomorrow when he's settled in at his hotel. Our feeling is: if you're going to London and abandoning your post during this crucial time, just piss off and leave us to it instead of harassing us via video uplink.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

most peculiar

Managed to leave the office before dark tonight, although the current orgy of work shows little sign of abating. On Tuesday we were finally allowed to go home at 10am for a shower and a quick nap, before returning to carry on crafting the presentation until 9pm. Now a new job looms which apparently will require everyone to work over the weekend.

What in the name of Beelzebub is going on here? Every resignee I've ever observed has spent their days surfing the net, leaving early and generally slacking off as they can't be entrusted with any important jobs in their demotivated condition. I'm quite certain that being trapped in a boardroom slaving away all night with only a jar of lollipops for sustenance, then going on to work over the weekend, is not characteristic of the typical notice period.
I think I'm still suffering some sort of attention deficit disorder as a result of losing a vital night's sleep. While I could definitely hear noises coming out of the strategy man's mouth during today's briefing, they refused to resolve themselves into actual words.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


Daylight! Rejoice.

Desperate times. Saved by a packet of instant porridge found in my cupboard.


Still at the office, obviously. Feeling decidedly wilted. Can't believe I'm still here, despite the outcome of this pitch being A MATTER OF SUPREME INDIFFERENCE TO ME.

Monday Bloody Monday

Disaster! Arrived at work to an apparently normal Monday morning. Was then told I would be needed to help out on the big pitch that's going on at the moment, and I would probably have to work quite late. In fact, 'working late' has turned out to be a euphemism for quite literally 'working all night'. Haven't done this since about the age of twenty-five. Us three saps that remain here have gone through the stages of anger, denial, hysterical laughter, further anger, and are now passing into resignation and depression...

Speaking of resignation, they really are getting their last pound of flesh out of me before I leave. And I'll take away the memory of a wintry sunrise seen through the office window. Super.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The List

Introducing an occasional feature devoted to creating an Index of Petty Annoyances, which are legion since I am easily annoyed. Contributions to the list are welcomed.

Recent sources of aggravation:

- People (inevitably young & working in advertising/media) who have cultivated an idiotic fake American accent.
 - People who, although they can see you are deeply involved in a conversation with someone else, decide it's crucial that they interrupt in order to say 'hello'.
- DVDs with encryption that selfishly defies all known methods of piracy.
- Having a file in which the receipts for significant purchases are religiously placed, only to find that the one receipt needed in order to return a faulty item has vanished.
- Pathetic modern vacuum cleaners with delicate filters needing to be removed and washed after virtually every use or else they explode.
- People nearby hosting a party (not a crime), but then playing 'YMCA' (unforgivable).

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Soup kitchen

Walked into the canteen kitchen today to pour a bit of leftover tea down the drain. Poised over the extra-large sink, I was about to pour when I realised the huge sink was half full of murky water with scum floating on top. At the bottom rested a dozen defrosting chickens like the pale, bloated corpses of unlucky Titanic passengers. No more chicken mayo sandwiches for me.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Should have stayed in bed.

Spent a large portion of the working day bickering with my copywriter partner about the wording to be used in a TV ad. This ended in a stalemate, whereupon I decided that my time would be more usefully spent in finally updating my iPhone with the latest operating system. Starting this procedure at 4.45pm proved a miscalculation however, since by 6.05pm my gigantic music library was still in the process of being transferred between phone and computer.

Leaving the office after dark and post rush-hour should have ensured a speedy trip home, but no. Some unknown cataclysm on the roads had blocked up every side street and back route I attempted. At last I arrived to be greeted by these dazzling freshly painted road markings, presumably organised by the Body Corporate of the estate. I admire their dedication to cost-saving. Why hire a professional sign-writer when there are 6 year-olds with their own poster paints sitting idle?

Elvish runes, or the word 'VISITORS'? You decide.
Circles - always a bit of a challenge.

'I'll just sit down and admire my handiwork. SHIT!'

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


This bunch are seriously overstating their abilities. Unless they're going to assist by holding them down.

Our recently appointed Managing Director made a serious impact in our lives for the first time today by providing some extremely tasty cupcakes in honour of his birthday. Well I say him, it was actually his secretary. His overall policy seems to be one of hands-off non-intervention and general invisibility. Which is probably for the best.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Compelling viewing

Loving that programme about Australian border security, aptly named 'Border Security'. In any given episode there's guaranteed to be an Asian guy with a suitcase full of undeclared food and weevil-infested herbal medicines; somebody else (usually Asian) clearly planning to work while on a holiday visa; someone with a suitcase full of cocaine residue and several people in need of a body cavity search. It's always terribly disappointing when they tear some suspicious individual's bags apart but find nothing and have to let them go.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The playpit

So far, an irresistible desire to spend every evening at work has not manifested itself. Even the funky skateboarding new boss has been leaving at 5pm sharp. Still, it's early days. I did overhear him enthusing about how great it would be to have a Go-karting track at the office, so he's not ready to give up on his dreams yet.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Fresh meat

Our new Executive Creative Director started work today. Pizzas were ordered for a lunchtime bonding session with him and the 3 new freelance creatives who also started work today. Our new CD has worked in Paris, Sydney and New York and apparently has enjoyed a highly successful career. He describes himself as a high-energy ADD personality, and came in today limping due to a skateboarding accident (he's 40). He believes that a creative department should be a giant 'playpit', and that come 8 o'clock at night people should be reluctant to go home in case they miss out on further excitement.

While I could buy into the notion of spending my days frolicking in a playpit, it was hard to keep a straight face during this last statement. I have trouble envisioning the nightly events that would detain us at work past, or even up to 8pm. Frankly, only being involved in a seedy office affair can provoke that level of fascination with the workplace. I will watch with interest to see what changes he manages to effect during my notice month.

One of the new freelancers we met today is already showing promisingly loony behaviour. Everyone at the table had to introduce themselves and give a brief biography, and she went into agonising detail over all of her last three retrenchments. Personally I would have tried to withhold this information from my new workmates.

I hear delicious reports that the Red Queen's new enterprise is proving less than a runaway success. Times are tough and they are finding it hard to land new business. And quite who would be getting their hands dirty actually doing the work, should they land any, remains a mystery. Certainly not Her Majesty. But while I would be delighted to see her limp away from a failed endeavour in abject humiliation and base poverty, I feel uneasy at the possiblity of her return to the mainstream agency scene...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

DIY day

I just need to express my hatred for Superglue. It comes with a handy twist-off lid giving the artful illusion that you could use it, put the lid back on, and then open it again at some future date without the lid superglueing itself to the tube and needing to be wrenched off with pliers causing a glue haemorrhage and sticking your skin to the object you wanted to glue.

Also, my cherished childhood belief that only diamonds can scratch glass has proven to be a fallacy. In fact, sandpaper scratches glass very effectively. I discovered this when I got careless with the electric sander on a wooden window-frame that was looking a bit decrepit.

Monday, 30 April 2012

time well spent

Remarkably uneventful day at work with the four other people who didn't get it together to book a day's leave. Did my best to be late but there was so little traffic (what with everybody else having a lie-in), that I got there on time. Conscientiously took fruit to work. Ate none of it.

Saturday, 28 April 2012


Seemingly I alone, out of the entire population of the country, have not put in for leave on Monday which would have resulted in a five-day-long weekend. Fool! I had been trying to conserve my leave for later in the year, little knowing that I would soon be changing jobs thus rendering this policy utterly futile.

C'est la vie. Three days off in a row is not to be sneezed at. Did the grocery shopping today and optimistically bought ingredients for a stew, which I foresee wilting forlornly in the fridge three weeks hence. Got home having somehow not obtained the one truly necessary item on the list - bin bags. The bushes outside the back door will have to serve as a midden for the time being. I'll fit right in with the neighbours, who are currently pushing around their screaming toddler in one of those shopping trolleys for kids shaped like a car, presumably nicked from a nearby supermarket.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

women and children first

Announcement: Like the MAM who preceded me, the time is ripe to abandon this foundering ship and leap into the chilly waters of the job market. Although in his case, it wasn't so much leaping as being pushed screaming off the poop deck.

Not least among the benefits of taking the plunge, the new job will inevitably provide a wealth of blog material in the form of all-new sources of irritation. It's doubtful whether anyone will rise to take the crown of the MAM, but contenders are guaranteed.