Friday, 27 February 2009

Going to the church on Sunday

I should have guessed we were into a real treat when I saw (well, couldn’t miss) the well proportioned middle-aged woman who was in bad need of a decent haircut, some style sense and a better bra. “Sand dunes”, my friend said.

I mean really, you shouldn’t expect anything but when you go to “The Church”.

And I’m not talking about the good Christian church. No. This church is the devil incarnate.

Set up 30 years ago for the alcohol-loving British, The Church has now amassed an antipodean following as the Sunday binge drinking place of choice.

Originally located in an old church, where it got its name, the venue has now moved to an old theatre in Kentish Town and the rules are simple:

Entry – 12 noon.

Preferred dress – the clothes worn the night before or some form of costume; Oompa-Loompas are popular.

The goal – to consume as much alcohol as possible in three and a-half hours.

It’s rather dinky how they do it actually. You buy a drink ticket from a bouncer with possible steroid-induced muscles, which entitles the bearer to three cans or bottles of alcohol. For convenience reasons, the alcohol is put in a plastic bag, which you then tie to one of your belt loops. It’s all class.

With plastic bags swinging, the dance floor soon becomes a sea of heaving bodies and alcohol-tinged sweat. Inhibitions are put to one side – this is no longer the place to “be”, this is the place to be “seen” – if you get my drift.

And then the surgically enhanced, old-enough-to-be-my-mother stripper arrives. It proceeded somewhat like this – “wow, didn’t know you could do that”, “Wow, didn’t know they could do that”, and “WOW, didn’t know that was even possible”. This was an upgrade from university course human anatomy 101 – I believe my knowledge of the female body may now be complete.

In comparison, I was slightly disappointed with the male version – not quite as much wow-factor other than an in-depth discussion with my friends afterwards as to whether it was “real” or not. Furthermore, could he have at least taken off the workman’s boots and socks before prancing about the stage in his hot little Calvin Klein jocks!

We could all look down our noses at what might seem a seedy underground scene in London, but really it’s no different from any other pub or club, other than it’s on a Sunday, there is probably less material worn and the stripper is guaranteed. This is British drinking culture without the shame attached and the denial there is a problem. What you see is what you get.

Alternatively, as the American tourists behind us said – stuff seeing Big Ben on a Sunday when you’ve been recommended to come to The Church. Yeah, I see their point. Big Ben just isn’t the same.

Going to the church on Sunday

I should have guessed we were into a real treat when I saw (well, couldn’t miss) the well proportioned middle-aged woman who was in bad need of a decent haircut, some style sense and a better bra. “Sand dunes”, my friend said.

I mean really, you shouldn’t expect anything but when you go to “The Church”.

And I’m not talking about the good Christian church. No. This church is the devil incarnate.

Set up 30 years ago for the alcohol-loving British, The Church has now amassed an antipodean following as the Sunday binge drinking place of choice.

Originally located in an old church, where it got its name, the venue has now moved to an old theatre in Kentish Town and the rules are simple:

Entry – 12 noon.

Preferred dress – the clothes worn the night before or some form of costume; Oompa-Loompas are popular.

The goal – to consume as much alcohol as possible in three and a-half hours.

It’s rather dinky how they do it actually. You buy a drink ticket from a bouncer with possible steroid-induced muscles, which entitles the bearer to three cans or bottles of alcohol. For convenience reasons, the alcohol is put in a plastic bag, which you then tie to one of your belt loops. It’s all class.

With plastic bags swinging, the dance floor soon becomes a sea of heaving bodies and alcohol-tinged sweat. Inhibitions are put to one side – this is no longer the place to “be”, this is the place to be “seen” – if you get my drift.

And then the surgically enhanced, old-enough-to-be-my-mother stripper arrives. It proceeded somewhat like this – “wow, didn’t know you could do that”, “Wow, didn’t know they could do that”, and “WOW, didn’t know that was even possible”. This was an upgrade from university course human anatomy 101 – I believe my knowledge of the female body may now be complete.

In comparison, I was slightly disappointed with the male version – not quite as much wow-factor other than an in-depth discussion with my friends afterwards as to whether it was “real” or not. Furthermore, could he have at least taken off the workman’s boots and socks before prancing about the stage in his hot little Calvin Klein jocks!

We could all look down our noses at what might seem a seedy underground scene in London, but really it’s no different from any other pub or club, other than it’s on a Sunday, there is probably less material worn and the stripper is guaranteed. This is British drinking culture without the shame attached and the denial there is a problem. What you see is what you get.

Alternatively, as the American tourists behind us said – stuff seeing Big Ben on a Sunday when you’ve been recommended to come to The Church. Yeah, I see their point. Big Ben just isn’t the same.

Friday, 20 February 2009

The anti-Valentine’s Day

The best Valentine’s Day I ever had was when I was about seven – I got two Valentine’s cards from the same boy, complete with “love from” and little kisses.

One was pink with flowers. The other was a bit more risqué – a half naked Tarzan and Jane entwined in an embrace flying through the jungle on a vine. As a seven-year old, this didn’t mean much – it just looked like a pretty cartoon. But I think my mother was slightly horrified at the somewhat erotic nature of the card (as I found out years later). However, I do believe that at the tender age of seven I didn’t know what the word erotic meant.

Fast forward more than 20 years to 2009. I didn’t get one Valentine’s Day card – let alone two. (Well, ok, technically that’s a lie - my female flatmate took pity on me and gave me chocolates and a card. But that doesn’t count!)

So, with no flowers or secret admirers in sight, it was time to take the “day of love” into my own hands – the anti-Valentine’s Day.

Basically what this consisted of was eating pizza and ogling buff men in short shorts and tight tops – aka England versus Wales Six-Nations rugby – where the better looking team won.

My female friend and I then joined her friend in town (you’re safer if you’re in threes on V-day; there’s no room for misinterpreting the situation). Sticking with the anti-romance theme, we went for the cheapest wine – out of a tap!

I took some time to peruse the pub and spot the singles and was pleasantly surprised to see a lot (clearly everyone else had had the same idea as us). Though there was one gentleman who had a rather unsightly butt crack on show – which either explains why he was probably single or it was his way of attracting female attention (you know, sort of like a peacock). Whatever it was, it was not good.

After our drinks we proceeded to the cinema to see award winning Slumdog Millionaire. Clearly, I hadn’t read the reviews. There I was thinking the movie was about some guy who went on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and wins. No. It turned out to be a romance (sorry if I’ve ruined that for anybody). Thankfully not too soppy.

At first, I was also thankful we were sitting in the front row away from all the back-row shenanigans. But boy was I wrong. As we were leaving there was a couple in the front row, just down from us, playing tonsil hockey.

Ah the joys of Valentine’s Day – the only day when saying “get a room” is redundant.

The anti-Valentine’s Day

The best Valentine’s Day I ever had was when I was about seven – I got two Valentine’s cards from the same boy, complete with “love from” and little kisses.

One was pink with flowers. The other was a bit more risqué – a half naked Tarzan and Jane entwined in an embrace flying through the jungle on a vine. As a seven-year old, this didn’t mean much – it just looked like a pretty cartoon. But I think my mother was slightly horrified at the somewhat erotic nature of the card (as I found out years later). However, I do believe that at the tender age of seven I didn’t know what the word erotic meant.

Fast forward more than 20 years to 2009. I didn’t get one Valentine’s Day card – let alone two. (Well, ok, technically that’s a lie - my female flatmate took pity on me and gave me chocolates and a card. But that doesn’t count!)

So, with no flowers or secret admirers in sight, it was time to take the “day of love” into my own hands – the anti-Valentine’s Day.

Basically what this consisted of was eating pizza and ogling buff men in short shorts and tight tops – aka England versus Wales Six-Nations rugby – where the better looking team won.

My female friend and I then joined her friend in town (you’re safer if you’re in threes on V-day; there’s no room for misinterpreting the situation). Sticking with the anti-romance theme, we went for the cheapest wine – out of a tap!

I took some time to peruse the pub and spot the singles and was pleasantly surprised to see a lot (clearly everyone else had had the same idea as us). Though there was one gentleman who had a rather unsightly butt crack on show – which either explains why he was probably single or it was his way of attracting female attention (you know, sort of like a peacock). Whatever it was, it was not good.

After our drinks we proceeded to the cinema to see award winning Slumdog Millionaire. Clearly, I hadn’t read the reviews. There I was thinking the movie was about some guy who went on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and wins. No. It turned out to be a romance (sorry if I’ve ruined that for anybody). Thankfully not too soppy.

At first, I was also thankful we were sitting in the front row away from all the back-row shenanigans. But boy was I wrong. As we were leaving there was a couple in the front row, just down from us, playing tonsil hockey.

Ah the joys of Valentine’s Day – the only day when saying “get a room” is redundant.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Wedding with a hitch

Weddings are great – aren’t they? Free food, free booze, get to dress up in a pretty frock, and ogle the best men.

Ah yes, but nothing could prepare me from my little brother’s wedding.

The operative word being “little” – as in younger.

Having lived in London for almost two and a-half years, and not been home at all – and not pulling in tow a hot billionaire – it was of the utmost importance to arrive back on NZ soil and attend the wedding with some degree of dignity and sanity. Sure in the old days it was frowned upon if the oldest child didn’t marry first, but we are in the 21st Century; nobody cares about that, right?

Regardless, it was my mission to come across as an independent, non-man-needing woman with worldly knowledge, English dress sense and a size 8 to fit. None of this desperado Bridgette Jones type stuff. No. The last thing I wanted was some extended great relative taking pity on me. Or worse, for everyone to whisper behind my back, “that’s the older sister – she’s got ‘problems’!”

So:

Fake tan? – check

Bright fuchsia pink, (almost) micro-mini strapless dress? – check

Push-up bra with gel pads? – check

Anti-wrinkle cream plus concealer for the five-year younger look? - check

And we were set to go – the look was touchable, yet untouchable. Perfect.

Well I think I can successfully say I had the brightest coloured dress (the bridesmaids were in black), so if my aim was to not look like a wallflower, 10 marks my way.

And not a word from relatives or family friends as to the whereabouts of the left-hand, fourth-finger bling.

However, I may have been a little too successful with the independent, non-man-needing woman bit. Fate was clearly not looking at me in a kind light.

Firstly, thin-pickings on eligible bachelors at the wedding (what is this with 24-year-olds suddenly wanting to settle down?).

Secondly, the supposedly hot and single barman turned out (to my horror) to be a rather butch woman – the supposedly hot and single barman was seemingly not rostered on to work that night.

Thirdly, I was too busy persuading an unmarried aunt to join me in the bouquet toss that I actually missed the bouquet toss.

Not to worry, there’s always Valentine’s Day. (Oh crap that’s this week).

Wedding with a hitch

Weddings are great – aren’t they? Free food, free booze, get to dress up in a pretty frock, and ogle the best men.

Ah yes, but nothing could prepare me from my little brother’s wedding.

The operative word being “little” – as in younger.

Having lived in London for almost two and a-half years, and not been home at all – and not pulling in tow a hot billionaire – it was of the utmost importance to arrive back on NZ soil and attend the wedding with some degree of dignity and sanity. Sure in the old days it was frowned upon if the oldest child didn’t marry first, but we are in the 21st Century; nobody cares about that, right?

Regardless, it was my mission to come across as an independent, non-man-needing woman with worldly knowledge, English dress sense and a size 8 to fit. None of this desperado Bridgette Jones type stuff. No. The last thing I wanted was some extended great relative taking pity on me. Or worse, for everyone to whisper behind my back, “that’s the older sister – she’s got ‘problems’!”

So:

Fake tan? – check

Bright fuchsia pink, (almost) micro-mini strapless dress? – check

Push-up bra with gel pads? – check

Anti-wrinkle cream plus concealer for the five-year younger look? - check

And we were set to go – the look was touchable, yet untouchable. Perfect.

Well I think I can successfully say I had the brightest coloured dress (the bridesmaids were in black), so if my aim was to not look like a wallflower, 10 marks my way.

And not a word from relatives or family friends as to the whereabouts of the left-hand, fourth-finger bling.

However, I may have been a little too successful with the independent, non-man-needing woman bit. Fate was clearly not looking at me in a kind light.

Firstly, thin-pickings on eligible bachelors at the wedding (what is this with 24-year-olds suddenly wanting to settle down?).

Secondly, the supposedly hot and single barman turned out (to my horror) to be a rather butch woman – the supposedly hot and single barman was seemingly not rostered on to work that night.

Thirdly, I was too busy persuading an unmarried aunt to join me in the bouquet toss that I actually missed the bouquet toss.

Not to worry, there’s always Valentine’s Day. (Oh crap that’s this week).