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First-world problems

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On the list of phrases La hates, “blessed”, as in, “I’m so…”, is right up there. But spreading its sanctimonious skirts to sit atop the shoulders of “blessed” is this hussy: “Well, that’s a first-world problem.”

Eagle-eyed readers would know the motto of this virtual home of La Triv is “it’s fun to sweat the small stuff.” Small stuff is often the kind of stuff that gets up the noses of the First-world Problems Brigade. So let’s do this.

Today, La’m outing and owning privilege. Specifically, first-world privilege. For the length of a bloggy we’re parking gratitude, becoming smaller people and strapping on the whinge rod. Here, in no particular developed or developing world order, is a list of first-world problems that right now are a pain in my particularly well-fed first-world arse.

The slimness of the Apple TV remote. This. Shits. Me. To. Tears. In fact, its teeniness — and subsequent propensity to disappear between sofa cracks — almost made me cry two nights ago when I wanted to finish watching Ozark and had to make do with temporarily morphing my iPhone into the remote. That’s clearly a sub-standard solution that belongs firmly in the second world.

When the help fights. This morning I had laser on my pigment-infested face. (This could explain the mood.) It was free. I was a guinea pig for a training session. Lucky me — blessed. However, I was supremely irked that the French instructor lady and the derm man kept bickering with each other about the widgets and settings. Total buzz-kill! Then one of them forgot to point the cold-air hosepipe at my freshly burnt visage. I KNOW! As if getting hundreds of dollars of free laser on your face isn’t difficult enough to sit through.

The dinky handbrake button in la car. What happened to a totally yankable, proper, grown-up handbrake? This flicky little piece of cr*p makes me mad every time I get in the car to drive to my well-paid job or chauffeur the loin fruits to their cushy schools.

When waiter dudes take away my glass / cup while there’s still a swallow in it. Faaaaark! Will these minimum-wage embryoes never learn? This almost makes me want to wail. Or slap their skinny little un-pigmented hands.


That the shelves at Coles’s self-serve checkout aren’t big enough to sit my reusable shopping bags on. I am a freakin’ legend for saying no to plastic. More people should be like me! Reward me with a decent-sized platform for my eco-bags. Bloody revenue-generating supermarkets, channelling so many of those megaprofits back into my super fund. Get it right!

When the hair-washing apprentice gets water and shampoo on the bits of my face that have make-up just before my blow-dry. This is one la really feel in la feelings. The messiness of the aim. Small and accurate hand movements are appreciated closer to the face. Pride in all aspects of your work, young people! I know you feel (are?) underpaid now, but the financial rewards will come! (Hopefully the cost of housing will come down too for you, but only after I’ve cashed out.)

Those dumb bits of looped fabric that allegedly keep the clothes on the hangers in the shop but which then have to be cut out when I get the garment home. Manufacturers, why do you make your workers in the second and third worlds stitch these in? Do you have ANY IDEA how hard it is to find scissors on-demand in the average family household? Generally they’ve been pilfered for toenail grooming, canine roo-chew chopping or some dumb educational project demanded by the cushy schools. Temporarily tucking these jinglejizmos into the bra-strap doesn’t cut it. Cut it — gaaahhh! Clearly, this is one of those debilitatingly circular first-world problems.

Car park exit pay terminals that keep saying reinsert your card. Waaaaaahhh! Was it in there too long? Not long enough? Why can’t this machine have PayPass?!? Poor first-world me, stuck here at the boom, shouting at a machine!

When the local Palace Cinema doesn’t have Veuve by the glass. Srsly, when will operators learn that if something’s on the menu it also needs to be on the premises? These young people have no idea how hard it is to work at your well-paid job all day, care for the first-world loinies, then have to enjoy the latest independent feature film without champagne. Reading subtitles is harder stone-cold sober.

When people can’t spell your name first go. What are you, from another country or something? It’s L-A T-R-I-V-I-A-L-I-S-T-A. It’s even a bit foreign too!

See? Life is hard! Just as well Seriousimo is good at unearthing scissors, lending me his car, crawling around on the dusty Palazzo floor to find remotes and giving young waiters a subtle look that says, “it’s possibly just a smidge too early to take away her glass…”

Otherwise I could just DIE.

*winks*

Lift shift

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After all the grouchy old beeatch musings of yesterday, awoke to a new day and a new, improved attitude.

The snowmakers had been whirring away overnight, erasing the previous day’s lumps and lines, and La too had been reforming, shape-shifting, evolving…into someone determined to conquer a chairlift.

Eighteen years La’ve been stuck in a snow plough, confined to magic carpets. Trapped by fears of knee injuries past and because GUTLESS. Spectating. Benched. It’s a metaphor for life. And as ol’ Georgie Michael (*sob*) would say, “Choose LIFE!”

It was a split second decision, highly spontaneous. Out of character. (Put it this way, no stonemason in 2061 is likely to be chiselling, “You never knew what she’d do next!” on La headstone.)

We’d relented and sent the Male Junior Cost Centre (JCC) off for his first snowboard lesson. As the owner of the loins that fruited him, it’s hard to see this as anything other than the first step toward a future of unemployment, dope-smoking, butt-crack revealing half-mast trousers and slackerism. But at least he’s off a gadget.

Walked into the rental shop in my civvies, and rented the goods. When the slackerdude boot-fitter asked how I’d go on the slopes in my non-waterproof ponte pant, I replied, “Oh, fine. I don’t fall over.”  I mean it, I don’t. I’m so rock-solid and cautious I make ‘glacial pace’ look Schumacher-esque.  (Well, before he brained himself on a ski slope, poor Michael.)

Seriousimo accompanied me to the dreaded lift. The non-stop parade of doom-and-gloom signs began to scare the bejeezers out of me.

In all honesty, I couldn’t tick the box on this one, but I persisted.

The chairlift is a hairy, scary one — yup, its official moniker is “The Easy Does It Chairlift”. Or EDI to those in the know (and trust me, everyone except me seems to be in the know in Thredbo). Shit! It’s been ferrying ski-flesh as long as I’ve been out of school? Is it safe? Does it get maintained by people who aren’t stoned and have all their teeth? *Breeeeaaathe*

Seriousimo takes my poles, the chair slides under my ponte-panted butt and — we’re away.

Find it hard to look at these empty returning chairs and see anything other than the ghostly forms of skiers who never made it home. Am determined won’t be my narrative.

This makes me want to void my bowels: cross sections of chairlifts, a spaghetti junction of wires and dangles. Remind self to sit back in chair as instructed by shouty nanny-state sign. Thankful am person happy to do as told and not nihilistic counter-cultural slacker on a snowboard, always looking to break the rules.

Find self nodding in violent agreement with signs. Look fore and aft to make sure everyone doing right thing. They seem to be a good crowd. Mostly they are under the age of 10.

Hyperventilation sets in. Have never successfully dismounted a chairlift and stayed upright, even one called Easy Does It. Seriousimo takes poles. Pushes up bar. Slacker-type chair attendant beckons for me to slide forward and…I do it. Upright. Skiing. Facing downhill.

Loving self sick! Schuss past the boardy slackers, always on their half-mast arses, lazy bastards, too hungover to be upright. Get some pride in yourselves, people! Be one with the nobility of the alps! Look sharp! Pull ya dacks up!

TOTALLY SMOKED these little bastards! They were so freakin’ SLOW! Ha! They think they’re so farking great, bloody Thredbolanders! Not today! They ate my snowdust!

Think I’d earned today’s reward. And let’s face it, one’s better than four.

Internal Monologue of a Non-skier on a Skiing ‘Holiday’

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7.30am. Wake up in Hotel d’Hovel, Thredbo. Hit up the breakfast buffet. Shall I go Swissy (seedy dark loaf, cheese, processed meats), continental (boulangerie goodies) or fry-up? Shit. Remember am on skiing holiday: best go for all three. Food = therapy. And three coffees.

8.00am. Fark, time to wedge the four loin fruit feet into rented ski boots. Requires bending. Hate being lower than cost centres: sends wrong message. Must be top dog. Friggin’ ski boots. Friggin’ skiing. 

8.15am. Meet girl child’s school ski chums for lesson. Instructor from Brisbane. Looks like a foetus. Has he lost his shaving cherry even? Can I trust him with the lady loin fruit? Think so; he has short hair and all his teeth, no visible ink. I probably went to uni with his parents. Might have snogged his dad… FOCUS. Off they all go. Graceful, upright. Bastards. Hate people who can ski.

8.17am. Jesus, everyone’s so WHITE. Where’s the diversity? Oh, there it is — Scots and Kings boys are here. Clearly fluoro is the new digi-print on the slopes. Fluoro. Choose Life. Georgie Michael. Teary. When will my ball of Georgie grief shrink to marble-size from Swiss-ball size? 

8.30am. Seriousimo and male junior cost centre (JCC) heading up mountain. Breathe out. Time for me. Me time. Temps pour moi. Suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to write about how generous skiing is in terms of the shits it continually gives me. Hear birdies. They’re nice. Nice birdy sounds.

8.35am. Seriousimo calls with news of major falling out with JCC over skiing. Sadly this comes after five minutes on slopes and yesterday’s purchase of $180 fluoro (ah, George. Sigh.) kid helmet. Little turd. Feel like publicly whacking child with now redundant rented ski pole, but exercise atypical restraint. Will exact revenge later. For now have withdrawn iPod privileges until he’s 26.

Off goes Seriousimo, child-free, schussing like a pro, draped in Helly Hansen and new ski boots. Bastard. He might cop a ski pole to the eye socket too, later, for being that graceful on skis and a whole bunch of other reasons I’ll think of in due course. Because marriage.

9.00am. Return to Hovel HQ. Assume submissive position to remove male JCC ski boots (“Last time I wear them, EVER!”). Install male JCC in hovelroom reading due to no gadgets til 2033. Reflect on outdatedness of hotel. For $530 a night. Ugh. Reflect too on fact bathroom has only one roll of bog paper. Bugger. Will take action.

Suddenly fret, then sweat, about Thredbo landslide of 1997. Have they addressed the underlying issues and fixed the poles into the hillside properly? Is it all good? Who’s in charge? Who certified? Is Hovel HQ in danger of dribbling off the mountain come the midnight hour? Remember Stuart Diver? Spunky. But apparently a bit thick and boring.

9.15am. Jeez, is it only 9.15? Faaaaaaaarrrk.

9.16am. Schlep to car for computer, 20 minute walk away. The birdies again. That’s nice. Sun’s out. Appreciate vista of babbling brook, then almost land in it when side-swiped by passing charcoal-grey Range Rover with three private school stickers on rear windscreen. W*nker. New dove-grey Uniqlo puffer now covered in slushy alpine road sludge. Whip out phone and take photo of retreating four-wheeled arsehole. Will take action.

10.20am. Muffin time.

10.22am. Muffin time, again.

11.30am. Drag male JCC to Thredbo Alpine Leisure Centre. Sport Billies and their habitats make me nervous. Don’t trust fit people. Don’t trust their motivations. All that personal excellence and barrier-smashing, it’s fishy. What are they running from? To? JCC finds an inflatable water gadget and is happy, for a time.

12.15pm. Muffin time. Jeez, this has to stop.

12.20pm. Pizza time. Feel ill. Deep down, wish I could become graceful skiing Sport Billy but getting too old for self-reinvention.

1.00pm. Meet female JCC and crew of swishing ponytails after ski race. They’re excited and fit and fresh and rosy-cheeked. Reflect on occasional lovely camaraderie of alpine life. Wish I could be more than a spectator, but too scaredy to ski. It’s a knee thing. Oh and because GUTLESS.

1.20 – 5.00pm. Devour friends’ piccies of Amalfi, Split, Lago Maggiore and Roma on Facebook. Weep into fourth muffin. Loathe self for marrying schuss-loving husband.

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Thredbo: the ski resort equivalent of an outdated Commodore with venetians on the windows.

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Pretty bits.

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Pizza parlour humour.

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Small mercies at Hotel d’Hovel.

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W*nker.

5.30pm. Dinner at Burger Bar. It’s tasty. Walk home past all the lovely non-hovelish accommodation one can secure if one books early enough or doesn’t travel during Interschool Championships week. Weep a bit for chalets lost. Quietly hate smug lodge-dwellers with open fires and bathrooms they don’t have to walk sideways into. And no breezeblock. Want to do a Britney with a ski pole on the clubby smugness of it all. Must take action to curb violent fantasies.

7.00pm. Walk by hotel bar and witness frightening spectacle of middle-aged people on way to being plastered, wearing fleeces and bootleg jeans (I know), dancing to some dude playing Pink Floyd on guitar. Lots of overbiting. Battalion of JaegarBombs on bar. Die a little inside, then feel shame for being repulsed by scene. Why shouldn’t old white people be allowed to shake their babymakers? Vow to take action on attitude when return to big smoke.

8.00pm. Tired from excessive jaw exercise as a result of muffin, pizza and burger mastication. Sleep.

12.10am. Woken by Seriousimo shouting at turdwad teens racing through hovel hallways. Jeez! Thought these rendered breeze-block walls would be soundproof. Apparently nots.  Seriousimo says female JCC has been barfing for two hours and he still has two legal opinions to write. Ask self, why do we holiday? Might embark on M.Phil course at Sydney Uni to investigate. Remember beloved old Wordporium boss’s wise words: “Never go on a holiday where you’ll be less comfortable than you are at home.” Sadly, am on that holiday.

7.30am. Repeat til…

4.30pm. Pack of teenwolves race past while I’m loitering in hallway. Guess they’re the turdburgers Seriousimo shouted at the previous night. They stop outside Seriousimo and female JCC’s door and holler, “P*nis!” An unholy wall of sound issues forth from my mouth as I chase them into the upper reaches of the building. (Suddenly I’m thankful for the super-echo powers of the breezeblock walls — I sound über-menacing.) I may even have shouted that I was a cop. Seriousimo’s been telling me for years this is illegal but he’d have to try harder to make me physically, figuratively and actually give a shit. Sometimes I wish I was a cop. Would get to scare teens professionally. Have vision of self as tough but benevolent law-enforcer, showing strays the path to good behaviour, handing out wee moral compasses to the ones who show promise. Must investigate coptions on return to big smoke.

Jeez, so much to do, so much action to take. No time for holidays.

Fallopian dude

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So here La is in California’s City of Angels, the day after an orange clown became president.

Setting aside los fears of walking into a wall of earnest types sporting burlap sacks, overalls, tie-dyed tees and other activist clothing, La marched. With the women. And some progressive dudes. 

There were uteruses. 


There were pink puppies. 


And leopard puppies. 


And much to the puppies’ collective joy, there were pussies. Everywhere. 


Princess Leia was there in spirit, bringing her Resistance wisdom. 


One of La’s marching buddies lost a bit of her ‘swamp’ ‘s’…so she improvised and repaired it with pink lip crayon, which seemed appropriate. 


The vibe was friendly and supportive, but with a distinct and unignorable undertone of angry lady with twisted knickers and a bellyful of rage. Loved it. 



There were the old-school crunchy-granola left coast hippies, whom you could tell were thrilled from the crowns of their wiry grey hair to the hems of their burlap overalls that once again people were taking it to the streets. 

And then there were the pink pussy hats. Fleece ones…


…through to a finer-gauge knit…


…all the way through to ones that had been knitted with rolling pins. 


There was humanity in all its glory, shouting about making the world right. Some were very small. 


Some were channeling Michelle. 


And most were there to be part of something that reminded them that the whole world hadn’t lost its mind.


And so we marched. And it felt good. 

50-52

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La favourite thing on this holiday is breakfast.


Specifically, breakfast at Colbert. 

In my eyes, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King can’t put a foot wrong when it comes to old-school, mahogany-trimmed, straight-backed-waiter dining. From the Wolseley, where La once went elbow-to-elbow with poor old AA Gill, to the Delaunay, where we dine with AB and Marty over pink bubbles, I love these blokes and their posh nosh shops. 

This isn’t a trip where we’ve ‘done’ much. Seriousimo’s health has seen better days, so he’s rested up and spent time with his folks and fronkly, 2016 plum-tuckered us out. So there’s been much languishing on squishy sofas. Public preconceptions of my commitment to shopping far outstrip the boring reality: I’m not actually a fan. Having stuck my noggin into Selfridges briefly, all I did was perve at the Célines and order a quick tonging of the hairs at Hersheson’s drop-in blow-dry bar. 

What I want to do is this: sit quietly with a morning rag (enjoying the vast array of choice) and a flaky pastry, and see old friends.


Here at 50-52 Sloane Square, my view this minute is right down the barrel of Sloane Square. The Royal Court, where I used to partake of five-quid theatre nights, is to the left of me; David Mellor, where I bought my first sharp knife as a consenting, sterling-earning adult, is to the right. 

And inside here, jostling with the new memories I’m making of this place are other older ones, from when this was Oriel, and VI and I lived merrily beyond our means, sipping Soave and gin and writing bouncy cheques with our guarantee cards (remember them?) while making eyes at eligibles. Her beauty and vivacity often meant I sucked up her sloppy seconds, but – cripes – we were happy.

Oriel’s where my old buddy Cod – one of the procession of thoroughly new and exotic creatures Londra served up to a 22-year-old fresh off the cheapest one-way flight from Brisbane – described a man to me as having “a splodgy World War Two bottom”, a description that simultaneously summed up his humour, powers of observation and facility for language. 

And just now, as I’m wading happily in  the shallow rockpool of my memories, I’m grabbed by a much-missed old friend who’s just arrived at Colbert, one who fled the Wide Brown Land years ago for the comforts of Cheltenham. What are the chances? 

We’re meeting here tomorrow at 9, for a flaky pastry. 

Thanks, 50-52.

Triplets

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Took Black Céline to visit her chums at Selfridges: a rainbow of leathery gorgeousness.


The saleslady optimistically tried to get La to buy Black Céline and Blue Céline a red-trimmed sister. 

Although the rouge piping almost made La weep, it wasn’t gonna happen. 2017 is set to be a year of economic uncertainty, fronkly, and not the time to be supporting a family of pouting, selfie-obsessed Céline triplets. 

So far the Dumb Clothes pick of the trip is this bowy-sleeved lolly pink jacket. Thoughts? Mine was that I should have deployed the male JCC to do one of his fash-floor vomiting specials nearby.


Wandered through my favourite tube station, Westminster. It’s such a Death Star-esque, Bladerunnerish dystopian nightmare. 


Enjoyed the annual Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with best friend Furrgler. Miss that crazy bird. We’ve been Ferrising since we attached to each other like iron filings and a magnet in our first week of uni approximately 657 years ago. Our first Ferris saw us feast on my special guacamole (secret ingredient: bacon) at La Famiglia Trivialista’s homestead in the Bane of Bris, aged 17. We’ve come a long way in taste and budget. 

We partook of sticky. Who could resist when offered with such style? I swear old Brett Graham has a looks policy when hiring waiters. Every single one was DIVINE, but barely older than an embryo.

One of the Ledbury yummies was this slightly nipplish nibble. Festive and saucy all at once. 

Spotted this in someone’s front room while walking around the rented ‘hood. Can you see? A couple of Oscars and a BAFTA! Would kill to know who lives there. Obv no shrinking violet – the hardware’s clearly displayed for all passersby to see. No Emma Thompson “I keep mine in the loo” humility on Trevor Place. 

Love peeking into London lives. 

Dodgy not

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It’s been this kind of weather in Londra. 

Amazingly, no rain. Also none of that misty greyness hovering just above one’s head like a levitating fascinator. 

As this is like a second home for the Trivialista-Seriousimos, we don’t often do the touristy bits. But while Seriousimo rested, we popped by Buckinghome Palazzo to join the throngs from Ye Olde Europa who might soon not be quite so welcome here post-Brexit. Everyone with form knows Elizabeth Regina’s at Sandringham at Chrissy, rather than here. But still they wonder about it, aloud, in a rainbow collection of languages. 

Have my old Bane of Bris buddy Shallot and her famiglia coming for lunch, so popped into La Fromagerie to fondle some formaggios. Decided against the Umbrian white truffles, for now. That’s about three Célines per kilo. 

Divine wrapping. Love the pride. Oh gods – ‘pride’ – that’s made me think of dear departed Georgios Michaelos. Bugger, I might cry again. 

La wandered down Pimlico Road, early. Spotted a Banksy. Had a coffee at Daylesford. That place is such a wanky triumph of packaging over content. Love that a family that made its money from heavy machinery is now all preachy about crunchy-granola-save-the-earth-organic-or-die practices. *Spot the grumpy jetlagged Antipodean*. And their coffee was bitter. 

Visited my old haunt, the site of my first job in Londra in 1994. (That’s if you don’t count my couple of months with @Blackmorelife writing ad copy for ‘seccie’ jobs. “Pop the corks – we have champagne opportunities for you!” was a high point of our oeuvre.) The old Grand Met (now Diageo) HQ in St James’s Square. This was where La worked for one of Prince Charles’s charities, and got to meet that great farmer with the sausage-like fingers and crazy blue eyes a few times. 

What a welcome to Londra that was. More than 20 years on, the pull still pulls. Gods how I love it here. 

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