1. A colleague here in our Sydney office who is originally from Canada – and thus, far from family and friends – turned 40 on Saturday. We ‘pimped’ his desk on Friday morning, liberally strewing bunting, balloons, streamers and ridiculous birthday banners all over it – then had lunch at the local pub, followed by drinks and cake and a speech by the boss at 4pm. He was charmingly surprised and touched by each one of these things. Then, on Saturday, his wife organised a surprise party for him at home, way out in Sydney’s northern suburbs. I was the only person from the office to be invited, which was nice (being invited, I mean, not the fact that I was the only one).
We three have been diving a couple of times since he and she passed their Open Water certificate at the end of last year, and so I decided to make him a birthday cake shaped like a shark. As one does. This, despite the fact that I can’t bake and have never attempted anything similar. How hard could it be, right? Well, as it turns out – not very hard at all, actually. The icing stubbornly refused to harden in the 35 degree heat of my kitchen. So, a gooey but delicious lemon shark (with the correct number of gill slits) was driven north to the outer limits of civilization by the lovely Fugitive Pieces. Had it not been for the Google maps and navigation of the All-Knowing iPhone, we’d currently be passing Papua New Guinea…
2. My ex-flatmate has a tendency to decide she is going to change her life every couple of months. So far she’s had five different jobs (I’ve only been here 2 years, remember), the plan to buy a farm (although she was unable to differentiate a goat from a sheep), the plan to have a baby (via sperm donation), the plan to become a graphic designer (she failed to complete the course), the plan to travel to India to work as a volunteer on a teaching project (the Mumbai bombings scuppered that one) and now, the plan to become a More Spiritual Person. We discussed this at some length over brunch on Saturday and I have to confess I’m none the wiser… however, I did agree to let her practice Reiki on me yesterday afternoon…
Her: “Okay, how was that? What did you feel? Did you feel anything while I was moving over your body? Was it relaxing? Do you feel relaxed? Did you feel any warmth?”
Me: *thinks* Is it over? Thank god. Wait, you were moving over my body?? All I felt was mildly nauseated by the smell of cigarettes from your hands when they were close to my face. And slightly annoyed with myself for not having turned up the volume on my iPod before we started because the quiet parts of Mozart’s Requiem were almost inaudible.
Me: “Er, yes, I feel relaxed, I think. Yes. Relaxed. Thanks. And your hands felt warm when you pressed my shoulders, that was good, I get rather tense there from sitting at the computer or over a book all the time. And I saw waves of colour: butter yellow and deep lilac, does that help?”
Her: “Colours? You saw colours? Wow. I don’t know what that means, I’ll have to look it up. It must be to do with your chakras, they’re colours. Wow. And you’re relaxed? Really? You were smiling.”
Me: *thinks* Hmmm, it probably had more to do with the music, I have mild synaesthesia, but I can’t be bothered to explain it to you. Please leave now. I’ve had enough of interacting with you. I want to be alone. That smile was my ‘relaxed’ mask. Please go away. Now.
Me: “Yes, I was relaxed.” *smiles*
Her: “Excellent, can we do it again next week? That would be brilliant, I need to practice. But not if you don’t want to.”
Me: *internal sigh* “Yes, of course. I think its great that you’re working at changing your life, doing something you love. I may not be the best subject, though… Okay, next Sunday, fine.”
What the hell is reiki, anyway?
3. Back to the Canadian Colleague. We share an interest in history so I bought him a copy of one of the Five Best History Books Ever Written: Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World by Niall Ferguson. When he unwrapped it, the Australians at our end of the table read the subtitle and asked “Is that a joke?”. Er, no. I didn’t notice anyone else starting the Industrial Revolution, not to mention fucking discovering Australia. Just because you don’t like Poms and have a chip on your shoulder about being the former penal colony of a tiny, foggy little island thousands of miles away in the north Atlantic, doesn’t make it any the less true.
*Steps down off soap box*