Coldplay, camping and other pet peeves
So you know what a guilty pleasure is, right? Something you enjoy even though you’re not ‘supposed to’. Well, this is the opposite: things you are supposed to enjoy, but you don’t. Brace yourselves: we’ve rounded up quite the list of unpopular opinions… CAMPING
The idea of being close to nature and away from the noise of the city is romantic and everything, but living it is another thing. All the work that goes into camping (packing, preparations, setting up the tent, cooking outdoors…) is hardly worth the payoff. And I’m precious about a good night’s rest, which requires a comfortable bed (seriously, air mattresses aren’t meant for adults) and no mosquitoes. My hair also doesn’t do well in the wild, away from my trusty GHD. And if you don’t fish, it’s actually pretty boring – all that’s left to do is drink warm beer and eat cold food.
Add to that the two most terrifying words in the English language – ‘ablution block’ – and it’s a hard no from me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love exploring a new city and visiting places I’d only seen pictures of – the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Sagrada Familia… But the worst thing, hands down, about being a tourist, is being among other tourists.
On the Staten Island Ferry, I managed (just barely) to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty as the girl standing in front of me filmed herself listening to ‘Empire State of Mind’ and pouting into her cellphone, with Lady Liberty perfectly framed in the background of her Insta story. I appreciate the soundtrack, but hey, maybe move aside for a bit so the rest of us can get a peek? On Top of the Rock – supposedly the building with the best view of New York – I paid about $30 (which doesn’t sound too bad until you put it into rand value) to gaze at the backs of people’s heads while they snapped pics of the sun
setting over the horizon. And at a Broadway show of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I sat with clenched teeth, trying to hear what was happening onstage over the sound of a man complaining loudly that they really should have cast children (instead of the brilliant adult actors), and that he thinks he recognises Willy Wonka from somewhere (er, from the posters outside? Or maybe one of the many TV shows he’s been in? It’s all right there in the playbill) but it might just be because he looks exactly like his friend Bill.
Then of course there’s the queuing for hours and being herded like sheep, just to add to the glamour of the experience.
I can’t bear it: sitting in a La-Z-Boy surrounded by ladies who lunch – all on their phones – while some poor woman is hunched over at their feet, scrubbing and scraping old crusty bits off their heels. I feel so uncomfortable that I chatter away constantly, trying to make the situation less awkward.
I bought a ticket so YOU over there on the stage could entertain ME down here in the audience; our roles could not be clearer. So why are you dragging me into this?
I can already hear the collective gasp, but I don’t get the whole braai thing. Inevitably, all the women end up in the kitchen making salad and all the guys stand outside around the fire clutching their beers and quibbling over when it’s time to turn the meat. Or, even worse, you all stand around the braai inhaling smoke for hours on end.
Plus, it always takes longer than everyone thinks. So now it’s cold and dark, you have someone monitoring the meat by headlamp and you’d really like to go inside, but you feel obliged to stand out there and keep them company.
By the time you eat, it’s about 11.45pm, you’ve filled up on chips and everyone is a bit drunk. Can’t we just get a pizza and call it a day?
When your family is wildly competitive, a game of Monopoly can turn into a full-blown shouting match. Everybody wants to be the dog, nobody wants to be the bank and there’s always an argument about the rules. Plus, of course, a lot of cackling and taunting by the hotel owners and a lot of sulking from their involuntary clientele. And it doesn’t end with Monopoly. My husband flat out refuses to play Risk after the Great Risk Incident of ’08, and my aunt is no longer allowed to join in on a game of Scrabble because she’s such a keen heckler.
Everyone else seems to love them, but I don’t like naps. It takes me forever to drift off, and just when I’ve finally fallen asleep, my husband inevitably wakes up and stage-whispers: ‘Are you awake?’ Then I’m awake, feeling murderous instead of relaxed. Once, the dog jumped on my head. It just isn’t worth the effort.
GOING TO THE HAIRDRESSER
Where to begin… First off, I hate scalp massages, so having my hair washed (and they like to
reaaally work in that conditioner) is a form of torture. That sound of nails scraping against your scalp? *Shudder*
Then you have to sit in front of the mirror, looking like a drowned rat wearing a garbage bag, and try to explain what you want – or, more importantly, what you don’t want. They usually either halflisten and do whatever they want, or actually tell you they’re not going to listen to you. I just can’t get on board with the idea that some stranger feels they should
have creative control over what my hair looks like.
I also don’t buy into the notion that I’m supposed to choose one hairdresser and remain faithful to him/her until the end of time. Just sign me up for whoever is available, as long as it’s not the chatty one. Speaking of which, the small talk. Dear God. ‘So what do you do?’ Sometimes I just lie and say I’m in recruitment, because no one has a follow-up question to that. Can’t you just cut my hair and talk among yourselves while I eavesdrop and/or read a trashy magazine from 2005?
And then, just before they send me back out into the world, they always, always blow-dry my hair to make it look like I’ve just stepped off the set of a ’50s sitcom – bouffant at the top and flicked out at the bottom. And they charge me extra for it.
‘Dangerous at both ends and crafty in the middle’ is how Sherlock Holmes described horses. Where other people see big, gentle, brown eyes, I see a steely glint. Where others see the freedom of the gallop in their elegant legs, I see hospitalisation from a swift kick. If Christopher Reeve, who was an actual superhero, can be felled by a horse, what chance do the rest of us have?
This lifelong aversion very likely stems from my one and only actual horse ride. I was about 12 years old, and the riding school/farm/death factory decided to put me on a pregnant horse who didn’t want to be near any of the other horses. Every time another horse drew near, she would either rear or run off. Neither of these options appealed to me much, and I ended up eating dirt several times and covered in bruises. Not for me, thanks.
THE SA FLAG
I love what the new South African flag stands for, but I absolutely hate the way it looks: too many flat, uninteresting, garish colours all somehow smooshed together in a (literally) pants design.
I think the really powerful flags are very simple; Japan, China, Greece, Canada… but the design of ours manages to be both naive and aggressive at the same time, which is quite something. To me it’s not just mediocre; I find it almost offensively ugly and I would never think of displaying it – either on me personally or on anything I own! Pity, because I’m deeply sentimental about what it represents.
I used to have flatmates (a couple) who spent entire weekends watching movies in their room, emerging only to accept deliveries of pizza. I do not want to be like these people, letting life pass me by as I laze around smelling of cheese. My idea of the Worst Day Ever is being forced to stay in bed, or to lounge about in pyjamas. No matter how stretchy they are, and how bloated I’m feeling, PJs are strictly for bathtime to breakfast.
Hanging around in pyjamas just makes me feel like I need a good scrub, and perhaps a session with a therapist about where my life is going. I should note that wearing comfy pants that aren’t pyjamas, or sitting on the couch under a blanket are both acceptable alternatives, but only when there is some form of heavy precipitation. Wind does not count.
We’re supposedly living in the Golden Age of TV, but we have also reached new lows – and I’m not even talking about the Kardashians sitting around in their all-white homes in full hair and makeup, having expressionless, scripted conversations. I’m talking about MasterChef. Think about it: we’re now avidly watching a group of people shouting at another group of people as they cook dinner. ‘Oh no, he left the pot on the stove for too long! Her ice cream hasn’t set yet! He has only two minutes to plate!’ The drama!
Then three snooty foodies scoff the food and critique minute details like ‘the mouthfeel’ while the hopeful contestant stands there, barely holding back tears because ‘this is their dream’ and even though they ‘put themselves on the plate’ and ‘cooked from the heart’, their lamb chop is undercooked and the sauce they tried to salvage is still too runny.
Being fair-skinned, I burn extremely easily and I also get hot very quickly, so the last thing I would ever do is lie under the baking sun. And because I don’t tan, I’m almost translucent, so it’s not a great confidence boost when you’re surrounded by gorgeously tanned people who seem as if they have come straight from a photo shoot.
Also, sand! Sand everywhere! There’s nothing comfortable about having so much sand in your shoes, swimming costume, clothes, water, food…
For starters, there’s the inflated price: knowing you’re in for a BIG bill at the end puts a real dampener on the evening. Then your plate arrives with a splatter of sauce and a little heap of exotic grated mushroom and a foaming ball of something that looks like a garden snail. I suppose it’s the emperor’s new clothes idea: all that pomp and ceremony and no substance. And I often find the waiters treat you so badly; they’re either grumpy or snooty – or both.
BEING LENT AN ACTUAL BOOK
I love reading, and I love it when people recommend books to me. What I don’t like is when they actually lend the physical book to me: I feel guilty if I don’t read and return it immediately, suitably impressed. But I usually have about five books on the go at any given time, and I like to be the master of what those five books are – feeling pressured to read something takes all the joy out of it for me. The lent book burns an incriminating hole next to my bed and I form an unfair but vigorous hatred for it before I even open it. It’s no good for either of us. You can imagine what a delight I am to my book club.
There, I said it. Of course I’m a little embarrassed, especially since Chris Martin is almost homegrown (Zimbabwe). Not to mention the fact that my colleagues look at me as though I’m intellectually challenged when I admit to not liking the band.
Thing is, I even get that I don’t get it. But that’s it about rock music, ain’t it? You’re supposed to ‘get it’ immediately. And I just find their music soooo boring. So the message, brilliant as it may be, is lost on me. I’m happy to say I’m not alone in this: about eight years ago an eminent rock critic who shall remain nameless (mainly because I don’t know his name and for once Google won’t help) was commissioned to review the iconic watershed albums of the biggest bands and musicians of our time in 120 characters (Twitter was the It-girl of social media then). He had this to say of the band’s music: ‘Like a dun-coloured boot, tap, tap, tapping on my face… Forever.’ I rest my case.