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.


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.


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.


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.

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