Date Night

Sometimes – more often than I should probably admit – I find it very hard to like myself. I know that’s not particularly uncommon, or even mildly interesting to most people, but it is a truth.

Anyway, I saw some terribly overdone quote on Facebook earlier this week – something about love yourself like you would love the love of your life, or something inane like that. And I decided, heck, this whole self-betterment Cosmopolitan/718 Ways to Achieve Happiness industry does rake in millions – presumably for a reason. And so on Wednesday night I decided to blow off the press screening that I was supposed to go to, and decided to treat myself to a date instead.

Now, it has been a while since I’ve been on a date. Not since JJ, and that particular date was in late July. I know, I know. Anyway, I was a little rusty on the whole concept, but I think I may have won.

First, I treated myself to a nice bubble bath, with an old favourite book. I tend to reread the Harry Potter novels when I’m struggling emotionally – so if you know me, and you see that I’m reading Harry Potter, a hug is in order. Just saying.

Bathtime

Now, I usually lump foam bath into the “absolute luxury” category of shopping. I usually buy Radox ’cause it’s marketed as being fabulous – but I find it doesn’t make really decent foam, and the bubbles don’t last. And I feel super slimy. And it’s a little more expensive. Anyway, I ended up choosing something from the Good Stuff range at Pick n Pay – and it was awesome. Thick foam, the bubbles lasted longer than I did, and it smells superb! And I won’t lie, I definitely bought it for the blurb on the bottle at first, but I think it’s a new favourite.

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Then it was time to get all dolled-up… In my favourite pyjama pants. I’m loving that the nights are getting (slightly) cooler – means I can live in these bad boys again!

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And, of course, what date is complete without flowers? Now, I wasn’t actually going to by myself flowers, so I improvised.

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Then, I cracked open a baby bottle of JC le Roux and treated myself to a plateful of sushi. Also from Pick n Pay, freshly made. Hey, don’t ever say we’re not schmancy chez Whitehead.

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And then – oh goodness, this is so cheesy, don’t judge me – because on dates people are meant to say nice things to each other, I opened up my journal and started writing some nice things to myself. Things I like about myself. Look, I’ll be honest, it’s currently a short-ish list, but I’m saving the page and will return to it as I think of things. I already did today.

And no, you’re not getting a picture! Ha.

And then it was time for a private screening of one of my favourite movies. It’s the Special, Extended Edition. It’s awesome.

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And then, midway through my movie, my mother texted and all my zen was shattered.

But still, you have to start somewhere. Learning to love yourself, it would appear, is a process.

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Six years.

Every year I’ve written something profound on missing my father, on this – the day that I always think of as the day that we lost him. 22 September was the day he vanished – was thrown into the coma from which he never woke.

Today, I can’t. I’m too heartbroken. Too tired. Today, will just be brief reminder to the world that this amazing man lived. Loved. And was – and is – loved so, so much.

You can read last year’s tribute here and a brief “things I learned from my father” post. One day – not today, I don’t think I can do it – I will write the full story for this blog. It’s a story that needs to be told.

Here, instead, is a picture of my mom and dad taken sometime in the 70s. If I have half the marriage they did, I’ll be happy.

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On Harry Potter… And me

Harry Potter book collection

A stack of Harry Potters. Pic by Alan Edwardes, flickr.com

A few days ago, I saw a tweet about a super-cool Harry Potter DVD boxset. Like, seriously, Warner Bros. pulled out all the stops for that. It was the full eight-film collection plus bucket loads of special features spread over 31 discs, a kick-ass box and concept art and stuff and more stuff… (Check it out here)

Anyway, the wonderful tallulahlucy and I started chatting about the books – how we’ve probably read them a thousand times between the two of us, and we got to chatting about our favourites and least favourites… And our firsts. Which I thought would be super-cool to put out in blog form.

But basically, it boils down to this – the Harry Potter series defined a very large part of my life. Pretty much from the time I was about 13 to… Well, now I guess. That’s a good 12 years, and I intend to pass Ms Rowling’s novels onto my future children. The Potter series was there through some of the darkest times in my life. And in fact, if I ever feel myself down in the dumps for an extended period of time, I open up at The Philosopher’s Stone and start at “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much…”

My first 

My first ever Harry Potter novel was The Prisoner of Azkaban. My grandmother had bought Azkaban and the Chamber of Secrets for my younger brother (who, at 9, was more into cricket and comic books than novels). I grabbed Azkaban first, and fell in love. I, like positively millions of children (and adults!) across the globe, wanted to be a part of Harry’s world. I remember very clearly sitting in a patch of sunlight streaming in through the window into the TV room and reading as Harry tried to escape the Ministry on the Knight Bus… And being thrilled to discover there was a real Neville Longbottom.

My favourite

I think The Goblet of Fire has to be my favourite – and, in my mind, it’s also the most important Potter book, because of the sudden turning point. It’s not purely because Voldemort returns – though, obviously, that helps – but it is the abandonment of the relative innocence of the first three novels in stark contrast with the complexity of the emotions and the issues of Goblet of Fire. I still get goosebumps with this novel.

My least favourite

That’s not to say that I don’t like it, it’s just that of all of the novels it’s the one that I love the least. The Chamber of Secrets. I loathed Gilderoy Lockhart’s character and I found all of the “Harry is the Heir of Slytherin” thing quite tiresome. I still have some favourite moments of the novel, of course, and it introduced me to the delightful Dobby… And while at first Chamber of Secrets seems relatively disconnected from the narrative of the first six novels – we find out in Deathly Hallows that it isn’t quite so.

My strongest Potter reaction

I had two very strong reactions to two points in the novels, but one comes out hands down – Cedric Diggory’s death in Goblet of Fire and Voldemort’s return. I remember putting down Goblet of Fire and going outside to help my mother hang up the laundry, my head still positively reeling from what I had just read. “Cedric Diggory’s dead!” rang on a loop in my teenage brain – I was astounded. Secondly, of course, would be Sirius’ death in Order of the Phoenix. The idea that he just disappeared through the veil – no body, no goodbye, nothing – well, that just slayed me. And Harry yelling into the mirror, so sure that Sirius would respond… Well. There were tears.

My Harry Potter family

I often credit the Potter novels with getting my brother to fall in love with reading. We used to discuss the novels while I was home from school, and dissect the smallest details. (“What did she mean by a look of triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes?” etc etc) We saw all of the movies – I remember my parents taking us to see The Philosopher’s Stone in 2001… We had ice cream just before and I wore my favourite red dress. Potter was a connection to my grandmother… She bought us all the novels – she knew how much I loved them – and would, in fact, order them well in advance so we didn’t have to wait too long.

And then… My father. Well, he enjoyed the films, I knew that much. But when he was in his coma, after I had read him The Hobbit and abandoned the idea of reading him my setworks (I didn’t quite see him enjoying Mansfield Park, though I thought that at least some Dickens could have gone down well, if he tried) I started reading him the Harry Potter novels. In Jwaneng, when he was in the private room, I would arrive after lunch and read to him all afternoon until we had to leave at six, then came back and read for a little more from seven until we were kicked out again.

When he moved to the house in Ladysmith… Well, his nurses scared me. A lot. I always felt horribly judged, so I stayed away. In hindsight, they probably judged me more for seeming to never visit… But from four-thirty until six, when there were no nurses… Well, that was our time.

I was halfway through The Goblet of Fire, I think, before he died.

A right Royal mess

Charlene Wittstock

The new Princess Charlene of Monaco

So there’s pretty much only two things making headlines in South Africa at this point – the Great Vodacom Crash of 2011 (thank goodness I switched networks a few months ago!) and Charlene Wittstock’s wedding to Prince Albert of Monaco.

The whole thing was expected to be a fairytale affair… It’s a beautiful story (on paper ) – a Zimbabwean-born, South African swimmer catches the eye of the prince of the richest country in the world. Of course, that’s soured a little by the fact that said prince was also one of the biggest playboys in the world…

But after years of dating, Charlene Wittstock and Prince Albert of Monaco were due to wed in a highly anticipated summer ceremony. Rumours flew over the menu, the dress, the guest list – it was a wonderful reminder of that other royal wedding a little earlier in the year, only this time it was a Proudly South African wedding! And the new Princess of Monaco made sure that there was a wonderful taste of South Africa – wines from Stellenbosch, chefs from Zimbali and a touch of Afrikaans added to the proceedings.

But there’s a dark cloud hanging over the proceedings – one that, try as they might, can’t be covered by Armani embroidery and Swarovski crystals.

Those persistent rumours – that Charlene tried to run away – just won’t die down. And the more people try to brush the talk aside, the stronger it roars back… And it’s a case of well, where there’s smoke there is most likely fire, too. Continue reading

Just call him The Sperminator

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You can just call him “The Sperminator”.

Hands down the biggest celebrity gossip story of the week was the surprisingly unsurprising revelation that Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with his former housekeeper – effectively torpedoing one of the longest-surviving marriages in Hollywood.

Arnie’s illegitimate son, the tabloids took delight in reporting, was born just five days after the birth of his 13-year-old son with Maria Shriver. Amid the scandal, the Governator has announced that all of his planned movie and television work has been put on hold indefinitely – so that means a longer wait for the planned Terminator reboot.  Sorry guys, I know how excited you all were.

“Love children” are, of course, a Hollywood standard – and the tabloids love them*. Who can forget the shock to Gwen Stefani’s marriage after it emerged that her hubby, Gavin Rossdale, had fathered an illegitimate daughter with one of his best friends? Then there’s Liv Tyler, who famously grew up thinking one man was her father, then discovered she was actually the product of a wild fling with Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler. And, of course, that bastion of fatherhood, Michael Lohan. LiLo’s dad has a 13-year-old daughter, born from a fling outside his marriage.

I’d hardly call that list “good company”, but at least Arnie knows he’s not alone. But come now, Arnold, the housekeeper? That’s just passé.

But seriously now, how do you marry somebody as testosterone-fuelled as the Governator and not assume that he’s fucking everything that moves? He caused a mini-scandal in 2003 after it emerged that he’d been “groping” women left, right and centre – and I suppose after 25 years of his wife putting up with his shenanigans, Arnold must have assumed that, you know, she’d get over this one.

Although, a secret son is hardly the same as fondling a hot blonde or two, is it? Good on ya, Maria, for kicking him to the curb. Whether you reconcile with him or not is not my place to say – but hopefully he learns his lesson from this one.

 *As a matter of fact, so do I. When else are you allowed to use the phrase “born on the wrong side of the blanket” and still be cool? I’ve used it three times this week already. Four if you count this, and five or six if you count me telling people how I used such an epic phrase.