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This blog has moved…

16 Apr

I have now moved this blog over to the official and oh-so-very semi-professional

Please keep following me there!


Tsunami or not Tsunami, that is the question….

11 Apr

Just when you think you’re safe in your luxury villa with your swimming pool and your two wooden statues of cross-legged soldiers who don’t even look Indonesian, and your croaking geckos and your plans to go to the Gilis…

There has been another earthquake, which has shaken Sumatra and consequently lots of people I know.

This is not something to be taken lightly. As we all know, “Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity. A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people in 13 Indian Ocean countries, including Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.” (The news)

We’re in Pemuteran, north of Bali, which is considerably less at risk than say, Kuta down south, which faces the Indian Ocean. Everything is normal here, like it was last October when the earth shook off the coast of Aceh; like it was  back in 2004 no doubt, before anyone saw it coming.

Just as you sigh that little sigh of relief that everything’s OK in your direct vicinity, you can’t help but swallow that sickening feeling that one day it’s gonna be you that’s swallowed whole in a ginormous wave that just appeared from nowhere. You’re probably going to be doing something like you’re doing now, when it strikes. Like, looking at a nice photo your mate has put on her blog of BEAUTIFUL, safe Bali, such as this. I took this three days ago on a hill in Munduk in the mountains, which would have been safer than where we are now, by the sea:

You might be laughing, or eating a sausage, or petting your dog or procrastinating about doing your laundry and scrubbing that sinful chocolate stain off your duvet which CLEARLY advertises the fact that you eat between the sheets, when it happens. You might be reading the live Twitter feed about tsunami warnings, thinking, fuck, I hope that never happens to me. Surely it won’t though, right? Things like that don’t happen to ME.

But you’ll be wrong, because you’ll already be slammed against the wall like a pancake tossed a little too hard by a child who has zero experience holding a frying pan, because sometimes things like that DO happen to you.

The Indonesian government has been known to play down the risk we’re at, here on the Island of the Gods. If they told us the truth, people might not come. We might not stay in all these lovely, posh villas. Scaremongering is pointless and no one wants to do that, but we are very much AT RISK from tsunamis and earthquakes in Bali… something I looked into for the upcoming Bali book. Not that I’m plugging it at a time like this, but it’s true. I did some research BECAUSE it’s a scary fact when you live here that you’re probably gonna have to deal with at least something like this, at some point. Anyway.

My friend who’s holidaying in Phuket has just been evacuated to a safe place on a hill. She says the airport is shut. My friend in Singapore felt her building shake. My ex is in Jakarta, where he felt nothing but the urgent desire to leave again, as soon as possible. It seems that no one can deny the wave of fear surging through them, even if the waters stay still.

Bali has been declared safe for now, and I’m glad to say all my friends in other places seem to be safe too, if a little scared. But it’s not very nice to think about what could happen. BE SAFE YA’LL!

Help! The Hunger Games have stolen my life…

3 Apr

You know you’re quite liking a book when you wake up at regular intervals in the middle of the night, reach for your iPhone, open the Kindle app in a panic and carry on where you left off an hour ago… before you mistakenly fell asleep at 3am with your phone on your face and a little bit of drool threatening to seep through the cracks of your only link to Panem and ruin it forever. Goddam FOOL. How could you be so careless?!?

My life has literally been put on hold for The Hunger Games over the last week or so, and I know I’m not alone. I’ve never before rooted for a place like I currently am for District 12, or Panem. Not even England, where I’m from. There were riots in London last year. I watched litter bins blazing from the TV screens in Bangkok, shrugged my shoulders, thought “frickin bunch of baffoons” and went back to my Magnum ice creams and five dollar massages… well, what can I do, all the way over here? Not my fault they’ve all gone mad.

With Panem though, holy shit. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. Entire mornings have gone by with my ass cheeks pressed into a hard wooden chair at my Ubud homestay and my eyeballs stuck on my phone screen. Cups of coffee have been poured and then gone cold. I’ve barely opened the lid of my laptop, even though I have the Kindle app on there too… there just hasn’t ever been a good moment. Even though it would make it easier. Even though the font would be bigger and I might save my eyesight, thus reducing the need for laser surgery and preventing miscalculated steps into walls and glass panels.

But what if I shut the Kindle app on the phone and it won’t open on the laptop, and I lose my place, and then a giant bird swoops down and steals my phone, and then shits on my laptop, so I can’t finish my book on either device?? What if they’ve run out of the actual books at all the book shops in all the world and I can’t ever get another copy? What if all the cinemas catch on fire at the same time and I can’t even watch a high-res movie version, instead of the one I just watched in Bali, which was clearly filmed on someone’s phone, from someone else’s phone, in a makeshift movie theatre on the moon. YOU JUST DON’T KNOW.

Writing deadlines have come and gone and prior to this I’ve never missed a deadline in my life. Not even when I was in Forks for over a month with Edward and Bella. I was able to tear myself away from them; especially in New Moon when there was hardly any Edward and lots of yawn-inspiring stories about wolf packs. But Katniss. I need to know how she is, I need to know if Peeta’s OK, and if Gale’s going to win her heart over the boy with the bread. I’m only up to the start of Mockingjay so far… so I literally do not know how this will end. I’m surprised I’m writing this blog actually. They’re still there, in my iPhone, on a tiny screen in a tiny font, walking the remains of District 12. I hope they’re alright.

This morning I woke up to a loud banging sound and for at least a minute I thought I was in The Hunger Games arena and one of my so-called-friends was trying to shoot me. I felt a mild pang of relief and then disappointment when I realized it was just a motorbike engine backfiring and that the world I live in doesn’t actually need my help in order to survive. I’ve never felt so useless in my life.

Right. Enough. I need to get back to the Capitol. It’s been at least 20 minutes. Hope the Kindle app still works…

Draw Something: the new addiction making tits of us all

26 Mar

Tell me I’m not alone here. It’s literally getting to the point now, where I’ll have reached the end of my Draw Something to-do-list and I’ll break out into a mild sweat; a tiny panic that THERE’S NO ONE LEFT TO F***ING DRAW FOR!!! WHO THE HELL AM I GONNA DRAW FOR NOW?? And then, (phew, thank God!) as if by magic, another friend on Facebook joins the scribbling circle and everything’s OK again.

My iPhone battery lasts on average three hours less than it used to, before I discovered this game (scientifically proven by myself).

Draw Something is addictive. I think they’ve put something into the programming, you know, the way they put something into McDonald’s cheeseburgers? I can’t think why else we’re all so hooked. I mean, I know some pretty awesome people. I know movie makers, make up artists, doctors, nurses, marketers, bankers, business owners, PR gurus, writers, publishers, photographers, radio presenters… but let me ask you this. Give em an iPhone and the ability to draw with their finger and can they do it? Can they FUCK. Everyone is making a tool of themselves, every day, because of this game. Including me.

Let’s take a look at this round for example. Here, I am attempting to draw a BUNKBED, which I think you’ll agree isn’t half bad.

My friend will probably guess that this is a BUNKBED. I’ll get some coins and wahey, I’ll feel great. I’ll feel like someone’s given me a real gold medal, a pat on the back. Someone could steal my parking space, spill red wine on my white shirt… hell, a gecko could even shit on my head but it would all be fine because hey, my friend will have guessed I drew a BUNKBED. Very soon, I will be WINNING.

So I get cocky. I think, fuck yeah, if I can draw a successful BUNK BED, I can draw anything. I can draw a PALACE. And then this happens.

Hang on a minute. That’s not how it looked in my head when my finger started working. That doesn’t look like a PALACE at all. It looks like a ghost wearing some yellow oven mitts, floating over a swamp. She’ll never guess that’s a PALACE. What was I thinking, believing I could earn three coins just like that? Idiot.

So the next time, I opt for something simpler. I choose to draw a CAPTAIN. Because how could that go wrong? You just draw a man in a hat and neck thingy, right? How hard can that be?

Well, very hard, actually.

 My CAPTAIN will never be guessed because he looks like a retarded boy scout. That’s a boat underneath him, on some water, but it’s so out of proportion he’d be the size of a skyscraper in real life. A retarded mutant boy scout skyscraper. Great. And my AIRBAG is not much better.

My AIRBAG looks quite stunning in my head. Like something from a Mercedes manual. I think I’ll draw an elaborate Mercedes car crash scene with some whizzing motion streaks shooting from the shattering glass windscreen… perhaps a body rocketing out of one window onto some grass and a weeping child on the side of the road. Yessssss. WINNING.

But no. NO. I can’t even draw proportionate wheels. And what’s a car without working wheels? Useless. About as useless as my AIRBAG, which looks like a three-year-old’s misshapen impression of the sun, drawn out of boredom and a total disrespect for keeping within the lines of a children’s colouring book.

I hate myself after these failed attempts. I feel like a loser. And yet, even now as I write, I’m wondering if my friend has managed to guess my drawing of the JOKER yet. I drew a round head with a mono fat lip and green hair next to a misshapen flying black object.

I’m sure those winning coins will be mine in minutes…

Everything that’s wrong in the world, in one article…

20 Mar

I just love The Daily Mail. It’s my guilty pleasure. Especially the column on the right which is filled with mindless drivel, like chewing gum for the brain. Tasteless, dirty chewing gum you know you shouldn’t touch, like the stuff you might find stuck under a plastic seat on a bus.

THIS piece of nasty gum comes in the form of a story about a celebrity called Danielle Lloyd, who once had a boob job. I’m not entirely sure if she was a celebrity before she had a boob job, or whether she had a boob job in order to become a celebrity but either way, it’s tiresome to think about. I actually just felt a tiny piece of my lifespan and soul fall away just by typing that sentence. I can only imagine how the journalist must have felt after penning the entire story, particularly this part:

“Adjusting to her new size, Lloyd admitted she doesn’t want big breasts again, but is considering having reconstruction with a small implant to fill out the skin. She told Heat: ‘Having small breasts has shown me that I don’t need big ones.'”


Of course, it takes a pair of exploding implants to really see… really grasp the notion that natural boobs of all sizes might just be better than fake silicon mounds of alien matter pressed against your chest like ticking time bombs. She really is so wise.

We have Nelson Mandela:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

We have Confucius:

“What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.”

And we have Danielle Lloyd:

“Having small breasts has shown me that I don’t need big ones.”

Nowhere in this excellent piece of prize-worthy journalism has anyone mentioned the poor child in the foreground of this photo, clearly distraught with the shame of having to float in a humiliating inflatable duck at close range to his mum’s not-so-inflatable boobs. They burst you see. Her fake boobs actually burst in a pool of blood, so she had to get them taken off. And now she’s on holiday in the Canary Islands getting over the whole (self-inflicted) ordeal in a $169 black Beach Bunny bikini with Moroccan gold coin details.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. WRONG.

Sigh. God, I love the Daily Mail.

Russia, roots and reiki…

5 Mar

ImageFor the past two days I’ve been learning the art of reiki. Even though I sat through numerous hours of talks about the Grand Masters and tales of Japanese ladies in Hawaii (it’s all linked, surprisingly) I’m still not really sure if my certificate, complete with sparkling gold star, qualifies me to do anything more than touch people up in funny places.

At one point I was told to spread my feet apart on the floor and imagine tree roots sprouting from my heels and toes to ground me. This I could visualise perfectly. In fact, I was a beautiful tree, a weeping willow leaking my tears into the damp forest floor, but growing stronger for my release. There were fairies fluttering around me… oh, and a fat fairy godmother in a lovely shimmering taffeta gown, complete with puffy sleeves.

And there was a talking TV set, too, like Evil Edna in that cartoon I used to watch when I was a kid, Willo the Wisp. The TV was evil at first but once it saw my commitment to being part of the forest and energy force-field it decided to be my friend and… oh shit…


“Yes, yes, I’m still here!”

“We’re visualizing a white light?”

“Yes, yes, white light. Got it (fuuuuuck)

My problem is that concentrating for too long on nothing… or as I said, being a tree can never just stop there. I’m not just going to grow roots from my feet and leave it at that, because that’s silly. No one has tree roots coming out of their toes without being part of a magical mystery fairytale land and having a higher purpose, like, for example a character in an X Box game who needs to break the curse in order to save the Prince, do they!!!?

Anyway… I tried to concentrate a bit harder. White light, white light…

It’s a wondrous thing, reiki. There were two Russian girls from Moscow learning alongside me, and one Australian from Melbourne. The Aussie and I were finally getting the hang of thinking about nothing except directing our unconditional love into the body parts of our new pals, when all of a sudden, one of the Russians started to cry.

She wailed and sobbed under the healing hands of the other Russian, making us all stop what we were doing and look at her, awkwardly. Our teacher had to take over, use her own reiki powers to solve the problem. When the sobbing stopped, both Russians started to explain their matching visuals.

“I voz in a prizon. A prizon of crystal bars. It voz very scary.”

“Zat is so funny. I too saw you in a prizon!”

“Did you? Becoz my prizon was so small and I voz very scared, but zen I started to fly like a bird. But I could not come back to my body. I voz very scared.”

“Zis is too… how you say… veird. I too saw you as a bird. But zen you were a plane…”

The Aussie and I looked at each other. I expected her to tell me she’d seen Willo the Wisp as she’d cupped my temples and focused on nothing, but she raised her eyebrows and shrugged a bit as if to apologise. I did the same. I think we both felt like failures, but we accepted our certificates anyway. We’ll fake it till we can make it.

Maybe perfecting the art of reiki just takes more practice.

Or a move to Russia.


Ogoh Ogoh

4 Mar


Today I saw a bunch of kids hanging out on the streets with giant polystyrene horses and men. It’s almost Nyepi which means these creatures will be involved in huge parades before we all have to stay in our rooms for 24 hours in silence. But more about Nyepi later…

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