117. Karaoke Me.

So we were out with our hosts, both attractive young thirty somethings who had the keys to the town.  And our hosts were determined to create memories for us, even if that meant we couldn’t remember it in the morning.

We started at Yardbird, an izakaya that specializes in chicken yakitori. Sake and hoots of laughter. How did they know these were my two favourite things to do on a Wednesday night?

Then they took our Varga virginity, via a suite of espresso martinis and an Asian elvis impersonator who serenaded Sarah like his tips depended on it.

Finally it was karaoke time. I don’t know where we were and I didn’t know who we were – until the microphones were handed out and the first song was selected.

Then we swiftly assumed our Karaoke personalities. Here’s how it fell.

The Blazing Rock Star: definitely Yannick. Most young male karaoke singers rule this genre and he was no exception. His picks came from the school of hard rock. He was the group’s emotional rock – he belted strong rhythmic 
songs that shifted us forever.

The Ultimate Big Fan: Ground control to Major Cam. An instant signature song. As he was singing, I instantly realised there is an undeniable cheekbone connection between him and Bowie.

The Bubbly Pop Idol: Sarah Sarah Sarah. She grooved and she moved and there were times when I thought she must have been a close friend of Taylor Swift’s – how did I miss that – and it was only a matter of time till she popped up on social media in a posse with voices like her own.

The Passionate Diva Wannabe: that would be me. Can I sing it without looking at the lyrics? I’m in. Is it a big emotional ballad? Watch me weep.  The crowd loved me, no really they did. Sarah even said we should start a band. This is a compulsory declaration at any good karaoke session.

We were in the lounge for hours, could’ve been days. We were also in the bathroom. And I got lost in the hallway at one point. There were a lot of Hong Kong date night couples serenading each other in private rooms. They were super cute, in a Sofia Coppola matching wool jumpers in the aircon  kind of way.

By the time we got out it was tomorrow and: yesterday all our troubles seemed so far away.

Spoiler alert: we haven’t started a band.







116. How to sweat champagne


Turning up is everything 

I am sitting on a sofa in an apartment in Hong Kong. Wednesday morning. I was up yesterday morning at 330 to catch a flight here and once here had to immediately inhale a lot of champagne and other associated stimulants.

It would have been rude not to.

Staying in New Zealand time, it was a cool 24 hours later that I finally tipped into slumber.

Five hours after that I was awake and rearing to go, so I googled a hot yoga class and was downward dogging by 715am.

Captain Hindsight would suggest this was a decision that made no sense whatsoever. But of course I only ever invite him to the party after the event.

Truthfully? Probably still three sheets to the wind. Probably. Definitely.

My downward dog was wobbling and trembling, my mind impossible to steer in any direction for long. I even sweated, not something I’m famous for.

Did I leave when I realised I should have been stopped at the door by the yoga bouncer?  Of course not. I’m no quitter.

I pushed through. I pushed through.

Its two hours later now and I feel incredible.

Shall I tell you why? It’s called Healthonism. I’m not even making this up. Turns out that researchers have found out that  both alcohol and exercise trigger reward centers in the brain. Another study found out a positive connection between exercise and drinking habits, especially if the subject had a good workout on a particular day and rewarded themselves with a drink.

I did it the wrong way round, I’ll give you that. But I did it.


99.Yin and Yang in the South of France


highway toll gate at night, in the south of France

Second time up to bat and we nailed it. Holy shit this is a beautiful part of the world. Pinch yourself picture perfect kind of pretty.

Here is the journey should you find yourself in this part of the world:

Aix en Provence – Rognes – Lourmarin – Bonnieux – La Coste – Roussillon – Gordes – Aix en Provence

Each village was 15 to 20 kilometres apart, and each had its own thing going on so really quite ideal for a woman who tires from being a tourist in the bat of an Hourglass mascaraed eyelash.

I’m not going to throw superlatives at you because I’m too lazy, but in the tourist day out Buzzfeed article this day would be nudging for some gold coloured metal.

Because it’s Autumn and it was Sunday the roads had been cleared for the Secret Royal tour and were relentlessly decorated on either side by rust and orange coloured foliage.

There were a lot of oohs ahhs and jesus we’re in a French movie exclamations coming from the Renault, I can say that much.

The days are short so we made the team decision to meander till twilight then take the autobahn home… in the dark.

Which is all very well till you’re a bunch of tourists trying to enter a galaxy of stars hurtling past you at 130 kph, and they’re the crazy light and you feel decidedly like the darkness.

The first toll gate:

What the fuck where do we go?

Go to the green the green

Go to the green

What green?

It’s all fucking green

Not the truck, don‘t go in the truck lane

Which one is the truck lane?

Why is there no ticket coming out?

Shit there’s a truck behind us

(truck starts leaning on horn)

Nous n’avons pas de billet! Nous n’avons pas de billet!

Ok ok there’s the ticket great

Where are the lanes ? Where are the lanes? Why are there no lanes?

Jesus this is Crash Bandicoot!

Funny. So funny. Sore on the sides funny. Suspected broken rib.

Then we were back in Aix and it was time to park the car in the building that had worked well the night before. But didn’t work now.

So we found ourselves in the old town in the narrowest streets you could imagine and all I could remember was our airbnb host Sylvain warning us: Don’t drive into the old town!

That GPS bitch who had been immaculate all day pulled a swift one and directed us to a private car park we couldn’t get into, as evidenced by a not negotiable metal bollard, with flashing lights in case we didn’t understand the permanence of the device itself.

So our courageous and cool-headed driver had to reverse out of what was the road equivalent of a water shoot, till he found a small drive way where he pulled the best five point turn I’ve ever seen in my life. Respect.

Then we found a parking building. To be honest we fell upon it.

Then we parked, went home, drank gin and spent the next few hours marvelling at the memories we had just made before falling into simultaneous comas.

A day with two seemingly opposite halves working together to create a singular wholeness. Yin and Yang in France.

39. What was the point of the return of the Pointer Sisters?

Pilfering from the past seems to be what we like to do musically these days. Remixed or just regurgitated, we don’t seem to mind.

I couldn’t be called a concert going glutton but  in the last few years even I have found myself groovin-and-a-movin to Stevie Wonder, Simon and Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen and now the Pointer Sisters who are still apparently doing it for themselves. Although, in the Sisters case, not for that long and with a fifteen minute break in the middle for them to have a cup of English Breakfast and a lie down.

When I looked around the crowd I wondered two things:

ONE: Why  did everyone but us look like they were from a  Hamilton School reunion from the class of ’51?

TWO: What made us all spend $120 to  watch one original sister, her daughter and her granddaughter (I’m not joking)  insert the word  AUUUCKLAAAND into a show that was so clearly on its final outing?

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time. I was On Fi-ya! with two sensational  sisters  of my own being So Excited, being Romeo and Juliet, requesting a Slow Hand at the top of my voice even though He’s So Shy.

Perhaps the point is simple as that Slow Hand request. We live in the digital future but  it would seem we’ve no plans to let go our analogue past. Like the wedges in my shoe collection, why can’t the seventies and eighties be the gift that keeps on giving for as long as we all shall live? How delicious to stir up the memories of  those slower simpler days pre everything: pre kids, pre the really big breakups, pre wealth protection and pre nups,  just rocking on your heels because you’re a bit wasted, drinking screw drivers and  gimlets with no one in the room saying  haven’t we met before?

What’s not to like about that?

38. The Heebie Jeebies

I seem to fly a lot. I hate it. I love to be in new places, but I hate the process of getting there. Fiery inferno are the two key words that spring to mind.  I know this is completely irrational, that I have far greater opportunity to die in the taxi that will propel me from the airport on the other side of the trip, but it doesn’t stop the heebie jeebies.

When I board a flight, for an hour or a day, I always study the other passengers. Within seconds, they transform into the cast members of Snakes on a Plane. Who will be the hero I wonder. Who will be the first to scream and weep? Who will wet their pants? If we have some time before the actual inferno occurs (i.e. a hostage situation) is there anyone here I could fuck?  I do the hover test with a few. This is when you imagine their faces are hovering two inches away from your own.  No, no, no. Maybe.

When I get safely to my destination – which has often also involved hurtling through crazy traffic in a taxi driven by someone as foreign as me, but angrier – I always take a moment to give thanks. I light a candle and I thank whichever god or spirit might be passing through the room at the time.

Giving thanks is important to me.

36. Relief all round

36. Relief all round

The boys were all pretty happy to see me home safely.

They were at the airport at midnight; Cody vaulted the barriers everyone was standing so neatly behind and threw his arms around me . I think there were a couple of hundred people who enjoyed the reunion.

I am happy to have taught my boys to love big, that to give it away is the first gift in any relationship of substance.

So I’m home, and I’m pretty happy about that too. Even Louis and Freddie are relieved we’re a unit again. See what I mean?


There’ll be more stories if you want to stick around. Maybe  not every day, but there’ll be stories. The Orla Tour was clearly a showstopper but – whether I like it or not –  there always seems to be something to say, or something that’s just happened, in Jill-land.

I might just keep writing it down.