18 Mar My Hairdresser Hates Me

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 13.3.23


For a while – and this is no longer true – but for about a year, I had a hairdresser who hated me.

Hate is a strong word. I mean he looked bored when I arrived at the salon, could barely summon the energy to cover me with a cape. Rolled his eyes when I told him what I’d like done. Muttered instructions to the colourist in the tone of someone sharing an insult. Meandered back later with scissors to disagree with me about the length and shape of my fringe. And right at the end – my favourite bit – he’d do a sort of sarcastic flourish in the mirror as we both looked at the final effect, as if to say, “Ghastly. Still, look what I had to work with,” and he’d slouch off to his next client.

I loved it. I’m not entirely sure why. But I kept going back, like I say, for a year or so. It felt very French (he wasn’t French) to be dismissed this way. Here he was, a trained professional in making women look and feel good but, in this particular instance, not really bothered because clearly, sigh, what was the point?

It felt very funny, too. I’d sit in his chair each time and imagine it as an episode in a comic reality TV show where you came for a makeover but no one actually cared. I’d tell people, “My hairdresser hates me!” as though it was the best joke, and we’d all marvel at this strange phenomenon.

Strange, and oddly refreshing – at first anyway. Hairdressers mostly adore you, want the best for you, see potential for volume and movement and shine. They might gently note split ends and return of the greys, but in a tone that suggests we can put that behind us now. They won’t mention anything they can’t fix. You are already gorgeous, they’re just going to let that show.

Not this guy. This guy had no soft patter, could find no compliment to give about my hair, nor my frock, nor a handbag. Nothing about me appealed. Once – and this is a treasured moment – when trying to explain just how short I like my fringe (very) I showed him on my phone one of my publicity photos taken with full makeup and beautiful lighting, and he looked at it like I’d forced him to look at something in a state of decay, and made a noise that sounded exactly like, “Pfft”.

It is possible I hurt his feelings early on, irrevocably. The first time I was sent to his chair (didn’t feel like that the first time but did on subsequent visits) I’d told him “light trim, soft layers”. He’d suggested a short bob, jagged fringe. I told him I’d just grown out a short bob and wasn’t ready to go back.

We could say it started then? But he’d approached me with an air of defeat before that conversation began.

It’s possible I was hoping for a breakthrough. Like those gigs where ninety-nine people are laughing but the hundredth has a stony face and so the whole show becomes about making them crack. Or I’m a masochist, or I’m uncomfortable with compliments, or I have a thing for emotionally unavailable men.

Not now, though. Somewhere in between lockdowns I let him cut a short bob with a jagged fringe. It turned out we both hated it. That’s when I knew it was over.



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13 Mar Unprecedented

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – cover date 6.3.23


There is a very good chance that you, like me, have had it up to here with “unprecedented events”. That you would like many days in a row where nothing notable happened, where you only experienced things that are familiar, ordinary, banal.

Never have I been quite so keen to be bored. I’d like someone in a shop to say casually, “How’ve you been?” and I’d like to answer truthfully, “Oh, you know… Same old same-old.” And we’d grin at each other and float comfortably on.

Instead, up at our mall, we’ve been asking each other if flood waters have been lapping at doors, and sharing tales of downed trees, drowned houses and power cuts, a little unburdening that is always tagged with, “But really we’ve been lucky, I know plenty who’ve had it worse.”

And that’s just this year. For many years in a row, our casual chat has been about big events – domestic terrorism, eruptions, a virus, lockdowns, an occupation at Parliament – that were not part of our conversations before. Regular use of the word “unprecedented” is no longer unprecedented.

When a National State of Emergency was declared on Valentine’s Day, it was noted this was only the third time in our country’s history that this had been done. The Canterbury earthquakes, a pandemic, and now Cyclone Gabrielle. It’s a big deal. It’s new.

It’s so new, some people didn’t get it. “But why? I’m fine over here!” could be heard on social media, people not understanding that a national state of emergency doesn’t mean the whole country is in trouble, but that the whole country will help those who are.

So many things we have never done before – at least, not in my lifetime, and I’m old. And not the fun new experiences you might put on a bucket list. Hot air ballooning, having a conversation in te reo, learning to swing dance… This is about diving into situations and looking for solutions to things that feel alien and unexpected.

It goes some way to explain our slightly odd and irrational responses, like racing to the supermarket each time a lockdown was called or a cyclone is imminent to buy unfeasibly large quantities of toilet paper or eggs or whatever the imagined “scarce item du jour” might be. We’re not entirely sure how to prepare for this threat, but squirreling away acorns feels a little bit right? Hardwired to equate “safety” with “supplies”.

Friends overseas tell me we are making the news over there – we always have, with our books and comedians and films and sports – but with unprecedented weather events now, as well as the other things.

Over a decade ago, when I was on the other side of the world, I remember my eye catching the N and Z of New Zealand in a news story, as it does, and the headline read: “Sheep Runs Wild In Wellington Streets”.

Turns out a mystery sheep had been seen bolting down Ghuznee Street shortly before midnight and was apprehended by local police after being cornered in the Briscoes car park.

Officers had bundled the sheep into the back of their vehicle and taken it the police station. “There was nothing else we could do with it,” they’d said. “It could have caused mayhem if it got into Courtenay Place.” I had never missed my country more.

It felt like a story I’d heard before, and now hanker to hear again. Familiar. Ordinary. Baa-nal.



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05 Mar On Salsa and Also Gumboots and Those Empty Supermarket Shelves

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – cover date 27.2.23


There is a constant supply of homemade salsa at my place right now. Partly it’s because nothing says “summer” on a rainy day like a bowl full of spicy tomatoes (close your eyes and pretend) but also because I keep seeing coriander in the shops and cannot walk past without buying it.

Truth is, I am still recovering from The Great Tabbouleh Debacle of Christmas 2022. I say “tabbouleh” but the trauma included salsa.

These are my two favourite “salads” if you will. Fun to make, festive colours, fresh and delicious. They were to be a pivotal part of our Christmas lunch production – supporting acts to glazed ham in the starring role.

So imagine my accelerating panic in the week leading up to December 25th as I found, day after day, that key ingredients in both dishes were suddenly (I swear they’d been there the week before) missing from all stores in my local environs.

Coriander and flat leaf parsley? Too much rain, thank you climate change. Bulgur wheat? Supply chain issues, thank you Covid. Limes? Good luck finding them, bless you if you could afford them. Onions? Also rain, but red onions could be bought with any gold bullion you had left over from buying that solitary lime.

“It’s like living in the Soviet Union!” I texted hyperbolically to a friend who also had a need for limes, possibly (and ironically) for her vodka. I sent her a photo of a pouch of lime juice – twice the price it was a year ago – to see if that would do. It would, so I swapped that for a handful of parsley (curly, not flat, but needs must) from her garden.

Tip for anyone else attempting tabbouleh in these difficult times – couscous is a reasonable substitute, but also you might find a bag of bulgur on a lost shelf in the gluten-free aisle.

Ultimately, Christmas lunch was saved but it’s made me think how much we’ve assumed we could get anything, anytime. I understand about “seasonal produce” – we grew up with a vegetable garden, so I get it that stuff ripens for a little bit, and then disappears till the same time next year. No point hankering after fresh asparagus in May.

Though this does not apply to silverbeet. That nasty stuff is the vegetable equivalent of a post-nuclear cockroach. It just keeps on existing, even when you encourage the family chooks to peck it to death. Ugh.

But these empty shelves we’ve been seeing are new to us – the gaps where the tissues used to be, or eggs, or seasonal vegetables now battered by unseasonable weather.

Empty shelves, too, for things we wouldn’t usually need during this season, but now do. Even before the floods, I went looking for gumboots – something lighter than my red bands that would work for outdoor gigs in an already damp January, and which wouldn’t require a woolly sock.

“Gumboots?!” The lady in the store was incredulous. “Not now!” A few short, wet weeks later it is entirely possible someone in head office is rethinking what makes the perfect summer shoe and that “waterproof” will become a design feature.

In the north of Aotearoa it seems we are going to have to learn to live with more rain than we’re used to. So I’ve dug out my red polka dot umbrella, and found some light PVC boots, and now I’m walking to the greengrocer to see if they’ve got any parsley.


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20 Feb Having A Go-Bag

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – cover date 20.2.23


The other week, I turned up at yoga without my yoga mat. Not a disaster – there’s a cupboard full in the studio and, while they are not orange like the one I love for my down-dogs and Salamba Sarvangasanas, you can still have a brilliant time on them. Namaste.

Still, the annoying bit was I’d forgotten the one thing I needed to remember – the rolled-up hot orange mat, placed carefully at the front door to make forgetting difficult. And yet. As I flew down the stairs I’d been distracted by a text and this was all it took. Lucky I had my pants on already, right?

We forget stuff. Often, we forget stuff because our brains are busy. There is a popular theory that we make 35,000 decisions a day and, while most of these would have to be below the level of consciousness, I can see that what to wear/eat/say/do/read could easily reach an astronomical tally in between choosing to hit the snooze button in the morning and deciding when to turn out the light at night. Just getting this page in front of you probably involved dozens of choices, so well done, you.

To reduce Decision Fatigue, people create hacks, shortcuts for avoiding unnecessary choices. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously filled his wardrobe with identical blue jeans and Issey Miyake black turtlenecks so he wouldn’t have to decide what to wear on the daily. Basically, he picked looking like a boring middle-aged dude and stuck with it. Instead, he took the time and energy the rest of us would use up on, “Does that top go with that skirt or is it a trousers day?” to do something else, like imagine an iPad into existence.

My favourite life hack is one I picked up from “Criminal Minds”, a TV series about profilers who work for the FBI tracking psychopaths and sociopaths wreaking havoc on society.

Dealing with psychopaths and sociopaths is not what we have in common – though if you saw who comes to find me on Twitter some days, you’d wonder. What we mostly share is frequent travel.

And so, like them, I keep a “Go-Bag” – a few essentials packed and ready to scoot off with anywhere, anytime. It is possibly not so different from the thing you packed in the last weeks of pregnancy ready for the hospital run, back when you believed being “organised” and “ready” was possible because you didn’t yet have kids. Or the Baby Bag you kept later with wet wipes and spare nappies, always enough of them in there until the day you found yourself out of range of a supermarket.

My Go-Bag involves a complete toiletries kit. I have, over the years, bought two of everything you need in the bathroom because I got tired of having to think my way through the ablution process to ensure I had a hairbrush, toothbrush and moisturiser, not to mention plasters, tweezers and Savlon.

It has all the things you might assume plus some surprises, perhaps. A tin with soap, because I hate this new hotel thing of liquid soap on the wall. Scissors, because you’d be amazed how often you need to open impossible things. A vegetable peeler, because the carrot is my favourite snack.

I am still, though, capable of leaving stuff behind. Until I made a travel makeup bag, I would frequently turn up to do an event without mascara, or foundation, or powder. I often forget pyjamas, but not often enough to make them the first thing I pack. Though I once went away with no undies at all, and can confirm this is not a thing you do twice.


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13 Feb Getting My Steps In

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – cover date 13.2.23


I like to walk to the shops on Mondays because that’s when the gelato place is shut. A walk plus a gelato is less efficacious, by my calculations, than just a walk. Though still better than a gelato sans walk, of course.

But if the walk is the point then taking it on a Monday when there is no risk of gelato seems wise. I have willpower, I just see no reason to test it unnecessarily. Certainly not when they’ve put the pistachio and the salted caramel right there at the front of the cabinet.

“Getting my steps in” is how we talk about it now, this conscious moving around to reach a daily target we’ve set ourselves.

My phone has been quietly keeping track of how many steps and flights of stairs I’ve been taking for years, even before I knew what it was up to. Now it delivers unasked for statistics about my current activities and how they compare to last week, last month, and even last year.

And yes, it is creepy that this app on my phone has been gathering data on me since 2016, but it’s also fascinating to have all that information available in an orange bar graph. I can swipe through and spot the holidays at Disneyland (sudden columns tall as skyscrapers) and lockdowns (rows of tiny boxes) and the year I wrote a book and barely moved.

There was a time when I didn’t need to think about getting my steps in. This was long ago in an era when we didn’t carry water bottles because we didn’t know we were thirsty, or that being thirsty between locations was bad.

Instead of “getting my steps in”, I just “walked to things” – school, or university, or a job. In my first year in Wellington I lived on one side of the city and studied on the other, and public transport involved two bus routes that didn’t quite mesh so on days with less than torrential rain or gale force winds, it seemed easier to walk.

I reminisced about this when I was back there last month, staying down one end of the city and working up the other, cheerfully ambling along the waterfront several times a day. (The Capital, unlike my home city, has been having A Summer, which is both enviable and weird.)

Those earlier years of walking were curbed by work commutes, and taxiing kids, and fetching (and fetching for) aging parents. And generally squeezing so many things into each day that the only viable option for getting from A to B was the fast one, even for short trips – like a hasty nip to the shops.

Now I’m replacing as many of those drives as I can with a walk, which leads to “a think”, and possibly also an admission that this tedious nonsense about exercise and how it makes you feel good turns out to be – snore – quite correct. Endorphins and whatnot, who knew? I mean, everyone, including earlier versions of me, but I’m joining the party once more.

Even when you must take the car, this pro-walking ethos takes the anxiety out of finding a car park. Two blocks away? That’ll look good on my bar graph.

There is another app on my phone that tells me when I’ve done enough exercise for a treat. I downloaded that app on purpose. Turns out, two walks to the shops almost equals one gelato.

I love Tuesdays.


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07 Feb No One Actually Owns the Tupperware

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly, cover date 6.2.23


After years of summer barbecues and winter dinners at each other’s houses, I have finally come to understand that nobody actually owns these plastic food containers we all have. There is just a pool of them that exists in the universe and, from time to time, various ones will come to visit our kitchen, and then move on.

I took a proper look at the shelf-full of food storage boxes in my pantry recently and realised with shocking clarity that I didn’t actually buy any of them. Not only this, but the ones that I have bought aren’t here.

We haven’t talked about this before, but we all know how this works. I take my homemade salsa round to yours and we don’t quite finish it that night, and it feels rude to take it home again, and no-one can be bothered tipping salsa out of one container into another (probably identical) container at leaving time, so the whole shebang belongs to you now.

Swings and roundabouts. You’ll come round to mine with marinated chops in a leak-proof plastic thingy which ends up in my dishwasher and the cycle isn’t done before everyone goes home, so obviously that’s mine now. Until I take something moist and chop-sized round to Joyce’s.

Or not. Here’s a confession: my favourite plastic box in terms of shape, size and satisfying lid-closure was left here by I can’t remember who, can’t remember when. And I am ashamed to say this is not one I will use when I am taking things to other people’s houses because I couldn’t bear to leave it behind if that’s how the evening went. This one feels, weirdly, much more “mine” than any that I’ve bought.

But yes, I am aware that taking it out of circulation is mean and grabby, and very much against the rules. Because really, this is a kind of socialism in action – from each according to their onion dip, to each according to their tabbouleh. The boxes belong to all of us and none of us, and it is a law of nature and humanity that you will find, each time you open your cupboard, there will be enough there.

Or too many. Because of the constant inward/outward flow, it can be hard to keep them organised. Periodically, a cull is required. A friend will say, “I can’t come out because I’m sorting my Sistemas / tidying my Tupperware / co-ordinating my Click-Clacks,” and we recognise this is not an excuse of the “I’m washing my hair” kind. This is a real thing and there are days when it has to be done.

I like to store mine lids-on, because I feel like not being able to find the lid for a box you have chosen is a depressing domestic failure, and possibly speaks to other failures in the wider world. Consequently, my storage collection takes up much more space than if I stacked bottoms inside each other and piled tops separately nearby, but I like to think we are all happier this way.

There are days when we will say to a friend, “You look terrific, Jane, what’s your secret?” And Jane will tell you her boxes and jars are so organised that she can’t stop opening the cupboard to gaze at her perfectly contained containers. And we’re happy for Jane but there is also a hint of envy and we itch to go home and make this happen in our lives, too.


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05 Feb Stink Weather, Might As Well Work…

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – Cover date 30.1.23


I have decided I only want to work when the weather is lousy. Fortunately, it is another grey old day out there so I am more than willing to stay indoors and elaborate.

Think of this as my personal contribution to the global movement towards Flexible Working Hours. FWH looks like it will be the biggest change to how we arrange our lives since the invention of the 8-hour working day in 1840. So not exactly a sudden move, right? But significant.

Which is why I want to get in on the ground floor while we’re still designing how FWH works in practice.

The current thinking goes that for lots of workers, being present in the workplace from nine-to-five, Monday to Friday, is less important than actually getting the job done. And if you can do the job in four days rather than five – more efficiently because you’re happier and therefore more productive – then everybody wins.

It feels important that we’ve finally recognised that being happy makes us better workers. This “happier” bit is generally about having more time with family, managing childcare better, and giving space to non-work activities you find fulfilling. Turns out we’re raising generations of Millennials and Gen-Zers who have been watching us work every hour god sends and they have decided, No thank you, they’ll have a bit more Me-Time in their week, that glassy-eyed hypertension doesn’t look as much fun as we talk it up to be.

Hard to argue against any of this given three years of a pandemic has provided ample evidence that you don’t even have to put your pants on for a meeting now it’s via Zoom. Though we should note that pants are still preferred at in-person meetings and do remind me to tell you that story sometime.

My personal preference for flexible work would be not to nominate particular days of the week to engage in the business of business. I just want to work when it’s raining, or windy, or bleak.

This is because I am fundamentally solar powered. True, a bit of caffeine is good for a boost, but it’s the sunshine that fills my tank. Give me a blue sky and I fairly bounce – not just out of bed – out of the house and find lovely things to do.

Though not before putting a load of washing on because wasting precious drying hours offered up for free by Mother Nature is rude. If someone said they’d pay your power bill you wouldn’t turn up your snoot, so I don’t know why you wouldn’t peg out your sheets and smalls under every available clear sky. It’s just manners.

Now, I appreciate the unpredictable nature of weather forecasting could make my work schedule equally capricious – you might worry I wouldn’t get a task completed during say, summer. And yet…

Think of how much work I would have done this particular summer – I’d barely have had a day off. Can I emphasise too greatly how many bleak days, stormy days, days of flood and ferocious winds we have had this January? Have you ever had more occasion to ponder that “global warming” was the most egregious misnomer ever coined, and that maybe we would have fixed it by now if we’d named it “climate disruption” rather than something sweet? Because honestly, never has a January felt so much like June.

Still, the kids are back to school in a minute. It often fines up around then.



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23 Jan Chucking It Out There – the joy of an inorganic rubbish collection

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – cover date 23.1.23


Round my way, we have an annual “inorganic rubbish collection”. Not every town or city is lucky enough to get these, and I feel sorry for people who don’t experience this circus-has-come-to-town thrill.

When I first moved here, it was even flasher. Back then, each neighbourhood was designated one week a year when they could put all the things they didn’t want – a fridge, a lounge suite, a cathode ray TV – out near the road and, at some point, a truck would come and take it all away.

Take away what was left, that is. Because as the inorganic collection date moved around the city, so would people looking for interesting, useful, even re-sellable things amongst the piles on neighbourhood berms. It became a kind of Market Day, when everything was free so long as you could haul it off.

Shy shoppers would go for a stroll of an evening, casually poking through mounds with a curious toe, while more brazen hunters cruised the streets in utes and vans, gloved-up and not pretending to do anything but forage for bargains.

It’s not quite the same these days. Each household gets a short window to book a personal inorganic collection which may take up no more than a metre square tucked inside your gate. So it’s less social, less “on display”, and you miss out on that one glorious week when an entire neighbourhood looked like either a bazaar or a bombsite, depending on your view.

My cousin in Spain tells me a similar thing happens in his village all the time, but without the truck coming round. On a designated day you put out the armchair or the bed you no longer want and, whoever needs it, takes it. Though if it’s still there at dusk, it’s your responsibility to bring it back in.

Effectively, it’s a second-hand store without a middle-person involved and no money changing hands. And cute, apparently, to have dinner at your neighbour’s sometime and sit at the table you once had at your place.

Being offered a date for an inorganic pick-up was the motivation I needed to finally go through Dad’s shed. It’s nearly six years since he died, so it’s fair to say I haven’t rushed things.

Inside were tired brooms and garden stuff, plus two sets of drawers filled with what are now rusty nails, stiff paint brushes, bits of old rope and quite the selection of sandpapers.

To this, we added two bent scooters, four worn-out garden chairs, a 40-year-old food processor and some old containers we used to hold the smaller, rusty things. It was a mad scramble to keep it all together because foragers kept taking the containers, leaving scattered nails. One of the scooters was rescued which made the remaining one look even more broken and sad.

I felt the food processor needed an explanatory note – I wanted anyone looking to know we hadn’t been using it all this time, it had just been living in cupboard. Because I know you could look at a ragged couch on someone’s berm and think, Really? You were sitting on that till quite recently? Not what I’d pictured for you from here in the street.

I also found treasures which will stay. Dad’s hammer and plane and,best of all, his spirit level which he’d had since the 1940s. It still thrills me with its golden-green bubble like a cat’s eye, still showing what is straight and plumb, even after he’s gone.


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16 Jan A Summer Holiday Fantasy

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – cover date 16.1.23


A Pacific island resort, a ski trip to Aspen, a tootle around the East Cape… These are all options for a summer holiday, but are you thinking big enough? Because a friend has been fantasising about taking her annual break in – wait for it – the 1970s.

I see her point. Simpler times – or that’s how we remember this orange-and-brown corduroy of a decade. Those of us who were there can picture it and, for those of you who weren’t, let me paint you one.

You would drive into your 1970s holiday in a Morris 1100, the car we all had then unless we had a Morris 1300. White, usually, with red upholstery, manual gear stick and wind-up windows. There’s a handy tow bar so you can borrow the neighbour’s trailer for that essential holiday activity, a family trip to the dump.

This is where you fill the trailer with bits and nonsense from the garage, the shed, and from “underneath the house”, a space we used to have in houses built on sloping quarter acre sections where you would put broken and unwanted things for a kind of “cooling off” period.

Occasionally, something might make it back into the house for a bit – a coffee table might get a second chance as a DIY project, and your older brother might be over David Bowie but that poster would look great on your wall. After some unspecified period, though, it is agreed things are ready to move on to landfill.

You queue up at the tip with all the other Morris 1100s pulling borrowed trailers on unsealed roads navigated by dads who fancy themselves as terrifically good at this sort of thing. They deliberately place themselves in situations where they can demonstrate their trailer-reversing skills – you don’t need to back up to the edge of the abyss, but they all do.

It is January so it is stinking hot, and also stinking because it’s a tip, and in these cars without air conditioning (it’s the 70s) there’s a pointless back-and-forth about whether you should wind the windows down (to let in cool air) or up (to keep out the smell). In the end you just give in to the stink and to the shriek of seagulls tearing around, looking for something delicious amongst the old mattresses and broken chairs, and finding it often enough to keep them this far inland.

On the way home there would definitely be an ice cream or – because it is a holiday after all – a stop at the local pick-your-own strawberry farm where you’re allowed to eat as many strawberries as you like and just pay for what you’ve got in your punnet, though there will be obligatory jokes about weighing the kids on the way in and the way out and charging mum and dad the difference, ha ha!

Some of this 1970s realism may be tricky to recreate where you live, but I bet you can manage a family trip to the local playground with – for authenticity – socks and sandals for dad, and a towelling bucket-hat. And for mum? A bit of a night off for the missus with fish’n’chips out of newspaper (those seagulls will be back if you’re doing it right) and then home for board games and the inevitable family fight.

What joy! The only tweak you’d want to make to a purist’s vision of the 1970s would be slapping on some actual sunscreen rather than SPF-free coconut oil. Otherwise, you’re ready to groove.



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05 Jan Life In 2050

An edited version of this piece was published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly and is on sale from 29 December. 


As we get to know this New Year, I am casting my mind even further forward to life in 2050.

The glorious thing about the future is that we each get to decide what we’d like it to look like, so here’s my version of life halfway through the 21st Century.

By 2050, Baby Boomers like me will likely be sitting quietly somewhere eating soft food and waiting for Nurse to bring us a pinot. Not a terrible prospect, and only right and proper that we are making space for our children and grandchildren to get on with things.

My granddaughter, Ariana, will be 37 years old and I picture her driving the Hover Car my generation was promised by “The Jetson’s” cartoon. If not exactly that then surely by now she is living in a fossil-fuel free, zero-carbon world.

Electric cars and electric bikes are universally affordable with charging stations as common as Vape stores used to be in 2023. Meanwhile, Vape shops don’t exist at all because everyone has worked out that breathing anything into your lungs apart from clean air is a stupid idea.

Instead of smoking or drinking, people will be micro-dosing psychedelics which will have the dual benefit of a) eliminating anxiety & depression, while also b) making you think your e-bike is a Hover Car.

In 2050, short-haul air travel is done by electric plane. They’re still working on electric planes for long-haul flights, but say they’re close to finding an extension cord that’s long enough – they’re pretty sure there’s one in the shed.

Ariana lives in a city which is actually made up of many small, self-contained and sustainable “villages”. Everything is in walking distance from home – work spaces, village schools, doctors and shops are all set around shared green spaces with swimming pools and playing fields.

The country is officially called Aotearoa following a referendum which confirmed what people were organically doing. We also had a referendum on the voting age which now starts at 16 and stops once you start listening to talkback radio.

While everyone enjoys a universal basic income, the wealthiest people in each village are the caregivers – the people who look after kids, the elderly and disabled and sick. That’s because people have decided to stop just saying thank you to nurses and teachers and mothers with words, and to value them the way we usually value things – with money.

Mostly this is down to the shift from Patriarchal Capitalism to Matriarchal Socialism. There hadn’t been an actual revolution – no one had actually smashed the patriarchy. The ladies had been threatening to do this for a while but could never find anyone to look after the kids.

Instead, in 2039 men decided they’d honestly had enough of being in charge of everything and they’d said, “You know what ladies? You really should have a turn. We’d quite like a bit of a sit down. We want more time with our kids, and maybe we’ll do some more gaming.”

Which was fair enough – the ladies had been Prime Ministers and Governor Generals and Chief Justices for a few decades, so it seemed about time they had a go at the jobs that actually involve money and power.

And what gets people out of bed in the morning? Not an alarm clock, but birdsong. The return of tūī and pīwakawaka to each neighbourhood is the clearest sign that the planet is beginning to recover and cool.

Ah, 2050. You sound lovely… Makes me want to stick around.

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