A safe place for slackers to hang out. Catherine Woulfe is supposed to be writing for Sunday magazine, but is actually hiding in here writing about whatever takes her fancy.

What women wear

05:00am 02 Jul 2012 0 comments


I am so tired of the snarky, arbitrary rule-setting ('I think this, therefore this is THE RULES') over what women can and can't wear, and where.

A few example, from the easy-to-search Trade Me message boards:

"Leggings are fine as long as you are under 70kg..... well under! :)"
"[Size] 16 is too large for a mini skirt & 60 is too old"
Coloured jeans: "On children up to the age of 17, yes. Adults - no."

Now, I like rules. I follow rules. I follow dress codes. But only when they're set down by somewhere or someone I want to gain admission to. So if I ever report at court again I will leave my gold pants at home, because although there is no actual dress code for journalists in court, recent events suggest sequins are not ok.
Next time I'm getting on a plane in America I will cover my cleavage, unlike this woman, who was banned from boarding. And next time I'm in the posh section at Ascot I will ensure that my headpiece has a base diameter of 10cm or more.

But I will not wear nude hosiery and closed-toe heels to work all summer, just because some stupid 'style expert' says I should. (An actual quote from that story: "We women must always make sure we don't appear too sexy and, at the same time, we don't look too severe in a pantsuit", which makes me want to punch her right in the face. Or would that be too severe?) The harebrained what-to-wear news story is one version of sweeping rule-setting that really gets me riled up.

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Do you feel safe in Auckland at night?

05:00am 27 Jun 2012 11 comments


How safe do you feel at night in Auckland?

Maybe it comes from seeing too many police press releases and court charge sheets and murder scenes (not to mention CSI), but I am a total fraidy cat. I won't walk to the dairy alone at night, and I fret when I know my husband is walking home from the bus stop late on a Saturday night. I only run in daylight, and when I run through the bush gully near our house I turn my iPod right down, and look behind me a lot.

On the one hand I feel it's better to be safe than sorry. On the other, two incidents recently have made me wonder whether I'm paranoid.

The other night I was driving home from the gym, stopped at an intersection, and looked in my rear view mirror. Right behind me, sitting there silently in the back seat, was a man wearing an orange helmet. All I could see was his mouth, and his mouth was smirking.

My first thought was that awful urban legend about the killer in the back seat. Immediately, I started scanning for burly, helpful-looking passers-by (there were none). I considered leaping out of my car in the middle of the road and screaming, but worried no-one would come, and that the killer would just kill me quicker to shut me up.  

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Big bust is all the norm

05:00am 25 Jun 2012 2 comments


I am increasingly concerned about the state of my breasts. Not size-wise or shape-wise or 'oh God, why must all bra straps forever be slipping down'-wise. Just, I'm starting to think our boobs are to our bodies what canaries are to mines.

This feeling started a few weeks ago when my Sunday editor Kim Knight wrote a cover story about a new book on breasts. The author is a journalist called Florence Williams who found fire retardant in her breast milk, and I basically came away from that story with the impression that boobs are like spongy magnets for all the bad stuff we come in contact with. (I immediately threw out my baddie-laden body cream and bought two bottles of Living Nature stuff instead.)

Then I stumbled across a disturbing factoid, which has been around for a while but I'd never really absorbed before: the average bra size in New Zealand has risen from roughly a 10C, to a 12D or DD, in two years. TWO YEARS. (An NB for the uninitiated: the numbers in front of the letters indicate dress size, roughly. So a 10C is a size 10 woman with size C boobs).

Staff at the Newmarket Bendon store said: "We are also seeing young girls coming into our stores with larger busts much more often now."

Not sinking in for you? You're kind of 'meh, and?'
Read it a few more times. Really think about that leap. 10C to DD.

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Primary school league tables a bad idea

05:00am 20 Jun 2012 1 comment


League tables for primary schools, huh? Surprise surprise.

The Nats say the reason they're pushing league tables is that parents want them. I say they're doing it because their entire education policy is formulated around the legend "raising achievement" and they know league tables will help them erm, "achieve" that.

Achievement is an easy thing to raise. 

- Just set up a testing system that's open to abuse - tick
- give teachers cash incentives to raise "achievement" - tick
- and put out league tables, forcing schools to compete - tick.

Give it a couple of years and boom! Achievement up, parents happy, votes secured.

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The joys of renting in Auckland

05:00am 18 Jun 2012 3 comments


What's it like trying to rent a house in Auckland at the moment? Is it still insanely competitive and expensive, or are things calming down a bit?

Relations of mine have just bought a rental property on the Shore and they've been asking me lots of questions about the rental market. Some I can answer, but many I feel out of touch on, because before buying our place in January we had an unbelievably sweet streak of easy, fair rentals.

For about three years we flatted with two friends in a four-bedroom villa in Kingsland. From memory we paid $500 total. David Shearer was our landlord, but there's zero goss to pass on - he was overseas most of the time, and the only thing we could possibly complain about was that he kept his sweet little MG in the garage but we weren't allowed to drive it. So grabby. So elitist, David. Go hang your head in shame.

Next up was a stand-alone two bedroom unit in Mt Albert, on a posh street lined with huge mansions and huge pohutukawa, right across the road from where those guys were murdered last January.

Husband and I paid $400 there, I think, and had no competition when we applied for it, because it was that lovely week between Christmas and New Years when Auckland is a ghost city.

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