Sunday, 23 November 2014

Forty days: pt 36 (Sunday)



Today I was required to go and see Mockingjay. I have been force-fed the whole of the Hunger Games in the last week or so like a foie gras goose but with slaying instead of wheat. It is not cheery, is it (newsflash, there)? There aren't a lot of laughs out in District 12 even before it all kicks off, just the bleak satisfaction of occasionally killing a squirrel. Worse still in Julianne Moore's pass-agg underground boilersuit camp. It is certainly not heart-warming Sunday evening viewing with mild romance and a lost dog in the manner of eg. Hamish Macbeth or Ballykissangel. Though it is not as bad as Polisse - a bleaker than bleak (though occasionally horribly uneasily funny) film about a Parisian child protection brigade - of which I caught the second half tonight. Coming on top of Latin revision and geography project homework (god, it only seems a few weeks ago that I was cursing oxbow lakes myself), this might all have sent me into a profound decline were it not for the following:

- ice cream at the cinema (side note: this ice cream is one of those knotty pronunciation problems. How on earth should one say "Un Ben and Jerry's Fairly Nuts s'il vous plaît?" Do you go for the full English, or do you try and frenchify for greater comprehensibility for the girl behind the counter? I have tried things like saying "the one with the nuts in", but it turns out loads of them have nuts in. Today I went for a sort of gallic version: "Ferrly Nuttes")

- Antiques Roadshow (STATUS QUO TAPESTRY).

- Beautiful sunshine, which I mainly viewed approvingly through the window whilst drinking tea and reading.

- The knowledge I have half a tiramisu hidden in the fridge for tomorrow when everyone is out.

- Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking. Someone here recommended I read her - her fiction, I presume - but the only thing I could get on Kindle was this and it's soooooo lovely (I read almost everything anyone recommends here and have almost never been disappointed). It encapsulates the exactly why I want to get good at hospitality (though it doesn't give me much hope I will because she was clearly such a delightful and extraordinary person). It is full of warmth and laughter and not taking yourself seriously and lovely things to eat without unnecessary fuss. I am not a reader of cook books at all (ha, as if this needs saying, though I could definitely have written something entitled 'Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir' as one of the essays is here) but this is enchanting, even though her repeated insistence on the deliciousness of potato salad revolts me.

- It is my birthday this week and even though I should be cast down by impending mortality, some irrational part of me still goes "BIRTHDAY, YAY, PRESENTS, YAY, ME ME ME". By mid-morning Wednesday this will have worn off and I will be sulky and cast down (well, that or delightedly petting my new Shetland pony and trying to find room for him in the back yard) (I think we know which one it will be).

- Winning at Scrabble, yes, against the ten year old, what, shut up, French Scrabble is bloody hard. I am supposed to be writing something about board games soon, for which I think I need to acquire and play Risk. How likely is this to lead to total domestic breakdown? Is it worse than Monopoly? What are the best and worst board games for family discord, in your opinion?

How was your Sunday?

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 35

Only five more days of this poor quality droning to go, hang on in there. We can do this.



The dog was doing that dog thing where he stands motionless a couple of inches from my face just staring when I am eating YET AGAIN tonight even though I was actually eating chicory, so I held out a limp witloof leaf in exasperation to show him I wasn't withholding deliciousness. He grabbed it and ran away then tried to eat it, then made this face, like those cheetahs eating Marmite, ha ha ha.



Today featured:

- Interminable queue for a roast chicken which turned out to be dry as the desert - though tastier than sand, admittedly. cf this recent exchange with L:



- Weird violin teacher antics involving chalk and soap.

- My family insisting on watching Godzilla followed by "The World's Most Incredible Bridges" this evening. The only way this latter programme could be duller and more xy-y (that doesn't really work, does it) would be for the Top Gear chaps to be driving along the bridges in question. I didn't watch Godzilla but from the bedroom it sounded like the giant lizard was repeatedly eating orchestras, holy intrusive incidental music, batman.

- The taming of the printer - though since I did not do this myself, I am fairly certain the printer has lost any respect it ever had for me (none) (printers recognise no authority) (this one is plotting to kill me as I sleep).

- A lot of lying/working in bed as the seven mugs and three computers strewn around me testify, including a vain attempt to write 40 words about Katy Perry.

- A terribly confused conversation with the hairdresser about tennis which involved thinking that the hairdresser's son was in the Davis Cup (apparently there's a Belgian player called Monfils, seriously, how on earth were we supposed to know something like that, also what kind of a name is Monfils anyway)

How was your Saturday?

Friday, 21 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 34 (thirty minutes)

It's half past 11. I have thirty minutes and no ideas.

Good things today:

Went out for breakfast to lovely café for pasteis de nata like a grown up who knows how to leave the house.


None of your five a day

Apple crumble for lunch. Yeah, just apple crumble. What?

Got two good commissions out of nowhere (no, neither of them were to give my moving and perceptive view of turning forty. One of them was this, randomly)

I have started on your most helpful and tempting podcast recommendations with Strangers, which is just great and I also acquired a whole new set of crime recommendations (reading, rather than actual felonies) on Twitter. I will report back if any of them turn out to be good.

It is Friday and I do not need to get up in the morning, no not even if the dog stands at the foot of the stairs and makes a noise like a deflating balloon, that is what (i) earplugs and (ii) children are for.

No one came home with any new disasters/punishments/enormous bills for macabre school equipment to report (or at least they chose not to report them which suits me fine).

There were some really good lists in the comments on the last post.


Bad things today: 

The lovely café sells SPECULOOS PASTEIS DE NATA, which is obviously against the rule of nature and the gods.

I have probably not eaten the healthiest set of foods a person could optimally eat today (dinner was pizza).

I had to share a room with the rebellious printer-bastard today and felt a mixture of shame and rage at its giant mocking useless form blocking out most of the light.

Physical disintegration continues apace/accelerates and I have run out of giant orange horse pills.

Achieved none of the dreary admin tasks on my several to-do lists.

Had to watch several tedious hours of Koh-Lanta (French survivor), L's favourite programme, gangs of dullard French men running around in scrubland trying to use a compass.

Had to spend some time in the company of a website so extravagantly dull I kept drifting off into a fugue state whenever my eyes rested on it. Consequently failed to complete necessary website related tasks and must return to it next week.

I have worked it out and I definitely got the calculation wrong and my birthday falls on the 39th day of the forty day posting thing. Ha ha ha.


One minute left! Good and bad for your Friday? You are so kind to keep commenting, thank you.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 33 (Lists)

I almost forgot to do tonight. That'll be the orange pills (I have crumbled into decrepitude again). I honestly thought this process would be all about me writing thoughtful, perceptive stuff about mid-life so that people would be compelled to commission me to write for them, ha ha ha, the delusion is strong in me.

Windows open on my phone currently:

Picture of a capybara wearing a paper bag round its neck
Horse playing football with care home residents
7 writers reflect on failure
Free astronomy class details
You Tube recipe for lavash I will assuredly never use
Father Jack says sorry
Canadian panda enjoys snow


Things on my bedside table (surface layer only): 

Toothbrush
Right Ho, Jeeves
Dirty mug
Staple gun
30 Rock DVD
Back in the Jug Agane
Colm Toibin - The Testament of Mary
Wire giraffe
Giant orange back pill
String of pearls
Malcom Mackay - The Night the Rich Men Burned
Jeeves in the Offing
Box of MoMA Christmas cards unmoved and unopened since last December
Miller Harris Vetiver Bourbon
3 earplugs
Propeller from something
Anne Enright - Yesterday's Weather (ooh, didn't even know I had this)
2 crap normal pens, one nice silver one from last year's excellent advent box
Supermarket loyalty card
Chanel 'April' nail polish
Zola - La Curée
50 cents


To do list (immediate as opposed to 'lingering, guilty, may never happen'): 

Expenses
Chase Portuguese cafe for pics
Pay school canteen
Buy Nutella
Take tea-soaked jumpers out of washing machine
Pay €88 business tax thingy about 6 months overdue
Unearth something for dinner
(I only did two of these - both the food related ones)


Best stuff I have put in my mouth today: 

2 giant orange back pills
Apple crumble
Mouthful of Picard chocolate and salted caramel fondant (not at all shabby, will buy again)
Another giant orange back pill


Currently saved in my folder of lust:

Warehouse cashmere onesie
Large Burleigh breakfast cup
Rob Ryan mug to replace the one I broke a week after buying it
A large selection of eBay antique quilts
Icelandic horses for sale
(So short, my list of wants. I am practically a holy hermit)


Parts of me that are broken:

Left thumb (cut with evil knife)
Lips (ravaged)
Lower back (god knows, probably horse related)
Brain (clearly)
Right elbow (search me)


Things that have made me cry/nearly cry today:

The dishwasher
My back
The Boots advert
Something I listened to - but what? What could it be? Oh, the bit in Serial with Hae's mother's statement.
Noblesse the horse, who wilfully inflated her stomach like a puffer fish so I couldn't do anything with her. Laughed instead, finally.
My phone, with rage


Weirdest bill received today:

"Squelette chat, €125" (it's a long story)


Would you like to give me a list, please?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 32 (BATE)

I spent ages today reading my archives to try and remember various things and it was really excruciating, like reading your teenage diaries. Occasionally I would think 'oh, that's quite funny', but mainly I was cringing inwardly and sweating and feeling a bit sick. It's so unguarded, I don't think anyone could keep writing like that for very long. Also, I think I used to be crueller (to myself and others)  and I'm quite glad things are a bit gentler now, even if I accept they are almost certainly a lot less fun to read.

This made me laugh a bit however about a work trip to Amsterdam:

"Excitingly on the return journey, I thought the taxi driver was trying to chat me up when he said "my shift ends now, shall I take you out to the airport", but then I thought perhaps he was just asking me if I wanted him to drive me all the way to there because he knew I was on expenses and wouldn't care. Either way, the moment of quite possibly imagined erotic potential was lost when he hit a large seagull. We tried to decide whether it was dead, stupid, broken, or drunk but inadequate language skills on my side cut the debate short. I still feel we shared a moment. Like Before Sunrise but with a seagull instead of Julie Delpy"

I remember that seagull. I know there were loads of funnier bits, but I can't face going back and looking.

Apart from that, I had vivid dreams about doing the make up of a woman who I have never met but follow on Twitter really ineptly in a rural Travelodge, then getting angry at a school fête and tearing a bread roll into tiny pieces and throwing it on the floor to make my point. When I woke up, I started the day by making a badly timed flailing gesture with a cup of tea and soaking my duvet and pillows and myself right down to my knickers with - thankfully lukewarm - tea.

Later, I had a tense run-in with my son of the type I would have recounted in full five years ago, then we did some Dutch and some Chinese and some .. I dunno. Maths of some abstruse variety? Some kind of compass-y thing. Then the new printer arrived and everything really went to shit.

The new printer is the size and weight - and has the temperament - of a Shetland pony. We tried to install its cartridges and it literally spat one out at us, then the cartridge tray ran away to hide in its black plastic burrow and refused to emerge. I watched several unhelpful amateur HP hack videos on YouTube then gave up.

F (my friend F, not my long-fingered son) and I discussed the printer. We have both recently read (and adored) the amazing H is for Hawk and the following will only be vaguely amusing if you have too, sorry. You should read it if you haven't, it's completely extraordinary.

F: BATE BATE BATE.

E: THAT's what the printer was doing! It's bating!

F: It totally is. You have to be patient, Emma. Carry it on your fist for several days.

E: It's the size of horse, this could be tricky.

F: It's not in yarak. You have to wait until it is.

E: I think the problem is that it is in yarak. That's why it's so highly-strung.

F: You need to wait for it to calm down.

E: I need to go and sit very still next to it for the next three days or so. Not look at it.

F: Yes. Tear up some rabbit thigh and feed it to the printer. Maybe you need to change its printing weight?

E: Yes! Someone has been feeding it too many chicks, perhaps. I'm leaving it for tonight, anyway. I'm just going to put its hood on and let it settle.


While I was hooding the printer, the children, who have behaved like Haribo crazed toddlers all afternoon took it upon themselves, respectively, to (i) move into the printer's box with a Toblerone and a set of cushions (ii) stab the box repeatedly with giant Mikado sticks and write "BOX OF SHAME" on the side. So if we do need to return it, that will be interesting.




After that, a plate fell out of the kitchen cupboard onto my head and then broke into a million pieces.

Oh god, I have just remembered my jumper is still soaking in the bathroom sink and the bedroom floor is covered in tea-stained pillowcases.

Was your Wednesday in any way better than this? I can only hope so.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 31 (um, nothing)

I have to tell you, I have nothing for you today. This is not because I am an empty husk after a day of composing transcendent, luminous prose. I am a full, guilty husk. Today's programme: staring, a couple of biscuits, faffing, light despair, lining up balsawood penguins and some truly atrocious "Religious education" homework:





What? What? I am not French enough for this. I hope never to be French enough for this.

I loved your comforting tales of similarly half-arsed days (except for the ones who have horses because I was blinded by jealousy), thank you. And thank you for commenting generally, it is hugely appreciated as I stagger half-arsedly through this pointless exercise. In fact, it's the only thing keeping me going.

(pause while I console eldest child over collapsed Design Tech bridge and search drafts folder for inspiration. There are no drafts.)

I am sorry, I am going to have to resort to some links.

This is an extraordinarily clear-sighted piece of writing - Meghan Daum on her mother's death. I read it first thing this morning and it made me late because I was sitting on the bathroom floor holding my breath as I read.

B's contribution: a fairly jaw-dropping piece of salacious American legal gossip.

F uncovered this incredible holiday for book perverts.

M: "this is what it's like inside your chickens' heads'.

Want to waste half your day like me? Help is at hand with this fiendishly infuriating quiz.

Loved this about The Knowledge.

Go home, Elle Belgique, you are drunk.