Friday, 31 October 2014

Forty days: Pt 13 (Hallowe'en)


My spirit animal.

Also, check out the face of the pumpkin's creator, forced to attend a patisserie workshop this afternoon:

Bursting with joy. Like a cat forced to wear a Santa suit, his face says "you may smile now, but later I will kill you as you sleep".

Actually, I think it was less the workshop and more shock and disapproval at having to make those cakes which contained large chunks of pumpkin. I have just tried to eat a piece and .. no. Really not. Mmm, cake cake cake OH HOLY LORD NO A SOGGY LUMP OF PUMPKIN GET IT OUT OF MY MOUTH.

These guys know trouble when they see it:

The bad news: we found a dead mouse next to the fridge and I still have so much work I could cry and L has lost his €120 annual tram pass and I shouted and it's a public holiday tomorrow so none of the shops are open and there is no food in the house except 2kg of pumpkin cake. 

The good news: the children are at a Hallowe'en sleepover at the Science Museum ALL NIGHT PRAISE THE BABY NATHAN. When we dropped them off, the lady who was taking their names had her clipboard balanced on a flayed guinea-pig, on a table strewn with dried shark heads, pickled snakes, bones and a brain in a jar. I reckon they'll have a good time. I am going to bed with my book on Iceland and a cup of tea and will do my sodding work in the morning whilst contemplating the Liberty print Nikes my perfidious elder son told me were "too young" for me.  

My main observation on the first 13 days of this process is that making any plan to write/achieve anything remotely coherent and meaningful is laughable and that this might be my philosophical take-home for turning forty. "Take-home", ugh, I sound like I am facilitating your break-out group at a team building exercise in a conference centre in Surrey. Come, let us build an egg cradle from office supplies together then feed back on what we learnt*.

(*Did I ever tell you the story of how once during one of our - competitive, obv - team building exercises in the bad old law days, one of my colleagues actually HIRED A SPEEDBOAT to get ahead of the competition? That happened.)

(I now feel slightly nostalgic for the days of team building "retreats" to Mediterranean hotels that serve cava for breakfast. You don't get that when you're freelance.)

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Forty days: Pt 12 (the half-term shuffle)

I tell you what goes really well with a huge, time-pressured research task. UNSUPERVISED PUMPKIN CARVING. As dusk falls.

"So, uh, you're fine out here? In the gathering darkness? With your giant collection of knives? Good"

These children were clearly never taught the golden BOTH HANDS BEHIND THE CUTTING EDGE rule by Geoff "Mad Baz" Easton, Quaker school's terrifying woodwork teacher (each lost finger = 500 lines*). Actually, they probably did a better job without me resentfully grappling with my uncooperative laptop as I try to download Pinterest pumpkin templates. Try attaching a fecking template of that fecking snowman from Frozen to a SWEDE, Pinterest, like we used in my childhood (every year, we, the children of the Northern England 1970s emerge from the woodwork to assert that there were no pumpkins north of Watford until 1990 and bemoan our childhood deprivation. This year will be no different).

Only one small wound.

I am Quite Stressed. I had to go and have a posh lunch all by myself for a review at lunchtime, which should be lovely, and is certainly not a thing I should complain about, poor me and my many exquisite courses, but I had no time and too much to do and unsupervised children and having a posh lunch by yourself is just weird. On a good day you can pretend to be an icy Marlene Dietrich sort of cove, but when you are klutzy and blotchy and poorly dressed and when you keep flailing stuff onto the floor, the Marlene Dietrich illusion evaporates and you are just an idiot dropping a tempura prawn into someone's handbag (that wasn't today, but it did happen once and it so could have been today). The tweedy man sitting near me kept telling me how rejouissant (pleasing, uplifting) it was to watch me eat, which wasn't at all unnerving or creepy. Then the chef asked me for my card and the only things in my handbag were some fragments of shredded tissue, dog shit bags and a tampon.

Low points: either the dog deciding its own bed was sexually irresistible, or coughing so much I had to retch in the sink and in doing so, banging my head really hard on the tap giving myself a massive forehead lump. The neighbour's free jazz stylings to "Small Town Boy" on the saxophone weren't great either.

High point: the buttery, buttery linguine with white truffle wasn't too shabby. OH POOR ME. POOR POOR ME.

I need to go back to my neglected research task now. I'm still missing one innovative office offering.

(*it was actually 'columns' in Quaker school because non-conformism)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Forty days: Pt 11

A nicer picture than yesterday's, this.

It's nice to have the old, world-weary, threadbare dog back, even though he has just been sick on the kitchen floor (presumably a result of well-concealed effervescence of joy at our return). We also discovered tonight that he is violently opposed to lunges. Obviously, it has taken five years cohabitation with him to discover that because I am more likely to build a scale model of the Cutty Sark out of unicorn horn parings than do a lunge, but the children festered on the sofa all day and did not get dressed, so had an early evening burst of excess energy.

Topics covered today:

- tortoise favela maintenance (necessary, overdue)

- chicken escape (constant, single culprit)

- competition law (much as ever, antitrusty)

- the worst Pokémons (Magikarp, Snorlax "all those useless pieces of metal", discuss)

- the desirability of a child attending a Halloween patisserie workshop (very desirable)

- innovative office facilities in London and Brussels (no knowledge, knowledge must be acquired very rapidly)

- parsnips (no) (not even roasted, no) (especially not in soup)


- 1 meeting

- 1 "conference call" (ugh)

- 2 invoices issued

- 1 bill paid (cancelling out both invoices)

- 1 pan of brownies

- 1 hotel review

- reduced face picking

- only 2 people actively, visibly revolted by my cough


- Dinner (many films pierced)

- Realised Cos shroud dress covered in mysterious, apparently food, crap during meeting

- Dread-inducing outstanding work mound undiminished

- New unsightly nose buboe from scratchy Eurostar loo roll

- Most other stuff

God, I am boring. Tomorrow I have to go for a fancy arse lunch ON MY OWN (I'm trying to make that sound more exciting than it is). I'll try and spin something out of that.

Your Wednesday?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Forty days Pt 10 (Ten Amazing Beauty Tips)

I think (hope, pray) that today is the worst I will look for this full forty days* and in the spirit of forty days perestroika I am GOING TO SHOW YOU. I do not care any more.

I actually look better sans wig, frighteningly. Maybe the giant pale dome is distracting.

(double chin cleverly concealed in folds of giant scarf, pro tip)

If you wish to look this fantastic, and who wouldn't, this is my routine:

1. Totally fail to get your eyebrow tattoos topped up in a timely fashion and wait until they fade to 1996's Brighton cowboy beauty salon orange, apparently-drawn-by-a-toddler catastrophe, the only eyebrow that never fades.

2. Get sick, so sick, sicker than you've been for several years.

3. Need to wake up at 4am to top up your Lemsip levels. Walk into a wall in confusion.

4. Rub your weepy, tired eyes repeatedly for several days until they swell up in pink lidded lashless confusion (ed's note: this is not very different to their normal state).

5. Fail to find any tissues for most of the day and be reduced to wiping nose with scratchy kitchen roll and terrible grey sandpaper Eurostar loo roll, ow ow ow.

6. Start absent-mindedly picking at the corner of your lips for no good reason with your extra sharp fingerclaws until they bleed. Then do it again repeatedly.

7. Pick at a tiny spots on your chin and nose with your sharp fingerclaws until they get much bigger and proliferate.

8. Consume only Lemsip, Ribena, gingerbread dinosaur, wine and feebly gummed Cheese & Onion crisps for two days.

9. Do not wear any make up, except some dried up gel eyeliner that your weepy, irritated eyes have mainly cried off.

10. Fail to bring any emollient/lip balm/moisturiser away with you except some dodgy fish scented day cream (again, this is not so different to normal regime, except there is usually some crappy lip salve in a drawer somewhere).

(I don't know how you can get a nose that shiny. I think I am just blessed, sorry)

(* I think I might actually look worse now than an hour ago, but it's marginal.)

I have a law meeting tomorrow. I'll have to get up an hour earlier to start layering on Secret Camouflage and mineral powder. Actually, I should probably start tonight.

How do you achieve your enviable look?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Forty Days: Pt 9 (Goat Party Interlude)

My gmail status has been "GOAT PARTY" for weeks (I forget), but for once, today, it is actually appropriate. "Goats are very healing," a nice lady said on Twitter and here's hoping because I am still sooo ill. This rhino that thinks it is a goat is definitely healing.

But enough self-pity! On with the GOAT PARTY:

(Wondered if this might be my father's bearded spirit animal)


Yeah hai, pass over the goat nuts thxbai

(I might be a sheep)

Hai, ur coat haz a flavour

I have been going to the Cotswold Farm Park since before the children were born and now look at them, unashamedly the oldest in the rabbit petting area.

(The rabbit on the right is rolling its rabbit eyes and thinking, "yeah, everybody likes the fucking leopard bunny, the grandstanding asshole"). 

No need to fuck up your sacro-iliac pushing them around on tiny tractors any more and it no longer requires the skill set of Kofi Annan to get them out of the gift shop ("Do you want a hamburger?" "Yes" "Then put down that crap pencil sharpener and get in the car" "Ok"). Then we went to the pub and they can fetch their own lime and soda and crisps and no one writhes around like a furious conger eel or requires a full cabaret of entertainment if the food takes more than 3 minutes. Big children are brilliant. Yes, you may tell me it won't last, I'm fully aware of that, but I am appreciating the moment, like the zen mindfulness wizard I am (ha ha ha ha ha ha) (ha ha ha ha ha) (ha ha) (ha).

We are leaving in the morning. No more Walkers crisps, no more goat parties, no more sightings of the Bamford's fancy helicopter taking Lady Bamford to sell overpriced linen nick-nacks, no more bat poo on my socks, gratuitous giant fires and teaching the children to drive the Landrover round the field. No more giant rat in the woodpile and no more ballet of stupid bluebottles in every sink. Well, for a while. But soon clean pants (didn't bring enough) and the lukewarm welcome of the ouipette! It's enough to gladden any Lemsip addled heart. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Forty days: Pt 8 (Sick)

Jesus, I am too sick for the Internet tonight, I have been poisoned by my own disgusting crumble (my stepmother accidentally bought gluten free flour which I can only assume was made from finely milled silica sachets since it made a crumble as dry and dusty as the Sahara, regardless of the cavalier, Nigel Slater pints of butter I poured hopelessly into the mixture). I have also succumbed to the twin dangers of Strepsil and Lemsip abuse and my head is swimming and I have an Annoying Cough, the kind where you don't sound quite sick enough to elicit sympathy, just really wind people up.

Today: nothing. Lots and lots of nothing. It was grey and damp with buffeting clouds, fat disconsolate pigeons sitting on fence posts and dog walkers bundled up in many layers trudging along the verges. We have been bamboozled by the clock change all day, dozy and hungry at the wrong times, drifting through the kitchen grazing on inappropriate foods, boiling the kettle, boozing and asking each other if it can really only be 9am.

The cousins left early and we went for a short, uneventful walk and a short uneventful bike ride, failed to make cider (vetoed by my father even though the kit was his birthday present), made atrocious crumble, picked a few carrots and generally festered, each in our own corner. I read the paper and my tawdry book, watched Strictly and played backgammon with my stepmother and had a scalding, blissful Radox bath watching night draw in (horribly early). The children mainly did Minecraft, obviously, ate gingerbread shapes and repeatedly unplugged the router for reasons that are entirely opaque to me.

It would have been absolutely delightful if I weren't sick and even being sick, it had that lovely childlike quality where you aren't expected to organise anything and people provide you with foods and you just submit docilely to whatever the grown ups decide, which is a treat at very-nearly-forty. Now it is cold in the bedroom and slightly damp, so cold you have to huddle fast under the quilt (I haven't managed to get undressed yet, a rookie error) and everything smells of woodsmoke and outside an owl is hooting quite angrily and it is time for me to sleep.

I do not have any new pictures for you today except a picture of some poo we found on the hill, which I photographed in the hope my father could identify it ("deer", but he could be bluffing, he's a very convincing liar). I'll spare you that. Here instead is his horse sculpture that he mistakenly bought instead of buying me a miniature Shetland pony (easy mistake). I appear to have used some weird filter accidentally: I have a new phone, having left the old one in a taxi last week, and I rather loathe it, it is patronising and obstructive.

Tomorrow, we have another whole day here but it is ok, we are going to the Cotswold Farm Park so I can 100% guarantee you pictures of goats.