Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 39 (which should be forty but isn't)

It's my birthday! And you have all been so lovely I cried a little and not just because I woke up at 5am over-excited and couldn't get back to sleep. Though that was probably part of it. Then I cried again and not just because I had had two and a half glasses of wine but because you were still being utterly, touchingly kind and lovely and LARA EVEN WROTE ME A POEM.

It has all been delightful and I am too full of sugar to contemplate my own shortcomings - slash - mortality. My hilarious eldest son made me one of his special breakfast plates:



And a book on how to make my own special breakfast plates. It is quite strict. It's like living with Nicky Haslam sometimes. I reproduce some of it here, in case you also wish to make your own breakfast plate.



"The little book of beautiful plates"


This says "written by me, drawned by me, special thanks to my mum who wanted a book of cool plates. But she got this..."


"You should always favour round/curved shapes"


"A semi-circular shape is sometimes acceptable"


"Biscuits should be partially, not entirely, superposed"


"Add fruit, so the plate seems more 'healfy'" 


"Include a hot and a cold drink for contrast"


"Serve in a large plate, so it does not seem crowded"


Impressive blurbs

Apart from this I did not get a single thing on my fantasy list and it did not matter in the slightest. 

(This gift from Prog Rock was profoundly strange, admittedly:  


it contained an old, empty perfume atomiser that is impossible to refill. Might be good as a pot for keeping pencils in?)

I had a lovely day, ate too much, got mildly tipsy and my lovely family made me an actual homemade lemon drizzle cake and it was TOTALLY EDIBLE. I think I look a bit like the chicks on the top right now: 


Slightly wonky but unbowed. 

I am going to lie down now because all my blood flow must be directed to my stomach and thought is impossible. THANK YOU for sticking with this stupid odyssey and thank for your all your kindness. May your capybara overlords be ever merciful. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Forty Days: Pt 38 (Birthday Penumbra)

Last day of my thirties! My Birthday Penumbra (B's invention, meaning people have to be lovely to you in the days before and after your birthday as well as on the day and any attempt to make you do anything sub-optimal can be halted by holding up an imperious hand and shrieking "BIRTHDAY PENUMBRA") is well underway. I feel quite relaxed about the whole business. Whatever. Some baking definitely went on here this evening (well, secrecy, a smell of cooking and a lot of icing sugar), so I'm already excited about that. Let's see how I feel tomorrow. 

I don't have a big conclusion tonight and I doubt I'll have one tomorrow or indeed on day 40 which is the day after my birthday since I am a fucking idiot. I have enjoyed doing this a great deal, though, even though I did not actually have any big or particularly interesting thoughts about anything. My main conclusion is that I am delighted to hear about people's ponies and twin babies, bad accountants, fictional capybara theme parks and the intolerable domestic habits of their loved ones. This is what I always loved - and still love - about blogging. I will not just vanish for months on end again if I can possibly help it, because I miss you, and it. But the reason I blog less is because I am not bored out of my skull doing law all day every day and desperate for distraction and that in and of itself is surely a huge improvement over the last six years? Progress! Slow, halting progress, frequently obstructed by my own stupidity, but progress nonetheless. 

Kath asked what was on my wish list. As you all know I am an ascetic and a holy hermit and have no material desires and my gaze is turned solely towards spiritual fulfilment and self-sacrifice BUT, if I were obliged to conjure up a few trifles: 


Supersoak, obviously

Some really amazing brogues - Church's or Grenson or similar

Replacement for broken Rob Ryan mug (not the American football player)

Pretty much anything my friend Nathalie makes. 

A box of Sadaharu Aoki petits fours.

A piece of alarming taxidermy. 

I am not even asking for a horse this year. I think that's maturity, right there. Even though this woman has her own SLOTH and she is only 29 and she also has a kangaroo and several sugar gliders. I am so reasonable. 

If your Tuesday is trying and several of my friends have had a very trying Tuesday indeed, this, about Phnom Penh's last working elephant retiring, is really lovely. I presume, because you are all internet types, you have all already seen Arthur the Endurance Race dog, and tears have leaked from your eyes as they leaked from mine.  

I am going to stop now so I have time to wash my "hair" before I turn 40, because standards. Maybe I will even remember to cut this one enormous gnarled Father Jack style fingerclaw that escaped my recent pruning attempts too. Tell me about your birthdays. Do you like or hate them? Get over-excited and then slump, or pre-emptively dread and quite enjoy? Can you remember your worst (thirty was pretty much a fucker for me)?  

Monday, 24 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 37 (end of days)

Alarming times.

- I had to purchase Risk for this article about games I am writing and we played it tonight and it is fair to say that I did not acquit myself with honour, or even basic decency. I must save the sordid details for the piece but I think really, the game must be destroyed. People play this? For entertainment? Even the tiny unstable plastic men filled me with rage and that was before we started playing.

- Doleful text from Prog Rock "Lakeland less fun than before. Things actually useable".

- Email from B consisting solely of the word fuck approximately 350 times.

- Picture of someone's huge bloody lizard bite on Facebook glimpsed once then swallowed into the bewildering morass of the FB homepage is causing me confusion - who do I know with a feral lizard? How? I need more information.

- Found myself with an "ebola, ebola" earworm due to watching this excellent, admirable video

- M and I are both preoccupied The Missing, a BBC gloomfest set in Northern France

M: I find it remarkable how everyone in rural northern France speaks such excellent English.

E: Don't they. The blue collar paedophile is so eloquent, and so colloquial.

M: Yup. Also the garage mechanic.

E: The police. Totally fine conducting interviews in English. Oh, also, I like the gang. "Les Caïds de la Cité". HA.

M: Like they'd call themselves that. It would be like the mob calling themselves "Urban Mobsters"

E: 'We're the Badass Gangster Gang. Yep. That's our name'.

- Clicked on the wrong channel whilst trying to watch Posho doco on Tatler magazine and ended up enthralled watching this guy instead:



 Except in the live version he was accompanied by several accordionists in short shorts (both genders) and watched by 8000 ecstatic Belgian mammies. How have I lived in Belgium for over 8 years and not encountered him and is there some kind of procedure to take me back to that state of happy ignorance?

Thank god for my friend F who sent me these excellent pictures of (i) a menacing mini-pony and (ii) accompanying sign.



Yikes, time to post. And indeed to sleep. Any oddities with you today, or dreary Monday business as usual?

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. It's even worse 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 creeping 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.