Along with my new friend alcohol, I feel like I am rediscovering this 'fun' thing too at the moment. I'm really not very good at it, but I am slightly improving. I have failed to have fun throughout my teens and twenties by virtue of various character flaws and circumstances, viz:
- being a morose and introspective teen with horribly heightened self-consciousness. Yeah, this does sort of describe all teenagers, but I think I cornered the market in doomed crushes and being tongue-tied and despairing for a couple of years in North Yorkshire. People were always shouting "Cheer up you miserable cow" at me on the streets, anyway.
- deciding that my main aim as an undergraduate was to seem remote, mysterious and alluring. And possibly mad. I had been very struck by Betty Blue aged 17 and from thenceforth modelled myself on Béatrice Dalle. You'd have to check this one with my contemporaries, but I like to think I was moderately successful. I spent my first year having hystrionic telephone arguments in French with the CFO in the corridors, my second year losing all my hair, sporting a mysterious ginger wig and going to therapy, and, yes, actually that pretty much summarises my third year as well but with better pharmaceutical assistance. I reckon I could get a certificate from my tutors certifying that I had categorically NO fun during my degree. They owe me that much; If I wasn't weeping by a phone box or self-harming, I was trying to block out the sound of my roommate having theatrical sex while I wrote about medieval ecclesiastical history. It was less dreaming spires, more gulag.
- spending the early post-graduation years in London (where you would think some fun would be pretty much unavoidable) as a City zombie, constantly being commanded to sit all night in a basement room putting coloured flags on fifty million pages of documents. Hating myself for getting into such a ridiculous job. Still doing the baldness, therapy, obligatory post-Oxford eating disorder thing. If you really put me on the spot, I suppose I would admit to a couple of pleasant afternoons at the cinema and some great solitary but happy times discovering London. And hell, I loved bombing around town on our gorgeous red Piaggio scooter. But misery was still very much my bread and butter. Not that I would have allowed myself any of that. Misery was my steamed broccoli, let's say, rather.
- Having Lashes pretty young. Again, full disclosure, I loved the pregnancy bit, but the shock afterwards, and the total erosion of any sense of self I had was scary. Being alone with a baby I sort of thought I loved but didn't remotely understand or have any instinct of how to cope with in a fourth floor flat in the middle of Fitzrovia was a challenge. A challenge I compounded by my own natural ability to be sad and miserable and isolate myself from anyone who could have helped out. I did a sterling job of it! Yay for me and my prolonged post-natal grimness. Yay for the sad, endless afternoons walking round Selfridges with a grizzling baby feeling alone and desperate. Pushing the pram round Regents Park in the summer sun, with tears streaming down my face, scaring the dog walkers. Allowing the demonic Gina to rule my life. (She'll sue me if I say that, won't she? Oh well).
- Losing my wonderful mum in an accident when pregnant with Fingers when Lashes was only a year old. Dealing with tonnes of resultant crazy. Moving to Paris a couple of months later. Having an outrageously bad time. Moving back to London again. Going back into the 'fifty million coloured flags by tomorrow morning' business. Going proper crazy this time.
You get the picture. Partly events, and partly me, but fun has really not been much in evidence. And yet, here I am in this beautiful, funny and surreal city with my endlessly patient CFO, in a house I love and have to pinch myself everyday to believe is ours, a garden full of reptiles, my wonderfully wicked boys and friends and laughter and alcohol and ice cream and all the things I have never quite managed to put together before and really enjoy.
I mean, it's just not right is it? This is a disaster waiting to happen. There are days when I just want to shout "For god's sake just send the thunderbolt NOW the waiting is killing me!". But there are other times, like last night, dancing to Erykha Badu (dressed in a bacofoil toga! with her hair disguised as a religieuse*! Clearly had no idea what Belgium was, but still very foxy and amazing!) in the warm dusk and the dust in a giant crowd of cheery stoned Belgians, drinking margaritas and laughing, laughing until it hurt at the CFO's terrible dancing, when I can sort of enjoy the good bits while they last, before the plague of locusts arrives. And that's about as good as it gets, right?
* The two tier choux bun kind, not the nun kind.