Sunday, 31 August 2008

Fête accomplie!

The village fête is drawing to a climactic, tumultuous close. With THE BEST CAKE EVER.

And here, in its "correct orientation in a standing human" (and that attention to detail, ladies and gentleman, is the mark of true dedication. Certificate-winning dedication.)

Peevish created this, and in order to fully understand it (though I would contend you can enjoy it without understanding it, like many of the greatest works of art. ) you must go here and expect to be horribly amused.

And now ... the moment you have all (both?) been waiting for. Tortoise wrestling costumes. THEY ARE RUBBISH I am warning you now, the contestants seemed oddly unenthused by the prospect of shell to shell combat with only a layer of sequins and neoprene between them, and the CFO was soooo unamused. Thanks to the magnificent Belette Rouge for the rhinestones.

Introducing .. [drumroll] Las Tortugas Luchadores!

Heeeere's Big Mama (that's her real name, btw)!

The undisputed champion. Check out Big Mama unmasked:

Scary eh?

But wait, what's that? A contender has come to challenge the supremacy of Big Mama!

Who is this challenger? It's El Peligro Amarillo himself, Wario (yes, my children have a Wii, what of it?)!

This was supposed to be a scary face off between the contenders, but Wario was distinctly lacking in enthusiasm. Big Mama was totally up for it though. Rrrar!

Here he is making a hasty exit.

Big Mama triumphs! Let's see her again:

I reckon this can count as my "soft stuff" entry. Which, by the way, is to be judged by the, I am sure, terrifyingly exacting Antonia. She knitted her child an aubergine, you know. She knows soft things.

You have a few more hours people to win yourselves Belgian prizes. Judging starts tomorrow!

UPDATE: Oh, and for anyone who missed them, here are Mr Farty's ivy covered nipples, an entry in the "miscellaneous" category. Hmmm.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

L'araignée est dans le slip

Last night, in the bathroom:

CFO: "I have spiders in my pants"

E: "What?"

CFO: "I have spiders in my pants and they have bitten me"

E: "ARE YOU ON DRUGS. You can't have spiders in your pants. You would have felt them scuttling around and weaving webs"

CFO: "I am telling you. I am covered in spider bites all around my pant line and they weren't there this morning when I put the pants on"

E: "But.. spiders? What makes you think this is a spider infestation? Have you encountered these pant dwelling spiders before?"

CFO: "They are very old strange pants"

E: "What, those saggy cycling shorts?"

CFO: "No, worse. They seem to be entirely synthetic. I think my mother may have left them behind"

E: "Spiders with poor taste then"

CFO: "I wonder if they are nesting in my pants drawer?"

E: "You better not go rummaging in there. Clearly these pant spiders are particularly dangerous when roused. I've really enjoyed this conversation, by the way"

CFO "It's no bloody joke. It itches!"

E: "Go on, say it again. "J'ai des araignées dans mon slip". I LOVE it"

CFO: You are not a nice woman.

But I am no longer laughing. Now I have also incurred the wrath of the pant spiders. And Lashes, and Fingers. We are all sporting matching pant line trails of bites. It's really, really disturbing. Pant spider invasion! Au secours!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Our fête in their hands

Interesting new seasonal fête entry from Barb, called "Rusty tomato cage Christmas tree". I can't fidget it into place due to stupidity and wine so here's the link.

Also, as foreshadowed on previous post, the "gourd parrots at watering hole" vegetable entry from JoeyJoJo. Again, link only.

You know what this means people. I have been out this afternoon to buy felt, neoprene, sequins and elastic. The tortoises are going Mexican wrestling!

(I anticipate that this will end very very incompetently, but I promise to do my best. Also, animal lovers, I promise they will be rewarded with lettuce for their patience.)


Make a cake! Jen from CakeWrecks is judging (There are some great new wrecks today. I spat stuff)! Torture vegetables for the pleasure of Ms Anna Pickard! Manipulate office supplies for the CFO to assess in a spreadsheet with weighted scorings and equations! Yeah.


I am in London*! I grin like an idiot and breathe in deeply, inhaling the evocative scent of "Eau de Liverpool Street Station", with its base note of burning rubber, and accents of Egg McMuffin and Lynx 'Asbo for Men', as hatchet-faced commuters shove me aside with sharpened copies of Metro. I empty WHSmith of all its aspirational magazine lameness, and several types of novelty chocolate and trudge reluctantly to the mothership of eurotedium for a morning of "training".

The training is notable only for the new biscuits in the meeting rooms, and the sachets of incredibly peculiar "Cajun Mix". Seriously, Cajun folk? Candied pineapple, pistachios, giant raisins and SAVOURY CUMIN COATED CASHEWS?? In what context would you consume this? Nuclear holocaust possibly? I was seriously distracted from the vital importance of 'checking into share draft' (or something. I think those were the words, but I may have the order wrong).

Soon, I make my escape and head off to the bright lights of Regent Street clutching my scraps of torn magazine with 'things I have seen that look nice that I want to buy with my non-existent money'. I always have a lot of these. On my desk at the moment, I can see about 7 of them, each more impractical than the rest, including a melamine side plate with a puffer fish on it; an elephant print stool, a shiny patent red suitcase and some wallpaper from the Queen Mother's house. I never actually act on them. But they serve as a reminder to me why theoretically I should strive not to lose my job.

I am drawn, inexorably, to Liberty. I love Liberty - it's like a second home to me. Even looking at the pretty winter evening picture here makes me terribly homesick. I don't actually buy much there (though the £6 wrapping paper often calls to me with its siren song of impractical gorgeousness), but we used to live 5 minutes away, and it is a tremendously pretty place to spend a lost winter afternoon wandering around with an infant that is driving you to the point of frothing madness. Lashes spent most of the first 6 months of his life there, though mainly asleep. The staff are vague, sweet and peculiar with extreme hair and the kind of outfits you wouldn't wear, even for a bet. They are spectacularly incompetent, but in a rather charming way. You can't imagine them holding down a job anywhere else - I like to think of it as care in the community for fashion casualties. As a result, service is madly chatty and welcoming and window shopping embraced, but if you do have the misfortune to want to buy something, you better bring a book and a ton of patience. It's a great place to sit for hours in a forgotten corner of one of the cafés with a scone as sombre Czech giantesses in romper suits faff around trying to work the coffee machine.

Like a sonambulist, I head determinedly away from the bows and prints of the Marc Jacobs and Cacharel eye candy I usually lust over, towards the Frightening Room. What am I doing in here? The Frightening Room is where all the staff spend their discount. It is filled with black and grey weirdness from the outer reaches of Japan and Belgium. If you are looking for a black dress with a built in prosthetic hunchback, or a top made from five metres of wrinkled crepe paper and bin bags, this is where you come. It is peopled with small fierce women in austere outfits with severe hair and heavy rimmed ... wait! my glasses! Aha. It's the glasses. My new Mean Glasses are drawing me in here to commune with My People. Against my better judgment, I find myself browsing the rails. Mmm, so much black. I like. Interesting pair of trousers. Or is it a top? What are those extra bits? why is it covered in velcro? Could work! Ooh. I like this dress. What's that tube of fabric though? Why does it seem to have four sleeves? maybe two are for legs? I MUST try it. Mmm! This grey top has fins! Or wings? Made of, what, hemp? Or is it plastic? I sleepwalk to the changing rooms with several arms full of challenging pleated stuff.

Thankfully my phone rings, shaking me out of my Mean Glasses induced trance. It is Violet.

"Oh Christ, thank fuck you called. I am stuck in Liberty and my Mean Glasses are trying to make me buy a black dress with four sleeves made out of parachute silk and a sort of large decorative corsage bit made out of zips. Please come and rescue me!"

"Whatever you do DON'T MOVE. I'm on my way. Ask a sales assistant the price of something, that will give me plenty of time to get there."

By the time Violet arrives, the glasses and I have compromised on a (black, naturally) APC blazer. It is horribly severe and looks like school uniform, but at least has the conventional number of limb holes. A tiny Japanese girl with a jagged fringe down to her chin and a mullet is wrestling vainly with the sellotape dispenser whilst her manager, a demented woman of about 50 with shaved go faster stripes on the side of her scalp and incredibly fearsome glasses is fluttering around, seemingly flummoxed by the physical properties of tissue paper. We wander off for scones and incompetence.

"You are very bad Emma"

"I know. I should never have let the glasses come in here. I should have just taken them to Uniqlo. I didn't realise they would be so forceful!"

"Go and get on your train. You can't be trusted. And DON'T go in any shops at St Pancras "

Mean Glasses - not just for seeing with. May require personality and wardrobe transplant. Approach with caution. Grrrr.

* I am not anymore. Literary device, innit. Bear with me.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Insect crime

Violet and I are emailing. So far so normal.

E: Did I tell you that at the wedding Lashes gave me a caterpillar and a cricket in an empty water bottle to mind? I had to keep this filthy bottle of soil and insect on the table in front of me all evening. But then the caterpillar got squashed and he wailed for about an hour and I had to clean up caterpillar blood and the cricket escaped and had to be replaced with a moth. I spent hours trying to catch the fucker.

V: You didn't pee on it I hope.

E: No. This one was much smaller.

V: And what happened to it? Is it still alive? I do hope I will not have to report you to David (keen entomologist and amateur naturalist we were at school with) again.

E: Um. It was in the bottle all night and then I don't know what happened. Oh no! More moth crime! Please don't report me!

V: This does seem to be becoming a regular occurrence...

E: My name is Emma and I am a moth molester

V: Moth botherer

E: Moth fiddler

V: Moth murderer

E: David can hear this conversation you know. Using his bat detector.

V: And he's coming to get you. In his foot shaped sensible shoes.

E: I won't hear him coming, will I?

V: Those crepe soles are totally silent.

E: I do really hate moths though. Bastards.

V: Damien Hirst should coat them in something shiny.

E: Oh god. I have just got an email from the CFO. It reads "I have cheese". Nothing else.

V: Is that code? Like, French code for something sexual?

E: I don't think so. We are never having sex again, remember? I think it's French code for "I have cheese"

V: Well, if you will insist on living with a Frenchman....

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

In which I am ambivalent about my new glasses

I am ambivalent about my new glasses.

I fucking hate wearing glasses at the best of times. They are the work of the devil, but contacts are impossible when you have no eyelashes to swat the urban gunk out of your eyes. God, I cried so much the day I got glasses for the first time (aged 10). Big, snotty despairing howls. It really felt like the end of the world and it shows - every picture of me from that era is etched with my misery. Glasses (I went for the classic pink NHS frame - not a good choice with my colouring)! And a baby sister! Could it get any worse? No. It couldn't. Not even a trip to the Horse of the Year show could cheer me up. It would have taken a Real Horse in the back yard to cheer me up.
For years I begged for contacts and eventually got them at 14, at which point life regained some semblance of meaning, even though I spent most of my newly meaningful time pleading with people to unscrew U-bends to try and recover my lenses from a pool of pipe scum. But by the time I hit 21 I was bald as a coot, devoid of eyelashes, and back in the eyewear of the devil.

I still hate glasses. When I squint at myself myopically in the mirror at the opticians, it goes one of two ways. Marge Simpson/fifties housewife pointy upturned cornerness, or über-geek no mates dreary sexless non-entity. And the cost! Non-glasses wearers, you have no idea. 600 euros? Do you know how many bowls I could get with that? I tell myself regularly that I might go for the surgery option but incision! in your eyeball! Do you get drugs? There would have to be shitloads of drugs.

I went for the super severe Chanel frames tested out when Tony was chasing me. These are glasses for the person I would like to be, I think. They say satirical columnist on the New Yorker, or curator in a design museum, or architect with severe fringe in mannish Helmut Lang suit. They say "yeah, we are glasses. What the fuck are you going to do about it? We are modernist glasses and we have Things to Say". They are aspirational glasses. Punching above my weight glasses. They intimidate me slightly. I am not sure who is wearing whom.

Look. With thanks to my large rubber reptile models.

I look like this:

Or possibly like this:

(New portrait! You like? Looks to me like my evil plan is 99% complete, no?)

The glasses look like this:

Old glasses

"Hi, we're Emma's glasses. We are self-effacing to the point of being barely visible. We apologise for our existence and we promise you won't even notice us. "

New glasses

"What the fuck are you staring at? Yes. We are glasses. In fact, we are ironic glasses. We are "glasses" and if you don't like us, that is because you don't get us. Your problem, not ours"

New glasses vs old glasses

Can I live with glasses that are so intent on making a statement? Do you see me as more lizard, or alligator? Has anyone gone down the eye incision route? Tell me internet. I need your help.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Oh bollocks

Ha! So, it would appear the bastards at the Guardian stole my fête idea, made me groundless marrowdile promises and left me looking like a twat in front of everyone I know, to whom I have been twittering excitedly that vegetable fame was fast approaching for me. Thankfully our amazing leguminous friend Tallulah, the much loved and admired magnum opus of the Mountainear did feature. On with the fête. OUR fête. Which will be a hundred times more awesome, thanks to you. All of you. [chokes up, wipes tear]

You people have been desperately, frighteningly busy over the last two days, and for this, much thanks. I love you all. I have FOUR new entries! One more and I costume the tortoise (the people's choice, I believe). Yes indeed.

First, in the 'soft' category, check out Bob the Builder, submitted by ParisGirl.

ParisGirl would like to draw your attention to Bob's amazing knitted tool belt and missing fingers, not to mention his slightly totalitarian moustache, which I don't entirely remember from the original. Yay ParisGirl!

Next up, the gorgeous, glamorous Insalata courtesy of the amazingly talented Peevish, who says "Note how bloodshot her eyes are. They match her lopsided tatas. What a hard life she's had. And yet she smiles, like the delusional showgirl she is".

She so purdy!

Here's a shot of Insalata "undressed". Not for minors. Check out those curves though.

Next up, and slightly channeling Zoe's paperclip earring, I have this fine piece of vegetable jewellery from the amazing creator of Talulah, the Mountainear. The Mountainear proves that it is possible to live in the country without:

(i) growing a tail

(ii) drinking cider in bus stops

(iii) eating your young.

There is hope!

Such commitment to the cause of vegetable manipulation. I am awed.

And finally, this is just magnificent. It is by Livesbythewoods' husband, who I think is due a career change after this unbelievably sinister and impressive 'Angler Fish'. Next, I think what we need to see is a live, televised fight between the angler fish and the marrowdile. Could be fun, no? Go here, I command you, and see this in its original marrowdile hommage photostory. I snorted stuff out of my nose (I mean tea! Not snot! That came out wrong) when I read it. And if you want to know what that intriguing thing on its forehead is, you'll have to go and find out. Ha.

I don't know about you, but I feel there's a grisly inevitability about the fate of those carrot goldfish.

Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough, marrowdile. Yeah! Vegetable wrestling in the village fête 2009!

I am going to try and build myself a new ego out of egg boxes and toothpicks. One more entry and the Luchadores de Tortuga (thank you Ariane!) are yours...

Saturday, 23 August 2008

In hell, back soon

What does the weekend hold for you, Emma? I hear you chorus in your threes, and sometimes even fours.

I am so glad you asked. I will be attending the wedding of the CFO's younger brother which is taking place in a windowless concrete bunker in rural Normandy. The whole operation will last approximately 30 sleepless hours. All available foodstuffs will be culled from the internal organs of large ruminants. Over a hundred pissed peasants will gather to recriminate with one another about who cut down the oak tree in Oncle Claude's yard. Synthetic fibres will brush against one in erotically charged choreography. My children will be forced to dress up like pageboys at Kerry Katona's forty third wedding. My dress will be too small and my heels too high, and my giant Spanx pants will cut off my circulation. One of the CFO's aunts will vomit and throw food as she always does. The CFO will tell me off for looking narky. I will fall alseep in a corner after failing to understand a word Oncle Claude says. What larks, internet, what larks.

Can I ask you to do something for me in my brief, reluctant absence? Could you screw your creative energies to the sticking place and see if you can assemble me a few more village fête entries? The Guardian (yes! really! That Guardian. Not the 'Charleroi Gardien') may be featuring the village fête in a tiny corner of its website on Monday, if I can believe the quixotic emailed promises of a lovely journo called Sarah. I would so love to have some really special stuff to show them. Please? Craft?

Here's the deal. If I get 5 new entries - however feeble - by Monday I promise to do whichever of the following tickles your fancy:

- Make a Mexican wrestling costume for one of the tortoises and photograph them wearing it;
- Make another Belgian politician cake (please no);
- Do a photographic demonstration of the Belgian political landscape using potatoes

Can't say fairer than that....

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Apocrypha: The Book of Belgium Chapter 1, verses 5-7

And it came to pass in the land of Belgium that the Lord sent a great darkness and the waters of the great deep were broken up and the floodgates of heaven were opened and a great flood covered the land of Belgium for forty seven days and forty seven nights.

And even unto Knokke le Zoute* the darkness came and the only creatures that rejoiceth were the unclean, the lowly and the slimy and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and the people of the land of Belgium were sore afraid. And verily the women of Flanders went in great numbers unto the tanning booths.

And the people of Belgium said unto the Lord "Why oh Lord hast thou in thy infinite wisdom sent us this shitty summer? Hast thou forsaken us? Is it because of the Flemish nationalists? Dost the website "boobs for belgium" displease thee? We repent our sins and promise to get a government."

And the Lord said unto Belgium "who the fuck are you?"

And the people of Belgium said "We oh Lord are thy people of the low countries. We suffer mightily from vitamin D deficiency and thou hast sent a plague of slugs even unto us. Dost thou not remember? Hast thou forgotten to take thy fish oils? "

And the Lord said "Oh yes. People of the low countries. I remember now. Return to thy villages and I shall send a sign."

And on the forty eighth day there came to pass in the land of Belgium that a fiery ball was seen in the sky and the people of the land of Belgium looked in wonder at the glowing ball in the sky and they saw that it was good. And they went unto Knokke Le Zoute and rended their vestments asunder and fell to the earth in worship of the fiery ball.

And the Lord said unto the people of Belgium "Take this fiery ball as a sign of my covenant that every year without fail I will forget to give you a summer, and fuck around with your heads by giving you two days of nice weather in April and then two more in September. Now go away."

And the people of Belgium gave thanks unto the Lord and bulk-bought St Tropez Everyday.

(* Read this link, at least as far as the Jacques Brel song. I command it!)

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Men are from the Federal Reserve, Women are from Belgium

The window of hate opportunity has closed, but it will return soon. Carefully preserve your bile, wrap it in layers of tissue paper, put it in a safe place and bring it out next time. I shouldn't imagine it will be long..

In recent weeks, the CFO has been trying to grasp what makes me blog and bend it to his money-spinning will. It came to a head last night. The spreadsheets that populate his brain were whirring round vainly as he stared, expressionless, at the marrowdile.

"People are sending you vegetables?"

"Pictures of them, yes"


"For fun. Because we find it amusing."

"Pourquoi?" [this is starting to feel like a conversation with a three year old]

"Because carved vegetables are amusing. Bad cakes are amusing too, look at this!" [I proudly show him Guy Verhofstadt in all his fondant glory]

"Bof**. It is quite realistic but he is too pink. And why is his hair green? So. The blogue makes you money, yes? People pay to see these vegetables?"

"No. No money"

"But can't you put publicité on it? And get money?"

"No. Publicité are ugly. I only want nice things on my blogue, I mean blog."

"So. You could be making money, but you choose not to. This is so stupid. You like shoes, non? And bowls? And sushi? And stupid magazines with pictures of famous people with capitons***? And what is so beautiful about this 'marreaudile' anyway?!"

"I don't think it would make me any actual money. I mean, it might cover my morning coffee I suppose."

"Couldn't you do a blogue that makes money? Or a useful one? You could write about [the Bearded One's business]! That would be really useful AND make money. Yes! You make this into a proper blogue!"

"No. I can't. I won't allow it." [pompously] "This is my integrity as an artiste we are talking about here!"

"Pfff, so stupid. Et tu te fous de moi* on this blogue. I know you do. There is even a picture of mes tongs and I know you hate them. Why do all this, spend all this time FOR NOTHING?"

At this point I fear his brain may short circuit at the idea of effort without financial reward. I cast around desperately for an analogy to soothe the liquidity crisis in his mind.

"You know how you love the tortoises?"


"And you look after them and worry about them and order them new neon lamps on the internet and check their weight/length ratio and prepare them plates of Reptoboost and trim their nails?"


"Well my blog is like the tortoises. It gives no financial reward but it gives me great pleasure. Can you understand that?"

"Aha. Yes. Now that is a good idea. You should do a tortoise blogue. We could have a tortoise advice page. I am sure we could get lots of publicité! There is a definite gap in the market."

At this point I sent him away to play with some lengths of cabling.

*You take the piss out of me
** He really does say 'pff' and 'bof'. Mon partner, ce big fat cliché.
*** cellulite

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Things that are hateful

Things that are hateful about this week:

Packed lunches.

Packed lunches remain the devil's work. Their inventor shall burn for all eternity, and I will be there to fan the flames, occasionally throwing him a Dairylea triangle or making him wrestle with clingfilm while I chastise him with shards of frozen pitta bread. Yes, I know, I have mentioned that before. Another week of packed lunches will surely kill me, so tomorrow I am thinking either they make their own, or they make do with a handful of mini Snickers like me. They contain protein after all.


I am totally over cooking. Seriously, fuck it. Must I really apply heat to these foodstuffs yet again? Can't we just all take a food pill this week? What is it these children and their incessant need to consume balanced meals? Fondant icing is a fine foodstuff. Fondant icing and pretzels and tea. I only have to step into the kitchen at the moment to be overwhelmed by existential despair. No! Can't I just step off this food preparation hamster wheel for a minute? Won't someone just take the hunger away? It's so tiresome. Although I am, of course hungry, there is nothing in the whole world it would be pleasurable to eat right now. Except just possibly a round of granary toast and a pot of Good Luck Green Tea in Bettys. Maybe followed by a gingerbread goose. And a fondant fancy. Hmm. Ok, I do still want food, but I want someone else to make it.


Some are lost, some are too small, all are dirty, many require a visit to the special circle of hell occupied by drycleaners, countless numbers have been eaten by the giant mothbastards. All the socks have fucked off and are mocking me from afar.

Johnnie Boden is preparing more clothes for the eurospawn in his pashmina-lined Putney sweatshop in return for the GDP of Venezuela. I resent this man profoundly. Damn him and his soft and sensible clothing. Damn him. I feel like a class traitor every time I click on his pink, plump toff's face to purchase more clothes for off-duty public schoolboys. But I am in thrall to his high quality cotton and pleasingly plain styling. I hate it but I love it. Argh! Brain about to implode from this paradox!

I am even more problematic. Is this the size I am now? Should I follow MBF's advice ('No Emma, don't give up sugar. You can't. Just buy new clothes. Throw the old ones away')? He is right, of course. I cannot give up sugar, since in combination with its friend fat, it makes up 93.5% of my calorific intake. I crumbled after about half an hour the last time. I really do not want to get into that punitive loop of buying large, cheap, self-flagellating clothes and disappearing into a spiral of self-loathing. Oh fuck it. I will keep wearing the too small, moth-eaten old ones. Meh. Noone is looking anyway. I look like a troll. A pink eyed, frowning troll with bald patches.

What do you hate this week? Go on go on spill your loathing. I need to hear it. Let's share some hate and make the internet a more baleful place. Yeah!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Resigned to our Fête

The lovely Zoe has been getting busy with the office supplies. This 'piece' is described by the artist as follows:

"This fine ear-ring, made out of two paperclips and twisted with the aid of a Bic biro and a lot of pain shows the creativity of the Artist That Is Now Called Zoe. They can be ordered by calling 999 or 100, depending on the country that you live in".

The delightful LivesbytheWoods has also been busy with the vegetables. Her piece is called 'Barbecue Carnage'. Before you scroll down, I must warn you that it a parental guidance certificate piece, featuring scenes of moderate vegetable violence. Quizzed on her vision, the artist explains that the raisins represent stray charcoal briquettes from the barbecue unwisely lit using lighter fuel. Other points of note are the prune wig, and the pop in/pop out pine nut eyes.

If you thought that was scary, I must warn you that the next piece is just indescribably bad and also very frightening. I apologise in advance. Please make sure no minors have access to this.

You know how I have been muttering for days about making the Belgian government on fairy cakes? Well, many of you will not be surprised to hear that this is in fact way more difficult than it sounds. Yes indeed! So I have started modestly, with our most recent ex Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt. If we can just take a little detour for some Belgian politics, I went on holiday for 2 weeks in July and on my return Belgium had once again mislaid its government. To lose one government may be seen as a misfortune, etc etc. Sort it out Belgium! Anyway; this is just so horrible, I really managed to creep myself out, especially with his lips. They are sort of obscene. I can't quite believe I have managed to make something so nasty. Yeesh.

So. Do not say you have not been warned. I give you:

Guy Verhofstadt the man

And Guy Verhofstadt the cake (he is 100% edible, if that helps. It doesn't help me at all):

Yeah, I am really really sorry. Sorry. And again, sorry. I am going to destroy him instantly because there is NO WAY I can sleep knowing Guy is in the house. I thought about trying to make him less horrible but I didn't even want to put my fingers on his tainted fondant skin.


Sunday, 17 August 2008

Weekend poem (with apologies to Dr Seuss)

There and here and here and there,

Dangerous things are everywhere.

These rusty things are things we like

These things we like have spiky spikes.

This place is called the countryside

Do we like it? We have tried.

Our auntie looks like someone died.

Our auntie wears a thunderous frown

She only likes it in the town

We have not seen a single bus

Instead we're getting tetanus.

This yellow one has pointy bits

It makes our auntie lose her wits

She says we must not climb these things

Our parents like us with our limbs

This rusty thing is green and red

The spiky bits can kill us dead

This is what our auntie said

But then she went back to her bed

What is this thing? We do not know.

Our auntie's face is full of woe

She says it is a sleeping crow.

Why does it smell? I cannot tell.

Perhaps it is not feeling well.

I need to pee I need to pee

Our auntie does not answer me

She is asleep, it's ten to three.

I cannot open this big door

So I will pee here on the floor

Our auntie comes, she smells of gin

She hides the pee under the bin

We are here. Grandad is not.

We wonder where our grandad's got.

We cannot find our grandad here

He's reading books and drinking beer.

The spiders here are very big

These ones could eat an adult pig

Our auntie does not seem to care

That there are spiders in our hair

The things she does when she's awake

Are drinking gin and eating cake


There and here and here and there

The countryside is everywhere

Friday, 15 August 2008

Out of office

Dear internet,

I am currently:

(i) in the country (remember how much I love the country?);

(ii) in the house of certain death (open sewers! electric fences! perilously slippy stone staircases! rusting agricultural machinery!);

(iii) looking after 4 children under 6;

(iv) with the Bearded One whose idea of childcare is to give everyone a pitchfork and fall asleep after several whiskies. And shout if anyone wakes him up.

Normal service will resume as soon as I sedate everyone.

Thank you.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Creatures! Made out of stuff!

My most amazing and wonderful best friend Violet has come up with the following. You can tell she's artistic, like.

In the 'Vegetable' category, Tiny tomato ladybird:

'Amaretto mouse' is sort of half office supplies (rubber band, post-it), half miscellaneous (er, amaretto). I hesitate. I will leave that to the judges. BMF has tried to stir up some kind of scandal by suggesting the mouse is made with a scone, not amaretto. Violet demurs. Who knows?

And firmly in the miscellaneous category, this sea tableau with amaretti wrapper ghosts, no, sorry jellyfish.

Title: "Quick take me to the madhouse" (mixed media, 2008)

More! More! Bring me more craft!


And here, as a "plain wrong" afterthought, is Almond Roach. Also by my disturbed, but still magnificent, best friend.


Writing this from fashion prison

The sartorial disasters just keep coming at the moment. I should be locked in the tortoise house for a month until my wardrobe has stopped hating me. There will be photos later. For now, I makey pictures with my words. For you. Aren't you lucky?

UPDATE: There are photos now. Bad ones.

Exhibit One (the 'Internet shopping cautionary tale' outfit)

Oh look, says the Jaywalker, arsing around on the sale section of when she should be taking the word 'fertiliser' out of a document fifty squillion times. A nice plain black roomy dress. A little shroud-like, but what a bargain! I'll have that.

The dress arrives. Hello again Eric from the post room!Yay! Pretty box with tissue paper!

Open the box. Ooh. Nice. But wait -WHAT THE HOLY FUCK IS THAT?

Hmm. A sort of giant fabric pouch thing. In the back of my shroud. Jesus, Junya Watanabe has been messing with my dress! I should have known it was too good to be true!

Interesting. Look, I can fit a large plastic crocodile in the pouch! And, hmm, let's see, also a pillow! And a spatula! And a family-sized packet of Doritos!

The plastic crocodile nestles in my dress pouch

[Thinks] It looks ridiculous from the back, but totally normal from the front. And albeit a bargain, it did cost a small fistful of yuros. I will wear it! And back away from people like a courtier. And sit down a lot. And having a Dorito carrier is always handy.

I test out the Dorito holder (je suis drunk bien sûr. la dress est backwards.)

[Later] Stop staring arsehole. This is Belgium, land of deconstructionist fashion and surrealism. Stare at that old flabby guy over there in the Galliano micro vest and Galliano skinny jeans with the big old weave on his head.

Exhibit 2 (the 'triumph of hope over experience' outfit)

Oh look, says the Jaywalker. Another black dress almost identical to Dorito dress, but aha, in a real shop this time. I can check out both front AND back. Result! Hmm. Not bad. No pouches, and very cheap. I shall have it!

[Wears dress] Um. Why are the Belgian people looking at me strangely? My bare anglo-saxon stumpy legs and solid Yorkshire knees possibly? With the FitFlops? Making me look like I am four? Ah, the Grayson Perry thing is it. Okay. Yeah, I get that a lot. Tights might help. Or not. Oh fuck it.

Exhibit 3 (the 'you haven't worn them for 2 years for a reason you twat' outfit)

Fuck, still can't fit anything. Damn you lovely Margaret Howell baggy trousers that usually fit, damn you Comptoir des Cotonniers sausage skin beigeness, damn you everyone. Oh! What's this? Hooray, my very favourite and oldest pair of wide black trousers that cover a multitude of sins! Yay! Why are you hiding in there with a pile of old scarves?

Hmm. This new Petit Bateau sale tshirt with the attractive draped neck. The drape is much deeper than I thought. Shame I am wearing a shiny flesh coloured horror bra and all the passengers on the 92 tram are getting an eyeful. Wow, they can practically see my navel, poor bastards!

Ooh, approaching the work loos, feeling a bit post traumatic. No moths, phew. I will just hop up here on this handy loo seat to check how fiercely hot I am looking. Hmm. Not bad, if I hoik the tshirt up about half a mile. And the back view?

Argh! Oh fuck. Yeah. I forgot about that. The giant hole where the evil mothzillas of the wardrobe basically ate the arse out of my favourite trousers. And left a giant piece of fabric hanging off. Great. Another day when I can't get up or walk away from anyone!

What are those sirens? Shit! The fashion police! Scarper!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Another soft entry

This very personable sausage dog is from Dani at Kitchen Playground. She knitted him with her hands. Actually, I think she probably used needles unless she has extremely long, thin and pointy fingers. His name is Eddie Cantor. Because he looks like Eddie Cantor. Dani mentions particularly that she did not knit him any genitals. Is this significant? Who knows! The judges will decide!
I am up to my tonsils in edible glitter and crystallised violets. My plan to immortalise the Belgian government on fairy cakes is going badly, but Matilda has an extremely disco birthday cake. Not that she will notice, she is demented with sleep deprivation from watching burly antipodeans swim all night long whilst eating Tim Tams and shouting things.

Off to scare the CFO with my glowing sticky fingertips now. He better be grateful.


Life without the eurospawn is almost as exhausting as life with them. There are high expectations: for the CFO, sexual intercourse at a frequency greater than once a decade and trips to the discount evening at the local DIY pleasure dome for bolts and grout and what have you. For me, vegetable carving, shopping for fierce winter shoes (Sergio Rossi looking good this season) and obsessive compulsive rearrangement of the kitchen cupboards. Chacun sa merde, as they say here however. The CFO has instead been forced to stand at my shoulder pursing his lips at internet outsider craft offerings or photograph my stationery beard, and I had to spend my money on 'wedding outfits' (I am retching as I type that) for the spawn for the CFO's brother's wedding so that Mamie doesn't go and get them maroon Farrah slacks from the charity shop.

Both of us feel under intense pressure to have that thing called 'conversation'. We assume this is different to our usual modus operandi of barking terse instructions at each other. I insist it is not the CFO outlining his next cunning plan for world domination or out-arguing me. Gently ebbing and flowing discussion of topics of interest is more what I have in mind, but we are all out of that after 5 days and sit slumped side by side on the sofa most evenings practising for when we are ninety five when hopefully one of us will be so deaf or demented it is no longer necessary.

Thankfully, when we call the children, Fingers is on hand, once more scripted by Harold Pinter. We should draw inspiration from him. Why let sense get in the way of dialogue, indeed.

J: Hello darling. Are you having fun?

[Lengthy silence]

J: Allo? Il y a quelqu'un? Fingers, are you there, angel?


[soft scratchy scrabbling noises, like a small rodent is gnawing cautiously on the telephone receiver]



F: Mamie made me wear Lashes' pants. They said age 5-6 on the label. I am 4. In September I will be 4 et demi [lest we forget].

J: Oh. Did you tell her?


J: Fingers?

F: Yes.

J: So are you still wearing them?


F: No.

J: Brilliant. What else have you been doing, gorgeous?



F: The hot chocolate was too hot.

J: What hot chocolate?

F: At the beach.

J: You went to the beach? That's fantastic!

F: [suddenly animated] Do you know what I did?

J: Went to the beach?

F: No.

J: Oh. Then I don't know. What did you do?

F: [inaudible mumble] .. Vanille [mumble] dandelions.

J: [Unsure what to say/think/guessing wildly] Great! What are 'vanille dandelions'? Is it a song? Are they special ones you eat? Do they taste of vanilla?What did you do with them? Did you draw a picture?

F: [crossly] I gave dandelions TO Vanille.

J: Oh, sorry sweetheart. Who is Vanille? A rabbit?

F: A donkey.

J: Wow! A donkey! Did she eat them?


[Soft breathing sounds. I try to make out whether the background conversation I can hear is Lashes imbibing more salvation theology]


J: Fingers? Are you still there?

F: I played dominoes with Mamie.

J: Oh, brilliant. Dominoes is fun isn't it?


J: Did you win?

F: Sometimes I won.

J: Yay! Well done you! Anything else lovely you've been doing?


[very faintly, I hear something that sounds like it might just be an accordion being gently stroked by someone with exceptionally long fingers]


J: Um, are you busy darling? Shall I speak to Lashes now? Shall I blow you some kisses?

F: ... and sometimes I lost.

J: Oh well, Mamie is very good at dominoes and she does like winning a lot. It's bound to happen. Hey, huge huge kisses my darling.

F: .... and sometimes neither of us won.

J: [mild desperation setting in] That seems fair. Bye sweetheart. I'll call you tomorrow.

F: Wait! [voice drops to urgent whisper] Is my STUFF safe in the secret places I put it?!

J: Well, I promise I haven't touched it. Or indeed found it. So as long as you don't tell me where you have put it, it should be safe.

[there is a clunking noise as the phone is summarily dropped]

Now that's conversation.

"I had a post planned but the huge fuck off live moth down the loo at work stole it" haiku

Fluttering bastard

Lurking peed-on under rim

Sorry I flushed you

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The Village Fête - awesome new entries!

Today has brought a bumper crop of new and awe-inspiring Village Fête entries. I feel so unimaginably proud to be part of this, I was crying into my stationery facial hair earlier. Enough talking. Let's look at some craft. Yeah!

First! Vegetables.

"Grape Bee" by Helena, aged 30 (I wouldn't normally include that, but it seems to be significant. She mentions it on her blog and stuff. She is probably angling for extra points but the judges are merciless!).

I think you would like to know that the bee's sting is made out of "a small deadly screw from the back of a calculator - ideal for children's parties".


"Tallulah does the Hula" - by the Mountainear.

Oh my fucking god, this thing is good.

SO. DAMN. GOOD. I mean, how amazing is this. It has broad bean shoes! Look at its hair! Obviously the produce in Powys is quite superior, and the Mountainear has more than done it justice. This has to be an early frontrunner in the vegetable carving class, surely?

And thirdly, Zoe's "Belgian (with turban"). Erm, Zoe, I hope that title is ok. It looked quite Belgian. Let me know if you'd prefer something else.

The thought of Zoe carving this is making snicker to myself. I imagine she got quite cross with the cucumber several times. I can't begin to imagine what her children thought.

Moving on - Cake!

Here is a really lovely entry from Very Lost in France. This entry is dedicated to her neighbour. However, I do have my suspicions that she may not have made this herself. I mean, mini Hershey bars in rural France? I don't think so. Actually, it may not be an entry, it may be inspiration for those of us out there mulling our frosting options tonight. But it is not up to me. The judge will decide!

DID I SAY JUDGE??? There is a reason for the shouty capitals and tenuous segue, for I have the most exciting judge news. Jen of Cakewrecks has agreed to judge the cake category of the village fête. Cakewrecks is quite simply the best thing in the world ever. Just go there. You will see that I am right.

Keep it up people. We're making something quite, quite beautiful here.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Missing: one metabolism

Dear karmic force of the universe/deity/wrathful old testament God according to my eldest son/empty void/whatever,

I am writing to ask if you could see your way to giving me my metabolism back. My metabolism and I started to drift apart sometime in about, oooh, 1992 when all the popular girls in our class decided to take up Weightwatchers, and being impossibly competitive, I thought I should go one better and get a proper bad ass eating disorder. I was not very good at this, but eventually my persistence began to pay off.

As you may recall, prior to 1992, a normal day would consist of a balanced breakfast of 4 crumpets, followed by a Twix on the 5 minute walk to school. Around 10:45 I would break, ravenously, for roast chicken flavour crisps and a packet of peculiar novelty chocolate sweets called Vice Versas, or possibly several slices of toast with butter and Nutella. Lunch from 1987 - 1992 was invariably Mother's Pride white sliced bread with iceberg lettuce, followed by a trip to the sweet shop down the road for a quarter pound of something diabetes-inducing. After further Vice Versas and crisps, I would eat a large dinner (unless it was cauliflower curry), then be starving again at 9 and have to go down the Spar for more chocolate (or out for chips on cauliflower curry night). During all this time I had a 25" waist and weighed 8 and a half stone (54 kilos, metric deities/voids). I did not think twice about what went in my mouth, being far too preoccupied with worshipping Morissey, snarling, moping and having hopeless doomed crushes.

After 15 years of varying brands of dietary lunacy - the year of M&S diet ready meals, the year of the rice cooker, the year of carb phobia, the five years of twenty types of fruit and veg a day, the year of replacing food with coffee and chocolate squares, and of course the many years of delightful eye-vein-popping bulimia - my metabolism and I have completely lost touch with one another. There were brief attempts at reconciliation during my pregnancies when we both began to think we could make this thing work, but I always managed to screw things up eventually, with my deluded desire to wear jeans and stuff. I think you could describe us as estranged. My metabolism hung in there for as long as it could, but eventually it had to admit defeat. I suppose it is now hiding out at its parents' reading self-help books about metabolisms that love too much (or metabolise too much?) and call screening.

As a result, I now find that after two brief but memorable weeks' holiday in the 1970s with the world's largest coffee and walnut cake that noone else liked, and a staple 2 Mr Whippee ice creams per day habit, I have exploded outwards like a giant puffer fish and cannot wear 95% of my wardrobe. Today's outfit of unintentionally grey American Apparel t shirt size L and unfortunate but roomy cropped trousers is making baby Jesus cry. There is little I can do about this; as we both know, dieting turns me into a demented ball of rage, notorious for kicking animals, shouting at children and daydreaming compulsively of dancing vats of custard. Within days I would have my head down the toilet and all the veins around my eyes would have exploded in their habitual attractive fashion. But what's a girl to do? Must I really resign myself to only wearing clothes bought whilst pregnant?

I am truly sorry for fucking about with my metabolism over the last 15 years. I would particularly like to apologise to it for the years 1996 and 2005, but also for the constant low level cruelty inflicted on it in other years. If it comes back, I promise I will treat if right this time. We will try and walk to work. I will not eat mini Snickers for lunch. There will be the correct number of meals per day. I am not asking to get back into ALL my clothes, and especially not those purchased in 2005, but at least a couple of pairs of decent trousers would be great. And I know it's a bit churlish to complain about my newly enormous pornographic chest, but I have blouses and shit I would actually like to wear without looking like Barbara Windsor, if that could be arranged.

So, um, please? Tell it I'm sorry. I just want us to go back to the way things used to be. I love you metabolism, please come home!

Yours worshipfully


(ps. if you can't arrange this, maybe I could have my eyelashes back instead? Thanks.)

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Tinned Normandy

We deliver the eurospawn to their grandparents. As ever, it is a voyage of discovery. I love my in laws. There is rarely a dull moment, unless they are doing Sudoku. The belle-mère makes me feel good about my thoroughly uninspired cooking. She is that rare thing - a really, really bad French cook. Things either come out of a tin, or they are put in the giant pressure cooker, the mythic "cocotte minute" to be boiled to buggery. The CFO had never seen peas or carrots that were not tinned before he left home. Last time she cooked here, she mistook couscous for sugar, which made for an interestingly crunchy apple tart. We still talk in awe about the giant pie with the charred whole birds heads poking out of the crust, à la four and twenty blackbirds, and how the CFO's uncle toured the table finishing off the discarded skulls by popping them in his mouth and crunching them whole.

She will not travel even as far as Belgium without a collection of vital tinned goods, just in case there is a nuclear war, or the Belgians have forgotten how to speak French, or some other unimaginably terrible thing has happened restricting access to fresh produce. An examination of the cupboard reveals these delights from a recent visit.

Mmmmm yes please. I love how they look sort of dirty? Even on the supposedly appetising picture on the tin. 'Premier choix' only if the second and third choices are tinned offal I think, or possibly death. Mmmmm.

I told her she could get into tremendous trouble importing tinned mussels into a country that prides itself on its moules, but it's obviously some kind of compulsion. Often when I can't sleep at night, the thing that stands between me and blissful oblivion is the thought of these, sitting in their brine coffin, waiting for the right moment to take over the world. Well yes, I could throw them away, but who's to say she isn't right and probably all that health-giving iodine will stand me in good stead in any nuclear catastrophe scenarios to strike Belgium.

The source of Lashes' fascination with the work of the Lord is revealed. Belle-mère has once more been unearthing edifying reading matter in the charity shops of Haute Normandie and shows us A Child's Guide to the Old Testament. "It's a bit disturbing" she muses, flicking from Jacob with a knife at Esau's throat, to Solomon, also wielding a knife to cut the baby in half. Knives seem to feature heavily.

"Erm, why did you choose it?" I ask politely. Belle-mère is a loudly proclaimed agnostic.

"Oh, you know. Their culture générale. I tell them there's no proof."

Belle-mère is amused to discover we really really don't want her to smack the eurospawn. I am mildly appalled to discover she has been doing so thus far, especially having had a rather painful discussion on the subject with Beau-Père last year, where I cried and he felt wounded. She tells us extensively how her mother used to leather her repeatedly and arbitrarily. Belle-mère was brought up on farm in the depths of rural Normandy, it would appear in the mid nineteenth century, although she is barely 60. She makes it sound like something out of Les Misérables, with a forty mile walk barefoot to school, and Calvados in the baby's bottle. Actually, having met her mother I can quite believe it.

"Am I allowed to say 'you deserve a féssée?" she asks, arching an eyebrow. "Or will that 'traumatise' them?"

"No, that's fine"

We flick through photo albums trying to dig out photos of the CFOs youngest brother for his imminent wedding. Belle mere shows us her own wedding photos - she is preternaturally beautiful. Really. With an amazing angular face and luminously fair skin, she is tiny, dainty, divine in her scandalously short wedding dress. Beau-père is beardless and handsome. They are both nineteen, which just seems ridiculous. They look like they have escaped from a Truffaut film. They should use their before and after photos in some kind of anti-sun bathing campaign, I swear.

The photos are fantastic. In the group shots, all belle-mère's family look like those prehistoric men that get unearthed from bogs with weirdly well-preserved skin, or Ramses II unwrapped. Sort of nut coloured and intensely shrivelled. The men have shockingly white foreheads where their flat caps should be. The women look like they could crush the men with one finger.

Belle-mère is wholly unable to distinguish pictures of one child, sex, or generation from another. We spend most of the evening correcting her

("That's him!"

"No. That's your cousin's fourth child, Amandine"

"That's him!"

"No, that's Fingers"

"That's him!"

"No, that's an unfocused picture of a duck")

We try and send her to bed when she starts mistaking photos of a civic twinning ceremony in Germany with her wedding photos, but in vain.

We run away early the next morning, gleefully if slightly guiltily, as Fingers is starting his morning serenade on the accordion.

Then I make a squirrel out of chicory.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Office supplies: the post-it beard

In this one I look like the missing link.

This is a sort of soulful, Vermeer-esque one. Girl with a yellow beard, if you will.

This is more photo reportage. The beard, no spin.

So, yeah. A few observations on the post it beard.

1. Way way harder than it looks. And it just looks, well, crap. I feel I have let myself down. I promise to do better in the other categories.

2. No place for vanity for the post-it beard wearer. I look variously:

(i) simian;

(ii) alcoholically flushed and covered in some kind of hideous skin markings;

(iii) oddly chinless.

3. I was going for Old Testament, but I think I should accept that it's actually much more like my dad's. Paging Dr Freud?

4. My children are away. I should be having acrobatic sex and sniffing cocaine off Flemish hookers' exquisite buttocks; instead I am making a beard out of post-it notes. However, let me say that the dirty, hedonistic alternatives whispered seductively in my ear by the CFO have included:

- taking the car for its contrôle technique and stopping off at DIY superstore Bricorama on the way home for a bag of pebbles;

- assisting with this week's tortoise wash and weigh in, followed by filling in the tortoise spread sheet. Yes. He has a tortoise spreadsheet.

So beard it was. You can expect more of the same tomorrow.