Friday, 5 September 2008

Ghostwritten by a giant squid, with compensatory dollies

Something large and gloomy seems to have taken up residence in my head today. I think it might look a bit like a giant squid. One of those ones with a domed forehead and tiny inscrutable eyes deep set in its rubbery temples. It is squirting black stuff into my brain like a cuttlefish and putting its tentacles everywhere. As a result I am consumed with melancholy. Oh, and it seems to have rubbed off several of the outer layers of my skin, because everything is making me cry, even lyrics about horses getting struck by lightning.

It's reminding me of the advert in the pharmacy I pass on the way to work that reads "Are you sad for no reason? Perhaps there's a very precise reason!". It's advertising magnesium. French and Belgian people are obsessed with magnesium. They believe it stops you from getting tired, and makes you thinner, and, apparently, happier. I only remember it gave off very exciting white flames when we dropped the tiny fragment parsimoniously doled out by Mr Dobson into the bunsen burner in chemistry. But hey, it sounds great! Mine's a double magnesium with a magnesium chaser. Though are they not perhaps confusing magnesium and amphetamines? I wouldn't particularly trust them. They believe that "heavy legs" (jambes lourdes) is a medically recognised condition. "Ooooh, my legs are so HEAVY!" I used to mock the CFO "I can barely stand! This is a medical emergency!".

So. Yes, I am sad for no reason. No, it is not my hormones. Nor are my legs particularly heavy. No heavier than usual. I'm just angsting - caught in the trap of working parenting. Oh woe, I have become a big, dull,overprivileged cliché. If you just scroll down past the next few paragraphs however, I have some reaaallly scary dolls to show you!

I am horribly bad at my job, because it bores and irritates me, so most of the time I do nothing, then feel anxious about doing nothing. I'd love to have the guts to give it up and try and write, but I feel like everyone in the whole universe believes they can write a novel at the moment and it fills me with despair. The thought of becoming financially dependent again too - brrr. It was nearly the end of us last time when I took a year's maternity leave with Fingers to move to Paris and get shouted at by old ladies. To say the CFO and I have differing ideas in financial matters is like saying Robert Mugabe can be a little grumpy occasionally.

I love my children but am really bad at most of the parenting business. All I really do well is the fun stuff, with cutting and sticking and glitter, and speculating about the best way to preserve a dead bee, and the holding very very tight and squeezing on the sofa watching tv (this is especially sensually gratifying at the moment, as Lashes has become all tall and smooth and bony, which I find fascinating and Fingers has crazy curls, a round soft belly surrounded by sticklike limbs and long, long digits that find their way up my sleeves and under my tshirt. It's like an 'all you can eat' buffet of child body parts. No! That came out so terribly wrong! I don't mean it like that at ALL).

I find it desperately hard that they are off at school learning that the world is frequently unfair and boring and harsh and that sometimes drawing a rocket when you are supposed to be colouring in the outline of your hand will get you sent to the headmaster. I want to try and make up for that by being around more to do fun stuff, and domestic stuff, and merely being together stuff. I have the strongest, and happiest memories of my stepdad being at home when I got back from school every day, tea in the pot, dinner cooking (even if it was cauliflower curry, bleurgh, trip to the Spar for chocolate needed), Radio 4 on in the background. At this time of year I am always knocked sideways with nostalgia for that time in my life and I do so want my children to have that, to take that for granted the way I did.

But at the same time, I know that if I don't work, I will turn into a crazed harpy. Nor do I even have the confidence that I could provide that kind of home. I don' t think I'm that person, as I'm frequently reminded when I hear myself shouting "WILL YOU JUST STOP SHOUTING !" for the nintieth time this week. And I want to talk to my mum about all this strangeness and guilt and frustration and delight that being a parent involves but she is dead which is extremely inconsiderate of her. Stop being dead now mum, I am really sick of it . And I can't even teach my son to write his name in joined up writing because I can't do French joined up, which is demented.

I think I am homesick too. Hmm.

Right, enough of that. Here. Take a look at this. There were lots and lots of things I wanted to say about them, but the burning of my retinas keeps distracting me...

Goodness, what a strange shop window. What could possibly be in those brown paper parcels? Let's come closer...



Eeeew.. (My favourite)


Clunk [head falls off at the horror. note reflection of my hideous FitFlops as if the horror weren't great enough already]

My final word to you is - originally these things moved around the window in a jerky ghostlike motion on invisible strings. Want nightmares? I have them.


Parisgirl said...

What do you mean "all" you really do well is "the fun stuff". That's the stuff kids love and most of us are not very good at. Those boys are dead lucky; I don't even want to think about preserving a dead bee let alone discussing or, heaven forbid, actually doing it!
I am with you on French handwriting. Just exactly why do all French schoolchildren have to write exactly the same? I plan on telling La Fille that she will have to learn to write like that for school, but when she gets home she can write any old way she wants.

La Belette Rouge said...

I send hugs to the giant squid. Yes, I only have two arms to hug the squid--while the squid has so many arms. So, my hug seems a bit inadequate for the enormity of all that the squid has to handle.

Oh, and I am unemployed and likley to be so for a very long time---I think I am going to go take some Magnesium.

p.s. Is it disloyal to not believe that you are bad at all the things you think you are bad at?

And, I refuse to believe that Fitflops are horrible. Anything that can make you thin with no effort cannot be hideous. I am the kind of gullible person who loves the promises of French pharmacies.

Vanessa said...

People in the computer think you are lovely, and here's hoping dread Cthulu will eff off shortly!

peevish said...

I would buy your book, my dear. Write it.

I can't say much to help, but if you go here and have a look, it might give you some temporary happiness.

Heavy legs is a medically recognized illness? Really? How about brain itch? Because sometimes I have that.

SUEB0B said...

I think you are really, really great. Only people who care worry if they are doing it wrong.

Maggie said...

Oooh...I really want you to write a whole lot of books RIGHT NOW. Also writing books decants the madness from your brains, I can attest, so everyone wins.

See, my diagnosis is not heavy legs or lack of magnesium but BOREDOM which is the number one killer, I swear. But writing a book will engage you and keep you sane and also you can do it during otherwise wasted work time in a sneaky manner, aha!

Suddenly, long meetings are a time to write notes about your project, which also helpfully makes you look alert and awake!

I vote book for squid eradication. Sign me up for ten copies right now, please, autographed in non-joined-up French writing.

zoe said...

Omega Fish Oils, my dear. go to and order loads. I take 7 a day and my skin is softer, I'm awake for about 5 hours of the day and my memory is coming back.

Do it.

Come here next week and we'll order them online. Just bring your credit card with you.

Fancypants said...

I would devour that book! The mere mention that you might write one has me giddy!

Jaywalker said...

Lovely lovely people, you are wonderful. Thank you so much. Between you and enough vodka to disable all my facial muscles I feel much, much better! Seriously, thank you.

KSV Woolfoot said...

Such a wonderful post, really.

Funny about that law qualification. Once you have it, it is so hard to walk away. No one else will pay you the same amount for work that is indoors, involves no heavy lifting and keeps your feet dry. And, since we learn, eventually, that Woody Allen was right and that showing up is 80 percent of the job, the other 20 percent is just about manageable... We are stuck.

You are a wonderful writer, no doubt. I would pay you myself if I didn't have such a low paying part-time lawyer job (one that at least gets me two days a week off, when I am supposed to be writing my novel) and no billable hour quota.

Et voila! The answer: bring back the patronage system. I would like one too while we're at it. If I find one I will send him to you.

Was that doll display in a Belgian shop window? We might expect such a thing in France (they are Germans who can cook, afterall, and what lurks in those German psyches, we have all seen from time to time) but Belgium?

Cheers. We adore you.

Juddie said...

Uggh! Words fail me!

Jaywalker said...

Your comment made me smile a lot KSV. You are so right. It's like, the most money you can make legally by sitting at a computer. And yet so. damn. dull.
The evil dollies are indeed Belgian.
Juddie - indeed. My feelings exactly.