Tuesday, 30 December 2008
No matter. He hated the walk and wept and said we were torturing him ("all this for NOTHING. I only have the SHORT legs!". It reminded me of my own childhood torture at the hands of the Bearded One, except that truly, Lashes does not know he is born. We were forced to walk for hours through vertical bogs in the driving rain with only a damp oatcake to sustain us. Every day of every holiday. The nearest "civilisation" was the village pub - 14 silent farmers and a depressive landlord prone to deciding not to stock crisps just for sadistic kicks. On New Year's Eve we had to dance round the pond (generating a lifelong fear of ponds, New Years' Eve and of course, all things rural for me). In contrast, Lashes walked for three quarters of an hour around the brightly lit streets with many stops in shops, and got a packet of biscuits from the Italian deli AND a discounted miniature torch from the DIY superstore to make a spider body from. Luxury, I tell you!
Now, the dead eyed, drama school drop outs on the CBeebies channel are doing a horrid Christmas rap (Prog Rock Step Dad is sitting with his back to the tv reading a Russian library book, Space Cadette is asleep with her arse welded to the fire, CFO is checking his spreadsheets, plus ça change) whilst Lashes and Fingers whine in harmony for biscuits. I have spent much of the day in the company of a giant dutch speaking animatronic tap filled with snot. (I like this understated French explanation: " Des personnages comme Boris Burp et Piet Snot vous guident respectivement dans l’estomac et dans le nez". It makes it sound like a legitimate and respectable way to spend time). Lunch was a Nutella sandwich, on my knees looking for a lost Pokémon figurine in a sort of watery ball pool.
Then, when we got home, I got to clean out the fish tank (the CFO calls our smallest fish, the Pontypines - see here - "les Ponkypine" which amuses me almost enough to make it worthwhile), removing globules of slime with my hands and constantly in fear of finding a corpse or five. Soon, I get to act as Triops undertaker. There should be some kind of heavenly reward for this, right? Shame I am an atheist.
Instead, and almost as good, I got Lashes' ideas for the Space Cadette's New Year party costume. The party theme is 'historical or futuristic'.
"A giant pumpkin! A tree with roots AND legs! A T rex! A robot kangaroo!"
(Fingers: "a car with five wheels!")
Yes. This is as good as it got today. But just think, in 2 days I can give you the full, blow by blow account of the "fun" party from hell. To think, I even forgot to tell you yesterday that the Fun Enforcers have asked us for €140 "participation". One hundred and forty euros! I could get a nice pair of Sergio Rossi heels in the sale for that. Pah! This sorry event had better generate good material or I am stealing their spoons. FACT.
Monday, 29 December 2008
Ah. better now. It's all fine in small doses, but the relentless chreeezemass is starting to make tooth grinding a full time occupation. I need a break from real life and a trip to the welcoming (or at least, endlessly patient) arms of the internets. Either that, or I think now might be the time to break out the emergency temazepam I was astonished not to need at mamie et papy's foodathon.
- Children waking at times as late as 8am, and requiring little more than tv turned on, blind eye turned to eating tree decorations and regular supply of AA batteries.
- Wraithlike presence of Prog Rock Step Dad like a tea making holy hermit, sleeping 20 hours a day and emerging only to read passages of his 80000 page history of Ireland out loud and make tea. Not only that, Prog Rock Step Dad has brought with him a small armchair, 400 Yorkshire tea bags, some impressively un-festive crackers (nail clippers or a shoe horn anyone?), 43 of my old PG Wodehouse novels and some fantastically horrid photos of me aged 13. Almost worse, some incredibly foxy and gorgeous photos of me at 17 with all my own hair and eyelashes. Actually, that should be in the bad column, but I am too tired to put it there.
- Presence of Space Cadette sleeping like a tiny heap of hairy laundry far too close to fire. Abusing Space Cadette's good nature for spawn minding.
- Sitting in front of fire staring slack jawed at shiny Christmas tree for sometimes up to an hour at a time undisturbed.
- Endless supply of cups of tea not made by me.
Not so much:
- The sinusitis, the aching joints and general sensation of decrepitude and morbidity. Combined with Lashes ongoing struggles with DEATH. ("I had forgotten for a moment I am going to DIE and then it came baaack...." etc etc etc). As previously noted, any event involving cheer and celebration and the like is marked in the Waffle household by terrible intimations of mortality. Yes, truly the fun never stops.
- The dreams:
E: We rolled it up in a rug and put it under the floor boards, but when we got back home someone had found it and taken it away and we were in deep shit. I can remember the cold dread so so well.
CFO: That was stupid. The smell would have been a giveaway, even tightly rolled. The fire is working really well at the moment. It would have been much more sensible to dismember the body and burn it piece by piece.
E: What, one piece a day and keep the rest in the freezer?
CFO: No, best all in one go.
E: But what about the smell?
CFO: Best not to kill someone at home at all. And the only murder you can properly get away with is a motiveless one anyway.
E: Motiveless killing outside the home then. I'll tell my subconscious.
- The impossibility of reconciling CFO's need for a rational, orderly home and:
(ii) Own indolence and inability to give a shit
(iii) Space Cadette's tendency to shed clothing, stuff, apple cores, half drunk cups of tea and newspapers in irregular formation around her person.
- The New Year Fear
Ok; let me know how you lot are holding up. Do you need a turn of the emergency temazepam? Some made up obscenities?
Sunday, 28 December 2008
Fellow citizens of "Belgium". Subjects. Expatriots on advantageous fiscal packages. Tax exiles. Eurodrones. Interested or entirely sceptical observers. I, Albert II of "Belgium" offer you my warmest wishes in this festive season.
The whole royal family extends its best wishes to you;
My eldest son, Philippe le Chinless and his gigantic brood of indistinguishable blonde children:
And of course our national treasure and my dearest maman, Fabiola.
Who, despite her advancing years, continues to delight and enchant generations of Belgians with her sparkling good humour and charitable works. I have her to thank for an enchanted childhood spent in the gentle embrace of tweed underpants and Jesuits. Je t'aime, maman.
have worked tirelessly to support our financial sector
and whilst I found myself in the painful position of having to accept the resignation of M. Leterme, it was with a heavy heart, and with my most sincere thanks that I released M. Leterme from his obligations.
The rumours that M. Dehaene:
will be rejoining the government are unfounded, but the "Belgian" political classes are united in their desire to ensure strong and stable government for the Kingdom and continue to show unprecedented levels of cooperation that transcend party political divisions and personal rivalries.
I believe now all that remains for me is to appeal once more to you all, turkeys and stegosauruses alike, not to let the giant lizard of linguistic division and self-interest destroy our magnificent kingdom.
Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2009 from "Belgium"!
Saturday, 27 December 2008
We cover him in noses!
Next we jump on him!
How about Yvette? What is Yvette up to?
Yvette is telling everyone she wishes she was DEAD.
How about the CFO?
He probably wishes he was dead too. If he has to touch another battery compartment he'll go postal.
Are Fingers and Lashes enjoying Christmas?
They might be. But will they ever speak again?
Is sister in law having fun?
How about Lashes? Does he enjoy spelling practice with Mamie?
What do Space Cadettes do for Christmas?
They melt their clothes on the fire!
Ahhh. Sweet though.
And what on earth are these?
They are bidons de colère. You take out your frustrations by shaking them, apparently. I wonder whose this is?
Happy Christmas everyone! Tell me all about it.
Tomorrow, the King of Belgian will be giving his annual speech exclusively here on Belgian Waffle. Do not miss it.
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
1. Cunning plan making
Lashes: If we had a grabber [ed: one of those fairground claw machines], we could make money by filling it with Barbies and Pokémon and letting people have turns! At birthdays it could be free, or one centime.
CFO: Lashes, you need to examine your business model more closely. If you buy Barbie and Pokémon toys for the machine, and then allow people turns for one centime, you would not make any money.
Jaywalker: Yes - either you need to make it one of those machines that you don't win every time, or you have to buy veeerrry cheap toys and charge lots of money to have a turn.
Lashes: An attrape-nigaud?
CFO: Yes. Like the ones you put all your money in.
Lashes: Or! I could put Wii games and Pokémon dvds in there. And then ask people for LOTS of money. Like, 5 EUROS! [looks giddy at thought of so much money]
Jaywalker: that would still only work if they didn't win every time. Or, here's a FANTASTIC idea, you could just put the empty boxes in the grabber and not the games. Then you could say 'But I never said the game was in there! You've won a lovely box!'
Lashes: We would be escrocs! Like Team Rocket!
Jaywalker: Yes, but more successful!
CFO: Your plan is basically sound in the short term, but I have concerns for your long term viability.
[discussion continues for several hours]
2. Ideas of genius
Lashes: If there was a programme called "Karate Lizards", it would be my favourite programme in the whole world.
Jaywalker: You could invent it?
Lashes: Urrrgh! [I can't transliterate this noise properly. It's a sort of guttural exasperated teenage groan. Any ideas?] But I am going to be a vet REMEMBER?
Jaywalker: Lots of people have two jobs. Grandad has two jobs. More like four, actually.
Lashes: Ok! There will be four karate lizards. We will combat les mechants.
Jaywalker: Like teenage mutant ninja turtles?
Lashes [indignant]: Not at ALL. The lizards will not have masks. The cameleon will be their leader [assumes wise, namaste style reptile guru pose]
CFO: Why teenage?
CFO: Why are the tortues ninja teenage?
Jaywalker: I have no idea. They just are in English. Why you have such a shoddily translated version is anyone's guess.
CFO: Bon, ok laisse tomber, j'ai rien dit.
Jaywalker: We could be the karate lizards! There are four of us.. Are you the cameleon, Lashes? Is he, like, the wise old one who calls the others petit scarabé? Can I be a skink?
Lashes: [scathingly] NO. There are no skinks, only true lizards. Papa can be the cameleon. I am the head lizard.
Jaywalker: Fingers should be one of those small and extremely fast lizards. He would be good at that. He has scrabbly claws already.
[Fingers enthusiastically starts scrabbling and scritching around on the floor. Although present, he does not feature much in these exchanges because he is busy plotting something else. World domination, or new security measures, or similar]
Lashes [dubious] I'm not sure there can be a small lizard.
Jaywalker: Of course there must be! For little children to identify with! Also, Fingers is extremely fast and he has claws. He would be very useful in small spaces and so on. Won't you, Fingers? If I can't be a skink, perhaps I can be a bearded lizard?
Lashes: NO! I am a bearded lizard! The bearded lizard is the chef!
Jaywalker: So what's left for me? Can I be spiky? An iguana or something?
Lashes [magnanimously] Yes, alright. But I am the only one with a beard.
Jaywalker: Great. The concept needs a little work, but I think it's a winner. You can work on it in your demie-heure
Lashes [mournful]: I don't HAVE a demie-heure. You took it away when we were at the museum.
Jaywalker: Oh yes. Well you shouldn't have stolen Fingers' stone.
And on. And on. And on.
Moving swiftly on, the final present clinic gift-giver of 2008 is in dire need of your help, people.
I give you this, from the Fat Controller:
Quandary person: My brother. (3 years my junior, at 47, but still a big kid at heart) PhD in Biochemistry, currently teaching biology to 15 year olds in an Evangelical Christian Faith School (so I think the Darwin finger puppet would probably go down like a lead balloon as would my first choice, a statuette of a semi-naked woman/mythical beast thingy symbolising his zodiac sign.)
Lives frugally, as befits someone who tithes their income back to the church that is paying him in the first place, but appreciates silly presents. So it must be silly , but not frivolous. On year I gave him a blank tape cassette, labelled 'Jean Michel Jarre - Unplugged'. He seemed to appreciate that.
Married, 3 children. Pretty things for the house pointless as they don't have a pretty house and they wouldn't stay pretty for long in any case. We have, over the years, pretty much re-stocked their kitchen with functional/stylish utensils as only the Danes know how to make. He probably now has more corkscrews in the house than he has bottles of wine at any one time.
Lifelong Arsenal supporter. I was going to buy a bird nesting box in the shape of a half-timbered cottage (complete with a minature bird-nesting box of its own) as I have done for my sister, BUT he's an ornithologist and has more nesting boxes in the garden than you could shake a stick at.
The last present I got from him was a book which he had clearly picked up in a second hand bookshop, complete with secondhand bookshop smell. It was a very interesting book, but couldn't have set him back more than about 50p, so I don't want to spend more than a tenner. Now is that a challenge, or what?
I can't say inspiration immediately sprang to me with this one. I started thinking along the lines of naked photos of Bill Oddie, which grossed me out so comprehensively I needed to have a little lie down to recover.
Next, I thought he might appreciate the wind up lederhosen I got for Prog Rock Step Dad's 60th birthday (I am a very very bad stepdaughter, what can I say). They are mildly amusing as they hop around, but the absolute clincher for Prog Rock Step Dad was the way they rock and fall over agonisingly slowly as they stop. We tried to film it and failed. We are a bit crap.
The model Arsenal stadium is spookily expensive and clearly designed for OCD adults who cannot bear the pie smell and proximity of other humans the real thing would involve. Arsenal body wash is cheaper. Can you imagine how £3.50 worth of Arsenal body wash smells? Like the bottom of a Chinawhite cocktail I should imagine. Barbara's "Minty for the Messiah" breath spray might be a nice extra present to go with the body wash? The gift that says "You stink AND I am mocking all you hold dear". What could be finer?
I am afraid I am all suggested out here. I am suffering a severe case of "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes", as Inspector Morse once said. I do not have a present for the CFO yet. Oh, the irony. Jesuzemann, shackass! So, um, any ideas either for the Fat Controller or for me (If in doubt, help ME. I have to live with CFO all year and so far all he has is a sort of fancy cork...) gratefully received.
Ready, steady, GIFT!
Monday, 22 December 2008
"Lashes, can you take a picture of my new coat?"
Lashes? You can go back to Pokémon in a minute"
"Pff, Dialga is about to combat Nosferapti!"
"Do you WANT your pocket money?"
"Ug, pff. Hmm. Here you go"
"Uh, thank you?"
Next! Eyebrows. No longer orange. Well, unless you look too closely. You wouldn't want to do that anyway, because:
(a) my eyelids of a woman three times my age would scare you witless; and
(b) I might poke you. I am a woman on the edge! Two weeks holiday with what appears to be a herd of ill-disciplined spider monkeys. Do NOT invade my personal space.
Closely followed by new hair.
Thank you whoever sold their hair for me, I hope you were handsomely remunerated, but I doubt it. Lovely. It's a bit pouffy and voluminous right now, but I will squash it into submission soon enough. It's already been coated in chocolate milk and hot dog and glitter glue, so it's well on its way to being tamed. At least I can go out in high winds without fearing for my elaborate comb-over.
Ok, you've suffered enough, here comes the good bit. Now! Last year, when we went to the Brussels Christmas market, I was so enchanted by these roundabouts that I felt I needed to share them with the world. I couldn't, of course. I just tried to explain them badly to everyone I met ("a giant beetle! a pterodactyl skeleton! a giant squid!) . Now, I can show you why Belgian children have the happiest childhoods in the world, despite their soviet education system. I mean, if I had had the chance to ride a giant rearing stag beetle in my childhood I would have renounced all rights to whine about how awful my life was for EVER. I tried to tell Lashes this.
Fingers waited about forty minutes to choose his ride. He went for the hot air balloon, eventually, after refusing to share anything with a long haired boy who he insisted was a girl. Like his father, he clearly belongs in the clearly delineated certainties of the nineteen fifties.
He just asked for another hot dog, fifty three euros, a trip in the inflatable Lithuanian ice monster and five disposable hand warmers. He is crushing me with his exuberance at the moment, and I love it. Phew, he's not definitively broken yet then. At one point when I was melting down gently he said "fucking hell?", helpfully, in a questioning fashion, as if that might be the phrase I was searching for. Precisely. You took the words right out of my mouth. We also discussed Nathan's imminent birthday, with considerable mutual confusion.
I AM having fun. This is my happy face.
Chameleon (moving tongue and eyes)
I don't think these really convey the magnificence. They are so beautiful. I wish I was five. Come to Brussels and ride the beetle!
Sunday, 21 December 2008
How have I spent this evening? Clearing out 5 cubic metres of kitchen cupboard from a plague of maggoty (moth?) larvae. I have bleach burn to hands, throat, eyes. I have said so many obscene things I am expecting a thunderbolt any minute (after all, a plague of white writhing larvae in your rice is pretty badass and biblical). I smell of death and cereal and I just feel dirty, inside and out. Dirty. But seriously, you fuckers. If I ever see your sorry wriggling motherfucking asses in that fucking cupboard again, I will blast you the fuck into dust with my motherfucking AK47 ("Adritt power spray" cleaner, in hot pink spray gun format). Noone messes with my fucking ground almonds and gets away with it.
Yeah. Fuck that shit man.
Now I am going to have a nice camomile tea. Thank you.
Here it feels like Christmas, but in a testing centre for agricultural machinery. It is tremendously late at night, so late it is practically tomorrow, but the CFO is snoring like a tractor, and has proved impervious to all my tried and tested techniques (rolling him over, kicking him, sticking my finger up nose, garrotting him with duvet cover, hissing "SHUT UP" in his ear, putting my head right up against his and saying, loudly, "If you don't stop that I will fucking suffocate you"). Consequently I have had to come downstairs to move tree ornaments around in a neurotic fashion to give the tree the precise 'scandi minimalism meets repulsive plastic shit' look I am striving for. Hopefully tomorrow will be photo day, when I take pictures of everything I have promised you, from eyebrows to coat, to Christmas tree, because it needs to be seen. The tree looks like it is having some kind of acute schizophrenic crisis. It's screaming for help, I tell you.
The best tree ornaments are the senseless, hideous ones that get dragged out year after year, made of smashed up tin foil and baler twine and fossilised chocolate. I know this in my heart of hearts. At 'home' (yes, I am 34 and have not lived there for 16 years and she has been dead for five, but my mother's house is still called home to me) we had a range of these - psychedelic coloured lights, tin can circa 1979 with no distinguishing features but a matchstick glued to the top; cake topper made of white, slightly iridescent plastic, hideously mutilated army of red elves (known as "the lads"), looking for all the world like entrants in some kind of alternative paralympic christmas jollity event, Laughing Cow box covered in foil with two straws stuck on the back ("star"), balding purple tinsel circa 1975. Every year mum would plead with me and the Space Cadette to let her have a 'nice' tree, with white twinkly lights and no balding flocked Babycham fawn. Every year we would refuse, indignantly. I get it now, as I strive to have a 'nice' tree whilst conceding that I must accept the dead eyed knitted Father Christmas with his hot pink knitted flesh, the peculiar leprechaun figure made from a golf ball and pipe cleaners and a St Nicolas made from a collapsed water bottle and an economy sized packet of tenacious purple glitter. I am sorry mum. We were evil. Karma has come to get me though.
In further shocking Christmas developments, the inhabitants of Waffle Towers are refining their Christmas lists.
Fingers (who keeps telling me he is "hungry" for his - non-chocolate - advent calendar): surveillance equipment for secret cupboard - cctv camera, trip switch, electric fence (honest to god, he has asked for this and everything else on this list). Washing machine. Vacuum cleaner. Other domestic appliances, ideally conducive to cleanness and order. Lucky Charms cereal.
Lashes: Live cameleon. Other small lizards (various, must move fast and be mignon). Things on which to experiment (Hadron Collider, particle accelerator, raisins). Calculator.
CFO: Machinery (any). Cure for moth infestation. Reptoboost. Insulation. Wife.
Me: McQueen dress. Bedlington terrier puppy. Monifa the baby pgymy hippo. Small Vuillard oil painting. Silver Robert Clergerie shoes. Eyelashes. Unlimited spending spree in Magma. Fun. Wife.
One can only hope that liberal application of champagne on one side and chocolate coins on the other will cover any possible disappointments, but it seems more likely that the sound of wailing and gnashing of teeth will be heard from one end of Belgium to the other.
Tune in tomorrow for possible photos and the results of the inaugural hibernation weigh in. Will they stay or will they go? Who is up for elimination in the crisper drawer? Place your bets.. Also, last chance for present clinic! Last edition will be Monday, so get your last minute difficult customers' details into Waffle mail.
Sweet jesus I can hear him from here - I am going to put earplugs up his nose. There isn't a jury in the land that would convict me..
Friday, 19 December 2008
I assume you all remember how the Belgian Waffle ecumenical confessional goes. I confess some sins, you give me penance, then you confess some sins, and I give you penance. Then we all go forth and sin no more for oooh, five minutes or so.
I will keep my sins brief today, since you are all heartily sick of them, I imagine.
Bless me internet for I have sinned. It has been five weeks since my last confession.
1. I still haven't cancelled our old internet provider so they are still charging us. Since (cough) September.
3. The CFO ate some nuts yesterday from our cupboard and found they were full of MOTH LARVAE. I found this horrifying and funny in equal measure. My middle name is schadenfreude.
4. I am obsessed with blogging. I LOVE it in a sick junkie fashion. I am desperately trying to make up for all the lost years when I was shopping, and talking to myself and taking long walks around London, and sinking in a stew of despair instead of blogging. The Bearded One and Stepmother are coming for the weekend and all I can think of is how, and when, I will get to sneak away with my laptop and make sweet love to it. It is quite probable that blogging is in fact merely replacing my other compulsions and neuroses rather than making them better. I am choosing to believe otherwise. The CFO wishes me to not touch the computer after 4pm or at weekends from January and I am having an extremely hard time coming to terms with this. Mainly it makes me want to place him in a box in the crisper drawer until he cheers up, but sadly the crisper drawer is full. So instead I am going with silently resentful.
5. I am insanely jealous of everyone out there with a book deal, or a newspaper column or a fun job. All of you. I hate you. Not you Marie you have an actual book and it is ace. Or Zoe (who I can't link to because her blog is filth). That doesn't count. I generally have serious issues with other people's success in fields more interesting and glamorous than the law. I confide in BMF in incoherent emails 'If x gets her fucking screenplay accepted I am just going to shrivel up and die. Truly. In a black ball of hatred.' etc etc etc. I find Zoe William's baby column in G2 unbelievably annoying because I could have done that! Better! Sorry Zoe Williams, I am sure that is not true, but this is the confessional and all, so I have to 'fess up properly. Otherwise they'll sent me to some Belgian hell where the Père Fouettard will smite me with scorpions or speculoos or something. Anyway, it kills me. Because I listened to my fearsome father and became a lawyer, which is the most sucktastic job imaginable when your heart is not in it (er, all the time).
6. I have eaten seven Celebrations this morning. I am stopping now, but still. You are NOT my friend chocolate. Fuck off and die.
7. I am spending too much money still. I am taking advantage of the CFO's paranoid financial crisis juggling to siphon small amounts off various accounts ni vu ni connu. I am unrepentant. Oh shit, it doesn't count if I'm unrepentant, does it? Ok, I AM repentant.
Right. That's me. Suggested penances please, and form an orderly queue for confession! Hallelujah!
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Part the First - the trip "up West" (non-English people, this is what the residents of fictional outer London borough Walford say when they head into Central London in popular cinema verité (ahem) television series Eastenders. "Getcha glad rags on and I'll take yar up West to see a show, Peggy!").
I have new hair! New, shiny, much darker and slightly longer hair. And new, non-orange eyebrows. I would take pictures but I have mislaid my memory card thingy. This should be deeply disturbing to my colleagues who are unaware of the fact that this new hair is not my own, but stolen from the head of some poor starving wench. However, their total absence of interest in normal human interaction makes a nonsense of this assumption. They have not noticed my hair getting longer and changing colour over night. A couple of them looked mildly perplexed, momentarily, but soon forgot in the heady contemplation of regional aid to crane manufacturers in Wesfphalen. Anyway. I sort of like it once I get a handle on my desire to flatten the fuck out of it. I like going to the hairdressers anyway, even though it does only happen once every two years. My hairdresser is mildly flash and "does" Kylie and Elle Macpherson and the like, and is quoted in magazines. But I knew him before all that, smug smug.
I mentioned the magazine thing to him.
"You were in Elle! I read it on the train, and there you were! This is happening more and more John. Soon you will be such a tremendous celebri-guru and you'll refuse to deal with saggy hairless people like me anymore. "
"Oh god, what was I saying?"
"I dunno really. Something about hair. I don't pay too much attention to that stuff, no offence"
"Some old load of crap spouted with a hangover doubtless. Much more importantly tell me what to do about the gorgeous Swedish boy with no legs" [a long story].
Apart from that I bought a new coat in Liberty, very pretty and thin and impractical and, inevitably, not in the sale. "Sorry", said the fey boy with the quiff and the skinny jeans falling over his concave buttocks, "I know it's on the sale rail, but um, it's, um not. Sorry". He looked so mournful and confused I didn't have the heart to fight with him. It is black and sort of heavy cotton, fitted, cocoon shaped, with 3/4 length tulip sleeves. I like.
Then I had lunch with Violet (culminating in one of those undignified bouts of what we call "granny fighting", where both of us try to grab for the bill. "It's my turn! Put that AWAY!" "No, it's my turn. I INSIST" while bored Eastern European waiting staff look at us disdainfully) and brought Antonia an offering of Belgian fondant Jesuses. Jesi? Jesu? There's fairly little call for the plural, which I suppose figures what with Christianity being a monotheistic religion and all. Antonia was rendered completely incapable for some time by the South Effrican blondes next to us talking about "horse physiotherapy". I was unable to stop talking during both these encounters, words spilling unbidden from my crazed flailing lips after months of speaking either French or lawyer. They were very patient and it was great.
I got home late with fifteen half-ripped collapsing carrier bags filled with heavy magazines and biscuits and small squirrelled-away apparently essential trifles, in a state of manic excitement. Predictably it has been downhill ever since.
Part the Second - the crazy and the sad
I have a terrible case of the lower abdomen doom today, combined with the upper chest cavity stressiness, classic symptoms of the crazy. I attribute this to:
- the lack of the sleep
- the missing of the London (it is NOT getting easier having no access to ready chopped stir fry vegetables and real milk in my extra dry cappucino and all the other lamentable trappings of London life)
- the continued woe of the elder child (he cut someone's finger by mistake* while I was away and apparently spent the day in inconsolable tears in case he got sent to see the headmaster. Poor poppet)
- the CFO's belief that it is All My Fault. "He's isolated because the teacher makes him sit separately because he's so messy and you KNOW where he gets that from" he said (I paraphrase, but it was, if anything, blunter than that) narrowing his eyes. I am refraining from flaying him alive, in honour of my quaker schooling. But it is making me feel part devastated and part stabby.
I was thrashing through this with BMF on email in a trembly lip fashion. Ooooh, the woe, the hardness, the sadness, the intractable, tragic nature of human relationships.. Then just as it was getting ridiculously sad we ended up mildly hysterical. "Dead end zombie jobs, relationships with uncertain futures and the damning certainty of fucking up my children's life! Damn, we know how to be festive! Pass the mince pies and sherry! Merry Christmas!". So then I told him about my coat and he told me about his new jeans, and I showed him this (which I am getting a bit obsessed with - go! Worship! The crane haiku is magnificent). He knows how to cheer a girl up.
Part the third - the internet lifts me up on its html wings
Just as importantly, all your support on my recent wobbles has been so, so, extraordinarily wonderful. Truly. I was toying mechanically with the chocolate plate this morning, but I heard Pearl's (um, cyber?) voice telling me that chocolate is not my friend, and all your urgings not to let a bad day become a habit again. So I didn't. I came home and ate crackers and felt mildly cheered. Yay the internet. Where have you been all my life? Seriously, this is a million times better than group therapy. I didn't even tell the group therapy lot about the bulimia. They would have sent me away to the eating disorder group and kicked me out of the depressives coven, leaving me to wail in the corridor with nary a tissue to my name. You lot are non-sectarian and without fail supportive and wonderful. No wonder the CFO views you with small stony eyes and suspicion.
And this last fact means I must post this now, before my spouse type person returns home from the nineteen fifties.
*Admittedly, I do wonder quite how one cuts someone's finger "by mistake". An involuntary spasm during which he found himself taking other child's hand and applying scissors to it?
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
So if you, for instance:
- were an "ex" bulimic in slighty shakier mental health than you yourself even realised;
- in charge of supplying chocolate snacks to an office full of eurodrones from a large bowl on your desk;
- and you had bought some new After Eight sticks for that bowl that turned out to be outrageously moreish and delicious;
- and if, in the space of ten minutes you ate 90% of the box of stupidly delicious After Eight sticks, mechanically stretching out to take another whilst still swallowing the last one until you physically couldn't force another down, blocking out any thoughts that might flit through your head;
you might find yourself toying with the restless feeling that you remember that there is a 'solution' to this kind of bingeing.
And within minutes, you might find you couldn't sit still, or concentrate, or do anything with this feeling in your gut and this persuasive whisper in your head.
And then, you might find yourself, without ever consciously making a decision to do so, ever so casually wandering along to the toilets at an studiedly unhurried pace. You might stop to get yourself a cup of hot water from the drinks dispenser, like you have so very many times in the past.
Then you might lock yourself in the cubicle and make yourself sick.
And you might, whilst doing this, be reminded that chocolate is not the easiest thing in the world to throw up. And consequently it might take you a good twenty minutes of stupid, horrible indignity. You might also find that those twenty minutes give you a lot of time to ask yourself what the fuck you think you are doing, but that apparently, they don't give you the mental strength to actually stop. You might also be reminded of all the hours you have wasted in toilet cubicles over your life.
When you had finished, you would probably feel like shit, but there might also be a tiny shred of satisfaction, at least momentarily.
You would wash your hands and look at your bloodshot eyes in the mirror over the sink, and try to fix your flushed, blotchy face so it looked a bit more normal. Then perhaps you would get another drink of water and quickly walk back to your desk, hoping noone noticed how long you were in the bathroom.
You would probably have a headache and a crappy throat and sore eyes and you'd be sad. You would be worried whether it would affect your temper tonight with your children, the way it used to. You might try and work out what 'triggered' you back onto that idiotic rollercoaster.
You might feel as if you had learned nothing at all since you were nineteen.
But how could you ever break free of it completely?
Monday, 15 December 2008
Sunday, 14 December 2008
I feel like that at the moment with Lashes, though God knows, I couldn't eat a whole one, he's bloody huge. But right now, he seems subdued and beleagured and out of sorts. We saw his teacher on Friday (whilst having one of those silent attrition style domestics, which was an added bonus), who said rather eerily, that though his behaviour had much improved (no more of that insubordinate colouring of things in the Wrong Colours that sent him so often to the Headmaster's Office, tsk tsk!) , he was now very quiet in class, no longer talked or asked questions, and seemed very solitary.
Now. I have had to adjust many of my wholly inaccurate but dearly held images of what my eldest son is "like" over the last couple of years. From my fey, thoughtful, pink loving three year old has grown a giant, defiant, contrary laddish creature. I thought he'd be reading at three or four, like me. He's six and a half and couldn't give a monkeys. He reads the odd word under pressure, sure, but he isn't desperate to be reading. Instead, he fires mind-melting mental arithmetic at us, usually when one of us is trying to park the car, or cook dinner. He no longer wears girls' hair accessories and even though he still loves lizards, he loves Pokémon more. So far so normal.
But the one thing I always felt I could count on was his absolute self-assurance, his constant talking and questioning and negociating. Apparently not. The soviet work camp style of the local school has apparently crushed his spirit. I can kind of see it in him myself. He comes home and he's floppy and disinterested in everything and barely has the energy to be more that mildly argumentative and annoying to his brother. He struggles through his homework with a sort of dull resignation. He drives the CFO crazy not listening. But I don't feel he can help it - it's as if he's barely there at all.
Every week I say to myself I need to spend some proper time with him, to try and find out what's going on in his head. I want to poke my fingers into his brain and try and understand him, the way I used to when he was tiny and it was all about saying "beetle beetle" as often as possible and hating sheep. To try and give him some of that confidence and fun back. To show the CFO, who seems to feel he's a ball of single-minded defiance, that the gorgeous, funny baby he adored is still in there and needs him more than ever. But every week life gets in the way and we just get through the days and the evenings and the weekends the best we can without the kind of "quality time" I delude myself would make all the difference. Fingers is clingy and demonstrative and funny and a bloody exhausting delight. Lashes just gets on with drawing monsters or watching tv and gets shouted at for normal acts of six year old daftness and doesn't really react, or defend himself. Occasionally it all escapes like on my birthday. I feel like he's being short changed, somehow. Like he's not getting what he deserves, from me, from school, from his dad, from anything.
Of course, guilt coming as naturally as breathing to most if not all parents, I wonder how moving country three times in two years and leaving his friends behind, being caught up in the maelstrom of my mum's death, and all the sturm und drang and general badness and madness that followed has affected him. And the tiny Oliver James that lives on my shoulder whispers that it is All My Fault. And Unicef tells me he's going to be emotionally damaged from all his time at nursery. And I want to put my head in my hands and just cry.
Maybe this is all a normal part of getting bigger. He's getting more distant, for sure, and perhaps I might as well get used to it now. In a few years I'll be grasping on to, and thankful for, any minute of interaction I can get from him. I talked to Katyboo about this recently, and her take on it was that keeping your children away from the ordinary cruelties and disappointments of daily life is akin to keeping them in a germ free bubble. You'll have let them go out into the wild at some point, and if they haven't built up their immune system from an early age, reality could be devastating. Better to allow them to discover this stuff when they are surrounded by love and support.
Maybe also my own vision of early childhood is pretty skewed; I spent my time as the only child in big groups of wonderful funny, entertaining, imaginative adults who indulged me hugely. At Lashes' age, my mother was reading me David Copperfield. Three or four different people had invented complex and lengthy story sagas for me (including my particular favourite from Prog Rock Step Dad, which featured the three blind mice and their used car garage). My halloween costume was a red devil borrowed from the University's medieval drama department. This was probably not 'normal' and it almost certainly set me up for crushing disappointment at various points in later life. But it did make me confident, and tremendously sure of my own self-worth, at least at that early age. Shouldn't all children be allowed to feel like that for a few years?
So, right now, I think I would just like to put him back inside me for a while. He's not going to like it - there's no Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, no Yu-Gi-Oh, no monsters. Not even any lizards as far as I know. But he can be himself, and find out who that self is without someone walking all over it in hobnailed boots. When I feel he's built an unassailable sense of self and knows how completely we love him perhaps then and only then I will let him back out.
So if you'll excuse me, I'm heading up to his bedroom and I'm going to eat him.
Saturday, 13 December 2008
Take this, from Pearl for instance on the crushing of romantic illusions:
So much of what my current husband told me was a lie. [Ed: Pearl recently married aged 41]
Sports? Never heard of them!
Read? Why else would he have all these books?
Travel? We'll go to Europe!
A bad man. A very bad man. Sports? I have now seen women's college basketball play-offs on TV. Read? The good news? He reads the paper. The bad news? It's the sports section. Travel? Not likely! He doesn't like to fly.
A married couple's first Christmas: a romantic, softly lit scene of murmured love, yes? Yes?
I received two gifts that year. An enormous, non-folding umbrella.And a calendar. "What?" he said, as I burst into tears. "But it's a Lord of the Rings calendar! You like Lord of the Rings!"
Things are better now. He's agreed that he is a lying bastard and I've agreed that he is right.
You will also recall the horrors of the comments box.
- Anon I changing bedpans in the care home as her horribly transformed boyfriend suffered Christmas day alone with Anon's mother.
- Potty Mummy's vagina gaffe. "I still remember the silence now".
- Ptooie's ice storm of hell
- Emily and the naked ex pictures topped off with "the seasonal gift of a break up"
- Anon II with the Chatty Cathy doll and molesting relative
- Expateek trying to cancel Christmas
- G's Adidas gift set ("It would seem that the person with whom I have the closest genetic match in the entire world has decided that I am a cunt")
- This from Katyboo - the year Tilly refused to wear clothes at all and spent the whole meal naked except for a paper hat, perched on a stool, scowling and eating sausages - actually sounded like fun. Maybe we should all try this approach? Actually, no. Scratch that.
- Mrs Farty ended up near death's front path and Mr Farty had to do the ironing!
- Siddalee's Mormon momma going out to lie down on the train tracks after her daddy got drunk!
But I'm afraid an early front runner stole my heart. The winner is Grit with this:
My worst christmas ever was the one where uncle eff, the church organist who usually locked himself in the attic, declared at 1am he was just popping out to the gay massage parlour in town, so leave the door unlocked. this was followed by the arrival of aunty vee, the evangelical harp seller from wales, who had come to steal some more of the furniture. my mother had died seven months before, my mother in law ten months before, the triplets were aged under two and no-one had thought of buying any drink for christmas or new year. if this wasn't enough, my husband had embarked upon celibacy. We were on the verge of divorce and had I been sane I would have attempted suicide.
There is just such complexity and richness in the horror of this tale. The infant triplets! The mystifying spousal celibacy! Horrible relatives! Death! Absence of alcohol. I can barely allow myself to imagine it. I also like the way it raises as many questions as it answers. Was Uncle Eff living with them? Why? Why had the spouse taken a vow of celibacy? Grit, you win the Advent calendar. You can use it for educational purposes for the Gritlets. Uh, somehow. Please detail how. I think we would all enjoy that.
Runners up: Anons I and II, even though Anon II, I did ask you to provide more prurient detail and you haven't. And Siddalee. Your horrible horrible stories also deserve some small and probably plastic recognition.
If you would all like to deposit your addresses in the waffle mail box, I will brave the wilds of the post office for you. People DIE waiting in that place. They petrify like in Mother Shipton's cave and get turned into civic ornaments. And noone cares. But I will go because I am lovely like that.
Also, let me leave you with this beautiful seasonal story, which captures the spirit of Christmas whilst simultaneously guaranteeing that I will have to preserve my anonymity forever. One year lost in the mists of antiquity a certain male person in my immediate entourage was tremendously excited to have come upon a small quantity of class A narcotics on Christmas Day. They bore the substance home with much festivity and rejoicing in the manner of a particularly plump and juicy turkey and shared it with great glee with a certain female person also in my immediate entourage.
"I can't feel ANYTHING" complained the female person some hours later. "I feel exactly the same as usual".
"It's Christmas Day and you haven't cried a single fucking time" said the male person "It's working".
Friday, 12 December 2008
Mother – in –Law
Salient Information: 61, overweight, closet alcoholic. Passive-aggressive, judgmental, gossipy, very difficult to get along with. Favours her other son and his family over my husband and our daughter and I. Frequently gives out advice to others that she herself should follow. Also loves spouting annoying platitudes.
Also of note: she has 6 housecats. They piss on her carpets.
Interests: herself, soccer (football), cheap white wine, denial.
Gift history: she has a habit of giving dollar-store or discount store gifts to us and lavishes herself with whatever she wants. Last year, she and my father in law bought themselves their 5th laptop computer (they also have 2 desktops at home) and gifted to my daughter (on her very first Christmas), a lead-filled puzzle clearly from the dollar store. After 12 years of her son and I being together (married for 3) she still knows nothing about me and this shows in the presents she gives me. They are cheap, ugly and instantly thrown away the minute she is gone. I want gift-revenge and I want it bad.
This gift will be for her birthday (December 24th) as we have all decided to get Christmas gifts for the children only this year. In the past, she has insisted that her birthday gifts be wrapped in BIRTHDAY wrap, not CHRISTMAS wrap and will have a fit if we do not comply. She gives me my birthday present (December 20th) in X-Mas wrap every year.
Obviously, BMF and I consulted on this one. He is as much a part of Present Clinic as I am, I feel. His take on it was:
"Something innocuous, but that has a real unexpected and nasty kick to it. So I'm thinking something lavish-tastic but that requires the donation of say, an arm or a kidney or a liver maybe. "
Whilst I like his thinking, what with the vital organ removal and all, I am slightly at a loss for how we might achieve this through the medium of a gift. Maybe, the once in a lifetime experience to swim with great white sharks (cage not provided)?
I have a couple of other ideas, but I am warning you, comments box, I'm going to need your help here as I am pretty much a spent husk of a person. My room mate laughed out loud at my shuffling pathetic demeanour today. It didn't help that I had had to borrow her peach mohair cardigan (emphatically not my colour) for warmth. Did it get me a seat on the tram? Did it fuck. Anyway. On with clinic!
1. A GIGANTIC picture of you and your family. Life sized if possible. Or pictures of all of you on coasters, place mats, cups and cat food bowls. Try and ignore us now, witch!
2. Something that you can claim is 'good luck' in another culture. The world is a big place! Testicles set in PVC resin are quite probably good luck somewhere. Or indeed a leprous baby playing with a snail. Be sure to say "as soon as I saw this I thought of you". I feel sure you would enjoy saying that. I can almost hear you.
3. Check out Barbara, my very favourite ink stained wretch, who has been trawling the nether regions of the earth for some of the most disturbing gifts known to man. I was going to say I particularly liked the pregnant torso with detachable foetus, but then I went over today and I must say, the infanticide embroidery is SPECIAL. Mmmm.
4. A delightfully shiny nylon football (soccer) shirt. These are just the thing for ladies in their sixties - flattering and fun at the same time! See how long she can wear it before the halo of static around her lights her up like an advent candle! Ground her with a crackling shock! Fun for all the family. Do ensure you choose an obscure club with a tremendously ugly strip, and if possible an embarassing sponsor. Go here for more inspiration.
That's all I have right now. Internet! Do your worst!
(And anyone who still hasn't sorted out the tricky person in their life, that's what waffle mail is there for. Still time for one more present clinic before Christmas! )
Thursday, 11 December 2008
All this is merely verbal decoration around me telling you that Present Clinic is deferred until tomorrow due to my appointment with the Knee of Death. Oh, and remember, only 24 more hours to submit your horrid Christmas tales to win the Belgian Waffle Advent Calendar.
I might post later or I might still be handcuffed to a chair in a folorn corner of northern Brussels refusing to leave until Doctor Evil cuts my leg off. Who knows? Of such small mysteries life is made. Ok, now I am tripping on dried fruit and Nurofen, time to stop.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Gettin' a seat is full-on war
Got me arse stuck in yer tiny door
Little old lady, please don't kick me no more
Dirty old tram
Dirty old tram
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
On the side of the angels (white chocolate fish and chips) there is this:
Shh! Don't cheer too loud! The CFO will hear you!
This is the notorious 3.1 Philip Lim top that has become something of a legend on these pages. Thank you BMF (no, it is not an inappropriately lavish gift, I am paying him back, OK? Straight away) for doing the business. True friendship is enabling your friend's inappropriate and irresponsible shopping obsessions. What do you think? Mental? Or mental but in a good way? Or, beautiful top, but not on your scraggy ruin of a body, Jaywalker?
There is also this:
Ridiculous but sweet charm bracelet I bought for myself. As you will note, it has a teeny tiny cup featuring a caterpillar on it. No idea why, I just liked it and it wasn't dear. I am kryptonite to jewellery, so this is unwise. That is why my long and elegant, though filthy, hand model's hands are bare of all adornment. The emerald fell out of my mum's engagement ring. I killed my birthday Baume & Mercier watch just with the death rays that emanate from my wrist, and then killed its cheap Swatch successor. The diamond fell out of my non-engagement ring in Violet's flat. We spent all day on all fours looking for it, only to locate it in Lashes' sock the next day. I lost the Tiffany diamond bracelet the CFO gave me (Yes. Godalmighty. One of the only afuckingmazing presents he has got me in our lengthy joint history and I lost it) on one of my manic 'run around London buying M&S food and cheap high street clothes' trips. I have the worst track record ever. I am hoping the fact that it is totally non-precious will help. Doubtful.
Apart from mindless ill-advised retail, I wrenched myself off the hamster wheel of chocolate-fuelled legal doom today by forcing myself out (Outside! Into the world of mortals! Where the undead of the corridor of ennui fear to venture!) for soup and salad at lunchtime. Go me! A meal involving vegetables. Extraordinary.
My breasts are no longer quite as freakishly enormous or hurting. This is a source of tremendous relief and some considerable mystification. However, I will not be looking a shrunken breast in the mouth. As it were.
There are only seven (seven!) working days before my part time 2 day a week thing kicks off. Oh god! That is both magnificent and slightly frightening. I could easily fill all that extra time with eating Maltesers and blogging but that must not be allowed to happen.
The triops! Hatched. They do indeed have three eyes! And they are quite large and unnerving and horribly energetic, and look like they have come from one of those episodes of Doctor Who that leaves you hiding behind a sofa. They have about four hundred trillion teeny tiny legs, giant antennae and a sort if hideous semi-transparent red/orange abdomen on which they balance their foul smelling orange food, in the manner of a troupe of small repugnant otters. Soon, they will be climbing out of their nice heated plastic Triops Center Parc thing and taking over the house, shortly followed by the world. I have now ensured that BMF never visits me again. Damn.
The CFO and I are having a night away on Saturday. The thought of staying in bed past 7am is making me feel a little dizzy. It will not be glamorous at ALL, in a chain hotel in a wintry seaside resort in northern France , but it will have clean sheets and a tv and room service, so at least we can lie in bed and watch crappy tv and sleeeeep. Beautiful, beautiful sleeeep.
Meanwhile, on the side of badness (liquorice allsorts, marshmallows, those pink shrimp things) - and let's gratuitously remind ourself how that looks:
- we have the following:
It's still only 4pm and I have Malteser burn on my tongue.
I have had to cancel my appointment tonight with the knee guru due to childcare fuck ups. This is doubly bad - the knee guru is much in demand and I will probably now have to hobble until well after Christmas (UPDATE: 6 January. Nice) AND I was very much looking forward to a peaceful hour with a book waiting for him instead of the usual WWF (or is it WW something else now?) style bedtime routine with the spawn ("get off my shoulders Lashes, you weigh 25 kilos, also, did you just fart in my face? Fingers use your words, I cannot interpret that wordless shriek and finger in my eye without some additional clues. Both of you DO NOT make that noise about this perfectly pleasant dinner or you are going STRAIGHT TO BED" uttered on a rising note of desperation and impotent rage).
I discovered Alexa's blog (how had I not found it before? Hmm?) which in itself is a good thing as she is a most magnificent writer, but now I feel unworthy to put fingers to keyboard as she is the queen of all that is amazing and awe-inspiring.
Fear of scritching and scrabbling in the fridge is unabated.
Christmas shopping? Not so much. Or, indeed, at all.
Cooking for small boys. Sooooo farking boring. Shackass! Any suggestions to broaden our repertoire (pasta, sausage or chicken plus green vegetable, pizza without cheese, baked potato, rice, chicken fajitas)? Taking into account the fact that all new foodstuffs are viewed as an act of unprovoked aggression. And if you can't clearly identify and separate all constituent elements, you might as well just cut out the middleman and chuck it straight in the bin yourself. Some vegetables are permitted (not tomato or cooked peppers or courgettes or aubergines, or the satanic onion), cheese is the food of the devil, ditto eggs, baked beans, mash. One eats tuna, the other doesn't. Sorry to go all mummy blog on you there for a minute, but we are slowly boring each other to death over here and I don't see why I should spare you.
And in a sort of limbo between good and bad, yesterday I found my Christmas present. It was a total accident I swear! I was looking for a hammer. Anyway, it's exactly the camera I asked for (thanks Peevish) so yay, but also must act surprised. Gosh! Such a surprise! And, OMFG, the CFO has done more Christmas shopping than me.
I think, on balance, the forces of good win today. But hey, it's only half past eight; there's still time..
Monday, 8 December 2008
Moving on! To! The Belgian Waffle Advent Calendar Super Christmas Competition! Drumroll please.
Behold, feast your bloodshot eyes on the wonder of the Belgian Waffle Advent Calendar!
Shall we take a closer look at these twenty four days of seasonal joy I have prepared for you? Yes. I think we should.
No Belgian advent calendar would be complete without beer. Your very own bottle of Hoegaarden. All yours.
St Nicolas shaped speculoos biscuits, eye drops, medication for stomach cramps, and a giant bar of chocolate called "Big Nuts". All for you, sweet reader.
"Extra fine" rubber gloves and Migraleve. Truly a winning combination (menacing shadow not included)!
The icing on the cake! Rewarding you for your loyalty to the Waffle calendar throughout the festive season, St Nicolas is on hand to present you with this treat sized bottle of extremely cheap gin (note the cunning similarity of "Gibson's" and "Gordon's". Clever, Belgian cheap gin manufacturers. I salute you).
All this, friends, and much MUCH more (tortoise popsicle anyone?). Also, the cloth calendar type thing comes from Marimekko so it's posh and that. This is a genuine prize, worth literally ones of Euros. A once in a lifetime opportunity for a little slice of Belgium.
I know you are all breathless with anticipation, dying to find out how to get your hands on the unique, hand-picked delights of the calendar. The answer, internet, is very simple. Tell me your worst Christmas story. Bad gifts, bad relatives, implausible accidents? Pet disasters? Sexual or social misdemeanours? Beheaded turkeys running awild round your backyard? Drop your seasonal high jinks into the comments box, or send your story to the waffle mail. The one that makes me laugh or gasp hardest wins the whole damn lot. Yes! The winner takes all. The loser might get some chocolate or an atomium. OR NOT. I'm arbitrary like that.
Closing date for entries, let's say this Friday 12 December so the winner has a chance of sneaking his, or much more likely, her, booty past Belgian customs in time for Christmas. What are you waiting for? There's cheap gin up for grabs! Go!