Why are you called Jaywalker?
Ah. Yes. Well, when I first arrived in Belgium, once I had got over the initial shock of the tram wins rule, I was taken aback by the the near religious deference Brussels pedestrians give to traffic lights. It doesn't matter if you have perfect visibility for a mile each way, and there isn't a vehicle in sight. If the green man isn't showing, they aren't crossing. Before moving here, we had lived in London for ten years, with a year in Paris. On Oxford Street, and then on Bishopsgate. Near the Arc de Triomphe. People, in those places you wait for the green man, and you get crushed by a million bovine tourists and a grey horde of stabby, rushed commuters. Jaywalk, or die was my motto. It's almost an article of faith as a Londoner to cross in the most death defying ways, in front of articulated lorries, double decker buses, and risking the wrath of terrifying motorcycle couriers. We scorn bendy buses. We stick our neatly rolled umbrellas in the spokes of cyclists.
Not here. Despite the fact that Belgians consider themselves to be very individualistic (so my Belgian colleague tells me anyway), for some reason they respect traffic lights above all else. Don't get me wrong - they aren't Swiss about it. Noone has dragged me back onto the pavement with a walking stick and given me a talking to as I launch myself into the road. It's just, I'm the only one. It's probably something to do with the terrifying, arbitrary nature of tram drivers and tram routes. The road in front of you may look entirely clear, but blink and here comes a yellow bullet of death, driven with manic glee by a half blind ninety year old.
Anyway, as a eurodrone and mother, in my mid thirties, living in suburban Brussels (I am supressing a sob as I read that back), I LOVE that I get to seem dangerous and thrill seeking here. Watch, as I daringly cross the road diagonally! Thrill to see me scoot in front of a bus! Yes. It is pathetic and Belgian Waffle does not recommend that anyone crosses the road without due regard to the Green Cross Code and the Tufty Club Rules. We do not condone it. But that is the source of my name. I jaywalk! This is how I get my kicks. You may come and put me out of my misery with your humane killer now.
What does CFO stand for? Is that what he really does?
CFO stands for Chief Financial Offier. This is not what the CFO does for a living. There is an apparent slight irony in the fact that the CFO is in fact a consultant specialising in purchasing, but that irony dissipates when he explains to you that his job is to advise people how to get stuff AS CHEAPLY AS POSSIBLE. This is a skill he extends to our home life, though he does have the odd blind spot (wine, stereo equipment, tortoise care). Pluses: CFO is as tenacious as a terrier in ensuring we get the best value dishwasher, hoover, boiler [insert other stuff I couldn't give a shit about]. Minuses: the CFO can guess accurately to the nearest euro how much I have spent on pretty much anything. Viz: we are in Liberty (back in the days when I earned proper money). I am trying on a pair of Chloé heels (black, 2 and a half inch heel, have a sort of silk ribbon woven through them and are sobre and perfect) and also a pair of Maloles heels (mental, 4in, dark green with a pompom). The CFO is slumped in the corner.
"Argh, I can't decide!"
"You want me to tell you to get them both"
"Um, ideally, yes."
"Hmm. So that would be [takes a nanosecond to calculate without looking at prices at ALL] £450 [he is exactly right - £449.99]. Are you insane? Get the black ones. They're better shoes and you will wear them more".
"That is not the right answer. Why don't you go to the magazine wagon outside and look for What Hi Fi?"
I got them both and I have worn the Chloé heels constantly. They are perfect, comfortable, severe and beautiful. I have worn the Maloles green mental shoes once. They are crap. They fall off and hurt like bastards. I look like some kind of florid creative writing teacher on retreat in Wales when I wear them (never). You see? Annoying.
Lashes and Fingers?
These are purely physical. Lashes has the kind of eyelashes I would kill for. I can't find any pictures that show them off properly so I am just putting in this one because I like it. Also he is not picking his nose in it, which is a rarity at the moment. I feel like Dexter's foster father in my discussions with Lashes about nose picking.
"They laugh at me when I pick my nose"
"So don't do it"
"But I CAN'T HELP MYSELF. I CAN'T STOP"
"Hmm. So you will just have to be more subtle about it"
"Ca veut dire quoi "subtle"?"
"Secretive. Cunning. When you feel like you need to pick your nose, you could pretend to drop something and do it on the floor, or you could go to the loo, no? The thing to do is to try and make sure they don't see you".
"I will try to hide then"
"Yes, that's right. Hide. Er, obviously it would be better if you just stopped picking your nose though".
[Diary reminder to self: delete this before Lashes turns 13]
Fingers has always had disproportionately long fingers. When Lashes first saw him in hospital he said "SPIDER"! as Fingers waved his giant digits in his face. They both love this story. You can just see a couple of them here. He is usually poking them up my nose or in my eyes. Or doing something very secretive that noone must ever know about with them. [as an aside, Fingers has not played with any of his Christmas present toys. He has hidden them in his secret box and when I suggest he plays with them, he just looks shocked and says that then people would know about them.]
Why the Space Cadette?
I devised this name for my sister ages back in 2003-4 when I was considering writing a book about the fucking mental life we were all living then, between gibbering calls from paranoid relatives, visits to the asylum, legal doom, amusing 1 year old Lashes, imminent move to Paris and antenatal visits. The whole thing seemed so horribly surreal, I felt it merited writing down. Of course, I didn't, and now my brain has done the decent thing and erased most of the memories. Anyway, I remember it came to me walking through Russell Square on my way to work. She is very spacey and vague, of course, as noted previously here, and in French 'cadette' is the word for a younger sister.
Prog Rock Step Dad - a bit of a mouthful no?
Yes, and it's not quite right, because he doesn't listen to prog rock at all. He listens to what he calls "heavy sausage". But he is very progressive parent, which is perhaps why I gave him that name. I need a new name for him. Something to do with being ascetic and hair shirt-esque and saintly. The darning hermit? Any other ideas? Read this if you want more details.
I think that should clear up most confusion. If you do have any questions, I am open to questions from the floor. Or wherever else you are sitting. COULD I BE MORE PRESUMPTUOUS? Why would you care? Anyway. Whatever. Ask questions or tell me to do more stuff with potatoes. I'm easy.