Thursday, 12 February 2009

In which I am reminded I am not an ambassador's wife

This story does not have a happy ending. You have been warned. So here's an inter-species love-in to comfort you.

Actually, I think it's more of an inter-species indifference-in, no? But indifference, in this context, is good. Very, very good.

So it got to about lunchtime today and things were going nowhere. Oscar was emphatically not learning to shit behind the tree (why indeed, when he can do so in comfort behind the piano?). I was not writing. Pressing 'refresh' on twitter is not a good use of anyone's time. And, really, I have been SO GOOD for the last few weeks, eating stones and dust and not buying anything (except books which never count, house rule #1). Various administrative tasks of enormous dullness had been done.* The voices in my head were whispering at me more and more insistently.

"You deserve a treeeaat, Emma" they said.

"No, head voices" I said sternly. "This is simply normal life on my new reduced income. I must learn to accept it. And what are you looking at Oscar? You're a dog, you ass. You can't complain if I talk to myself. Come back when you don't eat your own shit and plastic bags and then we'll talk".

"Oh go OOON" continued the voices. "Just a teeeny one? A food treat?".

"Hmm. I suppose I could go out and play 'ambassador's wife' for an hour or so. I have the CFO's cashcard after all. And food, well, it's a necessity, isn't it?"

And so, internet, I went out to play 'ambassador's wife'.

There is a square not far from where I live, full of lovely, one-off desirable shops and cafés. London dwellers, it's a bit like Fulham Road used to be before the chains moved in. Like Fulham Road, it is full of rich expats, and fabulously over-dressed eurotrash. We're talking lots of fur, unfeasible heels, and shades in December. When I need a bit of escapism, I go and wander round. I would love to be able to tell you that I only wander around, but I confess I often buy things too. Small things! Usually food. I queue up in the food shops with the beautiful blondes with the perfect highlights and lives of leisure and pretend that I too am just stopping off for a moment to stock up for dinner for the ambassador before heading off for coffee with my copines and then dropping in to Rue Blanche to look at the new season's stock which has some nice ice cream colour pastels, and maybe popping into Francis Ferent (this sounds like ferret, so I have never been much tempted to buy my Miu Miu from them) to check if they're FINALLY stocking Lanvin. I am a bit intimidated by these ladies and also, I quite want to beat them to death with a packet of Knacki frankfurters (I bet they have never had to handle such things. They should know the full horror!). Mainly I am terribly jealous.

So off I go. I stop in Gaudron, where, sure enough, some magnificent ladies are lunching on quinoa salads (this being Belgium, thankfully, they are also having éclairs for pudding) and I can buy a whole white truffle if I (and my bank manager) so desire. One day a week they even have a special Flemish loaf cake that costs, like, thirty euros. Even I blanch at this and I have no equal in my devotion to nice plain loaf cakes. I choose scampis au curry, artichauts farcis, a slice of pissaladière, some muesli and homemade raspberry jam. Altogether it comes to €HOW FUCKING MUCH?? but money is no object! I am an ambassador's wife! I drift out, paper bag dangling daintily from my wrist and head to the bakery. I toss my hair like I am in a Harmony hairspray commercial and smile around me graciously. Look at me! A vision of cosmopolitan fabulousness! The bakery is very important, as it is the only place in Brussels, to my knowledge, where you can buy bagels. I get a bag of sesame bagels, and then in a fit of ambassador's spousal extravagance, get some Kusmi Lapsang Souchong tea bags (yes, bags, floor sweepings, blah. I KNOW. But I know my own limitations and that is a good thing). And some muffins! Lovely. I swan out feeling spoilt and privileged and light-hearted, and head home, swinging my bags. I am SO sophisticated.

Just then it starts to sleet, lightly at first, but then more and more heavily until it is wet and miserable and disgusting. I get about halfway when the first bag splits. Splatch! There go the scampi, swimming around on the pavement. I try and scoop the remainder back into their container. I look like a lunatic. I crouch on the pavement and transfer everything to the other bag. A few more steps. Splatch! There goes the other bag. Muttering to myself I try and sort out the swamp of curried prawns and muffin and pizza. It is disgusting. I shove it all in, as best I can, to the small canvass bag I am thankfully also carrying. The pizza has to go in my handbag. I am sure Sonia Rykiel would be delighted.

I do not feel much like an ambassador's wife at this point. My hands smell of curry. I am splattered with various foods. I am still getting fucking sleeted on.

I have to go to the bank on the way home. Ferreting around in the canvass bag of doom, I find the paperwork. Inevitably, it is covered in curry sauce. I have to go though, or the CFO will not agree to do Show Me Your Wardrobe with me. The woman in Fortis is contemptuous. She picks up my piece of paper between thumb and forefinger and looks at me blankly.

"Désolée mon sac a éclaté sur la route" I say, humbly (sorry, my bag exploded on the way here). She doesn't reply, though surreally, she does ask me if I have considered opening a savings accounts with them. HELLO? You are FORTIS. You are falling to bits day by day, and yesterday marked the absolute low point yet, when your shareholders voted no** to the deal that might just, conceivably, have dragged you slightly out of the shit. I get that you think I am a crazy bag lady, but even crazy bag ladies aren't investing in Fortis right now.

I try not to laugh. I finish the transaction and limp home with pungent orange sauce leaking everywhere. When I arrive, Oscar is driven wild by the scent of curry and tries to lick me all over. In the confusion I step in yet another puddle of wee.

Decidedly, I am not an ambassador's wife.

Thankfully, there is an 'and finally' part of this sorry tale. I have photos of Alan Measles for you. Katyboo, who is mad as a bag of ferrets, but in a creative, outsider art, sort of way, has crafted him for me. The full explanation, such as it is, is here. You may still have questions. I did. My fellow eurozombies were utterly puzzled, though someone suggested maybe I could fill him with lavender and put him in my wardrobe. Ha! The mothbastards enjoy lavender like a tasty appetiser before their main course of acres and acres of cashmere. Little fuckers. No matter.

Welcome, Alan Measles!

Really, we need a picture of me wearing the Grayson Perry dress and carrying Alan. That might happen. Also, you may wish to know that Alan has a penis. Made out of a flower.

*The. Internet. Is. CANCELLED. Only six months late. Round of applause!
** A link to the FT! Enjoy, higher brow readers, because tomorrow we will doubtless be back to Grazia.


expateek said...

Fabulous story. You're the new Dooce, but with truffles, curry, Oscar, and Lanvin. I think you are taking blogging to a new level of ecstasy/angst.

Ambassador's wife. Hah. Would be fun until you got posted to the Congo.

Seeing Polychemu for coffee and cake later. We'll drink a toast to you. If you are allowed to toast in England with coffee. x

Liberty London Girl said...

oh god -that's exactly what I do when I am poor and depressed... ignore Trader Joe's and other low rent grocery hell holes and head straight to the American version of Harvey Nicks Fifth Floor...And it does me No Good. Just adds to the self-loathing. And the cellulite. Goodness I am upbeat today. LLGxx

Jaywalker said...

LLG - Oh god I KNOW. When I can't buy "proper" treats I just buy myself nice cakes. I did it all the time when we lived in Paris. And when I first had Lashes all I used to do was go to Villandry and back. We are clearly related.

Expateek - oh, I really wish I was there with you. Give her a big kiss (boundaries? moi?) and ask after Toby.

katyboo1 said...

I like the way Oscar is looking longingly at Alan. Perhaps hoping he will be edible.

He also looks rather magnifique on the back of the tortoise.

Sorry to hear of your disastrous trip. I used to do the same when I lived in London. There used to be an excellent bakery in St. John's Wood that always cheered me up.

I can't do it in Leicester. There are no nice, expensive food haunts. I buy stationery instead.

twin palms road said...

I nearly wet my pants at work - you are truly hilarious and a real antidote to some crap family stuff I'm dealing with.

Definitely goes into my blogging hall of faves.

Belle said...

Your life is a mess. Stop eating and take a tranquilizer like a normal person.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

That is an epic pic of Oscar looking lovingly at Alain! As if he knows they are on the brink of great adventures...

BTW, I don't go into anywhere I might be sniffed out as a proper pleb, dragged up in a former mining town (half way up on the Index of Multiple Deprivation) in the north... I know I am missing out, but I just think that at any moment,I will get a short tap on the cold shoulder and someone supercilious will say, "Excuse me Madame, have you forgotten your station in life..." I wish I had your confidence, Em, really... Hilariously funny tales again, thankyou! x

Mrs Trefusis said...

I really love Alan Measles.

i think it's a shame that the rain ruined your shopping (have experienced same, but in much duller way so won't share). It's such a shame though, that I think you should rush back: this is your shopping list;
tee hee.


jools said...

Finally, I have reached the present and can allow myself to congratulate you on your magnificent blog. I have been reading from your very first post nonstop since LLG mentioned your blog. Have no doubt about your abilities as a writer! I would gladly have paid to read you in print. I've laughed and cried and laughed until I cried. Thank-you for the past few days of joy and for allowing me into your wonderful world.

From the land of "Producer's Wives" and "Director's Wives" otherwise known as the land of highlights and implants and filthy rich teenagers.... xoxo

Anonymous said...

Yay for the ambassador's wife - does that mean you're thinking of trading up from the CFO?

Anonymous said...

Yay for the ambassador's wife - does that mean you're thinking of trading up from the CFO?

Anonymous said...

oops - love your blog so much I thought I'd praise it twice

Provincial Lady said...

*clappity clappity clappity* Well done on the internet subscription! I am inspired and will pay my water bill straight away. Sadly I can't then treat myself to posh food, the nearest we have in Cornwall is overpriced organic. Oscar is getting so big! I adopted my greyhound as a retiree so never saw his puppy days. At least he's house trained. Mostly!

LadyFi said...

I love this story - too funny! My mum WAS an ambassador's wife and never did any of these things! Oh - how she missed out!

Jaywalker said...

Katyboo - we love Alan. Lashes insists he is a girl despite my showing him the zizi. But we love.

twin palms - ah, thank you; sorry about the crap family stuff, something I know a little about myself. big sympathy.

Belle - thank god for you. This is the kind of tough love I need. Tranquilisers instead of food. Yes.

Woman - I fear that the adventures may involve pieces of alan passing through Oscar's digestive tract..

Mrs T - goop-tastic! Yes. She is unstoppable in her attempts to convince us she eats things other than air and tofu. I am not buying it.

jools - I might show your comment to the CFO who thinks I just sit here talking crap; oh yes, I do. never mind. It is crap that YOU, jools, LIKE. This is important. Yes!

Anon - well, I was wondering if he could change career but CFO and 'diplomatic' have never been in the same room, let alone the same sentence, so I am thinking it is doomed. Maybe polygamy is the answer.

Provincial Lady - why thank you! Ah. Greyhound. Lovely. Does it hate shouting?

LadyFi - really? Wow! Am impressed. Diplomat's kid! Don't shatter my illusions. I need them to get me through the long, grey days of my own stupidity...

Kate said...

Oh wow that is a much happier ending than I anticipated. As soon as I saw the inter-species love at the beginning of the post I anticipated inter-species mauling, mutilation and murder at the end. So glad it was just the sacrificial scampi, which were dead when you got them anyway.

bevchen said...

Alan Measles is fabulous. I'm so glad you posted pictures of him.

K said...

Definitely a better ending that I was expecting. I was afraid the poor turtle might experience something other than indifference.

Jaywalker said...

Kate and K - ooh god no. If anything with a shell had been harmed I would actually be DEAD right now and buried in the garden.

Bevchen - he is, isn't he. She is very talented. His purple penis is terrifying.

Red Shoes said...

*The. Internet. Is. CANCELLED. Only six months late. Round of applause!


Very PROUND of you! Proud, even.

Phoenix Berries said...

How terrible. I hope that you were able to eat something after all that, other than stale biscuits.

Mothership said...

Always works, all over the world, no matter what you are wearing or where you have received unsatisfactory experience. Just have to be imperious and stubborn enough to resist local law enforcement.
Shocking day. You have my utmost sympathy
- Disgusted in Santa Barbara

Razzmatazz said...

<3 Alan Measles! Maybe he should be taken on the next expedition, as a talisman? Surely nothing can explode whilst he is around?

As it happens, I know a very dashing ex-ambassador and his very lovely wife. She is exceedingly well trained at the whole ambassador's wife thing. After I'd spent the day at their house for a 'meeting' (which was basically drinking from 10am and eating all their incredible food) I went to thank her and she said 'no, thank you, for everything'. What, like eating all your Ferrero Rocher and drinking all your wine? I thoroughly reccommend kidnapping one of the wives and taking her home to play, they do wonders for one's self esteem.

mothership said...

VERY ANNOYED that first half of comment vanished!

What I said was:

Cannot believe that you did not return to complete ambassador's wife fantasy by demanding compensation for SUBSTANDARD BAG. Outrageous!
All you need is a an enormous sense of self righteousness and importance (feel free to borrow mine) and four critical words. English only, just speak louder if service provider mother tongue is Foreign.
Now, after me:
"I am not happy"
Lather rinse repeat

(and now for the previously published second half)
Always works, all over the world, no matter what you are wearing or where you have received unsatisfactory experience. Just have to be imperious and stubborn enough to resist local law enforcement.
Shocking day. You have my utmost sympathy
- Disgusted in Santa Barbara

justme said...

Alan Measles is WONDERFUL! Katyboo is fabulous! I want one of my own!Maybe she will make me one?
And...well done to you for cancelling the internets sub!!! Hooray!! You deserved the treats. Sorry the bags is like that, I find.

katyboo1 said...

I do need a new project. Let me think about it. I'm getting over the shock of the first one.

expateek said...

Notice i've completely spelled pochyemu's name wrong in very first comment. Gah! At our meeting this evening, we both agreed you are marvelous. Did your ears burn?

Red Shoes said...

Dearest Jaywalker, please please please assign a new Belgian pic of the week. Boy Eats Dog is too repulsive to last even one more day. I cannot condone this. I almost sort of maybe refuse to visit your blog again until this is sorted. Thanks so much. Your #1 fan, Red Shoes

Jaywalker said...

Red Shoes - why thank you. Just for that I will change the Belgian Pic for you, though Peevish will be sad..

Phoenix Berries - I brushed the mud of some of the bits and ate them. Yes. That is terrible isn't it?

Mothership - you are quite quite brilliant. Why, indeed, did I not take it to the logical conclusion? I got as far as realising that having a driver would have avoided this kind of disaster but no further.

Justme - life should not be like that though, should it? I demand a refund.

Razzmatazz - that sounds wonderful. I want one to sit in the corner of my room validating me constantly. That would be just perfect.

Expateek - I was very sad not to be there. Did you have fun? Neither of you turned out to be hellbent on chopping the other into small pieces?

PhilippaP said...

You are a star for TOTALLY getting Alan Measles. I am Grayson's wife and am bored enough to have my husband on google alert and to find someone who understand the world of Alan M, the hero is terrific. Grayson is building a real custom motorbike for Alan to ride on. anyway i've forwarded your blog to him and he is reading it now, he has just said to me, "she sounds really funny this woman" but he means it in a good way.

Jaywalker said...

God Philippa I am totally starstruck. I love Alan AND your husband. A custom motorbike! Amazing. Maybe I will make a tiny carboard tram for my version?

All credit should go to Katyboo for creating him. She is the one who crafted this beautiful hommage.

Cassandra said...

Am with you on all the treat shopping stuff, NATCH. Am always buying little bits and pieces for my castle. You can add me to your blogroll now, if you like


Mrs C said...

My goodness. I run into Ambassador Wives all the time. The office is near Avenue Montaigne.

I especially loathe the ones with the rat dogs that shit up and down that Avenue leaving little worms of caca all over that most glorious of street. Those poor japanese tourists really have to watch where they're going...


Welsh Girl said...

Oscar is a dog of great beauty. The Loyal Hound has an unsuitable crush on him.

But then there is Alan Measles who is in a class of his own, a class of fabulousness and marvels.

And as for the ambassadors wives; i expect their bags all split too but since they never eat and only buy the delicious food as a token gesture they probably don't care. However, I feel bad for you as your choices sounded delicious, even with bits of pavement and handbag attached!

Juci said...

I had the same exact thought as mothership there. How dare they use such a substandard bag? You'd think that a decent satchel that does not self-destruct 200 metres from the point of origin would not be too much to ask. Maybe ask for a home delivery next time, the imperious voice described by mothership must work wonderfully.
Oscar is amazingly beautiful. And Alan M looks like a great guy.

Titian red said...

Surely an ambassadors wife should exist on a diet of Ferraro Rocher ? What a dreadful thought, are you even allowed FR in Belgium, home of chocolate ?

Katyboo, many years ago there used to be an amazing patisserie on Clarendon Park Road called Macopa....think it is still there and was a great source of comfort to me whilst at uni (essay, cake, essay, cake, tutorial, cake......)

Iheartfashion said...

I took a similar Ambassador's wife trip into Boston yesterday, walked around Louis and Barneys fondling the lovely things. There were cakes involved too.

Jaywalker said...

Cassandra - done. Go visit Cassandra people.

Mrs C - but you see, that is who I pretend to be. I have the ratte. However it confines caca to the house.

Welsh Girl - oh they were delicious and thankfully I am not at all squeamish about the odd bit of gravel. Though curry scented bagels for breakfast are quite hard going.

Juci - thank you, they are both pretty fantastic, though they must never meet or AM would be passing through O's digestive tract I fear.

Titian - I think that is what the ambassador eats, whilst his wife confines herself to 9am gimlets and sobranies. Well, I hope so.

Iheart - ooh, what did you fantasy shop for? I hope nothing exploded on you..

Titian red said...

Prior to my decision to return to sin and smoke Vogue Menthol (as smoked by Stifflers Mom - reference to popular low culture) I did smoke Cocktail Sobranie but threw away the green ones because it was such a particularly horrid shade.
More money than sense but pretensions of stylishness ?

katyboo1 said...

Alan has been spotted by Alan's dad! That's amazing.
I am awestruck and stuff.

Titian Red. That's almost as amazing news. I am going to run up and down the road and see if it still exists.


bonnie-ann black said...

one of the first things i did when meeting katyboo was to enquire after alan measles. he is far more than i ever imagined and in ways i could (to quote sagan) never have imagined. rather frightening, but in that good way...

when i'm depressed and my bank account is down the toilette -- i go to london for 10 days! and eat at Bread & Wine and F&M and other such places. and buy books at Daunt books! a lot of books.

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