Monday, 12 October 2009


I am sweating the small stuff.

The things that are putting me into a lather of anxiety are trivial, footling, in the context dealing with the psychic scars I am inflicting on my children, the grave health worries of family and friends, finances that patently don't add up, keeping my job. That properly frightening stuff is hidden behind a smokescreen of lost pieces of paper and the sourcing of replacement wind up aliens.

1. I am worried about how to walk the weepette with a knee the size of the Duchy of Luxembourg and whether I can stand the shame of returning to the Dr Kevorkian of knees, sheepishly confessing that I was TOO CHICKEN to turn up for the series of injections he prescribed me. I'm sorry, Dr Kevorkian. But an injection that requires an initial injection of lidocaine to bear the pain of the injection is an injection too far for me.

2. I am worried that my canines are yellower than my other teeth and look awful. And that I am not sure I can bear the pain of tooth whitening again, so infinitely worse than childbirth (No hyerbole. It was way worse, I have very sensitive teeth and that neuralgic pain is much nastier than an honest to goodness, ripped stem to stern contraction). This combined with my piggy lashless eyes and elephant man knee will condemn me to life as a hideous recluse. Neighbourhood children will dare each other to knock on my door and run away before I drag my limping, gin sodden carcass out to snarl at them.

3. I will be a recluse in an entirely empty house, because I am terrified of Ikea and only own a hammer, three bent picture hooks and a screwdriver set from a Christmas cracker. I cannot build Kinder toys satisfactorily, let alone flat packs. Nor do I have any prospect of seducing anyone into assisting me, see 2, above.

4. I am worried that there will never be a day when Fingers doesn't have at least one verucca. And that I will be too chicken to burn them off myself, so soon his entire foot will be one massive verucca and he will walk like a deformed London pigeon and be taken into care and never become a professional Techtonik dancer.

5. Ditto Lashes and tooth decay. Soon he will be like Alan, the small boy at my childminder's whose parents were in charge of emptying the bubblegum machines outside newsagents shops (mid 1970s) who, aged 4, had barely a tooth to his name.

6. I am inordinately worried at the prospect of having to visit the municipal Service des Etrangers again to change my address. This is what cognitive behavioural specialists would describe as a rational fear, or at least they would if they had ever lived in Belgium. The Service des Etrangers is where hope comes to die. It is staffed by black belt sadists in woefully inadequate numbers. One, two or three visits (each visit lasting in excess of 3 hours, I am not exaggerating, back me up here Belgian residents) are never enough, however many illuminated manuscripts, GCSE certificates, Green Shield stamps, signed photos of Johnny Halliday and fragments of the True Cross you bring with you.

7. I have just agreed to buy various things from the previous tenant for €200. Whilst I know I have bought a dishwasher and cooker, I have NO IDEA what the third thing is, and was too embarassed to ask. All I know is it is in the bathroom and the word "éponge" was involved (towelling, or sponge). Presumably she hasn't sold me a sponge? Or a bathmat? I will not know until I get there, and will probably hate it. What towelling item could possibly be unwieldy enough to have to be left behind? I am getting a olfactory premonition of mildew.

8. HSBC. I can't say anymore because I get sweaty palms.

You get the picture. The comments box is there, welcoming and non-judgmental, for your own trivial worries.


monk said...

I'll escort you and your manifold physical deformities to IKEA; you won't have to seduce me, but I will pretend I'm not with you.

Just promise me you won't attempt IKEA and service des etrangers in the same week.

Anonymous said...

Well now, you've raised the bar of worryidom pretty high and I am worried that my worries aren't good enough.

I moved more than a month ago now and I still haven't been to change my address and now I'm afraid.

I'm sorry about your worries. It sounds very shitty for you all at the moment.

I will allow Z one damn and one blast in her comments today.

The word verification is bodledi and if you squint sideways at the screen and speak in a vague camp foreign language of your choice, it becomes bold lady. Which is pretty apt. Good luck. x

Indigo said...

Doesn't Ikea Belge do internet ordering? You *know* what what you're ordering will be like, because it'll be like Ikea stuff is, so you can't really go wrong. Unless you forget to order the bloody slats for the effin honking shitting bedframes. Don't do that, it might be the last straw and it would be awful if something so STUPID as BED SLATS drove you to gin and biscuits under the duvet for a month while poor F&L wander round grazing on rubbish and crumbs found under the kitchen cupboards. What am I saying? They are old enough to open a fridge door and eat mouldy cheese, they'll be fine. As will you. xx

katyboo1 said...

Ah ha! How about 'heated towel rail'? Would that be something suitably bathroomish that you might buy?

Or a shower cap made of sponge in the shape of the Taj Mahal?

Either would be ok.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the third item is that kind of heating that dries your towels as well?

Anonymous said...

Haha, GMTA.

Juci said...

I am a (self-appointed) master of assembling IKEA furniture. I'd be happy to help, seriously.
On another note: we're going to London this weekend (without the kid, just the two of us! scary), and I have taken the liberty of checking out your favourite haunts that you've written about in an old post. I'll be sure to visit some of them, my man's never been to London anyway, I'll just tell him we're going to Westminster Abbey and take him to Daunt Books instead. I don't think he'll notice, he's happy if he has some nice architecture to photograph.

Completely Alienne said...

You need to hire a man who can do these things. My husband wasn't exactly a DIY expert and we always ended up yelling at each other when we had to do anything like that. Now I am on my own I just pay someone else to do it all. It gets done quicker, and better than I could ever do it. My decorator even put the flatpack wardrobe together for me. Ask colleagues, neighbours and the blogging ex pats in Brussels for recommendations. Acquire a plumber, electrician, decorator and/or handyman and hang on to them. They are worth their weight in gold.

dragondays said...

I ordered Ikea stuff online - hell! You have to organise 10m free in front of your house as they turn up with an articulated lorry. I got shouted at by the driver, they ungraciously dumped the stuff in the hall, and then f***ed off. The local Ikea has a van service which is great - you go out with your stuff, the driver puts it in his van and takes it to your house - just make sure you have a chum with you to lug it around. This doesn't resolve the problem of putting the stuff together ... unless the chum is handy with an Allen key!
Bureau des Etrangers - double hell! I almost gave up the will to live in the Ixelles one - don't forget to go to the Police first though ...

Liberty London Girl said...

My worries are so vast that I deal with them by staying in bed shouting la la la. LLGxx

Sophie said...

Re Ickier, there are lovely people who will go and collect your stuff for you in their van, deliver it and assemble it on your behalf, in the twinkling of an eye. At least there are in London - I see no reason why there wouldn't be in Brussels.

Google flat-pack assembly service in French and Robert will be votre oncle.

Knee - osteopath?

Persephone said...

It's Canadian Thanksgiving and I have to cook dinner. (Whine.) Pollo con Zucchini Fritti and pumpkin pie, if you were wondering.

A heated towel rail? My Taurean soul yearns for one of those. I hope that's what it is.

Is this knee thing stress-related? It seems to come on at the worst possible moment. Though I suppose there is no good moment for balloon-knee.

Teeth-whitening is worse than child-birth? Gall stones aren't as bad as labour; what do Belgian hygienists do to you???

We have a handyman whose slogan is "No job too small". Boy, do we take him at his word...

WV is zojog. Not a good idea for you right now.

Kate said...

i looooooooooove putting ikea furniture together. i would gladly come and do it for you... if i weren't in another country with a broken foot of course.

Mya said...

What about the fence? You forgot about the fence!!
Get the boys to fashion a go-cart with harness so the Weepette can take you on walks instead. It's about time he started contributing - he's going to be the man of the house soon enough. He needs to get with the programme.
And bollocks to HSBC.Soon they won't know your address.
Mya x

Hänni said...

I think you have enough worries for the lot of us, so I won't add my own. I will say, however, at least you don't have a hemorrhoid to add to your list of physical ailments. That would be a *real* pain in the ass.


Listen to this

about 01:06

Death, Despair, & Biscuits? Has this resulted in more hits?

Leatherdykeuk said...

Minor worries all add up to one big blistering verucca of a worry. Will you get to keep the weepette or not?

My worries are trivial. I just lost my agent. No, she's not down the back of the sofa, she just stopped agenting. See? Trivial.

Heated towel rails are fab if you can afford to plug them in.

pinolona said...

I have to go to the Service des Etrangeres on Thursday morning, do you want to come too? I'll hold the weepette if you get the tickets from the machine thingy (they do have tickets, right?).

kathycastro said...

You want I can send you some Crest White Strips? Five minutes a day, no pain. Allegedly they work a treat. xx

Z said...

1 Try another doctor. I don't like Dr K. Are you taking the dog with you?
2 Don't clean your other teeth, then they'll all match
3 We all have too much stuff. Get a chair and a bed and a small table for the computer and see if you really need anything else after a few weeks. Being possession free might be a relief
4 Veruccas are nasty persistent little buggers. Let his father deal with it.
5 Let his father deal with it
6 Postpone that, get the post forwarded instead
7 Least of your worries
8 Hm. Oh, it'll be fine. Thinking about it is worse than doing it.

Soda and Candy said...

Oh no! Having a deformed pigeon-child with dashed hopes of a dancing career sounds perfectly legitimate to me, but then I am an Olympic-level worrier.

Nimble said...

I'm getting gut churning, nightmare inducing dread from: being my troop's Girl Scout cookie coordinator. I've avoided my duties thus far and given myself a complex. I'm going to have to try talking to the other parents now -- it really couldn't be worse than the worrying I've been doing.

Jaywalker said...

Monk - my manifold deformities thank you. God, no. I don't think I'll be ready for the service des étrangers until December at the earliest.

Anon - Did you see? Z didn't even use her cursing allowance. Maybe she's saving it up. Perhaps Ixelles is less soul destroying than Uccle? I doubt it.

Indigo - the picture you paint is terribly evocative and plausible. Except instead of chewing on cheese rind, they would jump on my head, rifle through my handbag and hitch-hike to Macdonalds.

Katyboo - further investigation seems to indicate that they may be ORANGE TOWELLING CURTAINS.

Anon - if only. See above.

Juci - But you are with child! I can't make you put flatpack furniture together pregnant can I? Can I? Hmm. I hope you have a wonderful time in London. Daunt books has a nice wooden gallery your husband can admire.

CA - I am working on it. I will lure them in with €50 notes and promises never to show them my fangs.

dragondays - In my head they have helpful Swedish youths who come and build the furniture for you. Sadly, only in my head.

LLG - It's a tried and tested approach. Let me know if you have any luck chasing them away with your impressive show of indifference...

Sophie - really? I am sobbing with joy at the idea but am almost certain I will discover this doesn't exist in Brussels. Remember, they don't even have bagels. Or fresh milk.

Persphone - I wish I was having your dinner, apart from the pumpkin part. I don't know about the tooth whitening, I quite literally couldn't open my mouth without crying in pain for 24 hours. I am pathetic.

Kate - dammit! This is most inconvenient. Can't you come anyway? I will make cake...

Mya - yours made me laugh so much. Weepette man of the house. Yup, still snorting. Cheering thought about HSBC too, they'll never take me alive.

Hänni - that is definitely a blessing. I will count it.

Jonathan - It should! You are my MUSE. Or I am yours. Or rather, I just stole your phrase without crediting it. Yes, that seems more accurate. Thank you, Birdman.

Leatherdyke - bad agent. Very inconsiderate.

Pinolona - ooh yes. Mine doesn't do tickets, you just shove each other around ill-humouredly. Maybe the weepette could whine until they let you have a turn?

kathycastro - I would LOVE but it's my turn. What can I get you first?

Z - oh yes. Mystifyingly the CFO has renounced any claim on the weepette, declaring it "100% ta responsabilité" with an odd smile. Doom.

S&C - yes! He'll never dance again. Sob.

Nimble - actually, that's giving me chest stress. It sounds like a horrible social minefield.

Kitschen Pink said...

Oh this is a good list - what about the one of 'boy sometimes still cries for mummy in the long dark nights so what about the nights when mummy isn't there....'.. you forgot that one. Oh we could have so much fun sharing neuroses in the bottom of a bottle of gin!

Z said...

I thought that bugger would equate to a damn and a blast. But since I seem to have a free ride there - is buggery no longer a swear? - HEY! - I will damn and blast the CFO instead, albeit with a certain respect because actually I rather like him.

I love having a cursing allowance. Can it go up to Christallbloodymighty on a Sunday please? If I'm good all week, of course.

M. said...

I am worried about:
1. The brake on my back wheel. It has decided to lean on one side like an asthmatic koala clutching to the rim for dear life.
2. The contract getting renewed. If it doesn't I plunge (deeper) into poverty, if it does, there goes my sanity.
3. The nest of Stuff building up in one corner of the room. I fear the mice have been laying eggs in it.
4. Spiders crawling up from behind the sofa to lay eggs in my spinal fluid
5. The lovely parchment thin chinese porcelain tea set getting damaged in the kitchen, but I am too lazy to put it away properly.
6. My desire to suckle on the bottle of Lidl lychee syrup
7. Whether or not the girl upstairs is running a brothel from her council-paid flat, and why I gave a cup of sugar to her good-for-nothing boyfriend who tried to break into the building next door
8. Days getting shorter, evenings darker, and the cold colder.

Anonymous said...

No Z it can't. And don't think I didn't notice you sneaking it in anyway.

Mme Jaywalker, have the injection. I had to have several a few years ago and they worked wonders along with physiotherapist. Be brave. Take a tissue (I would suggest something stronger but perhaps your teeth wouldn't be able to take it) to bite on. On the subject of teeth, there's tippex in your office no? Think laterally dear girl.

Jaywalker said...

KP - we are keeping it FLUFFY. And LIGHT. Don't get me on to the proper stuff or gin won't even be enough for us.

Z - You don't have to curse at him, he's lovely, he just doesn't want a pissing weepette to deal with. Which I understand all too well.

M - panda wheel! Can you take its picture for us? Also, mouse eggs. Please take a picture of those too.

Anon, you are such a hard ass. Will you come and hold my hand? Also, out of interest, is it only Z who isn't allowed to swear? Do you have similar restrictions on any other regulars, say Mrs Trefusis, or M?

monk said...

pinolona - my first one had tickets, and I was naive enough to be outraged at waiting an hour. Now I have no tickets, and have to wait approx. 65 hours before being told I'm in the wrong place and brought 17 passport photos instead of the regulation 15 and will have to go away and come back every thursday for 3 weeks.

Good luck

Z said...

I'm left with nothing to say. Oh dear. Anon, could you start a blog, please, so that I can come and not swear at you there? I'm awfully nice really.

Jaywalker, I know the CFO is lovely. So are you. Whatever happens in the long run, you're on the same side and the boys will be fine. It may be tough, but they've still got you, and you know that's what matters.

Layla said...

Am completely enchanted by Mya's idea of harnessing the Weepette to a little cart so he can pull your poor, crippled self around. Genius.

You may be turning into miss Havisham, but you will be Miss Havisham WITH TRANSPORT.

About time he stopped pretending to be La Dame aux Camellias and started earning his keep.

Re Ikea-related and other domestic ineptitude, Getting Blokes In is definitely the way to go. Don't even think about trying to assemble these nightmare objects without having a Y chromosome transplant first - you will just end up sitting in a heap on the floor, weeping bitterly, with a lop-sided bed/chair/whatever, and a heap of mysterious extra screws.

Seriously, as I have discovered, you just can't do it all on your own. Life is just TOO F***ING MUCH on your own.

Don't think of getting a man in as defeat - just look upon him as a kind of ambulant pizza. You wouldn't dream of making a pizza from scratch all on your own, would you? No, you'd order in - and that's what you have to do with men with screwdrivers/hammers, too.

Whatever the cost, it's worth it - and anyway, HSBC will pay.

I meanwhile, have managed to contract flu whilst waiting for the thyroid medication to kick in .

Impressive, no?

Anonymous said...

I would hold your hand gladly but I would also run off and tell the WORLD what a baby you were. By world, I mean the three people in Belgium I know.

I am harder on Z because I have harboured a fantasy for a l o n g time that she would adopt me and feed me carrot cake and stew with dumplings. Swearing just doesn't fit into this scenario at all.

M scares me a little so I wouldn't dream of censoring her. I hadn't even thought of spiders crawling into my spinal fluid but now it seems inevitable that it's already happened. I will not be sleeping tonight.

Mrs Trefusius doesn't swear surely? I shall check.

Madame DeFarge said...

You make me seem like a rank amateur. I'm worrying that I won's pass this blessed exam and make a public fool of myself.

Anonymous said...

One of your long time lurker anons here: working from home today, but you know worrying that I am going to lose my job because I am crap at it.. and reading your column. Your courage and spirit are wonderful even during trying times-you are inspiration to many of us-please know that.

In my country IKEA offers and option to put together your furniture. If not, definitely get the man in.

As for furniture I miss the days I had my condo on the market-I gave away, donated or stored most of my stuff to "stage" my place for sale and I lived as if I were in a suites hotel (you know just the basic dishes, appliances and furniture, and I had the clothes I had with me). It felt so freeing-and now in the new place nearly two years I am drowning in clutter, clothes I don't wear but are piled in the laundry baskets, cupboards full of dodgy extra sheets and dodgy extra pots and pans that I have had for years- AND I don't need to make simple, elegant nutrious meals.

So my advice-pare down. Keep only that which is truly meaningful. Also if you have the means think about a cleaning person-even if they only come once a month.

As for the weepette, I adopted my dog from a shelter (although tempted to give her back today when she started barking at precisely the moment I was called upon on a conference call). Re-home the Weepette if you truly cannot keep him. However, I think you will find that he is a tremendous source of comfort if not warmth during trying times. You MAY need to crate train him and get a dog walker for daytime if you cannot leave him outside.

Also, moving on your own takes time-you need time off to arrange all this.

Word verification: dimpre-is that what your knee looks like?

Ellie said...

oh, ERK. Sounds like you are in something of a bind. Or would that be preferable, as then you would be removed from sphere of responsibility entirely, being bound up and all.

L. said...

I am really in not a bad place but the thought of money matters makes me worry so much that YOUR mention of HSBC makes MY palms sweat. Ugh!

I find Ikea assemblage sort of soothing, like a three-dimensional crossword puzzle? Albeit one that sometimes slips into a foreign language or requires the use of three letters in one square. In those cases it's much better to get someone else to do it.

vw is amburop, which sounds very much like a word for "walking with a swollen miserable knee."

Anne said...

1-5 and 7-8 may be lies but 6 is true. When I left Belgium, they asked me to give them the name of my new "commune" so that they could pass on my papers. I explained that we haven't got communes in Ireland (not that kind, probably not the other kind either, Ireland isn't that kind of country) and they nearly fainted from shock. "But how do the authorities know where you are?" How indeed?

Sophie said...

Persephone - you need to follow the example of this lady:

Persephone said...

Dearest Sophie, I would be left breathless by "Marney's" intestinal fortitude, except I know people just like this -- and they wouldn't be joking. (I'm not sure Marney was, either. Oh, please tell me she was! Or at least being ironic...)

JW, I'll have you know that people who don't like pumpkin pie, like my pumpkin pie. That's because I make it with fresh pumpkin, not out of the tin. Which is mostly squash. Just sayin'.

GingerB said...

IKEA furniture is not easy, you can't feel bad about not being able to work it since everybody ends up with extra hardware and a a slight tilt. No shame in getting a man to do it - that is what overdraft lines of credit are for.

Jaywalker said...

Layla - if I ever get tired of "death, despair and biscuits" I think I will replace it with "Miss Havisham with transport". Oh, dear. The flu. That is unfortunate.

Anon - I accept. I am a big whiny baby and your 3 Belgian acquaintances can be told. Though knee is marginally better today, so I will probably weasle out of treatment. You are quite right to be scared of M.

MdF - Ok, now I'm worrying about your accountancy exam too. Brrrr.

Anon - this is actually really calming and helpful; I am in a bind with the weepette, but I think that a dog walker will provide at least some of the answers. I had already started to investigate. Thank you.

Ellie - yes. And shoved in a small cupboard until it is all over. Whatever 'it' is.

L - I can sort of see the meditative angle, but I'd rather hire a Viking to do the meditation for me.

Anne - and do you slightly miss having a policeman know your exact whereabouts? No, I didn't think so.

Persephone - I am trying to believe you, but also gagging a little.

Ginger - Oh? I thought they were for ill-advised trips to London. Maybe they can do both?

Laura and Ben said...

I need to go back and collect my ID card but I'm far to scared.

At St Gilles they don't have numbered tickets - we have to book an appointment in advance!!! They then overbook and you still end up waiting in the corridor for hours while people from slightly less queuey countries go in ahead of you.

London City Mum said...

I think you are quite amazing. Award for you over at mine (if you have time between flat-pack assembling to visit and collect).


pinolona said...

L and B, I have an appointment too, but then I had an appointment at the Drs the other day and I still had to wait an hour and a half... it turned out that what sounded like an appointment was just the time that the waiting room opened in the afternoon :(
so I'm still concerned that tickets may be the way forward.

M. said...

Listen, punks, I'm nowhere near as frightening as that furry little asshole Dr Capybara. Where is he, anyway? He made me look positively charming.

Margaret said...

You know you'll be fine, right? You gave birth to two children, which is probably the most terrifying leap if faith you can take next to landing an airplane on the Hudson River.

(The warts will go away on their own; I had awful plantar warts and tried every fucking stupid painful treatment available. Eventually my anxiety channelled into something else and they went away.)

black said...

bridal online shop bridal gowns wholesale wedding dresses high quality bridal gowns wholesale custom wedding dresses wedding apparel wedding dresses top sellers wedding dresses2010 new arrivals 2010 new arrivals wedding dresses beach wedding dresses Luxury Wedding Dresses plus size wedding dresses wedding party dresses bridesmaid dresses junior bridesmaid dresses flower girl dresses mother of bride dresses wedding shoes wedding bags wedding accessories evening dresses prom dresses cocktail dresses quinceanera dresses little black dresses