Thursday, 31 December 2009

Babies are lovely

Yes. Time for some oestrogen around here after all that music based unpleasantness. MOVE ALONG music dweebs. Show's over. Move along before I say something nasty, like, episiotomy. Go on, scram.

My friend V and I are breakfasting with someone lovely who we will call R (see how I protect the other participants from comment box opprobrium?). We are talking about having children, which R is considering.

"They're nice really", V muses "Babies are nice".

"Especially with hats" I add, urgently. "They are MUCH nicer if you put a hat on them. Especially if they have scaly heads"

"Yes, or unfortunate hair. One of mine had unfortunate hair"

"One of mine had a hideously scaly head. People recoiled at the sight of it. It needed a hat, or else I was irresistibly drawn to picking at the scabby bits. My sister gave him a sweet one that looked like a strawberry. Really, you can't have enough hats".

"I am worried about having to see other people. I don't want to see people in my house", says R. "I don't like the idea of playdates. I mean, other people coming to your house. Awkwardness".

"Oh" I say blithely "By that stage you are really insanely delighted that someone else will do the playing. Playing is really boring. That is what fathers are for, I think. I hate playing. I am shit at it. When they make me play with Playmobil or something, all I want to do is arrange them in neat lines. Or make the warriors use the hoover. Anyway, if you take their child, they have to take yours in return, which makes it entirely worthwhile, and well worth a bit of stiltled conversation".

"Not to mention", says V "That any awkwardness or social anxiety you may experience presently will be a thing of the past once you have had whole roomfuls of strangers looking at your lady parts".

We are all silent for a moment in contemplation of this unsavoury truth.

"Any other concerns?" says V, brightly. "Oh! Yes. You must join NCT classes. Not for all the whale song indoctrination and knitted placentas. To meet other middle class parents. But you must say you are there to learn how to manage your pain and all that rubbish. They don't like being treated as a dating agency for middle class parents. My husband didn't make the right noises about pain management and it was very awkward".

"I didn't do that" I say bitterly "So I spent the first six months of my eldest son's life, in the once daily 4 minute slot that Gina Ford would allow me to leave the house, standing in Selfridges Beauty Hall and crying in the hope that someone might talk to me".

"People will talk to you when you have a baby though" says V, with a note of warning "Endlessly. It's like having a dog, within seconds of leaving the house, someone will come and poke at it".

R visibly blanches "I don't WANT to have to talk to strangers. Or have them poke the baby"

"Oh, but" says V soothingly "You must remember that after giving birth, your brain is like a computer with a screen saver that appears after about a minute, and the screensaver says 'BABYBABYBABYBABYBABY'. So, for a minute or so, you will manage to have a coherent thought about, say, going to the Post Office, or reading a book. But before you can act on it, the BABYBABYBABYBABYBABY screensaver comes back and you're finished. So those kinds of conversations with elderly ladies are the best kind. 'lovely baby' 'yeees, lovely baaaaby'" she mimics, in a dreamy zombie voice.

"I couldn't take my eyes off mine, the first time", I recall. "It was fucking exhausting. I simply, physically, couldn't look away from the baby. It must be in case it gets snatched by wolves or something, evolutionarily speaking. But it wasn't even DOING anything. They don't. Just twitching jerkily. For WEEKS. And there are no wolves in W1*. And even when the baby slept, I would be awake, waiting for the wolves to come and steal it".

"Only the first time, though" says V.

"Oh, yes. The second time I wore ear plugs. The CFO used to have to shake me awake to feed him".

"I found a way of feeding mine without even waking up" says V "Like a baby kangaroo or something. Though a friend of mine fell asleep feeding her twins and woke up to find one of them had fallen into the wastepaper basket".

We all laugh uproariously.

"He was absolutely fine. Sound asleep".

"They are lovely though" I add, guiltily "They have silky heads and they are very warm, like hot water bottles ".

"I'm not sure I could cope with boys" says R

"Oh, boys are really great. They really really really love you. The only thing is, you must resign yourself to leaving the house every single day for about 6 years".

"Like dogs" supplies V helpfully "You need to take them out a lot. They need to be walked. Endlessly".

We both sigh.

"They really ARE nice though". I say. "With the right hat".

*This may not be strictly true, but I think the zoo is NW1, so I am probably safe making this sweeping statement.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Ceci n'est pas une 2009 retrospective

Are you all holding up in the dead days between Christmas and New Year? Are you reaching for the axe yet? I don't think I could hold an axe. My limbs have turned to some kind of alcohol based jelly. Also, I don't think there's enough light to use an axe efficiently. There must have been all of half an hour of daylight in London today and I missed it underground due to a passenger incident at Victoria. Though then again, perhaps efficiency isn't key when you're planning a frenzied axe attack. I will take guidance on this point.

I have been meeting the internet again. You would be surprised how well the internet scrubs up in real life. You might expect to meet amorphous sluglike sociophobes, but no, I am consistently impressed by their loveliness. They have amazing cardamom salted almond fudge and tea and biscuits and they make you laugh and gasp with horror (NOT at their noses, Birdy, ). Even Derek the cat is much lovelier than you would ever imagine in real life. Ian, admittedly, did spill algae down his jumper, but we've all been there, haven't we?

The next few days may be light posting only. I am heading for Paris, where the brain twin and I are planning to firm up our strategy for world domination in 2010, visit the secret Maje outlet shop and cackle. We are going to an actual New Year party and everything and there are ponies to try and kidnap in the Tuileries, so we'll be busy, busy. Ok, that's a lie, mainly we'll be eating cappucino eclairs and cackling.

I'm not sure I wanted to do a big, 2009 retrospective anyway. Far too much went on to distill into any sort of coherent summary. Good, awful, weird. It will take me five years to recover from my 2009 sleep debt alone, I reckon, let alone have any perspective on it. How about this, instead? Everyone give me your top 3 pieces of music of 2009. They don't actually have to have come out in 2009, just something you discovered in 2009 (I am saying that to cover any sneering at my choices as ancient. We're backwards in Belgium, okay?). No agonising, just choose something.

I did my three, but then I got shy. There's nothing quite as personal as exposing your musical preferences, is there? Or am I being peculiar? I'd rather tell you about my eating disorder, or my reproductive history than tell you about some of the albums I own. Actually, I'm curious. Is this specific to me, this intense coyness about what music I like? It isn't, is it? I'm sure it's a product of the relentless mockery we would visit upon one another when I was growing up for being into slightly the wrong kind of shoegazing indie dronery. There wasn't much to do in York, so we hung out in Rough Trade Records trying to out-obscure each other.

I digress. In any event, after toying with Florence and the Machine (Rabbit Heart - love it, but it's become too ubiquitous) and Kasabian (Fire - great, but blokey), I went for this:

Regina Spektor: Dance Anthem of the 80s

Far was this year's summer holiday album for me. I don't think it's anywhere near as good as Begin to Hope, a bit tame, a bit too chanteusey. I liked it better when she did stuff with geetars too, being that sort of a frozen in 1994 type of girl. But I do really like this track.

(I'll be interested to see if this brings the male readers out of the woodwork, even if just to sneer at my choices.)

Monday, 28 December 2009

Sticks? Luxury!

We’re in the car, heading to the river for a pre-lunch walk. My nephew is Not Happy.

“I don’t want to go to the river!” he says repeatedly, doing the tried and trusted ‘ironing board’ manouevre to stop me putting the straps on the car seat for him. “There’s only grass and trees and water. It’s BORING”.

“Ha!” I say. “Call that boring? You are SO LUCKY you weren’t little when me and your daddy were. When we were little” I continue, warming to my topic “Grandad used to take us to places where there was absolutely nothing – not even water – well, apart from rain - or trees. Just, mud and grass and cold. And every single day he would make us go out and walk for hours and hours on end. We weren’t even walking TO anywhere. Just walking for the sake of it. One time your daddy got so cold he kept asking what the first signs of hypothermia were, because he thought he had it. We hated it, didn’t we?”

My brother nods grimly. If anything, he hated it more than I did. “It was always cold. And it always rained. And there was nothing to see”.

“And he didn’t really have any food either. Maybe an oatcake or some old Kendal Mint Cake if you were lucky. I bet you don’t know what Kendal Mint Cake is, do you?’

My nephew shakes his head.

“Well it doesn’t matter, because it’s disgusting. It didn’t matter how bad the weather was. Sometimes I would sit at the window and watch the rain slicing across the valley and think ‘maybe today we can stay in?’”

“But oh, no” says my brother “It was never bad enough weather to be let off walking. Do you remember that outhouse?”

“What, the one at Rose Cottage? God, yes”

“That place was so cold. What was it made of, cardboard?”

“You see” I explain to my nephew “When Grandad was really sick of us complaining, he used to shut us in this sort of shed place. And it was cold and damp in the shed and so SO boring”.

“Why did Grandad do that?” says my nephew

“He just wanted us to shut up for a while I think. But there was NOTHING to do in there, we got so bored”.

“Well, there were the boxes of Encyclopaedias under the bed” says my brother, ever fair-minded.

“Damp, mildewed encyclopaedias. Ha! Do you remember what else was under the bed?” I raise my eyebrows meaningfully. There were boxes of mysterious, leathery objects – bondage gear we learnt very much later from my dad – abandoned by his former lodger, Radish.

“I would have said NO GRANDAD” says my nephew, decidedly. “And I would have hid”.

“I wish we had thought of that. But he used to be a lot scarier than he is now”.

The Christmas holidays bring it all back – stiff leather boots filled with dead insects, slightly leaky cagoules, huddled in the back seat of the Alfa as Crystal Gayle blasted out in the front, zero visibility, the vague, illusory promise of a pub (Seabrook Ready Salted and a Coke if you were lucky) somewhere at the end of the epic. The dark years of my vegetarianism, nourished only by dehydrated noodles and tins of beans. Getting into a damp bed heated by the electric blanket to perfect Turkish bath. The terrifying prospect of getting – whisper it – snowed in. I’d confess to a trace of nostalgia, but no more than a trace. Not enough to get me to walk up a hill ever again.

In the end the river walk is salvaged by a brick with a chain through it. It doesn’t take much. Not that we had bricks when we were young..

Transit (again)

I am seriously confused at the moment. It’s, what? Sunday? No, Monday. This week is always an odd one, of short days and no routines and bizarre sleep patterns, but I’ve added an extra layer of weirdness by trying to cram as much into it as I possibly can, with the added complication of geography. And snow. And basic engineering idiocy by Eurostar (there goes my long-cherished blog sponsorship plot). Tiny planes, giant empty boats, terrifying German cars, and all manner of buses and trains. Add that on top of this peculiar first single Christmas for 16 years, and you have a recipe for utter discombobulation. I’m clinging like an orphaned rhesus monkey to the tools of my continued survival – passport, credit card, various sets of keys, a nest of chargers and adaptors, Iphone, Guerlain Midnight Secret. I forget all the rest – pants, toothbrush, deodorant, presents, warm clothes, socks. Thank god I stopped the anti-depressants and I don’t need contraceptives, because there isn’t a hope I’d remember them.

On Saturday, the CFO and I took the boys to Pizza Hut for lunch (yeah, judge away. This is suburban Brussels on 26th December; it was that or Quick, the hamburger chain that time forgot) and then I kissed them all and drove to the station to get on a train to the airport to fly to London. Yestterday I stood on the grey, windy banks of the Thames and watched my niece and nephew mess around in the mud. I hugged my wonderful brother, arms stretching to meet around his steroid distorted midsection. We went home and played with their new Playmobil pyramid (awesome – I want a Playmobil pyramid. Actually, scrap that, I want to LIVE in a Playmobil pyramid. With my own sphinx). Then I waitied 20 minutes for a 94 bus, dropped my bag and ran to get a train to go to a cocktail party in the Cotswolds. I’m sitting writing this on the train back in a daft dress and heels, with a sweaty sheen of daiquiri on my upper lip. My knee of death is being a dick again, so I have no great belief I’ll be able to get up again in Paddington and even if I do it’s hardly going to be a pretty sight.

All this frenetic activity is entirely deliberate. I can’t in all conscience complain about something I’ve engineered myself. The thought of a week alone in the Salmon Palace, however good it might have been for the Great Belgian Novel, my finances, the house, and my sanity, seemed unbearable. And like a homing pigeon, when I get some free time I migrate stubbornly to London. So here I am, and of course most people leave London and go and see their families, walking through stupidly pretty, empty Notting Hill, looking in, and sneering at, lavishly themed Christmas trees, rushing from one end of the country and the city to the other.

It’s a bit lonely. I’m terribly good by myself as a rule, but there’s something about these few days that seem made for hibernating in an overheated, selection box finishing fug, getting cabin fever and squabbling with family members. It shows my decisions in exceptionally sharp relief. ‘This’, it says ‘is what you wanted. You wanted independence, time on your own, adventures. Well here it is. And don’t you dare have the temerity to complain if you don’t like it’.

And I’m not complaining. Have I sent the odd pathetic text? Certainly. Have I done anything regrettable? Nowhere near as much as I might have liked. I seem unable to fall over regrettable behaviour however hard I try. Have I had fun? Yes. Are there hollow, lonely, scary moments? Yes. Lots. Do I actually regret being where I am right now? No. Emphatically no. And that, presumably, is the acid test.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Slight Planning Fail

I believe some of you are so retrograde as to not waste whole swathes of your life writing 140 character messages. Those that do had a sneak preview of this, Christmas Eve night on a P&O Hull to Zeebrugge ferry.

Welcome aboard!

Before you start trying to saw at your wrists with a blunt cheese knife from the Four Seasons self service buffet, please note the following:

As well they should. However, if you, emulating the Queen, loftily carry no cash with you, you will be unable to obtain said cocktails.

Our bemused but obliging Philippino crew will get you in the party mood:

Thrill as you attempt to explain cracker jokes to numerous people for whom English is not their first, or even second, language. After me: "c'est un jeu de mots". Repeat until your eyeballs start popping out.

The children will do their utmost to work themselves into a frenzy of excitement despite unpromising material to hand:

Falling into a fitful sleep around 11 after what appears to be an eternity of guinea pig special agents, only to wake hourly loudly proclaiming it to be morning every hour between midnight at 6 am.

After a night of this, you will feel something like this:

This is entirely normal and excellent preparation for Christmas Day with your ex in the house you used to share*.

Happy Christmas!

(* which was entirely fine even though we had fishfingers for Christmas dinner, because we had a box of Pierre Marcolini Palets Fins série limitée au caramel and watched shit tv and drank, but dramatic licence requires me to make it sound deadly)

New Year Challenge: what mode of transport can I use that I haven't already in the last week? I'm up to train/boat/car/bus/tram/plane all in the past 3 days and counting. And don't say bike, because I failed my Cycling Proficiency for a reason.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Fairytale of York

Goodness, but I had a festive cab journey, just now. I think it deserves recording for posterity. The spirit of my mother was most definitely with me tonight, as the evening combined two of her best super powers - fucking up the East Coast mainline rail service and knowing the intimate life of York taxi drivers.

In the driver's defence, I sort of started it. I didn't mean to, but 2 hours at Kings Cross, 2 hours on the train, followed by another half hour in the insanely snowy taxi queue with wet feet in stupid heels had obviously destroyed all my critical faculties and social filters (yes, Chablis might also have been partially responsible for that. No matter). Thus, when the driver said to me "Are you cooking Christmas dinner?" I answered:

"No, we're not doing Christmas dinner because I've just split up with my ex (note how articulate that formula was. Chablis vocabulary) . We're spending the day together with the kids, but we can't be arsed to cook".

TD: We did that Jamie wassit's turkey last year. It were gorgeous. Shove a load of butter up its arse. Stick some foil over t' top. (he did talk like this, I am not lapsing into Geoffrey Boycott/James Herriott professional Yorkshireness, tempting though it is. I do have a whippet after all)

E: Oh? I've got a mate who sticks her turkey in salt water for three days in a bin outside. Apparently it's gorgeous.

TD: So are you a good mother then?

E: (puzzled, must have misheard) Eh?

TD: Are yer a good mother?

E: (now fully primed for philosophical debate on nature of parenting): Well, what's a good mother?

TD: Does 'e see 'is kids?

E: Oh yeah. Loads. We do fifty fifty.

TD: Because I been married twice, and t'first wife - can I speak my mind?

E: Oh, go ahead.

TD: She were a right evil cow.

E: Oh?

TD: She were just after me money and she turned the kids against me. Me two girls.

(you can hear sleigh bells ringing and songs of peace and joy at this point can't you? It gets better)

E: Bad choice of wife by you, then.

TD: Second wife were 'er, first wife's best friend. And she - the evil cow - shacked up wi' second wife' husband.

(chestnuts are roasting on an open fire now)

E: Convenient.

TD: She wanted everything. I offered 60:40 but bitch weren't 'avin it.

E: You can see why there are some bitter men out there.


(Hang on - you are ready for the festive climax, aren't you. I want everyone FESTOONED in tinsel for this bit, because it's so fucking Christmassy you may expire from the sheer seasonal goodness of it. Ready? Good. )

Now both of me daughters are heroin addicts and prostitutes.

E: Oh. Oh, that's awful. Er. Right! This is me here by the telegraph pole! Butter up its arse you say? Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


The Most Vulgar Christmas Tree in York, as voted by the Yorkshire Evening Press Readers Cats Arse Face Panel

I'm having terrible problems with impatience at the moment. Not in the sense of being short-tempered, which I am, but no more than usual. It's more, well, that I want things to happen. Mysterious, ill-defined things. Things, with a capital T that I couldn't explain if you asked me. I want to skip past the next few months. Fast forward. Get to somewhere a bit clearer. I swear, it's like being seventeen again, this separation business. I'm desperate to be further on, to have done more, finished with this phase. Everything seems to move glacially slowly to my sulky, teenage mind. All my little treats - and there are quite a few lined up, mercifully, in the next two weeks - seem so far away. The 23rd? AGES. 27th? Unbearably distant. New Year's Eve in Paris? A lifetime away. And will the trains even work? Uuuuurgh, imagine me in a teenage flounce of stupid, impotent despair.

Of course, at the same time I'm intensely lazy, so it's rather like having your feet on both the brake and the accelerator at the same time. Not that I would do that. But I can imagine it might, perhaps, have an untoward effect on major operating systems of the car, or person in question. Hypothetically. One might query the mechanical, er, emotional, integrity of someone who found themselves stifling sobs outside the Monk Bar Model Shop (spiritual home of all men in cagoules who like war) as they tried to explain the plot of The Nutcracker.

Being back in York doesn't help, because it's so intensely like being 17 again, slumping around the house irresponsibly and expecting to be waited on. I got a cup of tea in bed this morning! It must have been the first time since, oooh, the last time I spent Christmas here probably. I forget entirely how to be 35. The whole business reminds me of pining for boys who didn't know I existed or who had brutally chucked me, waiting for some indefinable 'life' to start and reading furiously, gloomily, eating 18000 mince pies and wearing ill-advised sequins and blue nail varnish. Of course, the 2009 version is more of a case of pining for lost opportunities, grinding my teeth and herding children. But the impatience is the same. I do not, it appears, have a zen bone in my body. I have no patience, no restraint, no faith that things happen when they should. I want them to happen NOW.

And just as it was when I was 17, there's nothing unbearable I have to get away from. Right now is actually pretty fine. The boys are remarkably sanguine about their new two homes life; they're sweet and ebullient and apparently confident that everything will be ok. I am really very happy too, if fraught and occasionally massively snappy. Moreover, an objective look back at the last year hardly suggests stasis or stagnation. Things have moved in all manner of ways, perhaps more than any single year previously. I wonder if partly, that's the root of my impatience? I'm desperate to keep the momentum up, and if it were possible to force things to happen through sheer flounciness, I would be well ahead of the game (it isn't. I've tried). As it is, I wish I could just accept a fallow period. A few weeks or months (years? God I hope not) when nothing very significant happens. Wiser people than me have tried to tell me how necessary it is, but I still bubble with impatience.

Of course, it's also partly that my mum is in a muddy field just up the road, and my magnificent, very poorly brother and his wife are taking his children to Lapland today before he starts yet another round of chemo. I can barely imagine how they've done it. That's a proper achievement.
Sometimes zen doesn't quite cut it. Sometimes there isn't enough time. And that's what keeps me up until stupid o'clock, plotting and wondering and getting frustrated.

Any thoughts? Or ideas for exceptionally absorbing activities to give my poor stumpy, ground away teeth a rest?

Oh, and look at these two, Team Snow:

The Space Cadette sledged so much she made herself sick. You have to love that in a 25 year old, no?

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Sorry sorry sorry

I'm assuming you'd rather have a post than a guilty silence as I fail to deal with present clinic? Right? If not, you may resume your position slumped in a corner of Sunday night and I will skulk away again.

I have not blogged for, oooh, days. What, FOUR days? This is most unusual. The OCD pockets of my mind are most displeased and whisper sermons of my inadequacy at me in the small hours. I must absolve myself, however, since it has been utter carnage. I have vague memories of drowning in a sea of unsatisfactory and impossible to complete admin. I remember blagging a hire car without the proper paperwork using the power of sheer embarassment and a light topcoat of cleavage. I distinctly remember being absolutely convinced my credit cards had been used fraudulently, only to discover they were just used - and abused - by me (and being galvanised by this discovery to actually sort out the various money making pieces of paper concealed amidst boxes of household detritus, thus proving that necessity truly is the mother of getting your fucking act together) . And the snow! Having testified to Czech colleague's "impeccable moral standing" on a peculiar Brussels road trip on Thursday, we came out of our fourth embassy of the day - me having sworn for the first time "on", or more accurately "about five feet and behind a perspex window from" the Bible - to whirling, mad snow. So beautiful until you are stuck cursing and weeping, on a steep, icy main road (just conceivably, possibly, because you may have your feet on both the brake and accelerator simultaneously. But probably nothing to do with that at ALL. Nope).

And now, after four or five minor miracles, the magical mystery ferry to Hull, and having only got stuck on the ice perhaps eight times, not all of which involved pedal stupidity, we have managed to reach York. Well, I am reliably informed that York is still out there, though apparently Barnitts is moving into the Minster, the only space now big enough to accommodate its collection of stuffed squirrels and mysterious cabling. I have spent the day finishing the pre-Christmas orders. Prog Rock was entirely unphased that I spent the day making arse biscuits, sitting companionably in the kitchen as I cut out row after row of "wank", telling me about 18th century religious movements on the east coast of America. He's learnt to be stoic. The Space Cadette has apparently taken to making her own soap. In a cagoule. And goggles. The combination of my sister and caustic soda is causing me no little anxiety (no to mention endless hilarity. Cagoule! Goggles! Space Cadette! I want pictures), but he floats above it all, a zen master with library privileges.

Tomorrow, however, I intend to force the spawn out for improving, Viking related pursuits. They could not be less enthusiastic if I had suggested spending the day choosing soft furnishings or going to a porcelain museum. But it's not York if you haven't poked a historical reenacter in the eye with his own broadsword. We will also: walk aimlessly around the town centre eating pastry products, stare in a bovine fashion at the people in Betty's and maybe buy an ornamental screwdriver holder in Barnitts. Because that, since time immemorial, is what we do.

I have to stop because Prog Rock has come back from the pub to tell me, entirely unsolicited, about Hans Kung, Gunther Grass and the Pope and whether observance of the seasons can replace the liturgical calendar. It's all go round here.

(I have not bought any Christmas presents. That's ok, right? Maybe I'll get my sister to make a batch of soap?)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A post about my paperwork - CLICK AWAY while you still can

Present Clinic victims are trickling in. Send in details of your tricky relative and we'll suggest stupid stuff. I'll do a big old round up of horrible recipients and our horrible ideas for them tomorrow.

In the meantime I have been having a day of tidying. These happen very infrequently, and always follow the same arc: anticipatory fear, sulky intital heel dragging, resignation, a brief flurry of enthusiasm, afternoon despondency at the infinite nature of the task, followed by a manic second wind that keeps me up until 3am aligning tea caddies and polishing tea spoons. Final slump.

I am somewhere between afternoon despondency and the second wind that I sort of hope never comes right now. But most importantly I have dealt with the Box of Doom.

When I left the old house, I threw everything papery that belonged to me in one box. This ranged from passport, to tax retruns, to old birthday cards and scraps torn from magazines about good lipsticks. It has been giving me cold sweats every time I walk past it, inconveniently placed in the middle of the corridor in full view.

So I did it. Reader, it was fucking awful. But I learnt stuff. All manner of stuff.

Exhibit 1: Unopened letters from HSBC and ING

So it transpires that once in March, and once in October this year, banks cancelled my cards due to suspected fraud. I had absolutely no idea. I wonder what happened next? I will never know, there is no chronology in the box, it is merely a series of isolated events captured on crumpled paper.

Exhibit 2: Medical insurance papers to reclaim money (approx 40, each worth approx €20)

And here we learnt that I go to the doctor about ten times more often than both children put together. I find this depressing. It indicates that I am well on the way to becoming one of those elderly ladies who see ill health as a hobby and love nothing more than to discuss their 'condition' at length with any medical professional they can pin down. It was like a photo album of pain, filling in the stupid fiddly slips to reclaim the money. Look, the time I fainted on the tram! And this one's the 14 hour trip to A & E for the knee where they gave me morphine as a consolation prize after forgetting about me in the plaster room for 7 hours! Ah, and that was the ancient coughing gynaecologist with the African fertility symbols! Oooh and I remember that syringe. And that one! Etc etc etc.

I do not want to be that person. I am actually in perfectly good health, bar the stupid knee. . I have made a good start by failing to renew my prescription for antidepressants for so long that I have had all the entertaining side effects of withdrawal and can't really face starting again. I feel fine anyway. Maybe I'm CURED? (cue manic laughter and drooling). Let's see how cured I feel in January, the devil's month.

Exhibit 3 Long and carefully preserved Elle Belgique article on liposuction and who does it best

Finding this article was like seeing Crazy Emma preserved in amber. I distinctly remember being absolutely adamant that I would have liposuction as soon as I could afford it. I was planning to spend my next bonus on dangerous, painful, unnecessary elective surgery. Then, as now, I would have been about 8 1/2 stone. I always am, give or take, though I've long since stopped weighing myself (no good can come of that palaver when you're an ex-bulimic. Are you an ex? Or is it like alcoholics? Whatever). And I genuinely believed I should have liposuction. Truly. When I cut this article out, I had just worked my way back from 7 stone of pure crazy, scrawny, madness. Possibly the thought of liposuction in reserve acted like a comfort blanket, helping me feel ok about regaining weight. It was my transitional object, my doudou.

But doudou must go in the bin, in the same way I had to bin the 24" waist jeans, and the Madeleine Press trousers seemingly made for dollies that would barely reach my knees now. I've binned them all because I'm not going back to that half life and I wouldn't want to leave the door even ajar. It's crap. I know how thin feels and yes, I did love it, it would be disingenous to suggest I didn't like it when shop assistants said "you're TINY!" or when I fitted into, and looked good in everything, didn't have to think about what suited hips or tits. But I also remember how mad it made me, how brittle and angry; how joyless. I remember the permanent headache, and the feeling of my seat bones banging against the chair as I sat down. Worse still, I remember how delighted i was to feel that. I remember a whole year without complex carbohydrate, scraping the breadcrumbs off fishfingers, feeling terrified of going to someone's house for a meal. I remember trying to bargain with my my counsellor as she insisted I ate some carbs. "How about a bread roll with some soup?" I remember suggesting, madly calculating in my head how I could get a really tiny roll, maybe not finish it, not eat for the rest of the day...

It's hardly credible now. I truly, absolutely, eat what I like when I like. I might not always manage a balanced meal, but I eat enough and I eat everything. I wondered if I might get odd about food being on my own in a new house, but it hasn't materialised much to my relief. My body and my mind know how much I need the fuel, for these are tough times and I have others relying on me to be ok. Yet even so, I know how quickly the paradigm can shift and how easy it is to fall back into those comforting patterns of self-denial and restriction. My hands still occasionally stray to my chest to check how bony it is, because it used to comfort me back in the dark days.

So the article goes in the bin and I eat a meal, a real meal with carbs and I finish with a pudding, because way back when I was twenty and first in the throes of an eating disorder, I remember the wonderful, gentle and sharp Professor Russell telling me he always did. And that that was how you knew a meal was finished. (I have such gratitude and affection for Professor Russell. What a privilege to have been treated by someone so wise and humane. Thank you Professor Russell, and thank you Ellie at Lissom Grove too, even though I lied and wriggled and pretended to you I didn't have a problem. Fuck, what is this, the therapy Oscars? ).

Exhibit 4: Boys on Frogs

Quick! Let's lighten the mood. I also found this ridiculous picture, bought at outlandish cost from Antwerp zoo. It made me laugh.

And finally, the box is empty. I have hidden forty three bank statements in the recycling. I am still spectacularly stupid in lots of ways. But when I look at Exhibit 3 stuffed in the recycling with 478 electricity bills and unanswered Christmas cards c1998, I know that things are at least heading in the right direction.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Christmas Present Clinic 2009

I have pretty much abandoned Christmas for this year. I have one box of SpongeBob Lego and a bag of garish tat from Hawkins Bazaar. West End Mum, who is a heroine of the revolution, found me two of the elusive eyeball balls in Pollocks Toy Museum. I have no plans to acquire anything much else. I am playing the trusty 'Life Trauma Get Out of Christmas Free Card' which entitles the bearer to look like crap, fail to observe social niceties and not buy any presents. The Life Trauma Card is only accepted once in every ten years on presentation of valid proof of proper head fucking life upheaval. You are allowed to smell bad and eat Quality Street before 9am and throw your Christmas cards in the bin unwritten and unread. And not even recycle them. I hope the authorities don't look too closely, because I think this might be the third time I have played the Life Trauma card this decade.

Thankfully for you, however, I am not just leaving you to your fate, oh no. I am selflessly reopening the Belgian Waffle Christmas Present Clinic. For those of you not present last year, the idea is this.

You submit - via the comments box or email - details of your tricky friends or relatives and whether you wish to delight or appall them. I suggest gifts, usually in a thoroughly unhelpful way, and then everyone else can weigh in as they wish with suggestions. Maybe I can prevail on Dr Capybara to host part of the present clinic in his inimitable style. Who could forget the joyous search for the perfect present for the Ironed Curtain's harridan mother in law?

I give you fair warning, I am jaundiced and hunchbacked from biscuit preparation, and I have spent all my money on Ikea furniture and tupperware boxes, so, I will probably be full of bitter and bilious suggestions. But that's why you come anyway, isn't it?

The five most entertaining victims will get the full scintillating sparkle of Waffle present ideas. Sort of. Quick!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Shut up about the biscuits already

If this weekend has proved anything, it is that I am not cut out for retail. Some of my handicaps include: lack of common sense, non-existent basic arithmetic, poor forward planning and an ill-advised indifference to profit margins which will lead me to debtors prison before you can say "yer FIRED". I'm an ideas person. Or rather, I'm an incompetent and lazy person. Whatever.

For much of the day before, and the whole of the day of, Craftacular, I found myself dogged by an internal monologue. The monologue was voiced by the person who does the voice overs for The Apprentice:

"Meanwhile, back at Team Stupid headquarters, Emma is having some difficulties with the boxes" (image of me sitting keening on Papa Waffle's floor surrounded by piles of biscuits and cardboard and pritt stick)

"The team have spent more on receipt books and glue at Rymans than they intend to charge for a box of biscuits" (image of me faffing around with stationery as M rolls her eyes)

"Emma seems unsure how many biscuits she has made" (images of various people quizzing me and me looking shifty and pulling numbers out of my head unconvincingly)

"The Cruel biscuits are not proving a hit with some of the younger visitors to the fair" (image of hurt, bewildered infants being shepherded away from our table by their scandalised parents)

"Team Stupid are having a lull" (image of M and I sitting slumped at our table mid-afternoon, arms crossed, sulky, covered in cake crumbs. M has written "Fuck Off" on the Etch a Sketch toy on my phone and left it on the table. Something, indeed, like these images:

We so pretty! You should have seen us singing along, badly, with all the wrong words, to Brigitte Bardot's "Je n'ai besoin de personne en Harley Davidson" or talking to each other in pig German. I note that my face is looking very fat and puffy from a diet of nothing but fucked up broken biscuits for approximately a week. Delightful.)

"Emma's sales techniques leave something to be desired" (images of M and The City Road kicking me in the shins when I feebly sell single biscuits for 50p instead of £1 and give people the secret German Amazon address to buy their own biscuit stamping kits thereby cannibalising my own market)

Occasionally, the monologue would be accompanied by a hallucination of an apoplectically furious and scornful Alan Sugar.

"Did ya even work aht yer facking margins? Well, DIDYA???"

(no suralun, sir, but we gave 100000%, grovel, bluster, slither out of blame, etc etc until despatched mercilessly)

At the end of the long, looooong day, much of which was spent concerned about how to transport a clothes rail the size of a ten year old, and laughing in semi-hysteria, I found myself trying to explain this to a taxi driver. This was distinctly not my finest hour, which he then he compounded by making me explain the principle of the primacy of EU law. Drunk and exhausted and smelling like a tandoori lamb chop.

Anyway, screw that, here are a couple of extra pictures of Craftacular weirdness.

1. I know you can't really see her properly, but she was wearing red tights and a red turtle neck under black sequinned hot pants, Margot Fonteyn head plaits and a necklace made of giant pine cones. AWESOME.

2. I had to pretend to be taking a photo of City Road, but look past him at SKI SUIT WOMAN. I should say that the hall was boiling, a fug of crafter sweat and tears and cake, but ski suit/furry hat woman, who was entirely dedicated to her total look, did not even flinch.

3. Not an outfit, but the magnificently weird taxidermy stall. Look at the lamb in a box! Wee Birdy has better pictures here.

These were only edited highlights. Damn, how I love East London. I went to Poundland for safety pins in 5 inch spike heels, an asymmetric batwing jersey dress and a floral apron with "shite" embroidered on it at half ten in the morning and noone batted an eyelid. I don't have a photo, but there were also bouncers on the door, just in case the crafters turned violent and started laying into one another with their crochet hooks and pinking shears, which tickled me hugely.

I am going to lie down somewhere very dark now, where there are only savoury foods. I promise not to mention biscuits for a very very long time.

W, 35 seeks M Okapi for BABIES

It's been whole days since I've been able to get my ruined, floury hands near a functioning keyboard, but I'm back at last and left it a full three seconds after getting back in the Salmon Palace to fondle my MacBook like the disgusting internet perv that I am. Much more important than identifying the source of the odd smell of fermentation. It's coming from the fruit bowl. What else do I need to know? Nothing.

A fuller account of Craftacular will follow, doubtless. There are photos and everything - check out our Flickr stream. I have more to add, though most of them are of fabulous Shoreditch types that amused us unreasonably; and of M and I gurning at each other during quiet patches in the afternoon (we had sold all the biscuits by 2). We had stupid, huge, hilarious fun and are hatching fantasy plans to run away from our real lives and live in a Craft Squat in London. We would have to eat each other after about a week given the financial viability of biscuit/cosy making as based on our sub-Apprentice performance, but no matter. As if I needed another reason to get wistful and torn about being away from London. Getting back on the train was as big a struggle as ever and the empty, fermented Salmon Palace, fond of it though I am, is no substitute for friends and family, and great grey grimy greasy London. (Have we been here before? A few million times in the last year, say? Repetitive, moi?)

The weekend was filled with wildlife. In the very early hours of Saturday morning quite mad with baking stress and white wine and laughing, I saw a beautiful, insouciant fox trotting down Portobello Road. Even the minicab driver was quite enchanted. There has been guinea pig fondling and discussion of broken depressive dogs. Saturday saw us making repeated trips up the aisle at Craftacular to check out the taxidermy stall which featured an oddly touching curled up squirrel in a box as well as a seriously disturbing lamb and a flattened road kill crow. Best of all, this morning in a totally unexpected and magical turn of events, I got to go to see a brand new BABY OKAPI at London Zoo. The baby okapi is so new and fragile and wibbly that we were the first people apart from the keepers to see it and I had to ask if it was ok to mention it here. And oh, baby okapi, but you were so charming that I am regretting only having human babies. Okapi babies are ACE. Not only are they on their feet within half an hour, after a couple of comically charming falls, they have amazing stripy marking from birth and huge disproportionate, fluffy ears. Oh, and they are entirely silent. Seriously, how much better than a human baby is that? I've known for many years I don't want any more children, but that was before I met okapi children. I have been obliged to reconsider my position, I mean, stripy arse, huge furry ears, virtually independent after half an hour. What's not to love?

So from now on, I am only dating okapis. It's ALL OKAPI, ALL THE TIME for the Waffle. Human F, 35, seeks fertile M Okapi, handy with hooves for patisserie purposes, happy to live in fantasy craft squat. Serious candidates only.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Can't. Blog. Must. Bake.

Can't. Blog. Must. Bake. Bake bake bake bake bake bake bake bake bake bake. Only 36 hours 'til I leave for London with my cargo of tupperware boxes full of mean biscuits. Only, what, 60 hours or so until C-DAY. I am wearing a polka dot apron and an authentically Cruel Tea expression of fury and madness. I decided to tweak my recipe in a fit of stupidity and hubris, and then I realised that the only salt I had is big boulders of grey rock salt. There is butter everywhere and the weepette is scavenging eggshells out of the bin in a fit of stress induced bulimia and grinding them to an attractive paste on the rug. Seriously, he's behaving like a compulsive over-eater, mid-binge. Every time I leave the room and come back, I am confronted by a gloomy, skinny faced weepette with its front paws on some illegal stretch of kitchen, eating chocolate coins, or dry bread, or avocado skin. Literally, in the time it took me to write that phrase, it had dismembered an old avocado on the floor in a silent frenzy. What the fuck? Is this a notorious weepette trait that I am unaware of? (I am now steeling myself for a rush of whippet bulimia related keyword searches).

I am putting the Salmon Palace kitchen to the test and it is failing. The oven only has one shelf. That's, like, 12 biscuits. Out of 500, for fuck's sake! Thank goodness I am appalling at maths, otherwise I suspect I would actually give up. (If anyone tries to calculate how long this is going to take me and puts it in the comments box they are instantly and irrevocably barred from these pages, even though I don't know how to do that. Yeah.) Between batches I do this:

Oh, yeah. I was here for a reason. Veg.

41 of you bastards who expressed a preference wanted me to make actual food from the organic veg box. Thanks for nothing. I give you "Aubergine Whatthefuck":

Yes, I did bloody well make it myself. Look, here it is festering, sorry, cooking:

It was gross. I lost control of my salting hand and created a briny monster. The shallots were putrid. I nearly didn't finish it, and I'm one of those 'pathologically unable to leave food on a plate' people. See? See what I did for you? I am very, very, very stupid.

I think I am going to make a beautiful vegetable nativity scene with the turnips, next week when my grasp of reality returns slightly. Apparently undeterred, however, by a crisper compartment full of wrinkly, deflated turnips, I signed up for the box this week too, and as I type, a yellow pumpkin type thing is sittingly squatly on the table looking disapprovingly at me. There are beetroots too. They're a pain in the ass, aren't they? No more polls though. You've lost my trust, all 41 of you. Pah.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The four degrees of tired

At the moment, perhaps even more than when the spawn were tiny, I'm exploring the outer frontiers of tired. Noone sleeps. Nessun fucking dorma. Fingers has a consumptive cough and "mauvaises pensées", as he whispers to me, tugging on my ear in the wee small hours that should not exist. Lashes hates exams and school and closing his eyes and needs to discuss DEATH. The dog keeps getting itself snarled up in the duvet cover and asphyxiating itself by wrapping discarded bras around its neck and needing to be rescued. I need to sit up and twitch until I can barely see for no apparent reason other than evolutionarily disastrous stupidity.

I am not a proper insomniac, and I function very badly without sleep. I am filled with admiration for people who cope. People who cope on no sleep: you are fucking amazing. I have identified four separate grades of tired evening in my current canon.

1. Irritably tired
(5-6 hours sleep)

Snappy. Itchy eyes, and irresistible urge to rub them, smearing eye liner all over face. Everyone forced to eat pasta. Clear up as if wading through treacle. Sit slackjawed in front of screen for far too long, doing nothing. Go to bed eventually in jumper and tracksuit bottoms after sketchy facewash and lame poke at teeth with toothbrush.

Stock phrase: "OH FOR GOD'S SAKE".

2. Fuck off, world tired
(4-5 hours sleep)

Irrationally shouting for no good reason. Strange itchy growths in corners of eyes to be rubbed until whole face becomes red and itchy. (No make up to rub off - too tired to apply). Oven chips for everyone. No attempt to clear up - dump all plates in sink and go to bed still half clothed. No face washing. Take toothbrush to bed and spit out into a water glass.

Stock phrase: "OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE".

3. Red mist tired
(3-4 hours sleep)

Eye-poppingly filled with undirected rage, alternating with crying jags. Red craters where eyes should be. English and French meld into one incomprehensible mass of self-pitying, whiny crap. Tell children to scavenge for their own dinner in kitchen cupboards. Shout at them when they uncover stash of Wispa Golds. Eat whatever is on the kitchen counter - cucumber peel, old congealing bowls of breakfast cereal, phone bills, while thinking Sad Thoughts. Go to bed fully clothed, but remove bra, because, you know, I still have standards. Take toothbrush to bed but forget to use it. Consider peeing in water glass rather than staggering 5 yards to the loo, but decide just to hold it in until morning.

Stock phrase: "I just can't stand it" (delivered in quavering sob to totally indifferent audience)

4. Dead tired
(2-3 hours sleep)

Catatonic. Face looks like an abandoned bowl of gruel. Itchy from head to foot and use up remaining shred of energy scratching. Too feeble to either shout or cry. Dry rattling noise comes from throat when I try to speak. Vaguely aware of presence of some children at one point, not sure where they came from or who they are. Lose track of them once they both have a jumbo box of Swan Vestas , 20 Woodbines and the Racing Post. Sit down "just for a minute" in full work clothes, including tights, bra and possibly shoes. Wake up five hours later with dog sitting whimpering on my head, wearing my best Aubade (unearthed from previous night somewhere down bed) tangled around its neck. If I had a water glass I would definitely pee in it. I don't. I probably ate it in my sleep.

Stock phrase: none, see above. A sort of guttural rasping noise at best.

This week has been a 2-3, and there was a delightful 4 on Sunday night, but today was a 1. I am so very proud. Progress!

Monday, 7 December 2009

I want never gets. Unless you're Mariah Carey.

Katyboo did her fantasy Christmas list today. Katyboo is ace in all manner of ways, including warning me several months ago in very graphic and precise terms that I would have weeks like this one during this whole separation-pocalypse thing, when I would feel like nothing so much as crawling under a stone and never emerging, when I would question my own sanity and feel like everything would feel fucked up forever. Simply knowing it was a normal part of the process has been hugely helpful, and I have only been sort of half-wedged under a small pebble. Easier to wipe up the rivers of snotty tears that way, anyway. Katyboo was emphatic, both then and now, that it would improve. This is also a huge comfort. She is kind and wise and wonderful and deserves everything on her fantasy Christmas list and more.

I am none of those things, but I thought I might as well do a fantasy Christmas list as well, and then ask about yours. It seemed like fun, and my grasping, acquisitive impulses are never sated. I always WANT. This year, most of mine seem to defy the laws of physics and good sense, but that's why it's a fantasy list, isn't it?

1. I want not to have bought that last but one black dress. It was a dress too far, and it doesn't even much suit me. It's just a black, silky reminder of what a stupid dickhead I am.

2. I want a decent credit limit, so my stupid Belgian credit card doesn't collapse in puritan shock when I try and buy groceries, or a train ticket.

3. I want my mum back, because this is one of those times when there is absolutely no substitute. I want her to come and look after the children when I am being a shrieky, out of control witch, and I want her to force me to deal with the BOX OF DOOM containing all the pieces of paper I am most scared of. And just to be around, in a low key way, as she was so very good at doing when I first had Lashes and flaked out completely, spending weeks at a time crying while she listened patiently, patting my hand and making small nourishing meals. I want her back for selfish reasons, but also because I think it was hugely unfair she died when she had so much more fun to have. And Fingers to meet. And friends and family and especially my sister to enjoy and care for.

4. I want to live simultaneously in London and Brussels. Without making anyone unhappy.

5. I want the people I love not to be sick. Or die, obviously.

6. I want some angst free, morale boosting flirtation in my life. I only want the cheering kind, not the kind that is great for five minutes but then makes you miserable. If it's the miserable kind, you better put a receipt in, because I won't be keeping it.

7. I want a blanket made from the first belly strokings of baby goats, and I want to drape it on my bed, which I want miraculously to arrive in time for me to hibernate for a month with a pile of novels and someone to bring me neverending pots of tea and small, delicious snacks.

8. I want to skip ahead a year, just to check that it does all get better.

9. I want never to have to go to the Service des Etrangers again. In fact, I want the Service des Etrangers to be abolished. Ideally, they could explode it in a special Christmas firework display, along with Belgacom, Taxis Bleus and Delhaize.

10. I want my wallet back, with its valueless but essential contents, including prescriptions, driving licence, health insurance. I want it wrapped in plain white tissue paper in the toe of my stocking along with a pygmy jerboa, a tiny bat, eyelashes, a small Vuillard and a 90 minute deep tissue massage.

11. I want a nicer jawline.

12. I want a bit of daring. Just a handful would be plenty. And some better conversational and general social skills.

What's on your list?

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Guest post: The Dark Side of Craft

As promised, brain twin and co-craft-conspirator M, has a lot to say on the subject of good craft going very, very bad.

Note to self: when a strange woman off the interweb suggests you team up and attend a craft fair in London, say no.

I woke up last night in sweats from a horrible nightmare. I'd been trying to register to get to our stand at Craftacular, pushing and shoving at the hundreds of other crafters who were trying to steal my spot. The organizer looked me up and down scathingly, making a disobliging remark about my makeup (I was wearing none), suggesting perhaps I ought to get lessons from a professional. "But there isn't time!", I wailed. "Where are your magnets?", she replied. Fuck! The magnets! I rushed back to the office, a tall, impregnable building surrounded by crystalline, crocodile-infested waters. I was running through treacle, my floral apron hanging around my thighs like a lead blanket. "What are you doing?", asked a friend as she emerged from behind a bush. I explained. "A craft fair? In London? That's ridiculous. You don't even know how to drive."


This is just the latest installment, the crowning glory of the When Good Craft goes Bad saga. What started out as a harmless hobby has taken over my life. My studio is an obstacle course. Mountains of boxes hang precariously overhead. Unwound spools wait to trip me up. I've been worrying for the past couple of days that I left the iron on when I left.

Home is no better. The kitchen is a disaster zone. I can't remember the last time I cooked a meal, let alone washed a plate. I'm fairly certain I haven't showered since Thursday. I've taken over the sofa, along with two thirds of the living room. Owlinabox is wedged somewhere between two pillows. My boyfriend and I are engaged in a silent battle of wills. He doesn't like me leaving the tiny pair of scissors on the sofa, something about it being sharp and dangerous blablabla, and yet that's where I need it. He moves it to the coffee table. I move it back to my lap. We glare at each other menacingly. He retreats to the bedroom.

Here, let me show you:

Can you feel my pain, interwebs? Can you?

There is still so much to do. There are boxes to be ordered, magnets to be printed, cake stands to be wrapped, clothes rails and table covers to be sourced. There is rude - but elegant! - customer service to be practised. Then the Waffle and I must make our way to London from our respective rainy hinterlands, carrying our body weight in dough and wool and embroidered aprons. There we will meet, haggard and dishevelled, for the final baking marathon.

I have painted a grim picture, but it will all be alright in the end. We are not brain twins for nothing. Our competitive perfectionism will prevail; our stand will be a dazzling display of wit, rudeness, and desirable goods.

Do come and say hello if you are in town on the 12th of December. And maybe buy a thing or two. Fuck you very much in advance.

Four reasons to stamp on my head

One step forward, 8000 steps back. I finally book a boat for Christmas, using a credit card I cobble together with papier-mâché and double sided sticky tape. After revelling in my competence for several hours I wake at 4am realising:

a) We are travelling back overnight on 24th - will Father Christmas have to deliver to the boat, like something from the Raymond Briggs version (pointless parenthesis - does Father Christmas have a weepette? Check your copy, I am sure it is)

; and

b) Since I had my driver's licence stolen, how on earth am I going to hire a car?

Fail factor of 100.

Next, I call a dog person and end up committed to taking the weepette and children out to the arse end of nowhere at an extravagantly inconvenient time tomorrow, so they can check whether the weepette is a vicious killer. I consider, alternatively, putting a pair of long felt ears on the weepette and depositing him discreetly in the nativity scene in the Grand Place as an extra-malnourished donkey.

Thirdly, I realise that my failure to book a ticket at a reasonable time for Craftacular means that Eurostar will probably eat all my profit. Not that I have calculated how to make a profit. Or had any coherent thoughts on the subject at all. My poor "business" partner had to video chat me through biscuit box dimensions yesterday when I was so hungover I kept spontaneously weeping and Lashes kept thrusting his head in my face and roaring. I will have to go to the station to buy at ticket because my papier-mâché credit card has disintegrated, but the only time I can go is when I am taking weepette to be vetted for sociopathic tendencies.

Fourthly I spend much of yesterday crying with exhaustion and crapness and the spawn were so excited by the arrival of jolly St Nicolas, the 6 to 8 black men and their regime of terror and cruelty, that they woke at 3 and 5 this morning before finally alighting on my head at 7 screeching about the inadequacy of their gifts. As a result, we are spending today like this:

I'm the tartan pancake Ektorping to the right. My skin tone today is Farrow and Ball Romanian Orphan, with a touch of Heritage Consumptive Glaswegian.

Activities have included: eating chocolate coins, watching shit films about stab-inducingly cute dogs in space and whining for help from the CFO to build Lego. If I manage to be sufficiently productive even to put the bins out it will be a miracle.

However to compensate for this, the better half of my brain has done me a GUEST POST. It's about our epic Craftacular preparations, which she has actually been doing while I mainly whine about not doing them. Yes yes yes. So if you come back a bit later, you can discover the dark side of craft including actual photos and stuff. Also, please vote in the poll because commenter Fran has bloody well fixed it so that I have to make actual food with the turnips. Do not let this travesty of justice stand.

Friday, 4 December 2009

My brain is broken

This is an update on the "I am legendarily stupid" post of last year.

I am still legendarily stupid and I am going to tell you how, rather than getting on with sorting it all out.

1. Craftacular, 12 December

I have no boxes for the Cruel Tea arse biscuits. I have no ticket to go to London and none of my credit cards works to buy one. I have noone to look after the weepette.

2. Credit card

I haven't cancelled one of the cards that was nicked with my wallet. I hit an administrative wall, and I can't. Do. Any. More. Admin. This also extends to: not yet changing my billing address for any of my cards, sorting out my new ID card, getting a cleaner, speaking to the water people, paying the insurance, getting a new health insurance card/driving licence. I just can't do any more. I have admin burnout. This will all come back and bite me in the arse very very soon.

3. Child care

I am supposed to be going to Lydia's party tomorrow - hi Lydia! - and I haven't got a babysitter. Twenty four hours notice? In December? Fat chance.

4. Loon meds

I have run out of citalopram again. I could sort this out with a single phone call. I have not made the phone call. I have already got the tingling hands. Soon it'll be the dizziness. Great. So very clever.

5. Appliances

I still have no hoover or iron or any way to make coffee. I specially purchased economical white goods because you can get a 100 euro rebate from the federal government if you send them various pieces of paper. AS IF I will ever manage to do that. I mean, come ON. Apart from anything else, the dryer arrived looking like it had been mud wrestling other appliances, and without the vital A+ sticker on the side. I have done nothing about this, despite the fact I spend several thousand euros with these useless bastards on electrical shit. Oh, and I can't do a euro sign on this keyboard. I can see it, but what is the mac equivalent of alt gr? WHO KNOWS.

6. Christmas

Fuuuuuuck. I have no transport or dog care for Christmas either when I will mainly be in the UK with a ridiculous dash back to Brussels from 24-26th. I have not bought a single present. I have no particular belief I will buy any, apart from for the children. I have a bag of stocking fillers, but I will have to use them for the festival of that judgmental asshole, St Nicolas, this Sunday. St Nicolas, tu me casse les couilles (this useful French phrase means 'you are breaking my balls'. Take note, Fran). Seriously, you might as well just put me in your sack and kick me all the way to Spain. The ONLY thing, but the ONLY thing the spawn have asked for consistently is one of those eyeball balls. I cannot find a fucking eyeball ball, obviously. They are expecting the jolly man with the giant stick and the blacked up helpers to bring them one on Sunday.

Gah. Go on, berate me, or share your own shame. Whichever.