Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Health and Safety

Oh, things are dull round here, aren't they? I'm overcome with a desire to say appalling, outrageous things, but then I have to swallow it down. Dull. DULL. I'll see what I can sneak past my internal censor tonight.

First a confession: I dropped Fingers's (raw) birthday cake on the floor. I scooped it off with a spoon, swearing and muttering, cooked it, and sent it to school covered in (rather successful, if I do say so myself) chocolate fudge icing. It was apparently the best cake they have had all year. Rave reviews. There's probably a moral in there somewhere, but I wouldn't know as I am a moral vacuum and have no remorse about this, or many other things. And now M can't blackmail me, because I have admitted my crimes to my internet peers.

Fingers was six yesterday, born with minimum fuss after a lovely lunch at Latium in Cleveland Street and a short, rather expedited walk to University College Hospital labour ward, which was mysteriously empty, for once. Born four months after my mum died, I rather feared I would go to pieces entirely once I was no longer carrying him, but there was no crying or collapse, just a very peaceful pleasure at his arrival and an aching sadness that she never met him. She knew I was pregnant, at least. One of the very hardest things to hear after her death was that she had been heading into Rome to buy baby clothes on the morning she died. Anyway, we look - and I think, briefly, felt - very serene on the few photos that seem to exist of those first few days after he was born. (though Fingers was a very odd, squinty looking thing for weeks. Sorry, darling, you're beautiful now). It was such a sad, desperate time, and he was such hopeful little animal in the middle of it. I remember walking around Russell Square in the weeks after he was born, feeling spring beginning to emerge and feeling tiny tentacles of optimism starting to unfurl within me. Of course, then we moved to Paris and it all went tits up, but that's another story.

His birthday was a low key event, the tone being set by the man himself, with his request for an extremely plain cake and a miniature entrenching tool. It was an odd gathering - boys with a modest collection of plastic tat, CFO putting in a brief appearance to drop off laser guns (for which the dog thanks him from the bottom of its heart), brain twin in the corner industriously making monster stop motion films, weepette cravenly fleeing the cross hairs of the laser guns. In the evening, once the CFO had left, the children were in bed, and M was huddled in front of her Macbook, barely visible under a pile of blankets, I went out with a someone whose complex personal life would give a lesser man several nervous breakdowns. Ah, modern life.

I have always liked my boys' birthdays - not the actual parties, which are several rings of hell shoved into a windowless room and filled with plastic and punitive acoustics - but the basic cake and presents on the day itself. I used to find it very comforting when we lived in London, how an odd assortment of friends and convoluted family (step-parents, half siblings, cousins) always seems to assemble, or call. It seemed right, and comforting always, that there are other adults in their lives, possibly because there were lots in my childhood and I loved it - my mother's lodgers, friends, lovers, colleagues - all the the trappings of North Yorkshire hippiedom. I want my children to have that here too. I am working on it, but am too pathetic and shy to make much headway. Be my friend! Spare my children years of therapy from being trapped in an overly-intense symbiosis with a parent whose best relationships are mediated through a keyboard!


1. I did not win a Bloggie, so the weepette Mexican Wrestling outfit is on ice. I might just put his head in a sock, but that would mainly be for my own amusement. Thank you anyway for voting if you did, and I am not going to go all passive aggressive on you if you didn't. I have been really quite shit at blogging for the last 6 months or so, ever more circumspect and boring. Ending a 16 year relationship, moving into a new house, continual Channel hopping, work woes, child anxiety, financial terror, will do that, I suppose. I would pledge to do better, but I just don't know how at the moment. I'm praying it's a fallow period and better things will start to occur to me unbidden, like they used to. Please, Nathan.

2. After an insanely busy February, March is staring back at me, blank and slightly forbidding. I am planning to staple my head to the kitchen table and try and get on with some writing work. I am haunted by writer-twitterers and their triumphal daily word counts, by the excellent advice for writing fiction in the Guardian, by the suspicion that I don't like what I am writing enough to get it finished. I am terrified I will lose my nerve entirely. I suck, and must face my fears and type some words and see what happens.

3. On a less tiresomely introspective note, Nouvelle Star starts today! Tomorrow here in Belgium, where we are cruelly forced to wait an extra day for French singing reality tv joy. Tragically, Sinclair, my perpetual crush, is not taking part this year. I will just have to transfer all my affections to the mysterious but genial André Manoukian, his luxuriant hair and his esoteric insults. I will devote a whole post to André's sayings soon. Just watch me.


Em said...

Lovely memories and sadness that your favourite people aren't enjoying each others company now...

Wahoo for a successful cake, floor bitty bits and all.

What do you mean you didn't win? Who didn't vote? Take a tally and name names. Do it for Belgium. Do it for your fab Queen Fab.

Lisa-Marie said...

I think you should send everyone who didn't vote some shit in a Tiffany's box like Sharon Osborne. NOt all the people in the world who didn't, as that would take a very long time, just the English speaking ones who should be reading. For what it's worth, I find your blog entertaining, even without the swearing!

Birthdays are funny things. I don't really like mine since my mum died, it is always a bit disappointing. I feel quite bad because my husband tries very hard to make it lovely for me, but it's not the same. When I have children I will project all of my birthday love onto them though.

Also, please send me some chocolate fudge cake, thanks!

soleils said...

Keep writing, please, your writing is/(you are?) simply brilliant, perceptive, funny and tender. A treat. Keep sharing it. Merci.

connie said...

This is sad but oh so beautifully written. Your mum sounds as though she was a wonderful character - it's still not that long ago since you lost her. My own mother died when I was 15 (her own choice) and I couldn't even mention her name without crying for over 20 years. I don't want to deflect from your own sadness - just that grieving is a long, long process...

Christina Lindsay said...

Beautiful post. Very sorry not to see Weepette in the wrestling outfit. I've left a blog award for you at mine xx

the polish chick said...

waffle, what a lovely sweet post, and this from a bitter childless oft-drunk old hag.

my own birthday is creeping up in days, and i will likely ignore it, not because i am getting older ('cause, gee, ain't everyone?), but because i will be turning 38 and my synesthesia has a real problem with the fat, damp, floppy, vaguely greyish number 8. ugh. can't wait till next year.

Laura Jane said...

Forgive me Waffle it has been weeks since my last comment....

I am pissing myself laughing at the thought that floorbatter-cake was the best cake of the year! Honestly, why do we even BOTHER to try any harder than necessary?

Mum-shaped holes in our lives suck, eh? (rubs shoulder in sympathy). No getting around it.

Happy birthday fella.

Top Bird @ Wee Birdy said...

Oh Waffle, how I've missed you so. I'm catching up on your posts from the other side of the world now ... trying to recreate my everyday life and some sense of stability.

You do an incredible job on your blog and this post captures everything I love about it - sad stuff, hilarious stuff, and questionable health and safety.

Big kisses. xx

Kelley said...

Hello, Waffle! I happened upon you somehow a few months back (mimi smartypants linked to you, maybe?) and have been reading you daily ever since. (And I voted for you!) I don't think I've commented before?

My mother is sick and I spend lots of time terrified, and angry, and even angry with her, though we have been best friends my whole life. It's weird. No time frame, so I don't even know how often to be sad or to worry. Silly, huh? I can't even write about it on my blog b/c so many friends/family members aren't allowed to know. I keep having these conversations in my head instead.

I read your comments and noticed how many people you know have this "mum-shaped hole,"...great phrase, Laura Jane.
I wish I weren't American so I could refer to her as my "mum" without sounding as if I'm trying too hard. It's a very warm word, somehow.

So, and... I went through everything you've tagged "sad stuff" to read up on her and your grief. It's a little masochistic to search for your sorrow, especially in advance of mine, but I did it anyway. You write beautifully, and I've enjoyed hearing all of your news -- good and bad and funny. You're very entertaining, and I'm so glad to be able to feel as if I know you.
My point is: I think reading you helps.

On the off-chance that I ever end up in Belgium I will be writing you and forcing you to hang out with me for a bit. Forewarned, forearmed.

Dig said...

Ah Nouvelle Star! Finally, television you can sink your teeth into! Sinclair will be missed...

Happy birthday to the boy and good luck with the staple gun.I need one of those too.

frau antje said...

gateau a la plancher? No, google says this is cake has the floor, that would make it a member of the Belgian government...and I can't picture a cake trying to rip itself apart.

Happy Frog and I said...

I hope March works out for you I really do. I find your blog compelling reading. I have a Dad shaped hole rather than a Mum shaped one but I can relate to a lot of what you have written. I'm sorry to hear you didn't win an award, but there are so many people who get so much from your posts that I hope that helps. Really enjoyed the part about droping the cake by the way. I'd have done the same! :-)

Chantal said...

You are NEVER EVER circumspect OR boring.

I loved that writers' advice article too.

Please keep writing and don't be disheartened by the Twitterati - I bet for most people who comment here yours is the first URL they check when they switch on their PC/Mac, because I know it's one of mine...and who needs a Bloggie as an excuse to make a Mexican wrestling mask for a weepette anyway?

...or maybe you just need a chedlift, which I see is my WV of the day?

MargotLeadbetter said...

Your mother has been on my mind today because I attended an event where the cost of bringing up disabled children was mentioned. (Sorry, I seem to sort of know who your mother was. Is that a bit stalkerish? Anyway, I admire her work.)

Ms. Scotch said...

I just read this post while listening to Street Spirit by Radiohead. No idea why this is relevant, but they went beautifully together...

Everyone should have voted for you! I know I certainly did. You should send them something hatefully funny exposing them for the twats they are!

Jaywalker said...

Oh, no Margot, not stalky at all, lovely. I am very proud to be related to her xxx

Thank you for all the lovely comments. Polish Chick, you make 8 sound like a piece of meat in a Belgian friterie. Bleugh. Wee Birdy, I miss you too. Can't quite believe you're gone, actually. xxxx

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