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.