Wednesday, 25 August 2010


There is little to report from Belgiana, which is sunk deep in premature winter. Since this means opaque tights and an end to the tyranny of the garden, I am broadly in favour. I plan to spend the rest of the week closeted with words. Lots of words. Probably some KitKat too. I have discovered that Hema - which might be suitable for another Belgian Shopping Guide, it's a sort of Dutch sub-Woolworths - stocks these giant pimped KitKats, double normal size. Sadly the chocolate is not quite the echt British cheap n' nasty, but it'll pass.

Speaking of words, I particularly enjoyed these phrases that arose in various contexts in the last 24 hours. I wish to embroider them on a sampler, or possibly weave them into an epic poem. If I were still at Quaker school we could probably turn them into inept tableaux vivants.

"Unicorn coma"

"Generic anger, envy and despair, coated in a thick, luxurious layer of can't be arsed".

"Just think 'abusive babysitter', it worked before, n'est ce pas?"

"Chitty chitty trojan weepette".

"Contraband hedgehog grooming"

"Laburnum muesli"

Other things I have loved recently:

This was very beautiful. I like the whole blog actually, but this is very carefully, movingly written. It reminds me of a poem. Eventually I will remember which one.

This is very very funny and makes me snort. Can I recommend the instant messaging posts, and also The Hobbit?

This is on repeat, though I suspect you have to be a very particular kind of English person of a very specific age to like it. Also, possibly, a high tolerance of the ukelele is preferable.

Consider the aye-aye. If someone asked me to draw my inner child (and frankly, I'm disappointed noone ever does), it would look like an aye-aye. Bedraggled. Gripping knuckles. Those eyes.

Of course, the hungover owls, internet favourites, du moment. My particular favourite is actually not a real one. It is this one. Squirrel Nutkin is indescribably sinister, I mean, already, squirrels, brrrrr. And then, Beatrix Potter was a twisted, dark old bird wasn't she? Samuel Whiskers rolled in pastry, his panicky kitten face sticking out the top. (after typing that I had to go up 4 flights of stairs to locate and read Samuel Whiskers. Yup, still terrifying).

The CFO has acquired a hedgehog. This amuses me immeasurably, particularly as Team Sudoku, his parents, imported it for him to order from the Vendée. They are hedgehog smugglers. I love how they did not question his need (? desire) for a hedgehog. The man has 6 tortoises, of which one is blind, and now a stinking hedgehog. I texted him to ask if I could go and get a book. He replied 'Oui, mais ne dérange pas l'hérisson' (yes, but don't disturb the hedgehog), since he knows me far too well. Of course, I did, but only to peep. It is very large and very sleepy and it smells bad. He wants it to eat his slugs. What if it doesn't like slugs? He said it has already capsized several tortoises too, lumbering around the garden (he tracks it with a torch late at night). Oh, this reminds me that reptile lovers can weep freely along to this clip of tortoise altruism.

Wearing shorts. Obviously the premature winter has put paid to it now, but where have you been all my life, shorts? When did you get so good? By next year my knees won't be up to shorts, so I am making the most of it. They're not really up to it now, if I am brutally honest with myself, but they can just about pass in dim lighting. That's the only kind we have in Brussels right now, so it's FINE.

Look, here's a shitty photo:

Gap shorts, in black or grey lightweight wool, now on sale for thirty odd of your British quids oh, and now they're online too! Joy. No, of course noone paid me to say that or gave me free shorts, are you 'avin a larf, I never get anything free, ever, and more's the pity. The top is Cos. Everything is Cos now. The shoes date from the legendary era When I Used to Earn A Decent Wage, and are Ferragamo. There won't be any more of that kind of thing round the Salmon Palace for a while, I fear. I keep all my shoes on the stairs here, and as I walk up and down them, on particularly fiscally trying days, it's hard not to calculate in my head how many months rent they add up to (three, easy). Is it worth me putting ads on here, do you think? I mean, obviously it's a single New Look shoe for three years worth of adverts for ethically dubious products, but times are hard, and I budget like a ferret on crystal meth, to quote Prong Two, above. Or any alternative money making schemes? I have no skills, but also no standards. There must be something, surely?

Commenters, I feel you need some direction today. I'd like you to do one of the following:

1. Suggest a means for me to make some money.

2. Tell me what story terrified you as a child.

3. Tell me what creature on ZooBorns your inner child looks like.

4. Link to something you've enjoyed recently on the interwebz. If it features a tortoise chasing a tomato or similar, all the better.

5. Give me your phrase of the moment. Etymology optional.

Allez, zoup. Au boulot.


Unknown said...

I'd like to offer or the boyfriend of the reality TV hopeful who said: "She never shuts up - she can talk the hind ears off a donkey."

Waffle said...

Ha. I am laughing like a FOOL at the hind ears. Thank you Ellen.

Les Tombay said...

Dear Waffle,

I'm sorry to ignore the four challenges you've thrown down but I just wanted to add my own favourite phrase to those you mentioned. It comes from my daughter; it is the name of a game she used to play with her best friend, and it's called Restaurant, Vampire & Pony.

Now, I've tried hard but I just can't come up with three more dissociated words that don't sound somehow contrived, or fake, when thrown together. Perhaps it's just me, but this is currently my phrase of the year.

(Oh, and both girls have already forgotten what the game is about, so how this phrase came into being we'll never know)

Simon said...

What I enjoyed most recently on the interweb was this.

The site is in Italian but the video's in Dutch, with English subtitles. That's all I'll say about it, but it's EXQUISITE.

Waffle said...

I changed the rules so you weren't cheating, Phil. As you were.

magpie said...

If you were to leave a basket with a kitten in it and a mysterious note outside my front door, I would pay you. It'll be our secret. No way JFK or anyone else could say no to keeping it in those circumstances.
Obviously this is not a life plan for financial security.

Margarita @ said...

What happened to your etsy shop and all the naughty biscuits? I had assumed you were going to buy out some coffee shop with a friend and take it over, waffling style!

Helen Brocklebank said...

This morning my inner child was like this

but then I had two internal meeting of tedium and an excel spreadsheet, and my inner child changed to this..

I still like the Holy Relics business plan - and just think how much one could sell the holy spines of the hedgehog for, though we'd need to get Mr Houser to build a suitable reliquary. But having watched a member of my team pay £250 for a weeks 'cleanse'. They send you a large bag of horse tablets, a selection of juices and a lemon. This is a seriously high margin business.

Kathrine B said...

I hope you enjoy this as much as I have (approximately 18 times in the last 12 hours).


Anna said...

In regards to terrifying children's stories: I had a book of the ballet the Red Shoes, wherein a young girl is given a pairof red shoes that make her dance like a, well, a dancer, but when she tires and wants to take them off they will not come off and she dances until she dies. That's right. Dies. I read this book approximately once, around age 7, but it sure stayed with me. Also, Outside, Over There, whose illustrations are gorgeous but whose story features a baby being kidnapped and taken to a land of goblins and who is replaced in the crib by a melting baby made of ice. Sweet dreams!

Waffle said...

Er Simon? I found that strange and intensely melancholy. The tiny labels! The names! The woman downstairs! Is she his WIFE? I'm haunted.

Simon said...

Yep, I'd guess she's his wife. The look on her face when she hears the machine start up again is priceless.

Anonymous said...

I think the tortoise clip cut away too early. That definitely had the look of a tortoise who was confidently expecting a gratitude shag!

Inner zooborn is the baby chimp, deffo. Loves body hair and PG Tips.

E and M said...

I read a weird kid's book called The Green Gruff Grackle when I was only 5 and the story was basically about a hideous monster that started to appear from the feet upwards whenever a child did something bad (or some reason like that) and on every page, you saw the horrible green feet appearing. Then the legs. Then the torso, etc.

I was reading this with a teacher and was so scared of seeing the Grackle's face that I refused to continue and when she pushed me to keep reading I wet myself in fear.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the same teacher then forced me to read it again and look at the scary monster's face drawing. I then fainted! My Mum was called to the school and went mental at the teacher.

I had a phobia of the colour green until I was about 10. Coincidentally, I saw a copy of this book at a friend's house when I was in my teens and made myself look at the Grackle's face. It really was absolutely terrifying!

Reading this back, I realise what a wimpy kid I was. I couldn't even watch horror films until I was at least 25, in case the horrible things in them happened to me...

Bryony said...

I went to Hema for the first time this year with a friend who knows it well - it was fab and I got loads of bright yellow marshmallow chicks. You could start an export buisiness to the UK to earn money. To save money, you could row it accross. I will meet you in Felixstowe with restorative liqour.

As a 10 year old I read an abridged version of The Birds and have never felt the same way about the little feathered beasts since. They are the devil's work.

My word of the moment is "Pivoed", a corruption of the Croatian for "beer" meaning the effect of imbibing too much of it...

Bryony said...

have just spotted my spelling mistakes....

soleils said...

Ok, so the man is mad (do check out his œuvre), but this truly cracks me up. My boys and I sang it like fools the whole time we were on holiday à la plage en France (mais pas tous nus).

White sheet optional.

WV: mumshedd. I love it. How do these get made up?

soleils said...

Also, my new ambition is to learn this choreography with a my closest friends. Not really.

Waffle said...

Soleils, I feel betrayed. That thing is fucking awful. And now it's going round and round my head. I'm going to wake up in the middle of the night screaming NON MAIS LAISSEZ MOI MANGEZ MA BANANE SUR LA PLAGE.

soleils said...

I know! I am (a little bit sorry) but I had to pass it on, because it was just too much for me... I hope it hasn't scarred you too much. It has certainly scarred us. But also made us laugh. We are an easily pleased audience.

On the other hand, youknow, I feel so tempted to do just that right now - go eat a banana in the noddy on the beach - having just come back to this green and pleasant land (not to mention extremely wet and unwelcoming this time, for some reason) and been metaphorically punched by dozens of emails, tons of work to be done, and basically reality.

Non mais laissez-moi, non mais laissez-moi...

Encore toutes mes excuses !

Lauren said...

Am presently howling with laughter after reading The Hobbit post!

Margaret said...

Love your shorts. Love.

Isn't a hedgehog sort of like a raccoon? Why would you get one on purpose?


1. Teach Oscar to detect bedbugs, move to New York, rake in cash.
2. My dad thought the Odyssey was an appropriate bedtime story for a three-year-old, including Polyphemus getting his eye poked out in grisly fashion. 
3. Manatee, formless and flopping around
5. Prostituion whore: What Teresa called Danielle before the table-flipping incident on Real Housewives of New Jersey

k said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
k said...

the phrase du jour: 'i don't want to be stuck with the petroleum wifes' - juliette in cairo time, which btw is a cinematographic feel-good gem and glimpse into our expat lives.

Fanny said...

As a child, I was terrified of the "swamp man", who our neighbour said lived in the marshy forest bit behind our houses. We would go down to the tiny stream and catch tadpoles and salamanders, constantly fearing the swamp man would emerge and claim a victim. I imagined him as half human, half mud monster, always on the hunt for fresh child meat.

JB_Kiwi said...

The lawnmower terrified me as a child. It still does. I fear I will lose my toes in a horrible grisly, attack-of-the-killer-garden-equipment fashion.

Lisa-Marie said...

1. You could remodel yourself as a make-up counter lady? Think of the free facegoop.

2. My big brother told me when I was little that there was a monster who lived in the toilet, and that when I went to the loo in the night, I had to be back in bed before it stopped flushing, or the monster would get me. You can imagine my horror when my bedroom was moved from directly across for the bathroom to downstairs.

3. I think my inner child is the baby elephant. Chubby and clumsy, but excitable.

4. - you may have seen it, but it makes me laugh!

5. 'little shitbags' is my favourite phrase. some teenagers have been attempting to terrorise people, but running away because everyone shouts at them, just across from where I live. I am sure you have met some nedlets when visiting M, so you understand. Other than that, my favourite phrase is always ' You are such a bawbag'. not grown up, but quite fun!

Lisa-Marie said...

p.s. This is a good not dreary post, and you have very good legs for shorts. I suggest you just wear them with thick tights till for as long as you can bear it.

Bermondsey mum said...

My brother, " I'll be fine, but I need 40 trailer-loads of sleep"

I have a hunch that you'll be fine too but you need to re-focus; what's with the self-doubt? You have an extraordinary talent as a writer! It's worth repeating that to yourself several times a day. Keep going and sooner or later the fear and doubt will ease; be dogged (but perhaps not a la weepette so much) in your pursuit of the next 24 hours and the 24 hours after that, is my advice.

Roo said...

Ok......please just hear me out?

I think you have excellent taste/sense in fashion/outfit design.I AM NOT BEING Sarcastic! Wouldn't it be cool to spend other peoples money to dress them? AND make some money on for you!!!

I SUCK at picking outfits that work on me. If I were in the same country, I would hire you. I AM NOT KIDDING!

You do have talent. You need to believe it to use it.

Also, I had Atom Man as a child.
He was a human shape filled with what looked like static on TV. He was the childhood brain-terror of a fever induced fugue state(measles @ 7 years). He came out of my wall light switch and stood over my bed. Sweet Jesus he/it was CREEPY. Good times, good times.

And..I'm done.


Bermondsey mum said...

p.s. forgot to say - definitely go with the adverts.

Sarah L. said...

This may also be my inner child. May I have two-fer points? Anywhooo...enjoy The Sneezing Baby Panda:

Laylabean said...

Anna - I had that Red Shoes book too but in my version the ballerina has a woodcutter chop her feet off she can stop dancing. He CHOPS OFF HER FEET!!

The other terrifying story I sort of remember is something about Blackbeard and his new wife goes into a forbidden room and finds the bodies of many previous wives.

Scary, scary, scary.

Anonymous said...

Please excuse me for being a cheeky interloper....

1. The Brothers Grim version of The Little Mermaid was the source of a couple of childhood nightmares - especially the bit where the witch ripped out the mermaids tongue was particularly memorable/terrifying to my 6 year old self.
As was the Welsh witch from Chorlton and the Wheelies for no explicable reason:

2. My phrase of the day is "bored flaccid"
I almost wish i wasn't testicularly challenged so that i could use it.

3.BTW you look fab in shorts. Some of us are cursed with FAT Knees and large arses so can't wear them.

4. The Hobbit post made me snort my tea laughing..Thank you!

Anonymous said...

My version of Red Shoes also had the girl's feet being chopped off so she could stop dancing. Then they and the shoes kept dancing off into the distance without her!

I also was terrified of Dr Seuss's "pale green pants with nobody inside them", which featured in "What was I afraid of?". (has been reissued in "The Sneetches and other stories" recently).

Never got into Doctor Who, because the original theme music spooked me out and we had to turn the TV off.

k said...

belatedly, my phrase of the day is 'lisboniamoci' - as per an italian colleague talking about the union

Prong Two said...

Sweet Jesus in the corn field. Thank you so much for the mention and the sudden influx in new readers! You're one of my favourite bloggers, and I am THRILLED that you've added me to your blog roll. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Waffle said...

Heh. It is my very pleasure Prong Two. I am loving your work intensely AND you have inspired me to join OK Cupid which is providing me with a high number of hours of HILARITY (no dates. But lots of hilarity).

Prong Two said...

You've joined OKCupid? Oh YES. I have no doubt about the hilarity. Actual dates are a bit risky with that bunch, though they're even more hilarious (if you make it out alive or not dead from boredom). Keep me posted on that!

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