The spawn are with their father and I am trying to focus on the peace, and the potential for small naps and large drinks, rather than the lack of small warm bodies to hold onto. I should probably deal with the house. It's .. well. It's indescribable. To say the floor needs washing is a bit like saying the Forth Bridge might need a lick of paint now and then. There's something in a glass that might once have been a lemon that's terrifying me and the whole place smells of cheap cleaning fluid, damp and dead things. It needs about a week of tidying. So do I actually. I looked in the mirror this morning and found I had a piece of melted chocolate the size of a 5p piece stuck to my forehead. It had probably been there for days. And the freckles! Fuck. I've just had a look, and they're horrific, I look like I have some kind of Biblical dreaded skin disease. I'm not anti-freckle on the right face. My sister, the Space Cadette wears a freckle (I feel it needs the fashion singular) with great aplomb. But mine is not the right face. I might not be able to leave the house for a few months, which would, conveniently, be about the right amount of time to restore the house to something that won't attract the attention of social services. The 'garden' might take longer. I think it's developed consciousness in my absence and it's coming to get me. I really must tackle it. My shopping list includes things like giant extension leads and special strimmer string. It's not a life I ever thought I'd have, I must say, but I'm making what I can of it.
I am going to try and kickstart one of my micro-phases of relentless positivity after the weeping and terror of the holidays, starting with the reasons it is good to be back in Belgiana:
1. It is 27°C today and tomorrow. I can perch on the rickety stool in the shade in the "garden" fearfully shunning the fiery ball (the words shut, stable door, horse, bolted come unbidden to mind).
2. My quartier really does have the best food shops imaginable. I have become quite sniffy about Belgian food, what with the crap croissants and the mysterious variants on grey meat in fritkots, but if you can be arsed with raw ingredients (as you are well aware, I most certainly can't be 99% of the time), they are really excellent. I went out and bought a chèvre frais (the cheese rather than the actual goat, sadly), a sourdough baguette, a bunch of muscat grapes, two mutant 'cornu' tomatoes, a Charentais melon, some San Daniele and a stuffed pepper, all within two minutes of my house. I didn't even venture as far as the superlative deli or the butchers. Wow, imagine how slappably smug I would be if I actually gave a toss about food. I kind of hate myself already.
3. I have the car for a couple more weeks so I can go to my favourite place in the whole of Belgiana, the Parc Paradisio with its celebrated (by me) escaping capybaras. Or I could go to Animals Express, Belgium's most ethically dodgy retail outlet, and buy myself an owl. Or a wallaby.
4. It looks like bow-tied, ideologically sound fop, Elio di Rupo may manage to form a government. I am being premature, obviously. A speck of dust may fly the wrong way around the Flemish parliament casting everything back into chaos.
5. Erm. Look how busy the park is today!
That's midday. On a sunny Saturday. Looks like Belgium's policy of discouraging visitors through the medium of lane closures is working. If you look very closely you can see the weepette about to roll in fox shit, then lie in a fetid pool of mud, thus making my day extra special.
6. No, there is one more good thing. I am on my way to Colruyt, the supermarket of Belgo discount weirdness, and I am planning to prepare a photo tour. If you have particular questions on how to shop in a Belgian discount store famed for its bureaucratic meat counter, please place them in the comments.