Wednesday, 19 January 2011


One of those snakes and ladders kinds of days. Several good pieces of work news, followed by the ominous slither - flop of the post bringing a reminder for a €693 bill, another bill for €444 and a joyful missive from the tax office. OH GOOD. My friends at the Belgian Revenue, you have finally tracked me down! Welcome back, Service Public Fédérale des Finances! How I have missed your cheerily impenetrable 8 point type missives!

Mrs Trefusis and I debated the fraught subject of correspondence with the Revenue, sorrowfully.

"Why" she said "Does one never get NICE correspondence from the Inland Revenue? Imagine if they wrote:

Dear Emma

Hope you had a nice Christmas and new year break and that 2011 is treating you well. Awfully sorry about this but there's a little local difficulty with the tax... do you think you could give us a call. If you can pluck up the courage to call us today, we'll knock £50 off the bill as a gesture of encouragement. love The Tax (wo)Man"

She is quite right. I would respond far better to this softly, softly approach.

(On reflection, that might not be true, but the impenetrable 8 point type is not particularly conducive to feelings of urgency and contrition).

Other minor tragedies:

1. I set fire to my pashmina tassles whilst making homemade chicken nuggets from an organic chicken breast from my local market, which has to be one of the most middle class accidents possible. Sadly, the breadcrumbs were straight out of a packet from the supermarket, rather than gently toasted Poîlane crumbs, or organic pinhead oatmeal. I lose several points, right there. Suggestions for even more middle class accidents are welcome (Miss Underscore has a nice line in middle class injuries, involving some kind of scented candle injury, but I can't bloody find it now).

2. I have had to wash my children's hair, they smelled like tramps. I tried to kiss one on the tram and recoiled, I am not sure what they have been rubbing against at the gulag, but it's not right. There was a lot of chat from Fingers about thoraxes and abdomens and other insecty stuff, but I hope the two are not connected.

I try not to groom them when I can avoid it, it is dangerous, they go mad with the excitement of lather, but it was unavoidable. It was as unspeakable as usual, sloshings of water everywhere, screeching at the soap in the eyes, me flailing in panic. When you can remove your hair and wash it conveniently in the bathroom basin, you are ill-prepared for hair attached to heads. I do not have this excuse with their fingerclaws, that's pure superstitious terror. Anyway, I reckon it's now the CFO's turn for the next 6 months.

3. It is Wednesday, this needs no further explanation. I had two industrial muffins for lunch, yet I smell mysteriously of Old El Paso fajita mix, and all I have to show for today is four envelopes stuffed with administrative bucks I am trying to pass. I have had two baths. Baths are my main entertainment these days. Our bath is well stocked with Hot Wheels Colour Change Monster Cars (do you have small children? Do you have these? If the answer to 1 is yes, and 2 is no, you are missing a trick. This is not a sponsored post, I just like putting cars shaped like spiders and stingrays in the freezer, and then under the hot tap, for kicks), which provide me with excellent low cost entertainment, and if I put enough cheap nasty bath salts and dead cormorant scented powdered seaweed in, I can pretend it's equivalent to a diet.

However, look: Hungover Owls has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Joy. "German police pick up drunken owl" is likely to remain my favourite headline for some time.

I am quitting while I am - and I use the term extremely loosely - ahead. I would advise you to do the same.


Miss Underscore said...

It seems to me that the potential for middle class injuries involving pashminas are endless. Maybe potential purchasers need to attend some sort of training course first.

My friend has a cautionary tale about the dangers of L'Occitane foot cream. She was a bit too exuberant with the application once and then attempted to walk across a tiled floor. Carnage. Peppermint and Lavender scented carnage.

Waffle said...

Yes, Miss U. With a training video featuring Selina Scott. I once watched one with her about putting out workplace fires. It was BRILLIANT.

Betty M said...

Just snorted Ginger beer through my nose at the accidents and the thought of the video. You are not helping my domestic squalor improve.

Miss Underscore said...

YES! Selina Scott would be perfect. Selina Scott is to pashminas what Katie Price is to velour tracksuits. Or, what Judi Finnigan is to Per Una skirts: INSEPARABLE!

livesbythewoods said...

If I may interject a squalid note into the accident-relating thread?

When I was a teenager, a serious, heavy-rock-fan teenager, I used to buy Kerrang magazine every week. I loved it. LOVED it.

My family still, 30 years later, weep with hilarity as they mimic my anguished cry of "Who used my Kerrang to kill flies?"

It hurt then, and it hurts now.

Although not as much as going arse over tip due to expensive foot lotion would.

Jane said...

Here is my 'injury': last year I slightly strained my wrist after buying a Le Creuset casserole dish for my sister's birthday and walking around the shops with it for too long.

nappy valley girl said...

I love the middle class accident. Does damaging your finger with a parmesan grater count?

Snakes and Ladders is called Chutes and Ladders in the US. I can't work out if this is because they don't want to frighten children, or because it's politically incorrect for snakes.

Miss Underscore said...

I did laugh at Jane's Le Creuset injury.

I bet in some leafy, middle-class suburbs Le Creuset has been compelled to fund new A&E wings, just to compensate for strain their products put on our crumbling NHS.

GingerB said...

Middle class home repair incident: On the blog More Than Just a Mother I read of a mom who reviewed the "hexbug" and it cost her 150 when the little bastard immediately went up the line to her gas fireplace. So I got some as stocking stuffers. While these gifts are opened by the group, and as I am telling this story to my husband and rather doofy stepsons they all set their bugs a-buzzin and the husband's hexbug goes right down the air intake of the central heating system. While I was telling him the story of why I bought the toys. We heard it for a few days, figure eventually he'll hit the filter.

I have burned the hem of my blouse trying to get bowls down from above the stove while cooking, but never injured the actual breasts.

Anonymous said...

I too have suffered the same scarf burning accident. There I was wearing my favourite scarf while cooking - and all of a sudden a huge fire erupts on my chest. Scary stuff, luckly my hair is fairly short. Must have been the synthetic fibres, it just exploded into flames. Luckily I managed to quench the fire with water from the sink.
Scarves should definitely come with a warning, like the one about not putting cats in the microwave or something.

jessb said...

I am a walking middle class injury.
- fell off a chair (taking it down with me) and onto a marble floor in the middle of a posh conference so that I was just a heap of well-tailored, chair-covered embarrassment.
- recently choked on a goji berry
- got a nasty burn in the middle of my chest when my cold pressed olive oil spat at me as I put the organic chicken thighs into my Le Creuset frypan (see, Le Creuset?? Look what you have done to us!). I now look like someone has take a cigarette to me in a pub fight but the truth is much more middle class!

lauragc said...

I sustained a 3 inch bruise across the top of my left hand when a potato ricer dropped shut on it. Does that count?

Waffle said...

Oooh, Laura, that reminds me that my bright pink and blue mixing bowls from Skandium, the temple of heinously expensive Swedish loveliness, keep falling on my head whenever I open the cupboards. Will the bourgeois tragedies never cease?

Miss Underscore, I am imagining the referral letter now. 'Your appointment with the fracture clinic is on 9th March at 12:30 in the Le Creuset ward, Ramekin 17'.

Rebecca said...

I was getting a Nigella pasta bake out of the oven recently and was knocked off balance by my pedigree golden retriever (even more excited by the pasta bake than I was) and dropped it, first onto my thighs then on the floor. So I got 2 giant bruises, had no lunch (for my parents about to arrive, from Surrey) and had to keep a close eye on the dog for ages for evidence of internal injuries from shards of Jamie Oliver cookware. I think I cried. I must have done.

Kate said...

I tripped over my mac book Air cord, you know, the one 'that ensures your power cable will disconnect if it experiences undue strain', knocking the Air to the floor and me headfirst into the hand carved Burmese table. I had a black eye for a week. Does that count?

ellen said...

Oh the pain of our First World Problems! I've had no end of injuries from cycling - not the kind where you ride to work, but the sort where you toil around the countryside on expensive carbon fiber bicycles in lycra clothing for hours on end for no purpose whatsoever. I look forward to the day when I can injure myself with some beautiful Le Creuset. Plain old 10 inch cast iron frying pans are heavy enough to hurt but lack cachet.

lauragc said...

Someone ought to set up a charity to help us recover from our injuries. I can just see the NSPCC style black and white tv adverts now "Just £2 a month could help Arabella get the private medical treatment she needs for the broken wrist she sustained trying to lift her Le Creuset casserole dish out of her Aga"

Laura said...

Just last night I pulled a hamstring in a ballet class where I (arguably) had no right to be at the age of 37. But is that a middle-class injury or just a deeply deluded one?

Katie said...

Yesterday I cut my finger whilst trimming fair-trade yellow roses to fit a vintage teapot which I had filled with water and fashioned into a vase.

Also, I sprained my wrist putting the lid on my blender to make breadcrumbs out of the leftover crusts of wholemeal homemade bread in order to make home-made pollock fish fingers.

Middle class injuries. I thought I was alone!

Kitty said...

Over the festive period I had a unfortunate index finger/hand-blender contretemps whilst making pastry for some home-made mince pies. Sourced, au naturel, from Nigella's Domestic Goddess. Let me tell you it takes a very long time to individually roll and cut out pastry cases and stars when you only have the use of one hand, and the other is in the air to avoid blood loss from where your finger tip is half-hanging off. Proud achievement, however, not to have got a single drop of blood in said pies.

Lola said...

Just one word: snowboarding. Or two words: snowboarding and skiing.

livesbythewoods said...

Ok, another non-middle-class but possibly Rock and Roll injury - smacked self in face with the machine head of my Les Paul guitar whilst dicking about trying to change the settings on my amp. Bruised cheekbone as a result.

Yes, I think playing a rock guitar at the age of 44 is probably either ill-advised or tragic. Either way, I'm not stopping.

Margaret said...

I have two entries. (Is there a prize? Maybe 10% off your deductible at the Le Creuset Fracture Clinic? ) Ten-odd years ago I tripped on my flip-flops on the freshly-waxed floor of the laundry room in my doorman apartment building and broke my foot. A few years later I was on my way to Pret a Manger to grab a Cobb salad and tripped over my fancy, pointy-toed shoes and fell on my face and ended up with a broken nose and four stitches.

anx said...

My middle class injury:

Cut my finger while crumbling some Maldon Sea Salt onto my Tricolore salad.

Fat Controller said...

I had a nice letter from the tax people once. It said 'Som det fremgår af Deres årsopgørelse, har De betalt for meget. Deres overskydende skat tilbagebetales hermed...' ('As noted in your annual tax summary, you have paid too much tax. The surplus is returned herewith'). Note the use of the formal personal pronoun 'De', usually reserved for royalty and very old maiden aunts. Very polite.

Enclosed was a cheque for 35,632 Danish groats. I didn't know whether to cash it or frame it and hang it on the wall.