1. A lengthy meeting where I thought I might have to fake my own death to escape. One would have thought that HEALTHY LIVING! freestyle life might allow me to avoid such things, but no. The only difference is, away from the fleshpots of the Corridor of Ennui, there were no stale miniature macaroons, or biscuits. We used to be able to gauge the state of profits in my erstwhile workplace from the quality of meeting room snacks, which varied from homemade cake, delivered by unicorns (almost) at the height of the merger boom, to some unpleasant sachets of generic trail mix in 2009. I am not in favour of this, any of it. Meetings, I mean. Snacks I am thoroughly in favour of.
2. The paintballing birthday extravaganza, which turned out to be possibly the most painless children's birthday party in the history of children's birthday parties. We dropped the children off. "See you in three hours" said the taciturn, heavily lined paintballing man, a sort of Walloon Clint Eastwood figure whose sense of humour had doubtless been beaten out of him by an endless series of shrieking, armed children.
"Oh, don't we come back for the goûter?"
"No. See you in this field in three hours".
"Right you are".
We did not need to be told twice.
The CFO and I went to the supermarket unmolested by small children, and then had lunch in a nice fish restaurant. There was wine. The worst thing that happened to us was the unsolicited amuse-bouche of sea slugs, which we hid in a plant pot. We returned to the field and sat in the sun until the children were delivered back to us, quorate, undamaged, tired, clutching bags of crap, and not even dirty. Today a brown envelope dropped onto my mat containing a DVD of what happened in the intervening three hours, which I have no intention of ever watching, unless Lashes is particularly insistent. I give this party 9/10. I have taken a point off because there is no way in holy hell we could ever afford it again, but as an experience, it's a winner. If you are rich and live in Brussels and have small boys (anyone?), recommended.
3. My Eurovision party. This was an unqualified success (for me at least if no-one else) based on the following Key Performance Indicators:
- I did not get so tired and cross cleaning up for the party that I could not enjoy it. My new technique of opening the door to the cellar and chucking things down there indiscriminately is to thank for this. I was quite tempted to throw both children indiscriminately down there, as they followed me around dropping things and creating mess, but thanks to the morning of paintball respite, I managed to resist.
- Lots of people I liked came and were funny and delightful. I even knew everyone's names without even having to think about it.
- There was a great deal of good snack-age, including two types of cake made by me, or rather made by the small boys following my totalitarian patisserie production instructions. A sort of friand and cup cake sweatshop, if you will.
- And Hendricks. Lovely Hendricks and tonic and lemons and ice, due to having had the opportunity to go to the supermarket unmolested.
- The whole affair was its usual catalogue of euro-kitsch and below par boys band twattery and highly enjoyable. My only slight sadness was Belgium's failure to qualify with its awe-inspiringly horrible acapella number "With Love Baby, by "Witloof Bay" (if you can last more than 14 seconds, you are a better Belgian than I am).
(Parenthetically, I want to say how much bloody easier writing this blog entry is than anything else I have written over the last week or so, all of which has either been anxiety inducing (law), dreary (book edits) or massively frustrating (also book edits). Such a shame it doesn't, you know, pay the bills. Make it so, universe)
4. I do not think there is a 4. I think we have now exhausted anything I could be arsed to do over the past week. Oh, there has been cash machine crying, conjugating, continued inexplicable (ha!) fatness, unsuccessful pitching, hedgehog examining, cowboy outfit buying and a lot of board game playing. The children are very fond of decaying, retro board games at the moment. They like boring Memory style games, miserable multiplication games, interminable battleship games and the nine-numbered dominoes of doom. I have no idea where I have gone wrong, I bloody hate board games. Shouldn't they be in a corner, getting all squinty eyed staring at their Nintendos? Incidentally Lashes withdrew his request for a Nintendo 3DS at the last minute and ended up with the electronic battleships game I despise, some mangas, and the promise of a Stuffyourdoodle. He already has one of these, but they are really brilliant and I can sort of see his point. Talking of points, was there one? Oh yes, the children are making me play games. I think they are not mine.
Here is one of them preparing for the gulag's annual festival of kitschery. He has already warned me it is a re-run of Cotton Eye Joe from two years ago, but has said, mysteriously, that he will keep some of the moves a surprise. I am scared.
Shortly after this picture he wrapped the dog entirely in pipe cleaners. I have nothing to say about that, really, the dog probably deserved it. The dog woke me at 2am on Sunday by getting its head and leg stuck in a Bag for Life it was mine-sweeping for forgotten chocolate. I have not forgiven it.
Lashes is in a 'no photos', sulky, pré-ado phase. It is quite the delight. I managed to capture him climbing into the neighbours garden, presumably practising so that when he's 14 he can go there to drink cider and sniff glue, or something.
Maybe he was just contemplating running away from home? You will see why he might be tempted as we turn our attention to the Rubbish Dutch Song Of The Week, from Op Weg Met Robald, the Dutch textbook where hope goes to die.
Ik neem mijn pennensak
I take my pencil case
Ik open mijn pennensak
I open my pencil case
Ik luister naar de leraar
I listen to the teacher
En ik ben klaar
And I am ready
(I am doing this from memory, I do not have it in front of me, so Dutch speakers please to correct).
There are many more verses but they are limiting us to one a week to properly build the suspense. I am hoping by the end of term we might be getting out our particle accelerator and getting ready to split the atom. Now that would be useful vocabulary.
I don't really know what qualifies this as a 'song'. If it has a tune, I have not been informed. Op weg met Robald, where the fun literally never starts.