Thursday, 9 June 2011

Ten things I love

I have been tagged by the lovely Betty to talk about ten things I love. I'm fairly sure I've done this before, but I quite fancied doing it again, and I thought I should try and mention some things I love that I don't discuss all the time. That excludes:

Small fat hairy ponies
David Sedaris
Armani Cream Blush Duo
Marks & Spencer
Cadbury's Caramels

So, here is, let's be honest, the B list.


I haunted the supermarket chains of Belgium when I arrived here, searching hopelessly for a half-decent avocado, before settling on Delhaize as the only place capable of supplying them. I feel genuinely unsettled if there isn't an avocado in the house. They are good for you! They are pure fat! I feel nothing but love for my friend the avocado. Pretty colour. Essential fatty acids. Nice with almost everything. Except maybe chocolate and gin. Avocados. They're good.

Rimmel Coral Romance nail polish

Big fat brush for easy application, lovely brash summery colour. Hard to fuck up. Does not make me feel like a transvestite.

That "look! It does not stop me HOLDING THE ACTUAL BOTTLE" pose always amuses me. If Facegoop were not languishing, we would definitely be experimenting with other things to hold whilst displaying your nails. Tin openers. Puppies. A large potato.


The favourite month of scholarly dweebs the world over, September brings the delicious prospect of new grey clothing, new stationery, and relief from the horrifying, anything-goes self-tan scented, brightly coloured anarchy of the summer. It is fresh and new, full of the possibility that perhaps this year you will not end up entirely ostracised, with a cruelly accurate nickname, spending breaktime skulking in an empty classroom with Middlemarch. September's margins are neatly ruled and it smells of shoe polish.

The whole cult of the rentrée has slightly tarnished my September love, what with the forced cahier covering sweatshop, the €200 of minutely, bureaucratically detailed fournitures scolaires and the ever-present, and entirely accurate, sentiment that you have forgotten something. Even so, I still get a little shiver of anticipation. It's September. Anything could happen. Anything dweeby, that is.


This sounds like a nauseating outbreak of toadying up, but it is true. It has been on of the real delights of the three few years to find so many people who are sharp and funny and compassionate and who can make me laugh out loud. Especially the ones who teeter on the edge of unhinged. Those are my favourite. You probably don't know who you are, because the voices in your head are distracting you, but I know who you are. And I hope you never stop.

I would move into this stationery, design, gift and general wonderfulness emporium if I could. The child unfriendly alphabet tea-towel? The beard balaclava? My beautiful Rob Ryan washbag? All found in Magma. I have reined in almost all my spending excesses over the last few Grandgrind years. Clothes? Nope. Going out? Ha, do me a favour, I never went out even when I was solvent. Organic wanky foods? Haven't missed them for a second. But the thought of going past Magma and not being able to go and buy beautiful, papery fripperies BURNS.

Someone else making my dinner

It doesn't have to be flash, or luxurious. I just mean, dinner. Your ordinary, unthrilling, weekday dinner. It's the mere fact of it that is exciting. I find it very boring cooking every day, which is why I mainly eat Bonne Maman crème caramels and avocados. But I do like food, and I wish I could be arsed. I go and stare at Redfox's sidebar longingly sometimes, and wish she was cooking for me.

Coffee on the Vieux St Martin terrasse

Because of the procession of land-owning tweeds and groomed dogs. Because of the excellent seating and the giant, sand-weighted brass ashtrays. Because the coffee comes with a decent sized palmier biscuit and the service is suitably brusque. Because café terrasses are basically the reason why I live in Abroad.


If I could steal a painting - just a little one! - from a major collection, it would have to be a little Vuillard oil. He's the god of small things; I love clever, quiet exaltation of the domestic, his magpie's eye for a beautiful print or pattern or shape - wallpaper, rugs, a vase of flowers.

Just a little one. A tiny square of brilliance. I'd look after it.


Because it's so ephemeral and it smells like my childhood, and there's occasionally a stall on the Sablon that will sell you giant mountains of it. Or someone lovely and kind, like Fatima, will give you a giant mountain of it.

(I got slightly drunk whilst writing this, so the last two may be succinct).

Don Marquis

For the Song of Mehitabel, which Uncle Tom (not a real relation, hippydom oblige) read at my mother's funeral and it was just right, perfect, one of her favourites and my sister thought of it and it hit all the perfect unapologetic notes among all those Quakers and weegies and grave social policy types and all the rest of us. I will give you the whole lot, even though I think I've already done that on these pages, just because. Because we all need a little wotthehell. Because I particularly need a little wotthehell at the moment. Damn, it's made me cry again, it always does this. But she was

this is the song of mehitabel

of mehitabel the alley cat

as i wrote you before boss

mehitabel is a believer

in the pythagorean

theory of the transmigration

of the soul and she claims

that formerly her spirit

was incarnated in the body
of cleopatra

that was a long time ago
and one must not be

surprised if mehitabel
has forgotten some of her

more regal manners

i have had my ups and downs

but wotthehell wotthehell

yesterday sceptres and crowns

fried oysters and velvet gowns

and today i herd with bums

but wotthehell wotthehell

i wake the world from sleep

as i caper and sing and leap

when i sing my wild free tune

wotthehell wotthehell

under the blear eyed moon

i am pelted with cast off shoon

but wotthehell wotthehell

do you think that i would change

my present freedom to range

for a castle or moated grange

wotthehell wotthehell

cage me and i d go frantic

my life is so romantic

capricious and corybantic

and i m toujours gai toujours gai
i know that i am bound

for a journey down the sound

in the midst of a refuse mound

but wotthehell wotthehell

oh i should worry and fret

death and i will coquette

there s a dance in the old dame yet

toujours gai toujours gai

i once was an innocent kit

wotthehell wotthehell

with a ribbon my neck to fit

and bells tied onto it

o wotthehell wotthehell

but a maltese cat came by

with a come hither look in his eye

and a song that soared to the sky

and wotthehell wotthehell

and i followed adown the street

the pad of his rhythmical feet

o permit me again to repeat

wotthehell wotthehell

my youth i shall never forget

but there s nothing i really regret

wotthehell wotthehell

there s a dance in the old dame yet

toujours gai toujours gai
the things that i had not ought to
i do because i ve gotto

wotthehell wotthehell

and i end with my favorite motto

toujours gai toujours gai

boss sometimes i think

that our friend mehitabel

is a trifle too gay

I am all in favour for tagging on this one, because I want to know, so I tag:

The Harridan Oh. She has already done it. It is funny, go and look.

Parma Violet Tea (who cannot say owls either)

Maybe the Brain Twin can do it at some point about Singapore. Can she find ten?

Or anyone else who would like to. I love reading these things. If you do it, please tell me.


Julia Ball said...

Miss ! Miss !!! Can I just say that I introduced someone else to "Owl in a Box" yesterday and that bastard too, is hooked, just like me !! XX

Rebecca said...

I have learned such a lot! I didn't know about Mehitabel, but she's made me feel a bit brighter about my impending unemployment. I mean freedom from shackles. And I'd never heard of Vuillard. Is that embarrassing? Can you tell I've always favoured July over September?

Jonathan Lethbridge said...

Before I opened this post I had imagined the following:

1. Owls
2. Owls
3. Owls
4. Owls
5. Owls
6. Owls
7. Owls
8. Owls
9. Owls
10. Owls

So despite your #1, you have confounded expectations and done rather well. Well done.

Ellie said...

Here is a segment from Don Marquis' "the merry flea," which I read to soothe myself after horrifying social interactions:

... some people i told him inhabit
a vacuum all their lives and
never know it then he said it don t
hurt them any no i said it don t but it
hurts people who have to associate
with them and with these words
we parted each feeling
superior to the other and is not that
feeling after all one of the great
desiderata of social intercourse

It never fails to make me feel better, as does archy's various laments about beauty etc. ("unjust" is a masterpiece-- "humanity will shed poems full of tears over the demise of a bounding doe or a young gazelle but the departure of a trusty camel leaves the vast majorities stonily indifferent"). Sorry for the long comment. I was sad and then revisited Marquis and now I am happier, so thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

September = new school supplies, impending autumnal scents in the air, and self-delusion that this is the year things will be different.

I love me some September.

Betty Herbert said...

September rocks, not because of the things you mention, but because my birthday happens. And that means people buy me stuff. Oh, I'm supposed to pretend that doesn't matter aren't I? Oops.

WrathofDawn said...

You like me! You really like me!

Oh. You meant the others.

As you were.

Patience_Crabstick said...

I love September too. And Avocado. I was bereft when my daughter developed an allergy to avocado--it makes her tongue and throat swell so we can't have it around anymore.

Anonymous said...

Avocado goes with chocolate, try this: properly ripe avocado in the blender with lots of coconut milk (or any other milk) cocoa powder and maybe some ice. Is delicious.

Waffle said...

Ellie - Yes. Yes yes yes. I love them all. Including the Mehitabel and the kittens:

"he life of a female
artist is continually
hampered what in hell
have i done to deserve
all these kittens
i look back on my life
and it seems to me to be
just one damned kitten
after another"

I am in two minds, Flora Fauna Dinner, about your smoothie, but I will try and overcome that and try it.

Anonymous said...

I like September too - it always feels like a new year because you never grow out of the habit of school - it is also a much better time for making new year resolutions than January.

I also love lilac - there are two huge bushes either side of my mum's back gate and the smell can knock you out.

frau antje said...

You had me at death.

Also, hate to be the bearer of bad news, but

Waffle said...

That went straight into Google Translate when I spotted the words "uilendemonstratie". €5,80??? I am SO THERE.

k said...

one of my favourite poems is septembermorgen by E. Mörike

Pat (in Belgium) said...

OK, in keeping in the spirit of not naming the obvious (dark chocolate, champagne, my incredible daughter...), I'm going way out on a limb here because this is something I think even my nearest and dearest (family AND friends) would never guess.
One thing I love (and deeply appreciate, perhaps that's not the same thing?) is...panty liners.
Many's the time these slips of padded paper have spared me embarrassment, at the least. Hope this isn't a portent of things to come (as in "adult" diapers. Euww!)
I have that darling daughter and my lack of elasticity to "thank". (She was nine and a half pounds and I was 40 and bent on having a natural" childbirth. 'Nuff said.)

I love love love archy & mehitabel and am surprised I never thought of naming one of the cats for her.

Unknown said...

I agree, September and Lilacs are exceptional. Too bad they don't arrive simultaneously.

Pochyemu said...

Long, leisurely dinners with 3 or 4 good friends (5 is usually too many). Nothing makes me happier than candlelight and conversation. A good dinner on a Tuesday night can buoy me through a whole week.

Mikhail Bulgakov - no one like him. One of those authors where you start reading page 1 and when you look up it's 4 hours later. Everyone should experience Master and Margarita at least once. But you have to find a good translation that can capture him.

Peter said...

I've got your lilacs right here:

Alison said...

I would very much like someone to cook me dinner. This desire is born of the fact I am sitting next to the remains of tonight's fare: a bowl of leftover mashed potato and a tub of yoghurt. There were microwaved broad beans involved too.

One thing I love above all else, including cooked dinners, is The Afternoon Nap. 20-40 minutes of proper contact lenses out, under the covers, delicious conscious-of-falling-unconscious sensation. And the fabulous effects of perkiness, increased productivity, greater capacity for beers and dancing. Bliss.

frau antje said...

Now that you mention it

Unknown said...

Ah, now. Facegoop. Posted a question on fake tan LAST SUMMER. Still, all good things and all that.

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