Normal service has resumed. I am nursing a cruel, disfiguring gum and palate injury incurred eating crisps too fast. It is raining. I am wearing the special trousers of psychological unhinged-ness. Most of my mental energy is going on thinking about eclairs.
Intrusive eclair thoughts
I entered a competition to win some Marcolini eclairs this morning. 16 eclairs "for you and your colleagues", courtesy of the Belgian Post Office. Of course, if their delivery were dependent on the good offices of the Belgian Post Office, the likelihood of them being fit for human consumption on arrival would be vanishingly small, but hope springs eternal. Now all I can think about is WHEN ARE MY ECLAIRS COMING. I mean, come on. Surely I can win? Surely? How many people enter this kind of competition? As each hour goes by, my sense of injustice at not having won the eclairs yet grows. Why I think it would be a good idea for me to win 16 eclairs is a whole other story. My excuse is that it is so wintry, my entire psyche has reoriented itself towards winter survival, which mainly translates into thinking obsessive, repetitive thoughts about custard. Who was it said they had a really easy steamed pudding recipe? Please provide it, instantly.
Whilst my mind is filled with suet, I have little else to report.
There is this:
I had to physically restrain myself from buying this in WHSmiths (DO NOT JUDGE ME) in Paris. My bag was already so heavy I ended up with a bruised shoulder, but it took a lot to leave this behind. I will ask for it for my birthday, though it's actually slightly smaller than I would like and the china seemed a bit crap. I used to have two lovely Quentin Blake bird bowls, but I'm not sure what happened to them. Broken, probably.
We went to a Bonsai shop at the weekend because Lashes has developed a new, slightly boring obsession with bonsais. I'm not complaining, it's better than Japanese fighting stars, or something paramilitary, I suppose. I really, really, dread being the parent of one of those teenagers who wears fatigues and reads "Guns and Ammo" magazine, I would be mortified.
So. He has decided he wants one for Christmas, which seems - assuming he doesn't mean one of those ones that cost 3 grand - a reasonable request. Anyway, in the bonsai shop we met this brilliant cat. It stalked, precariously, between rows of 700 euro mini trees, and then sat, posing stonily for me.
Domestic animal farce
In other news, Oscar's behaviour towards Satan has hardened into a clear pattern I would describe as "petulant toddler". I have caught him in the last week stealing the following: 5 carrots, 2 heads of chicory, a stick of celery, an apple core. Of course, he does not like any of these foods, but will sit stubbornly in the garden chewing them without enjoyment until they are thoroughly coated in nasty dog saliva. Then he comes inside and sits on the sofa, all pleased with himself and farting. It is entirely obnoxious, but also funny. I almost felt sorry for Satan, then I looked at the garden again. God, that reminds me, I have to plant bulbs now, don't I, so that Satan can gorge himself all spring on my daffodils.
Book club corner
I didn't read at all much when I was doing my first draft of my stupid stupid manuscript, because I tend to soak up and parrot written styles maddeningly. Now I am stuck as stuck can be, I have resorted to reading as much as I possibly can in the hope of inspiration. Things I have read recently (I can't be arsed to hyperlink. Amazon paid me the sum total of about 4p for my sidebar link, so I have deleted it in pique):
More Edward St Aubyn. On the Edge, this time, which is all about new age weirdery. I love his white hot cleverness at anatomising the infinite oddness, little unworthinesses, weaknesses of people.
Sarah Winman - When God Was a Rabbit - I did like this, a lot, it's thoughtful and nicely characterised, but in the back of my mind I was constantly asking myself, in the manner of an irascible high court judge "but what is it ABOUT?" The book group notes by the author at the end say she describes it as "a love story between a brother and sister", but it's also obviously about chance and fate and the arbitrariness of events and catastrophes and how they shape people. Hmm, I dunno. For some reason this need to put a label on it kept interrupting my enjoyment of what is a really accomplished piece of writing. I like the talking rabbit, of which very little is made at all. It's a sort of throwaway gift to the reader.
Louise Welsh - she of The Cutting Room and The Bullet Trick, both of which I really liked - Naming the Bones. This is the slowest burning thriller of all time about an academic researching a promising poet who published a single volume, then drowned. Will anything ever happen? Does it matter? It's profoundly, dreich-ly Scottish, like Rebus without the murder. I think the murder is coming, eventually. I hope. I'm over halfway through.
Chartbusting amnesia thriller Before I Go To Sleep (S J Watson) which was very good and clever but I kept getting anxious about how the author would maintain the INCREDIBLY FIDDLY conceit throughout. The answer is: pretty well, with some necessary and timely 'oh good, the amnesia is getting slightly better' business.
Monogamy by Adam Philips - This is a reread, in the 'research' category. See, this book "121 aphorisms" puzzles and faintly enrages me. Is it profound, or is it basically a series of fortune cookie fortunes? "A couple is a conspiracy in search of a crime". "Fidelity shouldn't always be taken personally". I DO NOT KNOW. I always put it down mildly enraged, but also engaged.
Let me know if you've read anything good recently, ideally something that might motivate me to get my head out of my arse and finish this dumb book.
(Now where are my fucking eclairs, more to the point).