Now the children are back at school, I have to find other things to talk (complain) about. This is difficult since I am basically the most boring human being in the world, I discover to my distress. Last night I sat in the kitchen in the dark for an hour like the mad old crone I am fast becoming, waiting to see if the hedgehog came out, even though the chances are it is dead (update: I have just done exactly the same again tonight. Still no luck. "It is just a rat, really. It is probably dead" commented a child, briskly).
So. Erm. Let's have a scrape of this barrel.
Ok, this is not too barrel scraping, as I have read some absolutely wonderful stuff recently.
- Life after Life, which I think everyone in the world has read or is about to read or is halfway through. Wonderful, affecting, clever, haunting. Bloody hell, she's good. Of course the 'starting your life over and over' thing is the headline here, but this is also a book with elements of wonderful, waspish comedy and sharp dialogue and characters you become viscerally attached to and proper, painful emotions. Actually, one of the things that really stayed with me was the beautiful, dreamy, longing-filled descriptions of English countryside. It's got an incredibly elegiac, wistful quality. Lovely.
- Lottie Moggach's Kiss Me First as still displayed in the sidebar, although I gobbled it up in about 4 minutes. This has a really smart, well-executed central premise about whether and how you can disappear in the Internet age, with a fascinating, unreliable narrator.
- One of my very, very favourite authors, Charlotte Mendelson, has a new book out this summer and I threw my British reserve to the winds and begged for an advance copy. It was totally worth it. Almost English is glorious, probably my favourite portrait of the graceless, awkward, longing and bathos of adolescence since Jane Gardam, a wonderful tale of squirming sympathetic embarrassment and hilarity. It's also about Englishness and not-Englishness, as the title suggests: Marina, who is sixteen, and lives with her rather broken, genteelly falling-apart mother and three very elderly, secretive-yet-demonstrative Hungarian relatives makes a break for freedom via the dubious means of a traditional English boarding school, but it's far from the haven of sanity she hoped. It's both wickedly funny and very touching and it will have you saying things like "VonDAIRful, darlink" and I want to read it again, now.
- Brussels residents or ex-residents or enthusiasts (yes, I am informed that these exist) may also enjoy this, reviewed over on my Belgian blog, a creepy thriller set in the prosperous expat suburbs of the city.
- I'm now reading Capital (some strands more compelling than others, for me, but a rattling, clever read and the death of one of the characters was very very powerfully, forensically written, I thought), then I'm going to read the new Nicola Barker which I have been saving for, clearly not a rainy day, or I would have read it 6 months ago, but something. A functioning brain perhaps, but that is beyond all reach and hope.
Have you read anything wonderful recently? Or even anything sweatily, brilliantly, nastily gripping? I especially like those.
2. In 'professional' (ahem) news, I have lost one of the jobs I most liked, which is a shame. I haven't really lost it, exactly, I mean, it isn't a result of my incompetence for a change: it has ceased to exist in the present format, but the result for me is the same. I am trying to use this to galvanise me to find more and better jobs, but I am such an abysmal pitcher, it is utterly pitiful. My basic starting position is that I am importuning the recipient of the pitch in such a ghastly and awkward way, that I will die of shame if they read it/reply/acknowledge my hideous faux pas in any way. I am throwback to another age, 12th century Japan, perhaps. I have managed a feeble 3 pitches in the last week, success rate thus far an unsurprising 0%. I will be writing hotel copy until I die. I am, I discover, actually very good at writing hotel copy, however, so there is that, I suppose.
3. I am also the woman who cried owl. The owl chicks are AMAZING at the moment, huge, fluffy balls of ridiculousness, experimentally flapping their ludicrously tiny wings and making heart stopping practice jumps on the edge of their cliff, but tragically, I am shouting into the ether, since I have already bored everyone I know both in real life and on the internet with my sodding owls. 'Come and look... ' I start, then my voice dies in my throat because I can't bear the pitying, not remotely interested looks from my infants.
4. Things that are currently broken:
- my glasses (frames 6 years old, glasses misty with age)
- my eyes (constant infections, can no longer use Bobbi Brown Gel Liner, may as well just wear a paper bag on my head and dress like a tramp and walk the streets muttering to myself, oh hang on, I already do)
- my handbag (so old it now looks like it was dug up from an archeological excavation of a Viking settlement)
- my elbow (arthritic)
- the dog, who is having one of his periodic nervous collapses, for no apparent reason.
I'm putting all this decrepitude and decay down to the harsh new scrutiny of the SUN (all five minutes of it). I am sure things will settle down. I have started taking some new baobab capsules someone sent Facegoop. I'm sure they help with fading eyebrows and a broken handbag and canine temperament issues. Otherwise, there is always the sweet, seasonal embrace of Piriton.
5. This is distressing me:
What 'dialogue des cultures' is that, exactly? That is not a poster with mass appeal, Branly, you will attract only weird hair perverts. Also, I am not sure that your full page ad in 'Science et Vie Junior' is perfectly targeted.
6. Speaking of hair perverts, I opened this drawer in the bathroom whilst searching hopelessly for nail clippers this morning and it made me laugh out loud with its horrifying contents. I mean, really. Voodoo? Contemporary art? One of those horrifying tumours that are made of hair and teeth (a teroma, is it?)?
There is really not a shred of dignity to being me, I think. Not an iota. Why am I stockpiling threadbare wigs anyway? Perhaps a donation to the Quai Branly is in order.
What is broken in your life? What unexpected items lurk in your bathroom drawers? Any other business?