Thursday, 18 July 2013

Sagging pre-holiday nonsense

I cannot be doing with any more work today, it is hot and bothersome and I have been wrestling for too long in the steaming entrails of a uncooperative corporate CMS. I imagine the circles of modern hell will be populated with giant Excel spreadsheets and glitchy, uncooperative CMS and vast screens projecting scrolling social media feeds of your enemies being ultra-successful and going to enviable parties and being thin. I suppose there will still be the traditional demons with pointy sticks disembowelling you too, because that kind of thing has perennial appeal. Maybe we should check with Francis. I understand he is doling out indulgences on Twitter now, which is a shame as he may undercut the online simony business Mrs Trefusis and I have been planning for the past five years. It is like the nap pods and Philanderers dot com all over again, we have the ideas but fall down on the execution.

So. Here I am. High summer in Belgium, and the country is grinding lethargically to the traditional mid-summer halt, barring the possibility of some high kitsch abdication/national holiday high jinks this Sunday. Everything is slow and lazy, including me, and I have no partners in crime with whom I can go and sit on terraces and drink shoddy mojitos. This is a crying shame, but the consolation for you, is that here I am, updating my weblog with tales of pretty much nothing whatsoever (aren't you lucky).

My news, in vast, exaggerated, inverted commas:

- I currently have a huge swollen purple ankle courtesy of falling over whilst running for a tram. Never run for a tram, kids, because the tram has nothing to lose and you do (dignity, mobility, the potential for wearing skirts).

- This was considerably more painful than falling off a horse which I have also done recently, faceplanting dramatically in a sandy riding school. Actually, it was less of a fall, more of the horse (my great friend and soulmate Noblesse) falling over, which as noted above, can happen to anyone, especially if they are needlessly running. Nevertheless, I could not really do up or undo my bra for several days, so I just slept in it because I am inventive like that, and felt grateful it wasn't much worse.

- I have been to London for a couple of days, where I mainly rolled in a vast, luxurious pile of weekend newspapers JUST BECAUSE I COULD. No dog. No children. At one particularly amazing point in the weekend, M and I found ourselves fortuitously in a cocktail bar at an unexpected happy hour and ended up sitting outside in the blazing sun with FOUR cocktails in front of us (we really had to idea it was Happy Hour, or we would have ordered more strategically).

(If you would like to know what nail varnish M is wearing, I cannot tell you because she is wearing about 7 different ones after a demented trawl around Liverpool St Boots, where I managed to upset a whole display of deodorants and bought nothing)

I also went to the Grain Store because it is très chic and immensely convenient for St Pancras. It was very delicious though the portions were terribly small if you come from Belgium (which increasingly, I am forced to admit I do). I had divine grilled asparagus with some species of tasty green sauce and tiny slivers of melba toast and prawn and courgette falafels (no, I am not sure how this is a 'thing') and raita, and a cocktail with elderflower and vodka and champagne which I learn from the dreaded Instagram today is Kate Moss's favourite. I did not take any pictures of my food even though it was very pretty, because I am trying not to be that person. I was actually sent to a bar to take an Instagram picture of a cocktail for a paid job last week, so I have a great deal of penance to put in, social media twattery-wise.

Interestingly - this is a grave misuse of that word - this was the first time I returned from London without a giant bag of Marks & Spencer food. Either I have finally accepted my Belgian lot and no longer crave Colin the Caterpillar cakes and Cherry Bakewell Trifles, or, and this is more likely, I had eaten so much the prospect of sourcing even more food was unbearable. I returned home rather fat with nothing more alluring in my possession than 2 M&S minimiser bras, which I fear have their work cut out after all that eating.

Also in London I met the Relentless Laundress, who as you would expect from her blog, was extremely funny and delightful. She bought me THIS:

I have stashed it in the fridge.  Actually stashed them, there are two of them. Perhaps we could do a sort of live unboxing post here sometime next week? Is there anyone out there who has tried this thing? IS IT SAFE?

- There is New Facegoop on facial moustache waxing. Why not join the party (and by party, I mean, disgusted Guardian commenters telling us we are immature twats bringing shame on a once great institution)?

- Reading news: I downloaded the JK Rowling thriller the day before it was revealed she wrote it, and now I feel a bit thwarted and that the knowledge is colouring my reading of it. Damn. I am not wholly sure about the detective himself, but the detective's sidekick is very well-done. I like her and want more of her and will probably finish it tonight. My stepmother has lent me Rod Stewart's autobiography (joy, I hear it is a corker) and the 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared (yes? No? She and my dad both adored) and I have also read and loved - though it made me very anxious and occasionally sad - Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma.

- Holiday news: this time next week we will be on the boat to Hull, Yaris stuffed with cagoules and sensible shoes, weepette sedated in the hold, which is surely a promising start to any holiday. Two weeks. Remote Yorkshire moor. No phone reception or wifi. Distant, half-remembered places that I have a vague sense I thought were brilliant thirty years ago but will probably prove unable to locate. I have written something about this for the Guardian, but it is appearing when we are actually there (27th, I think) so I will be unable to draw your attention to it at the time due to said absence of phone/Internet. My dad was very sporting about his appearance in the piece, and noted I had forgotten in my listing of rural miseries to mention "the bleak chill of Leyburn market and the rats in your bedroom ceiling". Indeed.

Your turn. Good reads? Strange foods? Foolish accidents? Vision of contemporary hell? Yorkshire isolation survival kit suggestions?


Emmyloucarey said...

I am reading lots of crime at the moment - Louise Penny is great, witty and intelligent and set in snowy Montreal, which has a nice cooling effect.

Emmyloucarey said...

On a slightly different note, 'Beautiful Ruins' more than lived up to the hype - gorgeous, funny, summery.

Waffle said...

Oh, I have that downloaded! It will be for Yorkshire. Now checking out Louise Penny, sounds brilliant. THank you!

Patience_Crabstick said...

I am so confused about J. K. Rowling. I think of her as a good story teller, but a mediocre writer. Now I am hearing that this mystery is really well done. I will have to try it for myself.

We are too limp from the heat here to have foolish accidents, or activity of any kind, other than lying on the bed watching movie adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskell novels.

Nick Brown said...

The only thing I have to say is pass through Hull. Pass directly through Hull and do not stop. I spent 18 years of my life there. I go back only when I must.

Waffle said...

Nick - We did actually stop at the aquarium thingy lasty time. It was a deep disappointment after nagging for years to go in. Cafe has a nice sea view, but.

Anna Maria said...

I really liked the 100-year-old, but then I am unreliable, as my love for all things Scandi is without bounds and I'm convinced there was a cosmic error re. my birth, as I feel far more Scandinavian than Slavic - if I never visited my homeland again, I'd not mind at all, whereas I'd happily move to Denmark tomorrow.
Don't know if you're still looking for books on creative writing - I'm currently reading Scarlett Thomas' Monkeys with Typewriters and it's inspiring.

Paddy said...

Tayto chocolate is dis-gust-ing. It is being marketed in Ireland as a kind of nostalgic throwback to when you were a kid and mixed together tayto crisps and, say, maltesers. But it manages to taste even more chemical than even that.

Also, all the pictures I had seen of it on facebook and twittee made it look mahoosive, but when I finally got my hands on it it was tiny. I was weirdly disappointed considering how bad I thought it tasted.

Juliette Gerstein said...

I loved the Hundred Year Old Man. I was suspicious at first but I thought it was wonderfully entertaining.

Helen said...

If you liked 'Gone Girl' (I think you did? If not, apologies, brain fried in heat), then try 'Tigers In Red Weather' for a similarly un-put-down-able mystery-type read. I found it incredibly compelling. I know this doesn't sound good, but although I didn't *like* it and it disturbed me I HAD TO FINISH IT, which is sort of how I felt about 'Gone Girl'.

I've also just re-read Eva Ibbotson's 'Madensky Square' which is beautiful. A gentle story, very well written. (A couple of my friends are setting up an Eva Ibbotson Appreciation Society -, if anyone's interested!)

Hope you have a lovely time Up North! The heat wave is set to continue for a while so perhaps you won't be too soggy.

@700words said...

i have a morbid curiosity that makes me want to try that chocolate bar. on the subject of unusual food (and you did ask) recently got presented with a pre-starter (is that the right word?!) which normally suprises me greatly. This, alas, was a sweetcorn panna cotta with bacon jelly. I tried to like it and failed.

the crabbit man speaks said...

I'm with Paddy-the Tayto chocolate is disgusting.It's bad when you nibble on it-and THEN the after taste kicks in and you realise just how bad it is -and will wash your mouth out in ANYTHING just to get rid of the taste that hangs around ALL of your mouth-give it to someone else and take joy in watching the disgust show on their face

Faye said...

Good books (warning: not stylish new releases):

fiction -- My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki.

non-fiction -- A Girl Named Zippy by Havel Kimmel (and then you might as well read the sequel, She Got Up Off the Couch.

Enjoy your holiday!

David Oliver said...

I'll have to Google tram to see what that is but I'm pretty sure I can take your advice and never run for one. Anyway, mostly I only run away from things not toward them. I'm not sure if that's a good principle to have but I'm probably too old to learn new tricks.

Margaret said...

I just finished The Unconsoled (Kazuo Ishiguro). Very long, at times frustrating but ultimately so very satisfying. I wanted to turn right around and read it again, which is always my idea of a good book.

I tried some jalapeño and chile peanut butter (it was EXTREMELY hot) and a finger lime, which was tartly delightful.

It is a million fucking hot, humid degrees here. The subways are like an oven, and the entire city smells like a hobo steam bath. The sweaty people, the filthy sidewalks, the terrifyingly unspecific hot steam-smoke emanating from random holes in the street, it all reeks. It was NINETY DEGREES at 11:30 pm yesterday. Do you know what that is in fake, un-American degrees? 32! Every time I leave the AC, I just want to cry.

Janet said...

I, too, have been wrangling with a cranky CMS on an extremely pokey server. I'm all too often left staring at a beige screen. Granted, it's an attractive beige---like F & B's James White.

I'm blaming everything on the unseasonable heat, which was supposed to return to seasonable today, but it's still 94F. That alone means I'm highly unlikely to run for anything. Although I did trip over loose bricks in the sidewalk.

I'm rereading old favorites and waiting for Allan Gurganus's new book.

Safe travels.

Korinthia Klein said...

I recently finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and really liked it, as well as When We Were Orphans by Ishiguro (which, weirdly, I would describe in much the same way as Margaret above described the Ishiguro novel she recommended).

I'm going to be crassly self-serving and recommend my own book because why not? (Irretrievably Broken liked it!) Almost There, with links about where to buy it here on my blog:

Laurel said...

Tayto: definitely NOT safe. I haven't tried it or anything, but come on.

I read "A Tale for the Time Being" at your suggestion, I think. Really beautiful and painful. I'm glad I did.

So, I clearly don't have any great comments but I had to ask you if you had seen this:

Waffle said...

Laurel - I hadn't. That woman is in love with her capybara and really, who can blame her?

Anonymous said...

I read the Facegoop entry because I actually thought you were going to write about the Hercule Poirot type of moustache wax, which I am trying to find for my husband. Surely they must sell it somewhere in this promised land of moustaches that Belgium is.

You should read "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman if you haven't already done so.