Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Advent 24

Bastard, bastard Blogger just ate my post. Happy Christmas, you implacably merciless piece of software.

Anyway, I said, 'it's Santa!'

It's not really Santa, it's my friend Tom who came round with his absolutely ludicrous bicycle. We all stood in the street and had a go:

Now, with everything except the missing stuff grotesquely badly wrapped and the boys sleeping fitfully and the Minster bells taking a short intermission, I am off to bed. I hope you have a lovely Christmas if you're into that kind of thing, and a peaceful Wednesday if not. 

As peaceful as this beatific Prog Rock mince pie, indeed. 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Advent 23

Argh, today. Double Argos. Tempest. More Hawkin's Bazaar. Bollocked for overdue work. Some truly dreadful present purchasing. Parcel lost in the post with no prospect of arriving in time. Children, between bouts of reciprocal vileness, insistent we should 'make our own candy canes'. Yes, what this scenario is missing is definitely boiling sugar. In the end we ended up with blue meth:

The calendar has this to offer:

... and I can only hope my envelope back in Belgium contained a single temazepam, prettily wrapped in duck egg  blue tissue paper.

It was not all bad. We have been to the ludicrous York panto (two hours of plotless falling over, loved beyond reason by all York citizens and émigrés). Prog Rock made the children listen to Tom Lehrer's Poisoning Pigeons in the Park and watch Blazing Saddles, to their bemusement. And I have captured the glorious Barnitt's window display for you: 

Now to bed. 1.5 more articles to write. 2 more presents to buy. Food colouring everywhere. Tooth fairy change scrabble activated. No prospect of getting to Betty's. Relaxed as a weasel on blue meth. About time to start mechanically eating everything in the house except wrapping paper.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Advent 21 and 22

Oh dear, oh dear, DOUBLE DISASTER (for a very limited value of "disaster"): I have failed in my advent mission. Firstly, my phone would not work on the boat. Nor, that said, would my brain, due both to a virulent cold and to a rather insistent swell, which forced me into bed at 9pm with my eyes shut and the light out. I am furious about this cold, since I have had a form of pestilence since the first week of December and thought I would have offered sufficient sacrifice to the festive gods by now. It appears not, since this new and delightful strain has taken its place, seamlessly, in the last two days. Secondly, F, to whom I delegated advent calendar packing, forgot to bring my present envelopes. DISASTER (still for a limited value of "disaster"). I know yesterday was a lemon and ginger teabag (no picture, in the general pre-departure chaos). We will have to make up the last few presents. So: this morning's was an heirloom potato, I have decided, in a sturdy Kraft paper bag.

We have reached York, despite the best efforts of the sea and the UK Customs authority and my children who appear currently to be constitutionally incapable of exchanging five civil words with each other. Within twenty minutes of landing on Prog Rock, we were out, trudging around town, in the traditional fashion, eating carbohydrates. I have managed to propel myself into a new, chest-tightening level of panic by unwisely going into: Hawkin's Bazaar (boiling, packed, terrifying), Waterstones ("Marvellous Maths" out of stock. Incidentally, nothing makes you sound like a joyless, harridan bastard than asking for 'Marvellous Maths' on 22nd December. "NO, HONESTLY, HE LOVES MATHS"), Lakeland Plastics (bewildering), Marks & Spencers (last dregs of goodwill to all men violently removed through my kidneys) and Boots (setting off some kind of counter warning at quantities of decongestant purchased). We have retired back to the Prog Rock sofa, from whence I have no intention of moving for the next two days except to stare into the fridge. Assuming F's ordered online presents (plus Letters of Note book for Prog Rock's girlfriend) arrive. If not, it's back out into the feral, pasty eating crowds. Shit. I can't even really stand up, because my inner ear gave up the ghost somewhere twenty miles off the coast of Hull. They'll have to roll me into town and deposit me outside Barnitt's (excellent window display of decorative plastic ferrets, to follow tomorrow when my phone is located/charged).

I have to go now because I still have to write an article about New Year's resolutions for tomorrow morning whilst off my face on Sudafed and wine, so that's ideal. Any ideas for food/children/outings themed New Year's resolutions gratefully received.

How are you holding up? Sinking into a wild-eyed, melted credit card and cinnamon scented funk, or smugly bathing in frosty pine and Carols from Kings?

Friday, 20 December 2013

Advent 20

Today dawns with a cheery Christmas card from the Ukkel binmen, who bring glad tidings of ... incorrectly disposed bio-waste? Sharps? Someone getting a toe amputated with a pirate's cutlass (that is some next level household refuse)?

These are all seasonal feelings I have expressed or espoused recently, but it might not be the most upbeat way to ensure you get a nice Christmas box.

Thank goodness, then, for the advent envelope:

A chocolate wrapped cloud! In the foggy confusion of my morning brain, I instantly decided this was a nut cluster. Do not ask, I have no idea why, since a nut cluster is not remotely cloud-like (M said "clearly your brain is shutting down and demanding a Nutrageous", which seems plausible). In fact it was a chocolate covered marshmallow, as is perfectly obvious, when you have a functioning neurone or two, and it was delicous:

I have forgotten to take a picture of the Etsy calendar. It had .. no, I forget. A candle? Maybe?

Today has been a heady blend of VAT returns, sickness, stupidity, distraction and a mince pie.


- someone paid me.

- made a lemon cake.

- got a new commission.

- got my nailbrush gift from my friend, who threw in a small Japanese confectionery as a bonus.

- New Facegoop desperation gift guide is out, dealing with 'what to do if you freak out and run away from the shops tomorrow' (this is totally going to happen to me). Very grateful for any clicks. *forelock tug, obsequious clasped hands*


- had to pay most of money received back out to social security.

- Full of contagion.

- Fell over the dog on the street and shouted at him even though it was about half of each our faults.

- butter for lemon cake may have been rancid.

- Nowhere near ready to get on the boat to England tomorrow night, which, nevertheless, is what is going to happen. So few presents, so little time. Or inspiration. Or money.

- Have absent-mindedly picked a hole in my top lip and concealer brush is lost somewhere between London and here.

Enough. Fill me in on any puny triumphs you have wrested from the jaws of advent meltdown.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Advent 19

Pro tip: do not check your bank balance on the 19th of December when you have huge bills to pay and have only bought half your Christmas presents. Coal all round!

Other pro tip: remember where you have parked the car when you abandon it in despair due to terrible traffic and lateness, or face a heart-stopping five minutes when you think it's been towed from a diplomatic parking spot.

Those are all the tips I have. Today was my OH SHIT HELL FUCK IT CANNOT BE THE NINETEENTH day, with a soundtrack of rhythmic tooth grinding, hyperventilation and muttered obscenities. Outstanding work mountain, plus school Christmas fair (three line whip for carol concert element plus a thorough rinsing of the parental pockets at the "craft" market) coinciding with my monthly editorial meeting AND a European summit fucking with the traffic makes for a day of fun and high jinks and occasionally shrieking "I HATE EVERYONE", in a puny, still hoarse voice.

Anyway. Nicer things.

1. The calendar:

Poppy seeds on a card. Nice. I'm cool with that. I mean, they'll never grow in our swamp, but it's a lovely idea.

2. Etsy - this is a bit of a cheat, I think, since it's half of another door:

3. Such a great riding lesson. FLYING CHANGES. Whee!

4. As one of F's presents, I have sponsored a slow loris.

This is Cepat, the loris. Oh dear, but he looks sad, poor thing. I hope his life is nicer now. Apparently he has the prospect of intensive dental work in front of him, which explains a lot. I also look like that when I have intensive dental work in my near future.

I am going to watch Christmas Educating Yorkshire now. Possibly with a slice of Viennetta the size of my head.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Advent 18

It is the time of year when my mind, or what remains of it, turns to Marks & Spencer biscuit selection packs. Let us speak briefly of them.

(i) Have you seen the Scottie dog shortbread tin (I can't find online, but they had it in St Pancras)? Because, yes, please.

(ii) The "MILK MILK MILK" selection pack I bought in a froth of decadence is actually totally over the top. In my childhood memories, the M&S selection pack of biscuits was a rare and unspeakably exciting thing. All year round our cupboard held no more than a packet of McVities Dark Chocolate Digestives (a wholly superior biscuit, granted, but not a frivolous one), but occasionally, on very special occasions, my mother would buy an M&S selection pack, in its cheery red wrapper. Of course this was the normal selection box - a couple of gypsy creams, some boring oaty things, a bourbon, blah blah blah some other biscuits, PLUS the glittering prize that was the gold wrapped Orange Sundae. You got two per packet and I lived for the Orange Sundae, I tell you. As an over-indulged functionally only child for the relevant period, I got both Orange Sundaes and it was like being a magical princess for a day.

You still get your two Orange Sundaes in the MILK MILK MILK packet, but your palette is jaded and furry with heavily coated chocolate treats. You no longer treat it as the precious gem it is. On top of that, no one else in this house even likes any of the biscuits in the MILK MILK MILK so I am having to eat all of them, whereas I know they would be mad for the stodgy bourbons and custard creams. There is a lesson here for me: more is not necessarily better (except with horses and choux pastry and cashmere and MONEY).

Enough biscuits (yes, that is the problem, more than enough biscuits).

Advent trinket of the day:

I suppose this was inevitable. First the owl, then the moustache.


Who are A and S and do they know about the rising damp next door? I bet that would cast a pall over their graffiti ardor.

In other news, the grim arrival of the school reports, just before Christmas, in a joyless fashion. I am going to have to summon the Père Fouettard back to take one child in a sack to Spain (suffice to say, that spontaneous breakfast is no longer a mystery). I feel quite resentful at the ridiculous schedule of primary school reports (5 a year! Percentage marks in all subjects and comparison against the class average!), angry at myself for caring, frustrated at child, etc etc, a maelstrom of positive seasonal emotions. Christ, when do we all start drinking sherry in our pyjamas in front of the telly in the morning? (never, at this rate, I will spontaneously combust on Christmas Eve in a cloud of burning martyr). Whenever I start thinking I'm a cool, laidback parent, my child gets a dodgy school report, and I reveal myself to be the uptight, authority-enthralled, psycho-rigid swot I truly am. Sigh.

That is all I have. I think I might have peaked on festive feelings and it might be downhill from here. My friend Nathalie has got me a nail brush though, maybe that will perk me up.

How is your Wednesday? What is your view on biscuit selections?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Advent 17

If you're finding this whole advent business unbearably twee, apologies. Also, I have something for you today. It is the pile of things I discovered by plunging my hand, heedlessly, into L's schoolbag this morning.

I will not do that again. You need to imagine that all these items are coated in a thick covering of liquid soap and fetid clementine juice. Not pictured: the interesting paste of ring reinforcing thingies, crumbs and soap that had formed in the bottom and which have quite possibly formed a new polymer. That rice pudding is about three months old.

Also, courtesy of B, the cheerily reported headline "Scabies is on the rise across Flanders". Jolly stuff. See, it's not getting too aspirational.

For those of you who, on the other hand, quite liked the cute artisanal crafts, here are today's.


(This looks like the kind of craft project I would suggest on my work Pinterest board, with monstrous hypocrisy, since my house looks more like L's pile of festering rubbish).

This is one of those iron-on patches. I am fully conscious that at 39, I cannot - and emphatically should not - carry off a sparkly owl patch. My children are not big on glitter. If you have a child who would be delighted with such a thing in their stocking, leave me a comment and I will pick one at random, shove it in an envelope, at the mercy of BPost. That isn't the giveaway I was planning, incidentally. I will get around to that at some point. 

We have just returned from the hairdressers, which was demented. L had spotted the peculiar window displays in this local hairdresser and was insistent he wanted to go. I am very glad he did. It is packed with odd salvage art, including a bicycle seat with ears that a man told me was "Prince Charles" and the hairdresser lady beckoned me over very early on in proceedings to point out these two objects:

.. and ask me what gender I thought they were. Apparently they gravitate towards each other in the night even if they are stored apart, and she has decided they are in love and should get married. However, to publish the bans of their impending nuptials, she needs to know what sex they are. Loopy, loopy, loopy. Opinions are, apparently, divided pretty much 50:50. It is totally obvious to me that red washing machine drum desk is female, but I am less sure about lightbulb guy. Your thoughts? In any event, we will definitely be going back. 

I have to go and split up another fight, also the dog has just slunk past me furtively, carrying a mummified orange in his mouth. More tomorrow, possibly featuring pandas. 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Advent 16

God, it's late. I bet you're all breathless with anticipation for more tales of absolutely fuck all. Well, it was sort of worth waiting for, because the advent calendar outdid itself today:

An actual piece of jewellery! That I would wear! My wrist hasn't gone green yet either. This was especially exciting as F had poked the envelope thoroughly and told me it was "a piece of string".

The Etsy calendar has gone traditional:

I also got an advent message from my sister, to whom I passed on the advent calendar Prog Rock gave us, which was identical in all respects to the ones he gave us for the three previous years.

"J- 6! i have a confession, today i opened all the advent calender doors to check there was baby jesus. there was :) 

although i guess you know that seen as youve seen him for the last 3 years"

Speaking of Prog Rock, this seasonal exchange with home:

(The "thongs" are F's artificial grass lined flip flops. His list is: grass flip flops, a plush stomach ache, sonic screwdriver remote control, wooden cube robot, gyroscope. Eccentric but wholly in character).


1. Found lost birth certificate and completed ludicrous, expensive, time-consuming piece of admin.

2. Finished, more or less, 2 pieces of work.

3. Civilised evening watching children play chess, like it was 1958 or something.

4. Managed to actually pay one of the 17 separate sets of bin men who come round this week for Christmas boxes instead of hiding in the dark under the table as usual.

Less impressive:

1. Also turned up three huge unpaid bills in search for birth certificate.

2.  About 7 other pieces of work still to do before Christmas, not including the ones I have doubtless forgotten.

3. Third game of chess degenerated into inconsolable weeping and unreasonable behaviour from all involved.

4. Actually had to stand on doorstep physically emptying child's piggy bank in front of binman.

A no score draw,  I think, which isn't too bad for a Monday. Any achievements your end?

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Advent 15

I got some parcel tags today. I now have more parcel tags than presents I am likely to buy. Ever.

Is the universe telling me to buy more presents? If so, the universe is on crack, or works for Wonga.

Etsy brings us candles:


Well, I like to think of it as such now. We went to visit these chaps, no hang on we went to visit Eireann and these chaps were just a delightful bonus. Weepette hared around around the field in a combination of demented joy and total confusion, frequently risking a sound kicking. They weren't much bigger than weepette, actually, look, here's a child for scale:

It wasn't too shabby at Eireann's lovely, tiny, Christmas market out in the country either, with cake and cards and beautiful ornaments. I took this fine creature home (nb I have accumulated more Christmas ornaments this year, when we are not having a tree, than in the last 5 years put together):

If you like the look of him, you will be able to get various things of his ilk online here from tomorrow. I also got some really beautiful cards with bats on that I will hoard parsimoniously and not be inclined to send to anyone, because they are all mine.

After that we came back to Brussels and ate Lebanese food and watched Ski Sunday and I have managed about 14 minutes of work to date, because there was always someone needing to look up minuets or print out the whole Internet on Nelson Mandela or similar. Let's not think about Monday shall we? Let's just look at those ponies again.

Weekend verdict?

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Advent 14

This morning whilst I was walking the dog, L made me breakfast. Toasted crumpets, a warm mince pie, a pint of tea and this plate of treats:

It was amazing, but I am troubled. Has he been expelled? Is he pregnant? And should he really be using the oven in my absence (no, toaster and telly are the only permissible appliances when I am not there)?

Your advent calendar news (attention: poor late night photography) is as follows:

This, a repeat of the earlier magnet, is a small mirror. It is actually moderately useful.

There is .. well, it's displayed like mistletoe but it has red berries, so I suppose holly, on the Etsy calendar.

Absolutely nothing has happened today. L, invalid style, only got dressed for about 3 hours and did not leave the house at all. He spent much of the afternoon lying face down on the sofa watching "Kirstie's Homemade Christmas" and has developed a burning desire to make his own candy canes. "Does it require a sugar thermometer?" "Yes" "Then no, you can wait 'til we get to Prog Rock's". Poor Prog Rock, my sister and her friend are also hatching a plan to make the world's largest gingerbread house in his kitchen. It's a far cry from his usual regime of lentil soup/roll up/Le Monde Diplomatique, but I suppose that is what Christmas is for, to bully your family members out of their comfort zones.

It's nearly 11 and I was hoping to work tonight, but instead L and I have watched Derren Brown. Doom (it was fun though). I've probably got time for about two lines before I slump into terminal stupidity.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Advent 13

Yeah, yeah calendar, whatever. Give me another of those nice silver pens. 

Over in Etsy land, I am beginning to be concerned about damp in those beautiful seventeenth century Amsterdam townhouses:

This is the second lot of mushrooms. 

So, I have pretty much wholly lost my voice (again, it's becoming an annual occurrence) which leads me to that regular parenting conundrum: what to do when you can no longer shout? Or indeed raise your voice? Or, indeed further, use your voice except to hiss menacingly at very close quarters?  It is chastening how much of my parenting 'style' is based on a fairly bracing tone of voice. Without access to my words, I am reduced to foot stamping like an angry ram to try and get their attention, followed my some combination of the aformentioned hissing, or sign language. It's not really working out for me so far: I had a small, pathetic, silent meltdown when I found out that a child had placed a pizza crust in the dishwasher, but since no one could hear me (or more likely, they were choosing not to hear me), and I quickly got bored of slamming cupboard doors without provoking a reaction, its effect was limited. L was moved to make me honey and lemon tonight without any prompting, which was nice, if a little unnerving. 

Good stuff about Friday: 

- It is Friday

- Thus it is time for my most favourite children's programme, Friday Download, featuring Dionne Bromfield looking haughty and singing every boy band in Britain off the stage. 

- French Masterchef semi-finals, full of overwrought masochistic tweezer action. I am recording the second half, after an emotional vol-au-vent round, where Marie-Hélène was attacked by a a bowl of live crayfish (this is a French Masterchef ritual, repeated every series) and Marc apologised to a lobster before decapitating it, subsequently musing "it's not my favourite part, but they are delicious". 

- Bought some saucisson called "Jésus Pur Porc", mainly so I could ask the man in the shop for "twelve slices of Jesus, please". 

Oh yes, it's all high culture. 

Bad stuff about Friday: 

- Have not finished any of my work, which means a weekend of moping around going "I really have to finish my work", followed by finally knuckling down at 9pm on Sunday. Awful. Happens every weekend at the moment. 

- Suffering from the traditional mince pie tongue burn. 

- Plague skin, due to this week's diet of mince pie, Lemsip and booze. 

- Need to locate my birth certificate, yes, that sounds easily achievable without soundless, spitting, furniture kicking tantrums. 

Tell me about your day-stroke-weekend-stroke cures for voicelessness. 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Advent 12

Whoa, those pictures I did from my phone on the last post are HUGE. THE LARGEST PIECE OF STRING IN THE WORLD. BEHOLD MY STRING (it appears to be hyperbole day).

Hello. December 12th. Here are your advent updates:

Now this, this silver pen, is excellent. Terrible picture, but it's definitely my favourite advent gift so far. Tomorrow is a boring envelope, you are warned.

Here we have ... I dunno. A decoration. A very poor photograph, certainly; I was trying to keep my nails out of shot because they are genuinely disgusting. They are medieval hobo bad.

I'm on the way back from London. In a bag at my feet: 5 packets of Walkers Cheese & Onion crisps, 6 mince pies, 2 packets of orange jelly, a large tub of Cadbury's hot chocolate, some pomegranate seeds, 2 Malteser reindeer, a selection box of chocolate biscuits, a packet of Christmas crackers and a Twirl. I'm not even sure I like Twirls, it just winked at me when I was slightly crazed at the Tesco till. Also, I am actually spending Christmas in England, so why I think I need to import all this is an interesting (well, no, interesting is definitely not the right word) question. I used to do this all the time, swanning off to London and buying crap foodstuffs, but then I acquired a modicum of common sense and lost more than a modicum of income. I had a lovely time though, pretending it was 2009 again.

Now I am trying to discreetly eat a mozzarella and avocado baguette next to a serious, spreadsheet composing gentleman. There is no elegant, or even decent, way to eat a filled baguette, is there? I'm always surprised it's legal, let alone socially acceptable, to do this on public transport. Start off trying to be a grown up lady in a nice Max Mara coat, end up a feral snarling polecat, liberally dusted with flour and tomato flecks and drool.  Is this France's poisoned gift to the world? Try and eat this, foreigners. Let's see how you get on you imbéciles. Other foods not to be eaten in the presence of strangers: filled bagel. Any salad with tendrils that can end up dangling out of your mouth like you're a carnivorous insect snacking on its neighbour on the Natural World. Hamburger. Add your own in the comments.

I have totally lost track of this week: all I know is that I am very behind on everything and corporeally, I am about 73% pestilence. I fell asleep sucking three Strepsils simultaneously last night and woke up sort of half choking on one, it didn't even work, I sound like an aggrieved seal when I try and talk. Being on a train in this state feels a little like being Gwyneth Paltrow in Contagion, except without the glamor, the butt of a 22 year old stripper, the kale, the Hong Kong casino high jinks or the death and post-mortem face peeling, or indeed anything except the filthy bark-coughing (what the fuck was that film? I'm still perplexed by what the point of it was. Why? What? Jude Law? Eh?) and the spreading of deadly germs through the population.

The rest of me is composed of unmetabolised carbs and unfocussed panic. We have no home for the remaining RAT for Christmas and the Rat Kennels (there is such a thing in Brussels, fascinatingly) is full. I have another social security bill to pay. Also, as of yesterday I have a hard early January deadline for ending the fucking around on the book proposal pre-submission, which is a good thing, but also a terrifying thing. Shit. You'll buy it if it ever exists, right? Not that I believe it ever will. But theoretically? It's full of death and fondant! All the good stuff.

Now I am going to bark forlornly in my bed like a walrus deprived of its bucket, whilst watching the fascinating Liberty documentary. What news of you?


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Advent 10 and 11

Oops, sorry, sorry. Imagine yesterday was one of those days when you forget your calendar, then get DOUBLE JOY.

That said, I'm not sure how much joy a length of string can conjure, but there it is.

It's sparklier than it looks, honestly.

I am typing this on my phone on the train next to a giant gang of loud, clean-cut poshos who remind me frighteningly of my law days. God knows if it will work or whether I will survive the picture by picture recounting of a trade delegation trip to Doha (everyone featured is "a legend"). This is the extent of my devotion to our advent tedium. Today was better on the surprise envelope calendar. Look! 

The Etsy calendar had the following:


I need to finish this before roaming fees kick in, but I promise a vastly improved effort tomorrow, or your money back.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Advent 9

Something of a slump today (I mean the calendar but it could equally apply to me):

Though the yellow dog is sweet:

My own beige dog is going to cost us something like THREE HUNDRED EUROS to house over Christmas. I weep. Then I collect my own tears; dry them out and bottle them to give them to all my family members as "Dead Sea salts" for Christmas, because the dog has spent the budget ('budget'). Frau Antje may be right, and I may have to resort to a weepette prize giveaway (no one would enter though, since you all remember the appalling incident with the Picard pie).

Question: Is there any earworm more powerful than Kung Fu Fighting? I carelessly infected my friend F with it today.

F: Oh no. Kung Fu Fighting has an incredible effect on me. As fast as lightning. It lasts for weeks. In fact, it is a little bit frightening.

E: Shit. I've reinfected myself. I am so sorry. I feel genuine remorse. What is it about that song? Is anything else similarly powerful?

F: Jessie's Girl is pretty good.

E: God, it is, isn't it? Now the two of them are fighting it out in my head. Aaaargh.

F: Yes, it's interesting.

E: And awful. Mainly awful.

F makes a case for "What does the fox say" as a modern pretender, but I'm not even sure if I could pick it out of an aural line up. Which is strongest for you? Let's test this out.

A minute increment of progress: I have just opened the agent's document and scanned it squeamishly with my eyes half shut. Tomorrow I will galvanise myself to actually read properly, probably quivering like a jelly in the manner of Mr Jelly (I have just had to go and check that was actually his name. How come Mr Jelly has a special name? Why is he not Mr Anxious or Mr Scared? Who knows). Pathetic.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Advent 8

In calendar news, we have presents in the attic and a floral magnet.

Today, we made those stained glass window biscuits, but they looked revolting, due to the dodgy cherry sweets we got from the corner shop, a combination of calamine pink and brown stains. Not so much festive as festering wound. Instead we concentrated on THESE:

EXTERMIBAKE. I am quite pleased with the Christmas daleks.

This is our substitute Christmas tree:

Apart from that, we went to the Christmas market, which was looking a little tawdry in the bright daylight and mild weather, with its chalets of aggressively cinnamon scented tat, Lotto sponsored big wheel ("LOTTERY" is not the word I want to have prominent in my mind when I ascend into the heavens on a big piece of Meccano manned by bored youths playing instrumental versions of Last Christmas) and giant damp tent masquerading as a terrifying snow monster (30 second saunter through tent €4). Then we violently over-decorated our friends' Christmas tree (though not with daleks) and came home and squabbled. Then I did some work. Standard Sunday. Sorry, this advent thing was a terrible idea and is monstrously boring, isn't it? Never mind. I won't let that get in the way of ploughing grimly on with filling you in on the tedious minutiae of my December. Please feel free to do likewise, because I very much enjoy other people's minutiae and do not find it tedious at all (I can only hope you feel the same).

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Advent 7

We hit a good patch on both calendars today, although the Etsy one had to be opened with a knife due to over-enthusiastic closing from F.

The small stars will, I imagine, go every-bloody-where but they're quite cheery. They can be Roomba's Christmas present.

Today I gave in to my craving and went to Ikea. The wrapping paper selection was dreadful, and the slog to the ground floor was endless and Cräp filled, but the CINNAMON ROLLS WERE BACK. The little soft ones, not the massive frozen ones which slap you round the face with cardamom and sugar crystals. Obviously, we did not emerge without various other pieces of tat, but apart from the cinnamon rolls, it was a fairly parsimonious trip. Actually, I am racking my brain to try and work out what we bought and coming up with nothing, except F who purchased four AAA batteries and a plant that looks like it could kill you. Apart from that I have worked, squabbled, failed to tidy and worked again and tried to block out the noise of F and his loudest (though delightful) friend, being wholly hysterical. Cheerful, but hysterical.

L is the only one who has the right idea about Saturday. He cashed in a long-standing token for breakfast in bed, rose around 11 and lay on the sofa in his pyjamas in his shark sleeping bag for most of the rest of the day.

Now I have to try and locate and sign a mislaid deed of trust. Easy.

(What shall I read now? I have finished Shotgun Love Songs - hmmm -  and am failing to engage with a detective thingy. Did people like the Song of Achilles? Would I like it? Or Americanah? I have both on Kindle currently. Or have you read any relentlessly gloomy but gripping Scandinavian style murder I might enjoy?)

Friday, 6 December 2013

Advent 6

I have put everything advent related together on one quite dull photo, here:

I suppose the cards might come in handy, if I don't lose them (unlikely).

In other news, there is no other news. I looked at nine thousand demented Pinterest Christmas decoration ideas (for work, not just because I like to feel simultaneously inadequate, confused and full of rage), got paid in jumper (far quicker and a thousand times more satisfying than most invoices), and this evening we have had a dinner entirely made up of Picard petits fours, just because I fancied a meal composed of stuff in pastry. I am currently 69% puff pastry, 14% eye strain, 12% wine and 5% irrational desire to go to Ikea. Does that even add up? Who knows, I'm blinded by cinnamon roll lust.

I'd say there will be better things to report tomorrow, but that would be a blatant lie. There may, however, be a prize giveaway sometime soon.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Advent 5

Today's advent offering:

Four Christmas tree present tags. I'm ok with that.

Esty calendar has this nice chandelier:

The best thing about today was sort of the worst in prospect: ie. a interview for which I was completely unprepared which turned out delightful. It also involved seeing Pierre Louys' carefully crafted penis signature:

... and this lovely drawing Saint-Exupéry did in a vain attempt to seduce a much younger woman he met on a train and fell in love with.

It was actually an exhibition of love letters, but they were quite hard to photograph and some of the illustrations were so beautiful and affecting, like Prévert's flowers and Cocteau's sweet sausagey dogs:

Enough loveliness. Back to BITTER MOANING.

(i) Behind on work to an oppressive degree, now back at the foot of the Terrifying Work Mountain and visibility is poor.

(ii) Horrifying expense of Christmas.

(iii) My agent has sent me a bundle of What Is To Be Done (I imagine this intoned, Lenin style) and I am too chicken to open it. I could not be more out of love with this project, which is now my Christmas millstone. I know I should be delighted there's any progress, but fuck all has happened for a year and I now hate every word I have written. Ever. Yes, that one too. I'll get back into it somehow, I must. 

(iv) Dog has ruined its chances of being invited back to whippet owning neighbour for Christmas by making insistent advances towards her new (male) dog. He is obsessed and driven wild with desire for the creature, who I will admit is extremely handsome. Oscar's sexuality is not something I have had to contemplate until now, since the only thing he has ever expressed any desire towards is a large stuffed toy (now disposed of), but this undignified park rutting (and brrrr, licking) is quite distasteful. Yes, I am immensely repressed.

(v) F is very slowly and carefully reading me every single one of the "jokes" on the advent thingy he got with his magazine today. They include things like "why does Santa wear yellow braces? To keep his trousers up", and that's one of the better ones. I need to invent a tradition along the lines of "Saint Nicolas won't come if you are telling jokes", and sharpish.