Saturday, 28 June 2014

Wakarimasen, Sumimasen


Up since 4:45 due to lack of curtains chez Papa Waffle, then onto the packed 6:50 train and instead of the baby, this time I had an Australian primary school teacher sitting behind me who talked for 2 hours without drawing breath to her wretched companions about her teaching method, which was apparently variations on a theme of NEVER SHUTTING THE FUCK UP.

In Peak Anxiety mode over the past week, I went back to my disgusting habit of peeling all the skin off my left foot. F caught a glimpse of it yesterday and retched and now everyone is avoiding going near me and behaving as if I have cooties (fair enough).

School is over for 9 weeks. NINE WEEKS. My children have reacted each in their own entirely typical fashion. L put his pyjamas on at 4pm and constructed a giant "reading nest" out of 2 duvets and 7 pillows, into which he dragged an artfully arranged trayful of snacks. I have not seen him since. F ordered a 5x5 Rubik's Cube on the Internet and spent the remainder of the day watching YouTube videos of introverts solving said Cube with monotonal commentary.

VAT deadline.

House looks and smells like a crack den, but where crack has been substituted for Daim pieces and hardened giant jelly reptiles. And discarded socks.


The computer is resurrected! Thanks be to Saint Steve of Jobs. I tried all the things they told me to do on the phone and it did nothing, then I took it into the shop and the guy did exactly the same things and it worked. Magic nerd fingers.

My back is also significantly better.

We had a most entertaining time at the peculiar ceremony bestowing the Order of the Rising Sun with Neck Ribbon on my father at the Japanese embassy. There were giant circulating platters of incredible sushi and weird and delicious things on skewers (beef wrapped snow crab, anyone? All the proteins).  My father gave a lecture on The State of the Universe the basic gist of which was that my children's generation is absolutely screwed, unless: science and then we all drank heavily. We had lots of fun with L, who has been learning Japanese for nearly 2 years and who, when quizzed on appropriate polite phrases to introduce ourselves to the ambassador, said he had did not know.

"TWO YEARS? You can't say hello? Or "sorry"? "I don't understand?""

"I can say lots of other things"

"Like what?

"Apple. And 'clock'. And 'car'."

"Right. Well I'm sure that will come in handy."

Eventually, he did manage to introduce himself without drawing terrible shame on the British/French/Belgian nation and say he was learning Japanese, then, flush with his own success dispensed all manner of advice to the rest of us like "you have to put desu on the end of everything or it's rude" and "never cross your chopsticks" then explained how to say your apple and clock were in the car. Just in case, like.

Later, we had dinner with the ambassador. The children and their cousin were left behind in my father's house of infinitely breakable and valuable things, with as many Hula Hoops and sausage rolls as they could cram into their small bodies and unlimited quantities of Minecraft. There were no sausage rolls or Hula Hoops at the ambassador's, but many many tiny and beautiful looking things that I was quite frightened to tackle.  I copied the man opposite me, who was an embassy official. Next to me was the head of the Atomic Energy something something something, who also played backing trumpet for Elvis Costello once, an impressive portfolio of achievements. I am not quite sure what anything was, but it was all amazing, except for the salty cherry blossom tea, which was a step too far.

My anxiety has greatly subsided as I enter "fuck it" mode once more. It's always one or the other.

This new rice paper roll shop is insanely delicious. I could eat twenty a day. The dipping sauces! I die.

Now please excuse me because I am going to bed with a novel and a Cadbury's Caramel because everyone has gone diving in a murky reservoir near Charleroi (I assume it is like the reservoir full of dead livestock in that French zombie thing, The Returned) and I wish to continue totally winning at Saturday.

A picture: 
The closest I will ever get to an honorary decoration:

I note this outfit makes me look like Jenni Murray and for all the love I have for JM, that is not how it looked in my head. 


45% rice paper roll
30% sloth
20% faint domestic guilt
5% plotting what other foods to buy


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Everything is broken*

(* must be sung in style of Bob Dylan, thus. This song reminds me so much of Prog Rock, see also, and appropriately, "Been down so damn long" and "Feel like I'm fixin' to die". I think of my stepfather as a basically optimistic and serene man, but he certainly likes a black lyric. Whoopee we're all gonna die)


1. My brand new Mac Air, doing something horrifying involving being stuck on caps lock, meaning I am now locked out entirely. Have tried all those reset alchemy things, no dice. Cannot deal. Must deal.

2. My back (still)

3. My knee (again)

4. My spirit (I actually tried to get into a cupboard yesterday afternoon to see if it was as dark and cosy as it looked. I did not fit).

5 ... and as of two minutes ago, also the washing machine, the stupid drama queen bastard washing machine AGAIN. It'll be dog shit bags in the filter again, it usually is.


Watching Father Jack say sorry over and over again (I keep this clip open on my phone at all times. This, a capybara with a paper bag round its neck in a swimming pool, and that thing about naming animals in German. When things are bad I look at them until I feel better. If you have any suggested additions to this list, I am all ears).

Kid done GOOD in his bizarre Belgian external exam. Thank fuck for that. He got 91% in French! This is little short of a miracle! In your FACE accords des participes passés des verbes pronominaux. Now time for a summer of sitting around in pyjamas watching Jeremy Clarkson (there is, sadly, no accounting for pre-teen taste).

Singing Owl on a Swiffer to the tune of Bird on a Wire.

This short film of a mahout washing his elephant (though it also made me a bit weepy, for it is beautiful and calm and I want to wash an elephant).

My most magnificent friend B sending me an email that ended with the immortal line:

"Finally and probably most importantly, on the way home walking down George Street, I saw a seagull eating a still-spasming pigeon".


30% Apple Care terror
30% Parental pride
10% Lost clothing bafflement
10% Bewilderment at why the Muffinski's muffin has not conquered the world.
20% Last day of school tomorrow aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Scone Slapdown


I am very anxious at the moment. I want simultaneously to lie face down in the sunshine until the warmth leaches the dread out of my bones, to hide in the small space under the sideboard and to run away to a distant Yorkshire field. This time of year always seems to have this effect on me. I mean, it should be good, school ending, no fecking homework, no pieces of paper to sign, no small amounts of exact change to provide, no exam revision to chivvy along. And yet. I don't know. Maybe it's the insistent reminder of the passage of time, the lack of clear structure or simply my enduring horror of summer clothing. Maybe it's the way all the bills and the second quarter VAT return cluster around the end of June like a team of STIB ticket inspectors waiting at the barriers at Porte de Hal when you thought that just this once you'd chance it when your travel card was empty. Or maybe I have reverse seasonal affective disorder. Whatever. I feel deranged. It will pass, by 1 August as we board the magical mystery ferry to Hull for another fortnight of wholesome North Yorkshire isolation, crisps and gin, at the very latest.

My back is still unhappy. I need to learn how to sit properly, I am currently, and always, folded up into a bad tempered pretzel in front of my screen and now my back has said it will no longer tolerate this abuse. I have regretfully stopped the valium and good drugs. What now? Yoga? Bouncy ball? Stupid backless chair (ooh, we have two of those knocking around, I ought to try one)? Alexander Technique? My mum used to send me to that, it was bloody weird, some whispery woman on the first floor of a terraced house on the Hull Road making me lie with my head on a pile of books. I would have been fifteen or something. Why on earth did she make me go? I wish I could ask her.

If I am forced to spend another 24 hours on the "reply all" happy email string about the school end of year barbecue I will not be responsible for my actions.

Interestingly disgusting bumpy elbows, like a giant toad. The bumps, not the elbows. Do toads have elbows? Perhaps.

A large bunch of chard is perishing slowly and reproachfully in the fridge because I am too lazy to deal with it.


We bought a special chicken shit shovelling implement with a super long handle at the weekend and I am fully confident it will revolutionise my life.

No builders in the house for a week.

I ate a delicious melon today and when I finish this I am going to eat a promising looking mango.

My father was very touched that I wrote about him in the most recent Boots magazine ("There wasn't a trace of irony!"  "BECAUSE THEY WOULDN'T LET ME").

We had an enormously middle aged Sunday afternoon, buying said chicken entrenching tool and pottering round the city farm (goats prefer credit cards to leaves, it transpires) while we waited for F to finish at a birthday party, and ended up on the terrace of a rather chichi café in a park. The talkative man feeding his alsatian cubes of sausage at the next table suddenly leant across us and stared at the woman two tables across. "Is that .. a WEASEL?" It wasn't. It was a ferret, drinking water out of an ashtray. Then her companion brought out a tupperware box of ferret food and it ate that. Then we realised his shopping bag was wriggling and there was another ferret in it. The ferret lady was very calm and happy and the non-bagged ferret wriggled a little, had a sniff around, ate its food then fell asleep belly up on her lap, small pink feet in the air. We were all mesmerised.  Jane, I thought of you. My milkshake wasn't bad either.

Neither, really

Tonight I had to make scones because there is some kind of culinary slapdown going on at school and everyone has to bring in a dish of their country of origin. I am apparently up against: some Toblerones (cheating), popcorn, churros and .. some kind of Congolese vegetable. I don't fancy the scone's chances, but neither do I fancy the Congolese thing much, what with being a vegetable. I have burnt the scones, though, so.. hmm. It's anything goes week at school. F went on a "visite gustative" today (ice cream at the end of the road), whilst L did rather better with a trip up the Atomium, a hamburger at Quick (debatable whether this is better than anything) and a film. There is more 'bring a board game' style dicking around until Thursday afternoon, when we all have to dress up and get on the train and go and listen to my father give a speech whilst wearing some kind of massive ceremonial medal at the Japanese embassy.

A picture

La Dame aux Furets

55% Seasonal dread
20% Decay and infirmity
10% Late for hedgehog feeding
10% Going full hobo, sartorially
5% Purchase of 3 Muji nailclippers triumph. Say goodbye to insanitary fingerclaw shame.


Thursday, 19 June 2014

I no speak pop up*

Do you remember my English Issue with the waiter in my Wednesday bar? Well, he has now been replaced by an exceptionally mardy woman, who ignores you for as long as possible, then serves you with an expression of withering scorn, probably something you didn't order. Yesterday, she threw mustard all over my leg (I was only drinking tea, so this required some considerable effort), then when I paid her, she disappeared and didn't return with my €1 change. I did not say anything, of course. I feel much more comfortable with her. I don't know what the moral is here, but probably that I don't deserve happiness.

Yesterday I had to go to London at the absolute last minute so I am tired and confused and severely out of pocket, but vitally, I managed to fit in a highly satisfactory session of drinking and eating with M. First we had pizza, then we tried to go for cocktails in Broadway Market but ended up in the most confused and shambolic cake pop up. A friendly but plainly bewildered Spanish man kept bringing us strange small cakes made of vegetables. M's one had giant strands of beetroot in, like someone had gone a bit mad with a spiraliser and I had to hide the chocolate truffle with gilt cornflakes in my napkin. They were playing mainstream pop hits of the early '90s and M and I were the only people there without giant beards. This would never happen in Brussels. M is moving to Glasgow soon, which is distressing for me, because it's basically impossible to get there from Brussels in a sensible fashion. Tsk. We'll have to meet up in Paris or something, which will be awful, all those eclairs and steaks and ponies in the park. Poor us.

* "I no speak pop up", said M as we were getting more and more confused in Hackney.

My back is way better, thank god for drugs. However, I am an emotional wreck, which I suppose is a mix of bad back sleep deprivation, a crazy week of travel and exams and various logistical stresses, and the drugs. I am back on the train (yes, my perpetual travel companion the angry baby is here too) and have no confidence my last minute child wrangling arrangements will work out. I suppose at the worst, they could take refuge in the corner shop among the sleeping cats and cans of Jupiler and biscuits that they stopped making in the mid 1980s. They are resourceful children, I am sure it will be fine. 

The local grapevine has informed me our death-threatening, saxophone-abusing neighbour has gone to Africa for 6 months to "work for an NGO". As M notes, this sounds like the kind of thing you might do to a reprobate younger son in the 19th century, one who had got a scullerymaid pregnant or accumulated gambling debts. I'm not sure I envy the NGO in this scenario. In the meantime, everything is pleasantly quiet.


30% outfit ambivalence 
20% earplug 
20% gnawing anxiety
20% snoring "comme une machine de guerre", apparently 
10% Wanting to meet Mrs Overall the goat on previous post comments.


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Housemaid's arse


I have lumbago. Lumbago! This is the least glamorous ailment I have had since I caught ringworm from a horse in Morocco. Actually, it doesn't even have the exoticism of Moroccan horse ringworm. It sounds like something an elderly, stout, 1930s housemaid would get. Also, Wikipedia indicates 'lumbago' is just a generic term for 'lower back pain'. Symptoms: inability to stand up straight for past 48 hours and posture reminiscent of Mrs Overall, or indeed Mrs Doyle, or perhaps a geriatric crab that has lost a couple of legs in a fight with a seagull. Unsurprisingly, lower back pain. Loss of sense of humour. Self-pity. Lying on floor. L, who is home "revising" (= eating Daims and watching Top Gear) saw me off to the doctor with an enthusiastic "maybe you'll come back IN A WHEELCHAIR!" Both boys suggested I should be sent to Gary Larsson's horse hospital to be shot. Your concern is precious to me. I had to pay L €5 to walk the dog.

This study leave business is ridiculous for a 12 year old. Also, most of the exams don't require you to know any facts, barring the date of the creation of the Belgian state, and it is far too late for any of us to understand the accord des participes passés des verbes pronominaux.


The doctor, in her infinite Belgium wisdom, has given me - in addition to painkillers - 30 Valium to treat the lumbago. Which is interesting. Initially I thought it wasn't doing anything at all, but by the time it got to this morning and I had fallen upstairs then started drooling on my keyboard, I had to accept that it was probably doing something. I can almost walk now, so that's progress. Whether I can think or speak is another matter.

40% Legitimately off face on benzos.
20% Angry crab
10% Delicate scent of organic fake tan (sort of vanilla Marmite)
10% Next to the angry baby on the Eurostar AGAIN
10% Forgotten Kindle  panic
10% Exciting Papa Waffle news I cannot share yet.


Saturday, 14 June 2014

The road safety armadillo

What, what.


Woke at 5 today and couldn't get back to sleep. So far I have: forgotten what side of the road to drive on. Forgotten how roundabouts work. Mistaken another car for my own in a car park containing only 2 cars. Walked at full speed into a bollard giving myself a huge black thigh bruise. I also had to manoeuvre a 2 metre long box (no, not a coffin, a blind) into and out of car and I think that has exhausted my remaining scant brain capacity for the day. I am furious and floppy and generally a failed human being. This, exactly this, is why my worst nightmares are all about having unexpected extra babies: the sleep deprivation.

Whichever idiot brought a family sized bag of Daim pieces into this house should be shot. I don't know what is wrong with that person.

Uccle has been driven demented by the sun. My neighbour - not the really mad one, just the benignly if profoundly eccentric one - has added some important mods to his bench: a pair of crossed saws on one end and a book holding contraption on the other.  He's now out there attaching a 12 inch record to one of the legs, for some reason. The ninja kicking granny walks down the street every morning around 10 and SCREAMS. There is a tortoise in my shoe (not the one on my foot). I walked past a grumbling hobo pulling a supermarket basket on wheels, glanced down, and saw that the basked was FILLED WITH PUPPIES. I just can't cope with the amount of crazy.

L's exams are next week and we are all suffering death by a thousand grammar exercises.

Once more, I spend the morning unblocking the lavatory with my untwisted coat hanger. Crazed with impotent rage and sleep deprivation, I storm downstairs.


F: (not looking up from Minecraft) It's that thing

Me: What? What thing?

F: The thing with the carapace. What's it called... le tatou.

Me: The .. the ARMADILLO???

F: Yes! The road safety armadillo.

L (joining in, delightedly. He is also playing Minecraft in a nest of his own making, composed of pillows, single socks and biscuit wrappers): Oh YES! The road safety armadillo! I think they're both in there.

Me: Let me get this straight. There are two road safety armadillos in the lavatory?

Both boys: (rapidly losing interest. There are redstone blocks to be mined): Yeah.

Me: How would that even happen?


Me (thwarted, confused): Oh.

(This is the road safety armadillo. During the annual road safety talk by Cathy et Jean-Philippe, the local police officers, you get a fluorescent tabard and a small plastic road safety armadillo)


F's passport arrived, only three weeks after we sent it off, which is little short of a miracle, given the ongoing saga of the UK Passport Office Delay Scandal. I can't quite believe our luck. Now we can all go to watch my father get decorated with something elaborate at the Japanese embassy in a fortnight, which promises to be ... strange. I will report back.

I spent ten amazingly pleasurable minutes yesterday watching the chickens fight over a piece of cheese rind. Occasionally one of them would just forget why they were chasing the other and stare at the sky or peck around for a minute, then the chase would resume.

F and I can now accompany each other in a stirring* rendition of La Marseillaise on violin/piano. This is bound to come in handy some day. (*dubiously tuned)

Good discussion with my Portuguese neighbour about her children - and children generally - growing up. Hers were a GREAT DEAL OF TROUBLE, with much weeping and lamentation, confrontations in the Parc du Caca and angst, lots of which I was party to, and now they are lovely. She especially enjoys the younger, gay one now, though she had a heap of trouble coming to terms with it initially. Now she is delighted, because his boyfriend is lovely and kind and gentle and polite and helps her out (he is - I met him last weekend and he was charming). This has made me really happy. There is hope for us all to survive the next 8 years of adolescence.

I have a giant choux à la crème to eat tonight, if I don't fall asleep with my face in it first.

This is a delight.


60% Foul mood of sleep deprivation
30% Pathetically stupid
10% Keen to celebrate World Gin Day in an appropriate manner.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Trevor Jordache on the sax

How are you?

Bank Holiday Weekend here (again). Yesterday I had to pick up ten broken eggs from the floor and clean the chicken house and unblock the lavatory and correct 17 grammar exercises all before midday, then gorged on Daim pieces (relic of Ikea trip of hell) until I lost all sensation in my mouth. What do they put in Daims? Is it legal? On Sunday our next door neighbour (the one with the saxophone and the jazz records) had a violent psychotic break and stood in the back garden screaming that he was going to kill us all and bury us in the garden. I don't remember Saturday, but it's probably for the best. Oh, no, hang on I do remember: we went on our Ikea trip of hell where L insisted on a hideous, strictly '80s monochrome theme for his bedroom. F stayed at home watching Rubik's Cube videos. It's very retro round here.


Day of administrative grimness and insufficient funds.

Printer - so long a shining beacon of reliability - has failed, just when I have fistfuls of invoices to print.

Remains of ten eggs in bin in heatwave = terrible.

Summoned to headmaster's office following An Incident. Not good.

Impending child exams are making for wearying evenings of accords des participes passés des verbes pronominaux, Belgian rivers and Dutch irregular verbs.

Too fat for much of somewhere wardrobe. I blame that BASTARD juice detox. I have been eating solidly since it finished. I also blame anxiety, which has led me into the perfidious arms of cheap wine.


No one threatened to kill us today.

Discovered I have another ten days to pay a load of bills I thought were already overdue.

Read the most wonderful book (this) which was both a delight and an inspiration. MY GOD THIS MAN WRITES BEAUTIFULLY.

Not very busy, which will rapidly become a down, but for today was quite pleasant. I have reduced my office from darkest zone of shame to mild disgrace.

Interesting and very un-Belgian stormy, hot weather. Dog is appalled, but I rather like it.

Jolly chat with Papa Waffle last night. Emboldened by his expansive good humour, I voiced my grievances about him getting himself a life sized bronze horse when he was never prepared to buy me a real one and since he was apparently slightly tipsy he said "ah, well you never know hon", which I have of course interpreted as meaning that he WILL buy me a horse for my fortieth birthday. I will nourish this fantasy for a few months, I think. Maybe speculating on the type and colour of horse. This will make up for the year he got me the Times Encyclopaedia of World History when I was 14 (my father will never buy me a horse) (and if he did, what the fuck would I do with it?) (I can still dream though).

Delicious lunch (for a review) on Saturday (see? Something good did happen on Saturday) including spookily moreish buckwheat ice cream, which sounds horrible but was a bit like highly superior cereal milk à la Momofuku, with tiny chocolate truffles hidden underneath it. Here. 2 courses for €15, highly recommended, Belgians.

It's now time to watch three hours of overwrought French patisserie competition on the telly.

A picture: 

Meanwhile, recommended for me: 

Yeah, thanks, 4OD.

50% knackered
20% itchy
10% bored of Minecraft/Rubik's Cube/Clash of Clans
10% Entering interesting - if probably short-lived - phase of relatively serene fatalism.
10% Old El Paso scented.


Friday, 6 June 2014

Each elephant will need a fez

An odd few days. I feel faintly hysterical.

1. Turned up at editorial meeting for one of my regular gigs to be told that they no longer had a budget to pay writers. Any writers. But if we wanted to continue writing for free for 'visibility' we could. Hmm, let me think about that for not even a fraction of a second.

2. Finished proposal. FINISHED. Now what? Cross fingers. Possibly nothing will happen. Whatever happens, I now have to find some proper paying work as a matter of urgency.

3. Email from Prog Rock about our long-running financial etwas farce. APPARENTLY the Natwest now inform him, we can't get the bond we have been running about trying to acquire for months because... wait for it ... I am not a UK resident. Which was pretty obvious from our first conversation with them, not to mention all the 800 subsequent forms we filled in.

4. Two sheepish looking men in overalls knocked on the door this morning.

"Spreekt u nederlands, mevrouw?"

"Nee, sorry. Engels? Frans?"

Apparently neither of these. We turned to mime and they showed me how they had been replacing the streetlight cables when one of them broke and came crashing to the ground breaking our car to buggery. I had an excellent time filling in their Dutch insurance claim form, which was full of verzekeringattest this and achterzijde that. A couple of times we enlisted passers-by to act as ad hoc interpreters. It was highly entertaining. Well, for most the street's other residents, anyway. The woman who keeps trying to get us to give her eggshells had a right old laugh.

5. Made both children cry. Evil French grammar revision in one case  - we were both pretty much crying by the end of it - and a far too offhand, late evening announcement that violin teacher was leaving Brussels in the other. I had no idea he'd be so upset, I am an idiot.

6. Dog is having one of his periodic nervous breakdowns and follows me round the house, furtively, at a distance. He's not allowed upstairs so he sneaks up and hides behind the door which makes me repeatedly convulse with terror because I think there are burglars in the house.

7. Just for an encore, I've just this minute let a pan burn to a frazzle whilst trying to help L with his maths homework and the whole house is perfumed with burnt milk. Oh, and someone's doudou (comfort blanket) was left out and used as a paint rag by the builders, then washed by me to get rid of the scent of white spirit (twice) and left outside to dry where the fecking whippet has JUST PEED ON IT. It's clearly the kind of week where we should all be placed in a padded room.

Thank god for the Internet I say on days like this. Thank god, in particular, for M and for Liberty London Girl, who, unbeknownst to her, brought us together. This conversation wasn't even today (today was pickled wombats and creepypasta) but it did make me laugh.

M: When I die, I want to come back as Ella Fitzgerald.

E: That comes slightly out of left field, but fair enough. I'm coming back as the 18th century MP who rode a horse upstairs and out of a ballroom window and organised child rolling competitions.

M: YES. Wait. No. That would hurt.

E: It doesn't hurt when you've drunk 7 bottles of port.

M: Mmm, I bet my back wouldn't hurt if I drank 7 bottles of port.

E: Nope. You'd be riding horses out of ballroom windows in no time.

M: I’d love to ride a horse indoors. I need some toast from the kitchen. *gets on horse, rides to kitchen*

E: "A favourite horse, Baronet, had full and free range inside Halston Hall, and would lie in front of the fire with Jack." Yup. That’s the dream.

M: How did you find this Jack?

E: Horrible Histories.

"He arrived at a dinner party at Halston Hall riding a bear and when he tried to make it go faster the beast bit into his calf. His biographer 'Nimrod', Charles James Apperley described it thus: '‘He once rode this bear into his drawing-room, in full hunting costume. The bear carried him very quietly for a time; but on being pricked by the spur he bit his rider through the calf of his leg.’' Despite being bitten, Mad Jack kept the bear Nell as a pet. However, it later attacked a servant and Jack had it killed."

Man, the 18th century was AMAZING if you were rich.

M: You could do anything. Literally anything.

E: Kimye couldn't begin to compete.

"I need some elephants"
“Very good sir"
“Dress them in footmens’ livery"
“Very good sir"

M: “Each elephant will need a fez”.

E: “And a hurdy gurdy player to accompany their quadrilles"


62% pressing need for gin
20% hysteria
10% On strike for remainder of day
7% Absence of joining words in this post
1% Poor bra choice.


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Mainly telly


Bad mood: weepy, moping around like bored teenager but even more annoying.


Having one of those twice yearly mid-season wardrobe meltdowns where there is absolutely nothing I can wear. It is still too cold for bare legs and too ... June for black opaques. My Prozac trousers have lost their button, so I am condemned to: the dirty jeans or the marginally too tight jeans with the hole in the crotch or the not very me bright green jeans with the hole in the pocket. None of my tops fit, or if they do, they have holes in. Maybe I'll try the cropped trousers yesterday, but I look like a scout master in them.

On Wednesday, I had to have the rat put down, which was wretched and difficult and also something of a relief. Poor little thing and poor L, who has had terrible luck with his rats. I really felt for him. I also felt for the rat, who, despite having a luxuriously gigantic cage ("Ferret XL" model) and lots of toys and fun and a devoted owner, did not really have a lovely life and who was far more sociable than the previously deceased rat. We are all in agreement that there shall be no more small creatures in cages. Not to mention that the whole rat ownership endeavour probably racked up €250 vet's bills. We could have had gold plated rats for that, like something you could buy in those weird dictators' furnishings shops on Wigmore Street. Or stuffed ones, playing tiny fiddles. Or adopted 4 Hero Rats! We are adopting a Hero Rat in Peanut and Houdini's memory.

Proposal was supposed to be finished by today. It is not. There is not even anything I can do about it right now because all elements are currently out of my hands. I am nevertheless fiddling. Unwisely. And rending my garments.

All my bills are due and I must screw up my courage to check my bank balance, which I know for a fact will not cover half of them.

Bastard Netflix can now pierce my Cunning Digital Veil of Anonymity that I bought for a couple of quid a month and knows I am in Belgium, which means no more Netflix, which means no new series of Orange is the New Black for me, bastardry of bastardries.

Spent two hours looking for lost Blue Peter badge this morning without success and now I feel oppressed by the acres of clutter at which I was forced to look. I usually turn an extremely blind eye.

Disappointing cake yesterday, like a coconut flavoured executive stress toy.



Children have discovered and fallen in love with Father Ted, so now we can just all sit on the sofa bathing in our collective adoration of Father Jack. So far we have done: hairy hands, my lovely horse, small and far away, the very dark caves, the King of Sheep, Over 75s football and, of course, Bishop Brennan and the rabbits. Not so long ago when their English was really ropey this would have been unimaginable, so I appreciate it all the more. It is all down to British television, truly. "TV gave me back my children". Though, with the interminable, agonising semi-finals of Britain's Got Talent which they have required me to watch in full, it has also nearly caused me to sink into a catatonic state.

Excellent falafel wrap of joy yesterday.

And a vast perfect Aperol spritz in the hazy sun. Thank goodness for food and booze and detective novels.

Lovely friends, sadly distant and on email, but nevertheless bolstering sanity and causing me to cackle with rudeness, comparison of facial blemishes and surfing goats.

Yesterday we entirely by chance happened upon the open day at the church up the road, which is at the highest point in Brussels and a peculiar, vaguely Art Deco 1930s thing, made of concrete and 'like the Empire State building', as L describes it. When we were poking around the inside, an elderly lady came up and told us we could climb right up to the top if we liked, and then accompanied us as we did just that. It was quite odd, since she (i) did not know the way and (ii) claimed the church dated from 1913, then (iii) cavalierly rang the church bell at about a million decibels nearly deafening us, so maybe she was just some random mad person, anyway, we got right up to the top and I was only nearly sick twice with vertigo and the view was magnificent.

The top, with some other confused people the woman had escorted up there, then left, with a vague exhortation to "be careful".

The bit with the hideous view down into the church that made my legs go funny.


85% spot on chin
10% cheap wine
5% Antiques Roadshow solace

Avanti! Monday beckons, with cold, imperious fingers!