A long overdue update. It was this or editing some copy written by German people. Or, you know, all the other work I should be doing or that awful pile of unopened envelopes, but I have chosen you.
Things that have happened:
Was - of course - wonderful, grey and damp and empty and enchanting. Also, a pandoro costs FOUR EUROS there! If I had known I would have brought an extra pandoro/pannetone suitcase. We did not manage to see any shrivelled fingers, but it did not matter because there was wine and cicchetti and spritz and hours of getting lost down weird picturesque dead end streets and taking pictures of furious, child-eating seagulls.
I went to London on Tuesday for a really lovely lunch (Moro, pheasant, trifle and delicious booze), plus various admin type things but made the mistake of straying into and around Oxford Street looking for Christmas child-tat. THE HORROR, the heat, the noise, the piles of undesirable gew-gaws, the naked consumer ghastliness. I was feeling intensely Christmassy (a day of jollity will do that) and it nearly sucked all my joy out. Also, and heartbreakingly, Muffinski's in Covent Garden, where I have been getting muffins for years even when they were the Canadian Muffin Company and occupied a corner site on Brewer Street opposite Raymond's Revue Bar has GONE. I know you can't get excited about muffins, but these were amazing, I do not have the vocabulary to explain them, they were sort of healthy wholegrain but not too wholegrain and just ludicrously delicious. I have tried to reproduce them and totally failed. I am muffin bereft.
I tried to do some Christmas shopping, despite the heat and horror, but reviewing my purchases, I seem to have acquired only a selection of jelly sea creatures from Cybercandy, two pairs of tights (for myself) and a packet of David Shrigley playing cards (damn you, Magma, you pit of temptation). I have since acquired some caps (the kind you throw on the street when you are a delinquent pre-teen) and some juggling balls that look like poo. Can I just give up now?
One of my London errands was to collect a gingerbread house kit to be photographed, which was slightly eccentric. On my return we had to build the house (stupid) and decorate it (even stupider) then smash it with a hammer for the photographer. This last bit was bloody brilliant though the dog made a repeated nuisance of himself barking and trying to eat shards of gingerbread. Last night we found him furtively trying to eat the decorative Christmas tree that came with the house which he had recovered from the kitchen radiator and it took two of us to prise his reluctant jaws open to remove it. Since then I have put the rest out for the birds, who are ignoring it. A magpie had a go yesterday but he has not been back. I imagine it will survive all the depredations of winter an emerge unscathed and just as unappetising in the spring.
I already have to go back to the dentist on Monday because the tooth he filled when I went very recently is now an ouchy, sensitive no-go zone. I don't imagine he has a satisfait ou remboursé guarantee, sadly. My back and neck are also in permanent crockedness and I would sell a kidney for a really good deep tissue massage. Presumably this is just my age. Are there any crackpot remedies I can try for my shitty joint aches? Fish oil? Virgin's blood? Anyone? I have also woken up with some kind of painful eye infection. All the middle-aged fun.
F came home yesterday and mentioned in passing "the cook brought his barn owl into class today". Which, hang on, stop right there child and provide me with MUCH MORE DETAIL. This is the gulag, not Hogwarts, but apparently the school cook (I am already sort of surprised he's not a Sodhexo mechanised drone that hovers above the canteen dispensing food pellets) has raised a barn owl ('chouette effraie' in French which is lovely) from a hatchling until now, when it is 8. It flies free range around his house and sometimes he opens the window and lets it have a little go around the park. The owl came to their class twice, tried to bite several people and pooed on someone's desk. Honestly, if this had happened when I was at primary school it would have been the biggest event of my educational career. F seemed rather blasé about it. Where is his sense of wonder?
Queen Fabiola, she of the magnificent coiffure, has died. The country is in a paroxysm of mourning and I watched several hours of obsequious coverage (plainly prepared years in advance) last night and have purchased the souvenir edition of Le Soir today. One of the main points of debate last night after the announcement seemed to be whether they should postpone Monday's planned national strike as a gesture of respect. The consensus was no: it was, perhaps, what she would have wanted. I expect moving scenes of slow, solemn tyre burning.
How have you been? It is St Nicolas today, so be careful no one puts you in a sack and kicks you to Spain.