1. Pastoral care
My eldest son is on exam leave this week. Practically, this means that he leaves the house at 8:10 and gets back at the horrifyingly early hour of 10:30 (him yesterday morning on the doorstep, faced by my narrow eyed and baleful expression of suspicion: I stayed for the full 2 hours of maths! Me: the only way you could have stayed 2 hours and still be home less than 1 hour and 50 minutes after you left the house would involve TIME TRAVEL, so do enlighten me Stephen fecking Hawking).
By this point I have usually done nothing more strenuous than a little light opening of browser windows and brushing my teeth (perhaps) (some days). This would not be at all problematic were I inclined to let him just mooch around on the internet watching other people playing video games and so on for the remainder of the day. I am not, since some puritanical streak in me believes study leave should mean JUST THAT. Also, he was in charge of finding his own lunch today and I came down to find he had bought me a large bag of chips. Whilst this was very welcome, if it continues, I will be 35 stone by the end of the interminable school holidays (and broke, because obviously he used my money).
Next week is more of the same but without even the pretence of having to revise and the whole thing is cutting gravely into my sitting and festering in silence time, which is essential for my mental health. The LOLcats can take him. Upside: there is now always someone in to sign for yet another letter from the tax authorities about my €200 VAT rebate (I am, without a shred of exaggeration, now up to four of these in the last month).
You might imagine Oscar would be delighted to have more congenial company around. You would be quite wrong.
I don't think I have learnt anything in this current round of exams, though I did get a solitary percentage maths question right yesterday, to my great delight. My head is still full of misremembered level 3 Chinese from last month (I could probably tell you your brother was fat, but I might be saying he's cold). I'd like to think this stuff is helping delay the onset of dementia, but I think we all know it is rapidly replaced by a whirling cloud of social media chaff and capybara fantasies and no lasting neural pathways have been formed in the last 10 years.
2. Chicken news
I looked out of the window yesterday and a large grey cat was sitting in the chicken coop sizing up the chickens. It had obviously concluded that it could not eat our hens today (perhaps it had had a large breakfast), but I have no confidence it won't give it a shot eventually. I tried to send the dog out to chase it away but the dog got confused and chased a pigeon instead, allowing the cat to slink away in its own time, dignity intact, doubtless to return.
Predictably, the chickens did not seem to have noticed they were being sized up for amuse bouches. One of our hens is so lazy she seems disinclined even to get up but merely flops out of the nest box to arrange herself in an untidy pile of feathers on the ground in the sun for the rest of the day. She is definitely the grey cat's best bet. I am far from confident she would react to an attack by anything other than obligingly dying with minimal fuss.
3. Travel PR emails
Hotel promotional trolling continues to clog my inbox, though frankly the illusion of activity these emails bring is something of a relief, since I have never been less in demand, professionally. I really ought to do something about that. Today: a hotel in the Maldives suggests you dine in a NEST. This email included the deathless phrase "Leaves dance in an ecstatic shimmy" which suggests to me a copywriter pushed past the point of no return, sanity wise. I recognise this state having attained it myself on a piece of South African hotel copy two years ago.
My €200 VAT rebate has gone to my head and I have bought a new funereal COS sack dress, as recommended by those deadly sirens on The Women's Room and some foundation and have taken to spending odd half hours lost in wonder among the blandishments of MiH, The Outnet, &Other Stories et al. This is a great shame because I had managed to attain a hermit like state of absence of desire in the past 6 months or so and now I am back to spending all my money on boring monochrome garments that look like all my other boring monochrome garments.
5. Waterloo shame
A more resourceful, dynamic or indeed halfway competent Belgium-based freelancer would have capitalised on the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo (this Thursday) many times over. All I have done is order two of Belgium's famous fuck the French €2,50 coins and watched the Napoleon themed Horrible Histories.
6. Specific to Brussels-dwellers
My younger son's violin teacher is rightly insistent I tell you that the truly amazing - he is, I've seen him twice and he's breathtaking - Roby Lakatos, the virtuoso violinist who looks like Balzac, is playing a series of FREE concerts in Brussels in the next couple of weeks. They are:
Friday 19, Saturday 20 June, 8pm, Café Java, 22 Rue de la Grande Île (near Bourse).
Saturday 27 June, 8pm, Chez Franz, Avenue du Haut Pont (Ixelles).
He loves playing small venues apparently so expect to nearly get a bow in your eye and have your mind blown by Hungarian Dances, like so:
My son's violin teacher will be accompanying him and he is not exactly shabby himself, plus there is an amazing old man who plays that thing you hit with hammers (a dulcimer? Is it?) at warp speed, all in all an amazing night of entertainment is guaranteed.
30% Completely over-excited for Helen McDonald and live raptors at ZSL next week.
20% Onset of traditional summer irrational dread.
20% Piriton, what the fuck, pollen.
10% Oppressed by catering (this week: bad ribs, pasta, more pasta, frietjes, and "freezer surprise").
10% Weird, unsightly leg rash.
10% Longing for gin and silence.
Shit, I've just wasted 10 minutes trying to think of percentages and my son will be back, well, basically now. Eff my elle.