Wednesday, 17 June 2015


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.

4. Retail
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.

7. Percentages

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.



CJ said...

Freezer surprise has given way to allotment surprise here. A most entertaining post. I'm half wondering if I should write one myself in a similar fashion, but I'm not sure I could pull it off. In fact I'm certain I couldn't. The Belgian coin is nicely done. No doubt it will be particularly popular. Might be worth minting a few more methinks. Having recently invested heavily in Nerf guns and Supersoakers, I can report that most of the reviewers on Amazon have bought them to see off passing cats. Arm yourself, and wait by the window. Better still, arm the whole family and dot them around the garden in readiness. I live in fear of my children getting older and being around more and leaving even less peace. The thought of them staying up late and spending only 1 hour and 50 minutes at school has sent me into a panic. I absolutely need quiet to function and concentrate fully on excellent blog posts such as yours. CJ xx

frau antje said...

60% Not a parent, but innocently and hesitantly suggested this Austrian-SoCal hybrid to a young person contemplating the next step. Coincidentally or not, a practice admission test was taken within 24 hours (I myself answered a single question of one of these tests, utterly convinced I was right--nope--quit in an illogical huff).

15% Quartermaster of my own fate.

20% Irrational summer dread (starts the second it's warm enough for construction). I'm slim and I'm weak, I've got the teeth of the hydra, or grey cat, upon me.

5% Not sure I'd die with minimal fuss, but I did see a sidebar ad in dutch the other day about the cost of death (for responsible types, who are admirable). Personally, my first thought was, "I'll take it! Screw the cost, wrap it up."

Unknown said...

Last weekend in percentages: 80% binging on the 3rd season of Orange is the New Black, 20% - everything else. Have now seen all 13 episodes - so, so good.
BTW - have you started Diplomatic Baggage yet? She often mentions her horror of dinner parties, and being an ambassador's wife, they are basically part of the job description.

Anonymous said...

"sitting and festering in silence time, which is essential for my mental health"

Best line EVER. SOOOOOOOO true. Nail on head. Enlightenment.

Lola said...

30% being on holiday a long way abroad
30% wishing I were at home again
30% trying to think of activities to distract me so that I can do what everyone else does and enjoy being on holiday
10% chocolate (I brought it with me, and lied to those terrifying customs officers. "No, no food in my bag at all. None."

Bytowner said...

I am also enduring teenage son exam period. The only evidence of anything other than sleeping today is that he emailed me a link to a quiz to find out which Monty Python and the Holy Grail character I am. It could be a long summer. (I am the rabbit).
It is lovely that you are back and posting. Your posts are as beautifully composed and entertaining as ever.
There is a great poem by Billy Collins called 'Forgetfulness' about the things we remember and then forget in middle age and beyond (more middle aged than you Waffle). (Just in case you need to read a depressing poem about such things).

GingerB said...

60 % exhaustion from the 9 loads of laundry I've done in the 24 hours since my darling girls came home from the second week of summer camp with not so darling head lice.
15% pleased that my girls agreed to watch Holy Grail while I fine tooth combed their newly cut hair.
15% summer dread that is entirely rational! obviously.
10% sweat caused by the actual summer! the summer head lice! and summer dread!
10% gin. All lice treatments should begin with the instruction "you need half a bottle of gin. It won't kill lice, but you'll feel better.

tigerbaps said...

50% Imposter Syndrome
20% Nespresso jitters
20% Post-Norovirus flatulence
10% Why isn't it Friday

Waffle said...

Anna Maria - No, but it is next but one on my list (just finishing The Egg and I, then the new Anne Enright). Trying to ration OITNB, painfully.

Anonymous said...

The new Anne Enright:
I find with her writing that while sometimes I find myself critiquing certain parts as being perhaps too long or too contrived or a bit off in some way I'm not really able to pinpoint, at other times her writing is so perfect that I have to close the book and leave it for a while so as not to be overwhelmed by emotion. Her understanding of the Irish pysche and particularly of those that experience a certain discomfort in their Irishness or feel estranged from their Irishness is so deep that it is uncanny. There are lines in The Gathering in particular where I was immediately transported into my own childhood, my own past; lines that in a few short words say so much. I won't say I "enjoyed" her new book but I was very moved by certain parts. She obviously writes from the heart and channels a lot of emotion into her writing.
I don't know if you have ever read anything by Nuala O'Faolain? Her memoir "Are You Somebody?" had a similarly discomfiting effect on me and I think you would probably enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Psyche, obviously.
That's what happens when you try to use a "big" word ;)

Unknown said...

The Egg and I is next on my list, do you like it?
I was only able to binge on OITNB as husband went to the U.S. for work, and son doesn't demand access to TV (he plays on his computer instead). Husband would be appalled by it, though we generally like the same series (we binged together on The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Killing etc), he only caught glimpses of it, and I think Big Boo scared him.

amanda said...

TOTALLY thrilled to be called a 'deadly siren'. Made my day. I'm sure you look fab in the funereal garb Ax

Unknown said...

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Ann said...

Dear god you are evil. Yesterday = 3 back to back episodes of RuPaul's drag race. Hadn't ever heard of this brilliant show before you. I fear there is no going back.

In other news, my newish greyhound ingested half packet of butter, stole a cloth, a chequebook, car insurance renewal notice and creepy ink monkey toy, strange times.

Glad you're back!

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