Friday, 16 October 2015

Friday futility

(You said you just wanted me to keep boring on, so I have taken you at your word)

Prog Rock
Prog Rock has checked into the waffledome with two multipacks of Walker’s Crisps, €10 each for the boys, a giant book on evolution and my birthday present, six weeks early (“saves postage. You can decide whether to open it now, Em.”).

On Prog Rock’s radar?

- Why there was a photo of 17th century radical Gerrard Winstanley on the wall of the Kremlin.

- My sister (always. Currently camping in Inverness playing folk violin at a festival apparently)

Red Plenty and industrial ideology in 1960s Russia.

- The entire contents of Le Monde Diplomatique, comme d’habitude.

I feel on top of things, momentarily, with Prog Rock here. There’s an essential rightness about the house and the world when he’s curled up in an armchair with a strong mug of tea and a massive library book, occasionally nipping out back for a roll-up. I don’t know what it is exactly: the calming familiarity of his presence, or the fact that he reminds me of my childhood (well, teenagehood really, I have to remind myself he only moved in when I was ten, and how even more astonishing it is that I think of my home as a teenager as being such a peaceful and welcoming place. Now I possess a teenager and a nearly teenager of my own, this seems like an actual godalmighty miracle, I started today shouting about a towel and then removing 700 Daim wrappers from the washing machine filter with very bad grace, also I am pretty sure L has stolen my tram pass). Perhaps it's just because he’s so simply delighted when we make him crap pasta with sauce out of a jar or offer him a beer, allowing me to feel like some kind of genius gracious hostess.

I like it, anyway and I can make tea in a pot for once and have even descaled the kettle in his honour (surely the nicest of household tasks, or at least a tied first with cleaning the tumble dryer filter). The greatest and most enduring solitude of the Brit expat is not having anyone to share an actual pot of tea with, so tea-loving houseguests are cherished. F thought he liked tea for about five minutes a fortnight ago and I got quite misty about the possibility of having someone to share my tea-life with, but sadly he has changed his mind.

Belgian cultural happenings
I went to what I thought was a new museum opening yesterday but what turned out to be an opportunity to examine a building site which will one day become a new museum whilst artistic videos of eg. people skateboarding but with the skateboards removed played in the background and storage heaters flickered, carbon monoxidely (totally a word).

I spent much of the press conference trying to decide if the bare breasted girlie calendars on the wall were (i) art or (ii) left there by the builders. I haven't been to an event like this for months and had totally forgotten what they are like, that is, impossible for someone as bad at small talk as me. Everyone seems to know each other or at least know someone and I stand in the corner and stare at the wall, sweating. I swear, if come the apocalypse we can only survive by networking (admittedly I can't quite see how this would work, but it would definitely be an apocalypse of sorts), I will be dead within 48 hours. What did people do at these things before they had phones to stare at?

My body is a Belgian museum building site
I am currently on an unlikely minor health kick. It started with some, ugh, “Yogi” tea (“Bonne Nuit” variety), which I have superstitiously decided is the only thing that can possibly get me to sleep at night, which in turn is part of my ongoing attempt to not be mad. Whilst on the search for more of this unpleasantly flavoured gateway drug to smugness, I have been lured into the recently expanded health food shop round the corner. As is traditional with health food shops, all the staff look like they are suffering from catastrophic nutritional deficiencies or possibly taking class A drugs and greet customers with all the enthusiasm and warmth of a chilled chia seed porridge. I have not however let this put me off my voyage of discovery into the bewildering world of contemporary health foods. So far I have tried:

-  a raw cocoa bar - tasted like compacted soil, just no, never again, could not even finish, what the fuck was I thinking.

- a giant bag of ground up linseeds with added vitamin D. I am wary of these, because doesn’t too much vitamin D give you liver failure? Will I go yellow? Anyway, they taste of nothing and I can’t remember why I thought they were a good idea.

- coconut water, which is of course disgusting and expensive but which my friend F insists is amazing for hangovers and I have very much not given up alcohol.

- some “anti-stress” vitamins which get stuck in my throat in a manner I find highly stressful. I don’t think they are working anyway because at 10:30 am this morning I found myself standing outside the Uccle town hall boiling with impotent thwarted rage and could not stop myself just shouting, out loud “I FUCKING HATE THIS PLACE” (there is no story behind this really, just the usual tale of missing paperwork and obstructive officials, but it seems I have more latent rage than I realise).

I also went to Brussels' newest and hippest organic #eatclean #nourishyourself bollocks café with my friend Nathalie this lunchtime but this was clearly a step too far because it made me feel chippy and mutinous and I went fully off message and had a toasted halloumi sandwich (delicious).  Nathalie's woe-inducing, fridge cold plate of mixed salads was straight out of Cranks circa 1985. The bloody Rose Bakery has a lot to answer for, if you ask me.

This outbreak of smuggery will not last anyway, because I have arranged a chocolate swap with an internet acquaintance in order to obtain these elusive Mocha KitKats and also bought a box of choux buns. Maybe I could sprinkle them with linseed dust, but then again, no.

It's not at all decorative gourd season, motherfuckers

Once more, with wearying inevitability, Uccle lurches towards Halloween whilst continuing to have no fucking clue.

No to this

Even more no to this. 

More offences against the gourd as I spot them.

What of your Fridays? 


Helen Strydom said...

I am inspired to open my instagram app again in the hope of more Halloween gourd misses. Please keep posting. I check for your blog nearly every day and missed you terribly while you were away.

Jess said...

Nothing you write is boring.
There is something very comforting about people who can just BE in any situation and don't need constant amusement. My Friday spent at home recovering from ghastly cold. No matter what my husband says I know I must look truly grim as youngest step daughter actually felt the need to volunteer the information to her Nan. Briefly considered trying to muster myself into making some Pinterest chocolate cookies when I realised the recipe came from a 19 year old who had a cookbook published at 15. MASSIVE inadequacy feelings all round.

Mrsstupidhead said...

I tried the linseed dust a while ago but it tasted like like one of those putty covered bottles covered in seashells from the 70's. Does anyone remember them? I have a casserole in the oven but the chances of me eating it are fairly negligible, I'm sure the hens will make short work of it tomorrow. Speaking of teenagers, I had to pick up my 16 y/o from college on Tuesday on unfamiliar roads in the pitch dark. I missed my exit on the east lancs and drove into 3 lanes of oncoming traffic. I fear it may be a while before he asks me for a lift again.

Jo said...

A very gloomy damp Friday afternoon in Cambridgeshire has been cheered up enormously by the pictures of Uccle's Halloween preparations. Having been to our local superstore this morning and negotiated what seemed like a mile of horrendous orange plastic tat, closely followed by another mile of Christmas plastic tubs of chocolates they are refreshingly minimalist. Thank God my teenager is too old and cool to need to carve a pumpkin anymore. Keep the blogs coming, you brighten up our days.

mountainear said...

It is now indeed very difficult to buy anything in a British supermarket that isn't Halloween related. I'm awaiting pumpkin scented washing up liquid and ghoulish toilet paper. Bucking the seasonal trend I noticed a Christmas tree up in M & S in Shrewsbury.

I'm lowering my cholestrol with oats. It's working but horrendously grim fare.

Nimble said...

Pumpkin as ballast weight is pretty funny. We're going to the farm to select our decorative gourds tomorrow! No doubt we'll pay but for now we have beautiful, clear, dry fall weather. My 11 y.o. says she is going to select a tiny pumpkin to make a fairy house out of.

CJ said...

Linseed is referred to as "poo slidey" in this house. If you find an anti-stress vitamin that works, do let me know. I got a free sample of magnesium at the health food shop today. No idea what it does, but I'm taking it anyway. Enjoy Prog Rock's visit and the shared pots of tea. CJ xx PS Your "I'm not a robot" thing just asked me to tick every box containing waffles! Very impressed how you arranged that.

Anonymous said...

I am very glad to see you have started writing again, I have missed reading your posts which I find brilliant. I am sorry to hear you haven't been having the best time, hopefully better things are round the corner. I have stopped writing my blog, but the sad thing is no one cares about that because it is nowhere near as good as yours. Maybe personal blogs like this are dying, but all that means is that the thousands of crap ones will disappear - the gems such as yours will always be wanted. In a similar healthkick-seeking act this week I have purchased loads of small bags of seeds and dried fruit from my local health shop, including a box of linseeds. Needless to say, the only package that has been opened is the bombay mix (I knew when I was buying it I was cheating, but hey, they were selling it). It is comforting to know I am not alone in this slightly pointless activity!

redfox said...

I adore your "boring on" and am thrilled to have more of it. I confess that I actually LIKE coconut water (only if it's very fresh and cold though, tepid it is revolting) but there is no denying it is ludicrously expensive. Also that giving up alcohol is obviously a non-starter. Hooray for your return, which will surely be good for my liver and skin tone.

Bytowner said...

Isn't it vitamin A and that is why You Must Never Eat a Polar Bear's Liver? Dimly (mis?)remembered pearl of wisdom from the past...
The personal blog must take a certain amount of energy that perhaps is difficult to sustain? so you must do what you need to do and if the book reviews are a better fit for now then review away. I also follow your book section with pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Continuing the continental halloween failures theme, to my confusion elder son returned from (French) school on Friday with a brightly-coloured, very chipper, entirely un-scary paper spider.

Have loved your blog for years. Don't stop. Now off for a piece of 'cake à l'anglaise' and a whole pot of tea just for me as family have deserted for the holidays.

Sparkling Red said...

For years I have been saying that 99% cocoa dark chocolate tastes like potting soil. Thank you for confirming the accuracy of my simile.

ellen kirkendall said...

I'm not sure how parties ever get off the ground since no one I have ever known has ever admitted to liking small talk.

70% chocolate is not candy and not a treat. We have been swindled into thinking it is.

Izzy said...

YES! Please keep boring on, because it's delightful. :)

I have two things I want to tell you about because I think you might enjoy them:

1) The Mitfords: Letters between six sisters

Reading their letters to each other is an absolutely fascinating study in family and being human and I don't know what. It was brilliant; it seemed like the sort of thing you might like.

2) The podcast Limetown

I found Serial because you mentioned it, and this podcast is a bit like Serial in the execution, and nothing like it in the content. (For starters, it's a fictional mystery). Anyway, maybe you already know about it, but it's very much worth checking out!

My friday must have been very dull, because I can't for the life of me remember what I did. (It was dull or it was the wine; I could blame either for the memory lapse)

Fat Controller said...

I know I'm little late with this, but you're spot on with your observation about ex-pats needing someone to share a pot of tea with. I am in the happy situation of having a wife who insists on drinking nothing other than a properly-infused pot of Earl Grey (Twinings, natch) and a daughter who I am immensely proud of because she drinks builders' tea by the gallon.

Melisa said...

I'm a straggler here, but Fat Controller's relatively recent comment gas given me false courage (or false courgette as auto-correct would have it). It is actually not that easy to overdose on Vitamin D! Recent studies have found that some healthy adults can take up to 10,000 IU/day without overdosing. I have no opinion on linseeds, just didn't want you to worry about getting hypercalcemia.