Thursday, 8 October 2015

Things that have happened or continue to happen


1. Dog blessing

WE GOT THE DOG BLESSED. I have been dying to go to this annual Brussels event for years and finally managed. We were unable to locate any tortoises (hibernating somewhere) and the chickens did not seem good contenders for a tram trip, so the dog was volunteered, much to his enduring disgust. Despite a sad lack of variety in fauna, the event was everything I had hoped for. The actual blessing involved the man in the sandals wielding this lavatory brush style implement full of holy water at you after another man with a microphone announced your pet's name and age over the tannoy to the assembled weirdoes (I include myself in that). One woman brought a fish in a plastic bowl in a shopping bag to be blessed. Another lady had a plush toy blessed. Every old person in the Marolles was there with a grotty, aggressive small dog. The man next to me, smartly dressed in a suit, with highly polished brogues, had several kittens in a hold-all.

These guys with their kittens and furry hats were also amazing, like something from central casting.

There was also a woman carrying the largest cat I have ever seen, which was immobile and oddly rigid. We spent a good ten minutes trying establish whether it was alive or dead and failed.

2. Avian health
Tabasco, the worryingly lethargic hen recovered from her lethargy after a €70 trip to the vet, so that was good. I got a separate bill (another €30, I could have bought four more chickens) from the laboratory full of weird capitalisations. “Votre POULE” it said, several times, “POULE de 18 mois, Tabasco”. “Analyses sur votre POULE”, as if the laboratory could not quite believe it themselves. I do not actually know what was wrong with the chicken because I never called the vet to find out. She seems fine now, laying, hiding by the back door to run in and eat the dog’s food whenever anyone’s attention lapses and shitting all over the terrace. I regret nothing.

3. Summer of crazy

I had a bit of a weird summer, brain-wise and have taken a while to get back to breathing/sleeping/functioning. I feel much better now thanks to the combined effect of: constant hot and cold running podcasts (Great Lives, The Moth, Criminal, Strangers, Love and Radio, Mystery Show, Undisclosed, In Our Time - finally, there is a point to Melvyn Bragg, who I have always loathed - also, I like The Read even though I only know who approx 3% of the people discussed are), very long walks with the dog, obsessive laundry and alprazolam but it seems to have poleaxed my writing mojo, ambition and get up and go (yes, it is debatable whether I ever had any of these things). My writing has all the deft lightness and wit of an elderly dugong swimming through treacle and I just want to sit quietly somewhere rural with a few goats and hens, basically. Since this is not actually a feasible plan for at least, what, six years, I need to work out what the fuck I am doing with my life. Any suggestions? No, I didn’t think so.

It wasn't all eyeball gnawing anxiety over the summer, however. We also climbed the Three Peaks in honour of my father's imminent 70th birthday. Here we are on the way back down from Ingleborough, which was our last peak, looking querulous and ready for gin. Observe the cold fury of a Ouipette forced up a succession of Yorkshire's finest vertical bogs.

4. Aesthetic degradation

I have two weird bumps on my face that I can only conclude are just more of the general indignities of ageing (I tried to pick one of them off unsuccessfully earlier in the year and it just came back). Aesthetically things are pretty bad at the moment: my wig is full of bald patches and I have accidentally given up on make up (again). Due to the prolonged period of crazy in the latter half of the summer, I am much less fat than I was previously, but this means the once-excellent & Other Stories boyfriend jeans now hang around my flat arse in sad folds and I look grey, drawn and half-demented.

On the one hand, I would like to up my game aesthetically, but on the other, I currently give zero fucks and this is winning out. It feels as if I am at a crossroads: in one direction lie ill-fitting trousers secured with safety pins, pockets filled with straw and chicken feed, dirty fingerclaws, pink-rimmed eyes and street-based muttering; in the other, some simulacrum of middle-aged respectability. Which way will it go? I am seeing my hairdresser to cut a new wig in a fortnight, hopefully this will be the necessary fillip back into basic presentability I need. I did buy a wildly expensive blusher and “magic” eye crayon from Charlotte Tilbury last month buoyed by the glamorous and supportive presence of Mrs Trefusis, but so far all I have done is stare at them in puzzlement.

5. Nederlandse les

I have started intensive Dutch classes in a concerted attempt to leave the house more often and talk to other humans. Wow, but we are all so shit at Dutch in our Dutch class. It is not a pretty sight, or sound. More about this in an upcoming post, I feel.

6. Where do we go from here? 

I am thinking about how I could do this blog differently. I don’t want to stop, but I am a bit bored of talking about my boring-ass life and no one else in my boring-ass life wants to be comic blog fodder, which is inconsiderate of them. I thought maybe I could write a post every time I finish a book and incorporate a book review into it rather than putting them onto my reading page? What do you think? Is personal blogging dead?

I have to go to Dutch class now. I will attempt to return soonish. What have you been up to in the past three months? Facial buboes, brain spiders, pet incidents? Do tell.


JadisNoir said...

Why is it that you and @exbathen feel compelled to undergo this Dutch torture? My (American) other half gets by with An interesting New England variant on Flenglish, which is especially well understood in the Westhoek (don't ask).

Anonymous said...

Must say I love your takes on Belgium and all its quirks. What about reviving the Belgofiles?

Anonymous said...

SO happy to see a new post! :)
Your writing is as good as ever, which is brilliant and fucking eggcellent when describing the POULE capitalisation. I know, humour is not my thing but I laugh like a drain reading your blog sometimes (like today). I'm more of a depressive-anxious disposition, more so the older I get, I find. In that regard, please be kind to your dear self and take good care, because you are a very special person, it shows in your writing.
Your book reviews are great so that would be lovely. Completely up to you whether or not you continue with personal blogging, in my opinion it's definitely not dead and I will read anything you write regardless of fads or trends in the broader blogging community. As for what to do with your life, nobody knows what they're doing, do they? The best we can do is keep moving forward in some respect (or in circles, just not backwards) and try to be aware when the light streams in, however fleeting such moments may be. Wishing you all that is good about life.

Simon said...

Happy to read about your day-to-day doings, but I wouldn't say no to the occasional book review too.

B said...

Obviously, first and foremost, I am so, so happy to see a new bit of writing by you. I gobble it all up (maybe because I just like you so very much that any minutiae make me smile).

Second, I love the idea of your book reviews on the main page. I so often look to your page for advice when I'm in a reading rut (btw just bought the new Bill Bryson "The Road to Little Dribbling" today).

Third, no, I have no idea what I'm doing with my life, but if you'll excuse me, there's someone very smug who is the definition of "little Englander" to whom I must now supplicate for administrative reasons (also: #FOOTPUNCH).

Linda said...

I love your writing, no matter the subject. I thoroughly enjoy your observations about life in Belgium, as well as your book reviews. I'm not sure if personal blogging is dead or dying, but I do know your voice would be missed.

Julie said...

I love your blog. Unfortunately I live in france and any showing of vulnerability makes me slightly queezy, but I am full of admiration and respect. So there is that. The French part of me says make this a 'book-makeup-language' themed blogsite. The Welsh part of me that admires the human spirit thinks I am an idiot.

Oh! (Changing tack completely) body shop do a facial massage roller (as recommended by Caroline Hirons, no less). I have managed to flatten a couple of my own facial cysts with it and mine are a determined bunch. Go for it Emma, it is cheap and satisfying and causes no harm. Winner.

Unknown said...

I love both your "confessional" blogging (I think some blogs used to be categorised as such?), even though I do get slightly jealous at your mentions of Pierre Marcolini and such (no fancy pastry shops here in Wiltshire);-), as well as book reviews, which I have found not just a pleasure to read, but also quite useful. So combining both is a great idea.

Flora Fauna Dinner said...

1.I don't care what you write about as long as you write.

2.I am coming over to get the ferret blessed.

3.I am incapable of doing anything other than unpaid gardening and MY jeans are too tight. *eats blackberry crumble*

frau antje said...

You could be a goat herder in the hills above Laguna (true), or just stick with the Dutch torture, up to you. Torture probably builds character.

Nellig said...

I'd read any old thing you write. Your writing is addictive.

You're worryingly thin, Waffle. Do try to consume more chocolate and gin.

Anonymous said...

Fab to see you back Emma and loved reading your post. I can completely relate to the addling effects of psych drugs. They may well provide relief from intense anxiety but they also seem to throw a great big woollen blanket over every other feeling and thought. Stringing even a simple sentence together is a herculean effort! I reckon, when just being alive is hard work, the best blogging material is whatever comes easiest.
Take good care ;o)

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're back! I love reading your blogs - you always make me laugh. Probably helps that I relate to a lot of it (am also a Brit in Brussels, also spent childhood holidays trudging through bogs and being rained on in various bits of the British Isles). Courage!

London City (mum) said...

As you are: irreverent, observant, highly entertaining. One in a million (and I mean that in truly admiring tones).
You could write about depleted toilet rolls or why canaries are yellow and I would still laugh.


CJ said...

Anything and everything you write makes me cheerier. And it was very much needed today, so thank you. I hope your writing mojo returns very soon. I'm attempting to write a bit, it's inspirational to hear tales of successful writing. None happening here. CJ xx

ourgirlineuskadi said...

Carry on writing.

And ponder for a moment on the premise of a carry on film called carry on writing.

Oxfordshire said...

Good to hear about your happy hen hon! :-)

Oxfordshire said...

Really good to hear from you.
Hug from ex Brussels UKREP child and fellow attendee of pet blessing services...

Unknown said...

Write about anything you please. I'll like it all. No matter how boring your life is to you it is at least a different flavor to mine and therefore absolutely gripping.

furrybees said...

I don't even know how I stumbled upon your blog, but I'm so glad I did, way back when. I lament the demise of the personal blog. And I would doubly lament the demise of yours. Write what you can, when you can. You will always have an appreciative audience all over the world (Canada, here).

Anonymous said...

Write about whatever you like. I agree that your book recommendations are great and I often check to see what I might read next but I also love your personal stuff. I, for one, do not believe that personal blogging is dead. I am not remotely interested in blogs about how to brand yourself or that are thinly veiled advertising whereas I love reading about other people's lives however mundane they might be. You are a gifted writer and can extract humour out of anything. Just keep writing.

Sally said...

Don't stop blogging! PLEASE! You have inspired this mentally "interesting" (ie anxious and paranoid) 41 year old farmers' wife to do her own blog (latest dismal post - Marjorie the chicken died as she was sat on by the other chickens). I am also riddled with anxiety, and general lack of grooming, but at least you are THIN! I resemble a small inflatable ball. Your blog is the one of the funniest, best and inspiringly honest lot of personal writings out there. Please keep going - love from me, my fat ponies and ancient sheep in Northumberland

Waffle said...

Sally - MARJORIE DIED???? Oh god. I have just looked at your blog and love the idea of the chickens attending weddings and being judgey about them.

Anonymous said...

I also love your writing and only discovered it quite recently so I'd be sad to see it disappear/morph into something else. Your affectionate take on the many quirks and foibles of Belgium is wonderful and fuels my own feelings about this odd little country. Good luck with the writing, whatever direction you take it in, and I hope you continue to feel better.

Dale said...

Late to the general wave of keep on keeping on enthusiasm here, but I twenty-second it. As someone has already observed, it may seem mundane to you but it is your life, not ours, and thus exotic and telling and so often just what I realize I wanted to read --- especially when twitchy, moody and out of sorts.
Ha --- learning Dutch, eh? I wonder if, since you know French so well, you will speak it with a French accent? Fully half the students in my Instituut voor Levende Talen (Leuven) classes were from Wallonia, so that accent still rings in my ears. On the plus side it does make reading the newspaper and all signage more complex than "UIT" easier. I also enjoyed Dutch TV quite a bit once I figured out how to turn on the closed captioning. But actual speaking, to real people? Hmmmmmm. Still, I salute you.

collectors cabinet said...

Please, please, please keep blogging as you do about normal life. I love the book reviews too, but am happy to have them on a separate page of joy as at the moment, and your dispatches on the idiocies of "normal" life, often delivered with a well-turned curl of the lip (a la the best Georgette Heyer heroes) are a delight. I can't wait for your comments on learning Dutch either.

Anonymous said...

I abandoned my blog months ago, in spite of guilty feelings and promises of more frequent updates. I wish you would blog more but can understand how it feels to write out the seemingly mundane details of life lived. We, your readers, do enjoy reading all about you though. So please don't stop. I don't have time to read books so I may or may not enjoy your proposed book review stylings. I do love your quirky outings though, and would LOVE it if you would continue to detail these. Please!

Candace, Reno, USA

livesbythewoods said...

My last blog post was about the loss of my lovely Mum, and now every time I open the page it makes me want to cry, rather than write anything new. I'm hoping the feeling will pass, at least enough to post something less sad.

Your blog is a bright place on the Interweb. Don't give it up, please.

Elsie said...

You should write when you want to but you see you always have readers And with your book you will have more so do what is best for you

The Reluctant Launderer said...

THERE YOU ARE! (I too like to use caps, to exclaim great excitement, or to denote disgust. This was the former.) Because I am incapable of any original thought, I'm with everyone else: any old writing will do, just write, PLEASE (neither excitement nor disgust - just shouting).

the crabbit man speaks said...

I'm with everyone else-even lamenting about your boring life is colourful and uplifting-i bet if you did a blog about watching paint dry it would be a dam fine read. And one about watching a kettle boil would have me (at least) on the edge of my seat

Dolly Daydreem said...

YAY waffle is back! Please do write - about absolutely anything - as your writing is marvellous and funny. Am roaring at the pet blessing ceremony!

A reader in France said...

I visit your blog every couple of weeks to check for new posts and am always thrilled when you've published something new! Your ability to find humor (and absurdity) in daily life never fails to make me laugh. Thank you for sharing these glimpses of your world with us.

Sparkling Red said...

Personal blogging is not dead. Please keep at it! I appreciate all your strange links and delightful witticisms.

I am 43, and am getting strange little skin bumps on my face which I am trying to accept gracefully but actually fixate on every time I look in the mirror. At least I have resisted picking at the one on my forehead, because I'm convinced that if I disturb it it will only be encouraged.

I have a close, personal familiarity with anxiety issues. Paroxetine has cleared that up nicely for me and has left my motivation intact. Everyone's weird brain is weird differently, but FYI...

Patience_Crabstick said...

I love it when a new Belgian Waffling entry appears in my feed!
Years ago, we took our 6 week old puppy to the animal blessing at our church because I felt I needed divine intervention to prevent me from murdering her.
I also wonder about the future of blogging. It seems that nobody wants words anymore and has turned to instagram as a way to document their lives.

Z said...

Personal blogging is very much in the doldrums. I don't know if it's dying, I still enjoy and value mine hugely, because of the lovely people I've met through it (many of them in real life as well as online), though I'm now one of the few of them who blogs most days. I'm not writing particularly well at present, but I know that if I stop for too long, I may not start again. I receive far fewer comments nowadays, but I still have about the same number of readers.

My summer was mainly taken up by catching feral kittens and their mother and taking them to be spayed/castrated. It's one of the nobler things I have done, it was all quite stressful but it was worth it. Except now I'm feeding an extra five cats every day. The other thing was having an awful lot of egg accidents, in that several bantams laid away and I ended up with over 30 chicks. I still have most of them but homes are being found. I wouldn't take a chicken to the vet again, we did that once (didn't cost anything like €70, tough) and she died of fright anyway.

On a personal level, I'm in such a state of confusion and anxiety that I can't think about it, let alone write, so I'm best being cheerful. So book reviews or anything that you enjoy seems a good idea to me.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Waffle! Good to read you again!

cruella said...

Seeing a new post from you is always a delight. I even save it for a bit, you know, putting of reading it until a Good Moment with coffee and a biscuit. No matter what you write, really.

Helenb said...

I love the book idea, though never tire of you and your marvellous ramblings.
More importantly though, I assume you're all over this shizz for the tortoises?

Waffle said...

Helen - TORTOISE COSY! (first locate your tortoise)

sylvie said...

As others have said, I adore your writing and have been visiting weekly waiting for a new post. I hope you will continue the stories of your life, but would most likely enjoy ANYTHING you wrote, so as long as you are posting, I will be happy. said...

Dutch classes is a great idea to pursue. Beside language polishing, you'll acquire new friend and a lot of positive experience!

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