Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Respectful Drooping Position

Since we leave for Thailand on Friday (fuckfuckfuck) and I have a horrible cold, I have basically given up on everything: the two hundred words I am painfully slowly attempting to turn into 100, the 7 outstanding parcels currently somewhere in the capricious hands of BastardPost, my finances, my VAT, the various administrative tasks on my list ("mite powder chickens", "buy shit bags" "Just Cause", "phone bastards"). I haven't really got to grips with packing either, but never mind. As a result, I might as well be here, burdening you with my trivial thoughts. Of which I have MANY.


1. M and I used to regale each other with our inappropriate crushes: now we are much more likely to share pictures of expensive soft furnishings. I suppose this is the way of the world, my only crushes are on chickens and goats at the moment and I do like a nice cashmere cushion cover to perv hopelessly over. We had an interesting foray recently into the world of the National Trust Shop, where the reviews are, well, everything you would hope for from the National Trust. We read them to each other.

E: "Excellent rug which goes very well in my conservatory"

M: THAT WAS MY FAVOURITE. "Love this throw. Bought it in pink at Chartwell, when we visited it on our way back to Somerset. Sadly it moults more fluff than my 3 dogs do!! I can however forgive it, as it is cosy and looks great on our bed."

E: This is weirdly specific: "This is the perfect gift for someone recovering from an operation"

M: "I was using it to cope with hot flushes and cold chills - so it was on and off me many times during the evening - maybe less of a problem if a stationary throw."

E: Hang on, is that a real one???


E: I can't. I don't understand what a "stationary throw" is. Maybe that means I'm not as elderly as I feared?

M: Ha.

In future every conversation about soft furnishings between us must be prefaced by a discussion of how it looks in a conservatory.

Like a bird

In which F and I are struggling with December. 

F: I hear a red tailed hawk outside. I wish I were a red tailed hawk

E: Hawks. So few issues with gifts. “Here's a vole. It's still warm. I regurgitated it just for you”

F: Top of the food chain. I could just fly the fuck away.

E: You could dispense with people you don’t like in a few well placed pecks

F: Oh god yes. Shred them to ribbons in seconds.

E: It would be like donald trump and the bald eagle.

F: Only bloodier. I could eat warblers if I was in a bad mood. And, like, kittens.

E: Crushing skulls like stress balls.

F: Imagine if babies were eggs. IMAGINE.

E: Hmm, baby birds seem high maintenance though. I have seen those weary owls.

F: Yeah, but you could just fly away from the nest. Just leave if the babies are noisy. Come back with a snake or something.

E: True. Your bird partner would turn up and you'd be all “Oh hey, yeah, the chicks died.”

F: “Whatev."

E: ”I think one fell out, one got eaten by a snake?”

F: ”That snake I brought turned out not to be dead, so…”

E: “What can you do?” *bird shrug* *bate*

F: "I stepped on one, oops. Let's go eat some warblers"

Thong Daeng

Join me, if you will, in my growing obsession with Thong Daeng, the King of Thailand's dog. 

It may be somewhat dangerous to linger on this subject, since I was alerted to Thong Daeng's existence this morning by a possibly now discredited story that someone had been jailed in Thailand for insulting her. Regardless of the veracity or otherwise of this story, Thong Daeng is clearly a major figure in Thai culture, as evidenced by this set of Thong Daeng stamps: 

And Thong Daeng's Wikipedia page:

"Tongdaeng is a respectful dog with proper manners; she is humble and knows protocol. She would always sit lower than the King; even when he pulls her up to embrace her, Tongdaeng would lower herself down on the floor, her ears in a respectful drooping position, as if she would say, 'I don't dare.'"

The contrast with my own dog, who has spent much of this evening trying to have sex with a cushion,  thus ruining Kirstie's Handmade Christmas for everyone, is only too stark. His knowledge of protocol is sadly lacking. 

The prefix "Thong" incidentally is given to all of the King of Thailand's animals and means gold. Thong Daeng's puppies were called: Tongchompunut, Tongyod and Tong-att (female), and Tong-ake, Tongmuan, Tongtat, Tongphu, Tongyip, and Tongnoppakun (male).

The presentation page for those stamps skates, I feel, on somewhat thin ice by describing her as "a female municipal dog" which does not seem a very respectful description to me.

Schotse ei

We discussed Scotland in Dutch class this week and I very slowly and torturously, with repeated abuse of the imperfect which we have not learnt yet, told the class that when I was 14 we went on holiday to the island of Eigg. When I came back to class after the break (during which, brief digression, the vending machine chose to vend me hot water WITHOUT A CUP), this was on the OHP:

"I can't find any trace of this Scottish egg island!" said the teacher.


80% Lemsip
10% Resignation
10% Blind panic.


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Natural history (avian bias)

Let us have a brief Wednesday nature interlude before I have to go and prise the children away from whatever ill-advised digital slaughter they are engaged in.

Bastard Service

Because we have an unsophisticated and largely barren inner life, we spent a portion of yesterday evening trying to troll a leaf identification app with eg. the dog's ear, our own hands, a fork and finally, a leaf drawn by my eldest son on a piece of kitchen towel. We think, though, that the leaf identification app is trolling us back:

What the hell? Who are you calling a bastard service tree? It also said a picture of a small bird was a "dragon fruit", yeah, sure.

That episode of Portlandia come to life 
I wanted to write a card to someone today and got out my card collection (the kind of thing I cling onto as a proof of some degree of qualification for basic adulthood) only to discover:

I have some kind of avian monomania. This is very shortsighted! Not everyone likes birds and what if I have to write to someone with a bird phobia?

I thought I was getting somewhere when I located this:

But on closer examination it turned out to feature at least seven and possibly more birds.

Hen names

It got worse when I started looking more closely at the hen cards, because seriously, you wouldn't need to be terribly over-sensitive to wonder whether this is in some way pointed:

Anyway. I'm not going to send any cards. It's probably safest. Here to finish are some real birds that came to sit in the tree today, preventing me from doing any work for a good 45 minutes of my available Wednesday 2 1/2 hours:

They live very nearby and I see them flying around in the street all the time screeching at each other like a hen party on its ninth round of WKD Blue, but this is the first time they have deigned to approach my fat balls. The chickens were sickened by the whole business, predictably.


5% Malteser
10% Guilt, various
20% Financial improprieties
65% Festive fatalism


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

December Decline

Argh, this has taken me ages, I've had to change the tense of several things. I have a lot of work on at the moment, but it's ok because I have taken EXCELLENT NOTES:

Bad behaviour
I was a complete harpy all weekend. I could probably attempt a tenuous argument that it was to do with coming back from London...

(London: joyful lunch with NonWorkingMonkey, the first in four years, holding my actual book - well, absent the late adjustments so I don't have to pay Universal Music €€€€€ -  in my actual terrified hands, drunken evening with Papa Waffle and stepmother, starting with champagne cocktail in Rules - delicious, the kind with a sugar lump in the bottom, I wish my life featured more champagne cocktails - and ending with a tipsy 94 bus ride home, exclaiming at all the lights like simpletons, tea with Mrs Trefusis who had brought my circuitously acquired replacement for my favourite mug and acquisition of long-lusted over Charlotte Tilbury snake oil)

...and having to deal with the usual domestic dysphoria, work, exam revision, teenage bollocks, endless expense, seasonal anxiety, the antics of BASTARDPOST*, etc. but the truth is it was just my horrible personality/a further attack of AMAW syndrome. I went to bed feeling very bad about myself and apologised to L, who bore the brunt of it, yesterday. If Père Fouettard dealt with adults, I would be in a sack being kicked to Spain right now.

Drinking injuries
I thought I was on fine, functioning form after my evening with les P-Waffle until I tried to clean my teeth and completely missed them, jabbing the toothbrush with extreme force into my gum. It is still monstrously sore three days later, what the hell did I do, what did I think was going on in there?

Christmas lacunae

Bleh, pretty much everything. I tried to do some child shopping in London but after a short, panicky scuttle round Top Man and Vans I ended up sweaty, bug eyed and empty handed. The sum total of my purchases is: a teatowel (don't know who for), a pigeon brooch (ditto) about four weird and disgusting sweets from Cybercandy and some fancy sellotape (it's BRONZE). I'm feeling a bit semi-detached from the whole business due to not being around, but this does not absolve me from normal Christmas duties, so what we have here currently is a disaster in waiting. Outstanding in the mail: a plastic snake skeleton and Extraordinary Chickens 2016 see the BASTARDPOST addendum below. Non-Working Monkey's advice was to get everyone a goat (or a rat? Like Sir John, my father's rat? I got a text from him - that read "I see Sir John has opened his eyes but is staying close to his mother for comfort. Can't say I blame him") and it might well come to that**.

Birthday penumbra
Late blasphemous birthday wishes from my friend F:

"May your year be blessed by Christ's umbilical cord, a vial of Mary's breastmilk, splinters of the True Cross, an arm of the Apostle James, a tooth of St Lawrence, part of the head of St Mark, a finger of St Thomas and a swatch of the towel used by Jesus at the Last Supper."
(We have a Thing for relics)

And a late birthday parcel of joy:

Look at that! The round thing is SUMO SELLOTAPE. I am going to have the best adhesive-d presents in Western Europe, assuming I manage to acquire some.

Stuff I want to remember to write about
Female American podcast stylings
Dutch class (even though they theoretically know that ik heb een blog, I can't imagine any of them have the slightest inclination to read it)
Noises made by my younger son

Teenage logic

Good reason. The best reason. I'm now planning to use this for all the things I don't want to do (currently pretty much everything).


5% Remorse
95% Edward Elgar with a chicken on his head.


*BASTARDPOST have lost - lost! - Extraordinary Chickens 2016 and are completely unrepentant about it. I called the BASTARDPOST helpline and they told me to go back to the BASTARDPOST bureau and tell them they definitely did have my parcel and they need to look harder, which doesn't at all sound like a hiding to nothing, nope.

**UPDATE: Another email from my father this morning: Sir John has begun click training. "At first Sir John's trainer will immediately sound the click and deliver the food." Irresistible.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Ready for my rage wrap

I'm trying to type but my son is reading me out a list of "nine snacks that get Brits salivating". Cyril Connolly never even imagined this kind of shit. You can forget about pictures too, he's got my phone.

I think I need to stop going to our local supermarket because every time I have been there in the last couple of weeks I have found myself standing in the twelve person deep queue at the tills muttering audibly I HATE THIS PLACE. THIS IS THE WORST SUPERMARKET ON EARTH and similar. I mean, it is amazingly awful, there is never anyone on the tills, the staff are without exception horrible and the stock is atrocious (they did not even have the obligatory seasonal fondant Jesii to assuage my irritation this time), but my reaction to it is getting out of hand and I fear I am becoming an Angry Middle Aged Woman (an AMAW?). I have also taken to scolding the - so very numerous - people who insist on standing bovinely in front of the opening doors of tram and metro carriages. Why must they do this? Why are they astonished each time afresh by the requirement of egress before ingress? Godammit.

I don't generally consider myself to be angry person, I tend to get sad not angry about big things, but I sometimes surprise myself by accidentally accessing an unimagined well of boiling rage. I can trip into it at the tiniest things, eg. the crapness of our television box, shoddy H&M seams, blockheaded letters from Belgian administrative entities, accidentally boil washed jumpers, EVERY DAMN THING ABOUT OUR DISHWASHER and someone using my best mug to drink water (tsk). Usually (always) when this happens I am in fact angry at myself for twenty years of chronic underachievement, so I try and have a word with myself, but I seem increasingly prone to apoplectic outbursts (whispered, naturally, or semaphored through body language and tutting) as the years go by. What is the solution? Don't say yoga. Or "living my dreams" or similar. I will accept "buying more Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax bath oil" or "moving to Yorkshire to raise goats. Alone."

In not angry news, however, I am struggling to access an iota of indignation at the revelation that the Roi des Belges Philippe and lovely wife Mathilde were at a thalassotherapy spa in Quiberon during the recent lockdown, which has caused some ructions. Firstly, whom among us would NOT prefer to be at a thalassotherapy spa in Brittany rather than walking the rain lashed, deserted streets of Brussels in late November with only some very nervous, febrile youths in fatigues clutching My First Machine Gun for company?

Secondly, thalassotherapy spas are wonderful. Back when I had money, I went to them as often as I possibly could. They are marvellous places, where you pad around in a dressing gown and plastic sandals being summoned every half hour or so for some peculiar treatment - guano wrap, woman with a Karcher power hose attacking your cellulite, then asking "shall we finish with a little cooler water?" not waiting for your answer and dousing you in any icy torrent of bracing punishment, or being led in groups around a small pool of waist high water in the manner of recuperating racehorses by a perky man in a white tracksuit.

After a couple of hours of such ministrations, you have a nice supposedly "light" lunch (three courses with a glass of wine, this is France after all) and go off to rest, swathed in blankets like a 19th century consumptive. You are in fact regularly instructed you must rest, because the treatment is so "fatiguant" a fact which makes you feel very virtuous and brave to have withstood all that fatigue. It is a full delight and you go home feeling like you have purified and reinvigorated yourself on some higher level, whilst in fact mainly eating crème caramel and napping. I wish I were in St Malo now, about to get enveloped rather than listening to a monologue about crisps.

Also, what exactly was the king supposed to be doing? He doesn't have the look of one of Europe's most incisive anti-terrorist strategists. He's probably ok at hunting, I don't know, hare or something. Oh, I have looked him up and apparently he can also pilot a helicopter. but I feel like we were probably ok for helicopter pilots? As for morale, well, I reckon Pierre Marcolini is better for our national spirits. Or even better Stromae! I would have been genuinely cheered if Stromae had made us a little lockdown film. Let the poor king have his seaweed wrap.


40% injections (but for Thailand, so taken in good humour, except when F was playing with my phone and found my dental selfie and held it up for everyone in the waiting room to see)
10% headache
10% mince pie anticipation (yes, it is time)
10% child revision dread-slash-procrastination (I already know 1000% more than I needed to about the anatomy of the mushroom, thanks)
10% advent calendar dissatisfaction (the ones I ordered haven't arrived, I cut my thumb open trying to do our matchbox one and my sort of adoptive mother Les has sent us a CHOCOLATE DARTH VADER ONE, of which I disapprove violently)
10% A bit giddy that my book actually exists as a physical entity now, YIKES.