Tuesday, 28 June 2016


Well. Here we are, preparing for the world's greatest rat barbecue. Isn't that nice? My rat trapping skills, honed over weeks sitting in the bathroom waiting for Houdini to emerge from out of the skirting, will stand me in good stead soon.

I have entirely lost my sense of humour over the past week, though Toby did manage to make me laugh today by evoking, accidentally, the visual image of a nun entirely covered in choux buns. I don't have anything of value to add to the whole sorry business, so instead here is my suggested new cabinet and shadow cabinet, based on Saturday night's Owl Evening. They would sort this shit out. I mean, sure, their head cavities are about 78% eye and their brains are consequently tiny, but they would still be better than the alternative. I mean, it isn't called a parliament of owls for nothing, is it? #votestrigiformes


Just furious right now. Don't try and talk to her. Not going to take any more of our shit.

"Just hand me that chickmeat and fuck off out of my sight," says Flint.

The Scops triplets (can you see the one hiding in the hole? He can't even):

Have no time for this and have had it up here with us all. Want us to go away and think about what we've done.


Hopes we understand it's our own time we're wasting

"You must be so proud," says Thumper. "Well done, no, really."


"Fuckery," says Nick. "Utter fuckery"


Is not angry, she's just disappointed. 


Is over it. "Are we done here?" says Desmond.



Going to Bastardpost now, while it's still standing. Actually, Bastardpost will probably survive the coming end times. Bastardpost and cockroaches. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Pillows of chicken cartilage

I will attempt a write up of the wonderful Books That Built Me shenanigans last night soon, but in the meantime I needed to share two things which have amused me.

Flocon the cat
The first is that L's external French exam has become the subject of great controversy in the Kingdom of Belgiana. A reminder that he is 14. One of the questions involved reading a short text about a cat, Flocon, which was described as "black with a white mark on its neck", then the students had to study 4 photographs of cats and say which one was the cat described. This was not a trick question. You genuinely just had to find the picture of the black cat.

(this is the only photo of it I can find, the candidates had a fuller view of the cats but you get the idea)

The French teachers of the Kingdom are up in arms, for understandable reasons, some were reported as having "cried" whilst marking. The minister has defended the exam, basically by saying "there were other questions". L's exams are now finished and I am not sure which of us is more relieved. I no longer need a secret cache of set squares among my unused cookery books or to provide a constant flow of soft drinks, cartridges and wholly ignored advice. The next 10 weeks (JESUS FUCK TEN WEEKS) will be devoted to.. I don't know. Prayer? Feasting on each other's spinal fluid? Learning to mix a decent martini? Hacking the Pentagon?

Ain't no party like a Belgian school party
The second concerns my other child, who has also been taking public exams and who also finished yesterday. "So what did you do today?" I asked him when I got back from London. "In the morning we had a puberty information session," he said, gloomily "And in the afternoon we watched a film about the holocaust." Belgian school knows where the party's at. YEAH!

I decided we had to have cake at the post TBTBM belated book drinks last night, because of course we had to have cakes, so I located a place that sold choux in - of course, where else - South Kensington, the 21st arrondissement (until tomorrow, at least). They were very charming and the choux were both delicious and GIGANTIC and I met a beautiful Italian greyhound in there and one of their eclairs looks exactly like a Ferrero Rocher still in its wrapper:

So there you go. Maître Choux is the place to be if you are (i) in London and (ii) looking for a choux pastry based French pâtisserie treat (I am not sure about the pink one which is horribly reminiscent of calamine lotion).

M and I ended up speculating on what would happen to South Kensington if the unthinkable happens tomorrow.

M: This time next year South Ken will be a wasteland. The Lycée will close down and some sort of religious academy will take its place. Petit Bateau will be replaced by branches of Barbour.

E: It'll be a smouldering post-apocalyptic nightmare. Maje will be replaced by British Home Stores.


E: THEY WILL BRING IT BACK TO LIFE. ZOMBIE BHS. No more bars à vin or little bistrots. Just pubs. Shit ones with red swirly carpets.

M: Small plates will be banned and replaced with PIES. All pies, all the time. Those weird ones with creamy sauces.

E: "Chicken". It will be mechanically recovered poultry substitute but now they will be allowed to call it chicken because NO MORE EU REGULATION.

M: NO RULES. Pillows will be made of chicken cartilage.

E: Everything will be flammable. Everything. People will just spontaneously combust as they go about their business with no fire retardant anything. No more maternity leave either.

M: No more roads for Scotland. Fuck the skirt-wearers, they don't need roads.

E: All the pregnant women who would have been on maternity leave can just scatter stones across the moors instead.

M: What will happen to the Eurostar?

E: Oh god. It will be operated by Virgin Trains and only go ... to Folkestone.

Rhodri's riff on the whole sorry business was funnier, did you see it?


90% hungover (30% headache, 20% sweating, 35% fatty salty foods, 5% regret)


Thursday, 16 June 2016

That's Not My French Style

Something different today.

The only fashion blog I ever read is Alyson Walsh’s That's Not My Age. It’s beautifully written, full of amazing grown up women and features clothes I might actually wear, were I ever to branch out from these grey & Other Stories boyfriend jeans, which, let’s face it, will never happen. I bought two pairs for a reason. But if I did ever branch out, it would be Alyson I would turn to. Actually, I already have: I bought two of the most brilliant Uniqlo plain cashmere mix sweatshirts on her say so and they were 1. Very cheap and 2. Perfect. I'm currently staring at these sandals and wondering if I could pull them off (no) (maybe) (not with these nails).

I mean, look. Here she is wearing a bloody JUMPSUIT and looking amazing and managing to make me think "actually, yes. That is not in fact insane at all and maybe I could wear something like that."

It is for this reason that I turned to her for advice on FRENCH CHIC and why the fuck I will never have it. I asked her some stupid questions and she, poor woman, did her best to answer them (you can read my guest post for Alyson here).

1. Icons
We are all sick of seeing pictures of Emmanuelle Alt, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Carine Roitfeld and, well, I'm not sick of seeing pictures of Catherine Deneuve, I could look at her forever, but could you give me your verdict on these alternative French style icons?

Arielle Dombasle, wife of pop philosopher Bernard Henri Lévy

Maïté, legendary cook

 La Laitière, producer of delicious yoghurts and crème caramels

Yes, this is a Vermeer or something. NEVERMIND. 

Véronique et Davina (France's answer to Jane Fonda. Side note: I discovered that one of them had become a buddhist nun whilst looking for this picture! Amazing.)

A: Interesting bunch. With icons like these we can all pretend to be French. The thing is, not all French women look like Carine/Emmanuelle/ Charlotte and not all English women look like Kate Moss/Sarah Harris/Jane Birkin. It’s all a bit of a cliché. C’est la vie.

PS I’m not sick of seeing pictures of Emmanuelle Alt

2. Scarves 
Is there any way for a non-French person to wear a scarf and not look like a Home Counties matron on gymkhana day or pottery teacher? 

A: Yes. Avoid chintzy fabrics and dip-dyed felt and go for a neckerchief style instead. Just fold the scarf in half and keep folding until you have a neat band, tie in a knot at the side of the neck and leave the two longer ends. Or wrap around twice for more of a choker effect – though you might want to wait until after the summer to try that. Another option is to go for a long, skinny scarf a la Jamie Hince, he’s my scarf style icon, by the way…

3. Breasts
Do French women even have a proper poitrine? Can you do French style above a B-cup and if so, how (with particular reference to shirts)? You're a fan of French bras, aren't you - any recs for the ample chested? 

What bra size is Catherine Deneuve? I expect you to know that… Also, Brigitte Bardot must be above a B-cup?  I’m a fan of men’s shirts in pale blue and white but That’s Not My Age readers with ample bosoms have told me they prefer more fitted styles in navy. French bras for the ample chested: Panache and Fantasie sound French and definitely come in larger sizes, I can also recommend Laure Sokol’s lingerie shop in Le Marais (Rue François Miron 84, 75004).

4. Footwear
What flat shoes can you wear and still look acceptably French? My best French chum wears Church's brogues and looks amazing, but she has tiny feet and when I tried on a pair I looked like a police officer. 

Looking like a police officer is fine as long as it’s Laure from Engrenages (Spiral). Loafers, ballet pumps, Church’s brogues all look acceptably French. I’m not French but I’ve got big feet and I wear them. Just add a pair of cropped wide leg trousers to make your feet look smaller – or wear them with Capri pants and a looser top, something bigger on the top half will balance the proportions whatever your hoof size.

5. Philosophical
Should we even be trying to look French any more - is it not all about Scandiwoman now? What enduring French style elements are worth hanging on to? 

The Fabulous Femme needs to keep on her Vivier-clad-toes, there’s some cool competition blowing in from northern Europe. The Scandinista has her own laid-back style, her own fashion week (Stockholm) and an array of fabulous homegrown brands to choose from (Acne, COS, Day Birger Mikkelsen, Ann Sofie-Back). French style is quite classic and French women tend to stick to the basics, which to be honest can look a bit boring. I’d say the French style element that’s worth hanging onto is only washing your hair once or twice a week. This’ll make replicating the nonchalant, slightly ‘undone’ look much easier. Hair is gently tousled, the shirt or silk blouse has one too many buttons undone. It looks effortless and sexy but it’s all carefully contrived.

Alyson’s book, Style Forever, is fantastic too, full of wit and good advice, and is available from all good bookshops and also the bad bastard bookshop on the computer.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016


The world is awful, isn't it. My only real solace is the sole capybara still on the loose in Toronto. Long may it roam wild and free, scorning the Canadian people whilst swimming in their ponds. The number of people who have contacted me to discuss the rogue capybaras has been extremely heartwarming.

I have been absent mainly due to making my eldest child's life a living hell for the past week or so, because OH JOY, it is exam season and I am an utter pain in the arse.

Things I now know about: 

1. The sexual organs of the daffodil, poppy, bugle (nope, nor me), geranium and "épilobe des montagnes" (also no).

2. How to write out a formula describing the sexual organs of the above.

3. I also invented a rude mnemonic (BUGGERCOCK) for working out whether the female sexual organs of these plants were "supérieur" or "inférieur", without actually knowing what this meant.

4. Something respiration something fermé, something something cutanée, this is how a frog breathes. Ok, I don't actually know that one.

5. The rivers of Belgium, which are nothing like the rivers of Babylon, but which I can now place on a map of Belgium (I can also draw you one of these with my eyes shut, this must be something like my eighth year of Belgian geography, I am practically the kingdom's official cartographer at this point): Lys, Yser, Dyle, Sambre, Meuse, Semois, etc etc etc. I am slightly helped in this endeavour by the giant agricultural map of Belgium that hangs in our hall, but less than you might expect because I always get distracted by wondering what it would be like to live in the bit where it says "BESTIAUX" in huge letters.

6. How to complain, in Dutch, about what your penpal has suggested as activities for your enjoyable day out together.

The question of whether my son knows about any of those things - apart from the frog - remains entirely open. He is fully on top of frog breathing though.

I was also waiting to post in the hope that more of you would give me advice on how to deal with teensplaining so I could do this article I unwisely suggested, which some of you kindly did.

Awful things I have seen in the streets of Brussels this week:

1. A shop called "Vegasm"

2. A car bumper sticker reading "Breastfed baby on board" FUUUUCKKKK OFFFFFF.

3. A slim, rather posh looking man in his fifties displaying so much tanned, hairy bum crack it was impossible to look away.

4. This, my delightful neighbour, avec t-shirt

Et sans t-shirt:

(This creature = the best argument for Brexit)

Cultural puzzles:

1. Versailles hair

M: How do all the men in Versailles have such perfect, lice-free hair?

E: Their locks are AMAZING. Luxuriant, glossy. Whatever old-timey stuff they are using is plainly magic.

M: Horse oils.

E: As a busy monarch, I need my hair at its best, all day every day, for my demanding schedule of sex and flouncing and I don't have time for fiddly conditioning treatments. That's why I use: HORSE OILS.

(I haven't been able to watch Versailles really. I've tried several times, but the ridiculousness is just too extreme)

2. Black Water

I have just read this. I love Louise Doughty but I thought I knew what to expect from her and that was NOT THIS AT ALL. It is excellent, don't get me wrong, and I absolutely recommend it, but it's like a whole other person wrote it. I hadn't read anything about it before reading (this interview is interesting), and was quite discombobulated.


There is no actual puzzle here, I just can't stop watching it. Maybe that is the puzzle: how do I stop watching UnREAL when I should be working?


30% Impotent fury that the plastic road safety armadillo (yes, the road safety armadillo is A Thing) someone put down the lavatory circa 2008 is still causing me to have to unblock it with an unbent coat hanger approximately three times a week.
20% Excess pizza remorse
20% Impending summer foreboding
20% M on Mull with no wifi and B in the States online loneliness.
10% How the fuck did those chickens escape bafflement


Oh! PS! Robynn Weldon you have not claimed your book prize yet. Please to be emailing. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Après moi the overstroming

All Dutch

My exams are over! We had the oral today. I had to work with Mercedes, my Hungarian crony, and the topic was "what are Belgians like", so we both aired a variety of stereotypes in halting nederlands.  I was unable to pronounce the word "vegetarian" and we were both confounded by several plurals, but otherwise it went well, apparently, because the teacher told us we should both skip the next level. Hoog vijf! Ah, the sweet balm of basically meaningless external validation. I can now say such things as "goat's cheese" and "natural disaster", offer sketchy sweeping generalisations about your nationality and harangue you about low energy lightbulbs. Truly, I would be an asset at any Dutch party.


For some reason I keep hurting my index fingers. I fell over on the right one a few weeks ago and can no longer use it to eg. open bottles. Then last Saturday I hit the left one really hard with a trowel covered in chicken shit (I think this wound might be infected, not entirely surprisingly) and this weekend I badly burnt the right one in a drunken cooking incident. Need something involving a twisting motion? Like to arm wrestle? Insist on a firm handshake? Walk on by. I also fell over peeing in the night and bashed my forehead on the wash hand basin, I might need a bubble wrap onesie. You don't hear about onesies any more do you? I'm not complaining. In thirty years time whatever they have in the barren post-apocalypse world instead of hipsters will be wearing them as they go out to hunt for rat carcasses, I expect.


If you would like to listen to me sounding like a clueless, blithering fool without actually coming to my house, that is now possible, here, promoting the audio version of my BOOK. I look like a halfwit on that picture, which is entirely accurate. Buy my audiobook! I am not reading it! I'd post a link to enable you to buy it if I could, but I can't actually find it on whatever version of Audible I have, for some reason.

The Yorkshire Vet

"If you're watching that, I'm going to bed," said my elder son as Julian the vet disrobed in order to stick his entire torso into a cow, to which I of course replied "Ok, darling, night night."

This week we learned that a duck penis and a duck anal prolapse look very similar and that "horse dentistry is the worst dentistry" (this via my friend B who was simul-watching with me in another country, because modern life is amazing. Next week appears to feature some extensive donkey based unpleasantness I CANNOT WAIT.

Make a wodden boat

Surely the end of the world is nigh, though since "flood" is one of the Dutch natural disaster words I have learned, I am quietly content about it. The thunder and lightning was so extreme tonight, the weepette spent three hours trembling on my knee, which is longer and closer than he has ever spent in my company since puppyhood.

(I am pleased with this, my new shirt. €20 H&M)

My son, on the other hand, was out in the deluge trekking across Brusssels on public transport because I am heartless and hate driving. He sent me regular despatches on the number of sodden sandal wearers on the bus and finally sent me this:

Mole rat

The scary bat caves (Pairi Daiza) has continued updating its Facebook page with updates written from the perspective of the new baby panda mole rat. "Coucou les amis" says whatever social media minion has been tasked with writing as the mole rat. "I was so happy to have found the milk road in my mum's fur (ugh) but guess what now I've found out there's another one on the LEFT!" The whole business is unspeakably sordid and as one hairless creature to another I can only advise it in the strongest of terms to GROW SOME HAIR and stop talking to us. I am fascinated by the woman whose job it is to allow an adult panda to lick honey off her hand, however.


I airily offered to write something about ways to deal with the transition from your children thinking you are a godlike and infallible creature to thinking you are the village idiot, but it transpires I don't actually have a clue how to deal with this phenomenon. Do any of you actually have any ideas? Clever tricks, ways of coping other than stiff drinks? If you have any thoughts on the blight which is teensplaining - which is my whole life currently - and its associated annoyances, I would be beyond grateful to hear them. Email if your strategies are not fit for a public forum.


50% Knausgaard misery/joy. His misery, my joy. Vol 2 is my new audiobook after a recommendation and his utter despondency at eg. Swedish nursery meetings, chickpea casseroles and hideous outings with toddlers is filling me with a great and surprising sense of wellbeing.
50% Turnips. I have had two successive meals from the nouveau hippies up the road who make excellent, healthy and often delicious well-priced meals using sustainably sourced local ingredients however dear LORD it is impossible to eat anything from there which does not contain a turnip in some form.


Monday, 6 June 2016

Competition Results!

I couldn't choose in the end so there are TWO winners, plus two prize draw winners, this is a matter between me, my conscience, my bored accountant and Bastardpost.

First winner, Hilary, who wrote me a blank verse poem about being terrible at windsurfing, because HOW COULD THAT NOT WIN, HOW HOW.

Sun, Sand and Sea. 

It’s 1988 and I am 13
in France on holiday with my parents and annoying little brother
(so annoying
all about chess and being annoying)
Anyway I am going to be an Amazing Windsurfer
no evidence at all supports this
in fact adverse evidence has presented itself
in rollerskating, iceskating, ballet, gymnastics, and sometimes just walking along
an hour’s class
on the lake
in the sun
what could be nicer
I am going to be an Amazing Windsurfer
like the instructor
(so goodlooking
all about watersports and being goodlooking)

out on the board

stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off

bored yet? not me!

stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off

pause to both inhale and swallow water
which is a neat trick if you were doing it on purpose

stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off

by now even instructor asking me to quit


stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off
stand up / fall off

hour’s up!

back to the shore, bruised and sandy-stuck
never wish to see surfboard again
(so difficult
all about being wobbly and difficult)

supportive parents: ‘but you fell off so gracefully!’


(with disbelief) ‘and you kept doing it’ 
'we can't believe how many times you fell off'



Not going to be Amazing Windsurfer
who wants to be an Amazing Windsurfer?
Have since played far more to my strengths
Amazing Crisp-Eater
Amazing Internet Time-Waster
And still, from time to time, a Very Graceful Faller-Downer

Second winner is Fred/Dan, particularly for the phrase "as dramatically as a Vauxhall Viva will allow".

What you need to know at this point is that Fred is a lanky, long-haired youth with a dancer's body and an Essex accent, living in Dublin. He is in a car driving, his passenger is "a 6’2” international judo expert and very taciturn fellow called Jeff ". They witness a bloke in a sports car doing an immensely dangerous manoeuvre and Fred decides to intervene:

"I am furious , I am channelling my old man , I am amusing Jeff who is taking a “stuff happens man” stance. I am watching a 5’6”/7 bloke walk into the tavern . I AM JUSTICE.

Despite my fury , I make a calm right turn and all the while Jeff is trying to convince me to “let it go man “ whilst I am becoming more resolved in my justice quest. I park outside the tavern and leave Jeff shaking his head in the passenger seat. Being a life-long non drinker had also marked me out as different it what was now approaching a decade in a unwelcoming land , then throw in the political situation of the time, so pubs were not somewhere I knew the layout, etiquette etc. 

So powered by fury I steamed on, spotting and mistakenly focussing just upon him. “If I was on duty I would write you up for the dick’s trick I just witnessed” I growled into the guy’s face , implying but not outright claiming to be a Gardai. Then it happened. I am aware that there is a 6’3/4 bulk behind me and coming in fast , pint in one hand confusion in his scowl. I am about 2 inches shorter but so out of my league in all other dimensions and everything about this bloke screams “copper”.

My target to this point has said nothing, his mate has started querying “ which station I am attached to ?” I decide to bluff by telling him “ you’re  poking your nose where it don’t belong “ but I am using rusty dancer skills , and the fact that unlike the other two I am unburdened with a full pint of liquid in hand , to twist into free space and calculate distance to exit. 
The target of my ire is now happy to leave the encounter and watch how I deal with his mate. 

Thankfully , the cop has not put down his pint as I am making a “fast walk” towards the exit, but he is following, I continue to advise him to “ butt out “.  Now it has struck me that though the car is only feet away even this lumbering giant would take the reg. Jeff has looked upon the unfolding scene with a mixture of amusement but I am praying he shows no sign of recognition as I now in full flight pass the car and bound for the park gates where I intend to lose my pursuer. Whether the pint in his hand, or the idea of running put him off, he stops before reaching the road and turns back to the tavern . I crouch behind the hedge for a good 15 mins able to see the car and Jeff whose head seems to be tossed back in a chuckle. When I deem it safe I approach the drivers side of the car in the stance seen in numerous films when protagonist is facing gunfire. I slip into the car and escape as dramatically as a Vauxhall viva will allow.

PS What was I thinking ? Just how many cops in early 80’s Eire had a cockney accent , and long locks? "

Two highly commended entries. Steve, for this classic tale of treadmill catastrophe:

"As a younger man I was extremely skinny. There were two schools of thought on this amongst the young women I met: that I was a bookish weed and that I was an athlete. As it happened the former group was large and correct, the latter small and deluded. However, with the certainty of the young that “be yourself” is a path to ruin, it was toward the latter group that I targeted my romantic efforts.

So it was that I found myself with a colleague from a holiday job on adjacent treadmills on a gym date. This was my first trip to a gym, and – consequently – my first time on a treadmill. Since this was a date and I had athletic credentials to prove, I set the speed to maximum. As I turned my head to make an amusing, non-bookish observation, my foot caught the stationary platform to the side of the rotating belt, sending my arse into the “over tit” position. As I fell, I grabbed the handrail in front of me with both hands, allowing my knees to be lovingly caressed by the revolutions of the belt. Lacking the upper-body strength to pull myself up, I hung there for a moment, the belt causing my body to undulate crazily like a wind sock in a hurricane.

All too quickly the skin on my knees capitulated to the belt’s caresses, and the welfare of my newly bare kneecaps was becoming a priority. I let go of the handrail, and was thrown into the wall behind me. As I lay in an oozing heap, I could only be grateful that my date must have alerted the appropriate officers to my situation on her way out, since the tannoy rang the death knell of my athletic career: “First aid to gym! First aid to gym!”"

And Kirsteen, who not only covered for her job in a morgue by pretending to do other things, then forgetting what she had told people and getting caught in a web of her own deceit:

"One unfortunate occasion, I turned up for an emergency eyebrow waxing (‘twas the 90s) at a beauty salon only be recognized while lying down on the bed with ‘ooh, you’ve got an exciting job haven’t you, where have you been since last time?’ Not a clue what I had told her last time. Cheeks burning red with embarrassment as I tried to ‘och, you know, this and that’ out of it while being stared at and poked through a giant hot magnifying lamp."

But also more recently, living in a country whose language she does not really speak, pretending to understand the window cleaner and ending up paying €50 to have noxious spider repellent sprayed around her house:

"Apparently I had consented to this in some ‘two people who don’t share any common language’ garbled conversation."

I also loved Sarah's tale of yearning to be welcoming and convivial and to have one of those houses filled with warmth and laughted and cherished guests, trying to host a dinner part and then realising she HATED it.

"Honestly, I wanted to stab him with the serving fork and claim that a terrible accident had transpired."

For the prize draw, here is photographic evidence of the process so that no one reports me to the Belgian office of fair trading equivalent. I put up with a lot of backseat competition prize drawing.

"Why are you doing that? There must be a better way to do it"

Yes, even from him (note tight sausaged denim leg prison which was not enhancing my mood).

"You could have just asked us to give you a number"

First prize draw winner: Penelope!

"You can use websites to do prize draws you know"

Second winner: Robynn Weldon!

Robynn, Penelope, Hilary and Dan/Fred, please email me an address for your book and chocolate, plus any requests for animal/meme drawing should you wish to avail yourself of this service.

I have no idea how this will help book promotion, but this blog is the only reason the book even exists, so it will at least serve as a symbolic thank you for the "true fellowship of hilarity and shared crapness" I so much enjoy here. So, thank you. Again.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Friday roundup

Last day to enter the BOOK COMPETITION. Roll up, roll up, parade your delusions and deceptions and win! I'm stocking up on Côte d'Or this weekend.

I have loads to say today. Well, a few things.

1. Panda News

Belgium has a BABY PANDA! This is brilliant, exciting news, though M was underwhelmed.

M: The third European country to have a panda baby? That is not very impressive.

E: Do you remember how long it took them to build the car park at Flagey? It was, like, eleven years! So it is very impressive indeed FOR BELGIUM.

Unfortunately the baby panda is gross. Ugh, look at it:

It looks like something you would feed an owl at an owl handling evening, or some kind of raw meat of the kind they sell in Belgian fritkots, except pink rather than grey as is traditional for such meats. Or a langoustine without all the whiskery bits. A food, anyway (some commenters have suggested it is a naked mole rat, which is also plausible). No wonder the mother panda keeps putting it into her mouth. Here is the langoustine having its first bottle. FOUL. I would draw your attention to the post below the langoustine entitled "Baby Boom aussi chez les capybaras" which is true cause for celebration.

2. Fatness News

I have eaten so much over the past 6 weeks my newest jeans are tight like unyielding sausage skin casings around my sausage thighs and very uncomfortable and I am really glum at the prospect of trying to slim down again. No more little choux buns and custard doughnuts and fat green olives with my martinis, just a perpetual regime of gruel, wailing and gnashing of teeth (aerobically, ideally). Oh, and martinis because life is hard enough with alcohol and I am not insane. I only got thinner in the first place due to last year's galloping anxiety meaning I didn't want to eat. Now I want to eat. Everything. Ugh.

3. Springwatch News

Alone in my love of Springwatch in this household, I am faced with repeated obstacles trying to watch the drama of the thoroughly pissed-off stone curlew, there is always something else someone must watch or some reason why I must be dragged away from windswept enthusiasts in cagoules looking at small brown birds with their backs to the camera. I love Springwatch so much, but I know it is time for Springwatch to end soon, because I am starting to have Feelings for Chris Packham.

4. Book News

No, not mine. No news about that. I would still be super super grateful if you gave it an Amazon review though, which is apparently very important for some reason I cannot wholly fathom. But what I actually meant is that I have put May's reading up on the Reading page. There was a lot of it, though I think due to several short books. A good selection, overall, and surprisingly lacking in murder.


30% Green sodding vegetables
20% Geography of Belgium revision
20% Translation lunacy
20% There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the canoe sized trainers in the hall, study leave and the fact that my children have their own bloody keys now
10% Pavlovian Friday night martini drooling