Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Unsuccessfully seeking hermitdom

Shitty self-knowledge

The two things I like best about la rentrée do not reflect well on me, I fear.

The first is alone time. I physically, mentally, emotionally require a great deal of it to function. It does not, it transpires, actually make much difference that my children, when you aren't asking them to do anything like dress or pick up their socks, or attempting to restrict their screen time, are undemanding and congenial company. Their mere presence is enough, like it alters the molecular what-the-fuck of the house or something and my foul, evil brain can't process it. This also happens when my spouse decides to work at home as he did yesterday: by 4pm I am losing my shit and muttering under my breath. How did I manage in an office? That must be different somehow, or I have just gone a bit wrong in the head since I stopped having a proper job. Anyway. I am a loathsome human being part 1.

I am a loathsome human being Part 2: la rentrée gives me the opportunity to Do Things Right, ie. acquire everything I am supposed to acquire, label colour code and align it neatly. Fill in forms in quintuplicate in neat black biro. Top up the canteen cards with ample monies. Renew the travel cards. Then I get to feel like I have achieved something and am also on some level a proper grown up. I don't know what it is: I mean, yes, I am a craven approval seeker in all aspects of my life, but I am not normally (ever) hung up on tidiness or order, quite the opposite indeed. Yet for a few weeks in September, I want everything to be perfect and I will do anything in my power to make it so. UNFORTUNATELY within minutes of me achieving this state of grace, entropy does its thing and my children do their thing and it all gets fucked up. Yesterday we already reached peak 'everything is broken', with many things lost, not working, forgotten, destroyed, instructions disregarded, appointments missed. I found this so upsetting I had a little strop and had to do three loads of washing and be allowed to watch University Challenge to calm down. My father was not a question this week, which he was last week to great familial excitement.

Soon, my desire for perfection will fade/be crushed and I will be reconciled to everything being a bit broken and late and shit again and I will stop being an absolutely unbearable person again, hopefully. Until then, I will be locked and bolted in here ALONE, lining up my felt tip pens and muttering.

Chinese poetry

F's current Chinese book comes with a poem a chapter. I have studied them with interest.

1. Good title

2. This seems to be a Chinese version of "think of the starving children in Africa"


4. I am maybe over-interpreting this one. Maybe the smoke is just from chimneys?

Or maybe not.

5. I like the Ode to the Goose

He had to read a Chinese book over the holidays called "Two Children Seeking The Joy Bridge" which sounds like a euphemism for something I don't even understand. The process of deciphering it was long and painful and I was involved more than I would ideally have wanted to be. The story featured a talking cow that said things like "Soon I will die and you can use my skin to make shoes," which was bracing.

Tuesday in the park with Oscar

A woman turns her baby in buggy round to get a good look at Oscar who is sniffing around in the grass, baby points in delight. Oscar turns his back on mother and child, squats and shits at hideous, unseemly length about 20cm from them.

A man is eating his breakfast in the sunshine on a bench out of a tupperware box. Oscar frolics up, rests his head on this total stranger's knee and whimpers repeatedly until dragged away.

A woman tries to stroke Oscar. Oscar feints to escape her, then pees on a tree stump just by the woman's feet, splashing her in ouipette urine.

Ouipette, bringer of joy.


50% This kind of nonsense


30% Imminent heat fear. It's THIRTY ONE OF YOUR EARTH DEGREES here today, which is hotter than it got all summer. We are all going to perish and then it's parents evening. Make it stop.

20% Sangliers on the beach


Saturday, 10 September 2016

Summer reads as promised

My summer reading, with sketchy, brief, thoughtless reviews, now available on my reading page.

How was yours? Give me your TOP READ in the comments. I am on the lookout for good stuff since there are still 12 days until the new Tana French is out and woman cannot live on true crime podcasts alone.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Back in jug agane

OK, this is it, I've cleared the post-rentrée decks* of rolls of self-adhesive film, defective home banking devices, moulting hens, translations about architecture, listing writing for exhibitions about Albanian identity politics, demands from the VAT authorities, demands for €7,83 for "photocopies" and a special A4+ notebook, demands for half the inventory of H and M (why does Blogger hate the ampersand so?), demands that I pull my trousers up, etc etc etc.

*** pause while I deal with another wave of work. It's work whack-a-mole around here this week***

Ok, quick, before anyone else tries to make me do anything. I will write down some stuff here, then I will go and do my reading list for July-August, because it is grossly overdue.

(*I've actually done more shoving under the carpet than deck clearing and I haven't covered a single damn thing in self-adhesive film yet but no matter, let us proceed.)

1. An illness, like chickens

Thank you so much, firstly, for your thoughtful and extensive comments on the death or otherwise of personal blogging which were in and of themselves proof of why it's worth continuing. I have written my piece and could easily have written twice as much, I seem to have many thoughts on the subject, none of them very articulate. Like, is there actually a 'community' now? There are certainly people whose lives I feel I have followed online for years, but it's quite a passive process now, since I very rarely comment or link, so I suppose I just hope they intuit I am reading (this is the kind of thing that gets me into trouble in RL relationships constantly)? I mean, I know I wouldn't bother writing a diary, so obviously there's something necessarily interactive about it and I do love comments, I do, I do, so what I suppose I am saying is I should go and comment on other blogs more. Also, I kept wondering if all blogs have a life cycle and whether you just wear yourself out eventually listening to yourself talk about the same old shit and if, having worn yourself out, you then reach some point of zen acceptance with your churning out of the same old shit? I have no answers, but I have had some very satisfying and funny conversations about it all with Jane, who concluded "it's a illness, like chickens".

2. Menagerie

Speaking of chickens, all my animals are on mysteriously good form. It won't last.

- A few hours ago I threw some roast potatoes for the chickens (actually one accidentally hit a chicken, which surprised it and wrongly pleased me) and since then the ouipette has been trying, desperately, to get his head under the chicken fence to reach the potatoes, which has been enjoyable and ridiculous.

- I bought the chickens an "anti-boredom, anti-pecking seed block" on our holiday visit to the Domestic Fowl Trust (yep, we know how to party on holiday, pure hedonism), because they were looking lank and threadbare and I had already treated them with a profusion of mite sprays. It has had mixed results. They view it with terror and intense suspicion, which although I imagine not the intended result, does at least perhaps alleviate their boredom. The neighbourhood crows, however, know exactly what it is for and have been trying to get at it for days. Though bold, they are quite scared of the chickens, so they have embarked upon a long game of avian grandmother's footsteps, which I am greatly enjoying.

- The tortoises keep deciding to sleep in the hen house, god knows how they get up that ramp.

- Also, there is one under the table right now, because as soon as I leave the door open, in they come to try and eat dog food.

- The hens have decided they enjoy eating fuschia flowers and do this ridiculous little ungainly hen jump to try and reach them. I could watch this for hours.

3. Ligger

Inevitably, I became very fat during the holidays, because there is not enough hill in Yorkshire to work off all the crumpets, gin, Tunnocks Teacakes, and cheese and onion crisps I consume in a fortnight, not to mention the obligatory visit to the buttery fleshpots of the Wensleydale Heifer. The remedy to the fatness is as boring as it usually is, and we have vowed to forswear alcohol and puddings as usual and all is misery and chaff. HOWEVER, I have noticed that what happens when I agree to give up alcohol is that I just accept all the random invitations to PR events I get, in order to drink other people's alcohol, which apparently doesn't count. You are launching a new range of door handles? An insurance policy for dogs? A new networking club for young professionals in financial services? Marvellous! I will attend! Thankfully I don't get invited to many PR events, but I have been drinking budget prosecco out of plastic flutes in the last couple of weeks like it is going out of fashion (which of course it already has).

As a result of extensive grape-based research into new openings, Team #Belgium, I can recommend this new ice cream parlour to you wholeheartedly. It is truly beautiful and delicious and on the site of that really weird ice cream parlour at St Catherine that only opened for 1.5 hours a week and was run by a furious old man who shouted at you if you dithered over your ice cream choice for more than 2 seconds (remember? Ah, good customer service times). I was "paid" several warm cinnamon financiers and three small glasses of champagne to tell you this. Well, I wasn't really, but full disclosure and so on.

4. I am, I'm not, am I? 

My eldest son is now learning English. He is gleeful about this (= good marks for absolutely no work) but we are both very dubious about his English book, a cursory glance over which has revealed: grocer's apostrophes, "potatoe" and the word choice spelled "joice". I probably shouldn't talk about it. I probably won't be able to stop myself.

5. Pokemon No

I am still addicted to Pokemon Go and I disgust myself. L renamed all my Pokemons while I was out of the room a few days ago and now they are called things like "Get in my van", "Derren Brown's mum", "Just a cat" and "Do u lift". He is now so tall he amuses himself by coming into the kitchen and PICKING ME UP, which does not please me one bit. There is not a scrap of dignity left in my life at this point.

6. Simple Hipster

F and I spent ages pointlessly riffing on a magazine which would be called Simple Hipster yesterday ( a reaction to some decidedly non-simple hipster translation I was doing).

page two:
page three:


F: page four
page five

E: I would purchase this magazine. There would be a goat of the month. Captioned: GOOD GOAT. Or BIG GOAT.

F: We could interview the goat. Every answer would be BAAAAA.

7. Watch my Holiday Slides

Look at this beautiful photo of Yorkshire.

This is the view from the house and the reason I fantasise more and more insistently about moving there. The little specks are just-fledged housemartens whose nest was attached to L's bedroom. Obviously he was not in the slightest bit interested but I watched them, rapt, for hours. They are fucking loud. I have a picture of one peeping out, but it's just a black and white blob, so I'll spare you. The bird situation generally was out of control, so I spent quite a lot of time lurking with binoculars and the bird book trying to identify various warblers and finches, oh how the Wanstead Birder is going to laugh about this.

Here we are very lost up a hill. I think our facial expressions/general demeanour/posture convey this well.

At this point, on or other child had said "this was a stupid idea" at least 300 times. I don't know what they were complaining about, it wasn't even sleeting. It was sort of my fault and sort of the fault of the torrential rain of the preceding day making the river impassable, but I just blamed the river, of course.

I LOVE this one, mainly for the sky (it was horrible, we got lost trying to get off the top of the mountain due to low cloud/pouring rain) and for the dog's look of mute desperation, caught on the hoof. 1 purposeful strider, 1 sulky dawdler, 1 MIA, 1 appalled sighthound.


That will do for now, I am off to write some pithy (=short) book reviews and stare at jumping hens but I WILL RETURN. 


50% insect bites, this has been the worst week of the year for biting insects
20% Hating our new boiler, which I imagine as a sanctimonious sandal wearing type, since it will only dispense a parsimonious dribble of lukewarm water at any given time. 
20% Aching in every joint of my middle aged being. What do I need? Fish oil? Shark cartilage? A transfusion? A shark cartilage transfusion? Tell me your secrets. 
10% Furious I can't get Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Belgian Netflix. What are you FOR, Belgian Netflix? And why do you keep emailing me about stupid macho films called things like "Man Apart" and "I have a huge gun"? Tsk. 

How are you? How was your summer and are you as thrilled as I am that it is OVER?