Thursday, 10 August 2017



I really want to write, but I am devoid of thoughts, intelligence, sense, motivation, up to my eyeballs in translating song lyrics (which is brain-meltingly difficult and makes me want to smash my face into the keyboard like an angry confused macaque) and it is August, my worst month of the year, so I divide my time between (i) deciding my life is wasted, unsustainable and a failure; (ii) manic tidying and (iii) whispering "fuck everything" into the void. Things usually perk up by around the second week in September, it just has to be endured.

I am going to write something every day between now and the start of our holiday (Weds next week) pour me changer les idées. It'll be a numbered list at best, let's not get too excited.

1. Livestock

Grim times. Ouipette is finally home (€280 later), fashionably emaciated, but surprisingly not showing any particular sign of psychological trauma from his lengthy vet stay. The only lasting symptom seems to be that he now needs to shit quite literally twenty five times a day. It is costing me a fortune in dog shit bags. Unrelated woe: he is NOT enjoying the stormy weather, thus:

Worse times, though, for Hillary, who suffered a vent prolapse (don't google it), which I treated carefully with expensive out of hours pharmacy haemorrhoid cream, gentle washing in a weak solution of cider vinegar, isolation and prayer until the avian vet was in Brussels. An egg was extracted from her (I maintain this was not the cause of the problem, just her normal egg, she had been laying fine post-prolapse) at eye-watering expense and her prolapse reinserted, yes, it was just like Yorkshire Vet but nowhere near as cheerful/scenic/feel-good. I was to take her back to the vet the next day for follow up. I put her in a cardboard box to take her to the vet, put the box down to lock the front door and there was a terrible squawk from within the box. When I opened it, Hillary was dead. It's terribly sad and mysterious. I'm keeping the €110 egg. I might have it gilded. This is what chicken care looked like over the past couple of weeks:

2. Brussels

I went to the library to work yesterday because my concentration is at weasel on crack level currently (I told you, this song lyric thing is an actual nightmare). When I had been working for about an hour there was a sound of distant drumming from the street, gradually getting louder and when I looked up, many people were marching past, some of them parading giant papier-mâché puppets, some of them in Napoleonic costume, some of them waving tree branches or twirling flags, one of them an actual horse. Of the thirty or so people along my bench/work area, only me and one other woman even looked up at this display. Here is a giant cat:

which I subsequently found out - thank you Twitter - is Caou, who is supposed to commemorate some kind of weird post-famine wave of northern European 16th century iconoclasm culminating in a cat being shut in the tabernacle of a northern French parish church? No, me neither. However, this picture of the original cat giant is both terrifying and wonderful in equal measure.

3. Family

This is the single week of the over 2 months of summer holiday when both my children are away. Am I taking full advantage of it? Am I fuck. I am doing all the things detailed in the introduction above, in utter silence. Son 2 (Ardennes) texts occasionally to detail his injuries. I have had one text exchange with Son 1 (Alpes) when he finally got the money we forgot to send away with him.

Me: Finally! So what are you going to buy? Your grandmother was concerned you would buy drugs.

S1: We can go to the shop tomorrow. I don't think the local Spar sells drugs.

Me: You never know. Maybe some special mountain grasses.

S1: A nice herbal tea.

Me: Brewed by a friendly marmotte.

I haven't heard from him since. I have scanned the photos uploaded by his "camp" but he figures in none of them. Maybe he's been adopted by a family of marmottes.

If this is a taste of my empty nest future, it looks to be mainly composed of gin, pulses, wistfulness and tidying. There are worse kinds of old age, I suppose.


Susannah said...

Song lyrics? I would lose my mind. What if they need to rhyme? I am a horrible translator, especially French to English. If it's anything literary or a stage above directions or advice, I just stare. Or I get one thing in my head and I cannot move from it, even when I know it is a pathetic translation. People tend to not ask me for a translation anymore. See? I'm sure you're much better than me!
I'm sorry Hillary died after all your effort. I've kept hens for about 12 years and sometimes they just die. At least she had a diagnosis.
We are having an "Almost Dry August" here. It was supposed to be an alcohol-free month but we cracked on the 5th. So it's drinks on one weekend night each week. It's still hard.

Unknown said...

Sorry about Hillary. Our Collie tore his ear on barb wire, luckily, £300 later, it is healed nicely.
Translating is hard. English is richer than any other language, and many words simply don't exist in my native language, but usually you can be creative - there are, however, 3 subjects which make me feel like a macaque: sex, fashion and feminism.

Patience_Crabstick said...

Poor Hilary!

All my children are away too and it is glorious. Not that I'm accomplishing anything special, but it's so nice to come home from work in the evening and find my house exactly as I left it.

wholelottarosie said...

So glad Oscar is doing okay. My whippet shits about twenty-five times a day anyway - I thought that was normal behaviour for the skinny canine. Sorry to hear about Hilary.

just curious said...

August is also a month that I just have to get through (February comes second). As for being an empty nester, with grown kids it's a double bind; when they're around, they get underfoot, but when they're not, they're horribly missed.

Jonathan said...

The whole writing thing has been biting me recently too. I used to be able to blog so easily about anything and everything - and several of the bloggers I know have gone on to write books and become published. I finally finished your book btw - after having it in my bag for months. I need to go back to France now - it's been years since I last visited.

Carla P said...

I can 100% relate to the chicken story! I recently helped one of my hens with an egg bound problem;( still alive, but hasn't laid an egg since. I am constantly dealing with chicken shit and dust etc. probably inhaling some dangerous spores of some kind. Very sorry about Hillary!! A chicken death is still a loss, nevertheless.
Ouipette is also having his struggles. Poor guy, hope he snaps out of it soon for the sake of your bank account at least! I have two pups (9 year old litter mates) and between the two I have spent a small fortune on vet bills. In my next life I plan to be a vet and pray on the emotions of poor sappy pet owners and make a fortune!! Haha!

Unknown said...

Aw poor Hilary, hard to see pets suffering! Ouipette looks like himself! Your posts make me 'laugh out loud'. Keep them coming.SVP.+++

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