Ingratitude! thou marble-hearted fiend...

“Ingratitude is treason to mankind.” James Thomson

Saturday 18 December 2010


Things I have doused in red cough linctus in the past 24 hours:
- the right lapel of my white dressing gown
- the quilt
- the duvet cover
- many tissues and paper towels
- the tray by my bedside
- hands
- face

Despite the similar colour, this is not the mildly acrid cherry Robitussin of my childhood, but a sinister conflation of sugar syrup and diesel fuel, which produces horrible petrochemical burps.

What they do share is the characteristic of being uncontainable in a teaspoon. No matter how careful I am, how slowly I pour, how steady my hand, I'm incapable of getting a dose from bottle to mouth without a detour all over everything. Its uniquely glutenous consistency means that it doesn't immediately soak in, but rolls wherever gravity takes it, covering a lot of ground. It's too viscous to mop up, but spreads beautifully all over the bedding in the half-dark half-asleep half-morning.

I am quite pleased I managed to sidestep the vomiting bug that's been doing the rounds, but I've had enough of this one now thanks very much.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Shakin in my poots.

Oh dear me, how heartily amusing.

I ineptly managed to not-quite-center it, but don't worry, you're not missing anything. (High standards: I got 'em.)
(Edited to add: videos fixed - hurrah, etc. - with this clever chap's handy trick for easy video resizing. Thanks Kel!)

Holy sweet-smelling hilarity Batman, who would expect Dior to swallow this presumably very expensive lame Alfie Goes to Paris creation? Anyway, I assume that's where they were - I saw the Eiffel Tower, but then I had a brief choking fit and needed to leave for a moment to get a tissue and a glass of water. I expect at some stage Jude Law was powering down the Seine in a speedboat wielding a pistol in one hand and a bottle of Kronenbourg in the other.

(I'll bet as we speak Guy Ritchie is in talks to do the next James Bond film, entitled The Spy Who Sent Me Home in a Fucking Ambulance, starring Jude Law, with Danny Dyer as the villain.)

At least Mr Law gets to actually do some stuff. In her ad, poor Keira Knightly is required to rapidly flash a variety of facial expressions intended to concisely convey such diverse and complex emotions that it resembles a kind of facial voguing. Pensive, jolly, seductive, perky, stabby and goingsomewhereinahurry - they're all there.

All these faces are admittedly kind of similar, except for the one of extreme merriment excited by dabbing a little perfume on a man. And who wouldn't chortle at such a whimsical frolic? Someone made of stone, that's who.

Chanel have previous; I think they more or less invented this new oevre of perfume advertising where there are characters, conflicts, plots and subplots, an antihero, resolution and denouement lovingly teased out on the screen in, well, seconds. Just for fun, let's relive this one. All together now: "I'm a dahncer..."

I'm pretty sure this is just one more thing we can blame on Christmas.

You can blame this new post on Thanksgiving. Instead of chopping/baking/marinating/sautéeing/peeling/scrubbing/
cleaning/hoovering/shopping/burning myself,
I'm here, giving back to the people. I'm good that way.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

I don't wish to offend...

...but I, like most of the rest of the world, believe all that Tea Party stuff to be nothing but transparent right-wing bollocks. And pardon me when I laugh my big fat heinie off when I hear how it is really a very moderate and centrist and "patriotic" "movement" and not at all just the foul-smelling dregs of the dark Bush years, which were themselves the foul-smelling dregs of the Reagan years, which were themselves a smear on the u-bend of history.

Oh, but (please!) do keep it coming. I love to hear about all the ways in which the President is like Hitler. I can't get enough.

(While listening to an item on the midterm elections on the Today programme this morning, I formulated an articulate and intelligent riposte to all the nonsense spewing from the stinking mouths of these morons, but then my head filled with their bile and exploded. Sorry.)

I still love you Obama! Call me.

**Edited to add - This post disappeared!! For a few minutes!! COINCIDENCE or NOT...? You decide. Or I managed to press the wrong button and cram it backwards into my saved drafts, but hey, just because I'm a liberal pinko doesn't mean I don't enjoy a conspiracy theory.

Monday 1 November 2010

Early Monday morning, pre-caffeine.

Oh look, the lovely man did some washing, despite having such an early start this morning.
Poor him. Sweet.

Oh look, he has done only his own washing, about half a dozen items, completely ignoring the full basket of laundry upstairs.
Maybe from now on I will only cook my own food/run my own errands/change the sheets on my side of the bed, etc. Also, eco-huff at waste of water, electricity, etc.

Oh I see, it is pajamas.
He wanted to make sure he has all the jimjams he needs for his recovery from his surgical procedure tomorrow. Drat, I should already have had that on my list of semi-maternal nurturing stuff to do for an invalid. Must make him some healing soup. Poor him.

Oh look, it is all yellow. Like that Coldplay song.
Restitution, karma, etc. for only washing his own clothes. Also, what the hell? There appears to be nothing yellow in this laundry, specifically not even one of those dusters from hell which balls itself up to the size of a 5p coin, resisting all efforts to find and remove it from the washer, where you will next wash all your whites which will then all be yellow. 

All's well that ends well, and my clothes have lived to see another non-yellow day. Phew, I'm glad now that he ignored my stuff, which will now only be yellow where it is supposed to be.

Oh look, here are my two tops that I wanted to wear today but couldn't find. They are meant to be grey.

** Edited to add: upon rereading my second comment below (am commenting on own blog! must be stopped!), I feel I must point out that the lovely man is far more hardworking than I (I work hardest at avoiding achieving anything whereas he is ambitious, must get things done, mover and shaker, etc.) and I wouldn't like to give the impression that it was he who did the strategic incompetence trick. It was a friend of mine (you know who you are you dirty dog) who admitted he did that (red sock/white wash) so his wife would never again ask him to do the washing. **

Sunday 24 October 2010

This is a garden.

Shame on me for admitting this but I have got myself caught up - figuratively and in my imagination - in the violent ruction* surrounding this exclusive interview with Joan Collins. Everyone has an opinion. Joan Collins is fabulous. Joan Collins is horrible. Joan fancies herself to be the organ grinder but is actually the monkey. (That last opinion is my own. As soon as I hit 'publish' I'll be on the lookout for car bombs, sniper assassins and sinister-looking packages arriving in the post. Again.)

I have been considering what impact La Collins should have on my life and have concluded that it should be minimal, except that I may find myself reading this excellent article every once in a while. For one thing, it is extremely entertaining. ("I would certainly never dream of wearing jeans to the Ritz or to any of the restaurants I frequent. However, I did wear them recently on a movie and dinner outing with my husband, Percy, daughter Tara and her two children in Weston-Super-Mare.") For another, I find the Femail sidebar there on the right to be an excellent way to waste as much time as you like and probably a little more. It's also instructive and educational if you are like me and don't know who any of the celebrities are.

Now, to the meat of my post. I have ill-advisedly come into the possession of two pairs of high heeled shoes, both beautiful, both chunky but glamorous, both somewhat more open than a hobnailed hiking boot, which is the preferred item of footwear to keep my toes from perishing. I am a person who is perpetually cold of extremity. (I am wearing five layers as I write.) My fingers and toes are usually a shade off gangrenous through cold. Problem: I want to wear some pretty but unwarming shoes on the occasion of my birthday, but wish to conserve the use of my feet. I know there are young and/or slim mover-and-shaker types who combine open toes with brightly coloured hosiery, but I'm not sure I'm one of those. Suggestions?

I'm a bit of a saddo as I forgot my birthday was on Thursday (duh). I have a special dinner planned but neglected to arrange anything for the lonely daytime. I could sit home watching Saturday Night Live dvds and eating crisps 
...actually that sounds okay (what with it being the first series, original cast, Gerald Ford jokes, etc....
but thought I should stop being so lame and find something fun and memorable to do.

Thus and ergo, I am travelling down to delightful Hastings to visit my friend of many moons and moods, the delightful MT. I'm hoping to engage in cocktails, nice lunch and/or some sort of cakes-and-tea scenario. Any recommendations?

To conclude, I invite you to ponder this message. You are most welcome.

*There are so many wonderful words synonymous with 'ruction' that it became a dispiriting task to exclude any. Fracas, anyone? Melee?**

**I love that I can use the thesaurus and dispense with any original thinking!

Sunday 19 September 2010

Still alive.

So: hi! I neglected to mention that I’d be spending a month in the States with no wifi. And being that I am quite lazy, I need the wifi to do writing-type blog-related stuff. I need the laptop aspect of the laptop, not just the mechanism itself. You know, you can call it a laptop, but sitting in a small guest room at a small table to write next to photos of my mother's dog and my dead grandmother isn’t really stroking my 21st century creative self-delusion. Don’t fence me in, man.

There was an unfortunate spate of ill health which also made it impractical to think about anything internet-related. First, I was the carer, then the care-ee. I am still finding forgotten plates of dry toast in idle corners of the house.

Unfortunately, this trip was somewhat focused on and oriented around eating a great deal of delicious food, off which the edge was quite effectively taken by the unrelenting and unwelcome attacks of biliousness which have persisted for the last week.

I found it hard to enjoy New York. Something has happened to me since I was a fresh-faced youngster wandering the mean streets seeking excitement and intrigue. I have aged. I have both hardened and softened. I struggled to sleep in the hotel for fear of bedbugs and roaches. I was horrified by the omnipresence of urine. New York is like a giant urinal. Every pavement, doorway, steaming kerbside, cool shadow, scaffolded façade, grassy garden – it all stinks of piss. I felt offended to my core, particularly in my queasy hypersensitive state.

Anyway, that's not the whole story, but that's all there is for now. There's good stuff too, but I've sat at the table with my Grandma for long enough today.

The lovely man returned to London yesterday on account of needing to earn a crust, and I am here. It’s beautiful here, and I am enjoying my mother’s company, but I miss him. And I’m still worried about the bedbugs we may have brought home from our hotel.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Um, nothing to see here.

I'm not sure how to gauge your expectations for what you read here, but if I were you I would keep the bar low today.

I have been preoccupied recently with Butter by Nadia dresses. Anyone know anything about this? There's a skirt and loads of stretchy fabric you wrap around yourself. I think this was kind of a thing in the early 90s, this 'one garment a dozen ways' idea. I bought a skirt/dress in Kensington Church Street in 1992 which was basically a long tube and bless me if I didn't look amazing in it for the five minutes of my life when I had a great figure, but it was essentially a stretchy hobble and I couldn't walk more than a couple of inches per step. I'm sure I bought some elaborately wrapped thing there as well. Folly of youth, etc.

I'm entering my yearly holiday packing hysteria period and I have a fantasy where I pack a single dress plus three or four pairs of shoes and toiletries and off I go. It seemed like maybe this could be that dress. If I had the income, inclination and bottle to spend more money, I'd be really interested in this (which isn't a dress, but you know what I mean). So obsessed am I with these garments that I trundled down to Clapham and had a look in the flesh. (The Clapham stereotype isn't a patch on the reality. I couldn't move for buggies - single, double, triple, what have you. I have never seen so many babies in my life.)  So now the dream has died. I couldn't love these dresses in real life. They were kind of, um, cheap. And I can't get past is that you are wearing a big long scarf all twisted up around you and one false move and it could all unravel. So the dream is gone and I still have to pack.

I continue to drag my arse if anyone's interested. I'm in good spirits and everything, just swimming through treacle.

The last time I felt like this, I went on a special diet from the herbalist - yes, I am that woman - and it really did me good, but I've got a bit lazy. I need to kick that back into gear.

I have my share of skepticism regarding Chinese medicine and acupuncture, but when I feel low I tend to hibernate and avoid doing anything practical or positive, which I'm pretty sure is even less effective than the results of the most critical studies of herbal medicine. I have at times resorted to stuff which I had no faith in - EFT, CBT, massage, light therapy, homeopathy - just to get the process, a process, any process, underway. And it isn't a bad approach. If I had relied on my own dubious methods (junk food, credit cards, ill-advised alcoholic liasons), I'd probably be dead. In any case, I wouldn't be better.

(If it means anything, six months on that diet improved my thyroid results, and that was a test done by my GP. So, you know. Not exactly empirical evidence, but it'll do for me.)

All that is just a vague explanation/excuse for another monumentally lazy post today. It helps if you have an interest in cooking. If you don't, here's a photo of the garden furniture we scored at the auction a couple of weeks ago. (Because that's far more enticing. And I sent it to my mum yesterday, so it's on my desktop. You're welcome.)

And maybe, even if you don't like cooking, you will feast your eyes on this beauty. I am making lots of bread lately. I fear I may be obsessing a little. I don't think my thyroid likes it. I should knock it on the head.
(I have one on the go now. Shush, you.)

Anyway, if you do enjoy cooking I implore you to make this straight away. Homemade bouillon - what a heroic idea! Heidi Swanson has posted this amazing recipe on her lovely blog 101 Cookbooks, but it was inspired by Pam Corbin, who wrote The River Cottage Preserves Handbook.

If you ever make soups, stews, roasts or gravy, this stuff will change your life. It's not what you think it is. It's much much more than the sum of its parts, and so much more than bouillon. It adds a whole layer of extra flavour and an incredible savoury silkiness to anything gravylike. Yes, there's salt, but it isn't the salt that makes the magic. I don't know how it does what it does really, but it's amazing stuff.

I made it originally to use up some scraps of veg and herbs. We had pots and pots of overgrown woody parsley running amok in the garden, and some tough stems off the top of fennel bulbs. What I'm saying is that I made this from offcuts and stuff that would otherwise have gone to waste, and it is culinary flipping gold.

I more or less halved the recipe, and also reduced the salt by, erm, a bit. Which means I don't remember. I reduced it by maybe a third. I used sea salt, because I'm kind of a sea salt nerd, and I couldn't bring myself to use it all. It worked out fine, and I had one of the jars of bouillon in the fridge for a month or so with no mould or other ill effects. The other is in the freezer, and it isn't frozen solid, so I guess it's okay too.

I used leeks, celery, carrot, garlic, fennel, parsley and coriander, plus salt. Oh, and I didn't have sun-dried tomatoes, shallots or celeriac, so I didn't use them.

Also, a teaspoonful is great on avocado on toast with a squeeze of lemon. Don't say I never give you anything.

Thursday 12 August 2010

So very tiredzzzzzzzzzzzsnort.

Seriously, could I be any tireder? Dragging my caboose for sure.

So, not much of a post this week. Instead, how about you read this poem? I read it once and had to track it down so I could read it again, so I could know where to find it.

Talk amongst yourselves and I'll have a little nap. It's nice knowing you'll be here when I get back.

In the meantime, enjoy a photo of a little dog on a beach. You're welcome.

Friday 30 July 2010

Drink and dreams and shame.

Here I sit, full of hangover and self-loathing. Does everyone get those together or is it just me? Alcohol in regular doses can contribute to depression, but is a single dose - or overdose - of alcohol able to make you feel like you'd like to crawl under the carpet and die of embarrassment? Who knows.

As far as I know, I have done nothing to be so badly ashamed of, drunken or otherwise, or at least nothing more shaming than any socially-inept person might usually do during a night on the tiles. (If you know otherwise then please don't go out of your way to correct me.

Last night I went to see a reading by the lovely and talented Belgian Waffle in Kilburn and while it is true that I went charging up to her to introduce myself without realising that she was in the middle of a conversation with someone else, I was not actually drunk at that stage, so my embarrassment is modified by the knowledge that this was behaviour of which I was in complete cognitive control. Now that I embrace my awkwardness as just another personal flaw, I don't mind it so much. (I feel foolish for being thoughtless and goofy though. Definitely one of my social loser moments.)

I also chatted with The Harridan, who, like Mary Archer, was a vision of elegance, fragrance and radiance. And despite her assertion that she is the Typhoid Mary of vomiting bugs, I remain unmolested. For now, anyway.

I think it's only fair to state for the record that, though all three of us have asserted that we are unwashed, unkempt and socially useless, they lie! They were both beautifully washed and, um, very kempt. Gracious in company as well.

My thoughtful gesture of the evening was to try to keep my beery breath to myself during conversation, and I'm not even sure if that was a success. 

Possibly owing to the beer, plus the cheesy snack I ate before bed, I had a funny dream (she said as everyone instantly glazed over) in which I had a chaste, romantic boyfriend who wooed me with hand-holding and eyeball-gazing and caring and sharing. He resembled a rough-looking version of Robert Pattinson with imperfect teeth. (I should point out that the Twilight phenomenon has barely touched the periphery of my consciousness, and really only in two ways: the part of my brain that hates ugly pervy crap about passive girls in peril and the ubiquity of this bloke when I am perusing Mail Online. How his close facsimile ended up in my dream is a mystery.)

So in the dream, I realised that the lovely man had come home and was downstairs as I sat chastely with the in-dream boyfriend upstairs at our in-dream beach house. There were some stabs at silent Hollywood melodrama as I ran up and down the stairs hoping to prevent either of them from discovering each other, but eventually the in-dream boyfriend told me he knew about the lovely man and agreed to discreetly depart in haste. I awoke and gratefully realised it had been a dream and I hadn't cheated (however lamely) on the lovely man and, to paraphrase John and Olivia, he's the one that I want.

In this uncharacteristic spirit of gratitude, I have compiled a brief and partial list of things for which I am very grateful: Radio 4, tea, the two little dogs, modern dentistry and The River Cafe.

And you?

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Now with more eggs.

Eggs were to last weekend what drugs and violence were to Altamont - omnipresent, intrinsic and very, very destructive. To be fair, my weekend didn't involve any fatalities, but that's probably due to the absence of Hell's Angels. I also have had an egg for breakfast every morning this week and if you don't hear from me for a while I am probably in hospital. Or helplessly having a stroke on the carpet. What are you waiting for? Call an ambulance!

On Sunday, we had huge artichokes with hollandaise for dinner. That was almost a meal in itself, but then there was steak with, er hollandaise and meringues with cream and soon I will have the memory and attention span of a goldfish due to the many inevitable ministrokes. Steam engine. Werewolf. Millard Fillmore. See? It's happening already.

This is what I will be blaming for my inability to imagine anything interesting to write here.

So, what's been going on, you might ask?

There is an ongoing effort to clear the enormous shed which makes the garden look like an airfield with a hangar in the distance. Do I believe that everything that presently lives in there will fit in the tiny floor-level cupboards under the eaves in the loft? I do not. Do I think there's enough time to get the neighbours' teenagers to take up the decking so we can get and fill one of those huge garden storage box things before our shed is knocked down and/or we go on holiday? All of which has to be done in precisely that order? And the decking must not under any circumstances be touched by the lovely man, whose back was nearly broken the last time he tried to remove it, thus the summoning of the teenagers? Well, just call me Me of Little Faith.

Also, we have a handyman. He will be doing the lion's share of the shed-related things. He is a super-nice, lovely family man with good manners, very personable and always fragrant with laundry soap smells. He doesn't sleep much, and is usually up at dawn, pottering about and getting all eager to get started. Shortly after, he comes to my house.

Last time he was doing work here he and I had words - well, I had words. He is a dropper-in. He is well known for spontaneously knocking on your door at 9ish on a Saturday or Sunday morning to discuss some future project. He may have said that he will start on Wednesday, but that won't stop him from coming to drop stuff off on Monday and Tuesday. He is always early. He also likes a cup of tea and a chat.

That should separate you, dear readers, into two handy categories. Group A will be thinking, How lovely. I wish I could find a builder who doesn't stink of sweat, fags, concrete dust and last night's whiskey binge, who turns up when he says he will with his manners and polite conversation. That woman really is an Ingrate! Hmmph!

Group B will be rocking in a corner, hands on face, trembling gently, firmly headbutting the wall.

In my home, there is no unplanned early. There is no version of dropping in which is welcome or encouraged. Emergencies are different of course. By all means, if you are on fire or being chased by an angry mob, please feel free to knock. We probably wouldn't turn you away. The phone is cordless, so you won't mind calling the emergency services from the porch. Just leave it there when you're done. Good luck to you. See you on recycling day!

Why does this bother me so much? Aren't builders known for starting work early in the day? Well, yes, that is true. The thing about our handyman is that he gets earlier and earlier. I can be ready for him at the arranged hour of 8am, but at 7:50, when he rings the bell, I'll be brushing my teeth in my dressing gown. The next morning when he arrives at 7:45, I'll be naked smearing deodorant on my armpits with a toothbrush poking out of my mouth. The following morning when the door goes at 7:40 I will be peeing and apoplectic. I will be weeping tears of fury as I belt my dressing gown and descend the stairs, knowing that for the following 30 to 40 minutes - the first minutes of my waking day, minutes when I could be sleeping, drinking tea alone or staring into space - I will instead be forced to sit politely and interact with someone with whom I do not sleep or live. In other words, I will be strapping down and ball-gagging my Real Self, forcing all that early-morning lizard-brain bile down where it will bubble and fester.

In the early days, the handyman did a lot of work in our house. At times it has felt like he lived here. This was during my hibernation period, when I was settling into the house and getting used to living in a community. I may only have moved a few streets away, but my last home was a first-floor flat, with no one walking past your window, waving and chatting when you went out with the rubbish, no one ringing your bell and then looking in your windows to see if you were in.

I was simultaneously attempting to settle into domestic life with the lovely man. As lovely as he is, how easy is it going to be for two people - one on the near verge, one on the far verge of 40 - to successfully set up house together when they have both been living alone for the last 12 or so years? That's at least 24 years of combined singletude! What are the odds?

I went a little bonkers during that first year. (Maybe 18 months.) I'm better now, but for how long?

Okay, just one more quick paragraph about this. Handyman is also a crazy gossip, proudly enumerating the many faults of various neighbours, how they neglect their homes and never want to pay the going rate, etc. So having him stroll into my pestilential kitchen of an early morning gives me major agita. Finally, before you ask, yes I have asked him approximately a thousand times to please ring before he decides to drop in, and it would be great if he could arrive at 8 and not 7:30. He just doesn't listen.

So. And how are you?

Monday 19 July 2010

About myself.

I am not in a bad mood as such, but I seem to be struggling to refrain from lecturing people about their stupidity. More of an eye-rolling mood really.

I receive a mystery letter in the post. A survey. Specifically, PATIENT EXPERIENCE TEAM SATISFACTION SURVEY. A satisfaction survey from the Hounslow NHS makes me feel a little... funny.

Odd. Antsy. I find it difficult to quantify what the exact feeling is, but I know it is going to provoke careful, vicious pedantry.

NB: I want to state clearly that I do not think I am a better, more perfect person, grammatically or otherwise, than whoever composed this survey. I merely want to mock. And complain.

First of all, they have spelled my address incorrectly. Secondly, in the first paragraph, as a noun, take-up should be hyphenated, snapshot is one word and I think you mean 'disadvantaged' with a d on the end. Also, About Yourself? How about trying the word "you," as in, "About You." Figure out you vs yourself, I am begging you.

Question 5 - 'What do you consider to be your ethnicity?' contains the options 'white' or 'other white background,' along with a further variety of ill-conceived choices.

Indulge me, just for a moment. WTF?:


I can't even think of anything funny to say about this. To be clear, I find it funny, I just don't know what I can add to make it funnier. 

And finally, hilariously furious chicken-scratchings of myself. Just call me Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells. At least this should save me the trouble of filling in the bit about mental health.

I scribbled this "comment" indignantly until it dawned on me I could never send it for fear of looking like a disturbed shut-in. I'm not sure how different it is posting it here, except that this is where it apparently makes me feel good to parade things I am normally embarrassed about.


If you cast your mind back, you may remember that I mentioned a certain medical procedure that is supposed to take place. A letter was received, with a form which wants returning, via oddly-inscribed enclosed envelope.

Hi Charlie!


In the "On The Other Hand" files, in the midst of having a tantrum on the phone with my dental insurance provider due to an ongoing argument about what constitutes 'maintenance' vs 'treatment', I find out that I have paid them £600.59 and they have paid me £1440. So woo-hoo me and my fucked up teeth. I'm now not as bothered by the £81.50 I maintain they owe me. So, lemons and lemonade, etc.

And on a final technophobe note, I ask you, why is my Macbook dashboard always wrong about the weather? There is a little weather widget in my dashboard which contains vaguely seasonal weather information (summer=warm, winter=cold) which is never accurate.

Does this seem right to you?

Wednesday 7 July 2010

In which I (wo)man the barricades in a slightly jaded fashion.

Every time I see my Muji smock I think "I should throw that out." Then I put it on and wear it because, despite making me look sixteen months pregnant, it is amazingly versatile and for that reason I love it. It can be worn over leggings or jeans or pajamas. It's cool in the summer but warm with layers in the winter. It has a delightful blue and white ticking stripe which goes with everything. It doesn't bind or chafe or cling and it has a sort of classic shape, so while it is true that it is an extremely comfortable and casual garment, it is not the sort of caftan-tent that might signify you have given up all hope and shrouded yourself in preparation for burial.

Just this morning I threw it on over my minimal summer sleepwear because my dressing gown was in the wash and I prefer to avoid startling the postman with the sight of my merrily unbound bosoms. And now I feel like a Jane Austen character doing some delicate watercolours in the sunshine in a meadow. I'm pretty sure it makes me look like one too. Or Edina Monsoon.

Having read this and this and this, (thank you Invisible Woman and That's Not My Age for the food for thought) I'm feeling a bit bolshy. I used to think that Trinny and Susannah and Gok were sympathetic and understanding, acknowledging that not everyone is or can be young, tall, slim and modelly, but actually, is that all we're hoping for? Forgiveness for our grave inadequacies? Tight knickers to make us look slimmer so we don't need liposuction?

Just altering the script a little - changing thin to healthy or firm or flattering - is that enough? I would prefer the whole of this misogynistic appearance industry to please get off my back about how I look. Also, I know this undermines my argument, but I would rather look like Germaine Greer, Patti Smith, Grace Jones, Molly Parkin or Zandra Rhodes than any of the automatons proclaiming the new black.

We are all formed and twisted by patriarchy and consumerism and fear, inescapably so. Like many others, I am ambivalent and conflicted about femininity and image and appearance; I refuse to care about it and I can't help caring about it. But some women are living well in it and with it. Swearing and spitting, dancing and raging and not worrying about how it looks, or at least not letting their worries stop them.

I am an ordinary person in my middle years, slightly eccentric, more than a little lazy and I have other stuff to do than worry endlessly if I am putting forward my healthiest, firmest, most flattering self today. I  love the creativity and drama and glamour of dressing up, but now I have a chest of drawers to paint, for god's sake. And I need to buy dog food and dental floss.

And on that note, let us all look upon the awesome spectacle of Miss Grace Jones, in her smock.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Door in the middle, love.

If you happen to be a person like myself who sometimes idly watches Location Location Location of an evening, you probably won't may remember the one where a couple traipse around the countryside disagreeing on what house is acceptable for them to buy and live in. Hang on. I need to narrow it down more.

The chap is a military man if I remember, and he's quite hopeful that they can nail it down before he goes off on a mission and leaves his wife on her own for a further six months, while the wife seems determined to not be happy with any of the houses. No? I need to be more specific.

They have got the wife's mother involved, in what sort of seems like revenge on the husband for leaving her on her own too much. The mum will be living with them in her own building or annexe or compound and she's retired but very very active, and wants to find a home where she has access to a local choir, theatre, opera, rowing club, kickboxing gym, rockclimbing centre - I don't know, lots of organised social and cultural stuff that you don't normally associate with living in the country. She's also got a massive budget for her bit of the house, many and various very high standards and won't settle for anything marginal. It's proving to be a challenge to meet the needs of both the wife and the mum in anything like a reasonable timeframe.

For me, the highlight of the show is when they arrive at yet another attractive, double-fronted country property and the bloke, quietly desperate to acquire a house that meets these disparate needs, points out that this one, even at this early kerbside stage, is looking hopeful. He helpfully gestures up the walk. "Door in the middle, love."

Sometimes the lovely man and I seek something unlikely, something which may not even exist, and even beginning the search we feel less than optimistic about finding it. And some time later, there we both are, walking down a quiet street or reading the paper or filling the car with petrol and something promising appears. And whichever of us spots it first turns to the other and says, "Door in the middle, love."

Thursday 1 July 2010

In which very little is achieved.

Well, that Harridan is a wily minx, as hopped-up on the Twitter as she is, and now I'm up to my eyeballs too, twatting away - or whatever you call it - ten to the dozen. 'When is there time to do anything else?' I ask myself. Then I have a little nap.

Today the lovely man had an appointment to see a specialist, which we thought meant that a thing, like a sort of procedure, might take place, but hallelujah and hurrah, it was yet another consultation. You wouldn't want anything therapeutic to take place at a breakneck speed, providing all the relief and wellness and getting-it-all-over-with which one might desire. "I didn't get where I am today by providing timely relief from minor but uncomfortable conditions which I am suitably qualified to treat," the consultant might say in a CJ-like manner.

So that was a bit of a shame, but now we have all the looking forward to it to do for the next indeterminate period of time (ie now until kingdom come aka who knows), which is nice.

I used the remainder of the day* to tidy the house, run errands and generally try to prevent my head from exploding due to the heat, humidity and stupidity of others. First I nipped into Chiswick to get the dry cleaning. 'Nipping' is an English thing, I think? Like 'popping.' In this case I 'nipped' into Chiswick in dense traffic moving at glacial speed, slower than if I had ridden a burro, running the gauntlet of various be-motored psychopaths in thousand-degree heat. Then I 'popped' back again to collect the mothercracking credit card I had left there, tossing pound coins about me like rose petals, buying various odd denominations of parking time (80p for 30 minutes/£1.80 per hour, minimum 90p/blood from the crown of my firstborn) all over west London.

There was a problem with the cleaners' card reader, so they had taken the card reader from me and managed to coax some action from it, but they forgot to hand me back my card. Instead, they wrapped my loyalty card in receipts, which, if anyone from The Real Hustle is reading, is an adequate disguise. By the time they rang me, I was in Brook Green to pick up some expensive and pretentious Ye Olde Heritage Paint at the fancy fixtures and fittings shop. The Shoppe was out of stock, so after attempting to buy food at the world's lamest Tesco, and realising I had no cash to buy a chicken from the butcher, I took my dwindling fistsful of change back to the cleaner, collected my card and came home, three hours after I had left. I've been reclining on the chaise with the vapours ever since.

And my best news is that I may have an eBay stalker, whose aggressive attempts to make me sell stuff to her for arbitrary small amounts of money are beginning to disturb. You know how they have that "make an offer" option? She has taken that ball and run with it. My auction had no such option, but she made me an offer, then berated me for not accepting it and argued that she could buy my item in the sales (for more money) and anyway "we should end this correspondence** because we both know I'm not going to pay you what you want for your item." Forgive my paraphrasing, but I instantly deleted her scary emails and blocked her because she scared me. Yes, she even scared me through the computer.

We may not have chicken, but we have beer.

*I now am thinking continually in CJisms, as in "I didn't get where I am today by not using the remainder of the day." I accept that that may only be funny in my head.

**Uh, yes? Please?

Thursday 24 June 2010

She's a lady.

I had my second appointment with the fancy Harley Street endodontist this afternoon and managed to fart around all morning until the last possible minute, fly in and out of the shower and dress in clothes that were ripped (top), too short (both top and bottom) and too low (bottom)/too high (top) to cover my big lacy pants. Score!

(The Harley Street demographic is odd. There are a lot of high heels and augmented body parts. And also double-breasted Colonel and Mrs Colonel types, and a smattering of old couples dragging small, wheeled suitcases.)

Anyway, in the post-appointment anaesthetic haze, I tottered into Jaeger and tried on everything in their sale. I'm fed up of being hot and scruffy and never looking like a proper adult, like one of those women on What Not to Wear who buys all her clothes in charity shops.* I usually think I'm rocking an edgy vintage  look but who's to say I don't look like I get my clothes out of black plastic bags before going to Paddington Station for a wash? That's the kind of day I was having. (Also, my face was too numb to eat anything, so I was also kind of drunk on low blood sugar. Will I never learn to show up early and eat lunch immediately before a dentist appointment?) So I had a wobbly, blurry, short-tempered shopping experience.

This is in contrast to yesterday, when I was totally on my housewifely game and managed to get to the auction to attempt to load a chest of drawers into my car (which, it turns out was not the correct dimensions),** shop for a huge quantity of food, get the car petrolled up, arrive home in time for the actual chest of drawers delivery, clean the fridge, put all the groceries away, bake bread, wash and hang out bedding, and cook five - five - Indian dishes for dinner (thank you Madhur Jaffrey), all by mid-afternoon. I felt like superwoman. Also, I was relatively well turned out (clean and dressed anyway) and made up, which deserves extra points I feel.

And to change the subject completely, who's going to esplain me Twitter please? I don't really understand it. I've had an account for ages and it sits in its little electronic room, silently following Dooce,*** making no impact on the world. I am mystified by the various social media/microblogging options.****

And who is reading this in Greenford?? We're practically neighbours! Leave a comment. Seriously. Comments: I need 'em.

* As we all know, there are charity shops and charity shops.
** Sorry auction porter guys who dragged it out and lifted it into the car in the heat to find it wouldn't go. 
*** When I signed up and was testing it out, she was the only person who came to mind.
**** Get me, using the word "microblogging" in a sentence.

Tuesday 22 June 2010


So the lovely Belgian Waffle has graced me with one of these meme things that all the kids are doing and as usual I have launched into paroxysms of indecision as though my answers will have an actual effect on culture and legislation.

When I was tagged on Facebook (by my best friend for god's sake, who probably could guess all my answers anyway), I spent so much time thinking about it and debating my answers that the moment passed and revealed that no one was very interested anyway, so this time I'm going to grasp my opportunity. 

What experience has most shaped you and why?
Growing up in a bourgeois suburb just outside New York. It formed my image of myself as an outsider; I enjoyed both environments but felt I belonged to neither. This dynamic also helped me move to London for lots of reasons too wordy and boring to go into here.

If you had a whole day with no commitments what would you do?
Cultivate my neurosis. Same old same old.

What food or drink could you never give up?
I don't like very sugary stuff, but there is crucial comfort value in a homemade cake or biscuit. And I don't think I could survive a winter without quality baked goods. Any kind of homemade/well-made stodge really.

If you could travel anywhere, where would that be and why?
I have a fantasy about travelling back in time to live an unremarkable day in my past like Emily in Our Town. I don't know why; it works out very badly in the play. Barring that, I'd go to Japan, maybe to the hot springs in the mountains where you can bathe with monkeys. Japan feels like the moon to me, so brand new and unsettling but full of unexpected pleasures and great beauty.

Who do you have a crush on?
David Dimbleby. In real life (without his reading glasses on) he is unexpectedly tall, commanding and Newman-blue-eyed. Also my lovely man, who is an exciting chap in his own right and wears the hell out of a good suit.

If you were the leader of your country, what would you do?
I would put half the community support officers on dogshit duty, handing out bags and warnings and arresting persistent offenders. I would bring back the stocks for queue-cutting, being obnoxious, setting off fireworks in the middle of the night and whoever it is who schedules planes to fly over my house at 4:30 am. Also, keep your chicken bones/crisps packet/cellophane from B&H on your person and dispose of them responsibly or face a public egging.

Licensing laws to be enforced to reduce drunken unpleasantness in the streets. Serve people who are underage and/or intoxicated and lose your license. I genuinely feel quite strongly about this, and resent all the moaning and hand-wringing about supermarkets and the strain on the NHS and emergency services. (I appreciate that this is not really in the spirit of the exercise, but I am enjoying my totalitarian soapbox.)

Give me one easy savoury recipe that does not include cheese.
Take a couple of bulbs of fresh fennel, wash and slice as thinly as possible (food processor is good for this). Add oranges (minus peel and seeds). If you're feeling fancy, you can cut them in half and remove the flesh from the membranes like you would a grapefruit, but lazy chopping works too. Use about two oranges per fennel bulb. Add a glug of olive oil and the juice of one or two lemons, salt, pepper, sliced basil and/or mint. Eat chilled or at room temp, at any time of day, with anything or on its own. Can be combined with cooked quinoa or rice to make it more substantial. Particularly nice with roast chicken or fish (that is, if you don't hate fennel).

And my question:
In an ideal world, if you could have particular services/staff at your beck and call (eg butcher, baker, candlestick maker, prostitute, someone to dispose of the bodies), what would make the biggest improvement to your quality of life?

I think I will pass this on to the following thoughtful and clever folk (with apologies and free of obligation if you are not down with the meme thing):
The Great Within
post apocalyptic bohemian
Naked Cupcakes
Bite the Bedbugs
That's Not My Age
Kippered Snacks

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to answer and add a question of your own before sending it on. ("Tagging." That's what the kids call it.)

Monday 21 June 2010

Tedium, now with added happiness.

What an uncharacteristically lovely weekend I have had! Minimal drama, guilt, cringing or associated neurotic tics. It was a little like one of those dreams where nothing really happens - maybe you're drinking a cup of tea in the sunny garden, a friend rings the doorbell and you have a pleasant chat, then you eat some cake and admire your new earrings - but it's suffused with a hazy mist of wellbeing and contentment. And then you wake up and more likely than not it's a sharp-focus rainy Monday morning in January with added toe stubbing and toothpaste dribble stains.

But instead of unpleasantness, I awoke this morning next to the smiling lovely man and endured my minor hangover whilst dosing myself sensibly with much sweet tea. Then I augmented my nightwear with bra, socks, trainers and cardi - Instant daywear! I am nothing if not efficent! - and chatted with my neighbour whilst cutting roses in the garden, and breakfasted on delectable Moroccan flatbread filled with mushrooms, harissa and soft, sweet, browned onions. Monday mornings usually find me hibernating furtively and pretending not to peek out the windows with suspicion and hostility at passers by. I think I am leading someone else's life. Nigella Lawson's? Felicity Kendall's?

On Friday the lovely man was able to work from home, which was nice as I normally only get to communicate with him via text and for the five minutes between his dinner and bedtime. Friday night we met AC and headed over to the local church for their open mic night - was ever a more suburban phrase uttered? - but they had managed to cancel it and not tell anyone, so we went to the pub instead and enjoyed the full Chas 'n' Dave experience of one of their live music nights. I love this place with all my heart. It's a proper old fashioned pub with old blokes and dogs and people doing crosswords with their coats on or playing pool and everyone uneventfully enjoying good beer (including my beloved Chiswick bitter)*. Also, I finally got to hear the story of the BT date which never was. Consensus says he's married.

Saturday morning is my very favourite time of the week, even considering that John Peel is dead and there is no more Home Truths and this weekly vacuum reminds us that we are all headed for the grave. We awoke to Saturday Live, which I don't really listen to with my brain, just my ears. Fi Glover used to do the GLR morning show, so it is a warm enough experience.** Great quantities of tea were consumed and there were buckwheat pancakes.

The fact that we see so little of each other often means our weekends are given over to Planning and Execution of Important Tasks. So much more enjoyable to spend the day doing little, planning little and wasting time while still accomplishing stuff by stealthy means. Featured were:
- trying on, sorting out and photographing an enormous quantity of vintage clothing for later eBay/Etsy listing.
- walking the dogs down to the funny shop near Kew Bridge which sells military clothing and filing cabinets and nothing else.
- homemade fish curry and dhal and grilled asparagus.
- mounting old plates on our bedroom wall (wonky photo above, with curiously bent-looking ceiling).
The Sopranos.

On Sunday morning, after copious quantities of tea and Broadcasting House, a surprise decision was taken to eat breakfast at the farmer's market. We went to the auction and looked at all the weird and wonderful detritus there. Then we got on a train to Waterloo and had a quick bite and a bottle of wine before seeing Elvis Costello in concert, which I loved until I was reminded that he is a bitter misogynist*** but by then my bladder was full to bursting so I had to leave anyway.

What you have just endured may be the most tedious weblog entry ever in history, and I know this and somehow don't mind.

* Now overshadowed by the more well-known London Pride, which is more alcoholic, stronger in flavour and harder to cock up.
 ** None of this will mean anything to most people, but suffice it to say that in the late 90s there was a moment of Radio Nirvana and eventually it ended but life went on. If you understand the concept of Radio Nirvana, yours is probably different.
*** Also - musician with monstrous ego shock horror etc. He sort of did a big arms-in-the-air after each song, which he performed alone onstage until Richard Thompson joined him for some Claptonesque guitar noodling. I found this tiresome. Perhaps I have returned to form.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Some random and gratuitous hysteria, evening edition.

So I'm going to let you know what I've been up to and you can venture a guess as to whether or not I am having a good day.

I have already cleaned up two piles of shit, which is two too many for someone who has neither kids nor faecal incontinence. As the person with the keys and the opposable thumbs, I am responsible for letting the dogs out and I feel guilty. (But fucking hell, the boy dog had just come home from his eight hour session with the dog walker. I would not ordinarily expect him to require an immediate toilet break.)

I collected my expensive new glasses this afternoon and they were tight and uncomfortable. The little passive-aggressive bloke at the optician's who clearly wanted me to take them and go was instead forced to adjust them for me. Each adjustment gave me about .5mm less tightness. When I made my third request for them to please be slightly less vice-like, he took them away and did something to them such as you might do to a wire hanger if you were going to use it to break into your car. He called me "madam" throughout. About 34 times.

My new glasses are not as fabulous as I thought they were when I giddily ordered them. And now they're a little saggy.

In my efforts to extract something positive from the visit to the soulless shopping centre, I nipped into Marks and Spencer and became thoroughly depressed at the unspeakable foulness of every. single. thing. A little lingerie browse at Marks's once had the power to perk me up a little. That ship has sailed.

Trundled home and let the dogs out. As I was emptying the dishwasher, the dogs returned from the garden. I went to close the door and turned to find one of them licking the clean dishes. I burst into tears.

And btw, if I take another dirty item (something which has undergone the cleaning process and remains dirty) from a completed dishwasher cycle or clean load of laundry - or if I find such an item carelessly returned to the cupboards (you know who you are) - I cannot be responsible for my actions.

I washed my hands for the gazillionth time today in preparation to empty the dishwasher and was forced to do something (say, remove a dog from the dishwasher door) that necessitated an immediate second hand washing, which may have caused me to internally lose my shit. And burst into tears.

I think I may be at a low ebb.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

The tyranny of the terrier.

Every morning, I awake around 8 or 8:30, trundle downstairs, put the kettle on, make a cup of tea and feed the dogs. If Everybody Loves Raymond is still weaving its magic, I will give them a small scoop of dry food and hotfoot it into the living room with my mug and they get the full-on Butcher's-plus-glucosamine-tablet extravaganza a little later, maybe 9ish. This evening they had a little snack of half a carrot each around 4:30 while I was making my own dinner. Their evening meal is served at 6:30, and the girl dog gets a small snack before bed to stop her stomach getting growly and queasy which happens sometimes now that she is an old lady of 13.

It has not always been so. I used to be rather lax with dog meals and they came at any time I thought of it. Girl dog - for she was once my one and only - just ate happily and when her meal was put down for her. She has never been greedy, or a beggar.

Here she is a few years ago, with her poorly cracked toenail. She dove underfoot to snaffle some foul snack on the pavement and her foot was trodden on. So maybe she is a little greedy.

She has taken to hovering every evening, making the kind of rude sigh you might make if someone was taking too long buying a train ticket or blocking a corridor. If you say "show me" with a rising inflection, she will lead you where she wants you - which allows her to tell us if she wants to go out or if she wants food, for whatever she wants rarely deviates from these two things. These days it is always the food. 

Despite her extreme cuteness, this is driving me a little potty. It starts at 5 and carries on as long as I ignore her. She stands, staring, one hind foot shaking slightly, sighing loudly and emitting the general impatient air of someone waiting for someone else to get on with it.

Her stomach is not gurgling audibly. Her dinner is only 90 minutes away. She is a small dog and weight gain at her time of life is best avoided. She won't be coddled or cuddled or otherwise distracted. If I scoop her up and try to make her sit with me, she'll scoot away and resume her vigil.

I recently gave in and served her a small scoop of dry food. Now she is doubly relentless. 

This is on top of the new non-walking development which means that she will walk out of the front garden as far as the pavement and no further, leaving me dangling there at the end of the lead unable to go left or right. The only way an actual walk will take place is if I drive somewhere. Yesterday, she came with when I took the car for its MOT and service and she hopped out and walked home like there was never a problem. At the park, she runs like a greyhound. Outside her own home, she cannot be persuaded to move. No way. No how.

Monday 7 June 2010

Current state of play

I am feeling great big blog love for The Harridan, 52 Seductions and Suburban Matron. Should I embarrass myself with all the gushing about how smart and funny and irresistible I find these blogs and admit that I have been working my way through the archives and am making the authors my very own imaginary friends? Never mind, whatever you may imagine, I'm definitely not having at this exact moment a special tea party in the garden around a little table with their blog banners stuck on over the faces of my three favourite cuddly toys. That would be creepy.

So it is glaringly obvious to me (and now, to you) that I need to expand my social horizons, but how? I am toying with joining the American Women's Club in the hope that there will be a number of delightful, underemployed, overeducated, politically and socially leftish types with whom to partake of luncheon or the occasional sweetmeat while we pass the time with our needlework. I want it to be like Sex and the City, without the labels and incessant jabbering about cocks and money and with added vintage clothes and people-watching and smart high/low cultural content. I fear that it will be more like the Harper Valley PTA.

Here chez Ingrate we are watching the fourth season of The Sopranos and I am already worrying about it all finishing too soon. The characters are brilliantly well-realised, the stories are credible and gripping, there is a great balance of horror and humour, and a certain lovely man of this parish is just perfecting his Silvio Dante impersonation, so there will be a huge mournful hole in our lives when it's all over.

My head is a little bit all over the place these days. Pre-menstrual, yes, but also just the usual weirdness. Everything just sloshing all around. I'm giving beta blockers a go for the doorstep anxiety (that moment when I have a sort of emotional stutter about getting out of the house) and it seems like they may be useful. I had a proper internal meltdown on Saturday getting ready to go to a friend's for lunch - couldn't think straight, heart pounding, hands shaking, resisting the idea of going at all. I told the lovely man I was struggling and he was blessedly wonderful and gave me some room to wring my hands and wig the fuck out and then I organised myself and managed it and we left about an hour later than we had planned. I felt guilty about being late but fucking hell, I was glad I got there in the end.

On a domestic note, everything that comes out of the dishwasher smells (and sometimes tastes) like dishwasher soap. I no longer put my silicone baking stuff in there after the soapy bread incident, and today's last crust of banana cake (stored in a plastic Lock and Lock box) also was a little tainted. Since living in a communal house where I regularly shopped, cooked and washed up after meals for 12-15 people, I am a champion washer-upper. I can do a sink full of dishes (both sides of plates, removing gungy crust from pots and pans, sparkling glassware, etc.) before you have even mustered your tea towel and taken your drying-up position. Dishwashers are the work of the devil. They promise the luxury of capable housework completed at the touch of a button, but they deliver half-hearted rinses, redistributed desiccated powdery food remnants baked on the wine glasses and nasty sluglike surprises from the bottom of the cutlery basket. Like most Americans, I am generally optimistic about technology, but as an individual, I often suspect I would do it better with my own hands. (Though if the household technology gods are listening, I would rather cut off my own arms than manually launder the bedclothes.)

And finally, I know this is old and probably everyone and his grandmother have seen it, but I can't get it out of my head:

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Outright Ingrate: Making Matches since 2010

What I neglected to mention in my last post was that the BT chap who came to replace my router* seemed like a lovely guy, so I asked him if he was available to date my lovely friend AC. Is that weird?

I can't remember when the penny dropped, but I suddenly realised I was mentally going through a list of attributes (height, appearance, various other personal qualities) I knew to be her cup of tea, and having found them all present and correct in this particular gentleman, I began to wonder how I could get him to divulge some contact details. When I asked if he was available and looking (because I have this lovely friend, etc.) he reacted exactly how he should have done (slight hesitation, embarrassment, worried expression, clocking the exits) and before he left he wrote his number on the back of the invoice.

Afterwards, I vacillated between worryingly inappropriately giddy and a bit ashamed. Was I wrong to say something? I'm afraid I don't know the etiquette for this sort of thing. Something involving calling cards and a go-between? Letter of introduction? I guess I won't know how much of a tit I am until I find out what she did. I'm dying to know if she's rung him but I'm reluctantly hanging back, impersonating someone who has other things to think about.

Oh, and I attribute the lacklustre nature of this post to the fact that I am testing to see if my Blogger comments function has reappeared now that I have deinstalled the IntenseDebate widget that messed it up in the first place. So, if there is a place to leave comments, go to it!** Have you ever propositioned a complete stranger on behalf of someone else? Is it socially okay to do this? Is this the sort of matronly behaviour which ushers in the age of hot flushes, facial hair and excessive porcelain animal display? Oh, who am I kidding? I knew this day would come.

* Yes it was just the router and yes I could have just gone and bought one and avoided waiting for a week and yes the router I could have bought in the shops would have cost about a third less. Thanks BT!
**It appears not. I shall investigate. UPDATE: they're back! Comments akimbo, all! Have at it, etc.. 
UPDATE PS - Sorry that my fannying around with posts to fix comments has apparently done things to RSS things. Perhaps this addendum will also duplicate already duplicated posts? We can only hope!

I emerge, blinking, into the new dawn of a new information age, with a new router.

So on Wednesday the 19th, the lights on the router began to flicker ominously, and my computer told me simultaneously that I was and was not connected to the internet. All indications confirmed the latter. For instance, I couldn't connect to the internet. That was the first clue.

Thus ensued an amazing, inspirational story in which I ring an internet service provider and they tell me they will come in four days' time within a five-hour window and I confirm the appointment with  three  different  people  and on the day I wait the full five hours but lo! the engineer doesn't show and the phone appointment people finally admit that they failed to pass the appointment on to an engineer and they arrange another appointment, now in another three days' time and there is a great deal of argument and rending of hair and garments and then there is some violent hyperbole (am I allowed to say that I hunted them down and battered them all to death with my broken router?) and then I lose my mind and go to their corporate headquarters and dismantle it piece by piece with my bare hands, eventually joined and aided by hundreds, then thousands of other disgruntled customers all baying like wild animals and inflicting horrible acts of technology-themed brutality, and the whole of the evil entity is trampled into the ground and the earth there sown with salt. Then, once rid of the sinister useless corporate menace, the world is a peaceful and happy place.

No, what really happened was that I was transported into the eighties, when the phone service was an expensive and laughable shambles and there was no internet. Thanks BT!

Today they replaced my router and I'm back. Time travel is fun.

Monday 17 May 2010


I'm pretty sure the double entendre here was unintentional. Fair enough if they are not hip to that particular scene at TJ Maxx or Filene's Basement or whatever elegant emporium of frugality I was visiting when I took this photo.

But this? That phrase doesn't seem very marginal. This is suspect. (Photo from FYI, I don't think I want the look of Hand Relief.)

And I think this is perhaps a colloquial issue. 

Friday 14 May 2010

It may look to the untrained eye I'm sitting on my arse all day...

Apparently I am the only person who has not been eating quinoa since being weaned from the breast. We had a brief dalliance a while ago and I decided it was a little high maintenance - rinsing and toasting and boiling? - and pretty much forgot about it. Now my fat face is killing me a little every time I look at it, and in my efforts to simultaneously eat a lot and lose weight, I am having a quinoa moment. With everything. I think I have eaten my body weight in quinoa today and it isn't even 1pm.

Yes - quinoa and weight loss are my opening blog gambit today. I know you come here for the breakneck thrills. Wait till I tell you about my feelings for roasted beetroot.

Can you eat too much beetroot? It seems like the sort of thing that you imagine is healthy and harmless, like herbal tea or vitamin A, but maybe you could overdo it a little and wake up in hospital needing a liver transplant or dialysis. I can't help but think that the colour could be a warning signal.

Don't worry! It gets better! David Beckham's bizarrely frozen face appeared on the news today in connection with something to do with the World Cup and I still don't really know what it was because I was distracted by his masklike expression. He has the face equivalent of an unblinking eye. Does that sound a little like a free online translation? What I mean is that he is utterly immobile in parts of his facial area, while his mouth moves and speaks and he appears to continue to breathe and otherwise interact normally. It's like Bell's palsy. That he paid for.

Tony Blair went through a period of looking like the Joker in drag - that thing where there is a central eggshell dome of forehead and the eyebrows tip up provocatively at the outer edges. Has he laid off the 'tox lately? The recent photos of him seem to all look relatively normal in a wizened and desiccated way. Redundant I know, but wizened and desiccated are both great words and I couldn't decide.

In other news, I seem to be unable to write anything here that hangs together in a structured way. I am loath to think that this has the flavour of those observational comics who introduce a noun or verb followed by "What's that all about?" Despite appearances, I think a lot about this blog and what I will write here. By noon I have written and discarded or forgotten a dozen posts, if only in my head. (Maybe the head part is where I'm going wrong.) I feel like I'm trying to do too much and I'm not prioritising very well. I want to be funny and provocative and interesting, even though that is a ton of work and I already take ages to churn out the most facile fluff. I seem to have trouble with a narrative here. But, you know, it's a blog, so despite feeling as though I'm not quite hitting the nail on the head, the sky hasn't fallen in.

And finally, proof in today's Daily Mail* that civilisation is being infiltrated by upright, costumed lizards**:

*Or perhaps I should say "more proof," and yes, this is where I have always fully expected the truth to emerge.
**Lizards - ? Possums - ? Dancing teacup poodles? I can't decide.

Thursday 13 May 2010


I'm the walking dead lately, I really am. I looked for that excellent bit from Blazing Saddles where Madeline Kahn plays Lily Von Shtupp singing I'm Tired but sadly embedding was disabled and I'm not techie enough to know if there's a way around that, so if you'd like to enjoy Kahn's masterful comic performance I suggest you click here. Isn't she amazing? Funny and sexy and all grumpy and rumpled up. Who else could have carried that off?

For my part, since we can't all be Wild West hookers, there will be napping. And then I'll get myself to the doctor, who will probably think I am a malingerer and tell me I'm depressed. I don't feel depressed; I do sometimes feel sad, moody and weepy, but, you know, that's what happens when you are dragging your arse around like a ball and chain.

But holy hostesses Batman, today I girded my loins and got my pinny on and had my fabulous friend AC round for an impromptu lunch and blimey if she didn't bring a bottle of champagne. Friends, I have been teetotal for, ooh, nigh on two weeks, as penance for my last, terrible overindulgence. A couple of glasses of wine was surprisingly trippy and on several occasions during lunch I found myself speaking and wondering what point I was meant to be making. I daresay AC might have been wondering too.

In an attempt to cultivate an elusive kind of graceful hosting sprezzatura, I was determined to shrug off my usual neurotic foaming-at-the-mouth-with-added-hair-tearing efforts. I did a quick circuit around the downstairs with a broom and a cloth and a bottle of cleaner. Lunch was a sort of room-temp kind of thing: leftover grilled chicken, roasted beetroot, fennel and orange salad with quinoa. And, as an added bonus, no one mentioned the flipping election.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Head. In. Sand. With pancakes!

Ever had one of those days when you feel like eating scrambled eggs and mushroom chow mein and toast with many cups of tea all day with the curtains drawn? And yet there is plenty you should be doing as your house hasn't been properly cleaned in eight weeks and the dishwasher is full and the kitchen surfaces are covered in dirty dishes and all your clean clothes are living in various inappropriate places in stringy piles because you've had some carpentry done in the room where they normally live - carpentry that you've been waiting to be finished since February - and yet this doesn't seem so bad because your suitcase from your holiday, from which you returned about ten days ago, is still completely full of perhaps inextricably intertwined items of clothing, so there isn't the contrast of tidiness which might show it up as messy, but everything has rather blended in as one large nest of chaos?

Just me?

Maybe I could lay some carpet over it and move on.

And then I'd like some pancakes.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

How bad is this exactly?

I read Angry Chicken pretty regularly, and this post hit me squarely in the lunch part of my brain, so I hastily assembled the last three or four items left in our cupboard from before our holiday (yes, I know that was almost a month ago and I am supposed to be at the supermarket right now) to try it out. As I chopped up the tofu, I noticed the date on the packet, which was not really anywhere near any recent date ...on any recent calendar. I checked out the jar of tom yum paste (added for extra flavour) and that too was, well, I'll just call it old and draw a veil. Noodles - ditto. The miso paste may have moved house with me; I have lived here for almost two years. The combined age of these items beyond their expiry, were they added up and translated into human years, would be almost old enough to ride their bicycles to school without adult supervision.

So: soup in bowl, ready to eat, all ingredients well beyond their sell-by dates except for the greens, which came straight from the garden. (Surely that counts for something.)

Reader, I ate it. I considered googling the killer potential of each dodgy ingredient, felt too hungry, and started to feel the germ of a challenge making itself felt. I don't think I will die, but maybe the shrimps in the tom yum paste will give me the swollen face syndrome again.

And it was fine, if not quite as intensely savoury and delicious as I had hoped. (Considering the ingredients, my expectations may have been too high.) I am going through a reluctant junk food phase in that I am both too tired to cook and I can't seem to make anything sufficiently stimulating to really want to cook. This is in the wake of last Friday night, which resulted in both a crushing hangover and post-drunk humiliation (not enough recall to really understand what happened but just enough to know I said some stupid stuff to people I was trying to make new friends with and now I am just trying to not think about it too much until sufficient time has passed for me to stop cringing and groaning). Saturday was inevitably a junk food day, to soothe the stomach and the psyche. Sunday I couldn't get away from the junk food, and Monday I was still in the grips of some kind of post-something syndrome, because my need for salty and savoury was great. Pizza seemed like just the thing

I know Time Out has just named this place the best in London and in the wake of that review they are struggling to keep up, but really, I'm not sure it's as good as this place. Plus, there was a strange kind of odd vibe, like there was a timetable for the next round of pizzas, and I arrived maybe five minutes later than the prescribed 7:15 pizza collection time and was told off for being late for my order, as in "If it isn't good, don't blame us." I thought, if it is cold I won't blame you, but if it isn't good, I will probably go back to my old place where they don't give you a five minute quality window. So my experience was coloured by that.

My experience was also altered somewhat by the face that I was apparently developing a cold sore, which, pardon me but what the fuck?, I have never ever ever experienced in all of 42 years. Certainly in that time, I have been not infrequently tired and run-down, and from time to time I have been sleep-deprived, jetlagged and hungover. So, and I'm sorry to repeat myself here, but what the fuck? It started with sore little cracks at the side of my mouth, like when you eat too many oranges or if you have a bug and get dehydrated. I thought that was what it was (hello hangover!), and one side began to feel like it had a shard of broken glass stuck in it, and when I looked closely in the mirror, I could see the little blisters. It is swollen like a motherfucker too, still. I keep slathering it with ChapStik and vitamin e and flipping Germolene because I have somehow managed to have the only household in Christendom without a tub of Vaseline. And I have washed my hands every five minutes since it started. Did you know you can get cold sores on your fingertips? (You're welcome. I like to spread the joy.)

And in other news, I just ate some of an old Easter bunny and now I do in fact feel a little queasy.

Tell me that your weekend was better (by which I mean that I urge you to tell me your weekend was as tragic as mine - misery really does love company!).