Thursday, 28 June 2012

Stand Up And Be Cunted

In a year of many firsts, we have yet another, it seems.  In my 36 years of dating (hateful word, but we English don't really have a neat native expression; and I'm taking as my starting point that first awful date in Ealing when I was 14 and those espadrilles ate my feet alive) I have never, ever been stood up.  I have tonight.

A chap I saw a couple of weeks ago seemed quite nice.  There was no immediate spark but I thought it worth giving another shot because sometimes you don't know.  Allegedly.  Although according to some experts on Facebook you do.

We arranged to meet for dinner tonight, this time on my manor.  Early in the day he texted to say he might be a little later than planned, due to an unexpected meeting.  And he texted again just before 10pm to apologise for standing me up.  I have not, and will not, respond.  There is absolutely no excuse for such behaviour.  I'm wondering if my Dating Website profile has some coded message which you only see when you view the internet backwards: "All cunts apply within".  

That Noel Edmonds believes in Cosmic Ordering.  Can I just say that the Universe is not listening properly to me.  I may be driven to standing in the street shouting at the sky.  Yeah, that will work.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

What Lies Beneath

I have some time to spare so, to distract myself from the nerves, here is something interesting:

You know I go on, and on, about the murdery cellar?  Well, I was googling my local area and it turns out that about fifteen minutes walk from here, on the Avenue Louise, is the building which was Brussels' Nazi HQ during the Second World War.  And they really did have quite a murdery cellar.  My grasp of history is so poor I didn't even realise Brussels was occupied during the war.

On 20 January 1943, Jean de Sélys Longchamps, a Belgian (born in Brussels) who had become a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force, mounted a solo attack on the headquarters at number 453.  Benefiting from the wide avenues, and the large height of the apartment block relative to the neighbouring buildings, he flew his Hawker Typhoon at a low altitude straight towards the building, firing the plane's 20mm cannons, before returning to England.

Following this attack, the Sicherheitsdienst moved their headquarters to number 347 Avenue Louise. The cellars at this address were used to detain and interrogate captured members of the Belgian resistance. The torture which took place here brought the name of Avenue Louise considerable infamy at the time.

The only evidence now of the Gestapo's presence on Avenue Louise is a monument to Baron de Selys Longchamps.  I suppose that is quite a normal response.  It probably isn't something in the tourist guides.


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Day Today

Early-ish to the Boy, who is currently regarding me as sort of Himmler, due to his beloved older sister being home.  Why, indeed, would he wish to spend time with me when she has Peppa Pig on her iPhone?  It was a fine morning, the sort where you can see aeroplanes like tiny white cursors leaving vapour trails miles up.  I talked at some length about ants, and stinging nettles, and bees, and what is likely to happen if you throw something repeatedly (repeatedly).  In the park I fed A85 by hand and threw bread high to test the crows' ability to catch.

Very little time for lunch. Ten minutes' sit-down in Ambiorix with a Fry's Peppermint Cream.

Then to the Girls.  I had to wake C but she was delightful and sleep-drunk, very forgiving of my intrusion.  She proceeded to spit strawberries all over the crèche reception area, as she hasn't really got the hang of chewing.  H was amenable, which is always good news.  A father whom I've seen often there, and on whom I have a slightly embarrassing crush, asked if I would read a chapter or two of a book he is writing and which he will be translating into English - because I'm a native speaker and will know if it reads as "English" or not.  I think his motives are pure but I'm not a terribly good judge of these things.

Relatively poo-free afternoon, lots of singing The Wheels on the Bus, and I explained to H what blow-flies do, which was fun.

As usual I asked myself quite why the two-mile walk home.  But like going to the gym (says one who has never been), once you start it's hard to stop.  My average mileage each day is about five miles, but those final two are hard, which is why they are sometimes oiled with frites.  There's a feeling of ridiculous joy when I seen the Generali building as that means I'm nearly home.

Before the sweat had time to settle I got my washing down to the cellar, paddling reluctantly in the foul leak-puddle surrounding the washing machine.  I think my feet smell of leak-puddle now.  Inexplicably there was large piece of waffle by the top of the cellar stairs. 

And tomorrow is my job interview.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

All You Can Eat

Something that you often hear, after yet another lucky escape, is "never mind you have to kiss a lot of frogs", and that somehow this winnowing process brings you closer and closer to the Holy Grail of Chaps, somewhere in your and his future.  Yes, right now he is sitting somewhere with a coffee, reading the Guardian and picking his nose, completely unaware that I'm on my way.

But what if kissing frogs is just kissing frogs.  You may well end up with a pile of discarded amphibians behind you and yet another pile in front.  Just more and more and more frogs.  A endless frog buffet.  To use another analogy, you're sorting through that haystack looking for the needle and at some point you realise it's just hay. 

It's not as if I deliberately choose men who aren't really interested - there isn't a separate bunch who are camping on my doorstep and bringing me frites in the middle of the night and begging me to go to Oostende with them, that I am studiously ignoring.

I think I've said this before, but I'm fine on my own.  I like my own company a lot and find it necessary for recharging, and I've never thought that having a boyfriend would complete me.  I'm fairly complete, apart from a few bits which I suspect are down the back of the sofa.

But, like most people, I want to be loved, and to give love.  And to have someone kind and a bit filthy to have a good laugh with, who will think I'm great.

Fuck. Off.

Well, the feeling in my ancient bladder was right and the young man sent me an email today, the day before we had planned to meet, about some girl, etc, and about it being inappropriate for us to meet.  He hoped I didn't feel disrespected.  I did. 

I am sick of this, of all of it.  Men treat me like I'm nothing.  And I'm so bloody fucking something. 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Story So Far

I now have two job interviews.  And the organisations have both been splendidly co-operative in allowing these to be on Wednesday mornings when I do not work.  The second job I haven't even applied for - a few weeks back I mentioned that an employer phoned me within the hour of my sending a CV, and that I could not make the interview.  Well it's them - they said they'd get back to me about another job and hey presto they have.  Once I'd hung up the phone, I went back and read stories to The Girls with renewed nanniness.  If that is not a word, it damn well should be.

In other news, my 25 year old date appears to have evaporated.  I could be wrong, but I feel it in my ancient bladder.  I think in theory these young and pert bucks like the idea of, to use a tabloid term, a romp with a lady of some vintage, but the reality might be a bit much.  A bit like tupping your mum.  Or perhaps he just got distracted by something new and shiny.  It happens.

Still, maybe it's for the best.  Much as I like romping with the young, because I'm a filthy old ho, women of a certain age look dog-rough in the morning.  And at any time of day, you have to be careful not to be seen in profile.  Gravity is an absolute cunt in cunt's clothing.

In other, other news, I seem to have started writing something, other than this blog.

It's a story that has been knocking about in my head for some time and recently I have been coming home and actually writing it.  All day I have dialogue going on in my head that I cannot wait to get home and transcribe.  Either that or the voices are getting worse.  The story is resolving itself into something very dark and very funny.  Well it's amusing me anyway. 

I think that what has inhibited my output before is that I'd get to a certain point and stop because "I don't know much about..." whatever.  Now I have decided I will just do a bit of research and make the rest up.  It seems to work for Steven Moffat.  This is not a picture of Steven Moffat.  It is a gratuitous Joseph Fiennes.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Bicep Watch

Everyone needs a hobby.  Mine is perfect because you can incorporate it into everyday life.  You don't have to buy any equipment or join any awkward groups.  The only problem is being caught looking, but I think I can pass it off as something else most of the time.  Especially in sunglasses.

Bicep Watch 1:  chap on a bike in the Parc du Woluwe yesterday doing the bins.  I faked uninterest behind my sunglasses.

Bicep Watch 2: on the way to the Parc du Woluwe today a nicely nerdy looking chap with enormous biceps unloading some stuff from a truck.  I mean, really obscenely good biceps.  If you looked up "bicep" on the internet, there's probably a photo of him.

Bicep Watch 3:  while I was with the girls this afternoon I heard noise out the back in the garden and, lo, there was a chap next door cutting the ivy.  I had to think of all sorts of reasons to keep observing the weather or put things in the bin.

One of these days I'm going to be caught with drool on my top, and it will all be very unpleasant.  

Monday, 18 June 2012

Lingua Franca

It occurs to me that I spend a good part of my day in a linguistic fog, or perhaps fug.

I understand bits of conversations, and was able to laugh scoffingly (I like to think I laughed in French) at the woman who told us all to move down the tram this morning as there was plenty of space.  About 50% of what goes on around me is still something of a rapid and foreign mystery.

And then I go to work and spend the morning interpreting the pointing of a finger accompanied by "Ugh!".  But that is exhausting and I've taken to telling The Boy that I do not know what he means, will he please tell me.  One day he will surprise me with a full sentence.  Probably telling me how I've given him a complex.

Afternoons are somewhat better linguistically, although the Big Girl often talks to me like I'm a simpleton.  This could be, of course, because she speaks more languages than me.  The Little Girl, despite only having a few words so far, is a very good communicator. 

Soon I start my French course.  I do not expect miracles of it but it feels like the absolutely right thing to be doing.  I need things to be much less foreign and mysterious.  On the same day that I start the course I have my job interview. 

I got a phone message from the Agency to say I needed to confirm by email the time they had offered.  There was a slight problem - I was at work and the girls' father was downstairs.  Stealthily, with one ear cocked to the stairs, I switched on their Mac, started "in private browsing" (kind of nonsensical now that I've broadcast it), and logged on to my emails.  Confirmed the time and date, stopped "in private browsing" and shut down.  All the while thinking he was going to come in and catch me.  It was like a spy film, but with no Russians or anything vaguely dangerous.

So think of me on the 27th.  Lots going on that day.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

And There Was Light

Down to the murdery cellar to collect my washing and I was confronted with profound, Hollywood horror-style darkness.  My first thought, as I was feeling my way down the stairs, was go back up the stairs.   I've seen those films, I know what happens!  Fighting the instinctive certain knowledge that there was a murderer in the murdery cellar, I went back up for my wind-up torch.  This isn't a torch that likes to take the piss, it is a genuine wind-up torch.

Back to the cellar, holding the torch high like they do in CSI and stuff.

The lights in the hall weren't working either, so my logical brain was telling me that something had tripped a circuit.  Or that the murderer had.

In the cellar are all the electricity meters for all the flats, a whole bank of them on the wall, plus two other switchy box things underneath.  I isolated the one that had tripped and flipped it back.  Light! Washing Machine!  Tumble-dryer!  Thwarted murderer! 

All is well again, and I am proud of myself for my problem-solving skills in the face of certain death.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Big Jobs

After receiving yet another standard rejection letter from a job I applied for, despair was beginning to creep in.  You see, I've never had a problem finding work.  This is a new and somewhat challenging experience, to be turned down, and turned down, and turned down, and turned down, get the drift.  You start to question everything, and your future is just all cacky bottoms.

Then my phone rang and I hurtled down the stairs at ankle-sprain speed.  The agency that has been sending out my file has had a positive response, and the employer is one I would be really keen to work with.  I will have an interview with them in about two weeks' time.  This will be only my third interview since I started applying for jobs in Brussels, a year ago.  (Ironically, the first job I was interviewed for has just been advertised again.)

I need to find those nerves of steel again and drag them clanking with me to the interview.  If I don't get this job, there will be others, but I'd really quite like this one.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Horn Solo

Walking through the park this morning, I passed two road-workers, resting on either side of the small road that runs through the park.  Having a little break from laying paving stones.  "Sandwich?" one said to the other, quietly.  Now it was only 11am, which seems a bit early for lunch.  The only other interpretation I can come up with owes more to my hormonally-charged brain than reality. 

What they say about women of my age appears to be true.  I stare at half-naked workmen, out the corner of my eye, on the Rondpoint Schuman.  I stare, sometimes actually stare, at men's biceps on the metro.  Fortunately they probably think I'm just a motherly sort who is worried that they have come out without a cardi.  You can get away with quite a lot if you are a mature and respectable-looking lady.

Presumably once the great crashing symphony of my hormones winds down in a few years this bit will end.  (Does it?  Let's ask Joan Collins...)  But I'll bloody miss this movement of the symphony.  I don't think I've ever enjoyed the horns quite so much.  Perhaps this late surge is to give you something colourful to look back on when sitting on a commode in an old folks' home in Kent.  

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Tarting Around

I've arranged a date.  Even with my maths I can work out that, at 25, he is precisely half my age.  I do realise this has complete fucking disaster written all over it, but bear with me.  I'm looking for a relationship, and I've made that clear on my dating profile.  This, clearly, will not be one.  The difference between this and my most recent balls-up is that I'm aware of that.

It's like you are walking to Waitrose to get the ingredients for a really fantastic dinner - probably something in a Nigella book - and you pass this patisserie, and the most amazing huge tarte aux framboises lures you in and then follows you home.  You can't say no to a tarte aux framboises, can you?  Because there may come a day when there are no patisseries open and you cannot get a tarte aux framboises for love nor money.  Of course, the walk to Waitrose is still on the agenda, and the shopping list remains folded in your purse.

It is true that I'm not very good at these casual things.  But I just hate to pass up a treat.

If in a couple of weeks this young chap is found face down in a pool with a bullet in his back, you'll know that my transformation into Norma Desmond is complete.

Heads Up

To the doctor again, for more sumatriptan.  This time it was the French-speaking one and, barring a few gargled verbs, I managed a conversation.  The trick was not to think it out in advance.  Or maybe all I can talk about in French is migraines.

Again I was filled with the terror that I would not be given my drugs.  Perhaps I can explain this more fully:

For the most part, I'm sickeningly healthy, except for this one thing.  I got my first migraine when I was 12.  A typical one would go - wake up feeling like someone had buried a machete in your head during the night, and then start vomiting.  The machete would stay there all day, sometimes shifting position a bit.  The vomiting would be roughly every half an hour, all day.  Nothing would stay down, but it's surprising how much stuff an unfed stomach makes.  When the vomit started being greenish, I knew the attack was coming to an end.  Normally, the attack would last all day, and was accompanied by sensitivity to light, to smells, to sounds, and an inability to talk coherently.  Some might say that the latter is normal for me anyway.

For most of my life the attacks were roughly every three months which was sort of manageable.  The attacks themselves, however, were utterly dreadful and had somebody offered me euthanasia during one, I would probably have accepted.  This went on for about 35 years, and then they became more frequent.

Fortunately somebody had discovered sumatriptan.  Unfortunately I couldn't take it because I was on mental tablets (SSRIs).  Once I was off those, I started the triptans.  Without exaggeration they have changed my life.  If I catch the attack early enough, I can ward it off.  My only concern is that the attacks are very frequent.  Oh, and the fear of being caught without my meds.

I recall coming back from Paris on a train, train, ferry and train a couple of years ago (broken Eurostar) with a migraine that lasted three days.  I spent the entire day with my coat over my head.  Never would I be caught without meds again.  Finally I went squinting to Boots and they gave me something over the counter without question - I can only think I looked so fucking ill that they took pity on me.  Normally you have to fill in a questionnaire.

So that's it really.  I need to see a specialist.  But in the meantime I have a prescription for shitloads of drugs.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Chipping Away

Mondays are the worst.  I suppose that is a fairly universal truth - unless you start work on Tuesdays.  You've had a whole weekend to remember who you are supposed to be, and to do things which might form an armature for future sculpture.  And then Monday arrives and sucks big donkey arse.

The Boy is a sweet child, but possibly the most boring person I've ever met.  His vocabulary is still mainly pointing and grunting.  His favourite activity is throwing everything.  I try and have conversations with him, but it's a bit one-sided.   And before you know it the morning has shunted into the afternoon like a pile-up on a motorway.  The Girls are, at least, very entertaining.  When they are not fighting, kicking, hitting, pinching or biting each other.  Or screaming at each other.  I tell them stories about cats, and things my daughter did when she was little.  H wanted me to catch a pigeon to take home.  My throat is sore from being a lion.

The Agency has now sent my file out to five employers.  I suppose the almost possibility of almost getting work where I could possibly wear a skirt and type stuff, just makes things a little less tolerable.

I did tonight what I've been promising myself for the last week - bought frites from one of the best stands in Brussels and ate them in the rain on the two mile walk home.  Greasy and excellent.   

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Goldilocks and the Three Eyebrow Pencils

Once upon a time there lived a - well, we can't call her a girl - lady with such lovely blonde hair that everyone called her Goldilocks.  In her dreams.  Anyway.  Back in the days when eyebrows meant business she had to employ a small team of full-time gardeners to keep hers under control.  See below, age 13.  Apologies for the gormless expression.

Now, whether it be through exhaustion, over-zealous pluckage, or medication which I'm no longer taking, quite a few eyebrows in recent years just gave up and went home.  Thus began the search for the perfect eyebrow pencil.

The first one was toooo grey.  The second one was tooooo ginger.  (Who wants ginger eyebrows?  Do ginger people even want ginger eyebrows?)  The third one was jusssst right.  I think.  Sort of eyebrow coloured.  The idea is to make people not even notice you have pencilled them.

And then all these bears came home so I ran away.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Flying Fuck

You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down -
Ray Bradbury.  

I thought this was quite inspiring.  Never knowingly read a word of Ray Bradbury's while he was alive.  Then suddenly the internet was a crawling mass of his wisdom once he'd carked it.  As is often the way.  Anyway, as someone pointed out, there aren't any cliffs in Belgium, get a grip.  And as someone else (on the Dating Website) commented: It's not a terribly good quotation. I didn't enjoy his writing.  So never expect others to share your feeling of inspiration.

I've jumped twice in my life, and built my wings on the way.  The first time I was 24, had nowhere to live, no partner, and was pregnant.  I won't try and pretend it was easy, but it worked out.  The second time is now.  Each day I'm slowly putting together some sort of way of flying.  I'm a bit like the coot babies with their stumpy little fluffy wings that don't work properly yet.

My File has been sent to four employers now.  And in two and a half weeks I start my French course.  It is going to work out.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Mirror Mirror

It just so happens that in both households where I work, they have recently had a delivery of big mirrors from overseas.  Now, I like to choose my mirrors with care.  At fifty, the surprise reflection can throw back your dad in a bad wig, or Jabba the Hutt on a good day.  I approach mirrors with stealth and the best lighting possible.  This afternoon I've been sat opposite a mirror that made me want to cry, or dissolve fattily between the floorboards.  OK, nobody looks good on the floor, it's true.  Unless it's dark.

In other news, My File at the Agency has been sent out to three companies who are seeking staff.  This made me laugh in a sort of reckless, giddy way.  Fucking bring it on.  Presumably I wouldn't have to sit on the floor opposite a large mirror in any other job.  Unless it was some weird, niche, exotic dancer job.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Type OH!

I spent three and a half hours this morning being tested and interviewed at an employment agency.  Such was my relief to sit down at a keyboard and perform familiar tasks without whining interruption or demands that I felt really relaxed, and aced the whole test.  Well, except the bit where I had to correct some French.  You'll be pleased to hear that my English spelling is excellent.  In Excel I had to work out some averages and then do a 3D bar chart - my first ever, and under test conditions.  I'm afraid I shouted "YES!" and laughed when it came out right.

The interview was partly in French and was extremely thorough.  I mean, can you remember what you did in a two month gap between jobs twenty years ago?  In all it was a very positive experience and, although there is certainly no guarantee that I'll get work through them, they are happy to have me on their books until such time as I do not need to be.

Now I'd better change into my drone clothes and go where the nappies are full and the days are long.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Wile E Coyote

I think I'm losing it a bit, to be honest.  There are only so many times you can be hit with a cartoon anvil before it actually causes damage.  Having someone who is looking for his next wife dismiss you even for routine girlfriend duties in the middle of the night seems to have left me with an anvil-shaped dent in my guts.  It does make me wonder why we keep trying.  Why I keep trying.

Part of me is mildly stunned that I can still get an audience at all; the rest is screaming PLEASE STOP.  THEY ONLY WANT TO TRAMPLE YOUR LADYGARDEN.  At my age I should know much, much better.  Perhaps it's the Joan Collins in me refusing to look back, and blithely ploughing new and similarly crap furrows to last year's.  Perhaps it's the only kind of gardening I can really do.

All over the place you see couples.  It isn't that much to ask really, is it.  I know they are probably bored with each other and are envious of my racy single lifestyle but flip me, wouldn't it be lovely to have someone who saw something and the first person he thought to tell was me because he knew I'd pee my pants about it.

I'm not entirely sure this will ever happen.  For some people it just doesn't.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Heavy and Light

It wasn't until nine-thirty this morning that I realised I had my trousers on inside out.  Perhaps at my age people just excuse this sort of thing as eccentricity.

I've had a lovely few days, hosting my friend C from the UK.  We've known each other about eleven years and there is a great comfort and giggliness.  There has been a fair amount of drink taken too, but mainly because I have discovered a bar not five minutes from me that is open all year.  All day, all night, all year.  They close for Christmas Day and New Years' Day, for which I will forgive them.

After Thursday's melodrama, having a good friend here has been a wonderful balm.  I still feel the echo of a boot in my guts and the question "What is wrong with me?  What is wrong with me?" is not far from my ears.  But having C here has been absolutely lovely and makes me think that if being wrong is this much fun I don't want to be right.  Sort of thing.

On Sunday, we got up dreadfully late and, wandering out for some lunch, surprised a market on my local shopping street - a brocante.  Loads of people selling whatever shite they could probably not shift on Ebay.  In diagonal seeping rain I bought a heavy and old Anglepoise lamp for €25.  I waited till it dried out (despite appearances, I'm not a fool) and tested it.  It works!  Am very happy with my ancient Anglepoise.


Friday, 1 June 2012

Night Moves II

It's been a pretty shit day.  Two hours sleep after the chucking-out, a really poor French test on the phone (for a French course), and a couple of waffles with jam.  This is what happens when you have relations with men you do not value you.  And really it should have ended there but he just keeps sending me messages.  I think he is not so much thick-skinned as possibly just thick.

I unfriended him on Facebook so he sent me another friend request.  He sent me a long self-justifying email.  He phoned me, several times.  I did not answer.  He invited me out to karaoke tonight, despite the fact I'd thrown him out in the middle of the night.  I mean.  WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCKING FUCK?  And this is someone who does not want me to be his girlfriend, and whom I've quite categorically told I will not be his fuck buddy or mate.

I am baffled by people.  But then he is a Scientologist, which probably takes WTF to whole new levels of fuckery.  If I believed in God I would think he is having a right fucking laugh at the moment.


Night Moves

Please forgive the personal nature of this post.  I'll try and keep it as unmessy as possible, and there will be no identifying details.  In a year where there have been many "firsts", there has just been one more.  For the first time ever I woke someone up at 3am and threw them out of my apartment.  That sounds a little harsh, and maybe it is.  Prior to his falling asleep we had been chatting amiably and he said that he would tell his ex-wife if he had a girlfriend but not about something like this as there would be no point.

This was the first indication that what was happening between us was something like this.  I had thought that perhaps I was in the early, tentative stages of perhaps becoming his girlfriend.  That's what I was feeling anyway, about him.  Boyfriend, not girlfriend, obviously.  There had been a clutch of lovely dates leading to this evening and things, I thought, were going really well.

In the profound silence that followed his comment, I pretended we should get some sleep, which he then did.  I lay there being cuddled, feeling sick.  It took quite some time to get up the courage to put on the light and apologetically wake him.  He had thought it was clear from the outset that he was only looking for (that most sinister and dismissive of words) fun.  I'm not sure how it was clear as it hadn't actually been mentioned.

Standing in a bath-towel shaking, I un-double-locked my front door and told him to go.  No tears, no real hurt, just a sort of outrage that this has happened again and I didn't see it coming.  For the last couple of weeks this man lightened my days, in both a sense of shining a light, and a sense of defying gravity.  That was, of course, clearly bollocks, but it did feel real.

One day someone will be honoured to call me their girlfriend.  In the meantime I think I'll double-lock the front door again.