Saturday, 21 December 2013

Flux Sake

I think I'm about done with the blogging.  After two years, the desire to reveal myself like those pictures of Jesus with his heart exposed, has grown smaller and smaller.  Some of you who read this are now Facebook friends, so it's not actually goodbye.  More "Arse arse arse arse and bugger me backwards".  Sorry, my fingers swear a lot.

2012 was about finding things.  Apartments, jobs, trams, a path through the bewildering systems of my adopted country, and friends.  I got through it on reserves of stamina, crisps, red wine and bloody-mindedness.  That, and not having a break all year, took quite a toll.

2013 was the year of being poorly.  I will be honest, there were times I thought it was very serious.  The coughing and the asthma were so bad at times, it seemed that something awful was in there and that I was just being humoured with inhalers.  Ten months and one marvellous doctor later, things became better.

There is no sense of completion here; life is still very much in flux, which is probably as it should be.  I love Gent and I love my job.  The rest is flux.

What I would like for 2014 is that my friends and family stay healthy and happy.  In addition, I'd like not to put on more weight.  It is as if the very air contains fat.  Ten kilos this year, and that just isn't funny.  Medications, while useful, are bastards for that.  I'd like to know the people I know better.  I'd like for the front door to stop getting smashed.  I'd like to leave the country during the Gentse Feesten.  I'd like to be a bit more bi-lingual.  I'd like a partner in crime to share stuff with. 

I wish you all a tolerable Christmas and a hangover-free New Year.   


Friday, 8 November 2013

Breaking, Not Entering III

So.  Surgery and anaesthetic take their toll.  For a week gravity totally had its way and I would just keep going back to bed.  Then I was officially "fit for work" but wanted to sleep; and sleep.  Which possibly wasn't the best thing as we were preparing for a big event in the EP.  Days consisted of antiobiotics, washing out my clotted, rancid sinuses, work, and feeling sort of dead.  Oh and the door got smashed in again.  One could get paranoid.  Any repair to the inside front door seems like a temporary job these days.  It's taken three major hits since I moved in eleven months ago.  Just over a week ago I was putting out my rubbish and noticed that someone had put a disposable lighter between the door and the jamb, to prevent its closing.  "Ah", I thought, "the nutter upstairs must have popped to the night shop.  I'll leave it ajar."

At 1am it was bedtime and I'd heard the nutter in his flat so thought I would go down to check the door was closed.  It was not, so I closed it.  Between 1am and 7.15am when I left the house, someone smashed the glass.  Being double glazed, fortunately they smashed only the outer layer but still.  The glass has twice been smashed and the entire door and frame taken off once; it seems someone is keen to enter or, at least, cause grievous bodily harm to the door.  It still is not fixed, and large, barely attached shards of frosted glass rattle when I shut it. 

Our event in the EP:  I was dreading it.  Before I moved to the land of my forefathers, I met a youngish man who worked at the EP.  I rather liked him, and visited him, and then he sort of dumped me by not contacting me again.  And then after I'd moved here he contacted me via the dating website on which we'd met and vaguely flirted and said we should meet up, and then he disappeared.  Rinse and repeat a few months later.  After which I blocked him.  My station in the EP was outside the main restaurant and the gym.  I sat there in utter dread.  Not because I loved him or anything pathetic like that.  I just did not want to see him.  I think it's because in my life story he felt a bit significant, and I was probably just a thing to do in his.  Seeing him walk past looking a bit Val Kilmeresque maybe chatting to some high-heeled stripling stagiaire would have just reminded me how inconsequential I am to him; to anyone.

Fortunately the gods of petty snivelling were on my side this week and I did not see him, for which I am very, very grateful. 

And we now have a three day weekend for which, also, I am very, very grateful.

Oh I forgot to say last weekend I was visited from the UK by lovely S and her lovely chap D, and we had a smashing time.  We did the Castle, which somehow I had managed not to do so far.  Executions used to take place approximately where I get my tram in the morning.  Lovely.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Table Times

This is just a bit of an aide memoire or something, for me or anyone else.  Doing something is usually much easier than thinking about it and worrying about it.  Of course, most people know that but it's easy to forget.  Fearful, negative thoughts can form a fence around you.  Balls are also easy to lose but equally you can find them again and stick them back.  I believe some even have velcro.

I've been mithering for months about getting a table.  As I have actual real guests at the end of the week, I thought I'd better bloody get on with it.  The after-effects of the anaesthetic have meant that I get up, faddle around a bit and then go all wan and back to bed.  So I didn't actually get to IKEA until 6.30pm.   There is some sense in this, of course.  At that time of day, it's much emptier.  However, there were still some families browsing with less aim than cattle, walking slowly in front of me while their projectile offspring assailed my trolley wheels.  One cannot do much about this, although mass sterilisation occasionally seems reasonable.

I serially ignored all the stupid worries, e.g., I won't be able to find the table; the staff won't speak English; the taxi service will have finished for the night; the taxi service man won't speak English; I won't get home before the taxi service man; and so on.  It's wearying in my head at times.  Working up a hideous IKEA sweat, I buggered on, and arrived home before the taxi service came with the goods.  So far, so goods.

Getting the goods (I also bought an opportunistic ironing board) up in the lift was a right fucking nightmare, but the table is now in the middle of creation, face down on the carpet.  Tomorrow I shall complete it and then sit smugly at it, being a person who owns a big table.  Drinking coffee or holding a pen or something.  Perhaps even eating off it.  Like a person with a table.

So, the moral is, if your balls fall off stick them back on, and tell the fence-making voice in your head to shut the fuck up.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Nasal Gazing

Nietzsche and Kanye West definitely got it wrong.  That which doesn't kill you undermines you until your respiratory system falls apart and you have to have stuff cut out of your head, and repairs.  My nose doctor reckons this has been brewing for about four years and, honestly, I had no idea anything was wrong until this year.  Unsurprisingly, it's all bound up with the asthma too because - sorry if you are eating here - the mucus that was unable to drain properly was just glopping about and dripping down my throat.  A post-nasal drip (not -natal, as I always want to write.  A post-natal drip is from a different orifice) will irritate the airways, obviously.  Hence the nearly a year of coughing like an absolute bastard.  Whether the asthma will be much eased remains to be seen, but early signs are good.

Today was the removal of tampons from my nasal cavities.  Surprisingly painful.  Nose doctor kept telling me in a very cheerful and gentle manner to "Keep quiet" but it was somewhat difficult.  He had to locally-anaesthetise my nose holes before he went in with the suction thing to hoover out clots and bogies and scabs and crap.  And it still hurt like fuck.  I have to keep irrigating now, flushing out whatever is left in there so it heals properly. 

Aside from all the nasal cavity activity, the operation itself knocked me for six.  I arrived home here on Tuesday and didn't go out again until today for my hospital appointment.  Perhaps it's the sheer amount of anaesthesia needed to fell a person of size, or the fact that I'm a bit older now, but I didn't expect this.  Going out today, it felt as if I'd borrowed somebody else's legs.  Or that they were made from balloons.  Very odd feeling.  Most of the week has been spent sleeping and reading about Priscilla Presley.   In one of those oddly meaningless coincidences, I finished the book, browsed on the Daily Mail website (shhhhh, I'm sick!) and saw that she'd been dating Toby Anstis last year, while playing in panto at Wimbledon Theatre.  You couldn't make it up.   And here's a photo, just to prove I didn't.




Tuesday, 22 October 2013

She Nose, You Know

And so it is done.  I sit with two pieces of rolled cotton wool in my nostrils, stemming a scarlet-ish drip from two tampons which are situated somewhere much further up.  These, hopefully without bits of brain, will be removed on Friday.

The sheer speed of all this has left me a bit whirred.  And weird.   Weird and whirred.  Apparently it was quite a difficult operation as my sinuses were very sick, and I suspect they did not mean this in the argot of youth.  Arriving at the hospital about 9.45am yesterday, I was put in a room for the final admission process, with the one member of staff who spoke no English, so we did it in French.  Thus it was discovered that I know enough French to admit myself to hospital.  By 10.10am I was on the operating table, and there were bees in my head, for which I tried hard to stay awake.  My own disgruntled coughing woke me around midday, followed by the trundle back to the ward.  I had requested to be in a  two-bed room as that  would get fully-refunded on hospital insurance.  They had no doubles so it was a single, at no extra charge.  (Note: I will be checking this on the bill...)

The intention then was to sleep, but both nostrils were dripping and dripping, so it was hard.  Instead I read the trashy but gripping "Child Bride", which purports to be The Truth about the Elvis and Priscilla story.  The television, which advertised both BBCs 1 and 2, was not receiving a signal for either.  A yoghurt was brought, which I devoured.  At about 5.30pm three slices of brown wonderloaf  bread were brought, with some limp cheese more like something a plumber might use to stop leaks, and another yoghurt.  Again, devoured.  I enquired would there be food (you know, actual proper food, for people with teeth) later and the answer was no.  I hadn't thought to bring something from home.  There is little more desolate than eating three limp slices of bread with limp cheese, and that being it for the night.  It felt a bit Jane Eyre.  With bloody drips.

Screwing up tissues and putting them up your nose gets you told off.  The nurse fashioned a little sanitary napkin from some gauze and taped it round my face.  Not attractive, but it allowed me to sleep.  Sadly the staff didn't.  At midnight and 5am they came to take my blood pressure and check the drip (not the nasal one) and then at 8am woke me with a hearty breakfast of three limp slices of bread, limp cheese, and some jam.

At 10am, loaded down with squirty stuff, and what I assumed to be some decent painkillers but which are paracetamol, I was out.  Despite all this whingeing, I could not fault the care received.  Nobody made me feel like a pain because I only understand a little Dutch.  They were all lovely and very sweet.  Unlike St Georges Hospital, Tooting, a couple of years back, when I was left, prepped for an operation and sitting in a gown, no food or water since the day before, in a waiting room from 7am till 3pm (by which point crying because nobody would give any information), and then the operation was cancelled.  The surgeon did rather get the rough end of my tongue that day.

I am indebted to dear K, who came to collect me today.  I probably could have wobbled home alone as the staff didn't make sure I was collected, but it would have been unwise.  Still a bit wobbly now.  And drippy.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Blue Velvet

Since the events with the door and the frame off, I've felt weird.  As if the whole prettiness of Gent was an illusion that dissolved and something like Dennis Hopper appeared instead.  As if the whole prettiness was an illusion that I dissolved with the very darkness of me.  Other weird things: there have been two rapes in Citadel Park recently and the description in the news sounded exactly like someone I had met.  Well, more than met.  So I contacted the police and have heard nothing more, but feel very unsettled.  Then the other day, I'm standing in the rain waiting for the tram outside Gent station and this good-looking youngish man starts what seems like a pick-up but is really odd.  Random questions, random stories.  I think he was on drugs.   Once on the tram I turned and looked out the window, hoping that someone younger would get on to divert him.  I feel exposed, in all sorts of ways.  I want to go back to when Gent was Disneyland and I had yet to discover it.  I don't want to find out it is some place inhabited by Dennis Hopper.

The other night I woke in my locked bedroom and something was looking down on me from above, like a Triffid, or Alien.  It probably took only two seconds before my conscious brain realised there was nothing there, but my heart took a good five minutes to calm down, and I slightly fear sleep now.

Yesterday, I went to my sinus specialist because for the last three weeks I have not been able to breathe through my nose and there are greeny brown lumps.  And, of course, no senses of smell and taste.  Another infection, so the third lot of antibiotics this year; possibly more than in the whole of the previous ten years.  He asked what I thought, and what I thought was something needs to be done.  They do tend to move quickly here - I'm being operated on this coming Monday.

I had a form my GP had to complete and so I went to him tonight, thinking it would be a quick thing.  Before I know it, I'm completely topless with electrodes attached, from ankle to prodigious chest, and this trainee doctor and my GP are talking over me.  "Try to relax" says my GP.  My snorted "HA!" made him laugh.  My pulse was also about 14 beats higher than usual - not good.  I had rushed to the appointment and found myself unexpectedly half-dressed on a table between two men.  I did feel sorry for the child doctor, he had probably never seen anything like it.

So, one more thing before the op, an x-ray early tomorrow morning.  I get the feeling my boss thinks I'm doing all this to be awkward but it has to be done.  Afterwards I will be like those old Tunes adverts once they'd sucked a Tunes sweetie.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Or to give it another name: shameless self-promotion.  This is a bit like Google saying "if you liked that, we think you'll like this." 

The Flick Book is a new blog I'm doing alongside this one because, frankly, I like the sound of my own voice.  Writing about films and telly and stuff.  Because nobody has had this idea before.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Huffing and Puffing

The owners of this property must have felt my withering sulk across the kilometres, because the door was fixed on Friday.  To the naked eye it looks all as before.  But it's pulled the skin off my safety and I'll keep my unworldy goods in my bag from now on, just in case.  The thwarted burglars can, if they wish, steal my four year old computer.  I believe my insurance covers it, and a more elegant new model might be nice.

It is as if the gingerbread house has been attacked by the big bad wolf, or something.  I won't run.  Gent is home.  Gent is the relief I feel as the train slows over the motorway, and the Belfort, whose clock is visible from my window, comes into view.  No.  I will eat any wolf that despoils these things.

Tonight as I left work, there was something weird happening at the junction where usually there are circus performers.  Several fire engines were focused on something in the road, putting it out with ragged plumes of foam, and water jets.  Of course, I did what most sensible people would do, and walked towards it.  Fire does that, it makes you want to go near it.  I thought it was unlikely that one of the circus guys had spontaneously combusted, but there seemed no logic to what was going on.

Turns out the fire guys are protesting by setting things on fire and then...erm...putting them out.  I may have missed some subtlety in this.  They want to meet the Prime Minister, that much I do know.  Something to do with money, I gather.  And that was my French and Dutch learning for the day.  There is a chance they might put the major Brussels stations out of action tomorrow which could be a bit of a pain.   However, I do want to go to IKEA so fingers crossed. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Shut That Door!

I am sensing a distinct lack of arsedness from the owners of my building.

As you will recall, some burglars attempted entry on Monday in rather spectacular style.  Today is Friday (you can't get anything past me, you know) and the inside front door still hangs off, along with its frame. 

There are several things concerning me, but these are the two greatest:

We have to lock the outside front door.  Our post boxes are inside.  You see where I'm going with this.  The postman doesn't have a key, so we aren't getting our mail.

More worryingly though, at the weekend the carpet shop on the ground floor is open for several hours each day.  The door to the shop is in the wall between the outer and inner front doors to the building.  Normally, the shopkeeper props the outer door open to allow the public easy access her shop.

If she does this, it will give direct access to our flats, because the inner door is not there.

I have emailed the lettings agent about this.  No response.  We aren't actually supposed to contact the owners (some protocol thing like not speaking to the Queen before she speaks to you..?), but today I have, expressing the same concerns.  No response.

The size of the fuck that they don't give is monumental.  We could easily be robbed this weekend because of their unarsedness.  I shall sit at my door with a shovel. 

Must buy shovel.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Breaking, Not Entering II

It was unsettling this morning to walk through what used to be a secure door.  It looks like the house forcibly ejected it.  Sometimes it feels like Belgium is trying to eject me with this bludgeoning of doors.  It seems designed to make one feel both personally targeted and completely irrelevant - just a name on a buzzer.  I wonder if they would be so bold as to return before the repair is done, and just walk in to claim their spoils.

Considering this, I spent some minutes this morning transferring all my important documents and pictures to three USB sticks, and put them and my camera and cockerel brooch in my bag.  Working on the assumption that burglars are like bailiffs and will not actually take your bed and clothing, this would leave them very little to take.  "They", the amorphous, rancid, vicious and bastardy group of people who do this for a living, already took everything of value last time. 

Instinct says pack up and run, as before.  But packing up and running does not help, it seems.  And fuck the lot of them, the arsing cuntwipes, I am not running.

The name Capon originated in Flanders; and Flanders is where this Capon is staying.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Breaking, Not Entering

I was off sick half of today and, in bed, was repeatedly awoken by the entryphone being buzzed.  Also by its echo, as the entryphones of the other flats were buzzed.  Yes, it seems obvious now, but in a sick and dozy state, it didn't.  At one point it concerned me enough that I was going to call the police and then things went quiet.

A police officer came to see me tonight to see if I'd heard anything.  I mentioned the entryphone buzzing and she said someone had tried to get in.  I've just been down to see what was done.  These guys didn't just bust the lock.  The entire inside front door and door frame have been removed.  How this was done without any noise baffles and scares me.  All the time, I was snuffling around up here thinking "oh it's fine now".  They must have been disturbed at some point because they didn't get any further.

We've all been cavalier about leaving the outside front door unlocked.  It's a pain to be locking and unlocking it all the time and when it's locked the postman can't get in.  It fronts onto a busy and pleasant street, and one felt safe.  One did feel safe.  There was a secure door just inside, within plain view of the street.  One feels terrified now.  I'm not given to superstition or being cursed or shit like that, but it feels like something I'm dragging around with me.  This is the second time since I've been in Belgium, and Gent has a much lower crime rate than Brussels.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Stockholm Syndrome

I'm sure it is a very beautiful city, but as it was mainly viewed from a taxi I cannot say for sure.  Stockholm: it's really quite nippy, there are significantly more blondes, and they  have Daim bars...

I do not fly well.  It isn't natural, is it?  The plane seems to stay up by a collective act of faith.  Eddie Izzard apparently learned to fly to cope with his terror of flying.  This seems a bit of an expensive way to deal with it.  My terror is probably not helped by the morbid habit of watching plane crashes on Youtube.

The only thing that stands out from the meeting is when there was a discussion on obesity.  Looking casually round the table, it seemed that everyone else was of an acceptable BMI.  "I am almost literally the elephant in the room", I thought.

Did you know that SAS ground staff get around the airport on children's scooters?  This is done with a very businesslike face, just so you know they aren't doing it for fun.  The guy at the bag-dropping desk was very surly - perhaps because he didn't have a scooter.  I had a strange feeling as he tagged my bag because it said MUC.  A distant memory went off*.  My boss and I had been told different gate numbers.  She said not to worry.  I worried.  Just before security I turned over my boarding pass and it said Munich.  Bugger and arse, the surly bag guy had just put me and my bag on a Munich flight.

It took a while but the baggage handlers found my bag (it's a small black one, you can't miss it) and I had to trust that it would accompany me to Brussels.  "I don't know how that happened." said surly guy, somewhat bewildered.  "NO, NEITHER DO I", said my eyebrows.

So, two acts of faith on the way home: one to keep the plane in the air; one to make sure my bag came with us.  Brussels from above, at night, is very beautiful.  It looks like a galaxy of orange stars.

Stockholm deserves a better look one day.  I like coldness.  I like Daim bars.  Except I have now lost a filling.  Oh yes, the bag made it home. 

 *In the very early 80s I worked at Heathrow and have a vague recollection of three-letter airport codes. MUC is not Brussels.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Acid Jazz

I'm not one for fads, mainly because I'm cynical and lazy and fads require energy and mad-eyed optimism.  So I'm not likely to go breatharian on you (not with my fucking asthma); or even fruitarian (although I get through shiploads of bananas).  But I might go the Hay way.

The Hay Diet reminds one of horses, and of Will Hay, a comedian who was monochrome and unfunny.  However, comedy doesn't time-travel well.  Just watch a few old Monty Pythons and you'll see what I mean.  Should the plural of Monty Python have an apostrophe?  I'll leave it like that.

The Hay Diet is currently known as Food Combining, which always seems stupid as it's actually Food Segregating.  You don't eat this with that, and you eat that only with this kind of that.  It's a performance and it means you have to think, which is an awful bore.  But the longest I have ever gone without a migraine - 18 months - was when using this system.  Basically you keep your proteins and starches apart, like Jets and Sharks, and if they meet you can expect a rumble.

You see, nothing is bloody working.  My sense of smell has gone again and the post-nasal drip is back.  It's more like a post-nasal glup really.  It feels gluppy.  So that's making me cough, which encourages the asthma.  And just about anything I eat gives me acid right up the gullet. Which makes me cough, etc.  Even water hurts to swallow.  And then there are the migraines, of course, which are my Moriarty, but without a waterfall.  I'm sick of just warding off the adversaries with steroids, antibiotics, and other charms.

Let's try something that might work at source.  The worst that can happen is a hissy fit about what goes with what and why and when.  Just avoid me in the supermarket.

Sunday, 22 September 2013


I have chairs.  Whilst this may be met less with a hearty cheer than with a shrug at the bathos of it, having chairs pleases me.  I've always considered the ERASMUS programme to be a jolly good thing and at this time of year it's great, because all the ERASMUS students are buggering off and selling their stuff.  The four chairs were €30.  The moving-man had an apalling satnav.  He entered my address and then it told us to go somewhere else.  I just kept saying "No DON'T turn left" until we saw the castle and home was near.

The chairs are where they would be if there were a table and, hopefully by willpower alone, they will conjure one.  They look a bit daft, as if ready to start a reel, but it's good to work out how much space I'll need around them.  It has the look of a waiting room which, ho ho, could be a bloody metaphor, but let's not go there.  I'm too <select from drop-down list> to wait for anything any more.  The waiting is not exactly a choice, more a sort of default response.  You know: I'll do zumba when I'm less fat.  I think a lot of people do this.  And in so deferring you can defer a life away.

One of those inspiring and worthy posts on Facebook said something like today is the youngest you'll ever be, and was accompanied by a picture of a lady of pensionable age doing welding or something.  It is true without doubt that we will never be younger than we are at this moment. 

So: table next, and food on it, and people to sit at table.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Jimi Mystery

I put the not-fit-for-purpose coat in the charity pile.  It was a relatively easy decision as the coat had been - shall we say - hanging in some very insalubrious places.  And I think that's about as far as we can go with that metaphor without getting very confused.

After that, one can only turn to crisps, parakeets and Charlotte Bronte.  I only eat crisps at work when one colleague is not in, as she comments on my food.  Today was a crisp day.  It was also a chocolate brownie day but that was not my fault: I needed change of a twenty for this bloke who was selling a cake stand and Starbucks didn't have any of my favourite cookies.

Twice in the last two days,  a collective noun of parakeets - about twenty of them - has flown in a great swag down the path ahead of me in the Parc.  Back in the day when I thought they were only in London, the "Jimi Hendrix released a pair of parakeets" myth seemed vaguely believable, but they are also in Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, and probably other places with trees.  I don't think Jimi's parakeets could have spawned all the European parakeets.  It will remain a mystery.

So I'm walking through the Parc thinking I bet they weren't here in Charlotte Bronte's time,  which set me to wondering what else was not.  None of the trees look 160 years old.  The bandstand is mentioned in Villette.  Are the great fantail fountains in the book? I dunno, I'll have to actually read it I suppose.  See if Lucy Snowe leaps in them naked.

Somebody outside is singing Anarchy in the UK.  Better that than Sweet Caroline*, I suppose.

I apologise for the fragmentary nature of this post tonight.  I don't have a coat and autumn is upon us.  Mists and mellow thingy-ness.

*When I went to see Robbie Williams, he had obviously been advised of my musical torture, because he performed  Sweet Caroline.  I put my head in my hands.

Monday, 16 September 2013


Let us return momentarily to the winter coat metaphor. 

The universe is dangling a coat, made from the clippings of young lamb, but which does not do the job at all.  This coat (I'm aware that women, children and perhaps servants may be reading, so will curb my language) is fucking useless.  And yet that's all that's on offer.  Great big warehouse; one really rubbish coat.

So what do you do?  Do you hold out against encroaching autumn for a coat that fits, is warm and flattering, that doubles as a slanket?  Or do you go for the tempting but shoddy item that really isn't fit for purpose?

It's ok, I do know the answer.  I'm just sick of the universe's weak jokes. 


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Have You Met Miss Jones?

Well it turns out to be a red herring and not the menopause at all, just yet.  However, my downstairs is like a washing machine on the spin cycle so I suspect it won't be long before I'm a dry husk, held together with bitterness, memories and cheap gin.

In the meantime I harvest the souls of young men and watch the Bridget Jones films, to pass the time.  Not so much Miss Havisham as Miss Havingsome.  Arf.  As was pointed out in the Independent, Miss Jones, if she were real, would now be in her fifties.


Scents and Sensibility

The good news is, I can smell again.  The bad news is, I can smell again.  I don't think it's come back completely but at least there will be no surgery, at least for now.  In the event that my nose goes rogue again, I may have to get a man in. 

Mainly I can smell bad things, most notably the smell in my flat which has always been there.  Nothing at all shifts it, except losing one's sense of smell.  Since the return of olfactory function, I have noticed this smell in the subway leading into Bruxelles Centrale station.  It also comes at me in Carrefour down the road from here and from various drains and, tonight, it was in my doctor's waiting room.  It is a sort of garlicky slightly faecal smell, bordering on sulphurous.  It is as though hell is seething just below the surface of everything which, I suppose, may be true.  Now, it might just be in my nose but that is unlikely seeing as I had a discussion about it with the owners of the flat.

Hellish smells aside, things are gradually improving health wise.  No more asthma clinic for a year, which means I have done good breathing in the blowy thing.  It occurs to me that I see more of my various doctors than anyone else.  This must be remedied.  Anyway, at the doctor's today getting various drugs, I mentioned that it would seem I'm heading into the jaws of menopause.  (Look at me being all brave and talking to a male doctor about my down there.)  I am exactly the average age for this to happen although it still takes one a bit by surprise.  And one does so hate to be average.

He said we could do blood tests.  What right now?  Yes.  And get the results tomorrow night.  (I am more accustomed to the NHS where you get sent to a clinic and wait for hours and get the results ten days later.)  I said I hoped he was good at it because I have very deep veins.  He tied off my arm and tapped at the inner elbow for a while and nothing happened.  He got the butterfly thing out to try my hand.  Now I've had a phlebotomist give up before and write "Difficult bleeder" on my form so I wasn't expecting much.  Doctor T calmly and quickly took a vial of blood and it was completely painless.

Interestingly, I was reading on the toilet this evening about the pricking of witches to find their numb spot.  Perhaps Doctor T was trying to find out if I'm a witch. 

All posts recently seem to be about various faulty bits of my body.  I do apologise for this, and will attempt to have some sort of life soon.

Monday, 26 August 2013


It seems that a lot of life is spent keeping things at bay.  Like a pioneer sitting close to a fire which keeps predators in the shadows.   Or a breakdancer pushing everyone back to give herself some decent space.

Success for someone like this can be measured by how much is kept at bay – work filed neatly before deadlines, bills paid before they go big and red, various debilitating sicknesses staved off by  pills, bananas and apples, and household filth before it mutates and eats me.  The area (one area; there are others, too self-indulgently maudlin to go into) which I fail most in is fat.

 I am the exact weight that Kate Winslet (or Mrs Rocknroll to use her married name) was when, in her words, she was a whale.  Clearly she shed some whale fat before exposing her titties in various films because she looked very slim in those.  And when she breathed the immortal words in Titanic “Put your hands on me Jack”, Leonardo diCaprio did not say “Where’s your Jack?  I can’t find it under all this blubber”.

Like most plumpers, I have had periods of being thinner, but given that I have my grandmother’s body (not literally; that would be sick, and would take up storage space) I suspect fighting my genes might be an uphill struggle.  In the last year since I became office-bound, the fat which had been banished to various distant shadows has run back with immoderate glee and ambushed me.

Also at least one of my medications is a known fat-magnet.  I suppose we can’t keep everything at bay, all the time.  That will have to be ok, unless of course I get offered a major film role, or start breakdancing.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Dem Bones

Today was the Nose Doctor.  A charming, efficient and kindly man, he shoved an endoscope up my right nostril and then attempted my left.  You have a deviated septum, he said when I screamed.  I remember having an apple thrown at my nose when I was about nine, and suspect this broke it.  Before shoving said endoscope up my nose he said do not be afraid.  I told him I wasn't because I'd had one up my bottom.  You can say these things to doctors.  I didn't say I had one up my bottom during a raging hangover, because that would sound awful.

He then sent me off to Radiology for a CT scan.  It was all a bit Joe 90 with me laying in this thing and it spinning round my head.  Back upstairs with the results.  Nose Doctor and I regard my skull on the screen.  He shakes his head.  This should all be black.  Is it wrong that I was kind of enjoying all this?  At last, there's something visibly not right in my head!  It should be all black and my bones stared mournfully back from grey.  Blocked, infected sinuses.  Possibly polyps. (Hard to know because my head is full of infected snot).

So I have more medications to add to the chart.  I asked whether they would be ok with what I was taking.  Do not be afraid he said.  If the medications don't work, he's going in, apparently.  I suspect he'll straighten the septum on the way in or out, which will be nice.  I thought only Hollywood actresses had "deviated septums".  

Monday, 19 August 2013

Finding Billy

There are certain things that weave thematically through my life:  squawking green parakeets partying overhead; circus performers dancing into the road with clubs, balls or an enormous ring; my coughing so much and so long that if I were fictional I'd be dead; and IKEA.  Always IKEA. 

Not only are they always the same inside so whether you are in Milton Keynes or Ljubljana you can find your Billy bookcases, but also they all have similar unthought surroundings.  As if the designers forgot that people might come on foot.  Zaventem was the absolute worst, where I picked through hedges in the dark and walked up an industrial road with no footpaths.  Gent IKEA is not as hostile, yet still there is no pedestrian path, or signposting.  You just aim for the IKEA sign, through random car-parks and hedges until the building happens upon you.  It is, at least, nicer than Croydon.  Which is nicer than Zaventem.  Zaventem is possibly the 10th circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno.

I've been befriending the furniture I want.  I look at the corner of this room and have visions of a table.  Having a table seems currently to be the answer.  The things I would do if I had a table.  It represents order, civilised living, and somewhere to eat, somewhere to have people put their elbows.  At the moment there is just a ghost in the corner, projecting back from the future.  I might run to some chairs too, for comfort.

Bookcases too, are much needed.  It's interesting how easily you grow used to a pile of boxes in the corner.   They need to disgorge their showbiz biographies, and books about hangings, and about murder (and about hangings for murder).

Do we have parakeets in Gent?  I'm not entirely sure.   But then I'm near water rather than trees.  In the Parc du Bruxelles on Friday the parakeets screeched about twenty feet above me.  They always seem so wildly celebratory you cannot help but grin.  On the grass between the paths (this park makes me think of Brazilian waxes, with its neat strips of lawn), a circle of circus performers performed to each other.  Such big skills seemed strange in a small circle with only other performers for audience.  Almost like it was private, or a rehearsal, or a ritual, but done in plain view.  

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A First World Problem

Every place you live has a different rubbish system.  I can say that as a veteran now of three cities.  It always tends to bring out my anxiety in case I infringe some local bye-law.    In Brussels it was quite easy to annoy the bin men.  If you misused a recycling bag they would leave it there with a huge "STOP" sticker slapped on.  It might then stay there on the street for weeks because the offending user would not reclaim it.  In the first place I lived I picked them up and put them in general rubbish bags, just to get shot of them.

When I arrived in Gent I bought the wrong rubbish bags, but it was not at all clear where one bought the right rubbish bags.  They are hidden behind counters in most supermarkets and branches of Brico and you have to ask for them.  Quite why this is, I'm not sure.  They'd be quite hard to shoplift and they aren't intoxicating or dangerous as far as I know.  They are known here as Ivago sacks although in my head they are Iago sacks and therefore not to be trusted.

I discovered the collection calendar online and worked out that rubbish goes every week, glass once a month, plastics/cans and paper on alternating weeks.  And then my collection day goes and falls on Assumption day, which (I've done all the assumption jokes already) is a big bloody day off.  So my rubbish and plastic bottles were sitting out there like kids sent to the Headmaster for the last few days.  In London they would be collected the day after a public holiday.

I decided that under cover of darkness I would bring them back in rather than let them fester in public.  Also, the plastics were not due for another fortnight.  It was worrying and somewhat embarrassing, even though nobody could possibly know they were mine.  Then, further worry, somebody piled them with other rogue sacks across the road.  There was no way now I could identify my own rubbish without looking odd.

Anyway, Gent being such a schoon place, a rubbish lorry came round this evening and took them all.  I have a feeling those bottles won't be recycled.  And now I can stop angsting about my festering crap.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Fruit and Nut

When I was little, I used to have this picture on my wall of a mummy smilingly tucking in her little girl.  I used to make my mum imitate it, partly because the position of the hands was funny (she was pressing down on the bed with all her fingertips) but mainly because I wanted to be in that picture.  I don't know why suddenly I remember that.  Let's see if it becomes evident by the end of the post.

Being sick in our house was never a good way to get attention.  At best it drew impatience.  Sickness was a bloody nuisance.  Therefore, I developed a cast iron constitution and, on the rare occasions of sickness, withdrew like an animal.  There's nothing life-threatening in the sicknesses I have, but it's all life-unenhancing.  Until this year there had been little illness (apart from the migraine and depression but nobody's perfect).  I'm not going to list all my ailments.  They bore me, so for others they must be extremely dull.  Suffice to say it feels like I'm a listed building with bits falling off it.

There will soon be another venture into the Belgian health system, and hopefully they will work out why I haven't been able to smell anything for the last couple of months.  The only thing I really seem to be able to taste is raspberries.  And strawberries.  And apples.  Fruit, really.

I had these pure saline things which I bought off the internet, to wash out my sinuses, but was reluctant to try them because it might be like when you jump in chlorinated water without holding your nose. However, it was gorgeous.  The sensation of cool water going in and out of the chambers was delightful, and afterwards the whole front of my head felt clear.

Still don't know why I remembered that picture.   I think I have to be a loving mummy to myself, and become both people in the picture.  Not a bad thing to remember in general, I suppose.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Letting Him Entertain Us

If indeed I had a list, one thing was ticked off last night.  "See Robbie Williams Live" would not be on everyone's list, although, going by the numbers present, it was on a few (thousand).

Having been of scornful age when Take That were first around, my Robbie-love grew slowly and quietly.  I probably would never have got to see him but for a wonderful opportunity kindly offered by a new friend, P.  I bought her old iPod and the rest is history.

The Roi Baudoin stadium is on the site of the old Heysel/Heizel stadium and is the size of a village.  We found this out by having to walk around it to find the box office.  Staff were cheerful and helpful; signs non-existent. 

After a bit of Olly Murs (good on the boy, he done good, and various other footballisms), RW appeared as a tiny and sparkling action figure at the top of his stage set, about a hundred feet up.  He then zipwired down to the stage, landing far more elegantly than I ever have.  More of that inelegance later.  He said "I'm Robbie Fuckin' Williams and for the next two hours your arse is mine".  Leaving aside how he could possibly handle that many arses in two hours, it's a greeting I might try employing in future.

He really did give us two solid hours of Rob.   I won't go all fangirl on you but he was by turns arrogant, funny, brilliant, entertaining, funny, arrogant, and brilliant.  All the cheesy things about him  apply in wheel-of-brie-size amounts but it somehow works.  He can do it all - big stagy numbers like a beefed-up Artful Dodger, simple acoustic numbers that showed his rather lovely voice, and everything in between.  OK, at times he comes over a bit Saturday night variety, but I can ignore that.  He did a spontaneous Jimmy Savile impression which was immediately and amusingly regretted.  (When I say impression, he didn't fiddle with under-age girls, you understand.)

Anyway, to the end.  I've always hated "Angels".  It's one of those songs everyone knows the words to as if absorbed by osmosis.  When people do it on talent shows I go and make some tea.  It's trite, mawkish and dull.  Try singing it along with 42, 000 other people in the dark, with the scintillance of camera flashes and the tiny light windows of smartphones held above the heads of the standing crowd below.  I don't know about you but I've never sung a capella with 42, 000 people.  Words which had always seemed a bit rubbish felt like an anthem.  And I must admit that singing "I have been told that salvation lets their wings unfold" made a tear run out of my left eye.  This old cynic felt something magical happen.

Things not to try again:

1.  You may, at 51, be able to wriggle out of the barrier in front of you to get to the loo without a row of people getting up.  You may not be able to get back in that way without looking extremely daft.

2.  You may, at 51, be able to duck under car park barriers but please note, if you are wearing a back-pack which meets with the STOP sign on the barrier, you may end up sprawled on the floor. 

By the way, these newspaper reports about RW being a chubster these days - he's naturally quite a chunky bloke.  In another life he could probably have been a bouncer.  But you need to be quite fit to perform for two hours without a break, so up yours Daily Mail.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Water Water Everywhere

I never understood why drinking seawater would turn you mad, but I do now.

Before I moved in here, it was explained to me that the owners put some salty thing in the water supply to soften it.  Ah good, I thought, no more crunchy tea.  I habitually leave the last half inch in a cup of tea after to avoid getting a gobful of limescale.  I didn't really think more about it, but did notice on occasion that my shower tasted like the sea.  Not that I habitually drink the shower, but you know.  And then one day I made a cup of tea that was so salty I spat it out.  So I would run the tap and put water across my tongue before filling the kettle, to make sure it was ok.   I kind of got used to the faint tang.  Being quite the salt lover it actually didn't bother me that much.

And then the hot weather came and my feet and ankles swelled up.  I could no longer see the bones of my feet.  While in Paris the swelling went down, and it came back when I returned.

By this point I had done a bulk order of bottled water from Delhaize.  But it was due to arrive on Saturday which meant using the water supply till then.   (Yes, I could have gone out, but it's the Gentse Feesten and I get weird in crowds.  Even weirder than normal.)  Now that I'd thought about the water, it was unbearably, if only subtly, salty.  And the salt made me thirsty, which made me want to drink the only water available, which was salty.  Now you see how the madness sets in.

So now there are lots of bottles of clean, nice, lovely water.  And it's weird how careful you become with it when the quantity is visible.  I'm using it for drinks and to cook.  Not to shower, obviously.  I'm not like Demi Moore or something.

Feet are starting to subside again, although cramp in the top of the foot is not a nice sensation.  It does set me wondering:  my asthma and the back of head bastard itchy eczema thing started after I moved in here.  I may well have been slowly poisoning myself with some salty chemical shite. 


Monday, 22 July 2013


It's an historic day.  A new heir to the throne has fought its way rather belatedly out of the Duchess's flange and the world is rejoicing.  I wish you something very cooling for your royal fanny, ma'am.

In Gent, the Feesten are in fullest swing.  The stage nearest me seems to be mainly cover bands.  Which could be interesting, except that Sweet Caroline, Living Next Door to Alice, Valerie, and Copacabana are played on a loop.   I'm so close to the stage it feels like being locked in the back room of a pub that does live music for twelve hours a day.  Actually tonight has been a bit more interesting and metally.  I listened patiently (not much choice really) to see if they would do the walking bass bit in Hey Joe, or just fluff it.  They did the walking bass!

I've been hanging out the window a fair bit, watching the parade, watching people, looking at the river (yes, it's a river apparently, not a canal), and watching the fireworks.  I'm the still, quiet bit in the middle.  It's taken a sprawling festival to make me feel that this is my home.  I'm part of it, without actually taking part in it.

The heat prevents me seeing much of it: during the day it's lower-thirties outside.   Also, I'm off to Paris, where it is hotter.  I intend to find shade.  And not move very much.

Oh, the lady from downstairs came up to apologise.  She said she had called the police because a friend of hers was killed in a domestic violence situation.   I grasped her arm, gently but firmly, and asked her never to do it again because there was nothing going on.  Oddly, I haven't heard the warring brothers since but I will record them next time, just in case.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Before The Parade Passes By

As a seasoned loather of all things estival AND festival, today is the nadir of the calendar.  Hot, humid, heaving and loud: the first day of the Feesten.  Barbra Streisand sang so memorably about wanting to get some life back into her life, before the parade passes by.  For those of us who live on the route, it's more about getting to the post office and the pharmacy and back before you get cut off from your front door by the parade.  There is nothing symbolic about this parade.  It's an actual parade.  People are lining the streets like arterial plaque.  I needed to climb over people to get indoors.  Windows are open because it's 28 degrees indoors and it rather sounds like a crowd gathered for a good hanging.

I'm not what you'd call a summery person.  But I wonder what sort of person I am.  The police have now been round three times in the last week; different policemen, same questions.  Last night they said that it was the woman downstairs who had called them because she was worried and could hear a man and woman shouting and screaming.  Every time I tell them I live alone, and no, nobody has been here and no, nobody was shouting and no, I wasn't on the phone or watching an action movie.  Innocence is a funny thing because the more you protest it, the less convincing it sounds.

In London I had the rare good fortune to live under a woman who complained about me constantly - and most of the things seemed to be completely fabricated.  But gradually you start to wonder if you are who you think, or if you are who they think.  Now I appear to live above a woman who is imposing on my quiet and slothy existence some great imaginary domestic ruck. 

The noise she hears is coming from the building behind my (and her) bedroom.  Since windows have only recently been opened to let the heat out and flies in, none of us have heard it before.  There appear to be two brothers, I would guess about 10 and 14 years old, who argue violently and loudly.  One has an indignant shrill voice, the other a balls-dropped lower register roar.

After last night, I went down to try to sort it out with the neighbour and rang/knocked for five minutes.  She would not open the door.  I put a note under her door.

Next time, for I suspect there will be a next time, I am going to record the boys so that I can play it back to the police.  If I'm recording it, it is unlikely to be me.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Carry On...

They say the darkest hour is just before dawn.  Similarly the filthiest days are just before you get a washing machine.  Yes, I'm going to be a proud washing machine owner.  And because I really don't want to do one last big ceremonial trip to the Wassalon I am recycling.  And doing a little handwashing.  I just pick up the thing that I wore longest ago and see if it has food on it.  It's no good sniffing them because my sense of smell is still absent.  I should point out that I shower every day and pour on some lemony cologne.  I would hate to be smelling like a three day old pizza and not know.  The washing machine is due next week, provided that the Gentse Feesten don't get in the way. 

Oh yes.  Gentse Feesten.  For 10 days the entire city goes barmy.  I will disappear to Paris for part of it, picking my way over discarded bodies and empty tins of Jupiler to find the slightly displaced tram.  I have no idea what to expect but, suffice to say, I am close enough to feel the sweat-spray from the nearest stage.  I think it will be like the storming of the Bastille, but without the storming or, indeed, the Bastille.

In home news, something a bit odd happened the last couple of nights.  On Monday night some police turned up.  They said somebody in a neighbouring building had heard screaming and they were checking to see if people were ok.  I assured them I lived alone, was watching a film, and had not been screaming.  On Tuesday night some police turned up.  Again with the screaming.  This time they asked to come in.  Now, while I am always happy to entertain young golden skinned men who have guns, it was beginning to feel a bit odd. 

They asked if I lived alone and did I have a boyfriend.  Seems a bit of an extreme way to meet women if you ask me.  THESE ARE MEN'S SHOES, shouted one, the scent of a perp in his golden nostrils.  THEY ARE MY SHOES.  I HAVE BIG FEET.  Bloody hell.  I told them there was no-one here but they insisted on looking around.  At this point I got on my quite high horse and told them it was not nice not to be believed.  They said that it wasn't unusual for women to say they were ok, but for the abuser to be hiding somewhere.   And off they went again, probably not quite satisfied because of my dodgy footwear.

So now I'm expecting them to turn up.  Thing is, I've lived here nearly eight months and I've heard a lot of things: trams, stag parties, rubbish music at 2am from upstairs, the kids above the Chinese restaurant behind me having a sibling barney, rapid chopping (from one of at least two restaurants) and the general noise of central city life.  But I have heard no-one screaming.  Granted, the last two nights I've been watching films with my headphones on.  So tonight I am headphone-less, cocking my ears to hear, above a terrier yapping and my dishwasher, and the trams number 1, 4 and 24, and various al fresco diners, a scream.  So far, nothing. 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Under the Weather

As a seasoned loather of all things estival, I'm sure I will be in a very small and dissonant group when I say "I wish it would fucking get cold and then rain".

Standing in the European Parliament today, posting things into the poorly arranged pigeon holes of MEPs, sweat ran down my back like an insect invading my pants.  And this was in the spacious and conditioned atmosphere of the EP.   You will be pleased to hear that I resisted gobbing into the pigeon holes of Jean-Marie and Marine le Pen, even though they were at the perfect height to do so.

It always amazes me that people can manage to look cool and elegant during hot weather.  The ladies of the EP are on the whole very well dressed and propped up on perilous shoes.  (Brussels is both very cobbled and very potholed.)  And they have that effortless matt tan as if they have been spray-painted which, on reflection, is likely. 

I am cultivating the usual pale and surly look, as far as the sun will allow, although walking from the station has been left one a bit pink.  The sunshine has also doubled the number of circus performers which leads me to believe they multiply in hot weather like bacteria.  Yesterday morning there was a face-off.  Three indian-club jugglers stood idly on the pavement, idly juggling indian clubs.  I was damned if I was going to walk into the road so aimed at them and refused to break my step, although this did carry with it the risk of being clubbed.  At the last minute they stopped and parted.  Small victories. 

The worst thing about summer, apart from trying to avoid it like a fat and stroppy vampire, is how other it makes one feel.  I know there are other people who get really unwell in the sun,  but we are few.  And to be honest it's easier to go along with the "isn't it lovely" recitation that you hear from normal folk because everyone loves summer don't they?  So this is for D and for T, who I know are enervated miserable bloody sun-dodgers too.   

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A Pill For Every Ill

I wanted to write something about medication.  It's a new piece of furniture in my life really, and I'm still finding out where it goes and how to use it.  If you have several unrelated conditions - and as we get older, it's more likely we'll have something - it starts off being about managing the conditions.  And gradually as the conditions come to heel, it becomes about managing the medication.  From the logistics of making sure you don't run out of anything, to making sure all the drugs are compatible, to remembering when to take what; it keeps one busy.  I could almost say it was a hobby.  I've done a little chart.

What I wanted to talk about also was managing expectations.  There is an expectation that, once the condition or conditions have been identified, it just needs some tinkering with the meds to hit the right combination, and we're all happy bunnies.

A couple of years ago I went indoor climbing for the first (and possibly last) time.  I needed to see off the lumpen ten year old who couldn't climb up on a flat roof.  Anyway, you get all harnessed up and you have a partner who remains on the ground keeping your rope taut.  This harness and rope business lends an amazing sense of invulnerability.  I scaled the wall like a rather cumbersome spider and abseiled down cockily.  A bit later, half way up a wall, I slipped.  Despite the harness and rope, you can fall.  Because the rope was taut my toes didn't quite touch the ground and the underneath straps went painfully up my chuff.

Similarly, you can be on medication that seems to be working; that becomes a routine way of staying normal.  But despite that safety harness, you can still fall.  It's scary when it happens because it feels like the sick, mental you has escaped again. 

I don't think increasing the medication is necessarily the answer.  You don't just keep turning the music up louder and louder to hide the sound.  On the whole, the Amitriptyline works.  It gives good normal, and anxiety seems to have gone, and the side effects are minimal.  What it doesn't do - and what no medication can do - is stop up deep feelings of loss and lack.  These things have to be handled some other way, not just be blotted out with more or different tablets.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Dog With No Nose

The medium of blogging was invented for one reason: to have a bloody good moan.  Sometimes this bloody good moan is wrapped in polemic, but most often it's just a mis-spelled wine. 

My body and the spirit which adheres to it, are all to cock.  I've got the lungs working admirably and feel like I'm breathing down to Antarctica now.  But I'm tired, miserable, nauseous, headachey, and have no sense of smell.  Looking online (Always a mistake.  It says here you can die of a bad hair cut.) it appears that both my inhaler and my nose spray thing can have the side effect of anosmia.  I've always had one of those irritatingly acute senses of smell.  Now I can smell nothing.  I was in LUSH the other day.  Nothing.  Which of course means taste is also impaired. (Shopping in LUSH is not an indicator of taste or lack thereof.)

This is a buggery fuck.  What to do.  I like both breathing and smelling but I suppose if there's a choice it has to be breathing. 

It's causing me to look more holistically (shut up, I have not become a hippy) at things.  There are foods that help heal asthma and eczema (oh yes, the eczema on my head is driving me nuts) and I have made at least a token gesture by eating shitloads of fruit.  Yes, I know it has sugar in it but, trust me, it's better than what I was eating.

So if I eat better, I may not have to use the medication so much.  And I may get to smell things again.  Some websites are extremly helpful.  One says:

Changes in the sense of smell may also have other possible causes:
  • If you smell smoke, something may be on fire
So there you go.  And I promise to stop using brackets.  (It is probably another side effect of my medication).

Sunday, 30 June 2013


I think I've written before about the concept of Cosmic Ordering: the idea that if you voice to the benignly indifferent universe what you really really really want, it will arrive as if ordered on the internet.

I don't fully believe that shouting what you want as if to a short-order cook in the kitchen works,  but I suppose that keeping the words in your mouth helps you to recognise the order if it might arrive, or helps you make steps toward it.  I admit that I have, on occasion, made demands to a sky full of uninterested clouds.  It is fortunate that when I used to walk in the Parc du Woluw√© with a sleeping child last year, it was mainly empty. 

It occurs to me that the universe, far from being benignly indifferent, is actually a bit of a piss-taker.  I have asked, in polite and respectful terms, for a nice boyfriend.  Someone kind, funny, loving, with nice teeth, and who will not bugger off immediately after.  Not a huge or unwieldy list of demands.  But somewhere between here and the kitchen, the order goes wrong.

At the risk of overloading you with metaphors, it is as if you go into a shop to buy a good winter coat and they say well all our good winter coats have been sold but would you like this one that belongs to someone else?  Or this one that will disappear the day after you wear it?  Or this one that you can try on, but you cannot take home?

Clearly it's not this simple. While I rarely doubted that I would find work here, because I knew my professional worth, that doesn't carry through to the more personal side of life.  To change what you personally think is your worth is almost as hard as changing your genetic code.  So I may be asking for something I feel I don't deserve, even though I know rationally that everyone deserves a good winter coat.


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Circus Skills

So, you know these circus performers?  I've mentioned them before: they wait until the lights change at the junction of Arts and Belliard and then do a little show in front of the cars while the green man is lit.  What impresses me is that they are far from perfect and yet they present themselves with a flourish before a forced audience at a red light.  Today I did a very smooth side step to avoid being hit with an Indian club.   

In the park, where no doubt Charlotte Bronte used to cruise, looking for Mr Rochester types, a lone young man on the bandstand played what looked like a bodhran.  I could neither tell if it was or if it was played well.  Often rope walkers practise, their slack ropes slung from tree to tree.  I like this public display of unfinishedness, with its intent to show learning in action and at the same time to show off a little.

It is something to learn from.  One doesn't have to be perfect.  There is a story that the word "sin" derives from an old archery term meaning to "miss one's mark".  Few people aim to fail, and I expect every archer aims to hit the bull.  Missing the mark therefore just means one should try again, and keep trying.  The sin of missing your mark is not an offence to whatever god you hold dear.  And it is not an offence to yourself.  I have a feeling I may be rambling, but what I'm aiming for (oh see what I did?) is this:

Like a lot of people, I punish myself harshly for getting things wrong, or not getting things right, and fail to see often that just practising your archery in full view of the world is fine.  We are all sinners...  :o)