Sunday, 27 January 2013


Most weekends I just sort of go into sleep mode, but this weekend it was actually like somebody with a proper life.

To start with it was the giving back of the keys to the apartment in Ixelles.  I walked away (slithered away on snow-ice which, in places, was poopy) lighter in my stomach, and heavier in my backpack.  There was a fair bit of mail to pick up.  All that remains is to get back my deposit and then it's all done.  I slid gracelessly down the road to the Celestin bar, which is notoriously open all day, all year (except Christmas).  It looked shut.  Then I realised it had just been sanded down for painting.  It was like catching a tart without her make up.  For the next hour or so I sat and drank rosé wine (what kind of bar runs out of red wine?), sorted my mail, and read a book, while the staff argued amongst themselves unrestrainedly.

Then I slithered up the hill to the opening of A's new catering business.  A very exciting thing for him and anyone with a mouth.  Having had A's fine profiteroles for my birthday, I can vouch for his fantastic baking skill.  Then further slithering to the nice part of Schaerbeek to eat curry and watch a large portion of English comedy.  This raucous evening ended back at D's, with a couple of the turns and us civilians, and we had a great time till about 3am.  D and her houseboy looked after me beautifully, even giving me Port in bed.  Not for breakfast, you understand.

Come the morning I splashed and slithered to S's lovely apartment and fluffy bobtail cats, whence we cabbed it to Britxos for a splendid brunch.  After that I trolled through the leftovers of the Midi market and just caught the incoming Brugge train.  

Couldn't do it every weekend but it was all lovely.  I'll probably need to put myself on the charger a bit now.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Back to the Future

After three weeks of physio by the lovely Laura, and three weeks of my not doing the exercises she carefully drew for me in biro, my back is noticeably better.  It is as if something was hiding screwed up in my spine and under her careful direction it has unfurled.  Anyway, lumbar five is still a bit rubbish, but I'd say it's about 70% improved on three weeks ago.  The rest of it is down to me - if I don't keep it mobile, the muscles and ligaments will all seize up again.  Time to be grown up about this.  It's too expensive to be stupid about it.  Waking up this morning without pain for the first time in a year was quite something.

Not so sure that will happen tomorrow as I had to stand on the train home.  Because it is so rare for these trains to be packed, there is nothing to hang on to.  So for 50km I jammed my hand in the tight upholstered gap between two headrests, sweated like a yak, and hoped for the best.  I was well grumpy by Gent.

This weekend I give back the keys to my old flat.  It's a book I'm happy to close.  Maybe my head will stop itching and scabbing now.  Mm nice.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Bucha (not much) rest!

So, yeah, I went to Bucharest on business yesterday.  And this morning, at dawn's unwashed crack, flew 1000-odd miles back to work.  This will not be a regular occurrence, I should point out.  Most of the time I am tethered to my QWERTY at worky.

The trip itself was rather too quick for me to confect anything worthy of Tripadvisor and to be honest there is something homogeneous, interchangeable even, about the bit that lies between an airport and a city.  By law it must contain an IKEA.  I think this is in an EC Directive.  We stayed in a Novotel which was like Novotels anywhere.  Fortunately our Romanian hosts were charming, hospitable, fun and very informative.  I now know much more about Ceauşescu and Vlad Dracul.

We went for an exceptionally Romanian dinner in something that looked like a dacha but was definitely not Russian, apparently, and I recall talking about Britney Spears on the way back, so I'm guessing the wine was good.

If you have to fly Tarom (and I have to say, my head was haunted by past crashes where the plane always looks to have shed its skin in a forest) I would recommend it.  But don't touch the food.  Lunch on the way out was the most disgusting chicken, overcooked rice and vegetables, and a mini Mars bar.

Good lord, the flight I linked to above was actually the same flight we took coming back.  Well thank goodness I was asleep for most of it.

Saturday, 19 January 2013


I am trying to get myself healthy one soup at a time.  Given my tendency to buy vegetables and then leave them in the fridge until they turn to slop, this is a step in the right direction.  I just cook up whatever I've got, blend it and bung in some cheese.

A persistent low-level meh-ness, while not being life-threatening (though not being able to breathe isn't fun), is life-shittening.  And it encourages the over-use of hyphenation.

When my cough finally goes, and at the moment it's hanging around like a fucking stalker, my doctor is going to test for asthma.  I think it's a foregone conclusion that I will be joining the ranks of those permanently with inhalers, which kind of pisses me off.  But breathing is fairly important.  Before this cough, I would get a nasty wheezy thing just from bending down; also spray-cleaning products would conspire to kill me.  Cleaning the shower stall at my old flat, it was a bit like that scene from Psycho, without knives.

Anyway, in an effort to stop being a boring sickly fuck, I went out to see Skyfall last night, realising at some point in the journey that I'd left my purse at home.  Oh well, I had my travel permit and an internet cinema ticket and some Pim's Framboise to nibble.  What more could a girl need?  Well some money for the toilet in the cinema perhaps.  Watching Daniel Craig on a full to bursting bladder is not to be recommended.


Sunday, 13 January 2013


My sickness is boring even to me, so I won't go on.  Suffice to say back to the doctor's tomorrow with dodgy restricted airways; back to the physio on Wednesday with dodgy back and wrist; back to normal health at some point soon, hopefully.

Next week I start giving up the vast tiled emptiness to the welcome invasion of furniture.  A sofabed, in the first instance.  I'm sure this will breed other items.  Not too many, as I don't want to lose notional dancing space.  Even if the dancing is notional, you need dancing space.  I had always promised myself, and probably you, that when finally I settled there would be a reprise of the dressing-gown groove to Bowie's "Let's Dance", as there was nearly thirty years ago, in a flea-ridden sitting room in Hammersmith when first I left home.

Only now I find myself listening to his new single on repeat instead.  It is beautiful and mournful.  We are all thirty years older, and his anxious mask-face in the video reflects all of our fragility and mortality. 

I want to say all sorts of profound things but cannot think of them.  Leaving home at 21 is an explosion of freedom and surreality.  Parties and fear and never having money.  Leaving home at 50 is a sort of quiet, industrious burrowing towards a better place.  That's where we are now. 



Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Fix You

Chris Martin might attempt to stick Gwyneth back together with Copydex but I had other ideas. 

First of all, getting in the plumber to fix the leak under the sink.  There is an odour here, which I first noticed upon viewing the place, and which is like rotten water and rotten particleboard.  I have tried putting vinegar and bicarbonate of soda down every orifice in the flat (bet Chris Martin didn't try that), followed by kettles of boiling water.  I have wiped out the cupboards with neat vinegar.  I have taken off bottle traps to see if any bottles are trapped.  Nothing.  It must be the leak. 

After work I took my spine to a highly-recommended physio in Brussels.  I think she's pretty good, though time will tell.  She explained that when I came off those zip wires it's possible that stuff (she did say exactly what but I'm no good at bones) sort of slid a bit off kilter and it's aggravated the muscles and ligaments all around.  So basically my entire right hip has been sulking for a year.

We did lots of manipulating things and then she attached me to what felt like a doorbell and left me laying flat for ten minutes, my back buzzing at intervals.  The only problem is, laying on my back makes me not breathe, and I had a rather nasty attack of not breathing, and then considerable coughing that lasted until Gent.

On my return home, excited at the idea of the plumber having been, I was slightly desperated (a word used by a Francophone colleague) that my plumber appears to be Heath Robinson.  There is silver foil and string and a hook.  Sadly the parts of the pipe that are actually fucking leaking remain untouched.

I should really lay on the floor and do my exercises.  Sulky hip demands it.  But no, I think first of all you deserve a photo.

Monday, 7 January 2013


It is with little joy I write of this, but in the hope that the writing will eventually act like immunisation and that one day I'll wake up having had my full course of jabs and voila.

I've mentioned before that in my life I've tended to fall for men who - for one reason or another - are unavailable.  There's nothing to recommend it at all.  There's also nothing to do about it but let it pass.  I'm slightly ashamed because I should be well over this by now, but I think time and distance can often refine something so that, not only is it permanently out of reach, but it becomes perfect in absentia

So.  I feel stupid (but not contagious, dear Kurt).  I don't want my new life coloured by this habitual thing.  And I pick at the scab all the time.  I don't want this, but I don't want the bland pink healed skin.  I want the scab and to pull at it.  Tearing off the scab is better than healing and that is, frankly, a bit sick.

And I'm a bit sick of that.  Bring me something new and pink, life.  (Shut up at the back).


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Flight of the Capon

In an attempt to dodge the cartoon anvil that is my one year anniversary, I'm writing this two days early.

On 4th January last year I walked away from everything, towards nothing in particular.  After having a child on my own, it was the biggest risk of my life.  I'm not sure how I did it, or if I could ever do it again.  But it seems I do crazy things every 25 years so if I'm riding a motorbike down the Pacific Highway when I'm 75 you'll know why.

I watched Eat Pray Love the other day.  You've probably seen the poster: duck-lipped Julia Roberts spooning gelato into her gob looking pensive.  In the same amount of time that I've been here she - or rather Elizabeth Gilbert - went to Italy, India, and Indonesia, met people who seemed set on her path simply to bring her some loving message, or some shit like that, and created little friend-families along the way as she sought her balance.  And then she met the bloke who became her husband, naturally.

My year doesn't quite look like that.  I do not think Julia Roberts would play me. She doesn't have the right mouth for a start.  There have been some lovely people, but no cumulative gathering of wisdom, and no potential husbands; just young blokes looking for ancient minge.  What there has been is life, and finding out what I'm able to deal with on my own.  Quite a lot, it seems.

There is no back.  I feel like an arrow-head, that can only go forward through stuff.  Although if we are getting really fanciful, the flight of the arrow is still tickling the bow.  Or something.  The bow will hopefully let it fly, but only I can decide when.  And I'll stop with the metaphors now.

One year.  Eh? One whole fucking year.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Sometimes (All I Need Is The Air That I Breathe)

I have a steroid inhaler and stuff to calm the coughing; I am sitting in the warm sun through my leaded lights, and somewhere nearby an equally warm mezzo-soprano is singing.  Possibly in the Groentenmarkt, but I'm not going out to check.  Last night I slept the sleep of the steroided.  After two nights walking about all night coughing continuously, it was a relief.  And this in spite of fireworks being fired off the ramparts of the castle next door. 

The sum total of today will probably be the laundrette and more sleeping, but as new years go, that's not bad.  I sincerely hope your new year will be as productive as my cough.

Happy 2013 xxx