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.