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Yule Be Sorry

img_1639Hooray, December is upon us! Like a crushing weight in your heart! Upon us like a thousand years of late tax returns!

I don’t quite know what it is about December that makes me so down in the dumps every year, except oh yes, maybe I do. Maybe it’s the way the end of the year looms like a horrendous deadline for all the things you promised yourself you’d achieve this year and didn’t. Maybe it’s all the things you have to do and buy and attend and make a costume for and take a plate to. Maybe it’s because you have to decide on a Christmas tree.

Historically, choosing a tree hasn’t been a problem in our family. Because historically we’ve just bought a massive chopped down tree if we are going to be at home for Christmas, and used a large plastic tree if we are going away.

But this year, although we are home for the holidays, H has come over all Sting and doesn’t want a nice chopped-down pine. He’d rather we have a tiny potted facsimile of a Christmas tree that you decorate, leave inside for a fortnight, then banish to the garden, before you go to haul it out next Christmas and realize it is dead, just like the lovely big purpose-grown Christmas tree you passed up this year. He thinks he is saving a Christmas tree life, but he is wrong. All Christmas trees are meant to die. That is their purpose. They are the gladiators of the tree world. We kill them for our sport. Continue Reading »

je-2In a shocking turn of events, I have not written any more of my novel since last week. My idea now seems very slight and unimportant in light of world events. Instead, we have moved back into our house after the renovation, and I have spent most of my time dealing with an existential crisis that has taken root in the rich compost of all the stuff in our house.

I need to cull our belongings. This is a truth universally known. But I am also a sentimentalist at heart. I know how you’re meant to get rid of things: ask do I wear them/use them/need them? Could someone else benefit from them? One or two yeses and out they go. Well, that’s all fine in theory. But in reality? There are more questions than that.

Here are but two of the quandaries I have been wrestling with. Multiply this by a few hundred and you have an idea of why I am not achieving a lot.  Continue Reading »

img_1160Donald Trump is President-Elect and Leonard Cohen is dead. So, who’s for some hilarious anecdotes about funny things my kids said and my high school reunion, or some riotous home renovation mishaps? I thought as much.

Here instead is a list, which will show you how deeply embedded in my life is the music and lyrics of Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen Song Titles That Are Also Threats or Reprimands Made By Me To My Children This Week. 

  1. One of Us Cannot Be Wrong
  2. That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
  3. Is This What You Wanted?
  4. Why Don’t You Try?
  5. If It Be Your Will
  6. Here It Is
  7. That Don’t Make it Junk
  8. Going Home
  9. You Want it Darker?
  10. It Seemed the Better Way

Continue Reading »

 

sketchofme

Me, making a to-d0 list. Sketch by H. 

  1. Attend My 20th High School Reunion

This weekend I’m going my 20th high school reunion, an event that simultaneously makes me very excited and want to fake a bad case of gastro.

I’m curious about what the women I went to school with for six years have done with their lives, although a lot of it I already know because of the massive spoiler factory that is Facebook. For many people, the only revelations left will be what everyone looks like without several filters and when viewed front on, and not from an artfully high selfie angle. Speaking for myself, I’d recommend people come to the reunion in extremely high heels, or perhaps stilts, and with one of two extra pairs of contact lenses in, so I will look as svelte and dewy of chops as I look on the Internet. Related to the school reunion is the second item on my to-do list: Continue Reading »

fountain

Someone’s kid has an extendable arm that only comes out when there’s a chocolate fountain. Handy. 

May Blossom turned six on the weekend and her two requests for her party were:

  1. A chocolate fountain
  2. No siblings

The first request we could accommodate. We borrowed a device called a Sunbeam Choccy, melted together a kilo of chocolate and a cup of canola oil, and Bob’s your auntie’s live-in lover: there’s your chocolate fountain. Happy days.

The second request was more challenging, because I believe family should celebrate birthdays together. Even if some of the family are behaving like complete shits. I’m a big believer in encouraging children to be kind and loving, and to celebrate each other’s successes and happiness. Garnet’s beliefs are fundamentally opposed to that. Continue Reading »

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I’m doing that thing I always do when I come back from new and wonderful, and I try to transport the lifestyle. When H and I went to Borneo by steamer sometime back in the 1800s, we came home and bought an entire pantry’s worth of ingredients to make complicated sambals and rending pastes, not to mention buying five limes for what would have bought us 100 kilograms of them in Kota Kinabalu.

I’m doing the Scandinavian equivalent. I’m eating rye bread and smoked fish, putting dill on everything, and being genuinely baffled at why everyone is so loud and rude and demanding. Why can’t my children be more Finnish, and refuse to make eye contact or talk to me? Why can’t they be more like the Swedes, and dress effortlessly stylishly and get about on bikes like it’s normal? Why can’t they be more Danish and tidy the fuck up occasionally? Continue Reading »

Leave No Bag Behind

badbag

My suitcase, in disgrace

It’s my fourth day in Finland and I know three words. They’re same three words I knew before I got here. Sauna, hej (hello) and kittos (thank you). That’s fairly disgraceful, but it’s three more words than I actually need to get by here, because every Finn I’ve met speaks better English than I do. Thanks, Finnish education system.

We flew over on the A380, a sort of flying shopping centre affair operated by Qatar Airways. Our seats were near a door that in an ordinary plane you’d think would lead to a toilet, but this one kept opening and flight crew would disappear into it. For a few hours I thought it was where they went to practice their mime tricks, because whenever they went in, before the door closed behind them I would catch a glimpse of them doing the ‘walking down a flight of stairs’ trick. I mean, that had to be what they were doing because it was a plane and on a plane there’s nowhere downstairs from economy class, is there?

But the A380 is basically an airborne Downton Abbey, and the reason the crew looked like they were walking downstairs was because they were walking downstairs. I don’t know what was down in the plane basement. Probably a long kitchen table and some snarky liveried footman brewing trouble. Or perhaps it was like the galley of slaves in Ben-Hur and they were all down there taking turns to row the thing through the air. I don’t know how planes work. Continue Reading »

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