Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Don't let them catwalk over you

I've been overwhelmed with fear. It had been a while, but Jack riding his bike to school for the first time, on his own, tipped me over the edge.

I watched a philosophy programme on TV the other day which had a beautiful image on it, which explains how I feel when I get so overwhelmed. The philosophy professor was sitting next to his pond, in which floated some water plants. He grabbed one, and said 'Imagine this plant doubles in size every day. Each day, where there was one, now there are two. It may take a hundred days for this pond to become half filled with water plants, but the next day it will be completely full.' That is how my anxieties seem to go. One day I'm doing well, functioning fine, but then the next day my whole pond is filled up entirely.

I'm working hard to clean up my pond. I'm trying to breathe. Be kind to myself. Think through worst case scenarios. I try to remember that even if he gets knocked off his bike sometime (I want to touch all the wood in the world even though I'm not superstitious), it's not going to help if I sit here worrying day and night. He may survive, too.

I was running in the park, worrying that my first novel is all I have in me, that my inspiration for this blog has run dry, that my knees may give out, that An, may she find her destiny in sparkly technicolor, is not happy, that Jack may be getting wet or hurt at his sports day, and so on, and so forth, and then I realised with clarity that the only way out of this bind I'm in is to embrace my fears, use them as fuel, look them in the eye, and transform them into something that means something to someone else. Which is why I'm sending out this little balloon - for you, for An, for anyone out there who needs it.

Be kind to yourself, look at your fears and use them. I will start by trying to be less stressed around Jack, and to put all that energy into taking care of him better. And by sharing this -

I believe it will help.

Friday, 4 September 2015


When I woke up this morning, I had to jump out of bed and run to the toilet. Too much information? Whatever. It's that kind of day. A tracksuit trousers, running to the toilet again, blue screen of death while I'm editing kind of day. And I have to go back to the locksmith for the third time because the keys I had made for Jack, who now cycles to school by himself and keeps falling off his bike, still don't work. The refugee photos, the weather, the anxiety about trucks driving close to my baby, are all fading into each other until I can't move.

I'm using this day as an excuse to take it a little easy. I'm still working, writing, editing, but I also watched a BBC programme about the Bloomsbury Set. I've often read bits of Virginia Woolf and always loved her writing, but I've never managed to read a whole book of hers all the way through. I think it was too disturbing, too close. I'm ready for her now.

It's a melancholy September day over here, with drizzly rain and the heating on for the first time this year. I need a cup of tea.

Thursday, 3 September 2015


You know what bugs me? These shows on TV where people look for a house, and they all use the word 'property' in every other sentence. I don't mind them looking for houses - I quite like to peek in other people's bedrooms, I'm always interested in how much the houses cost, and I like to shout at the TV if someone is being stupid because they 'simply will not compromise on having a dedicated and fully set-up model railway room' or something silly.

It's just that word property. As if that's the most salient thing about the house you will live in. That you paid for it, and that a piece of paper says that you own it. In the system designed by the people of your country, this part of it is now considered yours to do with as you see fit. Until you get evicted, or a hurricane comes, or the sea rises too high. And how far down does your 'property' go? Tunnels could be dug underneath, and surely we don't all own the core of the planet.

How presumptuous is it to think you can truly 'own' a piece of this planet? A piece you have to share with hundreds if not thousands of spiders, flies, mites, bacteria? A piece you have to take care of and leave for future generations? A piece that may be conquered by other nations, taken off you by the law, sued off you by someone with a better claim?

It reminds me of people who call themselves 'dog owners'. I've always found that odd. How can you 'own' an animal? A life? A being? I know that technically, legally, you do, in humanland - where animals can be bought and sold. But surely no one who loves their dog would truly want to own it. I suppose it gets murky once we're talking about animals to eat. If I ever allowed my mind to truly go there, I would have to go back to being a vegetarian again.

Back to the land, then. And the 'properties'. In my mind, it's much more respectful to speak of land, house, home. Less callous. Less financial. More human. More loving.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Postcards from Belgium

  • The only thing I miss about being depressed is how much I could sleep.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Cucumber time

Peaceful and happy phone screen:

It's still the holidays, can you tell? In Belgian news, they call this 'cucumber time' - when nothing goes on and there isn't any news because people are too busy sitting in the sun.

I can tell you that the sun is actually promising to come out, which is good timing because one of my lovely sisters-in-law has come to visit for the week and we LOVE her. Last night we already sat in the sun, sipping mojitos, and I'm sure more of that will need to be done. I'm glad our week of autumn seems to have come to an end. I was wearing vests and tights again. Cardigans!

 Who needs news in cucumber time anyway. I can just sit and marvel at the tidiness of my phone screen. Aaaah.

(I just realised, typing that title, that if I was being my usual self I would find the term 'cucumber time' interestingly chosen. I genuinely think there is no phallic reference intended there. (Yup. Wikipedia confirms it's because there are lots of cucumbers being harvested right now.) It's probably just me. Again.)

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Sausage stick

  • Marie went off to camp, and there, on the first day, she found a stick which smells like sausage. She kept the stick and brought it home to keep. She showed it to us, but then somehow her stick ended up in the washing machine, and then the drier. All washed and dried, the stick still smells of sausage, and she still sits around smelling her stick she brought from camp to keep. I think this is just about the funniest thing ever.
  • It's Mother's Day here, and everyone forgot about it, including me, which is a shame, because I might have got some breakfast in bed out of it. As it is, I didn't even get a Saturday newspaper, because Jack tried to go out to get me one, but Mother's Day is a national holiday around here (it's Mary's Ascension Day), so all the shops were closed. He won't go to the one supermarket which is open for me, because it is a whole street further than the other shop. Even on Mother's Day, a son's love will only take him so far. Babes would have made me lunch after forgetting about breakfast, but he is too busy installing his new toy, a satellite dish. I get it. I also want Channel Four and ITV back after seventeen years without.
  • I just wrote the title to this post. That is not going to generate any collateral traffic then.
  • Don't you just love bullet points? Once I get started with them, I don't ever want to stop.
  • I'm going to have to stop, though, because I need to do some laundry and some more writing before going to see the lovely An, may she have a famous novelist for a sister.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Now what?

I sent my two oldest babies off to camp for eleven days. Yes, ten nights in tents with teenagers in charge. They will be fine. I'm not worried at all. They are having the best time ever. Ever. I'm sure of it. Even the seven year old. Especially the seven year old. They are just fine. I'm telling you. Because they are.

I also sent my youngest baby off to a sleepover at his grandparents' house. They may be able to take him until Monday, depending on if their friends want to go out for dinner or not with them on Sunday. If they do, we still have no children until Sunday afternoon.

I genuinely am not sure what to do now. I was so lost I put a wash on. The weekend will be great, I hope. The last time we had a night without children was almost a year ago. Normally we go away for the weekend when we sell the children off to the lowest bidder, but this time, in a heart-stopping, death-defying, universe-mocking experiment, we are staying at home. We'll see how that pans out. I have a vague plan which involves some drink, some ice cream, and finally watching The Hangover trilogy which I got for Christmas. I will tell you I'm a little nervous. I feel like I have to magically be my old pre-children self for two days, and I don't remember what she was like. I should probably go shave my legs or something, but instead after my mother picked up Charlie, I put on that wash and collapsed in front of an old episode of 'Sister Wives' with a punnet of blueberries and a cup of tea. My hair is doing its frizzy thing, and I'm feeling quite sleepy. Wish me luck.