Thursday, 29 May 2008


Now here’s something you don’t get asked every day: ‘Can you give me your dogs’ vital statistics, please?’ Have you ever tried to get an accurate idea of an animal’s height, length and width while it’s alternately tying itself in knots to try to get at the tape measure in your hand or desperately backing away into a corner ? I can tell you it was highly amusing, I never knew Tiggy could walk backwards at such a speed. I ended up pinning her to the wall and drawing pencil marks on it so I could let her scuttle off while I measured them instead. That made the job much easier, though I was a bit peeved about drawing on the walls as I had just spent half a day scrubbing them to relieve them of 4 years of finger marks, snot paintings and other assorted stains in a bid to keep my landlord happy since he’s been visiting regularly lately with a string of potential tenants. Not that he seemed that bothered at first, until someone expressed the opinion that the place was filthy and although she did want to rent it he’d have to repaint it all first. When he relayed those comments to me by phone (in French) I have to say my brain tuned out after hearing ‘bad state of the paintwork’ as my house-pride kicked in with a big dose of ‘how very dare she?!’ So I didn’t catch every word of what he said next apart from ‘coming tomorrow to visit’ as I hastily sought out the bucket and the Jif and set to work like a woman possessed. I never really noticed how many doorways we have until I decided to scour ingrained grime off them all evening, but there was no way anyone was going to accuse me of keeping a mucky house, let alone waltz back in with the landlord to point it all out to him.

When he turned up the next day I was all prepared. The walls were (mostly) white once more, the skirting boards, doors and frames were all free of scuffs and fingerprints. I was ready for the snotty cow to take another look around and have to eat her words. She looked slightly different when she walked in, not quite as I remembered her from the first visit. Rather more friendly and smiley than I had expected too. And her baby had changed sex … Der, it was someone else completely seeing the house for the first time. Had I concentrated harder during the phone call I would have heard that Mrs Snotty was planning to come back on Saturday to discuss the ‘state of the paintwork’, and that in any case my landlord heartily disagreed with her opinion and had no intention of painting anything so he was still showing the place to other people. And this one liked the place so much she paid the deposit there and then, blowing Mrs Snotty out of the running and rendering all my knee-busting, knuckle-crunching cleaning totally unnecessary! Oh well. At least I can appreciate it myself for a few weeks, dog sized pencil markings and all. I would have loved to have seen that woman’s face though!

Anyway I can console myself with the knowledge that I got right up someone else’s nose instead the next day, with the help of my four-legged friend (who is 90cm from nose to tail by the way.) I was treated, along with four friends, to a corker of a French tantrum - a full-on finger wagging, foot stomping, raving lunatic performance. It was a thing to behold; they love a good rant over here, and never more so than on the roads. Strictly speaking this one wasn’t actually on the roads as she sped into the school car park and my brainless dog wandered in front of her car, but the result was the same. Apparently I am highly irresponsible for letting my dog roam free amidst friends in an enclosed car park when there are no children around (apart from one who is perfectly happy with dogs). She didn’t appreciate it when we countered en masse that perhaps her driving or eyesight were at fault rather than the large, easy-to-see animal who couldn’t care less about giving way to metal boxes on wheels when there are interesting wee-wee smells to sniff in the middle of the thoroughfare. So she turned on my friend who had a 2 year old with her and berated her for not ‘holding the child’s hand while there are cars about’, even though the child was right beside her leg and all the cars around them were stationary till Mrs Speedy arrived! You never saw anything like it. She was deranged; clearly gunning for a fight before my crazy dog even crossed her path and self-righteously at ease taking on five women at once, although she did keep her Renault Clio between us the entire time before flouncing off into the building.

Vive la France! You know, I am really gonna miss this place…!

Monday, 19 May 2008


Eebygum I am soooo sore! It’s possible that at my age 3 hours of jujitsu on a Sunday morning is not such a great idea. It was a one-off course on ‘le fighting’ (say it with a French accent, bizarre, non?!) where at one point I was trussed up in body padding and boxing gloves exchanging blows and judo throws with a girl three quarters my height and not even half my age. I would like to say I won… but I’d be lying. The feisty little beast pummelled me 3:1 and left me with a purple toe and various bruises. But we partnered up later on and our technical demo got a round of applause from les boys so it wasn’t all bad. I just wish it didn’t take me a week to recover each time I don my kimono. I haven’t even got the energy to push round the hoover. Well, that’s my excuse anyway.

At least now I may stop stressing so much about our imminent move. I’ve been entering that ‘gotta sort everything out NOW’ mode lately and I’ve been in danger of imploding. It’s a little like that nesting thing you can get just before you have a baby – which saw me on a ladder at 9 months pregnant because I HAD to get the windows clean before the baby came and I couldn’t possibly trust the task to a window cleaner. Of course now I am wanting to finish all those projects I started here but never finished– the scrap-book of our time in France which currently only covers the first 6 months, that knitted bed-throw for which I have completed about 14 squares out of 200, the princess dress Poppet requested about a year ago for which I’ve turned one hem… plus I also want to chuck out all the crud I don’t want to be unpacking in my new house wondering what on earth possessed me to hang onto it AND spend some quality time with all the friends I’m going to miss.

All this requires timing and planning of course (and energy). And that’s why my head’s in a spin. I can plan until the cows come home -you should see the beautiful lists and timetables I can produce. But sticking to them is proving too big a challenge, especially when there are children around. They have their very own sense of timing, perfectly calculated to cause as much mayhem as possible while you’re distracted with something else, with the ultimate goal of a full Mummy-meltdown. Sometimes I think children are born masochists. Yesterday Poppet managed to invite next door’s twin boys over for a play without my realising what was going on as I was discussing her homework over the phone with another Mummy and just gave her the ‘talk to the hand’ stance when she started blabbing at me. More fool me; by the time I hung up there were two Tasmanian Devils in the garden, one with his head in the playhouse chucking toys out over his shoulder as he tried to reach the one right at the bottom of the pile, the other one dipping the swing-ball in the paddling pool so it would make a more interesting game. It’s a similar story if you try to visit the loo (one of them will suddenly be desperate for a pee or will fall down the stairs and need a cuddle) or try to send an email (they’ll be jumping on your chair yelling ‘I wanna go!’ so you can’t type).

I can’t think how we made it through this last weekend, which was back-to-back parties and sports with Saturday school and an FA Cup Final thrown in for good measure. How are you supposed to get two kids to two different parties for the same start time and with the correct present while there’s football on the telly and only one car? Even on Saturday night at a village party with all their friends, the kids decided they needed me most during my shift pulling pints behind the bar. Pickle appointed himself ‘pot-man’ and sat behind the bar handing me the coca-cola and cans of Guinness. Rose caught sight of him and quipped ‘Oh look, we’re short-staffed!’ tee hee!

Anyway, I can report that in amongst all the shenanigans that marble has reappeared, albeit without its former silvery coating thanks to its adventure down Poppet’s alimentary canal, much to her astonishment. You’ve seen what Coca-cola can do to a coin? Well this is what your insides can do to a metal ball. I love a bit of home-schooling on the side.

PS my final word today is ‘yah-boo-sucks’ to the scum who burgled my parents’ garden shed while they were over here helping me out. I’m sure you’ll go far selling stolen lawn-mowers, you losers.

Friday, 16 May 2008

It’s been ages…

…since I last blogged. Forgive me readers for I have been up to my eyeballs in school holidays, parental visits and getting ready to move. Yes, in case you haven’t heard yet we are leaving Paris in July to move to Budapest. Nobby has a flash new job and I get to pick out new schools for the kids, new walks for the dog and a new kitchen to hang out in for me. And hopefully a few friends as well! I can’t say I am not a little daunted by the prospect of going through it all again, but surely it can’t be any worse than last time?!!

Anyway, thanks to Dazza for the line ‘Sod the dog, beware of the kids.’ Given recent events I am going to paste that to my letterbox, underneath my ‘Attention au chien’ sign. Not that Tiggy would give any prospective burglar much more than a vicious tongue-wash, but the kids…? That’s another story; I am collecting grey hairs on a daily basis.

Take this week for example. Poppet swallowed a metal marble from Pickle’s magnetic building thingy on Monday then smacked her chin while jumping into the deep end of the swimming pool on Wednesday. Meanwhile Pickle did a disappearing act while we were visiting a little village in the south of France during the holidays. He was gone for almost half an hour, during which time Nobby and me rallied the entire place into looking for him and I’d even called the police already. Talk about heart in mouth – I thought they were supposed to grow out of running off?! It seems that he got it into his head to race us back to the car. Only he failed to tell anyone ready-steady-go and just took off while we weren’t looking. The only person who might have seen him leave was this little old lady I stopped and questioned on my frantic flight through the place, but she was too intent on assuring me that little children don’t go missing in this day and age and would I please stop shouting in the narrow streets near her house!!!??!! Anyway, I am very grateful to the lovely people who helped us look and the fellow Mummy who let me soak her shoulder when he turned up. Oh and the police of course, who proffered wise words for future reference; ‘well, at that age, Madame, you do need to keep an eye on them.’ No sh*t Sherlock.

But not to be outdone Tiggy is also somewhat out of favour now. Since the marble swallowing incident I asked Poppet to use the potty for number 2’s so I could check for the offending article without getting up to my elbows in the U-bend. Oh the things we do in the name of motherhood, never did I foresee myself sifting through poop with a wooden kebab stick. However on Tuesday night Nobby got the call because I was out, but Poppet had to come out of the loo to fetch him. As he went in, stick in hand, the dog was coming out… licking her lips. Needless to say we didn’t get to check that one and I refuse to expand my repertoire to steaming dog-turds.

On that note, it’s time for bed here in rainy Paris. But I ain’t kissing the dog goodnight.