Monday, 30 November 2015

So long, November

We had a fantastic weekend. We ate and drank and splashed about in the waves, and then ate and drank some more.  But much more importantly, the children were in heaven. Lord of the Flies heaven.  This place we went to has what they call “a kids’ club”, which is nothing like any kids club you’ve ever encountered before. Certainly, the website will have you believe that it’s all touchy feely and nature and learning, troops of trained child-minders doing the conga down the beach. Ha!  The children basically spend all their time in a large wooden shack gazing in adoration at a gaggle of teenage boys trapped in the bodies of men, who carve them weapons.  Swords and daggers and cross-bows and spears.  At 2pm a horn is blown, summonsing all the children in the island from lunch, and away they scamper, the taste of blood in their veins, for a “game” called The Hunger Games.  This is how the Boy describes it:
It’s a game where you grab your weapon and run into the jungle and hide and you have to stay hidden and don’t let anyone see you, but if you see someone you have to sneak up on them and KILL THEM and once they’re killed three times they’re DEAD and out, and the last one alive is the winner.
Which actually, sounds like a fairly accurate facsimile of the book / movie.  Although without too much killing.  I hope.  Anyway, needless to say they all fell on this game and became converts to feral living and jungle hiding and weaponry and were basically filthy base animals for three days.  28 kids, whopping and hollering around the island, while their parents shrugged and assumed the minders knew what they were doing and would stop them from actually using that dagger / spear / cross-bow.  The Boy became quite obsessed with it all, and spent most of his time with us (a scant two hours a day, at most) asking over and over what time it was, and were all his friends going to play too, and did we think he’d ever win it? He did, on the last day;  he was feted, and given free drinks and marshmallows at the bar, and best of all – he says – was his coronation:

That is real.  I am shuddering as I type.
When they weren’t festooning themselves in ginormous arachnids, they also did treasure hunts and watched movies and practised with their weapons, and on the rare occasions that they joined their parents, there was snorkelling and sea-trampolining, and jetty-jumping.  They also did a pig hunt one day (see?  LORD OF THE FLIES) but apparently the girls were talking too much and scared away all the pigs.   And of course there was an enormous beach bonfire with bamboo sticks and marshmallows every night and consequential burnt tongues and singed hair and sad tales of lost candy (the Baby is still bleating on about not liking Daddy because “him is mean and him dropped my mashmashil in the SAND and then him burn it on FIRE and then him THROW IT AWAY”, all spat out with her trademark scowl and air of insolence).
We, meanwhile, spent a good chunk of our time sprinting from one place to the next as we realised we hadn’t seen this or that toddler or baby in a while, or turning around and finding them suddenly gone (and then turning back and finding our drinks also suddenly gone, and wondering if perhaps the kids’ disappearances were so sudden after all).  I also hung out with the Baby quite a bit – which was lovely, because she’s so gangly and smooth and delicious, just like a baby giraffe.  Although scowlier, and less sure on her feet (but just as tall;  the kids is a giant.)  We also managed to rack up quite an impressive bar bill – which I put down to the kids ordering chocolate milkshakes every 5 minutes, but I’ve just checked the bill, and sadly, we seem to have fed them tap water for the entire time.  Oh well.
Anyway. It is over and we are home and the children have yet to forgive us from tearing them away from their heartland.  The cats leapt for joy when they saw us, and purred and meowled and begged for food, and I wiped my first kitty arse before I went to bed, which is always lovely. Tomorrow is December which means two things: I am absolved from updating this every day (or as near as), and:  THE ELF ARRIVES!  Yay.  Because, you know, there was something missing from my hour-long pre-bed routine. Oh, I also have the dentist, which means more misery for the next few days, so you will all be glad to see the back of me.  (But I will miss complaining about the cats and the teeth and the no-time-for-anything, so I might be back sooner than you expected.  We’ll see. )

Happy December! 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Naked Men & Confessions.

I promised my friend N that today’s post would mention the half-naked assistant in a furniture shop we happened upon. Half-naked shop assistants aren’t that common here, however half-naked middle-aged men, usually sweaty, pretty filthy, and sucking on a cigarette, are.  So we weren’t entirely surprised to be confronted by one as we went about our ex-patty business.  We just didn’t really expect one to suddenly pop up between a wardrobe and a chest of drawers.   It was quite the juxtaposition to the morning we’d just spent in a posh Scandinavian design shop surrounded by other ex-pats, learning how to style ourselves “this season”. Which amused me greatly, because (a) unless the styling tips include “scrape your hair back into a pony tail” and “make sure you’re wearing matching flip flops”, it’s really not for me,  and (b) WHO IS LOOKING AT ME ANYWAY?      
Now I’m home and need to ‘fess up that I am breaking my self-imposed Blogvember, instead devoting the next four days to Giving Thanks that we are a hop & skip away from this place, and furthermore, that I had the foresight to book it back in January.  It’s not all fun and games, however.   As well as The Evil Packing lurking over my shoulder,  I also have to show the maid “how to look after the cats”.  Which both she and I know really means “how to pick their crap out of a box of sand”.  She is about as enthralled by this as I would expect an employee to be when their job description is suddenly so extended.
In literary news, all my friends are agreed that Go Set A Watchman was an appalling pile of drivel, and HOW AWFUL to be the person who wrote one of the most revered books of all time, and spend the next 50 years listening to people whisper that you weren’t up to another one, and then proving them all right. So I need a book recommendation for my holidays, please?  (And in saying that, I’ve ensured that I won’t get 5 minutes to myself between now and Monday.)
Happy Thanksgiving, to those of you who celebrate it, and to everyone else, you’ve only 4 days left if you want to get your Christmas shopping done by December.  Just saying.  

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Rose Tinted Shite

A quick one, as I’m racing out the door, and not a child in the house washed (or in bed.  They are, in fact, tormenting the poor cats with pieces of string to which they’ve attached lumps of salmon.  They call it “catting” – “It’s like fishing, but we’re trying to catch cats.”  Obviously.)
I opened some old file on my laptop today and discovered a heap of photos from my (very) old mobile phone (2 pixels, I thought it was AMAZING. In fact it was amazing at the time. It even had predictive text!)  Twenty minutes later I realised TO MY HORROR I had become One Of Those People I Always Sneer At. (The ones who say things like “cherish this special time”  and all you can think to say in response is Oh Fuck Off, Here, Take Them, but instead you nod and mutter something vaguely positive, or at least as positive as you can muster given that you’re contemplating sticking a fork in their eye)   Anyway.  I wasn’t quite that bad, but I did look back at what was, frankly, an EXHAUSTING time, with a newborn and a  1 year old, or a 1 year old and a 2 year old, etc etc, and think:  Aw.  Look.  They were SO SWEET. If only...

Thank God, then, for posts such as this, to remind me that they were NOT sweet, and there’s no If Only about it.  

Monday, 23 November 2015

Probably just because it's Monday.

Today was a bit of a shocker, and I’m not entirely sure why.  Perhaps because I spent the day running and driving and lugging huge bags (school bags, work bags, handbags, computer bags – all at the same time) about, and I had about 5 minutes’ consecutive sleep last night.  The Baby is still unwell, and the Boy was being a total dick about something or other, which lasted all evening, and the Girl is STILL awake despite it being almost past my bedtime.  I spent most of my free evening checking Mandarin homework, which had taken, I’d say, all of 3 minutes to do.  ““But is it right?” I asked him;  “I don’t care,” he responded.  So I took it upon myself to check, then correct, then teach him, which is NONSENSE I know, but honestly, what is the point of doing homework if all you’re really doing is sticking on a blindfold and randomly pinning a linguistic tail on an impossible donkey?  On top of all of this, I am in danger of developing a fixation on the cat litter, because I just can’t get it to NOT STINK ALL THE TIME, my phone is about to die permanently, the only non-fucked bit of my neck has turned on me too, and my laptap – which is filled with all my current work, as well everything I have written for the past 6 years  - has started to turn itself off every now and then, midsentence.   Perhaps, like my neck,  it is suffering from stress.  Perhaps it can’t take it any more and it just needs me to Stop. Writing. Words.  (I will, in a minute.  I promise.)
However.  The John Lewis fairy arrived while I was out rolling the car into a pillar, so that was nice.  Not so nice was having to beat  the children away from it and then think of a reasonable excuse for its sudden appearance.  Actually I was feeling so pissy that I was tempted to tell them the truth (“Oh that’s just all your Santa presents”) but I held my tongue and pushed the door closed against them instead.  I’ll have to find a hiding place for everything before I go to bed, otherwise they’ll be crawling over it all like locusts again first thing tomorrow. 
Speaking of locusts, a large cockroach thing has just flown across the room, scaring the shit out of both me and the cats.  (Their reaction was a lot more hilarious than mine.  Mind you, I would probably be a happier person if I too was to leap up and dance sideways every time something came at me unawares.)

Ok laptop, you may sleep now. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Of Cats and Cucumbers

As you can see, I’ve gone all Old Testament and decided that Saturday is the Day of Rest.   I’m not sure what ancient book of gruesome tales I can call on to explain my anticipated absence next week,  when I will be Giving Thanks from somewhere in the South China Sea, free from the shackles of both air conditioning and  telecommunications.  I shall, of course, wither and die without either.  I was thinking earlier about how up-my-own-arse that sounds – Just off to a tropical island for the weekend, sweetie – but then decided that this is the upside to being so damn far away from family and friends and winter and fluffy-bobble hats and blackberry pies.  Oh, and Christmas which is celebrated in a timely fashion.  We are all heartily sick of Christmas already, having been subjected to it for about a month now.  Santa Schmanta.  (By the way, the Sainsbury Ad is nowhere NEAR as good as the John Lewis one, creepy old man aside.  [I rather like him, actually.])
It is Sunday afternoon, and I am alone in the house, with only the cats, the sick Baby, and Tom & Jerry for company.  Cartoons and hacking coughing aside, it is blissfully quiet – soothing balm after a morning dedicated to noise and technology. I awoke to the following conversation outside my bedroom door at 7am:
Boy: Let’s get Mummy’s phone and video the cats being crazy and put it in the internet.
Girl: Huh?
Boy: The INTERNET.  You know that the internet is, don’t you?
Girl: Huh?
Boy: It’s a big thing like a television and you put videos of cats in it and then everyone in the world can watch them and you get famous.
Which, sadly, about sums it up.  
We then had a pleasant half hour watching cats being scared out of the skins – almost literally in a few memorable cases – by the common cucumber.  Naturally this led to the creation of a vanguard to the fridge to forage for weapons of feline consternation, but the cats were having none of it.  The outcome is that I now have two inedible cucumbers, and the Boy has reassessed his opinion of the internet to a place where you put up FALSE VIDEOS. 
He has also reassessed his opinion of the cats, downgrading them to a level of disinterest below even that of the hamster.  The cats have responded by ignoring him entirely, which is a tactic I must start to employ.  In fact I think I could learn quite a bit from the cats – namely:  Sleep as much as possible, and only be nice to people when a base need demands it.  Their toilet habits remain questionable, however.
Which reminds me – enough dilly-dallying online, there’s a full cat-poo-box with my name on it.  Sigh.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Meeee-jah (sweetie)

So here I am over at Mumfidential, spouting off about having three children.  (Incidentally, they changed it slightly to make it seem as if I chose to have three children, and thus am in some way responsible for the havoc that is now my life, as opposed to be entirely irresponsible  [and strangely, as a result, entirely responsible for said havoc]).   Also, look at how FABULOUS I* look!   Both the Boy and the Baby are pretty happy with how they’ve turned out too.  (The Girl -  not so much.)

In other media news: an amusing tale.   Almost two years ago – HOW?? – when we were packing up to move here, we had removal people doing the move for us.  It’s all a total blur now, but I do have a very vivid memory of being cornered in the kitchen by the packers, me frantically wiping down surfaces and dishes and throwing out perfectly good food (blissfully unaware that that lump of cheese would cost about $400 here), them grabbing and packing and rolling their eyes. 

Anyway - backtracking slightly - I had lugged around a parcel of paintings since 2001.  I’m not kidding;  I dragged these fucking things back from Vietnam – beautiful, huge oil paintings, unframed, rolled up.  At some point I cleverly unrolled them and packed them flat in large cardboard packing, stuck them under a bed, and promptly forgot about them. They’d resurface every time we moved (5 times in total between getting them and arriving here) and every time I’d think:  when I’m a grown-up, I’m going to get those framed. Anyway, the removal men arrived to move us to Singapore, and when we got to the room where the cardboard package was, I pointed it out and specifically – and prophetically, as it transpired – said: Don’t throw that out.    They promptly threw it out, the Man rescued it, and said, again (but louder):  DON’T THROW THAT OUT. 

They threw it out again. Properly.

There followed two years (almost) of arguing with the removal folk.  They offered us a paltry amount in compensation, we scorned them, and then we lost the train of thought and let the matter go.

Until last night.  Last night I got an email from my best friend’s sister asking if she could interview me for an article she’s doing for The Sunday Times (THE SUNDAY TIMES FFS), about our international move.  I said yes, and then a lightbulb went off in my head.

One cunning email to the movers later, a reference to not wishing to cause them embarrassment – and puff!  The Case of the Missing Artwork has been resolved.  To celebrate, the Man and I are going to dump our kids and go out art shopping tmrw.  Which just goes to show that the Media has its uses after all.  (Also – buy the Sunday Times next weekend.)

Can I mention the cats?  Here, watch this.  It’s the funniest thing I have seen in ages (with apologies for sending you to the Daily Mail site.  DO NOT LINGER).  (Also:  oh God, I have entered the internet realm  of cat videos.  What’s next?  Slippers?)

* It should go without saying that that is not me.  That, in fact, is not a woman who has ever had any children, let alone three.  Look at her shiny plump skin!  Her sparkling eyes!  Her fresh radiance!  NONE of that speaks of arse-wiping or under-the-breath-muttering or wiping porridge out of your hair at 4pm.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

I contemplate crime.

Sick children, GAH.  Back when I was smug about these things, and parents would excuse their exhaustion or grumpiness or absence (physical or emotional) on the grounds of “sick kids”, I’d inwardly roll my eyes and think what are you talking about?  SURELY having a sick child at home is one of the all time parenting delights? You get to spend the day with the love of your life, and they’re lying in bed, sleeping or quietly playing or whatever I seem to remember myself doing when I myself was the occasional sick child.  I honestly didn’t see how it could be bad.  Sure, I’d concede (if a gun was held to my head) – you might have to get up in the middle of the night to hold hair away from a vomiting face, or fetch a sick bowl or whatever – but then the next day, when you have nothing else to do AND THE SICK CHILD IS SLEEPING (remember?) – you can sleep too.  No?
I think my current situation is what’s known as “my comeuppance”.
Here’s a snapshot of me trying to get some work done today.
Me: Stares at laptop.
Me:  ohforfucksake Yes sweetheart, what is it?
Me:  Ok, just lie there for a few more minutes, it’s quiet time, remember!
(4 seconds pass)
Me: YES?
Baby:  Me need a poo poo!
Me:  Ok, just hold it in for one minute
Me:  ohforfucksake COMING
She finally fell asleep on top of me (oh yes, sick children do sleep during the day alright.  But only because they have been up ALL NIGHT) with 8 minutes to go before I had to collect the Girl from the school bus.  This was after 2 hours of me rubbing and stroking and cajoling and PLEADING as she wriggled on top of me. 
Anyway.  As I said, my comeuppance.
I am probably as bored talking, as you all are hearing, about the fucking cats, so I shall remain silent – except for this.  Brainwave today:  Sand.  Surely the most effective kitty litter there is?  And lying FREE for the taking just down the road... I wonder what the penalty is for theft of public property here.  Worth a few lashes trying, no?  Alternatively, I have found a kitty litter called "Who Cares" which amused me greatly, and was, I suspect, made with me in mind.  (Except for the small matter that I do care - very very much.)