Monday, October 05, 2015

The Date Approaches

Yes, adoring readers and/or fans, I will be leaving Montreal forever* on the 7th November or thereabouts. Then on the 16th November I start what is known in some circles as "a new job".  What is exciting about it is that it is: 

1.    not what I was expecting to do at all, not in a million years
2.    not what I have done for the last nearly 30 years, but is in the same 'field' (i.e., to do with the people without doing the actual work)
3.    something all my friends have gone HA HA HA OF COURSE why didn't we think of that 
4.    in London so can see all oldest friends at drop of hat and 40 quid Uber fare to East London
5.  allows a person to remain non-working in their heart.

I won't tell you what it is but you can try and guess if you like. Point (3) may give you some clues. Suffice to say there will be a period of 'retraining' as I learn my new 'skillz' so I am not home and dry yet, not by any stretch of the imagination. In other news, items are as follows: 

Robin The Removal Man

Referred by friends with exacting standards and a lot of books, Robin the Removal Man is 71 and follows you round your house with a clipboard saying things like: 

  • Do you REALLY want to keep that? 
  • Are you SURE you have checked in all the drawers? 
  • What is in THAT BOX? 
  • And THE CAT?  Is it going too? 
  • Don't ship things JUST TO THROW THEM AWAY
  • You haven't got a WINE CELLAR you haven't told me about, have you? (Answer: why would you store it when you can drink it down glug glug)
He is ace. It is like having a very chatty uncle who knows more about moving than anyone else in the world. 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising

I spent c. $13 on this book having read an article about the author, a lady called Marie whose main hobby as a child was tidying up.  The book was a bit of a let-down as it contains lot of chat about socks having feelings and thanking your t-shirts but not many pictures.  

She has her own version of "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" which obvs we all know because we are not idiots. Hers is something to do with only keeping things that "spark joy", but by that definition I'd live in a house with nothing but bottles of Viejos Robles cornershop wine (c. $10), the veterinary pathologist to whom I am married, and back issues of Which? Magazine so you can ignore that, but I was very interested by the following pieces of information: 

Tidy up by category not by room.  This has really changed the way I do things. I hate tidying but it has become fun (that or I am actually losing my mind). For e.g.,  get ALL your clothes out from whatever room they are, lay them ALL out, and have a really good look. Then you can apply my WIP rules about getting rid:
  • you look like a twat in it
  • you actually really dislike wearing it
  • it doesn't fit
  • you have never worn it (e.g. 30 denier navy blue tights in a 3 pack from M&S 4 sizes too small)
  • you can't even imagine wearing it as a joke as part of a fancy-dress outfit in which you are being Betty Ford Clinic-era Liz Taylor OR a cheeky matelot OR a pumpkin
  • you haven't worn it since you last moved continents in 2006
  • it has cat wee on it.
(Do you have more rules? Do share. I think people are interested. I know I am.)

Fold that shit properly. This is the best bit. T-shirt video here. Do it. Fold your socks. If you do it that way already you are a better person than me, for realz.  And you will have loads more room in your drawers.

Do not categorize clothes that are a bit shit as 'loungewear' and keep them.  I can't remember what she says exactly but it's a very lady-like version of: "girlfriend, self-respect starts with not spending your life in baggy track pants and gigantic stained t-shirts with holes in - get some fucking pyjamas!".  She is right, with the exception of much-loved things that might be falling apart. But if you wouldn't have a drink with them it if it were a person, you can probably recycle it. 

Avoid 'storage solutions'. This is actually very true and gave me quite a shock.  Buying pretty boxes etc to store stuff in is expensive and is just a means of avoiding the real tidying and sorting. I have many boxes of such stuff, mainly full of coloured pencils and cards with cats on bought in a sale in Yorkshire in 1994. 

Renting A Flat In London

You do not need me to tell you that this is a joke. If you do not want to live in a flat full of depressed cockroaches with bloodstained sofas, you have to spend the equivalent of  $5,000 a month and that's with a 2 hour commute. On the other hand there's usually a Waitrose and/or a Gregg's within 5 miles, so it's worth it. 

That is the update for now. If you have any informations to share I am ready for them. Until then, I remain over-excited and unfocused, as if left alone in a Hula-Hoop factory overnight. 

Pip pip ! 


* excluding bi-annual visits to view mother-in-law and all Canadian friends

Monday, September 21, 2015

Things I Think About When I Think About Moving Back To England

Yes, adoring readers and/or fans, the moment is fast approaching.  Our multiple residences are for sale.  I have resigned and now work part-time, where my days divide up in the following ways:

Also, I have a cold - or is it a dust allergy, stirred up by moving piles of stuff in cupboards that have lain untouched for 7 years?  We may never know. In the meantime, I watch the Canadian dollar become weaker by the second (something to do with OPEC and the sands), the size of the house we can afford to live in shrink to 4 square feet, and the list of urgent matters in need of resolution grow.  For e.g.:

  1. Will my friends realise - when they are forced to see me more than once a year - that I am a crashing bore? 
  2. Has Canada - The Most Reasonable And Non-judgmental Country In The World - made me boring, or was I boring all along? Will anyone tell me if I am a bore? (This was Nancy Mitford's greatest fear so I am in OK company.)
  3. Where can I get some Dutch friends? Dutch people will always tell you the truth. A Dutch friend would tell me if I were boring.   (There is much to commend the Dutch.  A passion for the truth is one thing, along with great height, cycling proficiency, magnificent art, very good taste in lighting and excellent architecture. And also bitterballen.)
  4. What am I, an "ambitious lady" with a desire to have A REALLY GOOD POP AT IT and wear businesslike spectacles before becoming an overpaid consultant, or someone who seeks a simpler life involving entire afternoons on the sofa eating Hula-Hoops and watching Escape To The Country, interspersed with the odd bit of freelance for design agencies in the smaller centres of Hertfordshire?  
  5. Where does all the dust come from?
  6. Are those clothes moths or food moths? Both are fucking arseholes, but there's an outside chance they're neither.
  7. Will the cat survive the flight over? What if the heating breaks and the pilot doesn't turn round, as he did for this bulldog the other day
  8. Is Waitrose really that good? 
  9. Is it OK to say you really like Which? magazine
  10. Is it normal to lie in bed at night and think of marketing strategy for Which? magazine? 
  11. Is it OK to want to be  marketing director of Which? magazine? 
  12. How will I sort out my gas/heating/telephone/internet/TV/bank/mobile phone? 
It is very complicated. If there is anything else I should be worrying about - or if you have any answers to my questions - I would be grateful for all the words you can cram into the comments boxes with your tiny little fingers.  (Also, I have lost the header on my web-blog which is very vexing, as it featured a beautiful drawing of me at my desk drawn by Mr Dave Shelton. Keep an eye out. If you see it, let me know.)

Pip pip!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Brush Up Your French with The Daily Mail (Revised 2015)

Regular readers may be aware of my first brush with this book, published in 1931 (4th Edition 1937).  It has been very useful to me in the seven years  since I found it in a 'bazar' run by nuns, and many has been the time that have I been heard telling the greengrocer in almost perfect French that "I have a big order", or telling myself that I am "becoming stoutish". Why, only yesterday I asked my husband if he was "ending his toilet with a good brushing".  

But times change, and with that change comes the need to update the conversations that would be of  use to today's Daily Mail reader.    Therefore, armed with no more than a good look through the comments section of Mail Online* (and a perfectly bilingual husband), I give you: 

Essential Conversation Starters : taken from Brush Up Your French with The Daily Mail (2015 Version)

Anyone who thinks skateboarding in a city centre is acceptable needs psychological assessment.
Quelqu'un qui croit qu'il est acceptable de faire du skateboard dans un centre-ville aurait besoin d'un examen psychiatrique.

I would like a huge refund for all the years my BBC licence fee has been used to fill the bank accounts of numerous sex predators.
Je voudrais avoir un remboursement pour toutes les années ou ma contribution à la BBC a servi à remplir les comptes en banque de prédateurs sexuels.

This is what happened when labour opened floodgates to the world and European masses, 4 million and climbing.
Voilà ce qui c'est passé quand le parti travailliste a ouvert les vannes au monde et aux masses européennes, 4 millions et ça monte toujours.

That is why you should never listen to a liberal: no morals, no ethics and all politics.
Voilà pourquoi il ne faut jamais écouter un libéral: aucune morale, aucune éthique, c'est tout de la politique.

Is it me or does Kate always seem to wear that outfit (striped top, jeans and those shoes) when dressed casually?
Est-ce que je me trompe ou est-ce que Kate semble toujours porter cet ensemble (un dessus rayé, des jeans, et ces souliers) lorsqu'elle s'habille en décontracté ?

Soya products and things like Quorn and tofu aren't actually good for people and THAT needs exposing too.
Les produits du soja et des choses comme le Quorn et le tofu ne sont en fait pas bons pour la santé, et ceci aussi doit être rendu public.

Why don't she get a proper job like the rest of us have to.
Pourquoi ne se trouve-t-elle pas un vrai emploi, comme le reste du monde doit faire ?

We can only be grateful no same sex weddings to be endured - Downton is nice I think !
Nous ne pouvons qu'être reconnaissants qu'il n'y avait aucun marriage gai à subir - Downton est bien je crois !

Useful, non?

Pipe Pipe!


* I didn't put SIC throughout but you will see where I would have done.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I accidentally insult a Canadian

It is 5pm on the 8th May, and I am on the ferry that takes you to Toronto Island Airport.

Next to me is a man who looks like Bryan Adams. Scars, reddish hair, quite short. It can't be him because his suitcase is properly crap. Not "Tumi, darling, I've had it for YEARS"; more "I bought this at Birmingham airport because the other one broke on the bus". 

The ferry makes it across 10 feet of duck-infested water.  

Man (pleasantly Canadian):  Well, that was exciting. 
Me: I know. Do you need a little sit down? 
Man: I think I need to after that.  What did you think of the election result? 
Me (startled. Am I that obviously English?): Horrifying. 
Man: Wasn't it. 

We walk off the ferry and into the terminal. The man chats very knowledgeably about for e.g. UK foreign policy, death of NHS, fucking Tories, etc.  

Me: You know more about it than me. I've been here 8 years. 
Man: Well, I've lived in London for 25 years.
Me: Ooh! Where? 
Man: Chelsea. You know World's End? There. Anyway... bedroom tax ... hitting the people that need it the most ...  I don't know what to do about it... George Osborne ... awful ... 

This goes on for 4 minutes.  It is not Bryan Adams because there is NO WAY Bryan Adams would a) have a suitcase bought in an emergency situation in Birmingham Airport; b) be talking about bedroom tax to a stranger on a ferry.

I start impersonating George Osborne in order to join in. It is the best I can do. I am planning to make a topical joke, which I have been rehearsing in my head.

Me (in George Osborne voice): Well, speaking as a multi-billionaire ... 
Man (face falls, looks hurt): Well, I'm not sure what THAT has to do with it. 

We get to customs, and say goodbye. He waves. 

I Google Bryan Adams.   He has homes in Chelsea, London and Paris, France. 

Sorry, Bryan Adams.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Crash Bang Wallop

A very strange weekend last weekend. We walked past the old hospital on the way back from dinner, muttering about it being turned into "Flats for Twats (TM)", and the time we got lost in the corridors underneath it trying to find a cashpoint to pay the nuns.  Neither of us could remember the last time we'd been in hospital (me: wisdom teeth, 1991; him: thumb operation, 2003 or 4).

Two minutes later, JM twists his ankle in a pothole, falls over and swears a lot while clutching his leg and not crying. It isn't broken, but it is fucked. He drags it up the stairs home, is iced and raised and strapped and drugged, and goes to bed miserable. 

The next morning, I go to the shop to buy him a comic, a bun and a bandage.  Two minutes later, I am on my face, having twisted my ankle in a pothole.  Someone asks me if I am OK. I am, except there is blood coming out of my trousers and I feel a bit hot. 

I get back.  JM is now in the armchair looking at his laptop.  He has had an allergic reaction to his drugs, and his eye is swollen up. He cannot take any more painkillers. His leg is wrapped in ice in a leaky sandwich bag. The cat sits on his laptop. It is pitiful. 

Then I start puking.  I go very cold, then very hot, and it all shoots out.   It is quite exciting because I am genuinely incapacitated and can't stand up.   I drift in and out of sleep all day having a weird dream about Channing Tatum. 

Channing Tatum (wrapping his arms around me from behind): I'm putting my arms around you because I love you so much. 

Me: But Channing Tatum, you can't, I'm so old and so fat and I've got a thing that needs cutting off. I am not showing you that.  Or that come to think of it.  And definitely not that. 

Channing Tatum: I do not care. I know you don't believe me. But I am going to show you with my slow steady love that I love you. And your thing that needs cutting off. I would like to squidge it. 

Me (really wishing Channing Tatum would give over): Channing Tatum stop it.  

When I am not dreaming about Channing Tatum, I watch 2 episodes of Pappano's Classical Voices* and weep at story of Fritz Wunderlich falling off the stairs at a hunting lodge and dying.  I drink water and throw it up, drink water and sleep. JM limps about. We are still in our pyjamas, and stay in them until we go to work on Monday morning. 

We are OK now, apart from my scabs, my lack of 7lbs, and JM's bruises. In fact, we are so incredibly well that we spent the weekend shoving things in cupboards and making the house look like normal people live in it, because THE PHOTOGRAPHER IS COMING and it is going on the market.   (If anyone wants it, let me know. It will be perfect for you if you are looking for a house 45 minutes outside Montreal with a replica 16th French bread oven and a cellar big enough for 2 kayaks.)   

Yes. We really are moving - and to a place without potholes, too! I am so excited I am going to throw up.

(If anyone has any 'how to move from Canada to the UK or France' tips, do send them in. I did UK to Canada, and JM did US to Canada (twice), but we haven't been the other way yet.  If the tips are things like "drink some gin" and "relax it'll be fine", I'm in.)

Pip pip!


* I really love this programme. I don't know anything about opera or singing and now I know enough to go and find out more.  I'm going to write to Sir Antonio Pappano tomorrow to thank him and I'm pretty sure - judging by my relationship with C Tatum - that he'll write back.



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