Sunday, December 31, 2006

travelling shoes

The sales brought Molster the Shoe of Shoes. Well, Shoes of Shoes, as one wouldn’t be much cop, Mol being standard biped.

Shoes Supreme.

Mol adores her Shoes Supreme. When she wears them, and she is standing, or walking, and you are talking, and it’s about the wind or Isobel or chocolate shells or Tracey Beaker or Christmas lights or Michael Morpurgo and not at all about shoes, not a bit, her eyes will light from the outside corners in - just for a second, twinkle and gone - and you’ll know that without looking down she is remembering she has new shoes, Shoes of Shoes, Shoes Supreme.

They are a bit flappy at the back. She doesn’t mind at all. It won’t last a bit. She’ll grow into the slight flap. And out the other side.

I can wish nothing better for you than that you find your Shoes of Shoes. That they take you into 2007, and through it, and out the other side. And that when you are standing or walking, and talking about bills or work or food shopping or the broken washing machine or car repairs or frozen ipods, and not about shoes, not a bit, that your eyes will light from the outside corners in - just for a second, twinkle and gone - and you’ll remember you have Shoes Supreme. Without looking down.

molster's bat mobiles

Saturday, December 30, 2006


It doesn’t take long for a house to act unwanted. Three nights, two whole and two bit days.

The key is stiff to turn. December damp makes chill rooms chiller. Too much cat food smelling up the hall, cat resentment on the stairs.

It takes a sparked up boiler, a squirt, a scrub, a lap apiece for two cats, new lights you’d never choose but are glad to be given for a neglected living room window.

Still, I hope I hope next year will bring a new house to warm. This is not an easy country for that to happen. Still, I hope I hope.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


There are tucked away corners to England. Growly corners, glooming with consistent family misunderstanding, tooth-singingly tense with purpose.

Here foreign is fearful. Unless it's Italian food. Here you’ll find no net access, no dial-up compatible phone line, no hope.

East Anglia has the grandest swoops of skies in the UK - imagine the dark force of will necessary to keep everything in such bad, bad light.

Back Saturday.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Late last night I was caught by what has caught everyone. Or will catch everyone. I’ve been assimilated, deleted, made like them. Resistance is useless. Futile.

My brain has swollen, pulsing and vague, my head is a foreign place. My limbs are stiff, my voice is altered, I feel squeezed all over.


I’m seeing double, treble, oodles.


Gareth feels similar, but with more wind

It's Alive! 3

Monday, December 25, 2006


Merry Christmas!

A very merry Christmas! God bless us evr’y one

Merry Christmas!


James Brown! Ow!

James Brown - Ow!

James Brown OW!

JAMES BROWN! Eh?.. Oh … Ow!

Picking aromatics for the cavity this morning, a V formation passed over my head. I called out Gareth, come quick:

Oh look, there’s a gap.

Turkey next year. Or chicken. Or nut stuff en croute.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

sinister santa

From Cameroon to Nigeria in five minutes. That’s not bad, not bad at all. You can tell the fog’s cleared up.

Five minutes is the time it takes for Gareth to supervise Zig arranging a carrot and a mince pie on a small plate, and for Mol to measure marsala into a sherry glass. I considered the level before saying I felt the man in red might appreciate a little more, just a drop, up, up, woah.

Mol made loud comment, as they left for bed with A Nightmare Before Christmas and a long wait til morning, that she’s left the glass left handed because that might make it easier for, um, him.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

seemed like a good idea at the time

Between the bedroom and the bathroom I had an idea of what to write today.

It was Christmas, but wasn’t a spiky holly idea, all prickles and hoopla. It wasn’t a bauble, a small planet of sparkle and potential shatter. It wasn’t a present, a past, a virgin birth, or a polite pagan throat-clearing from under the hedgerow.

It had solidity and the fruity, slightly boozy bulk of my Christmas cake. I knew it as I know my cake, as something I’ve mixed and baked and fed brandy and painted with apricot jam and smothered in marzipan and beaten the eggs and sifted in the icing sugar to dollop and swirl the royal icing and swoop over a final, edible silver dust. Like my cake, my idea was made through formulae from the inside out over weeks; but it wasn’t round and wasn’t iced, however, it felt white on the outside. It was a bit of a cube, squashed a bit flatter, with the corners rounded. A hard caramel. Sucked a bit.

It referenced something, or reflected something, which was its own shape, a darker shadow it overlapped. A fourth year pencil still life. The year you are given charcoal and learn about drawing the shape around the thing, not the thing itself.

That’s about all I remember about my idea of what to write. I had the idea, liked the shape; liked that it was contained, and moved on to have a shower, clean the loo.

Friday, December 22, 2006

and geese

Geese can also be white.

And raised free-range, slaughtered, gutted, wrapped, frozen, exported, imported, bought, and recently removed from the bottom of my freezer for three days slow thaw in a cold shed.

All those food miles. Would have been simpler to wait for the bird to fly over my house and thwock it with a catapult. Yeah, I know, the odds, but still.

I’ve never cooked a goose before. I’ve never tasted goose. I’ve talked to geese; I’ve fed geese; I’ve been seduced by their soft honks, and a little intimidated by their comeanavagoifyathinkyoureardenough sideways eye.

What do I know about a goose? I know it has a large cavity and a lot - an awful lot - of fat. All the better to float on water, keep warm, and crisp up roast potatoes.

I hope it’ll not be another rabbit. It seemed at the time like a great idea to buy a rabbit. For a stew. Cheap wartime food: plump, plentiful pot fodder my mum would snare. I lopped (arf. oh dear) it into bunny chunks, browned it and chucked it in a pot with gubbins enough for a darkly rich, delicious stew. All went well and lips were smacked until I dug round under a potato and pulled out a delicate, exquisitely sculpted fan shaped bone. The bunny’s shoulder blade. I wasn’t hungry anymore.

I hope the goose will not be another rabbit. I rapped my knuckles tentatively on its frozen breast and held my ear close enough to its bulk to chill my sleepers.

There was no one home.

Three days.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

planes trains and automobiles and popping to asda on the way back for bread, milk, sprouts, and double cream

When they said white why did I think they meant snow? Lots of stuff is or can be white: vests, towels, tiles, tic tacs, shake n vac, Major Tommy Fuckwit, his brother Big Dave, a single disconcerting pubic hair, fog.

Fog has been very white around here. London (down and across a couple of hundred miles) is even whiter, so says the news. So very white that many, many aeroplanes are staying on the ground, resting their wings, the better for their pilots and attendants to wrap up warm and run outside, all excited like, to build a Fogman and have a rowdy fogball fight.

Gareth is usually in Capital City for a block of days every week. This week was a last desperate grab at leave owing, consequently, he just had to go down on Monday, so flew. Easy: now with added peasy. So much easy and peasy, when the inevitable, unmissable meetings coughed politely and tapped him on the shoulder it didn’t seem too much of a pain to ask his leave to hooch up a tad between Wednesday and Friday.

Until Christmas tried so very hard to be white. It does so like to please. Plans changed, and all of a suddenly we remember just how very far a mile is. Plane miles and train miles, the difference is the snuggling on the sofa with too much ginger wine and the Father Ted Christmas Special, and feck arse nuns, a tradition is a tradition.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

i do enjoy a traditional carol service

You know, the kind where you all squish - just - into the church, and affectionately bitch about the girl who grabbed the semi-solo, until her mum squeezes in beside you and you smile and hallooo and change the subject to Marks and Spencer’s turkey collection allocation slots.

Where you hope that the flu relief capsules kick in before you sneeze into the hair of the boy in front, and drip snot - just a drop - onto your carol sheet.

Where you wink at Joseph as he grand entrances next to your aisle seat, to have the step-dad of Jesus stick out his tongue - just the tip - in et tu response.

Where a shepherd with sheep - just the one - focuses intently on his grand entrance, all the better to miss his mum’s wink.

Where a young girl again fights valiantly - just a bit - with the descant, and her mum sings out loud and low in hope that just one girl - just one - might understand that singing does not have to be high and that leaving the high singing to the skylark might be a good idea if you feel yourself to be a warm-throated I dunno owl or something.

Where you don’t Hands Together And Eyes Closed, with a zigzag - just a frissant - of imprinted primary school rebellion, because this is Solstice and this is Saturnalia and who apart from Monty Python says the Son of Man, Son of God’s sun’s in Capricorn anyway, dammit.

Where two adults and two kids in different parts of the church wiggle their hips - just an inch , one two three, left right left - at the very end of Oh Come All Ye Faithful cos a chap in a large papier mache head once sung it as a cha cha cha.

Chrihiiist The Lord, cha cha cha.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

face the music

Eee, but the shops were full of shite today. They inserted the IV into my Egg card somewhere at the bottom of Market Street, and Their big fat finger hovered over a big threatening button labelled Suck.

So I moved quick and fast and fleet of foot, and found economy shower gel, and enjoyed a rare non-economy of time with Gareth. Over an economy lunch.

I’ve bought all my pressies before today. I have all my pressies. My pressies are in the building.

But still, the lure, the glister, the twinkle.

I was sucked - sucked, I tell you - from the German market on St Peter’s Square, up and into the Town Hall. Case after case of jewellery. 'Designer' jewellery.

Impractical, ill-conceived tat, and all wholly overpriced.

But still, the lure, the glister, the twinkle.

Is the lure of the worm on the hook its glister and twinkle? I did not fall flopping and flubbering from the net to the deck. I was not bashed on the head and stuffed in ice. I was not sold and gutted and battered and fried. I have no earrings.

Tucked politely into a window space behind regimented trawlers of the luring the glistering the twinkling the ill-conceived the wholly overpriced, I met Barbirolli in tryptych, and was redeemed.

That'll be three of your finest Father Christmas hats, please, shopkeep.






Monday, December 18, 2006

my joy to the world

This will be my eleventh Christmas with the good lady Molster. Twelfth, if you count the year I turned down mincepies in favour of thick marmite on a coconut macaroon.

She was my first Happy in Christmas.

She flash floods generosity.
She organises her Christmas cards in piles to be strung.
She gives of the Christmas tin of Roses, with the faith she’ll receive a caramel barrel in turn.
She asks for paper, scissors, sellotape, and ten minutes of secret space.
She nods one deliberate nod, lips pursed, when I tell her and Zig their grandad will pick them up after school, as her dad and I will be on important business helping a beardy bloke in red.
She keeps her disbelief to herself in front of her little brother.
She delegates and supervises decorating the kids’ two foot purple tree; the one with the feather fluffy fairy lights: squeezing on baubles enough for a ten foot tree through act of will and an askance glance of pity at elegant sufficiency.
She fights with the descant in Ding Dong Merrily, and grimaces for the camera.

Christmas is safe with our Mol.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

christmas prescience

This snowman was bubble wrapped at the bottom of deccie box two. It came back from school with Zig two years ago. It would be another two months before he saw Doctor Who.

christmas prescience

Genetic memory. Timelord as archetype.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I’d be buggered in the Southern hemisphere. Winter needs a celebration. Hang on, how cold is Italy this time of year? I somehow doubt the chariot DUIs and turkey pizza dinners of Saturnalia would have had snow on snow, snohoho on snow. But isn’t that the joy of glass upon glass (glahahass upon glass) of Christmas cava? All your seasonal icons get in a muddle and it’s pulling them out of your brain through your mouth in a soggy, glorious tumble of ubertinsel that you realise. Damn. The bleak midwinter is made to party.

Or to drink glahahass upon glass of cava while putting up the deccies and voting for Leona and pretending you have a life and are invited to the sort of parties that bleak midwinters pimp.

Friday, December 15, 2006

stick it to the man

And the teachers have ideas. And then all the teachers talk to Mr C about their ideas. And they all mix up their ideas. And that’s a. What’s that called? A democracy.

Top one, Zig. And have you done who decides which ideas are done how, when, and to or for whom?

The word for tomorrow is autocracy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Gareth took a fisheye lomo shot of my feet. These feet have had quite a few Flickr views, a couple of comments - from foot fans, I assume - and a goodly Autumn run in a Paris department store. For black socks. Which I wasn’t wearing. Right now I’m wearing dark blue socks with bright blue toe and heel. Just so you know. Oh, how I dream of one day owning black socks. They used my feet to pimp their product and didn't send me a sample. I'm glad to say the same of the people who left the Flickr comments.

Gareth and I are having a teeny domestic rumble about who took the shot of Oscar Pistorius:

Fastest man in the world on no legs.

which has about fifty Flickr views less than the feet. Rock paper scissors.

You know what they say about big feet?

Searching for my feet found Zig’s foot:

smallest foot

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

prima materia

Take an Open Day in a High School with cardboard corridors and pupils who slam doors and startle with a grin.

Shake over the promise of a large budget for a refurb rebuild. Add a generous pinch of extra budget for an autism department.

Stir thoroughly with a physiotherapist who only seems to want to talk to your son’s LSA, not to the mum.

Fold in a prospectus, unfold at the SENCO’s name.

Break the ice with a phonecall. Dig out a pair of trousers that aren’t denim.

Shatter the nerves with a first day.

Take a seat next to a sealed alembic.



Tuesday, December 12, 2006

virgo midheaven

Will I ever feel useful? Will I ever feel of use?

Probably not, yet there’s this queasy compulsion to keep trying.

One day. Yes! We could do with you. You are the very person. We have the very thing.

A little thing. That I do. That I can do. Well.

Monday, December 11, 2006

could try harder

We don’t send holiday letters. People we know or know of, who by association or accusation are etched into my in-head Christmas card list, can assess our progress through this year’s children’s drawings.

Because what’s the use of keeping children if they don’t scribble something mewlingly festive in felt tip, which the parent can grab by the scruff, shake, and scan? Before stuffing in a sack and drowning in the waterbutt.

Here, goes the printer: Here, have many, many mewling festive scribblings. Splurge goes the pritstick. Hah. Instant xmas art no one dare criticise because. It. Has. Been. Done. By. Children.

Genius. And then, because I loathe everyone on my Christmas card list who cares for the state of their carpets, I bring out the PVA and add glitter.



Sunday, December 10, 2006


Nanna would make my stocking and Grandad would watch and pass comment and humbugs. Sweets, puzzles, plastic toys, marbles, bubbles, balls, and comics, wrapped and partially peeking from the skinniest of paper. The satsuma would’ve been in the toe, only the stocking always became a carrier bag through necessity.

Nanna died three years ago, Grandad soon after. I stumbled. Today we’ve collected sweets, puzzles, plastic toys, bubbles, balls, party poppers. We’ve wrapped them, partially peeking through the skinniest of paper. We’ve loaded them into a Rudolph stocking, the toe lumpy stuffed with chocolate coins.

Tomorrow I’ll post it down the country until it nearly hits the bottom. To Aunty Maz - Nanna and Grandad’s daughter. When I stumbled she fell splat on her face. A satsuma would go squidgy and smell.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

piss cat

I have a cat I would love. I have a cat I would love if once every six weeks or so he didn’t forget the catflap, raise his tail and quiver any interior piece of house he happened against. He truly is a cat of cats. He is curled into my legs every morning and loathes my laptop because he is my laptop. He is fluffy, white, a scrap of scrawn with one cat coloured eye and one blue. He makes me jump. I would love him.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

mouthful of chips

This evening Mol told me she had to dress scruffy as they were having a Tramp Supper at Guides. She didn’t have to bother with a dirty face or anything, she said, just scruffy clothes.

I was utterly, utterly thrown.

I nudged Mol to Guideswise when her Brownie trousers started to skim her ankles and she ran out of badge space on her gilet. I thought it would help encourage independenceyetfunctioningaspartofateam, social responsibility, and an excuse to dawdle over a late supper and watch Catherine Tate when she got home.

Now it seems I can add hypothermia, malnourishment, mental illness, addiction, and prostitution to the Big Guides List of pre-11 Life Experiences. Oh, and a knack for rooting McD remains from bins, snarfing chips off the pavement, and acquisition and care of a dog on a rope.

But that’s okay! We’re not talking about homelessness here, chaps, we’re talking about Tramps: happy fellas with a beard and a bottle, a ruddy glow and a hearty high ho silver.

Either that or I was expected to send her in a red latex mini and a pair of high heels, and expect her home complete with a scarlet rimmed dogend and a broken heart of cynicism.

I hope to fuck they have a subtext here.

In other news, Zig’s class had a dentist in to talk teeth today. He solemnly explained that he should not rinse after brushing as it removes the floorboard.


No, mum: floorboard.

eta, she came home:

Sooo, what did you learn about homelessness?


Like what?

That there are err three hundred and eighty thousand people homeless … in our country

Oh yeah! we ate chips.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Nigella is batting at the camera and doing Christmas. She swoon voiced Women’s Hour last week, with how It Was Filmed in July But That Was Okay As Her Grandmother Always Had A Second Christmas In The Summer Because She Liked The Whole Christmas Thing So Much, so that’s all right.

That steeped, liqueured, glut stuffed, whipped, creamed, cinched, gravadlax dulcet dominatrix act she pulls is so seductively compulsive I can almost forgive her for only ever having given me one recipe that works.

The One Nigella Recipe That Works (For Me)
(and it’s Christmassy. Brucey Bonus).
Iced Rum Sauce
300ml double cream, 2 large egg yolks, 2 tablespoons golden syrup, 2 or so tablespoons dark rum, small sack of crack*.
Beat the cream until stiff and the yolks until frothy. Yeah, baby. Keep beating those frothy eggs and splunge in the syrup and the rum. Fold into the stiff cream, plurup and dollollop into an airtight container. Stuff into the freezer. Pull out about half an hour before money shot onto hot pud. Or do as I do and tease it from the freezer spoon by hard spoon.

*Optional, but advisable for the Nigella wide-eyed, Oh Big Boy Oh Oh OH glaze.

Pickles! Must buy pickles.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


The Wash of the Wash, Cut and Blow includes a deep down deep circle-finger scalp massage.

Every time I forget until I’m there, leant back in the chair, washed warm and sudsy. Then press, massage, soothe, relax.

Around and around. Press. Massage. Soothe. Relax.

Neck tightens. Jaws clench. Nails dint white crescents into the palms. Insides clench and screech

Get off. Get off. Get off.

I tip.

Monday, December 04, 2006

once upon a time in the m.e.n arena

Glowsticks come in blue, yellow, orange, green and red. I found this out this evening. Oh, and purple. They also come in purple.

I also found out that pissing against the wind is giving out six thousand assorted glowsticks to six thousand assorted children aged seven to eleven - who are the act not the audience, by the way - and asking them not to snap and wave them until the Morricone world premiere - the penultimate sing song of a two hour concert.

Not that I snapped my glowstick (red) as soon as the lights went down and waved it like the buggery, or anything.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

long-leggety beasties

Mum, is it the bit where Charlotte tells Wilbur, In a day or two I'll be dead?

No Mol, it’s not that bit.


Mum, is it, No one was with her when she died?

Yes Mol, that’s the bit.

Does it still make you feel dead upset when you read it?

Yes Mol. Dead Upset.

Oh. Ohhh.


Saturday, December 02, 2006


Does European cinema have all the bad jumpers? Manchester tried for a few today. Batwings of solid, striplit colour. Half-arsed, half-hearted doodle of a golfing pattern turned retro chic £29.99 desirable (six quid in Primark). But they are half-arsed half-hearted. The full throated unabashed bellow of bad jumper belongs to European cinema. As is and ever was. Time without end.

Friday, December 01, 2006

thing that go bump

At nine at night on a Friday we sit in a row on the sofa. At nine at night on a Friday I realise I have two arms because I have two kids; I have two kids because I have two arms. Whichever, whatever, strike and reverse. Each kid gets an arm and we all get Most Haunted. Green night vision faces with wide, bright pupils, and never a free arm with a free hand for my wine glass.