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Handbags, gladrags and cheesecake Day - The Monkey Files

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August 29th, 2006

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08:32 am - Handbags, gladrags and cheesecake Day
So there I was, running down the high street on Bank Holiday Monday with a cheesecake in one hand and handbag in the other. It had been a culinary disaster on an epic scale, considering I had decided to play safe by creating a pudding I have created many times before without major incident. Here you are, Lily’s easy peasy method for how not to create a lemon meringue pie in 3 hours:

· Assemble ingredients and realise that you have no sugar.
· Make errand to the supermarket through bank holiday traffic to fetch sugar.
· Roll out pastry and stun yourself with how well it has gone into its dish.
· Realise that lemons would be a vital ingredient for said lemon meringue and make second errand to the supermarket through bank holiday traffic.
· Heat the lemon goo too quickly so that it doesn’t thicken.
· Flush said goo down the toilet, only to watch it miraculously thicken and block the toilet.
· Heat a second batch of lemon goo to a passable turgidity and spread onto the pastry.
· Feeling like you’re now on the up, take a treasured bowl out of the cupboard in such an upbeat manner that it flies out of your hand and smashes.
· Create a superb meringue and top the lemon goo and pastry.
· Realise that you have not baked the pastry prior to filling the pie, thus rendering the masterpiece inedible.
· Make third errand to the supermarket through bank holiday traffic to fetch bought cheesecake.

Et voila mes amis! Une catastrophe idiotique, n’est pas? Quelle blague! Certainement, j’ai ri beaucoup et toutes les mouches sur les murs avaient mouri de rire aussi.

My quasi-infuriated outburst at the telly on Saturday night sums up rather neatly how intelligent a weekend I had: “I don’t need subtitles; I can read!” Tante pis, even an IQ of 140 needs a holiday sometimes…

Dizzy! I’m so dizzy my head is spinning… Maybe going on a big wheel didn’t help. After astounding my friends with a gourmet Italian surprise on Saturday (two meat, two cheese, mushroom and tomato pasta bake followed by just one Cornetto (each)- woo!), we went for a rather civilised postprandial potter in Windsor. We saw the castle- not seeing the World’s largest castle would be quite an oversight!- Nell Gwyn’s house, the Guildhall (where Prince Charles and Elton John got married, though rather boringly not to each other), the Crooked House and lots of ecstatic Japanese tourists. The good sheriff of Windsor (or something) has also put up a mini London Eye for the summer season, so we (and any budding terrorists) were able to survey Windsor in all its ye olde splendour from above. Gail and I were a little unnerved, being not so fond of heights, but it was great fun.

I had a rather comedic answer to prayer on Sunday. I prayed on Saturday night that I would sleep better, after a rough night on Friday and woke up on Sunday highly refreshed… at 10:30! This meant I arrived at church 15 minutes late in a greasy haired fluster spluttering, “I’m late, but God was to blame!” There is so much love in that church. That was possibly the cheesiest thing I have written this year, but once again tante pis. The vicar talked about how you can feel like you don’t fit in with other Christians and how hard it can be to forgive other Christians. Lily wept. A lady who I hadn’t spoken to previously came and prayed with me and made a loose invite to dinner one day. The vicar also wants to come round to my house and talk to me one evening, which is even more daunting. I prayed with the lady that I wouldn’t be defensive and that God would show me if this was the right church and how best I could serve Him. I really want to make a concerted effort to try and settle in this town and I know I won’t do that without a church in which I can be active and feel at home. I mean this much more as an onus on myself than the church. This weekend I’ve also been praying and meditating on how I can be kinder to Ma and Pa when they return from their adventure in Derbyshire. They seem almost scared of me recently and I’m not having that; I’m not going back to being hard-hearted and I’m not having them walk on eggshells in their own house. It was really refreshing and fun to have my own space for once, but I did miss them and I do feel like I’ve been unnecessarily mardy recently. This is especially not clever in the week before my birthday, but I promise that is not the principle reason for my concern!

As a young, single woman it is a little cretinous for me to comment on parenting related matters. However, I will admit to watching an intriguing programme on telly last night about attached parenting and being horrified and grossly entertained all at once. The gist of this phenomenon, as passionately explained by a family from Northumberland, is that by allowing your child to breastfeed until primary school age they will have the maturity and independence to decide for themselves whether to take academic exams. “Tigers learn to hunt through play and children can learn everything they need in the same way”. Flawless logic that in 2006, mmm… Cots, highchairs and pushchairs are incarcerating, from birth children can be won over through reasoning and persuasion and school is ‘not fun’ and must therefore be avoided on pain of death. I worried in equal measures for both child and mother (because it was predominantly female extremists) upon the child reaching adulthood; the child facing independence after not having been separate from the mother for more than two minutes in their entire life and the mother with no interests or focus beyond her child facing a bottomless void of pointlessness upon the child leaving home. It would be interesting, if distastefully voyeuristic, for the programme to do one of those ‘Seven Up’ series of sequels.

At the opposite extreme from attached parenting, I had a real life convo at the weekend with a forty-something guy about parenting. I’m not going to say much, merely quote the following: “we realised we weren’t doing anything in the evenings except having dinner and going to bed early. Having kids have given us something to do in between dinner and bed.” Ever heard of bingo? I promise you, this guy was utterly serious. Praise God for granting me parents with an untameable sense of happy medium- they let me run wild, but they were there for me 24/7 not just postprandial (hey twice in one rant!). For all their crazy proclamations, my parents suddenly seem quite rational. I’m not going to rage about love, because I’m sure both the real life convo guy and the attached parents love their kids deeply. For the record though, in 99% of the situations I have encountered, I would choose my parents’ methods of showing parental love over what I have seen in and learnt about other parents.

It was all a bit parental yesterday; I went to a barbecue at my friend Andrea’s house accompanied by my sprint-finish cheesecake (see above). Lots of the other invitees had small children with them, which is marginally bewildering initially in that I am always consumed by a dread that they might expect me to interact with said small children and enthuse about their most basic functions (kicking legs, pooing etc.). Sure enough, Barnabas (age 2) decided my head and boobs would make a great highway for his truck and Seth (age 3) gave me an incomprehensible but lengthy speech and then stood there looking expectant for a good 30 seconds. I sometimes feel like telling parents that cuteness is a subjective thing, but then as this crossed my mind yesterday, a strange and troubling thing happened. I was left holding baby Jacob whilst his mother hunted toy cars in the shrubby jungle and I actually felt pangs of gooey sentiment towards this little chap. He really was wonderful, not just because he refrained from screaming and ripping my earrings out of my ears, but in the way he looked up at me all big trusting eyes and contentedness. This was the utopian image of motherhood as fun and affecting that is so ensnaring to teenage girls and forty-somethings with postprandial boredom. Now I get it!

I had a good chat with Steve last night about parenty things, too. In response to his concerns about me minding him having the kids around when I visit, I made the bold statement that his children are part of him so part of being with him is being with them. I do believe I have to stick with that. I would, in honesty, rather just have time with him by ourselves but he should never feel like he has to choose between seeing his kids and seeing me. That would be domineering and freakish; I should support him in his priority of being a dad, because I am proud of the increasing effort he’s been putting in during the time I have known him.

I phoned my esteemed friend Paddy to warn him of my impending visit Oop Norf. He gave me a briefing on the latest scandals- engagements, break ups, elopements, other departures, mayoral diddling, mid-life crises etc- and commented that he was about the only one left who was sane. Then he proceeded to tell me that two friends had had a petty argument, Wol had pushed over the female person involved in the argument and Paddy had called the police to charge Wol with assault. In short, saying that you are the only sane person in town after deliberately getting your friend a criminal record seems a little risible to me, not that I wish to cast stones…

I watched several films at the weekend, which I do if I’m home alone. As well as the old favourites of O Brother Where Art Thou? and Watership Down, I can thoroughly recommend that you watch Life is Beautiful. Without a doubt, it is the best film of which I have had an inaugural viewing this year. I felt a bit defeatist at first, because it was in Italian with English subtitles flashing up too fast to read, but I am so glad I persevered. If you want to see a quirky, refreshing and insightful take on human life and resilience to adversity, go and rent this film. Absolute brilliance.
Current Mood: hyperbusy, dizzy and whizzy

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