Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's Coming Home

I was out in the garden super-early this morning and I was thrilled. Yes, thrilled. Do you know when the weather is turning, usually for the worse, and you feel and smell new air? I swear I caught a first whiff of, dare I say it, autumn. But it isn't a first sign actually, as the other day I was driving through some trees and I noted many little yellow leaves wafting in the wind and landing on the road. My heart skipped a beat; could this be it?! It has begun already, hurrah!

The result of this slow-but-steady seasonal change is two-fold: I've proceeded really nicely on the work I am doing, after a June which turned out to be pretty much a total write-off, and I have paused to consider how incredibly fast this year has zoomed past me. I know that it ain't over yet for a really good stretch, but there is something of an enormous shift within oneself when certain dates are coming up and one realises that, yet again, life is skipping along at a million miles an hour as we pant and shout in its wake: 'Wait! Wait for me! I am coming too!'.

I know why I feel this way. My birthday is coming up in September, in fact, at the very beginning, on the very first day, and there is nothing I like more than it (well, Christmas, but if we discount Christmas then there really is nothing I like more than my birthday). And the very odd realisation, when I look at pics from birthdays past, is that I haven't changed that much at all. Reasons to rejoice you will think? I guess so and yet it seems to me that, not having changed that much, makes me feel stuck and muddled in The Same, whatever I perceive that to be, with all the dangers inherent to that thought.

Today the Dyson doctor is coming. On Friday the cable detached itself from the machine as I was using it and a Mighty Pow at full 240v force left a burn in the floor as I picked it up, surveyed the sizzling end and realised that I got really lucky. I may not have died (wouldn't want to try it, mind you), but I could have ended up with a zinged foot. So why telling you this? Because the last time the Dyson doctor came over was two years ago. Two years. And, no kidding, it feels like five minutes ago.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Rick doesn't like coffee very much. He particularly dislikes coffee puddings and coffee ice-cream, which is the reason why I very, very rarely make tiramisù, as I explained to you here. But then on Friday I thought that perhaps I could make a hybrid version of it, a nice, cold, no-bake pudding that would be just as nice but contain no coffee.

Hence I followed my own recipe, as linked to above, but substituted vanilla Rooibos tea for coffee. One word of caution if you try this one out (maybe you want to feed a tiramisù-looking thing to the kids, minus the coffee): you need to dip the savoiardi in the tea twice as fast. I have found that their tendency was to suck up more liquid and to become disgustingly soggy, something that you really do not want to have when covered in that beautiful whipped cream that you make with eggs, sugar and mascarpone.

So it may not quite pick you right up when made with tea, but it's a very acceptable sweet all the same.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I consider myself remakably bad at getting things done. Yes, that’s exactly what I said. I am aware that this may seem an odd thing to say, especially for one who brags about writing, cooking, knitting, sewing, walking in parks and whatnot, but the sad truth is, I never feel on top of things. I am in constant catch-up mode. I’ve been in catch-up mode since I finished my first degree, when days stretched empty and sweet ahead of me. Oh if only they could have stayed that way. Life, real life, is hideous.

I’ve never felt so disastrously behind as I have over the past four weeks. I know exactly what stopped my progress which, at the time, was chugging along quite smoothly, if only ever slightly super-slow on the occasional bend; the weather did. See? I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sit here and update this diary without mentioning the weather. So, the weather did. It was only on Sunday that my bedroom started feeling like a bedroom again and not the stifling greenhouse that it had been up until then.

But yesterday morning, when I sat down detrmined to list all that needs doing, all that needs catching up on and all of the missed deadlines, I felt tears pricking my eyes. God I want this stuggle to be over so badly. Not life itself, no, just these never-ending pressures that have squashed me to the ground and then stuck a fork in my back ever since I took my first steps into the world of work.

I haven’t been serene for a very long time and I just cannot wait for the day when I won’t have to write yet another meaningless list which, in fact, is not an organised step-by-step solution but a monument to failure, there, in black or white (or blue and white, as is the case with me). But there is a plus point today: as it’s cloudy and only +15C outside, it means that I can start making cakes again. Or at least, I would if I had bought the eggs which, I am sure, I must have written down in some other damn list I have yet to work through.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hello July

At the beginning of last week the weather changed, by which I mean the temperature dropped enough for my bedroom to shift from furnace to open plan pottery studio in the country. Slowly, very, very slowly, I started to return to normality even though I still find this seemingly never-ending stretch of dry weather fascinating. As you can see, I mention it every time I write.

When I got up yesterday morning, however, not only was it sensibly cooler than the previous week, it was also very windy and I just adore windy days, be these by the sea, in the country or in the city. Within five minutes my room smelt clean and fresh and ready to start the day and I myself felt just like that. Except I attempted a home-made coffee which, as per usual, ended up down the sink accompanied by plentiful curses.

Have I ever told you that going out for a decent cup of coffee annoys me immensely? I have three stove-top coffee makers (make that four if we include the Bialetti’s Mukka) and not one, not one, makes one half-decent cup of coffee. Still, I persist. Still, I disgust myself. Still, I try time after time. Narky and pissed off, I got into the Shaguar at 1 pm and went to Starbucks.

I spent today planning because, try as I did try, the past three weeks have been shockingly un-profitable. I have progressed at less than snail’s pace and this morning I found myself with a list of stuff that run over two pages. Odd as it sounded when I used to work as a management consultant, this morning I really did feel there is some merit in planning the plan, especially when everything is completely, for lack of a better description, out of control.

I have short stories to critique and edit, I have one proposal to finish, one 20,000-word piece to write, 300 poems to edit and turn into proofs, three writing appraisals to write and, for fuck’s sake, I’ll stop right here. And of course, July has just started and the World Cup is coming to an end. Gosh, I already miss it. There is something rather reassuring about the flock of early-stage games that fill up our screens for the first two weeks. Ah, yes, who is playing today? Now we’re down to the last four matches and then it’s over for another four years. But you know how it goes... it’s July already... in five minutes’ time it will be 2014.
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