Myself and Princess Waffle went to the les petits riens this morning to dispose of some items we are never going to use again (that 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of Van Gogh’s room at Arles – boy are we never going to do that again; my suede skirt that costs 20 euros to dry clean every time the Princess drools on it..). It’s a kind of junk shop and, since we were there, we had a wander round. The furniture there is very cheap and mostly a little unexciting, though there are sometines some very nice things. Now, the Waffle household does not need new furniture. In fact, we already have more than we need. I cannot therefore explain why I bought an antique sewing machine. I offer that it was very attractive and very cheap. It will look nice in the hall, really. No, of course, it doesn’t work and if it did, I wouldn’t know how to use it. It comes with its own table. When the nice people from the petits riens deliver I will post a photo. Of course, the photo won’t show the thing in our flat because the base is cast iron and it won’t fit in our tasteful, but teenchy, lift and the delivery men only deliver to the ground floor. With the best will in the world, I don’t think that Mr. Waffle and I will be strong enough to carry it up. And in my heart of hearts, I don’t really believe that Mr. Waffle will regard the addition of a sewing machine to our household goods with the best will in the world. Oh dear.
Had a somewhat trying time last night. We were out in the pub to celebrate the birth of a baby girl. The event was organised by the proud papa (Mr. Affable). Both parents are good friends of ours. When we arrived at the pub, it was to discover that, inter alia, Mr. Affable’s parents were both there, over from Cork for the week to meet the new grandchild. Now, his parents are very nice and everything but his father happens to be my first boss ever. I never really thought I would be good friends with one of Mr. Affable snr’s children but there you go. Life is weird. I suppose, we don’t have a lot in common, myself and Mr. A snr so he started asking me all about my career and how I had been getting on since I left his office 10 years ago. I feel he regards my current unemployment with mild disapproval. Perhaps that’s paranoia, maybe he was really thinking, why isn’t this woman talking about my grandchild, why is she bilging on about job hunting?
on 01 February 2004 at 01:38
on 05 February 2004 at 20:42
Babysitter arrives, am unready to depart yet updating blog. This is foolish. Quick question for my technically minded brethern (or indeed sistern) – can anyone tell me how to put up one of those vote things? You know, where you click a box for yes, no or maybe?? Thanks.
Over Christmas when I decided to drum up readership for my blog at home (and at this juncture, I would like to thank both of my loyal readers), my friend C… um, let’s call her Cara asked why on earth I would wish to broadcast my thoughts to the world in this way. I was a bit stumped and one of the answers I came up with (laugh if you will) was that I was attempting to address the gender imbalance on the internet. In fact, rampaging megolamania was the real reason but I thought that my sociological reason sounded better. She laughed uproariously. She was not convinced. And now that I’ve been blogging for a bit, neither am I.
I note that all of my favourite blogs fall into one or more of the following categories:
Female/Pregnant/Looking for work/Freelancing/Mothers
There are three exceptions: Pepys (but he’s dead), Locotes (he’s from Cork) and the Iranian guy (sort of fascinating in a look into another culture kind of way). And I suppose the Belgian interest category I’ve just started, but that’s a bit different because it’s my way of trying to find out about the country I live in.
Anyway, I’m getting to the point, do bear with me, is it that I am naturally drawn to weblogs which fall into these categories or is it that most of the blogs out there are written by people who are Female/Pregnant/Looking for work/Freelancing/Mothers? Does anybody know what the ratio of male to female blogs is? Does anyone except me care?
And in related gender stereotyping stuff; as you know, I am looking for a job, in what can only be called a desultory fashion. To be fair to me, and I am more than willing to do that, it is a bit hard because I’m overqualified for the entry level jobs that are advertised and I’m having difficulty trying to speak to the people who need to be convinced of my genius. The other day, instead of sending out CVs I read an article about how women are bad at networking to get jobs. Useful stuff, clearly. Wait, wait, I’m about to reach a conclusion, as you know my friend D..(shall we say Danuta?) was here the other day. Now, she was over to attend a meeting in her company’s Bxls’s office. Did it cross my mind to ask her whether there were vacancies in company X which has a significant presence in Belgium (as they would say themselves, I’m sure). No it did not. It did occur to her, sort of as an afterthought really, and she said, “you know, I know the personnel officer and I’m sure there are vacancies, would you be interested?” Well, yes, I suppose, I would. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. Is this mindset or stupidity? Answers on a postcard please… In the interim, think positive thoughts about Danuta to whom I am very grateful.
Finally, in matters unrelated to gender stereotyping, it snowed here last night and all around my part of Brussels looks absolutely beautiful. Took a number of pictures but they all turned out dreadfully so you will have to imagine how it looks. Princess is perplexed by snow. She put out her little hand to feel it and there was serious royal displeasure when it turned out to be both cold and wet.
on 29 January 2004 at 23:25
Thanks for placing my blog about Brussels in your favorites!
I hope you enjoy living here and I wish you good luck with the job research!
(and the gender imbalance is worth the fight.) (-_?)
on 30 January 2004 at 07:44
Salt and Paper
We went to the paediatrician on Monday.? Princess Waffle is 8 very heavy kilos and 70 cms. She is, you will all be delighted to hear, the picture of health. The paediatrician asked whether I had any questions. Note this conversation was in English.
Me – She likes to eat paper, is that normal?
Him – Um, no, not really that is quite unusual, why do you give her paper to eat?
Me – Well, we don’t give her paper, she just finds it and eats it.
Him – (Looking at me a bit oddly as though having paper lying round the house is a weird thing..) Does she like salt?
Me?- (thinking, does paper taste of salt?) Well, I don’t know really, she doesn’t eat a lot of salt.
Him – Long digression on why salt is a bad thing. But yes this pepper thing, it’s really unusual…
Me – No, no, not pepper, PAPER.
Him – Ah (dawning enlightment), yes that’s completely normal, newspaper is the worst because then their faces get all black.
Well that’s alright then.
Had a friend to stay from Ireland last night.? This morning she said “Oh, the baby’s drooling on you! Quick, quick, get a cloth.” I realised that my standards have gone screaming downhill. I never bother mopping up drool, I just let it dry naturally. I have stopped wearing black though. Drool shows on black.
Picture of Doggy to follow in due course over in photo section (await moment when Princess is sleeping with him). Anyone able to tell me where I might find a duplicate Doggy may get one, or possibly two sweeties. Fab new dragon photos will also follow. I’m sure that you’re on the edges of your seats out there.
on 29 January 2004 at 15:20
Religion and Doggy
Today the Waffle family decided to go to mass together. The journey was fraught with difficulty. Firstly, getting out of the house in time for 12.15 mass is, frankly, a struggle. 12.20 saw us circling the church looking for parking. Mr. Waffle noticed an ominous smell emanating from the back seat. Sure enough, the Princess had produced her statutory dirty nappy at difficult moment. Mr. Waffle nobly volunteered to drive her home and change her (this can be done in the car, but it’s quite nasty) and left me off to commune with my maker.
I realised, shortly after hopping out of the car, that I had left my wallet behind. The church is approached via a gauntlet of optimists wishing you a “bon dimanche” and holding out an array of styrofoam cups. I had no change. There was some unhappy muttering in the ranks but I reached the church unscathed. There was a special collection. It was for deprived children. The director of the charity was there to tell us about its founder (he saved Jewish children from the concentration camps during the war, was captured and tortured by the Gestapo but survived) and his legacy (children’s homes all over Belgium, good works etc.) and to ask for our support. The congregation opened their wallets. The air was full of the sound of crinkling notes (rather than the more normal clinking sounds that accompany the regular collection for church maintenance). I put my head in my handbag. There wasn’t even any change rolling round the bottom. I looked at the floor as the altar boy shoved the plate under my nose and my neighbours retrieved large denomination notes from their Gucci and Prada wallets (this is a very posh church…). All very dreadful. And I still had to face the styrofoam army on the way out.? Felt very bad.
Spent the afternoon wandering around the center trying to find a soft toy for the Princess. Not any old soft toy, you understand. As you know, our baby does not sleep through the night. However, on the plus side she goes to bed at 7.30 without a whimper. This is marvellous. We have dinner in peace, we read the papers and our books, we watch University Challenge. The reason for this bliss is the (imaginatively named) Doggy. We give her Doggy, she grabs his ear and closes her eyes. It’s a small miracle. But recently, we have begun to be haunted by the worry that she might lose Doggy (he travels with us when we go away). What would we do? You have no idea how sad you become when you have a small baby. We contacted the friends who had given us Doggy and asked where they got him. They were surprised and, I think, mildly gratified to discover that their gift had played such an important role in maintaining our sanity but, alas, had no very clear recollection of where they had bought Doggy. We followed their imprecise directions and found nothing except a large and, somewhat expensive, wooden dragon which the Princess enjoyed banging loudly on a cafe table. Not conducive to sleep then. The search for Doggy 2 continues.
on 26 January 2004 at 22:21
on 28 January 2004 at 14:42
on 28 January 2004 at 15:16
Mad, bad and dangerous to know
As you know, my brain has frazzled and I now only read children’s books. Slowly. Using my index finger and mouthing the words while frowning intently (actually the frowning intently bit is true – anyone for botox?).
Anyhow, I am reading “Maurice or The Fisher’s Cot” which is a recently discovered children’s story by Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame. A lot of the book is intro about the Shelleys and their friends. Poor old Mary Shelley had a miserable life. Consider the following from the introduction:
“Mary….was the child of …the philosopher and novelist William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, famous for her pioneering statement of women’s rights…the birth of the younger Mary killed her mother….When she was sixteen, Mary met…Shelley. He was only twenty-two, with a wife Harriet and a small daughter…Shelley and Mary eloped…leaving…a desperate Harriet, pregnant with her second child. [Mary’s] first child died… Mary’s stepsister, Claire Clairmont had become part of their household….Claire involved herself briefly with Byron and became pregnant by him [more of this later], but it was always Shelley who made himself responsible for her welfare, and many people believed that Mary and Claire shared his sexual attentions..
[I]n 1816 [Mary’s] half-sister Fanny…committed suicide…Shelley’s wife Harriet drowned herself… Shelley married Mary…in the hope of winning custody of his children by Harriet, but failed to do so. He and Mary left for Italy with their two children accompanied by Claire and her daughter by Byron, Allegra…their children died and Mary fell into deep depression”.
But that’s not all, wait until you hear what happened to poor little Allegra. Claire had given Allegra up to Byron (who was in Venice) believeing this to be in the child’s best interests. Allegra was “fifteen months old and never before parted from her mother”. Byron put her into the care of the British Counsul and his wife. Claire got no news of her from Byron but the Consul’s wife “wrote coolly..about Allegra wetting her bed and losing her gaiety of spirit”. The poor little thing. Claire went to Venice in August and Byron allowed her to keep Allegra with her to the end of October when he insisted on having her back. When Byron took Allegra back, he refused to allow Claire to visit or to tell her about Allegra’s health or whereabouts. When she had not seen Allegra for 18 months, Claire wrote begging Byron to let him have her for the summer. He refused. He continued to refuse to let her see Allegra and she continued to beg for access to her daughter. Byron placed Allegra in a convent, she was the youngest child to be admitted and still her mother begged to be let visit her to no avail. Allegra never saw her mother again. She died in the convent;she was only 5. “Mad, bad and dangerous to know” indeed. Isn’t that a heart-rending story?