Welcome to the Absurdist

Sunday, 12 August 2012

How Not to Miss the Olympics

We are all agreed that the Olympics has been a hit. (I do of course entirely respect the view of those who disagree, even though they are wrong.)

At first I had my doubts, which was understandable given the distasteful air of positivity and sportiness. But just as you never fancied that Dad in the playground that tucks his jumper into his trousers but changed your mind when you met him in his trunks at the pool, so the Olympics has won my heart by revealing its essential self.

I know you're all dying to read my thoughts on the Olympic spirit and what it tells us about the inner city but I am a terrible tease, so instead I offer some more practical advice on how not to miss the Games in the post-apocalympics period that lies ahead.

1.When complimented on your hair, don't forget to thank the whole hairdressing team.

2.Buy some union jack pants and cry when you hoist them up on the clothes pulley.

3.When your turn is called at the Post Office, moonwalk to the cashier and kiss your t-shirt.

4.Do a deep lunge while twiddling some turkey drumsticks in Sainsbury's.

5.Buy some Dracula teeth, put on a cloak and tell people to take their tops off. Hey presto! You are Sebastian Coe!

6.When you get on the bus, turn and wave to the queue, both hands above your head. 

7.Take a hobby horse with you when line dancing.

8.Ask women leaving the ladies' loos whether they have left a legacy.

9.Marry Clare Balding. Marry Denise Lewis. Marry Michael Johnson. Do not marry John Inverdale but leave the coat hanger in your jacket at all times.

10.Always ensure you are wrapped in the flag when crossing the finishing line. If you impregnate your wife with twins, all the better.

Last but not least, sit on the sofa, crying and tweet about the telly. Oh and watch the Paralympics.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Change of Lifestyle

Welcome to my life! Or rather my lifestyle, which is a bit different, in that it is how I live in my head, unencumbered by the constraints of time, money, general ineptitude and chunky ankles. 

In an idle moment today I indulged myself by making this "mood board" from leftover magazine cutouts that my daughter had been mucking around with at the weekend. 

"Look at this," I said proudly to my husband, "Isn't it pretty? This is what life could be like if we were much richer and naturally stylish, if we were not us. Why is our life not like this? Something is awry. Our tea towels, for example, are all wrong. We have failed. I blame you." 

The answer is simple. I must become a totally different person. How hard can that be? People do it on Oprah all the time after 15 minutes with Dr Phil and his magical hamster moustache. I will simply envision it.  

My table will be graced by the world's most beautiful fruit bowl, filled with guavas and pomegranates, not dusty grape stalks and a surgical bandage, no siree Bob.

I shall ride my vintage push bike with its basket full of hyacinths, wearing my pretty tea dress, flip-flops and cloche hat. This will not result in my unprotected head being stoved in when my flip-flops catch on the pedals and I am hurled into the path of a corporation bus. These things do not happen to people like me. And even if it did, I would go gladly to my doom rather than be caught in a stained fleece, leggings and a helmet, calling to mind an escapee from a high security hospital. 

My night table will be adorned only by a cut crystal water decanter and a slim volume of Rilke's greatest hits, sorry, I mean poems. It will not feature balls of hair, mouldy raisins and post it notes which read "Sell things?" and "ARMPIT SUDOCREM". 

The cupboards will be stocked with miso soup and harissa paste sandwiches and different coloured magic beans. There will be butterflied lamb for supper, not Special K or anything, oh no, we are not SAVAGES. 

At night the garden will be lit by hundreds of tea lights in Victorian glass specimen jars arranged to form the face of Diana Vreeland, the children's rooms will be adorned with original artwork, not posters of Rhianna fellating a Solero, the cat will not shit in the sock drawer, the phone will not be found in the bread bin, spiders will not hatch in my hair, I WILL NOT DRINK THE BATHWATER. 

It will be lovely. I just have to not be me. 

(First posted on my other blog http://therealshequeen.tumblr.com/ on 10 May 2012.)


I need to get fit.

I used to be very fit. I used to hang off the wall bars at the gym and lift my legs up to my nose, quite effortlessly. I liked to cartwheel round the garden and, after several pints of snakebite, would do forward walkovers down the corridors of the student union.

Sadly that was knocking on 30 years ago. Now I am a dreadful indolent mess, whose efforts to haul herself out of the swimming pool call to mind a sea lion climbing the stairs.

I went to the gym for a while. It wasn't me. I tried the treadmill, but always ended up near horizontal, hanging onto the bar, like a toddler that is learning to walk by pushing a cart but that has forgotten to move its legs. It just never felt like fun, all that grunting and groaning and not even the excitement of having rearranged the furniture as a result.

Once every six months I decide that I will take up running but by the time I've found my sports bra, which is older than most Olympic competitors, I've generally gone off the idea.
We bought a Wii fit but it's proximity to the telly often proves to be a distraction.

I went to Zumba and liked it, but due to the same mysterious self-destructing gene that makes me eat Pringles when I don't really like them, stopped going.

I think I need some kind of head gear that will dangle a photo of Ryan Gosling in front of me while, at the same time, I am chased by Jeremy Clarkson.

That might get me to shift. I dunno though. I wish I'd just get on with it. I really annoy myself sometimes.

(First posted on my other blog http://therealshequeen.tumblr.com/ on 7 June 2012.)

Excellent Tomatoes

These tomatoes were on display in the very fancy organic supermarket and cafe that I sometimes frequent when I am pretending to be posh and the kind of person who can pay fifteen pounds for a chicken. 

It's a bit like when I was little and my Mum would send me to the Pick N' Save (or Nick N' Save as we called it) supermarket for a pint of milk and I would pretend to be doing the shopping for a family of fifteen. 

I would wander the aisles, just managing to peer over the top of my trolley, palpating melons and earnestly studying packets of washing powder. I would then pop the stuff in the trolley, whistling nonchalantly, secure in the knowledge that my expert shopping technique would fool my fellow customers into thinking that I was a midget housewife with very good skin and a fondness for David Essex T-shirts, ankle socks and Clarks T-bar sandals. (Actually, that sounds pretty cool. I wish I looked like that now. I look a bit like David Essex does now. That will have to do.) I would then casually retrace my steps, putting everything back until a pint of milk remained. 

Anyway, the whole idea was to appear sophisticated. That's what I'm doing now when I go to the posh organic supermarket. Hmm, Jonty Bumpimple's Cotswolds Sausage Pie only FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS. "I'll take TEN!", I boom, to no-one in particular. 

I then saunter for a bit, sniffing the courgette flowers; "Are these ready for stuffing?" I enquire, before asking if they have any fresh snails or quinoa or condiments made by dead saints.

Basically, this goes on for a bit and then I say loudly; "Perhaps just one of your small baguettes please, my good man." And the nice assistant smiles and does not acknowledge that I am mad and that I've also been carrying the same JM Coetzee book for six months now. 

I'll tell you what though, those tomatoes are good. Firm, yet yielding, one sharp bite piercing the promise of taut glistening skin, flooding your mouth with an earthy sweetness that makes you write like Melvyn Bragg when he's doing a sexy bit.

There's too much talk of rotten tomatoes, these ones are excellent. 

(Originally posted on my other blog http://therealshequeen.tumblr.com/ on 30 May 2012)

Football Crazy

Football, I like football. I like end to end stuff and flamboyant Latin types. Or am I thinking of a Ricky Martin concert? ANYWAY, I do like football though I don't think, in all honesty, I'd have made a terribly good premiership footballer myself. If I was a premiership footballer I'd be a bit like this: 

"Hi there! Have we met? Your shorts are FAB, you're so lucky, I could NEVER wear something that stopped just above the knee like that. Oooh, are you my partner? Sorry, not partner, gosh hang on, they told me this! MARKER! Are you marking me? I do hope so, you have kind eyes.

"Golly, on the attack again! This lot are keen aren't they?"

"That chap in the black and white is jolly good. He's doing it all running backwards! Like Ginger Rogers! Oh dear, there they go, on about the pies again. I always think they mean me, about the pies. Big boned, what can you do? But look at you! Thin as a pin. Major envy."

"How long till elevenses? Sorry, interval. SORRY, half time! Honestly, hopeless! Listen, this whole oranges thing, do you think we might ring the changes next week and maybe try some dim sum? Just something a bit different. Might be fun."

"I like your alice band. Functional and stylish. PARFAIT! Did you see Question Time last night? That guy from the union was on. PLEASE tell me you know him. Quelle dish!" 

"Anyway, what's all this about playing deep and square at the back? I'm so over it. Up the wing, cut it back and BOOM! That's what my Dad says. Oh dear, am I offside again? Sometimes I think I'll never get the hang of this."

(First posted on my other blog http://therealshequeen.tumblr.com/ on 7 May 2012) 

Tidy Cushions

Look at those cushions. Plumped to within an inch of their life. A wee tip. If you have been sitting on your fat backside all day with your snout in a bag of kettle chips and you suddenly look at the clock and realise that your loved ones will be home in T minus 5 minutes, plump the cushions.
That's all it takes. 

There can be six inches of stoor on the skirting board and a decomposing kebab on the hall table, but if your cushions are plumped no-one will care. Dirt schmirt, who gives a monkey's? Plump 'em up and it's tidy. 

The only danger is that they look so goooood, so pristine, so fresh, so unsullied by the neighbourhood posteriors. In short, you can become addicted to a plumped cushion. If you find yourself addressing visitors thus;

"Do come in. How lovely to see you! Gosh, isn't it chilly? Brrr. Come in and get warm! Me casa es su casa JESUS CHRIST! WHO SAID YOU COULD SIT DOWN?! STAND UP! STAND UP! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU FILTHY LITTLE COMMUNIST!!"
or words to that effect, you may have a problem.

Likewise, barbed wire, "KEEP OFF" signs, trap doors, cross bows triggered when arse touches cushion, all of these can be warning signals that you've crossed a certain line. 

Still, when properly executed there is nothing like a plumped cushion for giving the illusion of an ordered home. You're welcome. 

(First posted on my other blog http://therealshequeen.tumblr.com/ on 6 May 2012) 


I look out at our ordinary garden every day. Most days I don't even really notice it any more. It's funny to think how excited I was when we moved to this house, our first ever house, our first ever garden. I got my husband to film me hanging out the washing on my very own washing line. The first time I filled a vase with cut flowers from my very own garden I felt like a proper grown up. 

Sadly, the euphoria about the garden has worn off. I have turned out not to be a natural gardener. I do not have a green thumb. I swear when I walk past a flower bed all the living things in it wilt in my wake. 

So, I often don't pay much attention to the garden, since it just reminds me of my shortcomings, a bit like avoiding the mirror when you know you're looking as rough as a badger. 
At lunchtime today though there was a glorious spell of sunshine and I sat out with a coffee and found myself staring at my daughter's playhouse. 

We bought it when she was three, I think, seven years ago. We tacked pretty floral wallpaper inside. There was a teeny bench, a table and a play cooker along with lots of toy food. Plastic roast chicken, chips, peas, a cake cut into slices. Sometimes we would have proper breakfast in there. I would drink my real tea while my daughter poured dirty water into a plastic cup; "Cuppa tea Mummy?".

Some sunny days would see troops of small girls in princess outfits making endless pretend toast, or writing on the blackboard, sometimes just screaming and running in and out like maniacs, throwing water at each other, slamming their fingers in the door, folllowed by tears, hugs, elastoplast, sweeties, the usual. 

I realised looking at the playhouse today that last summer was the first summer that no-one played in the playhouse. It had been gradually neglected in favour of going out on bikes, or playing swingball or just lying on the grass. Because it wasn't used we started "temporarily" storing odds and sods in it.

I looked in it today for the first time in months. The pretty wallpaper is still there, curling a bit, and so is the blackboard. The bench has been unscrewed and is lying in pieces. There are boxes of bird seed and an old cabinet. The cooker and all the plastic food were given away a while back.

Gradually, its function has changed. When was the tipping point I wonder? If I plotted the lifespan of the playhouse on a graph, when would I get to adjust my specs and point with my pointer and say "This is when the playhouse was no more."?

Of course it's impossible to know. It was a gradual thing. Just like gradually you prefer to get home to your own bed rather than sleep on someone's sofa, or you  gradually stop listening to Radio 1, or you gradually become able to have alcohol in the house without drinking it all. 
I asked my daughter whether she thought she would play in the house again and she was pretty doubtful. I then asked what she thought about us giving it away. She hummed and hawed and then said; "Can we keep it Mum? I know I don't play in it anymore, but it's my playhouse."

(First posted on my other blog http://therealshequeen.tumblr.com/ on 17 April 2012.)