Monthly Archives: July 2012

My dirty little secret…

… despite how much I may deride 50 Shades of Grey, I’ve still read it. It’s bad. I read it because it’s so very bad that it’s almost fun to read it to find out how bad it is. Now I know opinion is divided. There’s those who enjoy the romance between an improbably pert under-eating post-teen and an improbably rich and weird 27 year old with grey eyes, and then there’s those people like me.

I read it because I thought it was a sex book. There. I confess. I thought it would be a dirty book. It wasn’t. It’s as dirty as … well … something not dirty at all. It’s as raunchy as Harry Potter. I.e. not raunchy at all. Strangely, a boy magician whose parents were killed by a dark lord is more probable to me than 50 Shades.

And the sex is… well… not very sexy. There’s all this promise of bondage and submission, and then there isn’t any. It’s like picking up a copy of the Marquis de Sade and realising it’s a poor Mills-and-Boon plot. Complicated, difficult and dark men are not interesting to me. I’d rather have an uncomplicated, straightforward man who’s got past all his hang-ups.

So if it’s not a sex book, all that’s left is a romance and some bad writing. The bad writing gets on my nerves. It’s all ‘Oh My!’ and ‘Jeez’ and improbable and unrealistic things that nobody in real life would ever say. Even, I suspect, in BDSM relationships, nobody still calls each other Miss X or Mr Y after a couple of sessions at it, if there’s not been any actual BDSM. It’s how I used to speak to other teachers in the corridor when I didn’t want 50 tittering teenagers saying ‘Mr Bennett’s called Gordon!’ and then shouting out ‘Gordon!’ at every opportunity.

The names are vastly improbable, in a kind of Dynasty-esque way. Who on earth is called Anastasia? What parent gives their child such a pretentious name unless they are either a) heiress to a small Russian empire or b) a chav or c) an aspiring wannabe upper-classer. And if they were called Steele, who’d call them Anastasia?! Christian Grey with his ‘gray’ eyes and gray suits. It’s all just a bit bleurgh for me. Even Krystle Carrington had a more probable name. In fact, come to think of it, the whole book reads like a Dallas/Dynasty sub-plot with one of the unbearably handsome yet sexually confused sons, like Adam or Stephen, or whatever he was called. Dack Rambo in Dallas had a more probable name.

Another of the highly annoying things is José Rodriguez with his improbable ‘Dios mio’ all the time.

And let’s not get started on what an implausible BDSM scenario it is.

In fact, the book references Jane Eyre a few times and I think this is the Mr. Rochester.

Frankly, I’ve always thought Mr Rochester was a dick. Any man who’d lock a woman in an attic deserves his house burning down. When Jane Eyre says ‘Reader, I married him.’ – never has a line disappointed me so. If she’d said ‘Reader, I took him to task for locking Bertha in the attic and stabbed him with a 10-inch fillet knife’… now that would have been a satisfactory ending.

I don’t feel quite so aggressive towards Mr Grey. He doesn’t lock anyone up – at least not without an NDA and a signed document as to who can do what to whom. And even then he doesn’t, at least in the first book. But he’s just so bleurgh, especially with his ‘feeder’ tendencies which all feel a little weird.

But one thing is true: you cannot accuse the Brontes of writing badly. E L James – not even in the same league.

So I read the first. It was titillatingly bad. I started the second but I’m never going to finish it, I can tell.

Now I know some of my friends like this book a great deal, and kept taking it to bed with them. I suspect maybe they need to get a Jilly Cooper or a Danielle Steele or a Jackie Collins if they want a good bonkbuster, and something with a black cover by Nexus if they want something more titillating. And if they want the romance? Why, Mills and Boon are still going strong!

It is kind of strangely fascinating, it must be said. It’s kind of like reading Samantha Brick’s stuff.

In fact, Ms. Brick says that, Heaven knows she’s not a prude, because she lives in France, but it’s not her cup of tea.

It’s not mine either. Not because I’m a prude (I don’t think most prudes would be much offended by the book… Judy Blume was more salacious) but because I like to read good writing. And this isn’t it.

So I’m sorry to those friends who’ve read all three and enjoyed them. Maybe you can explain the virtues of it to me. So far, it all feels a bit ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’  to me. Like The Blair Witch Project  – that other ‘so bad it’s laughable’ over-hyped sensation, I’m glad I’ve experienced it. I wouldn’t want not to. At least I can bitch about it with authority, unlike Ms. Brick.

I also take issue with the ‘hitting’ rather than spanking, caning etc. Hitting isn’t what happens in a BDSM relationship. Hitting is what bad men do. This is the problem with discipline – there’s a line between ‘punishment’ and violence. And the writer is confused about it. One is a wife-beater, the other is a perv with some less than vanilla tendencies. 

This is part of the problem, though, because discipline is actually still punishable by law, even between two consenting adults, even with a contract, because some people don’t know the difference between punishment with a sexual overtone in a clear D/S relationship, and violence. And D/S isn’t about violence and brutality, not until you get to the far end of the spectrum with dominants who are just cruel. In 90% of the D/S world, the discipline is as pleasurable for the submissive as it is for the dominant, and in the real world, the sub is in charge because the sub is the one who can say stop. There’s a difference between the two that the writer hasn’t got. In fact, book 1 ends with her leaving him because he hit her. When I get into it, I’m not entirely sure I like the connotations. Either he’s violent and doesn’t care about his sub, or he’s in control and cares about her, in which case, the final events of the book would never have happened. Again. It’s improbable. Most violent thugs who can’t restrain themselves don’t have the wherewithal to be a dominant, because what sub would consent? If you know someone can’t control themselves, well, you definitely don’t want them spanking you or tying you to a frame and controlling your breathing through a straw!

And yet, despite this backdrop and heavily-hinted-at subplot, it’s strange for a book about submission that you can get to the end of it and not have had any actual submission. That’s like reading the Bible and not having anything about God in there. A bit disappointing.

Advertisements

Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother…

Today’s Much Love Monday is brought to you by the Bee Gees with Stayin’ Alive. 

Mostly this is a follow on from the very cool emergence of the French Olympics team into the arena on Friday night – the French who you often think of as being so uber-cool, not given to silliness, had one contestant who was clearly enjoying this track very much.

I also love the John Travolta walk to this at the beginning of Saturday Night Fever. Surely this movie is about as influential as it gets. Can’t everyone do the John Travolta dance? Today, I’m going to walk with Stayin Alive in my head and see if it gives me a bounce. I’m sure it can’t help but… Not only that, but does anything capture the exuberance of the Seventies like this film does? Plus, men who can dance = hot. Well, not Wayne Sleep, particularly, but the young, snake-hipped John Travolta is always going to bring a smile to my face.

My favourite primary school teacher, Mr Parks, is responsible for several things in my life. One is an endearing love of Danny, the Champion of the World, which he read to us in the afternoons. He’d let us put our head on the desk and just listen. He was a fantastic storyteller, and an amazing teacher. When we had to write about our most inspiring teacher as new recruits to the profession, I wrote about Mr Parks. To this eight-year-old girl, he was my hero. He also had two framed art pieces of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in Grease. It was a long time before I saw him again – he was Jake’s Year 5 teacher, and like meeting a movie star, he was much smaller in real life, and seemed much more gentle. I remember this flame-haired giant who ruled the class. Strict but fair. I slammed a desk lid down on Lee Simms’ head and he gave me a good telling-off. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I’d let someone down quite so much. He kept a slipper on top of the blackboard, and he slippered Simon Mills once. I don’t remember why. I bet it was warranted though. You never felt his rules were arbitrary or whimsical, and you wanted to stay on the good side of him.

He kept a fish tank in the classroom and I always thought that as a teacher, you should show a little of your soul and personality too. It worked. I think children need to see their teachers as real people – someone who does things and is interesting to them, as well as interested by them.

Much Love, too, to my lovely, lovely friends. Caroline had an Olympic themed barbecue yesterday – and a full-on Olympic party for the children, including all kinds of races. Some people have a gift with children, and she’s one of them. At one point, I thought she was like the Pied Piper, and she could have led the fifteen willing children off into the distance. What I love most about it is that it replicates to some degree the kind of childhood I had where friends and family would get together with fair regularity and we had a merry band of brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, add-ons and strays. I lived on a little cul-de-sac and there were children in virtually every house. Nobody threw us Olympic parties, and nobody had a pool, but it’s nice that there’s an extended group of children off all ages, from tots to teens. The group is fluid and dynamic, and that’s nice too. Dogs, kids, husbands and babies – everyone is welcome.

And there’s always great, great food. It’s no wonder I can’t lose any weight.

Everyone should have the privilege of growing up in a world like that, in the safety of a huge net of friends and family.

So Much Love to you all this Monday. May you have as lovely a day as I did yesterday!

 

 

This Sceptred Isle

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,–
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

Richard II, Act II sc i

I don’t know whether I would have been quite as celebratory about being British if I were in England right now, but being away from my homeland in 2012 – I feel a swelling in my bosom that is making me miss everything British. Mainly, it has to be said, stirred by a woman’s 60 years of wearing hats and carrying handbags, and a few people running round a track. Amazing what a bit of flag-waving can do. Imagine if we were properly at war with someone? I think I’d be on the front line right now, in my Union Jack knickers.

I sat through all four hours of Olympic openings, from the first ‘green and pleasant’ land to the final songs, and I think I’ve cried about fifty times.

First I cried when that sideburned bike hero of the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins came on. 2012 would be the year when an Englishman won the Tour de France for the first time ever. Okay, so he might have been born in Belgium as the son of an Australian, but I think that’s about as English as most people these days.

Then I cried because of Danny Boyle, the choreographer of it all, a man born five miles up the road from me, as steeped in Manchester and Lancashire as I am. I cried because he carried it off. I cried because he created something marvellous. I cried because he tugged on every single heart string I have. I think he only needed a few rescue dogs from Battersea Dogs’ Home doing a little turn and I’d have been on the first ferry back to Blighty.

I cried when the Welsh children sang their little hearts out. I cried for ‘Flower of Scotland’. I cried because Alex Salmond is an idiot for wanting to tear apart this sceptred isle. I cried because Mitt Romney said it was hard to know how well it would turn out. He should have known better. We’re not ‘Great’ Britain for nothing.

I cried at the cricket and the maypole. I cried at Elgar’s Nimrod and the Shire horses. I cried at the shipping forecast.

I sniffled when the soldiers raised the flag.

I booed at the forged metal Olympic rings.

I had a huge whopping great blow on the nose when it got to Daniel Craig escorting the Queen to the ceremony. She might have looked bored and appeared to be picking her fingernails when TeamGB came out, but I thought it was pretty cool she took part. Wills and Kate and Harry seemed to be having a great time. Cameron looked like a worried parent at a nativity play, not quite sure whether his child would say ‘bum’ instead of ‘Jesus’.

I got all sniffly when they brought out Old Kenny, Sir Kenneth Branagh, as Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Kenny gets me all sniffly anyway when he gets all actorly, what with Benedick and Henry V. If Danny Boyle wrote the warm up speech and Kenneth delivered it, crying ‘For God, for Harry and for St George’ in the dressing room, I’d probably run the 100m myself in less time than Usain Bolt.

Even David Beckham warmed the cockles of my heart, especially in his humble assertion that he is not an Olympian and in his speedboat driving. So he was a chauffeur? Who cares?

Plus, it was done in such a uniquely British way, what with the stirring Elgar and Sir Simon Rattle, Chariots of Fire and Rowan Atkinson. We’re not too good at sentimentality. Many athletes coming out into the stadium were filled with sentimentality – but we Brits don’t do that. We put Rowan Atkinson in, to poke a little gentle fun. We might have world class cyclists and runners and rowers and swimmers and divers and the likes, but we’ll never rub your nose in it.

Alright. I will a bit if you’re Australian and you’re a hard-core sports fan. I’ll remind you of the time we beat you at rugby and cricket and ask you why you’re so bad at football. But other than that, we’re actually quite good at being graceful and ‘aw shucks’ if someone reminds us of our talents.

Take Sir Tim Berners-Lee. No, he didn’t single-handedly invent the internet, but his ideas are at the root of much of how the internet functions. Yet who recognised him at the opening ceremony?

And it’s not all about Britain. I think the nicest parts were seeing various people up, madly celebrating, when their team came into the arena. It was seeing the pride on the faces of every single person in the place. It was the Frenchman singing ‘Staying Alive’. It was the children singing their hearts out. It was absolutely everything that’s good about humanity.

I felt so overwhelmingly sentimental that I can almost overlook Paul McCartney’s dreadful performance (where was Tom Jones when you need him?!) and the awful shellsuits designed by his daughter. Bad McCartneys. Bad.

Forget competition. Forget racism. Forget sexism. Forget repression. Forget oppression. Forget the past. Forget wars and forget money. Remember everything that is good about people – just everyday people who’ve come onto the streets to see the torch passing, kids bouncing on beds, doctors and nurses dancing, people dancing, people waving, people who are proud and determined and happy. People who remind us we all stand together.

For two weeks, we can forget Scotland’s bids for Independence, we can forget the Troubles, we can forget wars in foreign lands, we can forget what divides us as an island.

But it’s more than that. Last night, with everyone in the stadium, it’s like we could forget all our differences and remember that in fact, we all stand together. We’re all one.

So, here’s to Danny Boyle, an Irish Catholic immigrant brought up down the road from me. You brought us Trainspotting and you brought us Slumdog Millionnaire. But for one night – last night – you brought out the best in us.

Sweat much?

I’m on my second day of deliveries – and yesterday was the hottest in the year so far. The Clio doesn’t have air-con, so I sailed around with the windows open full and tried not to be too hot. I got lots of free drinks along the way, which is quite lovely and an added bonus. I love the lady in Café Bavarde in Chasseneuil – she’s one of those people that you just know has lived a very, very interesting life and I’d like a good three or four days hiking in some wilderness somewhere so she could fill me in on some of the highlights.

Today is much stickier. I’d say ‘humide’ but the French mean that as moist and rainy. It kind of is a bit, if you look at my face. My pores have had a good cleaning, anyway. So much for steam rooms and saunas. I’m just having a drink now before I go out on my rounds.

And yesterday was the first day I really got that corner sorted that I started (well, Steve dug up) in April. Here it once was:

And here it now is:

Of course, some of this is just natural growth, but the flowerbed is now at its splendid glory. I’ve very much enjoyed making it from this:

 

to this:

 

There are several really lovely flowers in there. Some were 29 c from Lidl, some were from Thompson and Morgan. Some were saved seeds from last year. Some are annuals, some are perennials.

Portulaca
Scabiosa

 

Achillea and marigolds

 

 

 

 

 

Boris bit me

I’m tired of nature now, I think. I’ve had enough.

First it was a wasp that flew under my sunglasses and stung me repeatedly in its efforts to get away. Stung me repeatedly around the eye. Now that’s just mean. It’s not my fault he’s a dodgy driver. If I drive into a pedestrian zone, I don’t start mowing people down in my effort to get out.

Then it was the gastroenteritis. Viral or bacterial, it’s still nature at its worst. That’s just a mean little bug waiting to kill you. It has no purpose other than to go around causing upset tummies. I lost three days for that and I didn’t even get to kiss the boys and their mum goodbye properly because I was so ill and I didn’t want to give them germs, plus I had puke breath.

Then on Tuesday, I was sleeping. Fairly peacefully, I’d guess. No complaints from me or the dogs or Noireau. But then I was woken from whatever dream it was I was having by a very vicious sting. It felt like a sting. It felt like a wasp again. And then again. It hit my eyebrow and then it hit my hand when I went to feel my eyebrow. I got up, put on the light to find the beast, and there it was, sitting bold as brass on my pillow.

Not only that, it had huge red fangs and a huge red belly and then a black and white bum bit. And hairy legs. Evil personified.

I had a conversation last week with Madame V. She said she’d been bitten by a spider. I pooh-poohed her. I admit it. I was skeptical. I never had a spider bite me. For quite a spiritual girl, willing to put her faith in all manner of things like universal harmony and balance, I’m actually a doubting Thomas. I reckon the spider was proving a point.

I captured it to take it to the pharmacist. She pooh-poohed my bite, which was giving me hell by that point. My hand had swollen a bit and it felt like a bad burn. She didn’t care to look at and didn’t care to give me any number for disease control or bites or whatever. She just gave me some lidocaine and told me to go away.

That evil spider is still under lock and key in a tupperware jar.

So, essentially, I’ve wasted the best part of Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday being ill due to nature.

That’s quite enough.

Today, I’m trying to catch up. I’ve mowing to do, potatoes to unearth, dogs to walk, sun to catch and strimming to do. I’m trying to get it all in before the sun comes out in force, since here’s today’s weather prediction:

I’ve done an hour already and come in to cool off a little. I’ve kind of begun to find potatoes. It’s a start. Next it’s mowing and strimming and turd picking. The life of a dog owner is so very glamorous. Heston is huge now, but he’s still a baby. We were out playing in the potato patch. He was supposed to be helping me dig. Useless. He pranced around all giddy, tearing through the long grass collecting seeds, and when I came to look for him at the end, he’d taken himself back inside to bed.

Lazy dog. Obviously takes after the Molly dog.

Tilly just sits by my side all day. She still keeps hurrying out to the car every time I go near it. I think she’s telling me she wants a trip somewhere. Now she’s lying like a little froggie at my side.

Off out to do deliveries again later… beautiful, beautiful day to do it!

New front cover looks stunning… can’t wait to get my copy!

 

Good day Sunshine

Can there be anything that can escort Much Love Monday in to the week as well as a happy Beatles track and the promise of sunshine?

The thing you don’t know is that I spend a good thirty minutes or so finding a track that suits my mood, and that means listening to thirty minutes of happy tracks. Mondays never started so well.

It is, I admit, always nice to wake up and hear the dogs snoring. I read a haiku once about snoring concubines, and whilst I don’t think it’s the same thing, there’s something reassuring about hearing the snoring of other creatures. It means the world is at rest. Heston’s usually awake first – well, he is a baby after all – and spends a good ten minutes staring adoringly at me. My bedroom and living room look like a war zone of shredded items. He shredded Dexter. He’s shredded several toilet rolls. Andrex puppy, he is not. No cute rolling around, just lots of shredded pink paper and little piles of pink vomit here and there.

He generally knows what to chew and what not to, but there’s a good collection of ‘not to’ things in his living room nest after yesterday. I spent the whole day in bed with some kind of stomach bug. So Much Love to Zantac and Solpadol, too. It reminds me of those days when I had stomach ulcers and constant stomach griping. I don’t get that so much now. Stress definitely plays itself out in my belly. Contrary to popular myth, this is why I left teaching. I have a letter from the Department for Education that says I am NOT a sex offender, so that’s all good. It’s true. I really do. It says ‘Mrs …. is not a sex offender’.

Everybody needs a letter like that. Just for their own reassurance.

Much Love to a peaceful life, where illnesses and bugs are a once-a-year occurrence, rather than a weekly one. Mainly this is because I meet three people on average each week here, as opposed to the millions I met in Manchester, but if it means an end to nights waking up in stomach turmoil, it’s all good. I still remember those nights where I slept in a chair so the stomach acid maelstrom in my gut didn’t work its way up to my throat.

Much Love to the Powers who gave me a wonderful week of fun and chaos and life. Deb is very lucky to have three such lovely boys, even if middle boy makes rude words in Scrabble, youngest boy has a penchant for exhibitionism and eldest is a teenager. Despite this, youngest one is a dreamboat with a vibrant and highly entertaining imagination, middle one is a clever, clever soul destined for some great leadership position (if not quite as brave as he’d have you believe) and eldest is gentle and kind and a darling to the animals.

Much Love also for the blast of Lancashire. I’m surrounded by Southerners, Scots and Foreigners, which is better than being surrounded by Scousers, the Cheshire set and Yorkshire folk as I was in Manchester, but nothing is quite as nice as homefolk when you’re in a world away from your own. No offence to the rest of the world outside Manchester. You’re just not Manchester, that’s all. I realise I’ve offended potentially everyone with the second sentence of this paragraph.

Much Love to Facebook which is awash with photos at the moment. Now I know a lot of people have a beef with Facebook, but it’s my lifeline. It keeps me connected in ways nothing else does. I don’t have to write 100 emails to update interested parties, and I don’t have to receive 200 to find out about their lives. Not only that, right now, it’s littered with photos of beaches, of happy families, of wedding photos, of truck festivals, of new babies, of holidays. Now that might not be your thing, but I love looking at all of these. It’s so nice to be able to look through people’s lives and share in their happiness, if only a little. And it’s not as if I can just go into people’s houses and root through their photographs any time I like, is it? I can’t just sneak in, break open ‘wedding photos’ and spend half an hour smiling at people’s happiness and funny expressions and lovely dresses and smart outfits. Well, I could do that, but that would make me way weirder than I already am. And it’s a shame these photographs end up on dark shelves in closed albums when they are meant to preserve and share a moment.

Not only that, photographs take all the good bits, the happy bits, and turn them into something smiley and wonderful, even if there’s yelling and crying and sulking in the background. It makes families look eternally happy and smiley. Not that I’m saying families aren’t like that, but I’m pretty damn sure most families have yelling and sulking and tiredness. I’d say all, but then I’ve seen my friend Emma and her boys too many times to think that there is ever a need for yelling in that household. And her boys just don’t ever seem to be overtired, or crabby or grumpy. Maybe she drugs them. More likely, she’s learned that balance between ‘cool mum’ and ‘strict mum’ that brings harmony upon a household.

Anyway, here’s hoping your Mondays is filled with Much Love too. I’m hopefully off to a pool party for a lovely friend’s birthday, but I’m not sure my stomach is up to it yet. I want to go anyway, just so she knows she’s loved, but I don’t want to give her any bacterial infection as a present.

 

#1

As you may know, I’m 40 this year. I’ve decided to celebrate this event by having 40 birthdays. As it’s a difficult activity to have 40 parties – almost a month and a half if you have one every day – I’m starting now so I can get them under my belt.

My last monumental birthdays haven’t really been monumental. I can’t much remember what I was doing for them other than having a meal with my family. That’s pretty much the same thing I do for all my birthdays, so I wanted to do something a little spectacular.

Not only that, but my 30th birthday, I spent in bed wondering what I’d achieved with my 30 years. This time around, being 40 feels like something of an achievement just to be that old. 42 is the life expectancy in several countries across the world so to be 40 is something that a lot of people don’t even achieve.

The first of these parties is a beach party. I’ve never had a beach party on account of having a December birthday, so having a beach birthday was one on my list:

We went to St Palais Sur Mer, up the coast from Royan. Royan was my first holiday destination in France, and if I had all the money in the world, I’d live in one of the gothic mansions on the beach. Dinard, St Malo and Royan are my favourite seaside places. Royan itself is a busy harbour town with plenty of shops and restaurants. Damon and I were on the look-out for moules-frites, which was very easy to find, though it wasn’t easy to find something to suit everyone else. Unfortunately, if you don’t like seafood, fish, pizza, pasta, salad, risotto or meat in sauces, it’s harder to find other things. Jacob and Deb were left with a choice of entrecote or entrecote.

Damon very much enjoyed his moules-frites.

He finished the whole plate in record time. Then it was on to the ice-cream course. If you can’t have ice-cream on (one of) your birthdays, when can you?!

I opted for nougat and caramel. Damon had raspberry and chocolate.

He’s a boy after my own heart.

Finally, as all good birthdays should, it ended with fireworks. The St Palais fireworks festival is a competition between three countries. This year, they were doing fireworks set to cinema music. India won with a fabulous display of bright fireworks and Bollywood music. We got home at 3 am, but it was certainly a birthday party to remember!

Oh My Eyes!

For a start, there’s a naked boy in the living room, dancing around and saying:

“Naked Style!” and wondering why Heston is following him. Now he wants to know what I’m doing and is monitoring every word. He has also been telling me shaggy dog stories for the last hour… Stories with no end. Stories with a creepy little voice. This is the boy who conned his mum into buying a little friend for his monkey toy back in England, Reggie, and when he wanted a French name for it, we suggested Claude.

“Claw?”

So he’s now called Claw in England, and Griffe in French.

However, in the car, moments out of the car park, Haydn said:

“I don’t think you should have bought this monkey, Mum. He’s going to kill Woof-Woof.” Woof-Woof is Haydn’s best teddy.

“Claw has got a black belt in Karate. Woof-Woof’s only a red belt.”

Although I have just been informed that Claw doesn’t want to kill Woof-Woof anymore because Claw only kills other black belts. That’s good to know.

I’m allowed to tell you that Haydn is a monkey

Second, the first thing we saw in the monkey place was the bonobos getting busy. That was a sight for sore eyes, believe me. It wouldn’t have been quite so bad if they didn’t do quite so much getting busy. Haydn has just asked if I can put the shaggy picture of the monkeys on. He meant this:

The shaggy monkeys

Then there’s the titis, the cute little marmoset monkey. Haydn asking if he can have some titis… I shake my head in shame. I wish sometimes children never learned to read.

Despite the nakedness, the accidental bumping of hips, the inappropriately named monkeys and a few mishaps with the content of the blog if I leave it for even a second, in which my word have been hijacked and replaced with those of Damon, it has been a very busy couple of days – and lots and lots of fun.

Yesterday was the plan d’eau at St Yrieix where we got wet and sandy, then today has been Monkey Valley followed by a barbecue. Tomorrow is canoeing and lakeside swims, then Thursday is St Palais for moules-frites for Damon who is very much looking forward to them.

Next week, I have to have my top ten Power Boy comments, I think.

Much Love Monday

… for when you’re smiling and your heart isn’t fully in it.

Today, it’s Talking Heads with Wild Wild Life

So the last of my UK boxes arrive. It’s been two years since I’ve seen the things in there, and there’s Much Love to be had. Least of all is my Longchamp handbag which I bought in Japan in another life when I could afford it. I love that handbag. It’s a symbol of another me. In fact, most of the boxes are other mes, old clothes and new clothes I never got to wear, dresses from when I taught full time. It’s like stepping into another me.

Also, my old posters that adorned my walls as a teenager and a student: Joy Division, The Lost Boys. It’s like looking into my own soul – all these memories I forgot I had.

I know it probably sounds strange, but unless I look at them, I forget they were ever there.

Much Love to the Sunshine for making an appearance

Much Love to Deb and the boys who’ve already given me 50,000 laughs. I now know how long a whale’s penis is and what they do with it.

Much Love to Haydn who said, when we arrived at Mme. V’s ‘This house is much nicer than yours’ and then, before we were even out of the gate: ‘when are we coming back here again?’

Much Love to Damon who got stuck behind the doors at the airport and gave me a huge hug when I got out.

Much Love to Jacob who has taken over the animals.

Much love to Haydn for ‘Naked Style!’

Much Love Monday, People!