petite anglaise

July 26, 2007

snap

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 11:05 am

When I meet someone special, someone I can conceive of being with not just next month, but far, far beyond, the initial euphoria invariably begins to mingle with a morbid fear of capsizing the boat. “Please don’t let me fuck this up” becomes my mantra.

It’s a vicious, vicious circle, because this terror breeds a pathetic neediness. And neediness is the biggest turn off; the thing most likely to send any man/boy running at top speed in the opposite direction. So mostly I try to conceal it, to shrug it off, to pretend that it’s not there. As one of my commenters once said, “you have to hide your crazy”.

But when he shows up, exhausted, and looks straight through me, oblivious to the efforts I’ve made (new underwear, freshly washed hair, discreet make up), throws himself down on the couch and closes his eyes, something inside me withers. “You’ve been spending so much time together lately that look, he’s taking you for granted already,” the demon on my left shoulder hisses into my ear. “He’d rather you weren’t there at all,” he adds for good measure. “You might as well just go home…” My lower lip begins to wobble. I hate myself for being so weak and contemptible.

I have had a stressful day, I tell myself. A procedure at the doctor’s. Some family friction which has been preying on my mind for weeks. A final deadline on my manuscript. So of course, there are other, legitimate reasons why I can, almost should be feeling wobbly right now.

I leave the room, fetch myself a glass of water, stare blankly out of the kitchen window into the night, willing myself to relax, pleading with the demon to leave me in peace. I don’t want to cause some sort of ridiculous, pointless scene. I don’t want to be a neurotic, over-sensitive, nightmare bitch from hell. Please don’t let me fuck this up.

“Honey,” he calls from the sofa, “okay if I play a game on the computer for half an hour?”

Something inside me snaps.

July 21, 2007

pasteis de nata

Filed under: on the road — petiteanglaise @ 12:10 am
heaven.jpg

Whenever my mother visits a church/cathedral in another city, she invariably makes the requisite “ooh” and “ahh” noises, then delivers her considered verdict.

“Well, it’s very nice,” she says, “but it’s not a patch on York Minster, is it?”

I swear, you could take her all the way to St Peter’s in the Vatican City, and she wouldn’t budge an inch. Her mind is made up.

Similarly, until last Tuesday, I never thought I’d cross paths with a cake that I could love as much as a good old egg custard tart. Preferably one baked by my grandma.

Until, that is, Lucy introduced me to pasteis de nata, and not just any pasteis de nata, but (arguably) the very best in all of Portugal, made in Belem (which in keeping with the golden rule that every word in Portuguese looks like it should be simple to pronounce, but actually sounds utterly outlandish, is pronounced something like Ber-laing. Or maybe Bell-end, I forget which). And made me sprinkle some cinnamon, from the shaker so thoughtfully placed on the table, on top of it.

Oh dear god. Cue near-orgasm in cake shop.

Suddenly it became abundantly clear why said cake shop has seating for approximately two hundred people.

But as I’m no good at describing food, I won’t tell you how these little beauties taste, you’ll just have to make the pilgrimage yourselves. Suffice to say that I ordered a second one, much to Lucy’s amusement. And what she doesn’t know, is that I went back the next day (under the feeble pretext that I needed to visit the monastery next door) and had another TWO.

Yum.

Look no further for the reason I will be visiting Portugal again, in the not too distant future.

When I wasn’t eating ambrosia, I was doing one of three other things: riding trams along winding, hilly streets (similar to rollercoasters, not to be missed), eating huge stodgy fishy meals, or climbing up a few hundred steps to the top of churches/castle to take pictures of the rooftops of Lisbon.

It’s been a lovely five days, and I shall most definitely be back.

July 19, 2007

flush

Filed under: mills & boon — petiteanglaise @ 8:39 pm

13:19 Anna: Why aren’t you by the pool?!
me: I have been, but it is midday and too hot,
about to go out for lunch
(otherwise I will end up looking like a lobster)
Anna: ok
go and eat lobster
me: I am writing an email to my boy
is that ok?
and incidentally, he cooked me lobster the other night. Blue lobster.
Anna: No.
me: Oh?
13:22 Anna: it is first flush of love ish and makes me sickeningly jealous
13:23 though it is sweet
13:26 I admit
me: Gah.
I talk about him irritatingly too much, don’t I?
I think I may have done it to Lucy too, yesterday…

Being away on my own is excruciating at times. But excruciating in a good way: a delicious form of torture. I miss him, but missing him makes me feel stupidly, smile-to-myself-in-the-street happy.

Because I know he feels the same way. And that is proof of, well, something.

July 17, 2007

anniversaries

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 10:53 am

I let my third blog birthday slip by uncelebrated on July 7th (well actually I celebrated, but enough about that already), but I see that right about now it is a full calendar year since my world went utterly stark raving mad.

Starting, if I remember correctly, with a phone call from Radio Five Live while I was in the middle of signing up for unemployment benefit at an ASSEDIC office near Père Lachaise, the day Colin published his scoop in the Daily Telegraph.

Colin, my friend and mentor throughout, has written a post about it all here. What a difference a year can make, indeed.

In a couple of weeks’ time I should know for sure whether the legal battle is over, or whether I’ll be limbering up for round two sometime next year. As for the press madness, I suspect I should brace myself for a not very low profile 2008.

But in the meantime, I can be found lounging by the pool enjoying what anonymity I have left, in style. And that sure beats typing dictations and formatting accounts, I can tell you…

palace

Filed under: good time girl, miam — petiteanglaise @ 1:04 am

I find a new purpose for my macbook!!!*

If ever, dear reader, you feel just a smidgeon uncomfortable after ploughing through a five course meal in a palatial hotel in Lisbon (cheap deal, I hasten to add, and I’m not sure I quite strike the right tone with my ripped jeans…), I can wholeheartedly recommend setting a warm macbook on the offending tummy for at least half an hour. It’s working wonders as a digestion aid. Truly, it is.

In the meantime, I try to have a foodie conversation with my friend Meg, who is one of those people who – when she can be bothered to actually blog – is able to write reviews of restaurants without resorting to clichés like “doesn’t the foie gras melt in your mouth?” or “don’t these oysters taste of the sea?”

The conversation goes something like this.

“Well, first of all I had this kind of amuse bouche thing, which was a very small piece of beef on toast with some spready goat’s cheese, nothing special really. And then there was a filo parcel-thing with slices of fig and proper goat’s cheese with rind on, inside. And I think the leaves on the side were watercress, they were a bit peppery, and there were pine nuts: grilled ones. Next I had a swordfish medallion with a crispy crust made of prawns and things, and some squid on the side and some unidentified vegetables, a bit like the ones you put in ratatouille. And then a quail stuffed with a special white sausage, on top of some spinach. And it had an egg on top. A quail’s egg. And a sprig of lavender. Which had made the egg taste a bit dodgy… And then…”

I don’t think I need to go on, do I? If I have any writing talent at all, it is most definitely not of the food critic variety. There were more incidences of “and then” in that last paragraph than in the whole a whole page of the Da Vinci Code.

Eating, I can do. Describing the eating experience, I cannot.

So – to cut a long story short – I’ve popped over to Lisboa for a few days while Tadpole is spending a second week of quality time with her mamie and papy, and I am suitably excited about the prospect of meeting long time blog buddy Lucy Pepper for the first time, tomorrow. The point of this trip was that it should act as a carrot of sorts, to help me through the pain of finishing tweaking the book (yes, it’s not quite over, but nearly, I hope) and to tide me over until Boyfriend and I escape to the Cyclades for a fortnight at the end of August.

I cannot begin to describe how confusing I find the notion of having someone knock on the door to “turn down the bed” for me. At 6pm. But give me time, and I’ll have these luxury ways off pat. You’ll see.

*Permission to use opening line format obtained from JonnyB.

July 6, 2007

triangles

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 3:32 pm

I’ve never been very good at the business of being a proper girl.

Let’s take the example of hair. When I go to the hairdresser’s, my first words are invariably: “under no circumstances do ANYTHING to me that will require some sort of styling or – god forbid – blow drying. I’m incapable of blow drying my hair. No. Really. I can’t do it. At all.” Memories of my late teens, when I foolishly attempted to carry off a shortish bob, still haunt me. One side curled under, while the other kicked outwards with a stubborn willfulness. Congenitally unable to do anything with a curling brush and hair-dryer which would remedy this sorry situation, I had to resign myself to only looking halfway decent on the days when I managed to bribe my younger sister to do the honours.

Needless to say I shiver in anticipation of the day when Tadpole will beg me to put her hair in plaits, or even demand pigtails which are not of hopelessly different sizes. I’d rather not imagine how I will respond when she asks me how to apply nail polish without liberally smearing it on her cuticles (I can only manage nearly nude colours without mishap), how to wield an eye liner pencil, or how to tweeze her eyebrows into symmetrical submission. None of these things seem to be programmed into my DNA. I’m starting to wonder if my X chromosomes aren’t a little bit, well, wonky.

But over the last couple of days I have truly excelled myself.

It all began when I purchased a dress for the soirée I’m attending at the weekend. Said dress involves displaying my white legs, including the attractive array of bruises (of uncertain origin) on my left calf. Or maybe it all began when I reluctantly agreed to receive a trial free subscription of Elle magazine and idly skimmed through an article in which self-tanning products were proclaimed to be so much improved these days that only a fool could apply them badly.

I think you can see where I might be going with this, no?

After a careful exfoliation session using an abrasive mitt I bought under duress in the Marrakech souk, I decided to apply the self-tanning lotion to my legs only. My arms seem to be a tone darker anyway, and conscious of my limitations – despite whatever claims of foolproofness Elle were advancing – I wasn’t about to start on my torso, even if the dress is strappy and exposes a fair bit of back and shoulder and skims my cleavage. I washed my hands carefully afterwards, even scrubbing my fingers with a nail brush. Then, dressed only in my bathrobe, I busied myself making Tadpole’s dinner, pottering about my apartment and waiting for my dinner guest/babysitter to arrive, periodically surveying my legs and finding their colour unchanged (despite the claim on the tube that results would be seen after only one hour).

At some point in the early hours of the morning while I was dancing to Tiga in a dimly lit nightclub and vehemently regretting my choice of footwear – the only pair of high heeled sandals I have ever possessed, which I can just about manage to walk in, although flights of stairs can be problematic – the product must have worked its magic. Magic which I didn’t notice until this morning due to a combination of vodka and tonic and poor lighting conditions.

Verdict: amazingly my legs look okay! Not a streak in sight, only a slightly darker tone around the knee area, but not so as you’d notice. However I am now the proud owner of a pair of streaky, mismatched, dirty-looking feet with an odd albino patch in the middle of my right foot. This is not catastrophic, as I have learnt from the previous night’s mistake and will not be wearing strappy, foot-exposing sandals to my soirée.

It is in the bath, vigorously scrubbing my feet with my exfoliating mitt (to no avail), that I notice a strange patch on one side of my stomach. I frown, wondering how on earth the lotion could possibly have transferred itself onto my belly. Onto just one side of my belly. But it is when I spy the triangular patches on the undersides of my forearms that I begin to howl.

Replaying my movements the previous night, try as I might, I cannot for the life of me remember sitting with my arms wrapped around my knees before the lotion dried. Nor can I work out how a small amount of said lotion managed to find its way onto my left breast.

This afternoon, having made the unwise decision to apply more of the offending autobronzant to my arms, in the hope that this would somehow dissimulate the offending triangles, I am feeling not a little apprehensive, and wondering whether it might not be wise to go into hiding for a few days.

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