petite anglaise

May 31, 2005


Filed under: navel gazing — petiteanglaise @ 12:10 am

I’ll admit that I’m feeling weird about the act of blogging at the moment.

Although I’m only telling you part of the story, sharing what I want (or feel compelled) to write about, to get out of my system – all the while keeping in mind that I must respect Mr Frog’s absolute, unquestionable right to privacy by refraining from stringing out our dirty laundry across the internet for all to see – I still feel awkward and uncomfortable.

First, there was the flood of comments and emails. Lovely, supportive messages from people who admitted that no, they didn’t know me, but said they *felt* as though they did. People who said that reading “endings” caused them to shed a tear, or to think about me all weekend. That reading about Mr Frog and I affected them as much as hearing about a couple of close, non-virtual friends splitting up. They offered advice, a place to stay, a shoulder to cry on, or even to send me comfort food by airmail. I was touched by the warmth contained in those messages, and surprised at the emotions my words had visibly stirred up, but it remained virtual all the same. And I was painfully conscious that there was far more going on in my life than the little I was telling. So readers were making judgements without being in possession of anything like the full facts. Which didn’t seem fair on Mr Frog, for one.

The stats climbed steeply. I began to fear that I might feel tempted to exploit what was happening in my personal life for its drama potential. Worried that I already had. Alternately racked with guilt and childishly gleeful about the extra hits petite anglaise was getting. (I suspect there were lots of repeat visits, in any case, out of concern, to see if any more news was forthcoming).

Someone once asked me whether having the blog couldn’t potentially influence my actions in some way. My response was something along the lines of: “No way! Read what I write and you’ll see! I write about the mundane, the trivial, the everyday. I don’t lead a fascinating life, or make myself do things in order to have something to write about…”

Now I am wondering. Are my actions skewed by the fact that I know I may write about them afterwards? Is the very fact of having a blog, and one which has always peddled the naked truth, akin to having countless cameras trained on my every move in a ‘Big Brother’ house, making it impossible to behave naturally, impossible to live life the way I would have before, when it wasn’t under this self-inflicted scrutiny?

You may suggest that I should just blog about something else: trot out a light-hearted little piece about Parisian life, or elaborate on that funny thing that Tadpole did this morning. To that I would counter that it is impossible for me to do whimsical and amusing when I am wandering around in a permanent daze, I haven’t slept properly for weeks and am feeling in turn blissfully happy about the glowing new perspectives that the future seems to offer, and melancholy about this page which is being turned and the effect it will have on our little family. There is little space in my head for anything else.

Mr Frog and I are living in limbo: we have decided to separate, but the change this has wrought remains virtual. We wake up side by side every morning, and follow the same daily routine. He comes home; I fix some pasta and ask about his day. The only outwardly visible difference is that the coffee table is littered with A-Z maps and ads for 1 bedroom apartments. Inside our heads, much has changed. But nothing concrete seems to reflect that yet.

You may suggest that I stop blogging for a while. I won’t like it if you do, and I don’t actually know whether I can. It is a powerful addiction and I don’t know that I want to kick the habit at this point in time.

I feel weird. But bear with me. I’m sure it will pass.

May 26, 2005

the end of the affair?

Filed under: french touch, navel gazing — petiteanglaise @ 1:58 pm

For today’s post, kindly follow me.

And my I point out at this juncture that I categorically do not wear red nail varnish.

May 24, 2005


Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 12:29 pm

Tadpole has started mothering Mr Frog and I.

“Mon petit canard,” she says tenderly, while pinching both my cheeks until my eyes water. I gather that this is meant to be an affectionate gesture. Note to self: must cut her fingernails tonight after her bath.

“Allez, mange!” she orders, as I try to work up some enthusiasm for my breakfast cereal, despite it having the consistency of cardboard in my dry mouth.

“Assieds-toi là , ma puce,” she instructs in a bossy tone, before proceeding to show me the picture she has been busily scribbling on. It’s actually quite a disturbing sight, when I examine it more closely. The drawing she had begged for yesterday, with a mummy, a daddy, two little girls, a pig, a spider and an octopus, now has all the faces blackened out. I decide not to let myself dwell on any possible pseudo-psycho explanations for this and instead concentrate on complimenting the neatness of her colouring in.

I know this is just a phase that she is going through, where she is showing Mr Frog and I the same sollicitude and affection that she showers on her favourite dolly. I am told she also takes great delight in mothering the childminder’s youngest charge at the moment, helping out at bottle time, asking her what the matter is when she cries. All seemingly perfectly natural.

But at the same time, I wonder whether, despite all our efforts to put on a happy, friendly front during this awkward time while we carry on living together, until Mr Frog finds a place to live nearby, she is still picking up on the fact that something is going on. Sensing that we both need a few extra cuddes and kisses. Attuned to the emotions we are taking care to rein in when in her presence.

This morning was downright spooky. As I was about to leave for work, Mr Frog being on Tadpole dropping off duty, I bent down low to receive my goodbye kiss. Mr Frog was on his knees in the hallway, cramming things into his bag.

Tadpole grabbed both of us firmly by the arm and pulled us together.

“Donne bisou à Daddy,” she commanded, her eyes very large and serious.

I kissed him lightly on the cheek, noting that I was not the only one with tears in my eyes.

May 22, 2005

null and void

Filed under: navel gazing, parting ways — petiteanglaise @ 10:49 pm

I wish I knew how to behave.

If Mr Frog had shouted, or cried, or lost his temper, stormed out and slammed the door behind him, I would have known how to react to that. I expected fireworks and melodrama. I felt I deserved them, somehow. Here was I, stammering in a low, guilt-ridden voice that I had finally found the strength to walk away from this relationship which was not what I wanted any more. Where, in my opinion, it was plain to see that we were both deeply unhappy. Here was I confessing that I hadn’t come to take this decision without any outside help: there was another person involved. It’s not that I wanted to inflict pain. Far from it. But some kind of reaction would have been nice.


Not a moan or a whimper on my account. There was genuine anguish as he grappled with the idea of having to live apart from our daughter, and possibly see her less often. There were demands for reassurance that his role as daddy would never be challenged. This was the outcome I had told myself I expected, that I had hoped for, as I rehearsed my lines earlier that evening, but I found the total absence of any emotional response in relation to me galling nonetheless.

“What about me?” I wanted to yell. “You’re losing me too. Me! Do I really leave you completely indifferent?”

I suppose we have both known for a long time that we were now together by default, even if we rarely dared to admit or acknowledge it, even to ourselves. For the sake of our Tadpole. Out of inertia. Or fear of change and upheaval. So where the jagged emotions should have been, there was now just a gaping void.

Part of me feels cheated. After working myself up to this finale over a week of sleepless nights and adrenaline-fuelled days, it was a resounding anti-climax. I wanted to be wept over bitterly or gallantly fought for. Mourned, or regretted just a little.

So that I felt like I was someone worth having in the first place.

May 20, 2005


Filed under: parting ways — petiteanglaise @ 12:08 pm

When you walked into the bar, wearing your cuddly blue duffle coat, I found you irresistibly cute.

I remember you kissing me gently on the cheek after our second meeting and bundling me into a taxi.

I remember going to watch some weird film at a cinema near where you lived, so I had a pretext to stop by.

I remember listening to Portishead, lying on the bed in your tiny chambre de bonne, with its sloping floor and pre-war electrics, seeing only your grey blue eyes.

I remember the joy written all over your face when I told you we were having a baby.

I remember holding on to you for dear life whilst I retreated far inside myself to deal with the pain of labour.

I remember you giving Tadpole her first bath by my side, while I looked on, helpless, unable to move.

I remember standing by her bed, by your side, many times, marvelling at our beautiful daughter as she slept, wondering how we came to create such a perfect creature.


I feel dazed yet strangely calm inside. Tearful at times, but mostly just numb.

I am profoundly sad and sorry that it has come to this.

But I know, without the merest shadow of a doubt, that it is what is right.

May 19, 2005

pole dancing

Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaise @ 5:51 pm

The metro doors open with a shudder and the floodgates open. I stand well back to let everyone past, but still manage to get buffeted and elbowed in the ribs. I don’t know what it is about wearing headphones, but with them on I am noticeably clumsier. I gauge distances badly, I tread on toes and am unable to weave in and out of crowds with my customary ease.

Safely inside, I manoeuvre myself into a position where I can grasp the metal pole in the standing area at a comfortable height. The carriage is bursting at the seams; the air is damp and thick. A woman folds herself into the crook of my arm, obscuring my view of the pole and making it difficult to hold on with her weight bearing onto me. Her hair is pulled back into a slick ponytail, and whatever she has used on it that morning causes me to fight back a sneeze.

As the train pulls away into the tunnel, I feel a clammy, insistent pressure against my curled palm and recoil inwardly. Certain types of unsollicited physical contact with strangers make me very uncomfortable, even if it is only the feather-light graze of an unknown hand against mine.

I inch my hand higher up the pole. Undeterred, the hand follows my lead, applying insistent pressure, so that my skin prickles with revulsion. I can’t decide whether to withdraw my hand altogether, relying on the fact that I’m so tightly wedged up against my fellow passengers that I won’t fall over, even if the driver chooses to slam on the brakes, or to steel myself to endure the surreptitious hand mauling all the way to my destination.

I choose a third option. I don’t have much in the way of fingernails. But just enough. I hear a sharp intake of breath and feel the hand fall away.

Petite 1 – anonymous hand fetishist 0


Mr Frog and I were out shopping. We had just started working and the novelty of having a ‘proper job’ after all those relatively poverty stricken student years had not yet worn off. The metro was moderately crowded and we were standing at opposite sides of the pole, discussing where to take a break from our orgy of spending for a bite to eat.

An attractive young couple shared ‘our’ pole, along with two or three other strangers of various ages whose faces are just a blur in my memory. I don’t recall what the couple were wearing, or the colour of their hair, only that their eyes were locked together: they were wrapped up in each other, oblivious to the rest of the world.

Without taking his eyes of her for a second, the man leaned forward to kiss her hand gently, but deliberately. Her pupils widened in shock. The hand was pulled away, sharply; an older woman, standing nearby, gasped and flushed a deep shade of crimson.

It took us a second or two to register what had happened.

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