We are back to school and it is so good. Sad, because of no sleeping-in anymore and the terrible shouty mornings, but good, because there is only one person demanding biscuits every 12 minutes and he, little Otis, is too small to care about exactly where he sits on the couch (there is so much daily crying and violence about this) and he is too young to have vicious fights over which identical pocketknife is his (because he doesn’t have one! HELLO! obvs! He has to be at least nine before I gift him a blade) and there is no one around to softly mouth ‘dickhead’ or ‘kissbutt’ or ‘barbiegirl’ at him while I am not looking. So it’s quiet and uneventful with most of them gone all day – nearly boring, but not quite, because I have a phone to incessantly check and the Selfridges sale has been taking up *quite* a bit of my time. It is just him and me, although only until next week when he will go to nursery five mornings a week and I will become a part time childless mother and will feel guilty and shamed about not having anywhere to go to do objectively valuable and clearly defined work.
Today there was the usual early morning half-dressed thing where everyone is mostly in uniform at 7am, sleepily rubbing eyes and scratching heads and breathing their half sweet half not-lovely baby/adult mashup breath at me, tipping milk into the grooves of the old pine table and leaving overfull cereal bowls to slowly macerate and swell, crying about socks and whinging about breakfast TV news not being in cartoon form, and then suddenly they all seem to have enough time and good cheer for a few rounds of something rated 12 on the new Christmas PS4 (not my idea) and then it’s 8:04 and I shout about getting teeth done and finding shoes and remembering bags and then we get to the top of the stairs and Noah has the dirtiest jumper ever with an unspecified something all down the front and I say, even though we are seriously flirting with lateness, that he has to go and get another one, but he has a glacial pace and so instead I run down and find him a jumper and tell him to change on the icy street and he does but cries that this new jumper smells like sick. And I shout at the top of my ancient, fed-up, mean old lady voice:
IT’S BETTER TO GO AROUND SMELLING LIKE SICK THAN LOOKING LIKE YOU HAVE BEEN SICK ALL OVER YOURSELF, ISN’T IT? and with that, my family, the dog and I sashay down the street and I wonder what the neighbours really do think.
Class. We really have it, and in quite the large dollop.
HOWEVER, CHRIMBO HIGHLIGHTS
Tesco had champagne for nine quid a bottle. It was pink and TOTALLY CLASSY. I started off mixing it with peach juice, to make glamorous bellinis at our New Year’s Eve party, and chatted and sparkled like Truman Capote while we guessed the names of 90’s songs and worked though a list of stink games until 10:22pm, when the pink champagne started to sit like an elephant onto my head and my eyes started to close and the room got wobbly and I lurched from chair to table to radiator in an effort to get into my bed. Once again, at my own party, I was the first to leave.
We went to Italy for Christmas, to the lake parts (lady parts? no. Lake parts) near Como. This is what it looks like, in winter, from the top of a mountain. Really, though…how lovely is that! That’s the Alps in the distance:
We stayed with lovely friends who were very brave to put up with us for a whole week. There was a massive supermarket down the mountain which had more delightfully packaged boxes of panettone than you could imagine, and tiny little packages of chocolate pralines and artfully tinned butters and the DELI COUNTER! Oh, the deli counter with more cured porky meats that you knew could even exist, with the men waiting for you to present them with a numbered ticket to order your slices of bresaola, mortadella, prosciutto crudo, lardo, bits of cured tendons, speck, etc etc. It was like an antipasto dream. And then, if all that wasn’t awesome enough, they had a proper little cafe inside the supermarket with all manner of salty meaty ready sandwiches and platters of roasted vegetables and cheesy things and a bar counter where you ordered your 1 euro macchiato and drank the few hot fruity rich strong sips with the (very short) locals and you were kind of smiling to yourself because you were being so nonchalantly Italian without even trying to be. Twice a day the Italians stop what they are doing and go and perch at a bar and drink their coffee and talk loudly with their hands swinging about and maybe nibble some free stuff (*more on that later) and then they go about their business with the swift kick of caffeine inside them but also something else – a little community camaraderie fuelling their sprints as they go back to do a siesta or cure a bit of pork or make a lasagne. What a bloody #culturegoal, eh? Then they go out again for an apertivo.
An *apertivo gets its own section. So, Celia and I were in Milan for the day and at about 6pm we went to a bar that looked lively and wandered in and ordered a cocktail for 9 euro. We sat down, then Celia pointed mine hungry thirsty eyes to the bar and there was like a free buffet there! Little sandwiches and chips and arancini balls and some pork things and cured meats and olives and cheeses and salads and vegetables, all on offer, all for the cocktail drinkers, all for free, because the Italians are kind of awesome. I have been to Italy before, and I do know about all this craziness, but there is something about it being Christmas, and the gratefulness you feel when someone (Mark) is looking after your kids all day and the fact that you are swanning about in Milan getting free food that kind of melts your hardened 2016 heart. The heart that expects good people to die and the world to ruin itself and Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles to become completely true. So for a moment, an Italian Christmassy moment, while I hoovered up free food and let the cocktail do its work on my bloodstream, all was completely ace.
Tiny nutty Italian lake towns. After a ride up the buckets to the top of a mountain overlooking Levona, we came back down again and stumbled into a lake town holding an underwater nativity themed mulled-wine PARTAY. Otis peed his trousers and so went pantless and threw countless rocks into the water, while the rest of us marvelled at the underwater nativity scene that had Jesus sitting in a clamshell. OH YES, WHY NOT?
Here are the buckets. Very un-health&safety:
So at the top of the driveway where we were staying there was two things of note – a very lovely pizza and gin restaurant and a 2 kilometre pilgrimage further up the hill to 14 chapels which showed Jesus dioramas from birth to the ascension. Here is Otis doing a pose in front of a chapel. No camp tendencies in that kid, OH NO:
It was a proper lovely holiday (complete with a visit to the overpriced, sickly and revolting Lindt factory shop which enchanted the sugar-drugged children) and other than smashing the massive people mover into a bush, it was another Christmas triumph. Meanwhile, more Chanel artist stuff written by me has been posted online. 2017, so far you have been not so shit as 2016. Here we are, looking a little wonky, days away from celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary via the medium of passionfruit martinis and that movie with Bryan Cranston being James Franco’s father-in-law. Happy New Year to you all!