More of the same, also eyeliner

I am convinced that lockdown tales are not very interesting, so I won’t have much to report on that. Every day is the same, with spikes of violence when subtle provocation gets too much for a kid who has been inside too long, and then stretches of device-enabled calm. Sometimes there is a flurry of creative activity that makes me wish someone was filming me so I could make some sort of How-To-Parent-Amazingly short video to flash about on social media, but these often don’t last long or I have had to pay them to do it in the first place, which isn’t quite in the spirit of the aspirational parenting I might be hoping for. (Although it is imprinted on my brain that A.A. Gill would get his kids to do their homework by chucking them £20 a time, and if he could do that then there is hope for all of us flagrant and disengaged (and fiscally irresponsible) parents everywhere).

I asked the kids to make a collage out of the Vogues I never read which sit in the hallway loo, gathering all sorts of germs which we don’t care about because there are Bigger Germy Fish To Fry right now. I’ve been buying some art over lockdown and I like clever collages and figured out we could make our own and frame them. I told the kids the best one would earn them £5. Two of them made collages, we all ran out of steam at the cleaning up part, then I had to judge them but I felt mean and unqualified so now I owe them each a fiver and my Vogues have been ruined. It would have made a nice video though.

We are playing Scrabble together (well, we did once) and the kids are into competitive pancake making each morning. This causes a lot of smoke to get into our clothes and hair and we are going through bananas, frozen berries, eggs and flour at a terrific rate. Unfortunately they won’t band together on the pancake thing which would save on labour and resources, but instead have three batters going each day, with three different bowls and three different recipes and a congested kitchen lineup at the stove when they should actually be getting ready for online schoolwork.

I am torn. It is good to learn to cook but perhaps if it segued into dinner preparation for us all I might be more enthused, because cooking a different dinner every night for eight people is wearing me down. For perspective, cooking for eight is like one nuclear family inviting another nuclear family over every night, and my kids are no less exacting. They don’t *love* leftovers, one hates cheese, one hates pasta, I won’t eat fish, Otis only really likes soy sauce. Mark is used to quite an elevated culinary event because me doing the elaborate cooking (which often involves new recipes and various side dishes) and Mark wolfing it down with heaped praise is actually pretty much what our marriage boils down to, and so I cannot really lessen off. My marriage is really dinner. Make of that what you will.

Of course, all this is compounded by the fact that you have to plan to go to the supermarket, and take a book to read while you wait outside in the long, long queue. I usually dress up for this. I have never knowingly gone without a full face of makeup, an outfit lewk (mostly enormous dresses with trainers, big earrings, my hands dripping in spiky dangerous jewellery (see previous post for the fun and games that they entail), oversized sunglasses and glossy lips. To add to the sense of occasion, yesterday I dyed my hair Bleach London’s Awkward Peach, so now I feel a bit young and fun (this makes me sound very middle-aged, doesn’t it?). Each day, regardless of the need to visit Waitrose, I had been trying to work on my liquid eyeliner application which is finally getting steadier. I really cherish this Waitrose queue time, because it is without the dog, without the baby and without the children. I leave them at home while they shout up the stairs for me to not forget to bring them home Cawston Press Sparkling Rhubarb drinks and two types of Pot Noodles. This supermarket time is gold, and I like to pretend to myself that while I am in the queue, people notice me and think I am single and young and fun, and that my eyeliner is not wonky. That is all I really ask.

The other thing is that I have joined everyone else in baking focaccia. This is making us a bit fat, although I am running quite a bit to counteract this. I was delighted to note yesterday that I can finally get my upper arms into my Isabel Marant denim shirt. I haven’t been able to wear it since about halfway through my pregnancy, which is is nearly two years. Two years of tightly-packed sausages for upper arms. I wore it yesterday and while it did leave red pressure points in my inner elbow folds, you couldn’t really tell. Not when you were distracted by my peach hair, anyway.

Camera Roll Photo Essay

The other thing not making me thin are the Gails cinnamon buns that we order once a week:


Me in the Waitrose queue, hoping that I am being admired by strangers:


The dog. He embarrassed me on Friday by insisting on making a high-pitched bark at a big branch. An older lady came over to tell me that there are videos on YouTube that would help me with his annoying barking and that she thought it wasn’t only her who was sick of it, but everyone in the park who was there for some peace and quiet. I think I may have given her an eye-roll. I hope she noticed my much-improved liquid eyeliner application, anyway.


The kids after playing in the park with the dog who is helpfully demonstrating his annoying bark. The kids had been under the trees playing a game about lion/monkey hybrids:


Disco eyes for Waitrose:


Oily focaccia:


An example of how life can be your own personal catwalk, complete with a soundtrack in your head and imagined paparazzi:


A photo by my friend Rebecca of the divine Remi at 4 days old:


Biscuits. I cannot bake biscuits:


But I do bake lovely babies, amiright? Remi in his romper:


Lastly, my peach hair (and pretty good eyeliner):



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2 Responses to More of the same, also eyeliner

  1. Tutak says:

    Another fabulous blog I too enjoy the peace of the Waitrose queue, and like reading a book while I’m shuffling along incrementally, rather than poking at my phone (which is what I’d be doing if there wasn’t an audience). But I don’t do much in the way of dressing up and have discovered that sunny weather (sunglasses) and a face mask means that putting on eye make up and worrying about whether there’s spinach between my teeth is a thing of the past. But I like the reading time. I was rather disappointed that on my last visit, the queue only lasted for 20 minutes. Your baking looks great. My one attempt at focaccia was a bit rubbish and I may not repeat it, would you like my block of live yeast? I’ll swap you for a couple of extra cinammon rolls in your next Gail’s order. And a foolproof biscuit recipe. And do your boys eat savoury pancakes? I’ve been knocking out Korean style prawn and spring onion ones with a soy/rice vinegar/chili dipping sauce for brunch (very easy recipe on BBC food site) – they almost stop us missing going out for dim sum etc. The recipe could be adapted for non-fish eaters with some other savoury morsels.

  2. rose says:

    Thank you so much for writing. All contact with an outside world is greeted with intense celebration by the singleton shut-ins around the world. But yours are particularly fun and graceful and filled with delightful children who are obvious totally angelic and cooperative with everyone all the time and …. magical. Luckily I still am able to remember my own at similar ages, and the grands too. SO magical as opposed to totally realistic makes sense.
    I am now convinced many ‘older mature English females’ have totally lost their marbles and memories of reality. But it is fun to read about their pure untainted by reality figments and your eyerolls. Much more fun than reading the demented new headliners.
    Please keep writing, there is still a very very long road to haul and your help is much appreciated as I still see no light in the tunnel … not even that of on oncoming train.
    Your golden glitter made my week, am certain will not see it’s glorious equal in lines here.

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