Wednesday, 29 August 2012

You're dumped

For the past few months I have been in a toxic relationship. He is possessive and controlling. But I cannot seem to let him go.

We started seeing each other back in April. From the beginning all the signs of new love were there: sweating palms, loss of appetite and an inability to think about anything (or anyone) else.

As time passed, things only got worse.

I have never met anyone quite so jealous. I go out with my friends but all he wants is to get me home to bed. I work hard but all he wants to do is get in the way of my plans. In fact he hates that I make plans at all - if he had his way he would be the one and only thing in my life. We would spend all day and night together in our pyjamas watching trashy television and working our way through entire boxes of biscuits. We would sleep in each other's arms for a hundred years and never once leave the house.

My friends have told me that he has changed me. Our volatile relationship makes my mood jump up and down like a yo-yo. He is utterly and completely wrong for me.

His name is Glandular Fever.

Mr Glandular Fever, you are officially dumped.

Now please go find someone else to hang around with.


Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Myth of 'The Spark'

I admired Jenny's open-minded attitude in today's Guardian... 

Hallelujah. This morning as I read my Saturday paper, the sheets spread out like a tablemat underneath my bowl of cereal, something made me stop and rejoice aloud. A couple on the Guardian’s ‘Blind Date’ page who actually wanted to meet again.

I don’t know why I always turn to the dating page in the Guardian. Maybe because I am intrigued to see what dish (man and food) I could potentially discover if I wasn’t too proud to put myself up for a blind date in a national newspaper. Either way I enjoy reading the descriptions of dates spent talking about ‘transport, theatre and our mutual love of Salman Rushdie and experimental pop-up restaurants in abandoned buildings’. (I may be prone to exaggeration).

But recently I was beginning to lose patience with the blind dating page. It’s the final two questions that always get me: ‘Marks out of 10’ and ‘Would you meet again?’ Since when has a 9 out of 10 not been good enough to warrant a second date? If Guardian blind dates are anything to go by, in today’s dating world you need to be nothing short of a 15 out of 10 if you want to find love.

The phenomenon of the perfect date with an undateable person shows a lot about our expectations of relationships. Reading the accounts of Guardian blind dates, ‘spark’ is the word that inevitably crops up in the final line and that burns any chance of a future rendez-vous. ‘He/she was the perfect guy/woman. But I don’t think we will ever see each other again. There was just no spark’.

I may risk having every rom-com character to have ever (not) existed pelting me with boxes of chocolates and thorny roses in saying this, but I don’t believe in the spark. Of course I have had crushes, I have met people I am instantly drawn to, and I have been in love, but I have never experienced that lightning bolt moment where you meet someone for the first time and instantly know that they are going to be the person for you. I don’t think that’s because I am actually an asexual cave-dweller. I think it’s just because the spark doesn’t exist.

I know I have already complained on this blog about the mind-altering power of the rom-com (or rom-con as my sister says), but as a woman who has watched her fair share of chick-flicks, I think I am entitled to complain again. Stand in the middle of a rom-com and you are at risk of catching alight for all the sparks flying about. Because that’s the trouble with sparks. They are dangerous, will soon burn out and may end up blinding you.

The only serious relationship I have had was with a friend who I had never really looked at twice until we had a random six-hour long conversation at a friend’s party. If I had been waiting for a lightning bolt to come down from the sky (or ceiling- we were inside) I probably wouldn’t have had the patience for a six-hour conversation. Most of the best relationships I have witnessed have been unexpected. My mum wrote off my step-dad the first time she met him. They have now been together for 11 years.

If you are looking for buried coins on the beach chances are you will not notice the amazing shells lying in the sand. Yes I just wrote a ridiculously cheesy metaphor. But wait until you hear this one…

A close friend (who will be left anonymous) recently had a very exciting and very short-lived fling that left her feeling somewhat low. One evening after having come back from a cocktail bar, I received a text message from her saying that she was feeling low because of the end of said fling. Empowered by the wisdom that can only come from several mojitos, I sent the following reply:

“I think experiences like these (exciting flings full of sparks) are like the sugar in your life. They make it tasty but you can’t live on sugar. You need solid things like bread to keep you going. OK bread may not be as sweet as sugar, but it fills you up and when it comes to it is much better for you. Ok I can’t believe I just compared relationships to bread and sugar, but what I mean is that I think it’s amazing to go for it and throw yourself into these exciting experiences, but also to think of it as what it is – some awesome sweetness.”

I am a fountain of wisdom when I am drunk. But I actually think the mojito-talk sums up quite accurately (and eloquently) how I feel.

Maybe I’m not being entirely honest in saying what I’m looking for is a plain unsweetened loaf of bread though. My friend had the final word: “what we really want are iced buns’. 


My Week in Paris: Jardin de Luxembourg

It has been several weeks since I came back from Paris, and I have settled back into my busy London life. I have been doing work experience at a local paper which has made me very very happy. I have been interviewing interesting people, visiting interesting places, and best of all... I have been writing.

After several weeks of frantic searching I have found a lovely new home where I shall move in just over a week's time.

So all in all things are pretty Bon-Maman finest jam-my.

But. Every now and then I get this strange feeling in my stomach - the feeling that I have forgotten something.

I think I have realised what it is. London may be my lovely home for now and may be keeping me busy and happy. But.

I left my heart in Paris. 


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Friday, 17 August 2012

A Festival. A Festival of Food.

 If you go down to Battersea Park today, you are sure of a big surprise.
 You will walk amongst the trees and along the lakes and see the geese drying their feathers on the banks and think that it is a normal sunny day in a normal sunny park in London.

But then you will smell the food. Over the tops of the trees there drifts an aroma, first of barbecue and charcoal, then of bread, then as you get closer you can sniff something sweet (Pancakes? Banana loaf? Ice cream?). You close your eyes and follow your nose until you come to a gate that reads 'Foodies Festival' and you find yourself wandering into a maze made of food.

 There is a stand selling French pastries and crusty loafs dusted with flour and poppy seeds.
 Each loaf has a different name and each pastry smiles at you with a mouth of raisins or sticky apricot lips.
 You sniff one last fix of freshly baked bread before moving onto the cheese stands. Cocktail sticks invite you to prick squares of cheddar. There are tangy mature cheeses that wake up your mouth and cheeses that are full of flavours, some expected (garlic, onion) and some not so (sticky toffee, strawberry. Yes. Sticky toffee and strawberry cheese. You decide to give it a try and suddenly everything you thought you knew about life has been thrown upside down. Because sticky toffee cheese is actually amazing).
 After the cheese it is time for a fishy interlude. You head to a stall selling mussels and chips and eat lemony mussels out of a cardboard box, using a shell for a spoon and scooping up the lemon and onion sauce.
 As you eat you lean against a tree and sip the cider you just bought from a bar selling 16 varieties of natural cider. If you could put an orchard in a cup, you think to yourself, this is what it would taste like.
 For the rest of the afternoon the question is not just what to eat (Turkish Delight? Baklava? Cheesy vegetarian sausages? Chunks of bread and olive oil?), but what to drink...
 There are mojitos and coconut water cocktails (drunk out of cocounuts with straws pierced through the shell) and caramel rum (that you try and that tastes like alcoholic Werther's Originals). There is Pimm's and champagne and beer and gin and wine.

 You sit in the sunshine for a while and listen to a musician (whose voice you could eat) and think about how wonderful it is to be alive.

And there is still so much left to see (and taste)...

 As the sun starts to sink beneath the trees you begin to make your way out of the park, back through the stands that you have explored like a dedicated traveller discovering unmapped lands. You take another little nibble of the lemon meringue flavoured fudge you have just bought. And you smile.

  It is golden and warm in Battersea Park, but your belly is full, your feet are tired and it is time to leave. You walk to the station and wait for the train, feeling utterly content.

Today has been a good day. Because today I went to the Foodies Festival and ate my way around Battersea Park. Tonight I shall dream in food. Tomorrow I shall cook.