02 February, 2006

so much new stuff happening

Well, things are looking up, in short. I have a new friend, Avery has a new friend, we have a new cleaning lady and Tuesday we will meet the
new babysitter!

Yesterday my new friend Becky called to see if I wanted to go with her to a store called ASDA, the English Wal-mart, to get cleaning supplies for today's cleaning lady visit. I was feeling at loose ends so we
went, and apart from getting lost listening to the GPS tell us the wrong way to go on the motorway, we arrived safely somewhere on the outskirts of London and I bought everything in sight. I simply love the notion of Fairy Liquid, and I have always doted on the term "washing-up liquid." It's so to the point. Then Fairy make
dishwasher pellets too, in some weird self-degrading packaging per pellet, so I succumbed. There were many many products that Becky was sure I needed, so I came away with a mop, some bathroom cleaner, some limescale remover for the scary hard water here, some steel cleaner, oven cleaner, you name it. There was a food section, but it was frightening to see what they were selling, in enormous quantities: many kinds of indigestible-looking gravies, tinned tuna mixed with everything under the sun including sweetcorn (the British are obsessed with mixing tuna with sweetcorn in every dish imaginable), the ubiquitous blackcurrant juice called Ribena, thousands of varieties of plain white bread. They specify thin-,
medium- or thick-sliced, interestingly. Something for everyone.

Home again, then to school pickup where the report on the frightening English Speaking Board exam was mixed. I was bringing Becky's daughter Anna home with us for the landmark First Playdate in London, so I packed both girls in a taxi and got the lowdown on how the speeches went ("I forgot fully half my speech," Avery claimed with some pride, while Anna felt she had acquitted herself quite well), the poem, and the reading-aloud. They assessed each girl's performance in detail. "I cahn't believe Sarah chose her Nintendo as her object, for her speech. It's just a game and she didn't even tell how she got it, just how to play it. The examiner was quite bored, I think," Avery said. Compared to the eloquent obsequies Avery was able to offer about HER object, her riding helmet, one can only imagine poor Sarah's plight. Home for microwave popcorn (once I had deciphered the
incredibly complex instructions for the oven, which included the advice to "try it out straightaway, why not? make yourself a cup of tea, and then drink it while reading this instruction manual quite thoroughly"; can you imagine American instructions having that sort of charm?). The girls screeched and laughed and threw toys all around, and it was a total pleasure to hear Avery being goofy and silly for
the first time since we've been here. Dorrie, the new cleaning lady from the Philippines, came to look over the place and see what was required, and left. A lovely, soft-spoken lady of 51 who looks 30, and has many tales to tell of her previous employers, a Saudi family who took her to Germany, Poland, Lebanon, Joran and New York. I felt sadly uncool beside that scenario, but one can but try.

Becky came to pick up Anna, bringing along little Eleanor the
kindergartner and Ashley the touchingly super-cool 11-year-old who is desperate to babysit, and to adopt all our cats. "Do you ever go away and need a sitter for them?" We went down to the bedroom where the girls were playing and it was completely adorable to see all three little girls in their uniforms. Ashley affected a lively disdain however, and said she wouldn't be caught dead in
something someone else told her to wear. I gave them a hefty portion of the bolognese sauce I had spent the afternoon making, and if I do say so myself it's the best bolognese ever: full of carrots, white wine, nutmeg, garlic and tomatoes. We assessed the reception (English for living) room furniture and determined that everything was in the wrong place. I have an estimate for some shelving to install, but the whole prospect is daunting. I need my sister or my mother to some and
tell me what to do, and then someone else actually to do it.

This morning Avery and were a bit wiped out from so much... stuff
happening. But to school nonetheless, and I sat with the kindergartners to be read to. What happens is that in between my Thursdays, there is another day when another mother comes to read. So I often come in the middle of a book. Last week little Kathryn was reading to me, inexplicably, about a little boy who had somehow caused
a number of flans to go missing. A flan is a particularly noxious, at least to me, French-inspired pudding of a custardy variety, and how a number of them went missing I never found out. Today Emilie's book was an Edward Gorey-illustrated book about a boy called Treehorn who began to shrink. Their piping little voices are just too much. "'Mummy,'" Emilie read earnestly, "'my sleeves all seem to be too long and I keep tripping on my trouser legs.'" She stopped in consternation. "If he isn't careful," she said seriously, "someone
will trod upon him." !!!

Then, as if it weren't all too much anyway, there's a whole identity here called a "Yummy Mummy," which seems to mean that not only are we all required to take care of our husbands and children, volunteer nicely, cook meals and decorate our reception rooms, but we're meant to be really sexy as well. Too much pressure!

Home now, trying not to act like I'm watching Dorrie clean. It's odd for me to have a total stranger here, after the years and years of Carmen's friendship and devotion and familiar litany of misfortunes. I wonder how she's doing. A call to her daughter is probably in order.

Well, you're up to date. We're all feeling the end-of-the-week frazzlement and I think it's a roast chicken, early bed night. Perhaps a wild-mushroom risotto for comfort.

1 comment:

Library Lover said...

Actually, it's Sophia, and a Nintendog