Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Post-Holiday Laments

So all that stuff I said a while ago about eating properly and losing weight, you knew that meant after my holiday, right? Because if you were to look at me now, nearly a month later, and hope to see some change for the better, you’d be sorely disappointed.

I make no apologies – there was no way I was going to spend two weeks surrounded by delicious, cheap food one can’t get here, and plentiful five-star resort buffets, only to crunch glumly on celery sticks and rye crispbread. Besides, as I realised with relief (and also a tinge of vicarious shame when I imagined what the staff must think of the rich white tourists) I was hardly the sole, nor the fattest, fatty lounging by the pool.

But the self-declared diet amnesty is not the only thing I miss about my holiday. For six months beforehand my mediocre parenting and housekeeping had me merely coping at home with three small children, daily sinking deeper in despair as the house grew dirtier and the mental list of Things My Children Will Resent Me For grew longer. Then came those fourteen days spent in the glorious tropics instead of frigid and dismal winter, when my biggest worry was fighting off over-eager porky Americans who couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of waiting their turn for hot waffles at breakfast. Even with the difficulties attendant on holidaying with children, it was such a refreshing relief for me.

Now, however, I’ve been rudely thrust back into the cold and the grey of forty degrees too far south, in a one-star house without so much as a personal chef or a maid to wean me off the luxury to which I became so easily accustomed.

If, like some girls I went to school with, you opine that going on a nice holiday makes me guilty of being a ‘rich bitch’, you may be thinking something along the lines of: Aww, jaded by all the extravagance, are we? Spoiled for normal life by an expensive trip beyond the means of many of us? Try not to drown in my river of tears, Rich Bitch! And I could see your point. Even though the holiday was years in the planning and paid for by the bequest from my mother’s mother; even though my annual childcare costs when I return to work could not only pay for the same holiday but fly us first class; even though that was probably the last time I’ll see my other grandmother – my sole remaining grandparent – alive, I see your point.

Still, after a taste of champagne it’s hard to go back to swigging goon, and I can’t help but pine for the trappings of a lifestyle I can only borrow, not keep. O where is my daily housekeeping service? Whither my breakfast spread? Where is my view of the South China Sea? Who will turn down my bed?

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Older and Wiser

The temperature didn’t magically rise by ten degrees, the housework wasn’t done by elves, the children still behaved as children do, and it was pretty much a day like any other. The shop-bought sponge my mum brought round as afternoon-tea-cum-unofficial-birthday-cake was dredged with that nasty, floury icing sugar mixture, and the artificial jam substitute inside was disappointingly insufficient to balance the flavour of the dubious fresh cream. The furthest I got from the house all day was the front yard, and I never even changed out of my pyjamas. That evening there was no party, no guests and no fancy dinner. The similarities with a non-event were striking.

But my mum visited with afternoon tea, and I rested at home instead of running errands or taxiing children to activities which tired me out more than them. I spent all day in my pyjamas which, as those familiar with my world of sloth will know, is one of my favourite things to do. There was no party to clean or cook for, no guests for whom to make an effort at sociability or stay up late, although I still received several touching birthday wishes. Mr. Lonie bought me the present I wanted, miraculously without baulking at the cost, and the card he gave me was chosen with more thought than I believed possible.

Even after far too many for a society obsessed with youth, birthdays are still good.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Thirty is the New Twenty

…Right? I know the number 30 is arbitrary, and I may as well be just as unenthused about turning 28 (those were the days!) or 31. I know that in many respects – openness to new music and technology, reminiscing about my long-gone heyday, giving up (with a sigh of relief) on trying to be cool, consulting doctors who are too young to know who Mr. T is – I grew old a long time ago. Still, I feel an impotent reluctance to succumb to this inevitability of life, an inevitability which is apparently so horrifying this video was produced:

But oddly enough, watching that vapid girl indignantly protesting her youth to a world of strangers has a cheering effect on me. After all, I’m over my salad days and no longer grope desperately for peer acceptance, a fa├žade to hide my insecurities, a career, a life partner or a family. I mean, youth is great and all but ah! sweet old age brings retirement and an average thirty or forty years of nothing to do except wax nostalgic about the good old days before flying cars and the terrifying reign of the giant mutant polony monster.

So happy birthday to me, and bring it on! It’s not like I’m turning 40.