because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


Like I've said before, this month I'm living at mum and dad's whilst I am between adventures. I'm back from the USA, and just waiting for the end of the month to wave hello at me so that I can get on a flight to Milan and go and teach Italian children important things, like how to compare Pamela Anderson's breasts to fruit.

In fact, I've just been telling Mama and Papa over supper about how this last summer one of the only things I managed to teach one of my six-year-olds- those six-year-olds that need to be bi-lingual for all the undercover Interpol work that they do that takes them to English-speaking nations, and for all those English-speaking hotties on the playground they must learn to woo; the six-year-olds that sometimes can't even write their own names or wipe their own asses after taking a sloppy dump - is how to clap his fricking hands together.

After every merenda, or snack break, I would shout "Penguins, ATTENTION!" and my kids would come running over to me, form an orderly line behind one another and then put two fingers to their temples in an army salute. OH THE SEDUCTION OF POWER. And every SINGLE time, this one kid- I think his name was Giovanni- would ask to go to the water fountain. In Italian, too, which contractually I was obliged to ignore and reply only in English to. And he was so damned angelic looking, all baby teeth and floppy blonde hair and miniature glasses that I would always brush my palms together lightly to demonstrate my response. "Fast!" I'd reply, making my hands make a sort of swooshing noise.

Thing is, Giovanni started to use his new English after every merenda for the remaining two weeks of English camp. He'd be a penguin for a moment, then rush forward to ask to go and get a drink. He'd look at me, wide-eyed and full of excitement, ready to practice his English. "Maestra!" he'd say. Teacher. And then he would inhale, hold his breath, look me right in the eye and rub his palms together just like I had done, without saying a word but swooshing all over the shop. He would then nod frantically as if to say, "I did it in English! Can I go?" His parents might want to ask for a refund.

So whilst I'm waiting to return to Italy and work my magic for another summer I've been spending quite a bit of time accompanying Mama on her daily toings-and-froings. You know, to pass the time. Doing things like visiting Nanna, popping to Sainsbury's, talking for thirty-five minutes with the chap at the paint shop about the merits of Elephant's Breath over Dead Salmon. And no. I didn't make that up. I presume whomever invented that one was on work experience and promptly got canned for crimes against seafood. I have never, ever, heard somebody declare that they, "are looking for a lovely shade of... oh, I don't know, dead salmon!" I'd've thought a dead salmon was the same colour as a live salmon, anyway. And regardless, it rather seems a bit tasteless to decorate in a palate of fish.

At said paint shop we purchased some tester pots and then crossed over the road to pick up the dog, Harry, from the vets. "Do you want to put that in the car?" Mama asked me. "Nah, let's just get to the dog," I replied. It was only a couple of tester pots after all. And if I'm not good for carrying stuff then I'm pretty much redundant to humanity.

We took a seat in the vets surgery and waited for them to fetch Harry. I set the paint down on the windowsill behind me. "Don't do that," Mama scolded me. "You'll forget it. You'll forget it, and at 6 o'clock tonight we'll go to try it out on the bathroom wall and you'll say 'I left it at the vets!' and by then the surgery will be closed and I'll get cross and you'll set us back a day in the decorating, which your father won't be pleased about," she said. She pursed her lips.

I looked at her. "Bloody hell, mum, I'm not six you know! I'm not Jack back in 1993, getting bored at the shopping centre and leaving that bag of new Next clothes on the public bathroom floor! You're SUCH an old woman. I'M TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OLD. Give me a bit of credit would you?" I said all of this without pausing AT ALL. I was defending my maturity by speaking in teenager.

Mama laughed.

After we collected the dog and we were all piling into the car, the receptionist ran out of the surgery and yelled to me, "Excuse me love, but are these yours?"

She was holding the pots of paint.

Mama looked at me and said nothing.

Lesson learned.
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