Note that the phrasing of the advice may not always be his - but the substance generally is, (except in one fairly obvious case).
Our guest is a Londoner from Belgravia and has a beautiful blog full of fun and recipes. She's the real thing. And I'm going to go to her blog tomorrow and try not mess things up too much. But I'm nervous. Nervous in the way that I am if I have a guest coming at home that I haven't met before. What if they don't like it here? What if they think it's a bit messy (a pigsty, in fact)? So I think a bit of cleaning is in order before my new friend Belgravia Wife - sort of, comes to visit.
It's fortunate that my big sister helps (the 'little one' Marianne is busy chasing up some nonsense or other for Thursday's writing workshop). It's fortunate because I could have gotten mixed up in my spelling for my first interpretation of the theme:
You know the feeling, I’m sure: we’ve all done something extraordinary, at least once, in our life. You rode an elephant, hunted a bear, killed a snake with your bare hands, met Alexander Skarsgard on a plane* and each time you meet someone new, there will come a moment when you will tell the story. And, except if it’s very recent, you’ll realize you’ll be telling it the exact same way as the time before. People don’t want to hear how the elephant was in fact very small, the bear blind and the snake already dying : they want to hear something exciting.
This week's charter brings you the ex-pat life. Both Marianne and I have experienced it. She lived in Cuba (yes, Cuba!) for nine months, and I've spent more time out of France (12 years in Britain and 10 years in Turkey) than in France. So we thought we'd have something to say!
Turns out I have almost too much to say in fact. I'm not sure I can remember what it's like not to be an ex-pat, I wasn't yet eighteen when I moved out. So instead of wasting good tv-watching time rummaging through 22 years of life, I decided to pick on what someone else had said and offer you a little rant. So here goes.
[Please do the sums. Not yet 18 plus 22 = not yet 40. I'm not 40 yet. Do your sums.]
It has long been my impression that our world is riddled with inequalities both in nature and in our treatment of each other. What has never been till now quite clear to me is how little those we treat as inferiors owe their inferiority to nature and not prejudice. In some cases at least it is obvious that it is our societies' treatment of them that has rendered them inferior. (I think that French manners, in particular, are much to blame for this.) Such is the case, I am now convinced, with zombies. Is a zombie by its nature a brain chomping, limb dropping fool, or has it been forced to become so by the prejudices of our society?
I've always been a migraine sufferer. I got them as a child. Then they stopped, and started again in my late teens. And that was a while ago. I'd kind of gotten used to them (could even begin to remember which side of my head they were on) and could pick up the early warning signs. At least my husband could.
Not that I don't read. I do, all the time.
But I'm not that good on libraries. Every time I go into one, I marvel at the fact that they'll let me take some books home for free. Any book I like. Even crime fiction. That is truly wonderful.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've all heard it, men don't cook. At least not everyday cooking: they won't have dinner ready on the table when the children are hungry. Or if they do, they've cooked something entirely inappropriate and made such a mess in the kitchen that Mary Poppins' frantic finger snapping and spoonful of sugar singing will cause her to have a heart attack. Then you'll have a messy kitchen and a dead Mary Poppins. Great.
In my experience, there are not many ways to involve men in cooking. That is, except if you married Mr. Perfect who’ll cook for you way after the honeymoon period is over– the honeymoon period being the first three years in a couple’s life. If you did marry Mr. Perfect, then go away. I mean it. Now.*
I love lists, so I figured I’d make one for you ladies, a very important one, drum roll:10 ways to involve men in cooking. Ha, I knew you’d be interested.
Here's my post: Kids Toys - A Lesson on Quality, Sharing, Respect and Simplicity.
And just in case you think this is a one off, and that we can't do serious stuff at the Paris-Ankara Express, check my other guest post over at Multilingual Mania.
Until recently, our life was even more villagey because we had a local, the Bistro, a place we all went off to on a Friday night.
Which is probably why I have the exact same dream the night before I fly somewhere. The night before that, i.e. two days before the trip, I usually have terrifying nightmares involving planes crashes, I toss and turn in my bed, I totally freak out and when I wake up, all I want to do is call the whole thing off. For whatever reason, it all goes away after that. So here comes the night with the cool dream.
When sister 3 sent the email suggesting Marianne and I do our Weekend Charter on flying - Yes we had to ask her again, but next week we're asking you! - I was actually drawing a picture of a plane for my son. He likes pictures of planes and he did the one in the banner. But that's not why I was drawing one. You see we're flying to Izmir in the summer and I have to prepare him. And because he thinks in pictures, any preparation has to take the form of picture stories - social stories, they're called. I draw little cartoons of exactly what is going to happen, highlighting what he shouldn't do by drawing big red crossed circles on the pictures - the universal no. When he sees these cartoon strips, he understands what's going to happen and stops worrying about it so much. This is something I wish I'd known about this time last year.
And things aren't quite as bad as they were in France when everyone had to vote for Sarkozy because otherwise the National Front would get in!!! So let's forgive, and if not forget, at least take a deep breath and calm down.
Ooh ooh, can I do one? I asked Sister 3 this afternoon.
Going through all the entries at this week's gallery made me want to share the places I love here in Turkey, so I asked my sister if she'd mind very much if I were to post some pics of Cappadokia. Except she hasn't replied yet (new email address issues - that'd also be why she hasn't replied to her comments yet either!) and also, looking through my holiday snaps, I decided that what I really wanted to share, was photos of the Aegean, where we spend time in the summer. What with the sun coming out and all, it will soon be time to go there! (Sorry for those of you out there who're stuck in inclement lands...)
So here we go.
The first two were taken in Selcuk, at the St John Basilica. This would have been a huge place, with several buildings, bigger than Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, built by Constantine in memory of John who supposedly brought Mary back to Efes after her son's crucifixion. A lot of Turkish sites are littered with huge clay pots like the one my daughter is trying to climb into. They definitely perk up
I stopped appreciating poetry when I switched from French to English in my late teens. I mean I love things like Emily Dickinson, Wendy Cope, and I'm quite fond of Christina Rossetti, but on the whole I don't get it. Don't know why. Different rhythms and rimes, different conventions that I never studied. Maybe. Oh, and I quite like it when my husband reads poems aloud to me. Hint, hint...
My 10 year old daughter, ever tuned in to my swearing under my breath, asks what's up. I said I have to write a Haiku and will probably have to give up on this week's assignment. "Don't be stupid, she says. It's really easy. All you have to do is think of a subject then express yourself about it in 5-7-5. I open my mouth to scold her for, well, knowing better than me, when a light shines and I ask sweetly: 'Would you write one for me?'. 'Sure. I'll write a few and you can choose one. How about Istanbul and other places?' 'Ok'.
There's been a lot of debate over the American interweb as to whether children should be seen and heard in public places. People have been indignant, moderate, and some commentators got pretty heated (sorry Kristen!).
So the sisters and I decided that what this debate really needed was the balanced and unprejudiced perspective of the Paris-Ankara Express. Here goes.
Probably the very best piece of childcare advice ever given us - hold on, actually the second best, the best was about how to share the burden of night feeds equally (I kid you not!), and probably prevented our marriage from going into self destruct mode within weeks of our daughter's birth.