Monday, 24 August 2015

"I Love To..."

Never one to shy away from a dare - especially one made under the influence of a rather poky Mojito - I found myself traipsing about Toronto the other day adorned as such:

It's kind of a running joke with my sister that for years now, whenever I come back to Toronto for a visit, I derive a rather primitive joy from power walking through the city's downtown, shoving aside dawdling,waddling passersby as I (earphone clad of course) rework my own version of Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy'.

However in my case it's more like 'Unfinished Shopping' as whenever I'm here I get this kind of 'Betty Crocker on Crack' panic, and feel I can't rest easy until my suitcase is bulging with baking supplies and other foodstuffs not available in the U.K.

Whereas others might flit about buying designer wares, I scamper excitedly through giant grocery stores, filling baskets to the brim, which eventually become too heavy to lug around, thus forcing me into transferring goods into a giant steel trolley, which even I can't pretend will translate into an acceptable luggage allowance of 23kilos at the airport.

My sister always smirks when she catches sight of the mounds of bags propped up by my suitcase after such excursions.  I think - no sorry, know for a fact - she thinks me a mentalist, but she also knows by now that somehow, I always get the stuff back home.

There's the time that I sat with a giant glass biscuit jar stuffed full of 'Freezies' on my lap for the entire eight hour flight.  And the time I wore not one but three winter jackets (one of which had a fluffy Eskimo hood) home in the dead of summer - shuffling through security like a Marshmallow Man - thereby necessitating an unfortunate detainment for questioning. And of course the time I almost missed my flight running through the airport with pockets stuffed full of lingerie which I couldn't cram into my luggage, and had to endure the humiliation shortly after take off, of a man three rows ahead quietly returning my satin pink push-up bra which had fallen in the aisle as I boarded.

When it comes to luggage, where there's an iron-clad will, there's a way - even if it means wearing a 'Jaktogo'.  Seriously...check it's on my wish list for Christmas:
Anyway, I digress.  I simply wanted to point out that I love being in Toronto - even if it's mostly because I live in London, England and can thereby, by virtue of not feeling 'stuck' in the country of my youth (however lovely a place it may be), appreciate its finer qualities when doled out in sunny summer holiday-sized portions.

As a child I vowed that one day I would live in London.  My father had adored practicing medicine in London for seven years before I was born, but ventured to Toronto for a six month research project, met my Canadian mum and the rest is history. Blame the bands, the lifestyle, the culture, the accent...even biting sarcasm.  Whatever it is, it got hold of me when I was but a wee thing, and when the husband and I permanently decamped in '96, we didn't look back...not even once.

So, I found it fitting that I should at the very least make my 'City Crush' public, and proudly wear an overpriced (thanks for springing for it Sis!) piece of 'Toronna Tat', proudly proclaiming my stance.

What I neglected to realise, until after an hour or so of wearing it in public, was that when paired with a somewhat bold hat, big sunnies and lashings of my usual lipstick, certain male members of the public would find it too difficult to refrain from calling out, "She loves to...______!!"(insert various lewd rejoinders).

(The bloody shirt designers had unfortunately decided not to spring for the two periods/full stops needed in order to read 'T.O.' instead of 'To...', thereby proving too tantalising not to comment upon for some.)

Oh well.  I still love my shirt, and plan on wearing it in London too.  And my suitcase is going to once again prove a logistical challenge to pack.

And today, even though I'm off to the dentist shortly, I can't help but feel a touch smug that the sun is blazing hot here in T.O. whilst in London it's about to be a deluge for the next three days and there are rumours that more tube strikes are imminent.

See why I love T.O.?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

"Let's Talk About...Labiaplasty"

The monsters and I are currently on a whirlwind, late summer trip to see family in Canada.  This hasn't been without its trials (namely vomiting, onset of Noro Virus to various family members, and last minute decision to get bad UK dental work remedied).

Yesterday, on my way to spending several hours in a dental chair (which thoughtfully came equipped with inbuilt 'kneading action' like the kind you find in pedicure spas), I was most amused to find this huge ad above my head on the 'subway' ('tube' to all you UK luddites).

I suppose the constant rumbling motion of train on tracks might induce some discomfort in long rides, which might lead to a casual cursory thought regarding ones undercarriage, which might in turn - with a haphazard glance upwards - lead to thoughts of tampering with ones ladybits.  Or maybe not.

You do wonder why this particular advertisement is chosen to be one of a dozen on a train.  It must be profitable for the company to spend a fortune advertising here.  But even more confounding is the red hot sexy picture of a supermodel type, seductively smirking like a smug temptress who knows that her previously standard sweet meats have now been rearranged into the Taj Mahal of vaginas and given this fact can barely restrain herself from getting off (and I don't mean the train).

Seriously?  The irony is that if one looked like THAT, one could easily 'get off' without the help of a Vagina Doctor - no matter what sort of shambolic state ones bits were in (for example if one had just had the misfortune to give birth naturally to sextuplets).  I found the juxtaposition disturbing.  Let's just leave it at that.

My other 'deep thought' of the day whilst riding the 'subway/tube' was how small and compact and claustrophobically tight the seats here are:

Seats this size would never fly in the UK...

Now, forgive me dear Britian, oh adopted land of my youth, but your people are too large-ish and too 'het up' most of the time to tolerate such intimately narrow and restrained seating.  I mean, I'm average size, and when a hygenically-challenged man sat down next to me, sealing together with vacuum grip our respective thighs in the 90 degree heat (one hairy and sweaty...the other smooth and lotioned) I did what any self-respecting Brit would do:  I sniffed aloud (but not too loud - that wouldn't do), wiggled myself over as much as I could, and went out of my way not to make eye contact or even acknowledge the man who had so rudely infringed upon my personal space.

I can't even imagine the amount of fights that would break out in London tubes with such close proximity.  People would become 'Fat-ists' and glare menacingly at their extra-large fellow commuters, intimidating the very people most in need of 'taking a load off' into remaining standing for the entire journey lest they be hacked to death with biros in random acts of 'Tube Rage'.  

As is the case with many things, those 'extra few inches' that we have on our tube seats in the UK make such a difference, and really, the only choice people of a certain circumference would have, would be to lunge for a rare aisle seat and then perching ever so delicately on the edge, attempt an epic splay and steady themselves for the journey.  Not unlike this woman here:

A very well executed 'splay'

Anyway, I digress.  Though not even loaded up on pre-op painkillers (a fact I would later come to bitterly regret) with their usual accompanying dreamy thoughtscapes, I just thought I'd share my two insights of the day en route to what would ultimately be a rather lengthy, tiresome and painful procedure, and which in hindsight, would make labiaplasty and vaginoplasty seem like a walk in the park.

Friday, 14 August 2015

"And Survey Saaaaaaaaays........"

I certainly didn't have to wee on a stick to put myself out of my misery this morning.  All I had to do was turn on my laptop.

I saw the familiar email address from the agent, followed by one from the husband.  And then I just knew.

Deliberating momentarily I couldn't decide whether fashioning a frothy cappuccino was in order before clicking to read my fate, but decided in favour of a short, hard, fast shock to the system.  Either way I just wanted the suspense to end.  And it did.

Were we going to live happily ever after in 'Dream House No.3'? or were we destined to continue wandering property porn websites like addicts in search of the elusive 'hit'.  Were we going to find ourselves chucked out on the street in a few months time, into some lacklustre rental stop gap?  Or would we be roasting chestnuts on an open fire at Christmas?  (I mean this literally as it so happens that 'Dream House No.3' has a delightful working fireplace positioned regally between two banks of bookcases in the grand Front Room.

But never mind all that.  We didn't get it.

Of course we didn't.  It would have been too easy, too seamless, and too perfect to have sold and found a new house all in the space of a week. It would have been too good a story.

Besides who likes chestnuts anyway?

"The Million Pound Question"

I lie in bed tossing and turning, half drifting off several times before admitting defeat and venturing out of the bedroom and onto a comfy sofa to tap away on my laptop until sleep comes...if it comes.

You see I'm wired.  I feel as though I've just necked seven Redbulls and despite it being long past midnight, I can't blame my insomnia on the chubby fat toes of my youngest, who has crawled into bed with me and has taken up his usual                                                                    vertical positioning.

No, I am properly revved up.  For you see, after about a year and a half of trying to sell our three bedroom London flat, we have finally done it. Last week we officially declared defeat and did what we should have sensibly done months ago: lowered our asking price by a ridiculous amount and accepted a ridiculous offer even lower than that.


So that was that.  I guess like that old sage Kenny Rogers says, sometimes you've got to know when to fold 'em. We finally did, and the mixture of relief/disappointment/excitement/hopefulness and finally despair (after a sobering look at the over-inflated property prices in our area revealed that realistically we should be looking for a four bedroom closet with a cheeky thatch of grass out back) was something to behold.

Needless to say, minutes after our solicitor had been instructed, I had already compiled a shortlist of half a dozen properties to view - most of which were technically in reach should we get a deal and one or two which would mean food stamps and cold baths for the next ten years. At least.

Typically, I ignored the first rule of house hunting:  Do not let agents talk you into seeing properties both you and they know you can't afford.

The first house I viewed on my own, after which followed a frantic call right then and there on the sidewalk, to the husband, the agent looking on with a smirk.

"Can you leave work early?!  I think I've found the one!!"

(Cue disinterested typing on laptop in an office far away and a barely audible grunt having nothing to do with the bomb I've just dropped.)

"Seriously!  How soon can you come here?  The agent is willing to stay late to show it to you!"

I won't bother to recount the rest of the conversation, but suffice it to say it included a variety of expletives, some marital telling off, and ultimately a refusal to comply.  I was gutted...and started to feel panicky.

Not unlike a physically sub-standard fella who has inexplicably bagged the hottest supermodel on the planet and is about to go off to Dubai for six months while she resides at the Playboy Mansion, I was distinctly aware that the house I had just viewed was so 'special' that it was inevitable that some other bugger was going to nose in, discover this, and slipping his black Amex card across to the agent, break our hearts all over again (ie. a repeat of what happened to both 'Dream House No.1' and 'Dream House No.2' we had both loved and lost in the preceding year and a half).

So I did what any (non)sensible wife would do.  I shut up about it and secretly booked an early morning appointment for the next day.  I then coerced the husband into going (maybe I threatened to stop doing his laundry for a month or feed his three children...I don't remember), then proceeded to follow him around the viewing, totally invading his personal space and whispering excitedly all the amazing points the house had - until he stopped in one of the rooms, did a sudden about-face and told me to shut the heck up as he wanted to think/see/feel for himself.

I managed to keep quiet and backed off for as long as I could (sixty seconds tops?) before resuming my creepingly close, 'Gollum-esque' stance - the nervous rubbing of hands and excited whispers proving impossible to stifle.

All this to say, the predictable thing happened.  The rest of the homes we saw paled in comparison. This was likely due to the fact that they were all pretty much in our realistic price range as opposed to a post lottery win.  And the other "Would have to sell our best kid on the black market" one was temptingly huge but stuck in the Edwardian times from a design perspective, and given that even putting up a mirror in our home takes months, I knew we would always be living in a place with old-fashioned bright yellow creepy crawly wallpaper so.... we are.  I'm still unable to sleep, despite trying to rid myself of all the anxious excitement generated by the latest (YAWN) property adventures of the severely middle-class.  For you see, we have predictably/stupidly been bidding low on the magical house for the past week, and just tonight put in our final, literally can't go five pence higher, final bid.

After rejecting every single offer we've submitted, with a polite but firm 'NO', the vendors have at last decided to put us out of our misery, promised to discuss things one last time tonight, and let the agent know first thing tomorrow whether they'll give it to the salivating Ex-Pats or whether they're going to take their chances and hold out for the next Chelsea Banker to stroll past and buy it up as casually as one buys Park Place with a lucky roll of the dice.

Do you see why I can't sleep??