Friday, February 20, 2009

Holiday Plans

The winter school holidays are nearly at an end here in Grenoble. France is divided into three school zones: A, B and C and the holidays are not at the same time because otherwise, there wouldn’t be enough room on the mountains for all the skiers (the entire population of France – except for me - goes skiing in winter).

I had far more exciting plans. I was going to go walking for two hours every day, lose five kilos, clean the house and work on my novel, A Stitch in Time.

Of course, I fully expected a few hiccoughs along the way although I hadn’t anticipated the drunken teenaged boy that my daughter and her friends had selflessly picked up – literally – and brought home to sleep it off on my sofa. I startled him in the kitchen the next morning as I shuffled to the loo in my nightie. As he stared at a point somewhere beyond my left shoulder, he explained to me that he had cleaned up nearly all of the vomit but that he’d run out of washing-up liquid.

I shuffled back to bed.

The cat disappeared. Now, I have never considered myself an animal lover. I like animals well enough as long as they belong to other people but you won’t find any calendars with photos of kittens on them in my house. However, my cat is different. She is an intelligent human being who just happens to have fur, pointy ears and a silly name (my daughter named her Sugar). For three days, I wandered around the quartier shouting for her like some deranged fan of The Archies and I even knocked on a stranger's door and asked if I could look in their garden. Sugar eventually waltzed in through the cat flap at four o’clock one morning without so much as an apology. She treats this house like a hotel, that one.

Then my youngest daughter dyed her beautiful black hair – and several towels and a bath mat - bright orange.

Oh, and my middle daughter decided to go to London with a couple of friends for a few days.

“Where will you stay?” I asked, prising my eyes from the online newspaper article I was reading about the most recent fatal stabbings in that city.

“Oh – we’ll find somewhere when we get there. Bye.”

Of course, she’s just turned eighteen so she can do whatever she wants, as she likes to remind me two or three times a day. But she probably didn’t count on missing the plane back. Or running out of money. My wonderful sister – who has a demanding job - immediately arranged train tickets for all of them to her home in Eastbourne and promised to drive them to the airport the following morning in time to catch the early flight. Sisters are great. Teenagers and cats, on the other hand…

To see me through these crises, I resorted to piles of jam sandwiches and bowls of porridge washed down with litres of sweet, milky coffee. I’ve put on five kilos. Of course, I couldn’t go walking for two hours every day because all those sleepless nights meant I was getting up at three o’clock in the afternoon.

But I did get some work done on my novel. Once I’d checked my email, read every single one of the British newspapers online twice, played Solitaire, checked my email, phoned my mum, read all the adverts for Losing Tummy Flab, Earning Money From Home and Tree Consulting (found that one on my blog) and checked my email, I wrote three paragraphs of chapter seventeen and deleted two.

I wonder why you’re supposed to call it a work in progress, though?