Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Married A Dandy

Talking to M, after she had breakfast with the dandy:

“What did you talk about?”
“Well Papa asked if I thought his pyjamas were pretty and I said yes they were.”

Let’s look at the evidence so far:
A quick glance through the favourites folder is always a good clue as to where one’s interest lie, and this is just a small selection from the folder entitled ‘Wardrobe’ (exhibit ‘A’ right there)

Barbour - we live in Madrid (annual rainfall 440mm compared with Paris 642mm or London 593mm)
Derek Rose – Savile Row made pyjamas. (OK I understand the attraction of a bespoke suit from Savile Row but aren’t pyjamas taking it a little too far?)
Dandyism – speaks for itself
Hackett – again I must stress that we live in Madrid, not England nor the English countryside. Next he’ll be demanding marmalade on his toast and freshly ironed Le Monde. And here’s something I never knew, or would have guessed, that Hackett is in fact owned by a Spanish investment bank.
Marc Guyot – French Dandy
I don’t know what your definition of a sneaker is (please don’t say trainers it’s such an ugly word), but mine would be a shoe with canvas and a rubber sole –
1.    A sports shoe usually made of canvas and having soft rubber soles. Also called tennis shoe.
"sneaker." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 05 Feb. 2008. .

you know, like Converse, not an old fashioned slim fitting leather shoe.
I’m trying hard to imagine what kind of ‘sports’ you would be participating in wearing those ‘sneakers’ from Marc Guyot:

On his wish list; a Jiffy Steamer – I think he wants a personal one – we don’t have enough space for his shoe, jacket and coat collections – so where is he going to fit a garment steamer?

Though I have to admit we are living in the right city. The Madrileños (I am talking about the men) tend to dress like very well dressed Englishmen; not that Englishmen are necessarily well dressed you understand, but in the style of.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Peculiar Tale Of The Missing Cushion.

A long, long time ago when we lived in a very small apartment (28m2) with bright yellow walls, we needed some furniture. This was despite the FM insisting we get an unfurnished apartment as he had lots of furniture; we are still waiting for the aforementioned ‘lots of furniture’ 10 years later (1 single bed, 1 chest of drawers and 1 desk). Therefore we had to make a trip to the dreaded furniture store on the North Circular (you know the one I am talking about). I despised it then and despise it still. Each time I go back I vow it will be the absolute last time and here we are 4 country moves later and we are back again for the positively, absolutely, definitely the last time.
  • First of all it’s always somewhere you can only get to by car.
  • They use hypnotic lighting that turns you into some kind of zombie that must follow the arrows and go through the entire shop. Yes, I know there are short cuts but these are for people have been there before, you try finding the short cuts on your first visit, you can’t, you’ve been hypnotized.
  • Those convenient flat packed boxes always weigh a deceptively preposterous amount and are always missing something crucial. Yes, I know you can check your flat pack boxes before you leave but who really does that after spending 4 hours in the place. Once you see natural light again and the hypnosis has worn off, you just want to leave as quickly as possible.
  • So it’s never just one trip but several.
  • It never looks quick like it does in the pictures.
  • You need 2 people to put up most things and I am always doing this on my own - OK not exactly the big shops’ fault, but as I’m on a rant.

Anyway we had to buy a sofa.
I took the measurements precisely and I knew that although it was big, it would fit up the stairs. Sure enough the delivery guys tried to take it back as it wouldn’t fit. As this was a long, long time ago and I was living in a country where I could fluently speak the language, I insisted I had all the right measurements and it would fit up the stairs and under my careful direction we managed it. I can’t explain why this was me dealing with the delivery men even in those days. So we had our lovely big white (BWS) sofa in our small yellow-walled apartment on Portobello Road; yes just around the corner from the blue door. And it was great and big, far too big for the apartment but comfortable, so comfortable you could sleep on it and many visitors did.
This was in the days when the 'orribles (generic term to cover any French friends of the FM), used to visit London, just for the Indian food I think. So we had a nice weekend eating Indian food, during which the only drama I can remember was that one of the ‘orribles managed to set the toaster on fire and then calmly walk into the living room and announced that the toaster was on fire, without firts putting out the fire in the toaster. One of the ‘orribles slept on the BWS and the other one slept on the floor on the very comfortable cushions from the sofa. And so they left. We put everything back in its place and strangely one of the cushions on the BWS was missing. So we searched the entire apartment. This you understand did not take long as it consisted of a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom and a living room, so we are talking about 4 rooms distributed over 28 m2. No cushion. We went to bed. The next day the cushion was still missing so we looked again. As I already mentioned, this did not take long as all you had to do was stand in the doorway of each room and cast your eyes about; there were no built-in cupboards or wardrobes to be searched. The FM searched far more thoroughly than I, looking inside the oven, checking the bath (no built-in cupboards there either) and under the bed (you couldn’t get a pair of shoes under the bed let alone a cushion from the BWS), but he’s very thorough.
Then he started getting serious. I may not have already mentioned this but we actually had a large attic (20 m2) in the apartment that was reached only by a ladder (so I’m not sure just how he imagined the cushion had managed to get up there, but as I said he’s very thorough) that we used for storage. There were a lot of boxes with I don’t know what inside them, and a lot of boxes with wine in them and so just to be on the safe side, he went up the ladder with a powerful torch and opened all the boxes. Still no cushion. This went on for a few days of repeated searching and wondering out loud where the cushion might be.
Finally he had a feasible theory – the ‘orribles must have taken it.
I should first explain that the ‘orribles had only come for a weekend and had come with Samsonite wheelie cabin bags. The theory went something like this: Maybe one of them spilt coffee on the cushion and was too embarrassed to say anything and accordingly they threw the cushion out the window, or alternatively, smuggled it out in one of the small Samsonite bags. This I think was discarded as being too ridiculous as it was hard to imagine how a cushion and clothes for the weekend would have fitted in one of the bags. The FM very casually called the ‘orribles and very casually slipped into the conversation the fact that there was a cushion missing and they hadn’t happened to see it or put it in their bag by mistake had they?
Of course they both strongly denied having anything to do with the missing cushion and that was that, or so he thought. A couple of days later he received an anonymous email from someone claiming to have the cushion and demanding payment for its release and safe return...
We found out later that the ‘orribles had been in contact and asked each other if they had the bloody missing cushion and to just return it and be done with it. When it became evident that neither of them had the bloody missing cushion, they realised that the FM was not of sound mind, which must have already been apparent to them as they had both known him for some time, and it was then that the cushion-napping scheme was devised.
I believe this is when he realized they did in fact not have the missing cushion and so he went back to his nightly search and wondering what had happened to the missing cushion.
This went on for about 5 months (I absolutely did not want to go back to the big shop on the North Circular), every night a complete search and on weekends a search that included the boxes in the attic, the oven and the bath. Finally I gave in and back we went to the big shop on the North Circular. Fortunately the sofas are on display at the beginning of the interminable maze so we didn’t have to go far to see our BWS on display in the living room sets. There it was with all its cushions, which happened to be exactly the same number of cushions that we had back in the little yellow apartment, just better arranged. We quickly retraced our steps and left.

We never returned to the big shop on the North Circular.

The ‘orribles never returned to the little yellow apartment but have visited since.

The BWS is now in retirement in the South of France with all its original cushions.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Crocs With Socks And Other Crimes

I seem to have missed out on the 'elation' stage mentioned by expat experts and gone directly to stage 2, officially called 'Resistance', which for me is very, very irked and irritated.

The crimes so far:

1. First and foremost, Prague has failed the first two tests, the availability of Vanity Fair and anchovies (I have my priorities) but we do have a shop that sells only rope very close by. I am still trying to think of ways to use such an amazing variety of rope around the apartment.
No comments from Paul - who I am sure can come up with a lot of inventive ways with rope.

2. Annoyingly the FM cunningly organizing his schedule so that he has in fact not seen a packing box, except about 3 boxes full of his work that I have refused to unpack and are still awaiting removal to his place of work.

3. The moving company, Team Allied if you want to know and I still don't want to talk about it.

4. Socks with sandals or possibly worse, socks with crocs really does exist here in excruciatingly large numbers and it appears that this is de rigueur not only for locals but also tourists.

Apparently when you buy shoes here, on the receipt is a list of regulations for wearing shoes, included in which is that shoes are not meant to be used outdoors.
Aha, so that’s why everybody wearing sandals or Crocs with socks, it's the law and one is forced into it in order to protect proper shoes from improper wear.
So I imagine Czech people are very well shod indoors. I will get back to you on this, if I am ever invited indoors.

5. One month for the internet set up, and then only in Etienne's bedroom, and the FM had the audacity to ask why I had it set up there – well that would because they couldn’t set it up in the bathroom, of course.

6. Czech language, OK I know I’m not the world’s most gifted linguist, but signs are not looking good, after one month I can say: Hello, Goodbye and two beers please (don't know how to say one, or any other number for that matter).

So for all those who aren't discouraged by the above, bring ham, anchovies and Vanity Fair and stock up on condoms as they are only sold in packs of three.