Posts Tagged ‘Talented Art Director with Monkey Arms’

Best Friend had to return to London during our holiday for a pitch, meaning that Talented Art Director With Monkey Arms and I were left in charge of the four children (my three and their daughter, Gifted God Daughter). It was a shame that she had to miss out, but it was great to spend a bit more time with TADWMA, even if occasionally it came with understanding looks from the good people of Taunton.

As we toured the local sights (Longleat, where the Monkey Drive Through was accomplished without the loss of the windscreen wipers to my delight, and the disgust of the children – not so the BMW X5 in front of us, whose car was all but left on bricks and spray-painted “Wanker” by the monkeys; Wookey Hole which only really came alive not during the exploration of caves thousands of years old, but during the time spent in the jungle gym; Weston Super Mare, where Eldest Son and Daughter covered themselves in the clay that makes us so much of the beach and appeared to be wearing grey diving suits), it became obvious as we (in that very English way) almost came to blows over which of us was going to pay for everybody, that the merchants we were dealing with thought they were dealing with a very modern family indeed: two dads and four children.

TADWMA probably got the worst of it, as he queued for the entrance to Wookey Hole and explained that he wanted a family ticket (it being cheaper) while gesturing at me and my children, and was rewarded with a flustered and over-accommodating swiftness from the ticket seller.

On her return, Best Friend thought this was hilarious and made much play of it, referring to her husband as “Mrs. Eiljert” – but this was a step too far, and brought forth the heated and heartfelt objection “Why am I Eiljert’s bitch? He’s the one doing the washing up!”

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I shall write in full about the latest holiday with the children and Best Friend and Talented Art Director With Monkey Arms. For the moment, just let me record that it was the most brilliant fun, and that the children seemed to love every second of it: I had been slightly nervous of a week spent without electricity (and thus DSi, television etc.) but it did not bother them at all, and it was great to see how much time they spent outside, making up games, drawing and reading. Maybe a return to the Dark Ages is a necessity for every year’s holiday…

Needless to say Best Friend and Talented Art Director With Monkey Arms were both absolutely brilliant, and great fun to be around and made the whole thing even more fun that it would have been without them.

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Fantastic day with Best Friend, Talented Art Director with Monkey Arms and Gifted God Daughter – so fantastic that I arrived at 12 noon and left just before 11pm, adding new nuance, richness and meaning to the phrases “Out staying your welcome” and “Shit off back to Richmond, Eiljert, for the love of GOD!”.

Gifted God Daughter sifted through her so-late-they-look-sarcastic Easter presents with all the speed, dexterity and clear judgement that I have come to expect of her: quickly sorting the wheat from the chaff and hooking into the chocolate; and spent the rest of the day proving the fact that she is so dangerously intelligent that a new school will have to be built to TRY and educate her in (if they can find teachers who are up to the job, and can keep pace with her forensic analysis of shapes and animals – which I doubt).

Later, we joined the Dalston Massive and I was (by sheer dint of location and company) about 400 times cooler than I had been in ages. As we walked, Talented Art Director with Monkey Arms entertained Gifted God Daughter with various caperings, and Best Friend told me something so “Six Degrees of Separation” that I also couldn’t believe it. I won’t take you through the specifics of it all, but it turns out that Attractive and Funny PR Woman (whom I’ve met a couple of times with BF and TADwMA) is good friends with a woman whose children attend the same school as my children. They were out for dinner and (unbelievably) the friend mentioned Ex Wife.

“Oh my goodness!” said AaFPRW “I know her ex-husband, Eiljert!”

“Really? Is it the same one?” asked her friend.

“Oh yes,” began AaFPRW, and then illustrated the fact that she knew of whom she spoke, mentioning not just the children by name, but also Ex-Wife’s affair with Man Who Looks Like Steve Buscemi and the events surrounding. She stopped when she realised that her conversational companion had gone quiet.

“I didn’t realise she’d had an affair.” (No surprise here, Ex Wife is very keen not to mention that, which I suppose shows some level of morality). And then – apparently – her face changed to that of a woman who has just won the lottery: the lottery of Playground Currency, as she realised that she was going to be able to get in with a couple of exciting pointers on Monday, as the children filed into class, to the rest of the waiting mothers.

The truth will out, as the saying goes…

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It was Best Friend’s birthday last week, and so she and her husband, Talented Art Director with Monkey Arms, invented me and Unfeasibly Attractive Girlfriend over to lunch.

Their house gets more fantastic (in every sense) every time I visit. The pair of them are very creative, but Talented Art Director with Monkey Arms combines this with a fascination with production technique – so they can execute the most incredible flights of fancy all over their home: and so they have. At the heart of this beautiful home is the even more beautiful God Daughter.

She has inherited Best Friend’s fearless grip of fashion (we were met at the door by her in a pair of Bumblebee Wellington boots, a dress printed with Japanese-inspired dinosaurs, and assorted insect clips in her hair. She’s every bit as pretty as her mother, and – it turns out – is a bona fide GENIUS. At first, this seemed to be manifesting itself through the prism of fashion again: Best Friend was caught between shock and pride to be corrected on pointing to a picture and saying “Look! Yellow!” to have the reply come back (presumably in appropriately Wintourish tones) “That’s not yellow, Mummy: that’s Lemon Yellow” – but it seems to be going beyond that now to short Beckett-like reflections on humanity (and Beckett-like reflections on humanity delivered by a dazzling two-year old in a dinosaur dress and Bumblebee boots is worth catching, as you can imagine).

She teams this dazzling intelligence with a profound humanity, which she demonstrates by going off for a two-hour nap, without a word of complaint, rising quietly later, while the adults sit downstairs and eat a fantastic lunch (this one cooked by Best Friend, rather than her husband – who along with his OTHER creative talents is infuriatingly gifted in the kitchen too). What a girl.

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On the weekends when I don’t have my children, and if I’m not bound for Madrid (where Unfeasibly Attractive Girlfriend) is temporarily based, I prefer to be busy (busy as in “bordering on the “Up phase of a manic-depressive” “), and so I have been looking at ways of doing something that I can devote a lot of time to.

This has meant that I have devoted time to the following labour-intensive activities:-

  1. Painting a climbing Rose on the outside of the dolls’ house that I built for Daughter, according to her strict brief on type of Rose, colour of Rose, distribution of Rose across architectural features and other sundry issues.
  2. Moving rocks. Not in a Prisoner of War tribute, but as part of a plan to make my parents’ garden rather lusher, brighter and less full of (frankly) rubble than it has been to date. This involves “going to the tip” – which I love, as well as digging (which I also love).
  3. Finding new ways to get from Richmond to Stoke Newington. No mere flaneur’s hobby, this: Stoke Newington is where Best Friend, Talented Art Director and God Daughter live: so I have been improving what my fellow world-class athletes would recognise as their “best time” in completing this task. So far, I am down to 57  minutes and am prepared to share my secret with fellow cross-London travellers – just leave details below and enlightenment can be yours.
  4. Writing a novel. I know everyone does this: especially English Literature graduates. More to the point, I’ve already DONE this twice before: the first time I actually finished it, and (on re-reading it) am so disgusted by how self-aware it is (and so embarrassed by the sex in it – I even used the phrase “he pushed himself inside her, urgently”) that I have locked it in a strong box and set gryphons to guard it; the second attempt is about a third of the way through – not too bad, but not brilliant. THIS attempt, though, is simply amazing and the best book ever written (INCLUDING “How To Be Topp” – so you can imagine how brilliant it is) and I often manage to churn through twenty pages in a day, with nothing but coffee and the pretence that I am in a film (played by John Cusack) as a tired, idiosyncratic, but epoch-crowningly brilliant novelist, dedicated to his craft.
  5. Drawing. I am quite poor now (well, comparatively to how I was; not compared to rural China), so there has been more of a focus on drawings and paintings as gifts – and people genuinely DO seem to prefer them. The details of this are the same as above, except in this film I am played by Tom Hardy, and Penelope Cruz plays my girlfriend/undraped model.
  6. Making Marmalade. This is the crowning glory of “Things that make you busy, take a long time, and leave you with something to show for it at the end of the task” and I shall tell you, dear reader just what it is that positions it here in top slot:-
    1. Marmalade is delicious.
    2. Home-made Marmalade is better than shop bought – and yes, I am including Wilkins & Sons’ Tawny Marmalade in that, of course I am. What kind of fake comparison would it be if I were to leave out this king of preserves?
    3. It is simple and mindless. Cutting up the shred of the fruits is methodical but mindless and can be done whilst listening to Radio  4 or an Audiobook (“The Complete Sherlock Holmes”, obviously).
    4. There is a bubbling cauldron involved. My mother has a proper, copper preserve pan and it is beyond great to pick up something that weighs as much as my legs, apply fire to it and then see a great, bubbling lava scream away inside it.
    5. There is a weird kind of urgency to it, as Seville Oranges are only available for five weeks in a year.  Once one has subtracted weekends with children, and weekends with Unfeasibly Attractive Girlfriends, this leaves relatively little time to make Marmalade: but one can make more than one batch a day! And one can make full use of the fact that a weekend has not one, but TWO days in it.

As I am such a big-hearted, generous being, I am prepared to share the secret of my Marmalade successs (for success it was, and with a variety of fruits, flavours and additional touches that will make your head SPIN) with you – but I shall sign off with one piece of advice gratis and free of charge: “When you make Marmalade for the first time, don’t forget to stir it and let it burn. It will taste horrible and you will end up saying “Fuck!” a lot.”

That said, I am evangelical about the stress-relieving, mind-absorbing properties of this joyous task (to say nothing of the world-class product I have created) and urge you all to set January (all of it) aside as “The Month In Which I Make Marmalade”. You won’t be sorry.

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Armed with the new satellite navigation thing that Wife gave me for Christmas (in the knowledge that I could get lost in a cardboard box), we all set off to see Best Friend and Talented Art Director with Monkey Arms for lunch today. We managed to make a brief (three hours) and not financially ruinous detour via “Westfield” (the below mentioned threat to our financial stability), which yielded some clothes for the children and for Wife, and some DVDs for me (specifically “Doctor Who”, with which I am OBSESSED) – and then we were off to dine and laugh (my favourite pastime in the world – even better than a Ferero Rocher and a wank).

Thanks to the calm, controlled tones of “Jane” (our selected guide voice) we got from Chiswick to North London effortlessly and in good time – and into Best Friend and TADwMA’s house we piled for a fantastic lunch. It’s strange to reflect on the fact that the next time we see them, they will both be parents (their baby is due within the next two weeks) – but I am so excited at the prospect of seeing them as a family that I can barely put my socks on. Dealing with our three children today, they were relaxed, kind, clear and fair – one can tell who’s going to be a good parent when one sees them with other people’s children – and I am properly excited for all of them – especially for the lucky, lucky baby that’s going to be born into that wonderful life.

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