It’s finally happened. No, no the baby coming out, dumbass. A WORSE thing. I have… I have… SWOLLEN UP like a fat pregnant fuck. No. Stop that right now. I know MOST women swell up when they’re pregnant. But I am not MOST WOMEN, I am me, miss AMP, and I do not do things MOST WOMEN do unless I am doing them in some kind of retro-kitsch ironic self-observing kind of way (like, “Wow, look, I’m getting dumped while having a miscarriage and the boy would rather DJ than pick me up from hospital and now I appear to be crying as though I have like a broken heart or some shit! This is amazing!”, etc.*) ATYPICAL GIRL
Yes, I have had a totally non-MOST WOMEN pregnancy. Getting up the duff was acheived with ridiculous speed / ease, desite my advanced years (e.g. over 30 omg WITHERED OVARY ALERT WARNING CAREER WOMAN AHEAD SELFISH SELFISH), helped along no doubt by the fact that the baby’s father (a nubile 23 at time of conception) and I had not long been acquainted with each other, were ridiculously attracted to each other and were more than happy to spend our days and nights at it like bonobos luxuriating in a sea of high-sperm-count emissions. (Gross? No, hot.) Then, ok, the first trimester was totally not a blast (knackered and alientated in cold dark country) but hey! no puking or anything much really, and most of all, NO WEIGHT GAIN. Yes, I am different to every other female person, HEAR ME ROAR.
THE WORLD’S FIRST SKINNY PREGGO
Of course, this lack of weight gain was mainly due to me not being a skinny little bastard to begin with. O you can imagine the joy, nay, the smugness, that swept across my curvaceous form as I observed previously skinny women in roughly the same stage of pregnancy as me blossom in hip, thigh, calf, ankle, wrist, elbow, rib, cheek, chin, neck and face while I did not. I bumped into one girl from my Swedish class - we had not seen each other since our first trimesters - and could barely recognise her, she was so puffed of face. How my insides rejoiced! As for me, the scales resolutely refused to budge through first, second and into the third trimesters, while I actually GOT THINNER (apart from the babylump, obvs). Gosh, I would say, observing my newly-emerging cheekbones and collarbones in the bathroom at work, hearing the concerned coos of my co-workers, I am the first person to lose weight during pregnancy in the entire history of the world! This is so excellent! I rule so hard! And I would side my hand over my ‘bump’ and congratulate it for being on mama’s side and helping her pregnancy be awesome.
Yeah well. FUCK THAT IN THE MANGINA. Ever since I hit week 35 last week I’ve woken up with painful joints in my fingers, and a tingling swollen numbness in my hands (a rather unfortunate condition for a professional (hah!) writer, I’m sure you’ll agree.) Googling reveals this to be ‘edema’ (normal preggo swelling) and ‘carpal tunnel syndrome’ (normally an RSI thing, but the edema fucks your wrists up which fucks up your hands and fingers till they hurt so much you can barely hold a toothbrush, let alone type). And a quick peep in the mirror reveals it to be true elsewhere as well - I have POPPED! I have SWOLLEN! I am on verge of EXPLOSION! Fuck it, I am fat. I am repulsive.
FAT - IT’S THE TITS!
Don’t take the last two sentences too serious - I’m down with being less-than-slender normally. Why wouldn’t you be? You have tits, which are basically the best things in the universe. If your stomach bothers you that much you can get into dressing like a 1950s diva in vintage shapewear that smooths out all the lumps and makes you look like Betty Page or some shit (in yr head anyway, and it’s what’s in your head and in your boyfriend’s head that counts, right?) You can take Egyptian Dance classes and learn how to shake yr thang (to experience a delightful inversion of the normal status quo, just take a few classes and observe how much more awesome at the dance are those who can quiver their flesh like a jelly, and just how dejected that makes the taut of belly and tight of butt).
And, of course, your boyfriends are not going to be the kind of Maxim-man that considers Kate Winslet to be a heifer, are they. No, they will be the kind who’ll revel in your flesh and delight in lifting your tits in their hands as though their hands are a human bra, admiring your breasts’ weight and heft, dimpling your stomach with adoring fingermarks, slapping your ass every time you pass, deriding your skinnier predecessors, till you are left in no doubt that, contrary to what every magazine you’ve ever read has said, yours is truly the most ideal and delicious body ever to grace womankind. Futhermore, as someone who is already curvy and therefore not considered acceptable by normal societal beauty standards, you will, if you’re sensible, have learned to locate your self-worth elsewhere (“I may not be a size 10, but fuck it, I can write, hand-code HTML, wire a plug, do the Times crossword in 8 minutes, spot a Bertoia wireframe chair in a junkheap, and tie a cherry stalk in a knot with my tongue...’ No flies on you, fatgrrrl! Just an awesome new stomach that wiggles when the baby moves around inside, and is all hard and peculiar and interesting, and makes you laugh when he kicks you by suprise. What’s not to like?
BIG FAT BLOATER
Yeah right. Nice attitude. And a hell of a lot easier to maintain when you haven’t gained any weight whatsoever during your pregnancy. Now, however, the tissues around my face are engorged; the aforementioned cheekbones are nowhere to be found; suddenly my rump extends in similar fashion to the belly, and the bulges upon thighs and hips prevent the wearing of that bump-clasping frock I was so delighted to sport last week. I AM A BIG FAT BLOATER. So much for being different to every other female pregnant person ever.
NOT LOOPHOLE WOMAN AFTER ALL
We all want to be the ‘loophole woman’**, don’t we? The exceptional one, not subject to normal prescribed rules or stereotypes of the female condition, up there with the best of the boys, moshing at gigs or heading up meetings while eight months pregnant; no different; no challenge; no threat. But it’s bullshit. Being pregnant is about surrender, I guess, and just sitting back and letting the thing inside you do as it wants, and use you as it wants, and ransack your body, as it wants. You’re not in the driving seat any more. As my midwife said to me about contractions last week - it’s going to happen to you anyway, so you might as well learn to relax about it. So yeah. Soap all the mirrors. Lock all the doors. I’m a big fat swollen butterball and I’m fine with it, HONEST. And hey - at least I don’t have stretchmarks!
Readers! Don’t miss next week’s column, entitled: “O MY GOD I TOTALLY HAVE STRETCHMARKS”.
*actual thing that happened in 2005
**Ariel Levy, Female Chauvinist Pigs: women and the rise of raunch culture, Simon & Schuster 2007
stockholm continues its attempt to do an impression of a REAL CITY where a person might want to actually live without killing themselves by re-opening its market called 'street', where up'n'coming designers can sell stuff and where secondhand goods are also vended, apparently. i cannot tell you how much i have missed any kind of market here. a city without a market is like a body without a heart. even nose-in-air, dog-poo-on-shoe PARIS has its fleamarkets. amsterdam has the beautiful noordermarkt and the whole city becomes a massive jumble sale on april 30 every year. london is diamond-strung with spitalfields and greenwich and portobello and even grody old camden. but stockholm? why no dear, no market for you dear, go home now dear, gaze at ebay and dream dream dream of a city that throbs with mysteries and the challenge of rummaging gold from piles of shit for you will not find it here, dear...
except... that was a lie! stockholm just SHUTS DOWN for winter, and street is no exception. today street was overtaken by a book fair and various readings and stuff, which was useless for the girl who is still on beginner book 1 of how to speak swedo, so i cannot comment upon the quality of the place yet... but no matter. my heart is stirred by the mere existence of street, a place where, as the guy who set it up puts it: "Street in Stockholm is a meeting place and stage for all people with creative, unusual, special, or just plain crazy creations or ideas. It doesn’t matter whether you have something to sell, say or show - Street is a place for hundreds of artists to sell their wares, and creators of events and happenings both large and small to meet their public."
amen to that. furthermore, street is a 3km walk from skanstull station, along the loveliest little stretch of river / woodland. past an open air swimming pool, past a park that leads onto a tiny beach where people swim in the water during summer. and the weather, today, was flawless - cloudless sky, bright sun and a brisk wind.
so. after we had perused the unintelligible swedish texts we bought coffee and cake and sat on a deck in the sun, by the water. i knitted the first few rows of jimmy's new jumper (64 stitches of moss stitch on 4mm needles - this project will either blind me or drive me mad!), gazed at the swedish hipsters and their babies in strollers, and thought that maybe, this summer, after jimmy comes out, it will be not be so terrible to be here after all. in fact, it might actually be quite fine.
i had an easter saturday tea-party and it was absolutely ten shades of fun! being a preg, a traditional party would not be appropriate. and proper dinner parties, with their massively timed OMG WE GOTTA TAKE IT OUT THE OVEN LIKE NOW NOW NOW are a bit... much, really. plus they are the most fun only if you can drink a vat of wine during dinner and maybe smoke a joint or whatever afterwards, and i am not allowed to do that either. but a tea-party! yeah! ace tea-party ingredients 1) frocks
first of all, you must absolutely have an awesome frock. my sister was rocking a 1950s vibe in a black and white polka dotted dress from vivien of holloway worn with a red pursebelt and her hair all done up in rolls and curls and stuff. and i wore a 1940s tea-dress (isn't 'time as colour' great? i love senselessly ransacking the past!) which made jimmy (that's the name of my unborn child inside my tummy, casual readers!) look massive. of course it wasn't an actual 1940s teadress but a copy from topshop maternity, truly the greatest shop for preggoes on earth. they take their normal fashion outfits and then just add lots more fabric for yr bump. simple! 2) food and drink
anyway. looking lipsmacking and delectable isn't enough i'm afraid. you also need lipsmacking and delectable FOOD, and also, some kind of alcoholic beverage, because even if you can't drink, sadly you are not the centre of the universe, for all you might think that you are, and your guests might want to drink lots. drink a: gin fizz
we made an enormous punch bowl full of this. it contains:
gin sparkling white wine cranberry juice ice
mix it all up in whatever proportions seem appropriate. don't overdo the gin, obvs. and DO NOT USE SUGAR-FREE OR 'LIGHT' CRANBERRY JUICE. ew ew ew. it has no flavour.
drink b: tea
i think you know about tea, but let me reiterate: a blend of assam and earl grey is essential, and don't forget to warm the pot! and use a pot. if you don't use a pot, you probably shouldn't even be reading this. go 'way now, non-teapot-users.
btw, 'stuff' is important. make sure to serve it on nice stuff, e.g. some amazing glass tea-cups and saucers you got from a charity shop ten thousand years ago (drinking gin from a tea-cup is so ace! and wrong!) and some alfred meakin leaping stag crockery that you have been collecting off ebay for like ever. sandwiches
all sandwich recipes were purloined from 'olive' magazine, which is quite gay and has a pretty bad features-to-recipes ratio, unlike our fave, bbc good food magazine. howevs, these recipes were awesome:
egg mayo and chive mini rolls (pretty obvious) beef, watercress and mustard (mix watercress with creme fraiche, shred the beef, and use wholegrain mustard - yowsa!) smoked trout, horseradish and cucumber (trout mixed with horseradish and creme fraiche, organic cucumber so you can leave the skin on, mmmm)
use soft white rolls for the egg mayo and chive, brown bread for the trout and white for the beef. and cut off the crusts of the bread and then slice them into finger sandwiches so they are all dinky and refined. and put some little flags in them! because it is cute.
also we had:
cheese straws and dips (dips served in pastel ramekins that used to be grandma's) biscuits
i made madelines. i had never made them before. you have to use a special tin. they looked like bears' paws. these were rosewater madelines from nigella lawson's domestic goddess book. i did not get to taste any, but apparently they were 'lighter than air', 'like eating a kiss', 'absolutely incredible' and 'better than any madeline from a shop, ever'. i will hanker for those untasted madelines as long as i live. i made another batch the next day and i thought they were decidedly perfunctory. :( cakes 1: cupcakes
cupcakes decorated with pink and white icing and alphabet letters and silver balls. DAMN but decorating cupcakes takes forever. i had not realised. still, they looked cute. cakes 2: coffee and walnut
i totally burnt the stupid victoria sponge so we had to get a cake from a shop cakes 3: fruitcake
my darling friend andrea bought a delicious fruit cake she made! 3) ambience
anyway, so that was about it, and it was awesome! it was one of the nicest parties i have had in ages. lots of people rubbed my bump which i totally don't mind at all, because i am a vile and hideous attention-seeker who loves physical contact, not one of those grouchy ladies who is all THEY ARE INVADING MY PERSONAL SPACE, OMGGGZZZZ GET THEM OFF ME. (but maybe i will become that in the final stages of pregnancy, who knows? i am already much changed: spent most of easter sunday locked in the bathroom sobbing on the floor after a fight with my mother, and all of my toughness has deserted me, and i am frail and vulnerable feeling like a woman is allegedly supposed to be according to historical annals of femininity, instead of all tough and nails and whooshy-haired and bike-riding like normal.) 4) people
and the best people came (not to disparage some of the awesome people who totally couldn't make it), including some new people, like jesse, who had a great swagger to her and a way of abruptly asking the most personal of questions that reminded me of my own knack for doing exactly the same, and sarah, who had a bewitching curl dangling beside her big green eyes which had the most enormous black pupils as though she was on ecstacy even though i am sure she was not, and my wife's new boyfriend, who had a wonderfully benevolent air, and and and! some old people (not old in age like moi but old like i have known them for a bit), like miranda with her auburn hair torrenting down her back, and janine who i have not seen for a hundred years who had her fringe in a curl and wore these thick false eyelashes that were speckled with GOLD, folks, actual GOLD, and alex who delivered me two shiny discs of 'ho-rap' for my stockholm listening pleasure, and - oh! everyone. it was fantastic. 5) ideas
one of the best things about parties is also talking to lots of people in short bursts. it's like the twitter of socialising. so janine interviewed me about zines and shit and i waxed lyrical about how rubbish it is to do a fanzine and be all nostalgic for the 90s in that way now that the internet has rendered everyone into a zinester. and now, in typical about-turn fashion, i have, after a morning spent perusing pagan kennedy's 'zine - how i spent six years in the underground and finally found myself - i think', decided that doing a 90s-style personal zine all photocopied black and white on paper would be THE MOST AWESOMEST THING EVER, so watch this space for ordering details (because i don't want to go on about, like, 'my birth story' on the internet where anyone could see it, but what larks it would be to go on about it - with DIAGRAMS! - on some bits of paper that only the amazingest / undergroundest of people could get to see?).
and then jesse was talking about the birthgasm blog post i did recently, and saying that apparently after orgasm women release some kind of morphine thing that means that post-orgasm their pain threshhold goes up by like 100%, and why is this, this is clearly for childbirth since that is what chicks have to do that dudes don't. so i have already corralled the babyfather into promising to make out with me during the labour since that is supposed to make it better, but clearly we will need to take things up a notch so i wonder if anyone will mind if a rampant rabbit accompanies me into the birthing room, i mean they're going to see my vag anyway so whatever right?)
and then with my wife and jesse and my wife's boyfriend we revisited the age-old 'should underground magazines have corporate sponsorship' and frances was like 'no' and i was like 'yeah, if it's cool', because i am a massive HO who loves MONEY and believes corporate shit SHOULD support underground shit, and if they steal / dilute your ideas then just have more, because we are cool and underground and creative and have a ton of ideas while they are dried-up old lechy dinosours who must suck idea lifeblood out of others for they have none of their own. but frances is HARDCORE like a magazine ed is supposed to be and thinks all sponsorship is evil so that is good also.
oh and the best idea of all was janine's, that we should all bascially up sticks and move to whitstable, for we are all growing tired of london, we are old and sick of nursemaiding the creativitity of others through being PRs and music journalists, and we should move to the country and work on our own projects instead. i have never been a one for this 'let's get out of london' bullstuffs, but suddenly, with a TINY CHILDE inside my stomach, i find myself wanting to, for if he grows up here on a poplar estate he will surely grow up into a gun-toting thug or at the very least a cocaine tooting shoreditch hipster by the age of approx 7 years old, and i cannot countenance my son being a cocaine tooting shoreditch hipster, at least not until he is like 17 or something.* 6) future plans
anyway, no social event is truly successful unless it spawns an immediate desire for more of the same. i'm back for the may bank holiday so plans are already afoot for the next tea-party. also i have no friends in bloody boring old stockholm so have to ruthlessly exploit the ones i have here. RSVP for guestlist!
this entry is in lieu of a flickr update of photographs, for i have grown weary of toting my camera at everyone, and it seems a little intrusive. i hope nobody mentioned here minds. i do not see why they would.
Alright alright alright already. I'm doing it. Quit hassling me. I'M GETTING OFF THE INTERNET. For one night a week. Courtesy of 52 Nights Unplugged. 52 Nights is the brainchild of a chick called Ariel Meadows Stallings, who wrote a book about being an alternative bride, runs the Salon of Shame, where grownups gather to read out extracts of their teenage douchebag diaries, and is blogging about her unplugged escapades on her personal blog Electrolicious. Now she's set up 52 Nights Unplugged so we can all start doing it. Count me in! Mondays will be my night off and I'll be blogging about it here once I'm allowed to suckle mama internet's teats once more.
I am not going to moan about it. I am not. I am not. This is my biggest fear. That the sunshine will come: O ORANGE BALL IN THE SKY, HOW I SLAGGED YOU ALL MY LIFE, AND NOW I SEE THE ERROR OF MY WAYS: it will come and it will shine on Stockholm, and still, still, STILL my mouth will make the moaning-shape.
You would not believe it, but I am NOT a moany whiny horrible person. I am not. I am HAPPY, goddammit. At one of my jobs (I was an usherette in an art-house cinema. I wore a bright pink top and a green striped apron. I smelled of pick'n'mix and popcorn. I earnt £3.25 an hour. It was delightful) I was nicknamed the 'Sunshine Girl', because of my sunny demeanour.
Sure, I was also a dizzy little cunt to whom nothing particularly bad had ever happened (no break-ups, no disappointments, no fatuous copywriting jobs, parents still together, scholarship schoolgirl, star pupil, destined for greatness, you know the drill) but damn, there are enough people out there who fit the above criteria who still mooch around sucking down antidepressants like they're Haribo Tangfastics to make the above worthy of note.
What I am saying is: I am a happy bastard. You want fun, I bring the fun. That's what fuckers hire me for. In fact, at work I (seriously) get called into meeting rooms to discuss what is up if I fail to bring the happy to their office banter. (Being Swedes, they are incapable of generating it themselves, hence the need to import me.) I wear interesting outfits and o, yes, I am Witty and Delightful and A Bit Cutting Sometimes, but with a Cute Edge that Makes Everything A-OK. That is... I was.
I was till I came here. To the Darklands. To talk in rhyme. With all my mates back home on Messenger and absolutely nobody at all in the real world. And then the darkness did come, and the sun did not rise till 9am, and it was basically a horrid dusk until the sun slid wanly back under the horizon at 2.50pm every afternoon, and then my sunshiney demeanor basically fell off the edge of the planet to be replaced by:
Utlrawhinge with her ginger minge. Ultrawhinge hates everything, and Stockholm most of all. Ultrawhinge enters conniptions of rage when the sun sets. Ultrawhinge wails with fury when she looks at her watch and realises that, even though it has been dark for the last million years, it is only 6.20pm, not 11.20 and bedtime which is what it feels like. Ultrawhinge snarls when Londoners try to tell her that the sun sets really early in London too and they really can't see what the fuck she is complaining about. UltraWhinge is Bitchy Bitch on steroids, and I had no idea she was part of me until STOCKHOLM (boo hiss) bought her out.
But you know what? That's over now. The sun is BACK BACK BACK. It's gleaming, it's winnowing (whatever that is), it's burrowing into my retinas. It's streaming into the apartment and it's illuminating every single speck of dirt and dust and the disgusting mire with which I have surrounded myself for the last four depressing lonely months. And I'm scared. I'm so scared. I normally hate summer. Stockholm has punished me with winter, it has dragged ULTRAWHINGE AND HER GINGER MINGE out of some dark crevice inside of me. And now comes the sun. And then you know what happens after that? More sun. Then more sun. THEN MORE SUN.
AND THEN THE SUN SHINES LIKE 24 HOURS A DAY LIKE A CRAZY FUCKING ECSTASY PERSON WHO WON'T GET OUT OF YOUR FACE.
I love the little jars of Marmite in their neatly lined-up rows. I love the envelopes with the bubble-wrap inside. The cheap imitation pads of expensive air mail paper. The glittery sellotape. I love the Wham bars and the Vimto bars and the Haribo. I love the needles and the cat litter and the stretchy things that go through the top of net curtains. I want to plant kisses on the Hellman’s, right on their squeezy jar tummies. I want to roll cans of cream soda from cheek to nose to cheek and fellate to melting every Cadbury’s Snowflake. I daren’t even smile hello to the man who might be retarded, the one who works and lurks and unpacks the papers, because something inside me might squeeze out my eyes and prickle like tears. When I see Jay, the man who owns the shop, I make like it’s no big deal, and I put ten pounds on my Oyster like I still live there. I love Jay too though I know he went off me a bit because one time I got mixed up with Hindu and Muslim and Ramadam and Diwali and whatever when we were talking when I was buying the paper. He didn’t have a proper conversation with me for like two months after that. But I think we’re through that now. I haven’t told him I’m pregnant, haven’t let my coat swing wide to show the Jimmy-bump that’s proudly sprouting. It’s partly because the boy I’m fucking - the dad-to-be - looks a little bit like his teenaged tracksuit-topped and ear-pierced son, and I don’t think Jay would approve of me fucking his son, so I keep mum, I play dumb, with the bump on the downlow. I wrap my coat round so nobody knows the globe I’ve swallowed. I press the collar to my chest and push down so my heart won’t explode all over the shop yelling YES LONDON YES LONDON YES LONDON YES.
jimmy's gettting massive, which is kind of ace, because the whole looking a wierd shape thing that's been going on for the last few months isn't really all that. but now he's really pushing out and forwards and I LIKE IT because finally i look like the cute preg instead of just someone who's a bit wrong.
tell you what, though i'm worried about LOSING MY EDGE like you wouldn't believe. like, a horrible thing happened the other day. i'm about to start this new mp3 blog for venus magazine, right, and they asked for a biography so i wrote them one, but at the end i put this thing about... i'm blushing... i can't believe this... about how my new 'project' was JIMMY and stuff...
...and then i emailed frances and i was like um dude, is this ok and she was like NO, HOLY SHIT DUDE, IMAGINE IF SOME OTHER WOMAN WROTE THAT ABOUT HER KID, YOU WOULD TOTALLY DO A SICK!!!. and she was 100,0000% RIGHT, and yet, i nearly did it! i nearly did something henious and uncool! because i am pregnant! because the pregnancy and the mother love made me do it! and i am only six months pregnant! it is not even born yet! anything could happen in the next three months, any kind of hideous momism type naffness could be performed by ME against mine own better non-pregnant judgement! holy fuck, man!
and, like, i am not even talking about things like wearing mega comfy e.g. unsexy bras or whatever, because it is not my job to be sexy or attractive all the time, i am not some kind of model or whatever. but it kind of IS my job *not* to be completely lame and embarrassing. what if i lost my skills at not being lame and embarrassing! i'd have to seek some new kind of employment instead, like, uhm, get a proper copywriting job or something. now that WOULD be emb-- oh shit... wait.....
ANYWAY. EDIT TO ADD! Just so's that this post isn't too me me me, even though you fucking LOVE IT YOU SLAGS, here is a fun pop video from the past that Mr Dickon Edwards reminded me about through the magical power of his blog. Look at young Roddy Frame! How lovely he is! I am glad to see that my taste for coy, pretty, young-looking feyboys was set in stone so early.
So preggos are supposed to be all about the ‘nesting’, right? "Nesting instinct refers to a biological urge in pregnant animals to prepare a home for the upcoming newborn. In human females, the nesting instinct occurs around the fifth month of pregnancy. It is commonly characterized by a strong urge to clean and organize one's home."
Well, guess what, dudes. I’m in the fifth month… or the sixth month… (24 weeks - it’s so confusing) and this will be no big shocker to anyone who knows me, but, nesting instinct? Cleaning and organising one’s home? Er... no. In fact, quite the opposite.
I was really keeping a lid on my normally, um, ‘freeform’ home stylings until about two weeks ago. I was determined to demonstrate that, despite all expectations to the contrary, AMP could totally keep her shit together when living on her own with nobody to tut and chide and wash and clean. (Admittedly, this was helped by long visits from the babyfather who is cleanliness-obsessed in the extreme and well-versed in tutting and chiding and washing and cleaning, but let’s gloss over that.) But sadly, over the last two weeks things have gone somewhat to shit, and now it looks as though my apartment has basically thrown up on itself after a night on the tiles.
My elegant black patent suitcase is disgorging maternity tights, leopardskin nursing bras (omg have you seen a nursing bra? It’s totally like a hot fetish item) and over-the-knee socks onto the unhoovered bedroom floor. Every day I blink in surprise as I wander to the kitchen and see that the washing-up is, incredibly, still there. And I don’t know why it’s easier to step over the bicycle pump that inexplicably lies in the centre of the living-room floor than to pick it up, but it is. It’s out of control.
So I was just chiding myself for being a chaotic slattern from hell (while secretly feeling proud that I, I of all people, have managed to conquer essentialism and laugh in the face of biological determinism) when it struck me. Sure, the external realm looks like a sack of shit but online - you know, where it counts - things have never been neater.
Much of last week was spent organising my Netvibes: I now have 12 tabs, each organised on a three column basis, displaying four items on each and showing ‘more details’ for all. The first tab is for personal stuff, where I can check my Gmail, view and update Twitter, see my Facebook messages and my friends’ Facebook status updates, and see all recent comments on my Flickr. Then the rest are blogs organised by theme (Feminism, Randoms, Friends, Cooking, Craft, Arts, Music, Tech, Copywriting, Baby - in no particular order, honest guv) plus a tab for Meebo so I can use whichever chat service I want without having to sign in to MSN or Google Chat. How organised is that? It gives me a boner just to look at it.
And then, of course, there’s AMPnet. A friend lured me back to Livejournal, which seemed to open up some kind of posting floodgate, and now the AMP Blog has flared into glorious, gleaming life once more, which, if you’re reading this, you can probably tell. (Of course, the intense Swedish isolation has done a lot to help - it’s amazing how much more time you have when you leave your entire social life, all your friends, and everyone you love behind and fuck off to a different country). I sorted out the labels for all my posts, deleting the ones that contained two words, and I’m trying to shape the rest around similar themes to the rest of the site (feminism, music, vintage clothes, sex - you know, the important things in life.)
I fixed the broken image links that were making the individual post pages display poorly. I organised my RSS feed, set up an email subscription link (do it! You know you want this verbose bullshit in your inbox every day) and started inserting links to both at the end of every post. I finished my Technorati claims (it’s so good to know that this blog has a whopping TWO authority rating - shit like that really makes a girl proud. [Feel free to ramp it up by linking to www.ampnet.co.uk/weblog - I’ll love you forever]). I also updated my Feedburner stats so now I can see who’s surfing on on searches like ‘pale Indian tits’, (hi perverts!).
Looks-wise, I’m going to get the designer at work to help me redesign AMPnet so this blog can reside on the homepage, with the other features reachable from sidebars. I’m also going to optimise the site for screens bigger than 800 x 600 pixels - which means no more huddling in the left-hand side of your monitor.
Finally, I’m about to start an MP3 blog for Venus Magazine, and from next week I’ll be blogging for The Lipster, where I’ll also be doing a pregnancy column so you can read more baby-related crap like this - aren’t you excited?
In short, my internet home has never looked neater, spanglier, or more productive. I am so proud of myself I want to puke. Or maybe that’s just morning sickness. Avoiding the nesting instinct? Maybe not so much. But fuck it. At least I’m doing it in a 21st-century way.
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...and what does Sweden have? DINNER. DINNER for LUNCH. It's fucked up.
Gregg Wallace, m8, you don't know you're BORN. I do understand that English people love to moan. It's one of the cute things about them (I'm not sure exactly why it's cute, it just... is. Fuck, you have no idea how much I miss moaning. I was wandering around my super-deluxe Swedish office today, taking a rest from writing some incredibly taxing blog posts, looking out at the sea, eating a free cream bun that work bought us because it's Semmeldag, thinking about how it was nearly time to pay my £200 monthly rent on my massive one-bedroom apartment that would take me 30 minutes to commute back to when the day was over, and all I could think of was 'God, I want someone to moan to SO MUCH.'
And there's no one. They take moaning really fucking seriously here. They furrow their brows and then advise you to speak to whoever it is that you're bitching about, try to sort things out. Like, no way dudes! That's not the way to do things. You just huddle in a corner, slag someone or something off for 10 minutes, then exit, feeling closely bonded to whoever you bitched to, and hugely empowered despite having done precisely fuck all to change the situation that was pissing you off. THAT's how we do things in fucking Britain thank you very much, so why can't they do that here?)
Anyway. Swedes may not know how to moan, but Gregg certainly does, for he is daring to slag off... SANDWICHES.
Oh, sure. Sandwiches. Boring old bread with some boring slimy stuff in the middle. Ooh, Mother's Pride, curling up at the corners. Ooh, British Rail sandwiches ha ha ha. Ooh, rubbish. SHUT THE FUCK UP. You think sandwiches suck? Imagine A WORLD WITHOUT SANDWICHES.
That world, ladies and gents, is Sweden. They have dinner for lunch. And then they have dinner for dinner. Somehow, miraculously, they all remain thin, fit, and healthy looking. I don't know how. I think it's because they like 'training' so much. There's a Stadium (sportswear store) on every single block. They all go 'train' together at lunchtimes, and play tennis and squash in the evenings for kicks. That definitely must have something to do with it. I've heard rumours that there's a correlation between physical activity and slenderness, though I'm loath to believe it myself.
Nonetheless. At 12.00 every day they go out to lunch and they pay approx 90SEK (about £8.00) for a massive lunchtime dinner. We're talking 'pitt y panna' (oily fried potato and ham) with beetroot and a fried egg. We're talking thick yellow pea soup (with oil pooling on the surface) and ham with pancakes on Thursdays. We're talking platefuls of wild mushroom ravioli in a creamy sauce. We're talking tagliatelle with chicken, and shrimps, and creme fraiche, and LOBSTER. For lunch. Every day.
And this is no leisurely, decadent kind of lunch - the kind of olde-skoole publishing or journalism lunch that would start at 1 and meander on towards 4pm, lubricated with red wine, port and a G&T. Nonono. This shit is rushed down at 12.00pm, and they're back at their desks by, hm, 12.43, smiling and thinking about the awesome 'training' they're going to do when they chip off at 5. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. THIS CANNOT BE HEALTHY (apart from the fact that, judging by the lardy English and the svelte Swedes, it blatantly is).
But, Swedes - No. THIS IS NORMAL:
Skip breakfast due to hangover and lateness (nobody here drinks, so nobody is ever hungover. And the transport system is perfect, so nobody is ever late) Nip to Pret at 11am for breakfast sandwich of sausage, ketchup, bacon, salad - or to greasy spoon for FRIED EGG SANDWICH mmmmmm Nearly vomit at lunchtime Feel miraculous by 2pm due to combination of Coke, sandwich and Paramol (they don't do proper painkillers here btw... because that might be FUN. Swedes HATE fun.) Nip out to Pret or Eat or deli for another sandwich Finish work, go to pub. DO NOT 'TRAIN'. DO NOT EAT DINNER. GO STRAIGHT TO PUB.
Fucking hell I miss England.
I miss England. I miss sandwiches. I miss moaning. I miss hangovers. (I almost miss fat unattractive men, but not quite. And if I ever do I can always look at those pictures of YOUR DAD that he keeps sending me hahaha just kidding). The sandwich, you see, facilitates the British lifestyle of drunkenness, sobbing, and debauchery. You can't eat DINNER for LUNCH when you feel the way most British people do most of the time. Without this slender snackette (just thin enough to ease down the oesophageus without inciting gagging... just dry enough to soak up the remnants of last night's booze before it can reappear too hurriedly from either orifice) where would the British be? The sandwich is the very substance that makes Britain great. Without it we'd be... we'd be just like the Swedes. NORMAL. HAPPY. HEALTHY. AND INCREDIBLY, AMAZINGLY, ASTOUNDINGLY, COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY FUCKING SHIT-ASS YAWNY-YAWNO BORING.
Just in case you hadn't heard from one of the many online places in which I talk shit about my private life, I'm all knocked up and having a baby in June, assuming all goes well! W00T! Here is a picture of it when it was tiny:
Here is a picture of it now it is medium:
And here is a picture of me doing an impression of a preg: