I have developed something of an anxiety about the telephone since we’ve been in France. There are a handful of english-speakers who call me, friends and family for the most part, and then there are the french callers. Most of these are sales-people and other spam-equivalents. Occasionally I assume it’s something important, but it’s hard to be sure because my earnest declarations of, ‘J’apprends encore le francais. C’est un peu trop vite. Repetez s’il vous plait…’ they just race right on. Usually it’s not worth the struggle and they give up. Hopefully it’s nothing important.

Increasingly it’s just friends. I’m guessing we’ve been crossed off one or two call-lists. And we have more friends than we used to.


The kids know about phones. Louis used to play with any remote control or phone-shaped object as if it could communicate with Gran or Dad. Now he talks on the actual phone rather effectively. Elena is mastering stage 1:

But you can imagine how a phone conversation with a real person goes. Assuming she doesn’t accidentally hang up on them, it’s rather brief/confusing/frustrating. But that’s okay. The cell phone is probably bad for her baby-brain cells.

I had to phone a bookings line in Italy today. Luuk and I have been spending some of our evenings planning our trip – booking buses and trains and ferries, booking museums famed for atrociously long queues, reading up about where we’re going so that we don’t accidentally miss the best attractions.

And resigning ourselves to missing out on plenty. Rome is kinda a big deal, turns out.

So I put off the phone call, and then I had coffee group, people might arrive any moment. And then they did. And then there were people here. And then it was lunch time. And then it was Italian lunch time. And then I was making today’s book cover. And then I asked Luuk where the phone number was. And then I phoned them.

It was easy. And now it’s done. All that dread for nothing.

I do love ticking things off lists, but phone calls most of all. This week I’m not only ticking off the things I have done; I’m ticking off the things which, realistically, are just not going to happen. It is possible, if the kids sleep and/or play nicely together in their room, I might finish adding snippets of brilliant, transporting description into chapter one of my regency period novel. It is no longer likely that I will finish reading it aloud and recording it.

We will definitely finish up all the food in the fridge. We’re almost out already, so I’ve started on the freezer. No point buying fresh veggies when we’re out of here in two days (yikes!) so tonight we finish the green beans, and tomorrow, perhaps, the carrot puree. It could go in risotto, with stacks of garlic and onion. And the frozen seafood (it might be scallops, I’m not sure) on top. Lots of lemon, because they’re about to walk out.

And then we’ll walk out too, all jam-packed into one suitcase: four people, for three weeks, in one big fat bag. I see some tough decisions ahead. I think I’ve resolved not to take trousers. I’ll wear my long sun dress to the Vatican (where modesty is requisite) and put a scarf around my shoulders. Should I take anything with sleeves at all? Seems wise, but I suspect they won’t leave the suitcase.

Anyway, rather than deal with that, I’m going to escape into a glittering ballroom, and see if I can get away with describing it as a glittering ballroom.