Time off

Don’t worry dude, maybe people will believe you’re a peacock once you’ve been coloured in…

Wow, another unexpected long absence. By now you must be wondering whether this blog is swiftly plummeting down into the chasm filled with abandoned blogger accounts, wordpress blogs and…*shudder*…livejournal entries. NO! I am not going to let this ship go down without a fight! Or something. At any rate, the real reason for my slightly prolonged delay has simply been that I am determinedly and without compromise being on holiday at the moment. Or rather, being on holiday is consuming me, as finishing the year was like being hit by a mallet made of exhaustion. The mere thought of anything work-y still fills me with a vague degree of trepidation and nausea, like the slightly lurching gut you get when you next smell mussels after a seafood-related food poisoning incident. (Edinburgh Festival, shellfish linguine, bad choice.)

So what am I doing with myself in this glorious big post-degree vacuum? You might think I’d be bored. Adult adults might think I’d be slacking off, sleeping until after noon and smoking pot with some friend called Dave. Fellow young people might think I’d be partaying hard with young people, drinking until my liver looks like an old flannel. It’s actually so much worse than all of these, and so much better. Instead, I have collected and am filling my life with intense and interesting projects, and they make me glad to be alive and free. I am working hard at hardly working. So terribly busy-lazy. 

1. I am doing the illustrations for a new series of workbooks my old language school in Berlin are going to be using for the upcoming school year (see above). It’s such a privilege and a pleasure to be getting paid to draw for once and earning money via something I love to do rather than folding napkins or teaching infants (although the latter did grow on me). It’s a long process, though, because I have to draw everything by hand, then translate it into a vector image on the computer using a graphics tablet to go over the rough image, then colour it in a separate program, then use another program to make it the right kind of PDF. My laptop has been with me since the onset of puberty and the poor old dear can’t cope with this level of action; toss listening to a Radio 4 podcast and she just starts to go off the beam a little. Yesterday I had to stop out of fear she would implode altogether; I had been drawing for an hour and a half and all of a sudden random keys on the keyboard just stopped working out of sheer exhaustion. Hang in there lappy, only a few more pages to go and then you can retire for good…don’t die before the credits…

2. I have another commission, this one slightly less fancy. My father is paying me to make him a load of curtains to furnish his caravan. The caravan is a brown wonderland of brown chintzy upholstery, browned polystyrene walls and brown, brown, brown carpets. Since he has refused to give me any preferences for style, however, and simply said that he ‘trusts my judgment’, I have decided to take a new sartorial angle with the interior design. It’s a man’s caravan (he spends summer sporting events there with his man mates), so I thought a delicate gingham for the main bedroom, a neon fruit print on a navy background for the kitchenette and a diggers, trucks and building site signs pattern for the twin bedroom. They’re nearly finished and it has been wonderful to sew again; I can only assume that he will be so impressed he will be recommending me to all his friends and I can start a quasi-ironic caravan curtain business. Hey, even Alan Sugar started out selling boiled beetroot.

3. The Hunger Games. Yes, it’s ‘popular’ and I read the book after seeing the film, but good god it’s wonderful. It’s a series with a story and real adventure. The characters do things other than sitting in coffee shops or commenting on social nuances. The writing can be a little clunky, but I suspect this is partly a symptom of the fact that this series is very much trying to find its own light within the gargantuan shadow cast by the Harry Potter monolith, and it more than makes up for this by being surprisingly inventive, even at a time when you’d think all the good ideas had already been taken. I have rediscovered the genuine delight to be found in reading, and have read countless books already, even propping up my Kindle on the machines at the gym. It has been an age since I read a book and genuinely consumed it with ravenous speed just out of pure enjoyment. AND I DON’T HAVE TO WRITE A SINGLE ESSAY ABOUT IT.

4. The garden. My new garden is smaller than the last one and less secluded than the last one, but the nice thing about it is that it isn’t a deer-and-rabbit-enclosure and this means that any veg grown in it has a fighting chance of making it to maturity. We’ve cut out three beds to form a groovy semi-circular shape, and it’s my job to fill it with delicious organic things: golden beetroot, dwarf broad beans, wicked cool Chinese radishes and German pickling gherkins, to name but a few. There are few more exciting pursuits than growing your own veg. You are always startled and overjoyed to see quite how much they’ve grown overnight – the radishes sprung up and developed sweet bean-shaped leaves within three days – and as the little tubers or pea pods gradually push up to the surface of the soil or shyly stretch out like babies’s fingers you feel like you are creating something from scratch in a way that is only rarely possible. It’s less agonising and momentous than gestation and childbirth, but it’s a nice little prequel. And the crunchy, delicious mangetouts and rocket leaves you get at the end are a tangible reward for all the weeding and the forking. That is, of course, if the slugs haven’t ravaged the whole patch into a pathetic lace of former greenery. Rest In Peace, courgettes.

5. Being the head chef for the household. My parents get home from work very late. My brother has a more sedentary lifestyle than the average mollusc. If I don’t make dinner, it doesn’t get made at all.

6. Writing a blog. With faltering regularity.

7. Thinking about getting a job. Errr….

Rose T