The family way

IMG_8902Can whoever reads this thing bear to have another slab of holiday-drenched copy? Is it trite to bang on about all these trips out of town? Can it be possible to fit in as much travel as we are? It’s not like we’re in a huge rush to stamp the world map with drawing pins, but I have to say I’ve used up my ecological share of air miles several times in the last 20 weeks alone, and let’s not total up the 30 months since we got here.

Oh, but that road trip from KL to Ipoh last week – now I’m back and safely typing away at my air-con desk, who really cares about those long queues on the motorway and the rattled-out traffic reports that we couldn’t quite catch, no matter how much we twiddled the knobs and dials to get less static and still only really getting the word ‘jam’. Now we’re back I’ve almost forgotten the rueful wiping of hands down sweaty necks as we sat perfectly still in the 35C heat, damply steaming, listlessly pointing the air con from footwell to steering wheel and back again, winding down the window only to wind it back up again as the searing tarmac heat poured in through the open gaps, with small boy sitting alone in the back, diligently making his water last because Mr and Mrs Stupid hadn’t bought any more at the airport. Memories he’ll keep forever, whether he wants to or not.

It didn’t even seem so bad at the time, truth be told. Even though I can’t remember being in such a massively long traffic jam, or such a very hot one, just to be out there was enough, on the road, away from Sing yet again, inching steadily north and when the traffic loosened up, about five miles short of our final destination, there were the pink Ipoh hills of home, and then our own rose-tinted memories unpacked themselves all over the car, which seemed cooler and fresher the closer we got to Rosy’s. Even when the gas indicator slipped to ‘critical’, dear Mr PC kept up a jovial patter and never once let on to me that we might actually be spending even longer than we thought on the road, as we failed to get into one petrol station after another thanks to the huge queues, finally and dustily sputtering into the very last one before Ipoh. (So that’s water and petrol on the list for next time, then).

Why hadn’t we spent the new year with Rosy before? Phuket and Jogjakarta – previous CNY stop-offs – are not obvious choices for hong baos and lo heis, and neither is a huge bit of Malaysia, but wonky old Ipoh was an explosion of new year cheer, dozy in town but truly festive in the suburbs with house after house covered in red lanterns and glittering tinsel. On winter car trips down the A30 to Cornwall my folks would persuade us girls to ‘Spot The Christmas Trees’, and this was no different: red lights decked every doorway in the suburbs, and even Aunty Rosy’s acid-green front porch was dotted with pretty red packets that she’d hung off all the little trees outside her front door.

All those times we’d been to the temple in town to visit the Tan grandparents, light joss sticks and stand side by side in reverential silence – here we were, right at one of the most important times of year for ancestral worship. What better time for both my boys to get a chance to pay their respects, as we have done for years back in Cornwall and Marlow? Ipoh was made for CNY.

Ah, though, you can’t do things twice, not really. I know if we go back next year and do the same double-pronged trip – a whizz round Ipoh for two days of noodle-stuffing, then a sprint back down the E1 to KL past row after row of rubber trees from a page out of Where the Wild Things Are, down the mucky ribbon of road that brings you into the heart of the city until we were right in the hot heart of KL, waltzing up the fancy towers, scouring endless malls and skipping down the pungent pavements that always remind me so much of a tropical Kentish Town – I know I won’t get the same buzz of elation that made this year’s trip, because it’s the realisation that something is wonderful for the very first time that makes the thing so special.

No harm in trying though, but next year we’ll book in advance and fly – more time for noodles, less time listening to Asia-pop in a hot hire car.

#GongXiFaCai til next year

Postcards from eve

It is lunar New Year’s Eve. Tonight, Singapore is quiet as families gather together for the reunion meal at the start of the 15-day festival to bring in the new year. Out goes the horse, and we become rams, goats or sheep, depending on what consumer branding you are following. I prefer sheep, for some reason (do I follow rather than lead, a little bit? Maaaaaybe).

This is our third Chinese New Year (CNY) in Singapore and at last I feel I am starting to really get it. I get the hanging lanterns and the songs, I even know a bit of one. I understand the rituals better and I think I understand the value of working like a beast all year and then having this one almighty celebration, unlike no other I’ve had in my closed-off life. SM’s music teacher couldn’t make tonight, as she had to see family; she left him a red packet too. The school bus tonight had a golden money pot on the front and red circular ‘ears’, one on each side. SM hopped down still dressed in his Mandarin outfit and stayed dressed in his black and red silk all night – our own red lanterns and bali fish kite are hanging up outside like stockings on 24th Dec. It’s all so festive.

I am upstairs in our main bedroom, surrounded by packing cases and the boys are downstairs watching telly. Special treat for SM to stay up a bit late, even though we have a very early flight to catch tomorrow. I have hidden a hong bao each for Aunty Rosy and Jonah – the oldest and youngest in the Asian bit of our family. They’re getting red bags full of chocolate, the bit of cash in those red packets, small pot of pineapple tarts each and two little metal goats on red ribbons each (even numbers, always), plus some oranges.

It feels like Christmas, and the build-up has been exciting: music in the shops, a relaxed feel about town, and the famed pre-new year dry breezy weather as a bonus. Last weekend, Chinatown was stuffed full of red danglers, paper pineapples, sheeps and goats and people getting their shopping in – (a bit like Truro town centre around about 23 December). The roads are now empty, schools closed, companies locked down. Our school only closed this afternoon, but plenty finished earlier. Today being CNY eve, businesses and shops closed at lunch as families returned home to meet and eat. The school bus was early this morning; roads empty for my run. It’s so peaceful.

Tomorrow we hop on a flight and head to Ipoh and Aunty Rosy, and then KL – four days of peaceful gluttony before re-entering the fray. I am delighted to be immersing myself in Asian culture this time round, and only wish we’d done this year on year, instead of choosing places that had nothing to do with the festival at all. I only hope Rosy stays awake long enough in the evenings to enjoy a bite or two with us all.

See you on the other side! Gong xi fa cai.IMG_8793

Double happiness

Small Monkey is definitely not so small any more: double digits in the PC house at last. A year ago, I presented nine years’ worth of monkey-related quotes. My notepad wasn’t quite as busy over the last 12 months but I managed to get a few things down. Happy birthday, SM – ten years old and chattier than ever:

24 MARCH
Me: ‘I’m sitting next to you, please don’t pick your nose and eat it.’
SM: ‘Then don’t sit next to me.’

23 JUNE
[‘Imagine‘ gets played at school graduation day, and after school SM is keen to talk about the life and times of the great songwriter]
‘Oh poor John Lennon, it’s a shame, I’d like to have known him.’

3 JULY
[I collect SM from summer camp and attractive young group leader Josie tells me about a conversation she had with him earlier on]
“He said to me: ‘I’m single, you know.’ I said: ‘Really?’ He said: ‘Yes, I don’t have any brothers or sisters.'”

4 JULY
[walking to summer camp we discuss Tregeagle, a Cornish legend, and how Grandpa has told the story to all of us in turn]
‘And I’ll tell it to my kids, too.’

6 JULY
[imparting random advice en route to the toilets at Changi Airport]
‘Whenever you feel guilty and you feel like you’ve done something wrong, just think about all the exciting things to come and what’s about to happen. That’s my encouragement.’

12 JULY
[watching the penultimate World Cup game]
SM: ‘Oh, they’re doing The Honka.’
Us: ‘The what?’
SM: ‘Where they all dance about and chant before a game.’

25 AUG
[watching me send an SMS at breakfast]
‘You know why grown-ups are so addicted to phones? Because they weren’t invented in the 1960s. But *I* have always had them. Kids right now, in the present, are used to it.’

26 SEP
[at the doc]
‘This place creeps me out sometimes. Usually there are nice things around but here it’s just [gestures at the leaflets]: “All your dentals will fall out”.’

DEC 14
[after a chat about Xmas]
‘Mum, I’m FREAKIN’ excited. Not physically. That would be embarrassing.’

Dec 15
[Mr PC is overseas]
‘I’m really missing Dad, you know. I mean, I don’t want to be a sissy but…’

JAN 20
[a cake discussion the day before the birthday]
‘Can you make it the best cake ever? You know like in SimCity where you build the sewage factories and make everyone happy 100 per cent? We need to do that with the cake.’

Coming right up, SM xxx

She made me do it

I’m moving forward, and I really think I’m going to do it. We are 25m off the ground (that’s 75 foot for any old-fashioned counters out there). I step onto the metal grid and we proceed. She is in front of me, and she sets a nice calm pace and squeaks with elation as we watch the ground bend slightly, far below us. I follow her, inventing an odd walk that seems to help – it involves bending at the knees, gripping the bars on either side and loping forward, staying low. I feel like Basily Fawlty. It’s odd but effective, and with giggles, squeals and plenty of eye-shutting we get to the end, at which point she admits she is terrified, too, and my knees agree, finally giving way to tremors and continuing to knock together for a good 20 minutes. No one came up behind us and the group in front moved off quickly, so we had the bridge all to ourselves. We did it! We’re alive, giddy with relief, hooting and cooing with the brilliance of it all: a textbook canopy walk.

‘She’ was my sister, and the canopy walk was the one in MacRitchie. The words ‘canopy’ and ‘walk’ don’t equate with someone who is terrified of heights, but strange things happen when family come to stay, you end up reverting to form – she made me do it, basically.

When family’s around I’m no longer the 45-year-old mother of a nearly ten-year-old boy with a husband, a nice little career in freelance journalism and a tour guide habit on the side. The plane offloads whoever it is that’s come to stay and suddenly I’m nine years old again, playing the little sister role just like the girl with the curl in her forehead – sometimes I’m lovely, sometimes I’m hideous, but always I am younger than the person who was in front of me on that metal gangplank. On the beach at Sentosa on her last day, beer beside her, sarong underneath her, my sister said: ‘It’s a pity you’re not just down the road, this would be fun to do now and then’, and that’s just it – we don’t want a condensed amount of time in each other’s pockets, we just want to hang out like we would do in the UK. She didn’t make me have beer, that day, by the way, I had cocktails instead. But she did make me sit on the beach and wade in the ocean with my skirt hitched into my pants.

Back to the point, though, and that crazy treetop walk. Anyone who had done the walk before had always told me it was perfectly OK, offering words of encouragement like: ‘The sides are boob-height, you’ll feel perfectly safe,’ and: ‘It doesn’t really wobble,’ and: ‘It’s fine.’ I didn’t believe any of that and I was never going to do it, but there we were at the sign that tells you either to go for it or to go home, and my sister said, let’s just walk to the entrance and see how it is, and if you don’t like it we can go home. In the end, what swung it for me (quite literally) was a nice young guy who directed us to the entrance then said, as a parting shot: ‘it’s totally fine, I’m scared of heights and I did it.’ Well, you can’t argue with that. Half an hour later, I was doing it too.

I’m not going to lie, it was terrifying, it did wobble, and if we hadn’t been in Safe As Houses Singapore, where I knew that a bridge like that would be safety tested to within an inch of its hideous steel chain-link girders, then I would have run a mile through the jungle.

‘Do you ever watch I’m a Celebrity?’ asked my sister as we crossed the mid-point and I peered through the slits in my eyes at the miles of sky around me and the tiny leaves on the very tops of the very tall trees. Her voice seemed to come from a long way away, even though I was practically treading on her heels with my odd loping walk, and even though I thought I replied ‘yes’ out loud, it felt like I was talking out of the side of my mouth like a puppet. She heard me though, because then she said:

‘Well, think of yourself as doing that canopy walk out of the jungle, only without the fireworks.’

See what she’d done there? She’d reverted to form, too, playing the role of older sister even though she was shaking with fear herself. She’s always done that; she’s good at making sense of nutty stuff, and she’s also good at bullet points and instructions, and actually I’m not so bad at that sort of stuff, too. I’m tempted to go back at night and graffiti the sign with bullet points:

  • Don’t look down
  • Don’t stop
  • Bend at the knees
  • Bring a friend

Really, though, what you need to make you do something like this is an older sister. I’m so glad I’ve got mine.

A brief guide to the F1

The world’s racing stars come to town every year, bringing the centre of Singapore to a standstill with streams of onlookers and big bands to back up the action. This three-day festival with a motor race running through it comes at a price, with tickets going for several of your best Singapore dollars, and it’s a notoriously tough event for drivers, who have to ride it out in such high temperatures and humidity that the race is at the very top of the two-hour medical time limit for such an event.

On Friday the cars practice, on Saturday they practice again, and on Sunday they go really, really fast after which the winning driver sprays everyone else with bubbles. Standard. Meanwhile, lucky ticket holders mill about the Padang and the Esplanade, clutching plastic tubs of beer and reading the handout map upside-down.

Thanks to this popular event I reckon I might be able to make the folks back home a little bit proud. Being the only one out of four not entirely comfortable with festivals and [mouths silently] camping, I think it might surprise two of them to know (and would have surprised the remaining third had she been around to appreciate it) that I’m actively enjoying this annual slice of festival life. OK so we don’t actually camp but I’m fine with the stinky Portaloos, with the lying around in between discarded paper plates for now-and-then-breathers and with swapping my beloved V&Ts for buckets of beer (which of course gives rise to all the lie-downs). All of this is just a shadow of the love my family have for Woodstockathons but it’s a start: perhaps we might be directly related after all?

The carrot on the stick is those whizzy cars and the big bands that provide the wow-factor backdrop. Singapore is shown off via the world’s news channels in starry palm-fringed flashes, and when you venture into town to see it for real, let me tell you the most anti-festival person would happily set up camp for an hour or two because it is all pretty fabulous. With three pops at the F1 cherry under my belt I am now qualified to show off the mud beneath my nails and divulge my top ten F1 tips. After two nights of losing Mr PC somewhere near the Fanzone Portaloos I’m tempted to give it the slightly tetchy SMS subtitle: ‘Where the F1 are you?

F1: I reckon you should splash out and buy Zones 1, 2 and 3 to get maximum coverage. I have no idea what that gets you as we’ve only ever bought the ‘cheap’ Zone 4 seats, but the posh zones quiet literally sound like fun.

F2: If you are stingy like us and persist in only buying Zone 4 tickets, exit from Raffles Place and you’ll find a whole set of stands just for us lot from where we can wobble up some metal steps to see the cars whizz past. It’s alright, they’re pretty solid. Nothing collapsed under me (this time).

F3: Leave the suede footwear at home because those nice boots will not survive. Wear Tevas or Keens, wash, air-dry, repeat.

F4: If you wait at the back for second entry into the Fanzone, do not push me, I repeat DO NOT PUSH ME. The only ‘crush’ I want is ice in my beer cooler.

F5: If there’s someone good at the Esplanade stage then arrive early. It’s such a ridiculously tiny venue, you can all but set up a fun little tea party and that’s it. I saw the end of one of Ziggy’s dreadlocks. Once.

F6: Rain is rare, but if you got caught in the Robbie monsoon you’ll know just how soaked that 90 minutes of Padang time can get you and there will be nothing, NOTHING you can do if the sky unzips, apart from swim home so leave the umbrellas behind.

F7: If it does rain, strip to the waist and aquaplane all around the Padang until it’s time to go home. Or not. Looked like fun.

F8: Despite warnings of road blocks and jams, this weekend we got lucky with those nice blue cars no less than three times. When you’re going in get dropped just before the Fullerton and walk up. Going out, walk a little way from the Padang and BING: tons of the little green lights all down the road. Praise be.

F9: Bringing the saucepan lids? Up to you. Some smalls love it, some hate it. We’re bringing SM next year so I’d love a repeat of the wonderful Mr Williams, who wet-tap-danced his way through a great version of one of SM’s favourite hits Candy. If it’s JLo wagging her papi again we’re in trouble, because I can get foam earplugs from the merchandise stands but they don’t sell blindfolds.

F10: Want to know where to find the cheap beer? Come with us next year, we’ll show you.

See you in September 2015.

IMG_7481

Just a sec

We’ve been in the UK for a week and I’d like to sit down and wax lyrical but I just can’t put anything into words quite yet. Jetlag was bad this time, that must be it. I know by now I should be ready to write a whimsical and poignant post about the pleasures of home, the oddness of returning, the gritty London streets and green fields beyond and the familiar chill of cool mornings against paling skin. More than anything, the sheer deliciousness of being back amongst old friends and family.

I’m mute, though. Said friends have kept pointing out, since touchdown, that we told them we’d be coming home about nowish and we’re not. As such, I feel like this is a rare and special visit that needs to be savoured and strung out, and that’s pretty much how it’s been. It’s been a case of full-on sensory overload since we landed, drinking in every last drop of all the people and places we’ve missed, and it’s only Day Seven. We sleep deeply but briefly, up and ready early each morning for more. I have tweaked the chubby cheeks of England, ruffled my fingers through its shaggy mop and cuddled it on my lap over endless cups of tea and proper pub measures of vodka and I’m still not quite ready to put all that down on paper, quite yet.

So I’ll be back in a tic. Top up, please.

#chinksglass

Snapshots

I’ve got this cracking hangover, but not in a boozy, nauseous way. I’m fuzzy-headed, displaced; I feel like I’ve got a head full of Sydney sand.

Good holidays hold specific memories, especially those that happened long ago. Egypt with Mr PC is tiny blue Moroccan tiles around a swimming pool. Greece with BestBirdD is jasmine, sun cream. Spain with the boys is mountain tracks, sunsets and wine. My Cornwall (not a holiday but a genetic coordinate) is tamarisk, mud, Mivvys at the shop.

I wake up every morning and I’m ready for a beach, any old one will do: Coogee, Hamelin, Manly. It’s too early to say what my ‘Stralia snapshot will be just yet: sweeping the van, morning toast on a fold-up chair, hot Clontarf deck?

I can get back to it if I want, though, easy. Any time I want to hop back in the hire car and drive up to Palm Beach I click forward on my iPod until I find the Choon Of The Trip, good old Mr Thicke from Aunty’s NOW 85 gift to SM (CD1-Track2). If you’re in a hot country you can get the full effect by finding a cliff road, rolling down the car windows and cranking up the sound until the speakers pop your ears. If you’re in a cold country you must turn up the heating and tip sand all over the floor:

Kid-friendly version

Monkey business

On 21 Jan 2005 we had a Small Monkey; now he is nine. According to the Chinese zodiac he is a wood monkey and they are “cautious, talkative, perceptive, motivated by honesty and restless”. It’s certainly true that, having worried about his mumbled monosyllables all through the first three years we now can’t get him to stop talking. All children make hilarious comments but not all mums jot them down. Here you are, then, you little monkey: a small selection of your random chatterings. Happy birthday.

JUNE 2010 After watching Crocodile Dundee during a hospice visit to Grandma: ‘He doesn’t do killing or fighting, just cleverness!’

JUNE 2010 ‘I didn’t have a dream, I had a think’

MARCH 2011 ‘When I die I want someone to change hearts with me’

MAY 2011 Waiting at a bus stop, a couple stroll past in smart clothes, woman clutching a bunch of flowers. Whispered: ‘Must’ve had a wedding’

JUNE 2011 SM describes a dream about his latest obsession, the film Avatar, which he hasn’t seen as it’s rated too high: ‘We saw him and we asked him questions and he spoke to us. It was lovely’

JUNE 2011 In the back of our car, SM reads out a Times headline – British Women Don’t Take Care of Their Men:

‘That’s a bit rude, isn’t it?’

Not sure whether he’s talking about the journalist making inaccurate assumptions about us girls, or the Women Of Britain being a lazy lot, I explain that this is an opinion piece and that in the UK we have something called Freedom of Speech but he’s all over wimmin’s rights*: ‘When I’m older I’m going to rubbish that out and write: ‘British Men Don’t Take Care of Their Women’

* About a year later he undoes all the good work by remarking, out loud at a dinner party, that all I do in life is the washing up. Hey though, the Spare Rib thought was there (once).

SEP 2011 Glum: ‘I feel like telling you about my life. Some days it’s just not my day’

EARLY 2012 Kicked in the nuts during football game with girl in his class: ‘It was an accident; anyway I don’t mind – she’s the king of the girls’

JUNE 2012 Grown-up woman rides past us down middle of road on scooter. Confidentially: ‘This day is getting stranger and stranger’

JULY 2012 Lounging in bed with me early one Saturday, Daddy already in Singapore. No hope of a lie-in: ‘Okeydokey – let’s get this party started!’

JULY 2012 SM spends the morning ‘helping’ poor, back-cricked Grampa and later confides, with a wry chuckle: ‘This morning was a difficult day, it was like I was the grown-up and he was the child’

AUG 2012 Out and about doing pre-Sing chores, we pass by our old apartment. Wistfully: ‘It’s like we’re going backwards in time’

21 JAN 2013 On his 8th birthday, after what must have been a biblical schoolday, SM sighs that all the world’s troubles are down to ‘the snake’. I assume he is talking about the recent playground sighting of a wriggly nasty on the climbing frame, but no: ‘No, THE snake, THAT snake; it’s all because of one little apple, one tiny apple. Without that there’d never have been a bad guy, no police…’

30 DEC 2013 Fast-forward a year to Australia, Sally’s back garden, kids in pool, old friends chatting in the sun, and a sudden joyful outburst: ‘Awww, this is JUST like old times!’

31 DEC 2013 A dark existential moment at the end of the year: ‘So, if we’re all going to die on this planet anyway, why do we even bother living?’

1 JAN 2014 Slumped against window in cab from Changi airport, just off 7-hr flight from Sydney: ‘I’m jetpacked’

And a little later, as the driver takes us down a brand new route that’s only just opened up while we were away: ‘A new road! See, I told you everything would change in 2014’

Here’s to the changes, SM. Keep the quotes coming x

Just now, birthday morning, Skyping Grampa who is sitting in front of the fireplace in the cottage: ‘Oohhhh you’re in Cornwall! I can SMELL it!’ Scratch ‘n’ Skype?

Singapore Sundays

It’s a starry day, twinkly weather with a hot blue sky, a light pleasing breeze. From where we sit in the back of the cab, sun points ping off the cars up ahead, hot metal stacking up at the lights. Heavy rainfall the night before has cleared the air leaving it washed, fragrant. It is almost Spanish, this weather.

The cab driver is an auntie and she wants to talk. That’s fine. I am sure it is because of the good weather that the three of us engage in happy fluid chatter while SmallMonkey quietly reads his book between us. We are all in the best of moods.

When we reach the pitch there is a heat haze coming off the grass and sun cream slides off damp skin. Wind ruffles the sleeves of the ref when he points, and his whistle peeps are sharper, carry further.

Our kids lie around at half time, wet through and panting like dogs on a beach. We pipe water into them and send them back out. The good weather carries its happy luck right through the game, seeps into the little sinews and drives the football the right way down the pitch, gets it out from tricky footknots and bounces it from head to head, toe to toe, arcing through the blue and sliding towards the goal until it pops right in: poc. Sweaty hugs and high fives. A quick dispersal today as the sun is baking through our tops.

At lunch we have piles of fries and a victory ice cream. All through our meal the sky stays blue – I can see it through the mall window, and I notice the hot wind ruffling ferns by the road. We take our time, and when we reach our side of the island the rain has already been and gone because the streets are wet and steamy. We jam open the patio doors in time to hear the thunder slide away across the rooftops. I wish for the hundredth time that I could bottle them, these happy days.

Day dreams

The last six months has been split into countdowns. It has been inevitable and I’m not sure how I could have prevented it. In rough order we have had: departure, arrival, school, half term, Christmas, sister, New Year, Lunar New Year and now Easter. With Easter comes Dad and with Dad comes another injection of home and it’s naughty to look forward to that and it’s cheating, in a way, but I can’t help it. I wish I could just take the days as they come but the stepping-stones keep getting thrown down and to veer off the emotional path just hasn’t seemed worth it. So I’m counting down for Dad’s arrival and it is addictive.

I’m in Cold Storage and I want to show him the seaweed crackers. I’m on the bus coming back from school and I want him to see the fairy lights at the corner of Holland Avenue. In my mall there are some exotic frocks that I know Mum would have loved – I want to show him those, don’t know why. Today a bus took me past miles and miles of big bushy trees and there was a glimpse of reservoir: there are monkeys in there and snakes, I want to tell him. I can see him nodding, giving me an excited shoulder-nudge. I want to subject him to a school assembly, ask him to check the plants outside the spare room and tell me what they are, get caught in a storm with him, ask if he can hear the crickets at night, see if he can catch the gecko in the kitchen, watch him watching SmallMonkey skateboard, sit with him at a bus stop in the heat, hear him talk to the funny stubby cats down our road, cool off with him over a beer at my favourite outside bar. Don’t even get me started on the dumplings and stir-fries I have already ordered.

There are just under five weeks between now and then and in that time I have another much-wanted guest to stay, nice nights out, several gym-things, the sameoldsameold book to chip away at, all that. Hopefully the sun will come out at some point so I can lie beneath it; my nails could do with another session. I should be trying to find work, planning our Easter Borneo trip, organising a school coffee morning, trying to find more work, exploring – I should take a bus to the end of the island and back, book a daytrip to Ubin. I should be setting up those Mandarin classes that by now we thought we’d be halfway through.

In fact I know that the most important thing I should be doing, starting from today, is to simply enjoy every single one of these things for what they are, as and when they happen, because otherwise this whole life-switch-experiment of ours is going to dissolve into a big blob of wishing and dreaming and then the carriage will revert back to a pumpkin and I’ll be back in the room and wishing from another point of view entirely.

Let me just take one more peek at the calendar…