Back in the room

Someone who shall remain nameless suggested, as I complained my way through the packing at the end of this year’s summer trip to England, that I should’ve sorted out our sons’ school shoes at some time during the “holidays”. How I laughed. At what point might I have found the time?
I write this on my first afternoon back in Singapore. I’ve had dinner out, done a morning at work, had lunch out (#lazylah) and, yes, bought those s*dding school shoes.
Thing is, there was a time when long-term expats would explain to me why they never did home visits any more. They’re tough. You zig-zag from picnic to pub, taking up people’s floor space with your exploding suitcases, refusing and then accepting endless puddings, having hurried farewells as you kiss the growing children on the top of their summer holiday heads and then waking up the next day and doing it all over again. Five weeks, five different beds, a million kisses goodbye and then a flight back through the night, holding back the inappropriate homesick tears at the end of the supposedly funny film on the flight, before hitting the heat of the taxi stand and having the first of a string of sleepless nights as your body struggles to right itself once more.
That’s the negative version. I concur, to a point, but I still think there is massive mileage in going back and seeing all those friendly faces, drinking all those cups of proper tea, getting all those bearhugs. The visit gives us all a large dose of happiness that stays in the system for a long time. Our 2016 version went a bit like this:
Cool air, late twilights, high blue skies, cups of proper tea, trees to climb, lawns, bacon, M&S deli, favourite old toys, trains, DELAYS, traffic, sirens, ROADWORKS, pub grub, festival fun, beach huts, car trips, park life, baths, chewing gum, fudge, familiar faces, bear hugs, gossip, scandal, the odd bit of appallingly bad news, more picnics, more bear hugs, much inexpensive but delicious wine, bus stop chats with strangers, thrift shop bargains, clouds that don’t burst, plates that are hot, more trains, washing up in old family sinks, neighbours who love you, kids playing nicely, curiously pleasing smelling laundry tabs, butter that doesn’t melt, more bloody ROADWORKS, intravenous familiarity and lots of love.

This year’s tune-to-wash-up-to, a bit tacky, goes to a hot road trip back from the lavender fields with Isabel, Chris, Cam and Georgie. Press play and clear the kitchen.

See you next time, Blighty

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Life, the Universe and Everything

This was going to be entitled Life on Mars, but then David Bowie died, so that was that. Then I thought about calling it January: I like it as a name, plus I was having a sleepless little think, just now, about how January is the weirdest of all months, a cold, long time of year full of desperate ambition, sepia retrospect, diets. Also full of birthdays: Mum’s on the 4th, SM’s on the 21st, my best friend and also my mother-in-law, on the 28th and 29th. Mum always said it was a great time of year to have a birthday because just as everyone’s Christmas was petering out with a fizzle, along came the 4th to cheer everything up. She had lots of these brave sentiments, was sometimes quite outspoken. Friends phoned to get her measured, even opinion on all sorts of things. She was on the radio, telly. I even thought about calling the other day, to go through a few Christmas ideas: stupid, like itching a leg that’s no longer there. She’d have had a lot to say over a cuppa about Bowie, and Rickman. I wish I could hear it.
January’s very weird for us this year, transported back from our old life after the holiday visit. Two whirlwind weeks in the cool and now shot back through the dark and into the light again: vast worlds apart, eight whole hours difference, and the jetlag this time round has been colossal, and the chasm between both worlds more immense than ever before.
You can call it January blues. Keep your diets, I just want to be the right way up. My new Christmas Fitbit tells me that I average four hours sleep a night: I’m Margaret Thatcher, a proper robot! This month I have mostly been using the stuffy small hours to think about my current life (I can’t say ‘new’ because it isn’t so new any more), in comparison to our old one, the one we’ve just arrived Home from. When I lie awake it makes me breathless to think of how everyone is – right at that minute – pottering about on the planet at a completely different time making tea, buying the paper, pressing ‘print’ at work, popping down into the Tube, forgetting their umbrella. How do we all function at such different times? It’s one in the morning Here – 5pm Over There. This must be why I am still awake, it’s just been tea time.
Home is now Here, where my stuff is, where my family are, but half my family are back There in OtherHome, and when we return, half my heart will always be Here. It keeps me awake. It has kept me awake tonight. I’ve given up, got up, put on the kettle and flipped open the winking white screen: lucky me, pouring it all into words when I can’t do anything else about It.
I know what I’d ask Mum about Bowie, and Rickman. I would ask her if she thought that big public deaths might sometimes offer people a safe way of spreading out whatever private grief they have, to anchor it. Especially if they’ve just had a very real death in the house themselves, like above-mentioned Best Friend, who lost her partner two short months ago. This is the current theme of the waking hours, that the dark elastic miles make it impossible to be There to help sweep up the fallout. I can only be Here, sending futile keyboard kisses across the ether, and it doesn’t really work. When the global tsunami of two very famous deaths hits the headlines one after the other, grief is unlocked and open: free for all. I would have asked Mum if she thought it sometimes helped people cushion the loss, just a little. I know, though, that of course it doesn’t, it probably just makes it all much, much worse.
Keyboard clicks verify this: my girl’s not had a good day. Nothing helps, time doesn’t help, crying probably doesn’t help, not all the cups of tea in China. Not even Chai tea, her favourite. Of course I don’t really know because I’m halfway around the world, aren’t I, and she’s far away somewhere to the left-and-up-of-me, drinking tea and crying while I hang upside down in a dark bedroom, thinking of her, and him, and them, and me and my impossibly lovely-but-tricky dual life. I think I might learn to meditate, to just be, but the sleepless phone screen is by my side and happy to tell me when things are not right in NeverLand. I’ll switch off in a minute, shut down. In my two worlds I can always escape: if I don’t like it Here, I can always go There. At least through my keyboard, if not in person.
I’m not the only existential fretter in the house. SM quite often pads down the hall late at night into our room, pale and baggy, worried about Life, The Universe and Everything. He wants to know where it all begins and where it ends, and I’m with him every sleepless step of the way because I wonder, too, how each hot black night Here draws us closer to There, pulls us nearer to dark conclusions of our own, answers to the kinds of questions that we don’t want to ask, don’t want to think about. Some people don’t get the luxury of putting on the kettle and going back to bed – when I think about this, I know I never want to arrive at that awful point. It’s unfathomable and unanswerable.
So we get up, have cocoa, he goes back to bed with a ruffle of the head, I pop online and check the news, first Here, then There. Are you OK over there? I’m here, I’m thinking of you.

Christmas on Mars

It still amazes me that simply by sitting down for 14 hours (12 without a headwind), we can transport ourselves from one planet to another. Well OK, to another country, but when you’re changing seasons as well as cultures, you might as well be arriving on a different planet.
Having not experienced a winter since 2011, popping out of the rabbit hole from boiling hot Singers into a dark and icy London morning was alien and magical. While SM pinched his fingers to keep warm as we pushed our luggage towards the Heathrow Express at 6.30am, I did a happy little shuffle, so glad to be back for the season, revelling in the cold against my skin (maybe regretting packing our coats deep within the bags, but ah well, lesson learned).
Alright. Now you’re going to tell me it was the warmest Christmas since 1248, but for us it was baltic, a shock to our systems. I bought a better jacket on day one, and proper socks, Grandpa took SM to buy gloves. We wore scarves and woollen hats, got dressed to go to bed, blasted out the heaters in every home we stayed in, kept the electric blankets on for as long as we could, and it was lovely – properly festive, sense-tingling and sparkly, with dark black nights, soft winter sunrises and a real use for mulled wine.
I’ve always championed a warm Christmas, because when you think about it, half the world can’t help having one, so we might as well accept them. Out of the other half, around 70 per cent probably think that it’s wrong to have Christmas in the tropics, and the remaining 30 per cent of us quite enjoy the blow-up snowmen bobbing against hot blue skies, curry dinners on the beach and celebratory dips in hot oceans wearing Santa hats. (For some people, you don’t need a hot sea to do this – the cousins went for a mad Christmas Day dip in sub-temperature seas, the chilly weirdos.)
Still, after four tropical Christmases on the trot, it was nice to have a proper wintry backdrop for the tinsel, to be dashing about under stormy* winds and fetching bags of goodies in and out of cars with the weather whipping rolls of wrap and scattering rain over our shopping. This is the proper way of burning off all those deeply bad foods trolleyed out in spades: meats soaked in naughty fats with sausages and spuds, fruity puddings and cakes, crisps, nuts, wine, stocking treats, and chocolates enjoyed at a slow pace with no fear of anything melting into the foil.
A London Christmas involves the same chores, visits and drinks as always but with a more thoughtful attitude to things like dress (tights and coats) and time of day (8am to 3pm and that’s it) than in sultry Singapore. In London, sparkles are reflected in colder puddles, heating is inside not out. Stuffed into a packed hire car, setting off for the wild west, I got SM to count Christmas trees in windows just as we’d always done when we were small (scoring a lamentable seven, distracted by the joys of high class snacking from posh service stations: never had THOSE in the oldene days.)
Put me in our Cornish cottage at this time of year and I am retro happy, sitting at my desk in the upstairs double room, transported back to the ghosts of Christmas past – legwarmers, rainbow jumpers, Wham! topping the charts and that first ever boyfriend Christmas card curling slightly in my happy hand.
These days, walks on the beach with cousins become double-layered: two sets of cousins from two generations, with us now falling behind and them now running up ahead, bobble-hatted and wet-ankled.
And these days it’s me tip-toeing into the smaller back bedroom, stashing a fat stocking at the foot of a bed and sneaking backwards, already two tired hours into the big day and covered in bits of tape and glitter from the snowstorm of wrapping, and just a few short hours before SM heaves his treat-laden stocking into our bedroom, just as we did with our own parents for so many years. To have Grandpa and Auntie in on it too – special, wondrous and well worth the night-time sit across many lands and seas to get to them.
We’re planning next Christmas already, no doubt a hot one, though I might try and recreate the chill as I’m beginning to think it does work a bit better. To start the planning now is a good way of padding out the holes in our hearts, gaps created when we make that long return sit to pop out once again in palm tree land, where the lights are still on the tree that we left behind some two weeks before. Traces of fat stocking debris leading up the hallway to a small back bedroom in this other world of ours tell us that it wasn’t all a dream, and grey monsoon skies outside are doing a fair job of helping me merge the planets so the distance is not quite so wide.
Happy New Year one and all, whichever planet you’re on.
* apologies to those who suffered in the real storms Up North. You would probably all have preferred a tropical one this year
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A little lost

It’s just taken me two and a half hours to get back from dropping Dad at Changi Airport. I used public transport, and the trip should have taken about 75 minutes, but it wasn’t exactly a normal morning, so that’s not quite how it worked out.

I started at Gate 6 Departures (which is right in the middle of the Terminal 1 building), where we said goodbye and both very admirably did not cry (and I actually only looked back once). I then went from left to right looking for the station exit, failing miserably and trying even harder not to cry and as a result being unable to read any signs. By the time I’d mapped the hall, ant-like, for ten minutes, including dropping down into Arrivals and up again, I found the SkyTrain and took that to Terminal 2 where I hopped on an MRT train and sat dabbing at emerging tears, until it ground to a halt three stops later at Pasir Ris, totally the wrong end of the line. Never mind, from there I popped over the platform, blowing my nose, and stood waiting until a helpful guard pointed out that I might just as well stay on the same train until it went backwards down the route I’d just taken. So I did that, and for the next 45 minutes all was quiet (apart from the sound of rustling tissues and muffled honking), until I had to get off at Buena Vista to change to the yellow line, at which point I did the same backwards trip, going towards Harbour Front instead of Dhoby Ghaut and travelling in the wrong direction (snotty now and hiding behind a big book) to OneNorth so that I had to turn around and go not one stop but two to my final destination. Gah! At Holland Village (a place I know very well indeed, as I live there), I went into a bank for coffee instead of Starbucks, but the rest of the walk home was peaceful enough, apart from the sound of me by now properly sobbing into my Frappucino, mercifully blotted out by traffic hoots.

This is what my brain does when it’s upset, it short circuits. I won’t be surprised if I lose my keys later today, or email the wrong person or try and pay for something with my travelcard. The fact that my brain is upset is silly, because it knows – stupid, stupid brain – that it will see Dad again in three months time, but no matter how many times I tell it off for making me cry on the MRT, it insists on being utterly devastated every time we say goodbye to my father.

The thing about his visits are that they bring a sense of perspective to an otherwise frankly freaky existence. They level us all, reset the status quo. Here in ExpatVille life is lovely, but it’s not real. And it’s not forever. Dad helps us look at what we are doing, in a gentle and silent way. Of course the ten-year-old doesn’t see this and he’s always worse off, because ten-year-olds Don’t Know How Lucky They Are, Aren’t Appreciative and Would Never Get A Life Like This At Home. So a grown-up brain can (once it’s pulled itself together) tell itself that we are living this wonderful life for a short time only, we must make the most of every shiny second, and we must let Grandpa get back to the things and the people he needs to get back to, and in turn get back to our own lives, which are always put on hold (no matter how much we love pressing the Hold button) when anyone comes to town.

SmallMonkey’s brain sees a devastating short-term future of empty spare rooms, utter lack of experiment partners, only one person to read to him at night (me) instead of two (see? doesn’t know he’s born), zero amount of person to play with in swimming pool (when actually, again, there is me, but that’s a young brain for you), loss of forage partner, argument referee, weird plant explainer, patient joke-listener, school bus collector (yup, me again, but I know it’s not the same), partner in crime for leaving damp towels in beds and bits of old croissant in rucksacks, loss of bus, boat and plane buddy – all of the things that my brain agrees, after a stiff talking to, that it’s OK to do without for a while has SM’s brain howling at the moon every night, unable to right itself until Old Father Time works his very slow magic (and, maybe, a cheeky set of Match Attax cards is given at the weekend as a bribe).

It is the ease with which Dad fits into our lives that makes his visits so workable. It’s not simple, fitting into another family’s way of life, no matter how close you are. What we love is how he enriches our days simply by being with us, happily and without fanfare. In his place is nothing. It is not a gap that can be filled. You know, though, it’s not like that film Enchanted, where birds perch on our deck, unfurl ribbons over the kitchen sink, tidy up all the pool towels and make up our beds (yes I know we have someone to do that, but you’re missing the point); it’s not always sugar-coated. Some mornings we’re all tired, some afternoons we’re cranky or busy, but this is daily life for you, and it just highlights my point about the loveliness of having Dad around to mull along with us. His presence makes for a little bit of the year which, for me and SM, feels so much like home.

We talked, during Dad’s trip, about how long our stay will now be. We’re coming to summer, decision-making time; the lease on our apartment is up again; I’ve a new job starting tomorrow; SM’s school is ridiculously good. Where are the exit signs? We love our privileged life but the last thought before I go to bed every single night (apart from deciding whether to switch off the aircon) is for Dad, and my sister, and the rest of my family and friends, and most times it’s about what on earth are we doing out here, and what they are all doing over there, and what timescale does this bonkers existence have? How long? I don’t have an answer.

Mr PartlyCloudy tells me to live in the now, but his brain is different to mine, calculating, planning, measuring and adjusting. Mine throws out streamers, plonks up and down the piano, paints exquisite pictures then rides over them with a ginormous tractor before unfurling a giant rainbow towel on a desert shore with a tall fruity cocktail and a floppy hat, and inventing strange and unpublishable stories for the rest of the daydream. So you can see how we don’t, sometimes, see eye to eye on things. I do like his brain, though, and mine might just have to behave for a bit.

Once, in my twenties, not long after a big relationship had ended, I had trouble getting home after work, spending about half an hour walking between two tube stops on Oxford Street, trying to decide which route to take. This was ridiculous, since I had lived in London all my life and knew the route blind, but it was the result of the same panicky brain. So I’m sorry for my poor brain today and I think I’ll stay at home and give it it the rest of the day off, allowing it to track Dad’s route home, maybe eating a bit of Easter chocolate, until SM comes home from school and needs the Grandpa gaps filled. Sweets instead of healthy snacks today, for sure.

Other sad-brain posts about Dad’s Visits here and here.

Sob.

Don’t be nice

SmallMonkey went to bed in proper tears tonight. The Festival Of Dad is at an end. Trouble with having lots of fun with Grandpa is that you always come to the horrible LastNight where you know what tomorrow’s going to bring.
Best bit of this month? Starting a fab new job (Tuesday, I cannot wait to see you).

Worst bit? I hate you, Airport.IMG_9504

Seats 44D and 44E

I’m writing this at 35,000 feet during a particularly bumpy spell somewhere over the north-west of India. We’re nine hours into a twelve-and-a-half hour flight (that’s the first one, the second one’s just a little transfer hop down to Sing) and I’ve not had a lot of sleep. SM has managed to doze off, with his feet in my lap and his head nudging the thighs of the elderly lady next to him. How he’s getting any is beyond me. For some time, hours possibly, a toddler a few seatbacks away has been howling, I mean really howling, which makes me think of how brilliant SM has always been on flights. I’ve spent the whole trip fixing his earphones, folding back the foil from his too-hot dinner, picking up his specs and extracting his toes from under the armrest as he wriggles in his sleep, but at least I don’t need ear-plugs.

I hate this enforced nighty-night time. The blinds are down and the lights are off but every time I shut my eyes and try and doze I get ticker-taping high-speed rabbit-voiced rewinds of the last month. Who said what is blurring, but when I sit down and think about it, all I really need to remember is that it was lovely. The last day (today, I suppose, or maybe yesterday) was spent just where I wanted it, high on the Heath with my family, looking down to the little red brick flats where I grew up with St Pauls and The Shard in the distance, notching iconic grey shapes onto the horizon. Up on Kite Hill we had the usual jolly crowd that a sunny day brings: kites flapping, a globe of dialects dotting the breeze, and – thrown in just for us – fluffy white seedlings blowing across the air as in some kind of arthouse film. Perfect.

Now I’m bobbing up and down on invisible wind mountains, I can look back down on the visit from a distance and try and pinpoint what it was to be a voyeur in my own land. ‘It’s not like this all the time,’ everybody told me. ‘You bring the sunshine’. They didn’t just mean it physically (we seem to always arrive in town just as the heatwave settles) but socially. We are spoilt when we go home, treated like royalty and carried (only ankle-high thanks to the slow drip of tea and cakes) from house to house on a wave of happy returns. I know it’s not like this all the time because I used to live here, and I know it’ll be back to basics when we return. Despite knowing all that I also know that it’s all just so nice that leaving again is going to be very hard.

Never mind. Trust bonkers old Singapore to give me no time to dwell. I’m not just sitting here high up in the clouds writing a blog post, I’m also sorting out a diary that is already looking like a mathematical riddle. Before I’d even got to Week Four of the trip the dates were inking themselves all over August: first night out, first weekend away, first coffee morning, a possible leaving do lined up, the next three major holidays organized, the next museum tour in the diary and a load of new work from Those Nice People Who Give Me Work. No time to lie down in a dark room feeling homesick.

Parting is such hugely sweet sorrow that this year’s was done briefly, and in various bits. During the final week I said the word ‘goodbye’ several ghastly times, using brisk armlocks rather than hugs and sometimes (Pudding family, for example) not even saying a proper goodbye at all. On the last day, last hour, even, Aunty kissed us on the pavement outside M&S then went to get her bus, waving us off until Christmas. Then Dad came back to the apartment, helped me squish the cases shut, dragged them down the stairs and stood on the pavement with us until the cab pulled up. Easter is a little longer to wait than Christmas but saying goodbye to Grandpa on a busy high street allowed for just 60 seconds of tight hugs and high-pitched trembly voices, and it also allowed me to crumple in private, tucked into the back of the cab with SM’s little hand on my arm, rather than stumbling through airport security blinded by tears like last year, which was not just embarrassing but also annoying because I couldn’t see what I was putting into the little x-ray trays. Next year I’m booking a morning return flight, because as lovely and winsome as that last day was, I know we all spent it quietly wading through troughs of sadness, a bit like trying to sip a very lumpy sad soup.

Breakfast is coming round, or lunch, I think. Someone just to my right needs help finding his headphones and the seatbelt sign has pinged again. Onwards.

NB: I’m such a Gemini. After I wrote this I shut down the computer, tucked it into my seatback, chose another film with a beach scene and started planning the next beach trip: sobbing with sadness one minute, choosing a swimsuit the next. Don’t listen to me. Ever.

PS: This post came to you from Malaysian Airlines flight M001 from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur and on to Sing. Still flying, still friendly and long may they last

Exit notes

Some friends are for life, from the minute you say ‘hello’. Some never quite turn into old friends but are always friendly enough. Some friends accompany you on outings, some you might see just twice a year, some are for pints in pubs, some provide shoulders, some are for any old time, any place, anywhere… and then you move to ExpatLand and a whole new set of categories crops up. Worst of these, I have found, is ‘Friends On The Move’, a lonely section at the very back of my mental Rolodex that would have a dark label were it ever part of a real-life filing system.

Transience, that rotten nomadic chestnut, is a thing we expats truly hate about life in a foreign land, and of course it’s not confined to Singapore, it’s global. Hop on to any overseas advice forum and you’ll see threads on relocation, saying goodbye, how to cope with old friends leaving just as the new ones are coming in, expecting smiles and handy social maps. Farewells are a good life lesson in the long run but nonetheless tricky every time. It is far worse for the people on the gangplank, yes, especially as in many cases leaving is something that’s out of their hands. For those waving from shore, though, it’s not exactly a picnic either.

The latest of the leavers drew a standard bland-but-sympathetic response from me, when in fact all I really wanted to email back was:

“You can’t go, what will I do? Remember all the fun times? Wait, we never did karaoke!”

That message remains locked away in my virtual filing cabinet under the dark ‘departures’ section and safely converts, in emailed reality, to a simple sadface.

Ohnevermind: the world is small as well as round and we’ll meet again. To be honest, though, I’d prefer to meet you out here, in that new bar we always said we’d try, wearing the sun frock I got from that shop you told me about that opened just a week before you told me you were leaving. I kept a card for you… oh.

Bon voyage, then, and harden my heart some more #sadface.

You told me so

There, I said it for you.

I also changed my title page tagline, did you notice, because we are no longer on a ‘two-year’ Singapore sling. Having had a wrinkle in his otherwise unblemished career path, Mr PC found himself on an extended holiday late last year and managed to push the edges all the way up to now – but the party’s over, so back into the trousers-and-shirts combo he goes and the house will once more be quiet. We’ll miss him, me and SM – he’s worked out all the meal plans, played endless football after school, and although his break coincided with one of my busiest spells ever, he was a great companion on my days off when all I wanted was to hang out with someone familiar. A special thank-you sandwich in his lunchbox on Day One, I think.

But to practicalities – his accepting a new role in Asia takes our family away from the homelands for longer than we planned. We always used the ‘two-year’ rule of thumb as a benchmark but I think we secretly knew that it would be longer – as did all of you, because you told me so left, right, and centre. What could I say at the time? While Mr PC was already off to the airport and living out here faster than you could say ‘removalists’, I was back at the ranch wrapping cups in newspaper, crying, giving away old books, crying, rehousing the cats, crying again, attending the last school assembly, doing the drinks and parties, missing you all so badly already. Saying goodbye. “Two years” was breaking it gently. In fact, as you all pointed out back then, two years is not a long time.

Who are we kidding, we love it out here of course. It’s not for everyone, some can’t wait to head back to the chill and reality of their homelands, and it has taken the full two years for me to get over the sadness of the move, to really get into things, but I’ve found as much peace as I ever will, with a good set of friends, places I love, and plenty still to discover. So of course we want to stay, it’s been a group decision and in some ways we could have been back in London by now. Still, having not been given the chance to get properly stuck in, one of our family needs a second run-up at living and working out here and so life really is a mixed bag, on the one hand I’m so thrilled for Mr PC and all that his new schoolbag contains. On the other, the heart-wrench of homesickness has never been stronger than this week.

A local friend, when reading something of mine that mentioned how my ‘head was in Singapore but heart in London’ took offence and told me so. I didn’t think that was entirely fair: more than four decades of being in love with your hometown is not going to fade overnight. I’m not a London snob, I don’t believe it’s the best and only city in the world and I hate some of its seedier, more sinister corners and I don’t miss the dog poo, but it is my home and I will always be committed to the idea of coming back. I just have no idea when.

One key person will dictate this, to a certain extent – of course he doesn’t realise it, but our son has the world at his feet out here. He comes home from school and goes running off outside without me having to heave myself off the sofa. I don’t organise playdates, kids just wander up to the door and ask for him. When we do go out it doesn’t take too long to get anywhere, and there is that small business of the tropical beach at the end of the line: privilege in a capsule. What he is missing, though, is crucial to me: two grandpas and an aunty, old friends with connections that matter, the responsibility of living out his life in a tough city that you don’t get when bouncing around on the soft surfaces of Planet Expat.

I won’t say “two years” again, but I must say it’s a timescale I’m curiously comfortable with – my life since leaving college has fitted into weird two-year blocks. Until I gave up the journalism career ToBeAMum I had moved jobs roughly every two years, and the first four years after leaving, oddly, took the same shape: two years on writing courses, then two years writing the phantom book (the one that’s now in the bin), then these first two years bedding in out here. As I mark off the calender days until our summer break to the UK, I am trying to look a little further down the line and can imagine the next two years coming in a tidy package as well and I wonder what they will bring.

Of course these days I know better than to put a timescale on things…

Sleepless in Singapore #2

Something was biting me. Not my husband. It came back and bit me twice on the leg and then I was awake and realising that the fan was too high so I turned it down and then off, but then I was too hot so I put on the air con but that was freezing so I pulled up the covers and settled back down but then the Thing bit me again.

So I came downstairs and got my run stuff together but then the thunder boomed and it started proper raining. As it turned out a cousin was online and so was my sister and various FBers, all tapping messages out across the ocean, and that was nice. I feel more connected at night thanks to the timezone thing. I might try and get bitten more often.

Trouble at mill

According to Urban Dictionary: Archaic term originating in the industrial North of England, similar in meaning to the “sh## hit the fan”.

When there is trouble at my own mill back in the UK my updates slow down, which is silly isn’t it, because I’m real, not fake, and I can’t just post about all the wonderful!, super!, great! stuff. So I don’t want to leave this diary hanging because if I did that, there’d be a huge gap that wouldn’t make sense. And I do get on with things quite nicely out here, but the ‘stuff’ is home stuff, family stuff and doesn’t translate: it is simply Not For Here. So where do I put it?

I suppose this is the thing: the at home stuff is for that side of the world and the out here stuff is for here. If something is relevant I’ll trot it out; if it isn’t there’ll be a blip. So if you’ve stopped by at this point it won’t have been via a self-important FB link or Tweet, you’ll just have wandered along, and thanks for that – more Singapore tales coming up once the mill is up and running again.

Good old Mr PartlyCloudy, as always the focus of all things ‘Home’, emotional barometer and sounding board. I do wish he got a salary for it.