January 15

I count six unmarked police cars speeding down Finchley Road with lights flashing and sirens wailing. I stare after them, wondering if this is in some way related to Theresa May’s historic defeat in the House of Commons.

‘Could be anything, though,’ I think to myself wandering home, past the sleeping homeless woman on the makeshift bed in the walkway beneath the freeway. I mean it might just be that the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex are sick of being trolled on social media. I open the door to our apartment and I’m greeted by a cacophony of YouTubers. I prefer the wail of police sirens.

Dinner is a ghastly Sri Lankan turmeric Sambar, tasting of fiery gnats. I guess the kids would need YouTubers to take their minds off the aftertaste of another attempt at Vegan-anuary.

The BBC is all a-twitter with the ‘unprecedented’ defeat and what it spells out for the rest of us. Apparently, we have been thrown headlong into a ‘perilous situation’ too close to exiting. If, from March 30, we throw away Free Trade agreements we will be in ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’.

Tonight? The vote of confidence in the PM. Many are praying for a Second Referendum. Macron declares Britain ‘the biggest loser’. Tusk says ‘call it off’.

My antidote to these woes is still fiction. I’m engrossed in ‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers and his world of trees.  I savour his words while the tv, computer, ipad, ipod and all other screens are switched off.

 

‘The world is not made for our utility. What use are we to trees?’

 

Four very plump, clean pigeons alight in our sodden back garden.

This evening I walk out into the cold night and stick my nose into the gigantic trunk of the plane tree on the opposite side of the street. I suspect it’s ‘The Overstory’ effect but my teen is embarrassed that I may have been spotted.

 

January 16th

Too discombobulating to peer into the lives of others in the Bright World. Despite slapping myself around the chops, I can feel my blood souring at the sight of yet another sunny beach so I avoid looking at my phone as much.

Theresa May’s government has survived the no-confidence vote…but what’s next?

 

January 18th

Awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of …a fox clearing its throat? An owl sighing? An alien sound for this Australian in London and I couldn’t identify it, but whatever it may have been was loud enough to rouse me from sleep. As I’ve shaken off the habit of reaching for my phone in the middle of the night, I deduce that due to the complete absence of any bird noises it’s far from dawn. Eventually I fall back to sleep dreaming of owls, waking later to voices declaring the news of …extra colours being added to the rainbow spectrum signifying sexual identity, race inclusivity and a celebration of diversity. Huh?

This provides some brief respite before the panicked reporting of the apparent need to stockpile drugs for Brexit.

Hold on… some other upbeat news as Germans list the reasons why they want Britain to stay in the EU. They will yearn for the milky tea but above all, the British sense of humour is what they’ll miss the most! I love the Germans.

 

January 19th

Still avoiding social media and indulging in Dirty Eating and as a result I’m feeling a little more January-attuned. Croissants, buttery pasta, Revels all work their magic and even the low, grey sky slips sideways like water off a duck. This is January living. Sometimes the answer to life’s hardest questions is simply More Cheese.

The birds here, I suspect, are choking on their chirps. Their communication mechanisms are being tested by January-it is. (Am I becoming bird obsessed? What does this mean?)

I bang on about Brexit over tea and scones and my friend sputters in exasperation.

“Who gives a fuck about Brexit?” she asks plaintively. “What about the environment?”

She has a point. What use is worrying about the EU and this giant messy Brexit divorce when we’re all ‘sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff” anyway?

 

The teen has made it through her exams. I place a vase of tulips in her room to mark the occasion.

 

I talk to my 83-year-old mother about a dish she prepared for my Dad in Newcastle NSW. The recipe is solid gold 1941, goes by the name of Mock Chicken and is a sort of relish, fried and assembled into a chicken-like shape. Kudos in the 40’s for veggies masquerading as meat. Now all revolves around daily worship of plant-based yet tasty treats. Perhaps I’ll make Mock Chicken, snap it, filter it, hashtag it vegan and sit back while my Likes soar into the thousands.  What would Churchill make of it?

 

Sunday 20th

I spent two and a half whopping hours queuing at the Tate with my very impatient 11-year- old.  It was the last day of Christopher Marclay’s Clocks installation, but I think everyone woke up with the same idea; that time was running out to witness this (free) artistic journey through, er, time. I think I might deserve a medal for actually keeping him in the queue for the full two- and- a -half hours but who would present it to me? Certainly not him. I was dimly aware of all the other mainly child-free punters around me, leafing through chapters of their paperbacks to pass the mind-numbing hours. The tall, moustached man behind me was engrossed in a book called Weeds as he progressed through the roped off lanes, but even his polite façade and the power of Weeds couldn’t prevent him developing a twitch when the eleven-year- old and I played our 811thgame of Scissor Paper Rock.

Finally, our turn came. We made it to the head of the queue and sunk down gratefully onto the theatre floor as all the comfy couches were taken. The epic montage played, consisting of minute by minute edits from films spanning a century. This montage,  I patiently whispered to my son, was itself acting as a timepiece for all of us.

At precisely 1.14pm, Harrison Ford appeared on the screen gesticulating in a French police station. I instantly recognised the clip as being from the film Frantic, a movie close to my heart. The film moment was 1.14pm as was the very minute for us assembled at the Tate.  And so, it continued, clips interweaving, changing tone and creating narratives within narratives. I could have stayed in the theatre for the full 24 hours to experience the sheer scope and brilliance of the entire work, but as I mentioned before, my eleven-year-old is extremely impatient so we lasted all of fifty minutes. (Insert eye roll emoji here.)

Afterwards we ate beetroot-bleeding soy burgers at Leon and discussed.

 

Monday 21st(Blue Monday: allegedly the gloomiest of all the Mondays)

 

The night after the Super Blood Wolf Moon or whatever nonsensical appellation it is they have served us up in order to lure us to their news websites. The freaky name must have worked on me because I set my alarm to witness this poetic lunar eclipse at 3.30am, but ended up hitting the snooze button instead. I’ll catch the next one in 2029.

Speaking of silly names, we are now onto endless discussions around the Backstop. What it is? Well, it’s a sort of legal guarantee to avoid a Hard Border but all these names remind me of biscuits.

 

I ate several chocolate biscuits and thought about the Backstop and I’m not even a biscuitty person. That is the Hard Border effect.

 

Tuesday 22nd

Apparently, the Backstop defines your trade relations with no ‘wiggle room’. No hard border means no border checks. Border checks may catapult us back to best forgotten bygone eras. But what has been agreed? Nothing. The Brexit squabble continues unabated in the henhouse.

I feel as though January is changing me, I am undergoing a metamorphosis under the spectre of Brexit. I feel slightly more unhinged and look forward to nightfall which luckily still occurs around 4.45pm, as I can don my extremely fluffy slippers and lurk in the shadows.

 

Wednesday 23rd

In Davos they are all doom and gloom but I imagine them skipping about between their parties with champagne flutes in their  hands. This lot are predicting Brexit won’t happen on
March 29thwhich would be good as I am scheduled to fly that day and I’m feeling a little
Y2K and Chicken Little-ish about the whole thing. They’re saying politicians have ‘run down the clock’ on Brexit deadlines.

Theresa May attempts cross-party talks and in a fit of pique, accuses Jeremy Corbyn of being more willing to speak to Hezbollah than her.

On the BBC they report that, across the globe, people seek refuge in poetry in these troubled times. I read my eleven-year-old’s copy of ‘A Short History Of Germany’ and eat a macrobiotic bowl.

All this flip flopping between martyrdom eating and bingeing out is making me confused. Am I sinner or saint?

 

 

Thursday 24thJanuary

More news from Davos. The impending failure of antibiotics worldwide and the rise of Superbugs gives yet more to stress about. Is this also feeding into people’s natural inclinations to stockpile drugs in view of a No Deal Brexit? What will the Superbugs make of it all? I for one am stockpiling away. Just you try to stop me.

And here comes the news of Sir Dyson buggering off to Singapore when he was one the Biggest Brexiteers in the first place. People are rightly pinged off.

 

Friday 25th

After banning all children’s devices on Thursday night, this house gives way to gleeful chaos on Friday morning. Pancakes, sword fights, muddy trainers, mess. Who knew that Golden Syrup and lemon juice were such fine bedfellows. I urge you to try this on your own pancakes at home. Even the Queen would agree.

Her Majesty weighs in on Brexit this morning, telling our politicians to ‘wake up to themselves’. (I have paraphrased into Aussie parlance- but this was the general jist. She’s probs on a short fuse after her hubby rolled the 4 WD into the path of oncoming traffic).

 

Saturday 26th- Sunday 27th

In Australia, the long weekend that marks the end of the summer holidays with all its ephemeral, shimmering beauty. I know this is now recognised as ‘Invasion Day’ but it is also the time my heart yearns for home more than at any other time of year. The phone is off and face down for a bit. I’m as fragile as a blancmange on a wibbly-wobbly side table in a squall on the Isle of Wight.

Sticky toffee pudding finishes a fraught Sunday lunch and is followed by a blustery walk, but finally ‘Say Yes To the Dress’ unites my teen and me on the sofa and it’s Sunday night in.

I’m sure everyone in England will be glad this last January weekend has concluded. To all my dear Australian friends, I hope you swam and ate pavlova and were happy this long weekend.

 

Cue violins.