So. Where to begin? At the beginning, I suppose. Which is... The move? Well, we packed and packed and packed for about 100 years, and then for three days we were like animals being hunted from room to room by the REAL packers. As they closed in on us in whatever room we were furiously packing and gnashing our teeth and sniping at each other we’d start panicking about ALL THE SHIT that we had still to deal with, and flinging everything which wasn’t packed into black sacks, the Man shouting “This?” as he held up some random object, and me shouting “Chuck it!”, dementedly, not even looking at him, or the object. Eventually they herded us into the kitchen, where the dirty breakfast dishes still lay, and more eventually still they cornered me by the sink, where I was desperately trying to wash and dry said dirty dishes, and then by the fridge (where I just threw everything straight into the bin. May the Gods of Waste and Groceries forgive me.) Meanwhile our taxi was waiting outside, and we could pack and chuck no more, so tumbled into the car, packers still packing, several dozen refuse sacks piled high in the front garden, random bits of furniture and kiddie stuff with “please take me” notes attached cluttering the pavement. And then we were gone.
The Airport. The kids had packed their own carry on bags, so really it should have come as no surprise that we were the subject of a full-scale security alert. “Madam,” the stern security lady said, sternly. “Do you know what’s in your bag?” “Um... crackers?” “Madam. There is A GUN in your bag.” She spoke like an extra from 24. She was deadly serious too. “Do you know these items are PROHIBITED?” (Really? Guns? Not allowed on planes? Who knew?) The Boy is certainly a resourceful chap, but even so, I was a tad doubtful that even he could have gotten his hands on an actual gun. So the whole bag-screening process was ostentatiously shut down while they dismantled the boy’s spiderman bag and retrieved the offending spiderman pistol thingy - in the shape of a SPIDER, which was stuck to the front of his Super Heroes magazine, and which shot – TAKE COVER EVERYBODY – mini plastic spider webs. Thank God for their vigilance, otherwise Christ knows what sort of atrocities could be committed. The Boy was not impressed - not because they were ridiculous morons about it, but because, y’know, a big mean person took away his toy.
The plane. The less said about this the better really. We had 4 business class seats between the 5 of us; meaning that “one of us” (who??) would have to hold the Baby (there is no bassinette in the world large enough for her). We flew Singapore Airlines, whose business seats are similar to most airlines’ first: huge, spacious, private, secluded. Separated from all the other seats by, essentially, a large wall. Wonderful if you are travelling, you know, on business; not so brilliant if your troupe comprises two inept adults, 2 demented mountain goats, and a fat angry weasel. Notable low-lights included: pinning the screaming Baby down in an effort to get her to stopfuckingthrowingyourselfaroundandsleepgoddammit (it worked actually, but then again it was 3am); glancing across my wall as we were landing- seatbelt signs firmly ON - to see the Girl dancing a pirouette in the middle of the aisle; one minute later hearing the Boy – across the wall ten feet in front of me – whimper “I’m going to puke”; discovering upon landing that the sick-bag which I had managed to catapult over to him had indeed been filled and had
exploded generously leaked upon landing.
Now let us put the whole sorry thing out of our minds forever.
There followed a week of: Disorientation. Jetlag. Supermarket surprise (at the ingredients and the cost of everything. Who knew milk needed halal – or indeed any - gelatine? Or that there was such a thing as “milk drink”? Or that a cucumber – a regular, garden-variety (literally) everyday, non-organic, pesticided–to-an-inch-of-its-life cucumber could cost £4.50? As a result we are currently living on a diet of rice and bananas, with the very occasional glass of £8-a-litre hormone-and-gelatine-free milk).
It is good tho. It is warm and clean(ish – as clean as any over-populated city of skyscrapers and food-markets can be) and organised and efficient. The children already think it’s booooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring but that is because I do not have the energy, or the patience, to take them much further than the swimming pool (outside the front door), or, if I’m feeling brave, the juice stall at the end of the street. They start school on Monday – FORTY-SIX days after finishing in their London school – and I suspect things will become alot better for everybody then. (At the very least I won’t have to watch them put their disgusting new habit into practice of dragging their hands along behind them on whatever revolting surface they can reach. Fuck it, if they want to die of dysentery they can.) We are staying – until we get our accommodation sorted – in beautiful (albeit soulless) short-term apartments, with acres of pools and playgrounds and a breakfast buffet, which the children adore. (I suspect they adore the self-choosing-of-the-food, rather than the food itself (randomly: fried rice; boiled cauliflower; tuna sandwiches; coco-pops). It goes without saying that the other guests no longer adore breakfast, particularly as the Boy today decided to see just how black he could make his toast. (Black enough to make the smoke alarm – on the lower floor – go off.))
Alas it is somewhat crap for cooking – which is just as well given the cost of groceries – and so the Man and I eat at the Hawker Centre, just down the street, and the children eat pasta and cheese. It is the easiest dish imaginable, and just the thing to make if you discover that you thought to pop a pack of butter and a lump of cheddar cheese in your husband’s shoe bag and bring them across the world with you, rather than just throw them out.
You need (for 4; or 2 children and one BEAST):
- As much pasta as you want (shells or shapes work best)
- A large knob of EUROPEAN butter
- A large lump of EUROPEAN hard cheese – cheddar is best – cut into tiny bits, because the apartment you’re staying in doesn’t have a grater. (It does however have a rice cooker, which is the BEST THING EVER, more about which anon.)
Cook the pasta until ready. Drain. Throw the butter and the cheese into the pasta pan, and then fling the pasta back on top of it. Stir like crazy. Serve. Ignore any whinges about “this again?”. Feed a glass of Chinese milk to them and watch in amazement as their little beards grow.
*Yes, there are no photos. Sorry. Here however are some I've taken in the past week to keep you amused. It’s a collection I call “The Strangeness of Singapore”:
(The last one says "tuna croissant". I don't know about you, but I think that certainly gives the cronut a run for its money.)