A hazardous week

I have been knocked over this week

Like pins at a bowling alley

Kicked and thrashed

Battered against the back

Of that mysterious black bit

You can’t see behind

Throttled by failure

Plagued by faux pas

And today I am supposed to dust

Myself off and present the shiniest

Brushed aluminium version of myself

To a total stranger

Desperately seeking an escape route

A respite for this mangled brain.

Dirty puddles

I’ve been sitting in this chair

for what feels like eternity

this crusty, scabby armchair

with spiders’ webs for decor

and the scent of mustard-soaked dirty socks

dripping their Dijon all over the fabric

they might end up burying me in this chair

epitaph reading “Killed by The Game”

long sleeves fingering the armrest

gripping on for dear life

like I’m on some sort of rickety ghost train.

I’ve spent more time waiting for you

than I have queuing at Tesco in my whole life

I was promoted quicker

I graduated quicker

than the time it’s taken you to reach out.

Hungry regret is eating away at me

rage bubbles like bone broth

loneliness creeps in

offering up its bitter taste

(if that’s all you bring to the table, then forget it)

I’m on this eternal cosmic pogo stick

yo-yoing to and fro to the rhythm

of that beep, buzz, ring.

I’m full of what ifs, I’m bleeding desperation

and fumbling about for reasons in my mind’s dust

completely invented, untrue

you’re about as clear as clouds

leaving me to create my own weather.

All I can say is it’s stormy and wet

and I want to leave this armchair

before I start to decay

loneliness keeps me locked in

while the floor floods with a sea of what ifs

the eye of heartbreak drawing closer and closer

and swiftly punching me in the jaw.

Notes 30/8

You’re leaving me haggard and quivering

I didn’t realise the extent of my obsession

The length of my lust

The pitiful preparedness wilting

I was never ready, it seems, to do battle

To tread these muddy, murky waters

And fight for breath beneath a rough surf

You’ve left me to wonder, sit, pensive

Write words of passive aggression

And mumble to myself on jaunts to green spaces

Confusion mounts and I’m throwing up fear in a rainbow-hued dizzying spell of colours

I’m wobbling, while tensions mount

Grasping my phone like it’s a tank of oxygen

Almost wishing away the long weekend because it’s all too painful

To ingest

Too exhausting

To swallow.

Notes 29/8

I don’t think it’s crazy to yearn for that dalliance

Me who always shunned settling

Forgot about the ecstasy lining the stomach

Of that faded firework

Burning brightly, licked like a lolly

The sleepover invitation

Fibbing to the folks

Getting dressed up at the step mum’s pad

Lies that taste sweet as Pink Ladies

Guilt tripping me over, loosening my laces

It’s just but it’s loathsome

Difficult to pin down

The in between time, the shuttling back from dating alley of lover’s beach

The eternal guessing game

That clips my wings and stunts my feelings

That hamster wheel forever rolling, stuck in its mindless mesh

And what if I want to get off?

What if I’ve had enough?

Thudding to a stop, wheel burns a mark in the pavement

And what if I want to get back on?

Stepping back into this scrambled wheel yet again.

Outside and warm

There’s something to be said

For sitting on rattan chairs and looking up

At a tie dyed sky

The same inky blue I saw in a dress earlier

The one I added to basket but never checked out

This is a sky of another era, a time

When we rode like ghosts on American highways

Legs pressed up against the dashboard

Podcast blaring nonsense

Gently slipping into sleep

Half expecting to hit a deer

That fear every time we rounded a bend

Or you vroomed a little too callously

A cacophony of screeching, and my brain doing somersaults

Playing out the poor deer’s death

And this balmy air also smacks of times in Spain

By the sea where we built our lives

And had a fridge full of food

And money in the bank

Dusted pink sunsets trickling down to the seafront

Paellas baked fresh, inches from the seabed

Tummies content and hankering for margaritas on Friday nights

Warm all the time

Flip flops flung over shoulders

Walks down to the beach and then back to Lidl

For a feast

Work was still a drag, head filled with dread

Every fucking Sunday night

Like some stupidly mundane weekly ritual

The brain bashing, self inflicted fear and loathing in Las Palmas

I was still afflicted like I am now

But those balmy sun dappled evenings

Grinning on terraces

Stuck like insects in a treacly loveless web

Boy was it good sometimes.

A year has passed and you’re back in my DMs

you got your foot in the door

yet again, a beautiful ghost at it

once more

starve you, I tried

there’s whispers you care and you

want to make things right

but I throttle those whispers

they slip lifelessly into unconsciousness

I’m lighting my tongue on fire

just talking to you

but it’s not the same adoration

lingering like perfume

in the air

not the

drop-everything-lets-text-back

frenzy that once furrowed by brow

made me mad with “love”

drunk on lust

in fact

I couldn’t give a fuck.

6 interesting foreign phrases to describe your lockdown life

Last month, nobody could stop talking about the Finnish concept of Kalsarikännit, “the feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear – with no intention of going out.”

It summed up lockdown perfectly, all the while showcasing the beauty of the Finnish language and making Friday evenings getting peacefully sozzled all the more appealing and accepted.

But the Finns aren’t the only ones with quirky, quarantine-appropriate concepts. The Italians, for example, refer to rekindling an old flame as ‘reheating cabbage’ – not exactly the image you had in mind when contemplating sliding into your ex’s DMs, eh?

And in Hungary, a nagging spouse is, somewhat colourfully, an ‘indoor dragon’. How many of you have your own ‘indoor dragon’ to contend with at the moment?

I can’t guarantee these will come in handy on future backpacking adventures or city breaks, but here are six foreign terms that aptly describe the #lockdownlife.

For when you’re feeling lazy

It’s totally fine to not be doing a lot at the moment. Remember, there is a pandemic going on – so even if you feel like you should be baking enough banana bread to feed the whole of Yorkshire or running a half marathon every day, it’s also fine to be a couch potato – or ‘pantofolaio.’

  1. Pantofolaio

You can use the Italian term ‘pantofolaio’ to describe a couch potato or homebody. A noun first used in the 19th century, it comes from the word ‘pantofola’ meaning ‘slipper’.

An example in action:

“Ho provato a farlo uscire, ma è diventato un tale pantofolaio.”

“I tried to make him come out, but he’s become such a homebody!”

It’s difficult to be anything but a couch potato at the moment – so why not look the part? If you do fancy upping your slipper game in true ‘pantofolaio’ style, apparently >slider slippers are all the rage right now.

pantofolaio

  1. Fiaca

‘Fiaca’ comes from Lunfardo, a slang that originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s used to talk about “the feeling or state of being bored, idle, slothful of unmotivated” and when we use it to describe a person, we’d translate it as lazybones, layabout or bum.

An example in action:

“Qué fiaca que tengo!”

“Man, I feel like a slug today!”

This is something we’re all experiencing: trudging from bed to desk to fridge and back to desk, flicking through Netflix to find something binge-worthy, all the while ignoring the towering inferno of work, emails and deadlines piling up. ‘Fiaca’ is the ultimate killer of productivity.

For describing relationships

It’s a weird time for relationships – both romantic and non-romantic alike. Some haven’t seen their parents or partners or friends in months; others might find themselves house-sharing with an ‘indoor dragon.’

  1. Házisárkány

This is a Hungarian word literally meaning ‘indoor dragon’ and used to refer to a nagging, restless spouse. If you’re not used to sharing a house with your significant other, tensions might be high during this period. It may be you find yourself (or your partner) morphing into a mythical beast, breathing fire upon seeing plates piling up in the sink or socks strewn across the floor.

An example in action:

“A házisárkány soha nincs megelégedve.”

“A domestic dragon is never satisfied.”

Catch Budapest describes it as “a harmless joke” and strongly recommend that we keep treating it as such.

  1. Cavoli Riscaldati

The Italians use ‘cavoli riscaldati’ (literally meaning reheated cabbage) to talk about “a pointless attempt to revive a former love affair”. According to Christopher Moore, author of In Other Words, it comes from a proverb:

“Cavoli riscaldati né amore ritornato non fu mai buono.”

“Neither reheated cabbage nor revived love is ever any good.”

Interestingly, some parts of Italy use ‘minestra riscaldata’ or ‘zuppa riscaldata’ (reheated soup) instead of ‘cavoli riscaldati’.

Essentially, the idea is that nothing will ever taste as good when reheated. How many of you have thought about reaching out to your exes during lockdown? Snap. But now all I can think about is how I deserve much more than just reheated cabbage. Maybe some Waitrose kale or pretty pink lettuce from Harrods instead.

cabbage

For those early mornings and late nights

Arguably, we’re probably saving a lot more money by not buying as much coffee during lockdown – but that doesn’t mean to say we’re drinking any less.

  1. Tretår

‘Tretår’ comes from Swedish, literally meaning a ‘threefill’ – a second refill of a cup of coffee. Hardly surprising the Swedes have a word for this – according to the Telegraph, they were the sixth biggest coffee drinkers in the world in 2017.

Language Insight says ‘tretår’ is likely to be used on a Monday morning to help kick off the working week.

Despite no longer needing to get up at 6am and commute for two hours, my caffeine intake has sky-rocketed during lockdown. I’ve upped my daily dosage from one to two and sometimes three cups to get me through the day.

This is down to a mixture of boredom, comfort (everything just feels cosier when you’re clutching a hot brew, doesn’t it?) and also because it’s from my own stash and therefore free. Knowing how much I must have saved by not forking out on overpriced lattes on Tottenham Court Road makes my Nescafe taste just that little bit better.

tretar

  1. Nedoperepil (недоперепил)

‘Nedoperepil’ is a past tense verb used by the Russians “to say that someone has drunk more than they should have, but still less than they could have (or wanted to)”, according to Lingua Lift.

Searching for further clarity, I also consulted Wiktionary: “to have too much to drink, but to be unsatisfied and want to drink more; to be drunk, but not blacked out (literally, ‘to underoverdrink’)”.

If you’re out in a bar and the barista refuses to serve you, you can say:

“Но я же недоперепил!”

“But I haven’t yet drunk as much as I can!”

Seems like the perfect balance, right? Merrily sozzled but not sozzled enough to pass out and not remember anything – plus, it doesn’t always result in a hangover. ‘Underoverdrinking’ could very well become the nation’s new pastime.

The fact Russia has a word for this is mind-blowing – and to be honest, not totally surprising.

Sort of a love letter but not really

To myself,

I do not give you permission to message him.

No matter how twinkly Thursday night’s sky is or how uplifting Friday’s morning is, you’re not to reach out. You’re not to slide into his DMs with a flirty quip about how your peach is the same size and does he still live in Notting Hill or has he gone home home.

Are his family fine? You don’t care. Is he working? You don’t care. Has he cut his hair recently? YOU DON’T CARE. (Except if he has cut his hair, that makes him a tenth less attractive so let’s just imagine he has cut his hair and it went horribly wrong and he now looks like Phil Mitchell.)

When loneliness curses your name, yanks your hair, spits in your face, you still don’t have permission to reach for your phone. Oh but we had something special – oh but you didn’t. You had rough and tumble, frothy, hazy delights last summer where you travelled two hours to see him. 

The current situation – you know, the one where you’re sat at home, wondering about boyfriends and getaways and how much you’d need to earn to afford one of those studio flats with the spiral staircase leading up to the bed – does not permit you to punch yourself in the face romantically. It doesn’t mean you need to start treading water after starting to swim again. It doesn’t mean you need to mow the lawn of introspection, not when things are just starting to grow.

Starve yourself of flirtation, make do without a flurry of grade A bullshit “if this is still a thing in March we should go on a bike ride in the countryside” messages and learn to live and love yourself and not the dreamboat, duvet-lipped figure of irrelevance.

Texting games

Sitting opposite a delicious meal

Spaghetti lips, wet and enticing

The fragrant fumes of a day’s speech ricocheting off your gums and then into the air

Catching at my nostrils

A bottle off the bat

A full one to kickstart the evening

An alien concept, a boy buying a bottle

And not quibbling over price or harping on about halfsies

We sucked it up like thirsty daisies

Mowing the lawn of first date etiquette and conversation

After our tongues played we said goodbye

Then comes the part that leaves me scrambled

A banquet of texts that just doesn’t arrive

The what ifs and waiting

Checking my phone, fully in the throes of dating

Perky alcohol sodden lips visit my dreams

But the phone doesn’t beep or buzz or chime or whine

I’ll text him today if he hasn’t texted first.

Your eyes flickered

Shooting bullets into mine

Every time I looked over

Fast paced, dashing daggers.

A murmur muffled by booze-soaked blossom

Falling into cups

And words laced with promise

Spilling into ears

You asked me about her

I said she wasn’t shy

And that if you felt so inclined

You ought to ask her for a dance.

But you didn’t

You stayed by my side

Staring wistfully at the tide

Of luscious tufts of hair

Talking through your mouth

And not your heart

Didn’t seem fair

To me, to be lured into your lair

And then learn you were promised to another

Whispers of her her her

And ponderings of another girl

Yet the staring still continued

And I became subdued

Rushing to the loo like I did when I was 16

And feeling like the gooseberry.

Times haven’t changed all that much

Though older, wiser

I still feel crushed

And feel my self esteem take a tumble

When I learn he’d rather rumble

With her and not me.