Sunday, 31 January 2010

TREFUSIS MINOR IS VERY EXTREMELY RIGHT-ON

This afternoon, in an entirely unprovoked fit of idle violence, The Tiniest Trefusis took one of my chunky perspex cuffs and chucked it straight at Trefusis Minor's head. It caught him hard on the corner of his eye - unlike Trefusis Minor, the Tiniest Trefusis has quite a true aim - with an audible crack. Tears, shrieking, howls, wails ensued - you know the drill.

Anyway, since we have a firm 'No Fighting, No Biting' policy here at Trefusis Towers, Tiniest Trefusis went straight to the naughty step to consider her position, which I'm sorry to report was typically unrepentant.

After taking a couple of minutes to recover from the shock of a thwack on the head from a flying bangle, Trefusis Minor went to visit her on the naughty step. He crouched down to her level and took hold of her hands in his, saying, in his best lentil-botherer voice, 'I'm just trying to understand why you felt you needed to hurt me'.

He did his best to make eye-contact, fixing her with a look of one who is more sinned against than sinning, but the Tiniest Trefusis was having none of it, 'Go 'WAY,' she shouted, and turned her head to the wall.

'But why did you do it,' persisted TM. 'Were you trying to get some attention?'

The Tiniest Trefusis mulishly refused to be understood. Time-up on the time-out, she wriggled off the stair and sidled off, without either explanation or apology.

I'm quite interested in his response - his sister brains him, and rather than smack her back, he simply wants to get to grips with her motivation.

Trefusis Minor has always been a bit odd like that: He's not one for a textbook response to any given situation. I remember taking him to the Lyric Hammersmith to see some kind of children's theatre production consisting of a gigantic Calder-esque mobile from which various actors were suspended, calling 'Hang on' to each other at dramatic intervals. It was very striking, entirely narrative-free and popular with the entire audience of under-fives. All except Trefusis Minor who, whenever one of the actors appeared to be a little casual in the way they hung from the mobile, would leap to his feet, shouting 'Get down! It's too dangerous' at the stage, like some demented juvenile health and safety officer.

[Part two of 'On Beauty and Looking Younger' will be posted in the early part of next week]


Thursday, 28 January 2010

ON BEAUTY AND LOOKING YOUNGER (PART ONE)


A two part post on make-up for grown-ups

'What have you done to your eyes?' Asks Mr Trefusis, staring gloomily at me as I'm on my way out to a party, 'I assume it's fashion.'

Whenever Mr Trefusis says 'fashion', it's always as if there are vast inverted commas around the word, making it sound as if it's something I've just invented to tease him.

Trefusis Minor adds his ten pence-worth: 'I like your lipstick, Mummy, but not your eyeshadow.'

And with that, my self-esteem hits the floor: why couldn't he say 'You look beautiful, Mummy, like a beautiful shiny star, twinking in the night', like he did once when he was four. Ok, so that was a peculiarly extravagant compliment, but one can usually rely on Trefusis Minor for a positive comment whatever the occasion. Not this time, apparently, though in fairness, it's sweet he's trying to be tactful. Trefusis Minor has quite firm views on makeup - I came home from work one day and got changed to go running and he ran after me to tell me that I should take my lipstick off before I went out because 'Red Lipstick is only for glamorous parties'. He's quite ahead of the game, even if I am a little concerned that he knows rather more about beauty than is usual in a boy of his age.


'It's deeply fashionable,' I say, naturally on the defensive, 'It's the last word in fashion, actually. They're Dior's new colours and I've copied the look from Harper's Bazaar. Blue is back.'


'Hmmm,' says Mr Trefusis, an eyebrow vanishing into his hairline, and goes back to playing with the cursèd Wii.

I tuck my sparkly clutch firmly under my arm, and flounce off grandly into the taxi waiting to take me to some work do or other. Yet I no longer feel quite so fashionable. I squint into the tiny mirror above the door of the cab and am slightly aghast: The bold drama of a pale cobalt eye with an equally colourful lip looked amazing when done by Aaron de Mey for Bazaar, but looks decidedly Barbara Cartland on me. I'm just wondering whether to tone it down a bit by scrubbing at my eye with an old bit of tissue - probably the same one I spat on earlier that day when removing nutella traces from the Tiniest Trefusis's face - when I arrive and forget all about it.

A few days later, it comes back to me. Mr Trefusis was right - perhaps these kinds of directional looks are like very up-to-the-minute clothes - only the very young or intensely trendy can carry them off. If you are neither, then probably one should bite the bullet and go for make-up that makes the best of what you've already got, rather than spoiling the lily with a hefty gilt impasto.

And frankly, the very best kind of makeup at all is not the edgiest runway look, it's the kind that takes years off you, like in the picture of Julianne Moore on the cover of February British Harper's Bazaar (above). She's had a little light airbrushing but I have it on good authority that in Real Life she looks utterly amazing for 49 and has eschewed the dark arts of the cosmetic dermatologist to boot.

Christian Dior once said, “I dream of saving women from nature”, and that seems to me to be the essence of beauty. I don't want to appear in front of anyone in the same dishevelled, unmade-up state that greets me in the mirror every morning, natural as that is: I want to make the best of myself, even if that's doesn't immediately scream that I'm au fait with the latest Moschino eye, or the Bottega Veneta brow. Most of all, I want to look young(er) and fabulous, not like an old has-been try-hard.

This post was going to neatly segue into a list of tips and techniques for turn back the clock make-up, but I've run out of time somewhat. However, in the very next post I promise to impart everything I've picked up whilst working with make-up artists and with some of the very best magazine beauty editors.

Friday, 22 January 2010

THE GLORY OF THE INTERNITS

I'm delighted to report that the Tiniest Trefusis and I are now nit-free - we tried a combination of the wonderful suggestions that came pouring in (thank you, internits!). I was particularly interested to try the mayonnaise cure, but Mr Trefusis finished the last of the Hellmann's on his sandwiches before I could annex it for nit-smothering purposes.

However, it seems that constant vigilance is the key in the war against the horrid little pest, and lest I let down my anti-nit defences, I'm going to invest in this cautionary print from the fabulous Jason Freeny and display it prominently chez Trefusis.




In case nits aren't your thing - though from the number of comments on the last post it's hardly a niche interest - take a look at the equally wonderful Gingerbread Man Dissected.


Many thanks to India Knight for sending me Jason's Cootie picture, and to Jason himself for kindly giving me permission to reproduce his work for this post: do visit his website and have a look for yourself at his clever and quirky prints.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

NIT FAMILY TREFUSIS

Every morning, at about half four, The Tiniest Trefusis climbs into bed with Mr Trefusis and I. Still more than three-quarters asleep, she clambers between us, and welds herself to me, head pressed against mine, a hot arm thrown round my neck, icy feet jammed into my side. Her snuffling breath blows stertorously into my ear, keeping me awake, but I don’t mind. She’s my baby, my last child, and the more Trefusis Minor grows up from infant to boy, each passing week ushering in the wilful independence of six, rather than the boyish neediness of five, the more I cling to the fleeting babyhood of Tiny Trefusis.

So really, much against the better judgement of Mr Trefusis, I can’t quite bring myself to put her back in her own bed. We both crave the comfort of each other still, listening as the intense intimacy of mother and newborn baby echoes back at us over the intervening years. Every time she hops in it reminds me of those precious weeks after her birth, when we seemed to spend most of our time in bed together, she dozing at my breast, and me too awed by her fragile beauty to go to sleep. We’re both caught in the no man’s land of toddlerhood: she reserves the right to be simultaneously ‘a Big’ and a baby, and I can’t bear to discourage her.

However, now that she is on her way to being three, and has started Montessori, this physical proximity has its disadvantages. I waved her off on her first day, and not a week later, as I sat one afternoon at my desk, I started to feel a tell-tale prickling on my scalp, behind my ears, and near the nape of my neck. It quickly became more than a tickling irritation, and I found I could no longer suppress the urge to scratch and furtively shoved a plastic fork underneath my hair and wiggled it about, scraping about the roots as gently and subtly as I could.

Nits. The Tiniest Trefusis had given me nits.

Scratch. Scritch. Scratch. Scratch. Scritch-scritch. Scratch.

As the afternoon wore on, I could find no relief in a little light fork therapy: I locked myself in the ladies lavatory and gave into an ecstasy of scratching; scarlet fingernails whirling dervishes underneath my hair. Oh, the rapture. The elation of being able to sate the insane itching. I emerged to look at myself in the mirror. Any vestige of a once elegant coiffure excised by the beserker action of my fingers, I looked as if I’d had a particularly enthusiastic run-in with a live cable.

The relief was short-lived. As I travelled home on the bus, I had to sit on my hands to stop them going to my hair. To keep myself sane, I focused on the image of the rather ancient nit comb rusting at the bottom of the medicine chest in the bathroom.

Scratch. Scritch. Scratch. Scratch. Scritch-scritch. Scratch.

I gathered the Trefusii together, larded them with the only conditioner I could find – an extremely expensive Kerastase hair masque, rather too fit for purpose, and ignoring their screams as I pulled heartlessly through tangles - Mr Trefusis the loudest of the protestors, naturally – I de-nitted them. Astonishingly, Trefusis Minor and Mr Trefusis were entirely nit free and in a fit of pique I threatened to send them down the road to the Glaxo Smith Kline laboratory to see if they had any special immunity that could be bottled and patented as an expensive anti-nit vaccine. It could make us rich beyond our wildest dreams - I’d pay, wouldn’t you?

The Tiniest Trefusis had six proper nits. Nits so big, you could give them their own sideshow in a flea circus, and they didn’t appear to bother her remotely – not a surreptitious scratch or poke into her still downy baby hair. I started on my own. I’m secretly immensely pleased with my hair – it’s very long, and very thick, and the greatest treat I can think of is a visit to Graham the Hair God for a re-blonding, or a blow-dry or for one of his more elaborate confections should I have something exciting to go to. It’s a devil to get a nit comb through, though. I think it took me a full thirty minutes to comb the Kerastase through the lot. And if I wasn’t as badly affected as The Tiny T, the little buggers were certainly in there. On the upside, of course, we're the shiniest-haired family in Shepherds Bush.

Of course, the problem with treating nits is that you have to keep it up – one session with the nit comb and the conditioner isn’t enough: I’ve been taking the family through the nit ritual daily, and in the case of La Princesse Pou, twice – once with conditioner and once with a special evil battery operated comb which is supposed to condemn the nits to death by electrocution. I’ve developed a whole range of severe, scraped back Let-Me-Be-Your-Stern-Mistress hairdos – the nit comb conditioner trick takes so long in the morning I don’t have the time left to blow dry it, and I’m pretty keen to keep my hair up and out of everyone’s way until I have the nit all-clear, particularly given the amount of air-kissing that's obligatory in my line of work. It also means I can poke hair pins at the itchy bits mid afternoon, on the pretext of tidying my 'do'.


I’m very over all this – how long do I have to keep doing it? Do you have nits? Any cunning ways for getting rid of them that I don’t know about, short of making the Tiniest Trefusis wear a bedcap so she doesn’t keep on sharing her nits with me at night?


Scratch. Scritch. Scratch. Scratch. Scritch-scritch. Scratch.

Friday, 15 January 2010

THE FEMME FATALE

I’ve always yearned to be a Femme Fatale: oozing mystique and an exotic allure, instantly enslaving every man who claps eyes on me. Perhaps not like Salome, who was a little, well, perverse, not to mention wicked, more Zuleika Dobson, a femme so truly fatale all the Oxford undergraduates hurled themselves to their doom in the Isis, for unrequited love of her.

In truth, I’m not sure I have it in me – I’m too blonde, too British, too married. I haven’t the sophistication to be heartless, which seems to be an essential femme fatale ingredient, and I suppose I’d probably rather be stouthearted and loyal, than full of wiles and enchantment. After all, with the exception of Zuleika, who is last heard of boarding a train for Cambridge, literary femme fatales tend to come to a Bad End.

It’s not without regret that I admit my lack of femme fatale-ness: don’t all women long to be beguiling and mysterious, and to entrance and ensnare, just a little?

But perhaps there is a way to embrace one’s inner siren without having to go the full Morgan le Fay: scent. The subliminal olfactory message of exactly the right scent is able to hint at something complicated and intriguing beneath a prim and rather proper surface, and perhaps even transform one from housewife to houri with a mere spritz from a magic bottle. Such is the alchemical power of perfume.

Mitsouko does this for me, which is possibly why I don’t wear it that often: it feels somehow too intimate, too revealing, as if I’ve said too much. So in the office I tend to wear another defining Chypre, Diorella, which doesn’t have a hint of femme fatale about it, in my opinion.

And so there I was, content to just dabble timidly in femme fatale territory on special occasions, by means of a dab of Mitsouko -which is, after all, one of the world's most divine scents - until I made an extraordinary discovery: Ormonde Woman, a smoky eye of a perfume, thrilling and novel, yet subtle and intriguing.

Lured in by the promise of Black Hemlock as a key ingredient – and anyone who knows Waffle or I will testify to our predilection for offering each other a Hemlocktini, when times are tough or tedious - I tried it only to be instantly and utterly seduced by its exquisite unconventionality.

I don’t think I’d ever smelled anything like Ormonde Woman before – India Knight - whose opinion on scent I’d trust even above the great Guru himself, Luca Turin – described it to me as ‘beautiful yet sinister’, and I can’t think of a more apposite description. Hemlock – an unusual and expensive ingredient when used in this kind of concentration – immediately roots one’s expectations firmly in femme fatale territory (do I need to mention Socrates? I thought not). Its siren song is the spice-market top notes of cardamom and coriander that create instant allure, before ceding to a more conventionally feminine heart of violet and jasmine absolute.

It’s subtle, yet hypnotic, and even now, more than five hours after I last sprayed it on, I keep raising my wrist to my nose to breathe in the beauty of its base notes. These are uncompromisingly masculine - vetiver, cedar wood, amber and sandalwood – and I think that’s what makes Ormonde Woman so astonishingly sexy: It’s such a seductively feminine scent, but then leaves you with these complex and beguiling, yet somehow male, traces of wood and incense.

You see – the more I write about it,I’m more under its spell: it’s not simply about bringing out any latent femme fatale in me, Ormonde Woman is itself the femme fatale: an original, beautiful, enigmatic temptress, and above all one that is wonderfully confident and wholly uncompromising. Wouldn't you love to be like that? I absolutely would, which is possibly why I'm mad about it.

I should stop evangelising before you gently suggest that my enthusiasm is bordering on zealotry: So tell me, what perfume makes you feel like a femme fatale?


Ormonde Woman. Eau de Parfum 50mls £68

Ormonde Jayne - 12 The Royal Arcade 28 Old Bond Street London W1S 4SL
T. +44 (0)20 7499 1100

Sunday, 10 January 2010

PANTOUFLE EN VAIR

What is it that's so alluring about a high-heeled shoe? I'm particularly drawn to those with viciously pointed toes, and a sharp heel, so much so that I can empathise enormously with the step-sisters in Grimm's variant of Cinderella, Aschenputtel. It's a rather harsher, more visceral version of the tale than Perrault's, or Disney's, but in all the stories, the Prince identifies his future bride by means of a shoe (because, of course, just remembering her face would be too much of an effort, right?). Anyway, in Grimms story, when the Prince announces that whoever fits the 'small and slender' golden slipper will be his bride...

...Then the two sisters were very glad, because they had pretty feet. The eldest went to her room to try on the shoe, and her mother stood by. But she could not get her great toe into it, for the shoe was too small; then her mother handed her a knife, and said, “Cut the toe off, for when you are queen you will never have to go on foot.” So the girl cut her toe off, squeezed her foot into the shoe, concealed the pain, and went down to the prince.


Whenever I read Aschenputtel, I'm reminded that it doesn't take a handsome prince to make a woman go through this kind of pain these days - fashion alone will do it: seemingly we're all penitents on a fashion pilgrimage, offering up our suffering as sacrifice. I've spent many happy minutes playing hookey in the fashion cupboard at work, trying on the dozens of glorious shoes that come in to be photographed for the magazine, each more exquisitely agonising than the last. I remember a pair of cranberry coloured glacé kid Louboutins which were so high they immediately hurt my knees, so heaven only knows what they'd be like after an hour, and a mouthwatering pair of Yves Saint Laurent Tribtoo shoes with a skyscraper of a platform and a needle heel that just screamed 'broken ankle'. My own shoe cupboard is full of beautiful high heels - and there are a fair few that could really do with me amputating a toe or slicing off a heel to make them anything like wearable.

There was a time when I didn't care about the fact most of my shoes made me feel as if I were walking on sharp swords like the Little Mermaid. The loveliness of them far outweighed their purpose and made walking to the end of the office without wincing seem like an indulgence. Part of me still feels that way, and now I've put Party Feet in every pair I own, and have reined in some of my ambition when it comes to heel height, I still like to sit and admire my feet in a nice pair of Ferragamos or Louboutins or even in the petrol blue Kurt Geiger shoeboots I'm wearing today.


However, the weather and the recession have instigated a recent change in Trefusis footwear policy: when I started this blog, it read 'Mrs Trefusis Takes a Taxi...because she eschews sensible shoes'. Well, um, what can I say - for the sake of veracity, I've had to remove that promise. I no longer eschew the sensible or the comfortable. Partly it's because taxis have become something of a luxury rather than a necessity - and let me tell you, I'm absolutely delighted to have discovered the bus; nearly as good as a taxi in Central London and only £1.20 a journey with an Oyster Card. Really, too marvellous. But mostly it's because that when it's wet or snowy or icy underfoot, heels just don't cut it. It's not simply that I don't want to wreck something that costs more money than I could ever admit to Mr Trefusis, it's that I'd rather remain on terra firma. I'm afraid I bought UGGS. God knows, I swore I never would, but I can't tell you the loveliness of always having warm and cosy feet, being able to walk fast - especially if I can see the right bus is coming - and of having toes and heels and insteps that no longer beg for mercy. I do call them Ugh's, because no one can deny they're works of infernal hideousness, but I'm definitely prepared to sacrifice style for comfort - at least out of doors.


But perhaps I haven't strayed that far from the Cinderella myth: according to Wikipedia, in Perrault's version, Cinderella wore fur boots - 'pantoufle en vair' - but when the story was translated from the French, vair was mistaken for verre (glass). So Cinderella was, at least in one account, a sensible girl too - and right now, in snow-bound Britain, a fur boot trumps a glass slipper, prince or no prince.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A WORKING MOTHER'S DILEMMA

I had an email from a friend this morning, confessing that she’d been so frazzled by the long Christmas break, she’d created a trumped-up emergency at work requiring her urgent presence, left her children with her husband and escaped to the office. She wrote a few desultory emails for form’s sake – nothing that couldn’t have been done from the Blackberry– and spent the rest of the morning pootling round the sales before returning, refreshed, to the fray and whine of a winter’s day with under-fives.

I can absolutely understand how she feels. I didn’t have enough holiday to get me the whole time off, so had to come in for a morning between Christmas and New Year and, God, the bliss of sitting at my desk with Radio Four on, drinking an entire cup of tea whilst it was still hot, rather than coming back to it half an hour later after some Ben 10 induced trauma, to discover it topped with the white bloom of cold milky tea. Having children has taught me that, with practice, the taste of microwaved tea becomes perfectly acceptable.

But, oh, the crippling guilt of longing to be at work: I admit it seems rather transgressive to discover there are times - and a lot of them - where one wants to be away from one’s children. It seems so terribly ungrateful, particularly if one has worked hard to have them in the first place, or had them rather late in life, like me. I think of friends who are still struggling with IVF and feel like a wretched ingrate – really, I’m so very blessed, I shouldn’t find two weeks at home at all wearing, but the most glorious Christmas present of all.

Ho hum. I’m afraid I’m no plaster saint: the myth of working motherhood is that one must want to spend every available moment – every minute one isn’t at work or asleep, that is – with one’s infants, engaged in some cosy ‘Listen with Mother’ type activity, or cosily cutting and sticking beautiful collages or baking or collaborating on a jigsaw, before pausing to offer them a cold glass of milk and a home-made biscuit.

The scene, illustrated as if in the Ladybird Peter and Jane books, is so clearly etched in my head, I’m astonished the reality is so different.

Erm, obviously, I love being with Trefusis Minor and his sister, but I will also confess there were several times when I was at home that I had reason to fantasise wildly about the extraordinary bliss of having a bath without having a tiny creature pull off all their clothes and hop in with me, or the hitherto unappreciated bliss of reading a book all afternoon. All of these treats must, necessarily, go by the wayside when the children are small. Partly it's the idiocy of the theory of quality time: young children don't really give a stuff about quality - they want you in quantity. And when they know that any moment you might hop off back to the office, they attach themselves like limpets and demand - rightly so - the entire and whole of your attention. And perhaps that's the conflict - you know you owe it to them, and your heart wants to be with them, but sometimes, you're just a little bit knackered and would like a nice, quiet sit-down.

So, no matter how different the reality, no matter how often one sticks Peter Pan on the dvd just so you can buy enough time to push the vacuum cleaner round, no matter how one feels inside, the idea remains that any time you have away from work is not discretionary time, and doing anything other than stuff with the spawn feels like cheating. And hence, the office represents the only Get Out of Jail Free card a working mother has - here are very few legitimate escapes from childcare, and work is one: no wonder men tried to keep women out of the workplace for so very long.

Monday, 4 January 2010

EIGHT AND A HALF



The divine Errant Aesthete tagged me on her beautiful blog just before Christmas. I feel dreadful for having taken so long to respond in kind, but I hope she will forgive me my tardiness, and not reproach me for my manners. She may happily rebuke me for not having fulfilled the rules of the game - the tag requires one to offer ten things about oneself, and I'm afraid I could only manage eight and a bit.

But that reminded me of how much I like Fellini's 8½, which I've not seen for eons, so I frittered away rather a lot of time on YouTube watching clips of it instead of finishing this post. It's a film about a midlife crisis, which resonates with me now rather more than it did when I first saw it. Watch it, it's magnificent, and rather better, by all accounts than Nine, the film of the musical based on the Fellini film.



Anyway, here's my eight and a half.




1.What's in a name?
I was determined to
write a blog as an alternative - an antidote, really - to therapy, but couldn't think what to call it. Somehow I felt that the title of the blog would be hugely important. And then, as I was sitting in the back of a cab, patiently enduring the traffic on Bond Street, looking at the love-worn copy of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway in my bag, the title Mrs Trefusis Takes a Taxi came to me. In those days, pre-recession, I seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time and money in taxis, and I rather liked the way a taxi could be simultaneously a useful literal device for taking me from one place - and blog post- to another and a metaphor for the journey of self-discovery I'd embarked upon.
And as for the Mrs Trefusis bit - Mrs Dalloway took me to Virginia Woolf, which lead me to Vita Sackville-West and in turn to naughty Violet Trefusis, who I'd always rather loved after reading '
Portrait of a Marriage'. I have nothing in common with Violet Trefusis, but the name had exactly the kind of patrician, stiff-upper-lip, Britishness I'd been looking for. I hope that here, and on twitter, I'm living up to it.

2.Solipsistic Wailing
I used to write a diary. It was utterly, appallingly, rubbish, indecipherably written in a hand that even a GP would be ashamed of, and full of poor punctuation and self-pity. Blogging, on the other hand, forced me to be a little more mindful of how and what I was writing and the result was that it became vastly more therapeutic than my diary ever was, despite being much less confessional. But then, I am the kind of person who would put lipstick on to put the bins out, in case anyone was looking, so a degree of self-consciousness must be in my nature. In fact, the one and only time I left the house looking shocking, almost but not quite in coat-worn-over-pyjamas mode, with unbrushed hair and smudged day-old mascara, I bumped into Colin Firth in Ravenscourt Park - we'd both taken our children there at the unearthly hour of half past eight in the morning. Trefusis Minor played happily with Mr Darcy's children in the sandpit, whilst I tried to hide underneath the swings, scarlet with shame at looking like a bag lady in front of one of the great Romantic Heroes.



3.Resolutions
Who actually makes proper New Year's resolutions and sticks to them? I don't think I know anyone, least of all me. It's not that I'm without resolve, and I can exercise enormous willpower when absolutely necessary, despite being a bit of an all or nothing girl, but mostly my New Year's resolutions barely outlast breakfast on 1st January. And really, January is far too long and depressing a month to give up booze and chocolate: if one wants to show off one's ascetism, far better to wait for the mercifully short 28 days of February
However, I have made a resolution that I will try to maintain. I'm going to try to blog more frequently. The challenge will be learning to be concise. It doesn't come naturally.

4.Running
Four years ago, I resolved to be fit enough to run the Fullers Thames Towpath Ten Miler. I started with a little hesitant jog around the block one icy January evening, and by April I was ready to race ten miles along the Thames from Chiswick Bridge to Teddington Lock and back again. I did it in a perfectly respectable time and even kept up the running afterwards, recording my best ever 10k time of 51 minutes a few months later when pregnant with Hunca Munca*. I kept up the running until I was five months gone and people started pointing and laughing, and so I gave it up in favour of lounging on a chaise longue, eating vast amounts of cake and chocolate.
I've run since in a desultory kind of way, for therapeutic rather than aesthetic reasons, but now it's time to maximise its benefits: I need a proper goal, a challenge to keep me going. I suppose I'd better sign up for the Towpath Ten again. Oh God, I'm tired just thinking about it.

5. Astrology
A very long time ago, I trained in astrology with The Company Of Astrologers. Alongside the day job, I used to write horoscope columns and features for various women's magazines but gave it all up when the children came along and I became far too knackered to care about my own future, let alone anyone else's. But I still like to keep my hand in, which is why you'll be subjected from time to time to an astrology post on Mrs Trefusis.

6. French without Tears
For complicated reasons that have a post all of their own, Trefusis Minor goes to a French school. Not being very, um, capable in any language other than English when he got there, he cried every day for the whole of the first term. A year later, he can speak french (and a lot of franglais) but still sings in English. This holiday he's been mostly singing Cheryl Cole, which is slightly odd in a five year old.

7. Vanity
I used to lie about my age all the time for all sorts of dropped-on-my-head-as-an-adult reasons, mostly to do with the fact that until you're forty you can pretend you're still all potential. But after the big Four-Oh, really, one has to admit that life is no longer a rehearsal. I didn't feel nearly grown up enough to be forty, and in fact went to a lot of trouble to put a thick smokescreen round the big birthday, giving birth to the Tiny Trefusis* three days before as a distraction technique, and so I could truthfully say that I had both my children in my thirties.
Anyway, the botox has been banished in the Great Trefusis Economy Drive and I had to get reading glasses so I couldn't really lie about my age anymore. Fortunately, writing this blog and the high jinx of twitter has given me a new-found self-confidence and at last I feel I can come clean: I'm 42. The profile picture of me with complicated hair was taken in November 2008: believe me, having your hair pulled back that tightly does things botox can only dream about.

8. Accents
I would say that I didn't have an accent. Well, when I'm quite awfully drunk I speak terribly- terribly carefully and enunciatedly in accents of Celia Johnson. What I mean to say is that I don't have a specific regional accent. However, I can, when required, offer you a marvellous Merseyside. When I was sixteen, I went to live with my cousins on the Wirral so I could go to school with them for my A' Levels, rather than continue at the boarding school at which I'd been so miserable. I arrived at their door with an accent that was pure Fotherington-Thomas and which they quickly established would get me into all sorts of trouble, and probably get me beaten up, quite aside from the fact that few people understood what I was saying. So they gave me reverse elocution lessons. To this day, I am able to speak scouse like a native. Try me.

.* Tiny Trefusis
Tiny Trefusis was formerly known as Hunca Munca. But she's a little less destructive now she's coming up to three, so it seems unfair to stick her with the soubriquet. She's very funny and told my mother over Christmas that she liked the vicar at church because he wore curtains and a party hat.



My blogs to watch in 2010
I love all the blogs on my blogroll, look at all of them with unerring regularity and heartily recommend them.
However, it's hard to chose which seven to actually tag, and pass this meme onto, but here are a few that were new discoveries for me in 2009 that I'd like to share with you.


SmackCrumpleBang. Oh, I'm devoted to 'Dougie' Houser. He's clever and funny and talented and one of the most delightful people you could care to meet. His utterly original blog is, on the whole, picture-led, him being an artist and all. He does wonderful pop-ups too.

The Spice Spoon. I'll confess a bias: S is a real-life friend of long-standing, but look at her blog and judge for yourself whether I'm allowing a personal relationship to affect my objectivity. I don't think so - I'm mad about this site, which is more of a food memoir than a typical food blog, and was recently, and rightly, recommended as one of her Top Ten Blogs to Follow in 2010 by ace blogger LibertyLondonGirl.

All Best Wishes. Like me, All Best Wishes is not a prolific blogger, so when she does post, you fall upon her writing with ravenous hunger. Broadly, her subjects are motherhood and work, but her themes are universal. I hope, like me, you'll enjoy the discovery.


Mr London Street. It's more a collection of essays than a traditional blog, and the quality of prose makes for a terrific read. I'm not going to say anything more - check it out for yourself.

One of 365. 'One' posts every day without fail, as the title of her blog suggests. The scope of her blog encompasses everything from fashion and beauty to depression and heartbreak. Follow her journey.

Helena Halme. Another of LLG's 2010 picks, Helena Halme's chronicle of love for her English Sailor has been keeping her readers hooked for months. An expat Finn, her writing is compelling stuff.

Knightley or Elton. This is a comparatively new blog by a very young and very clever aspiring actor. Originally from Australia, he talks and writes as if he's straight from the pages of Brideshead Revisited, and I really rather like that. I include him here not merely because I like him, but also to encourage him to keep up the good work.