Vaseline (and Unicorns)

Earlier this year I was asked if I would read a yet-to-be released book for a good friend of mine in the publishing business. This meant turning off my lap top and actually turning real pages instead of just scrolling down with my thumb. Weird. I almost felt like a pioneer woman.


It didn't take me long to get over that feeling as I was quickly enthralled by the true life story of what happens when a woman moves to a new country, complete with new customs and a new language.

It's a long held fantasy of mine to one day uproot my family and live happily ever after somewhere tropical and warm and far, far away. Preferably somewhere where the food is great, the people are friendly and there are no such things as conservative politics.

I'd also appreciate if this mystical place was rampant with fairy tale creatures so I can finally realize my dream of owning a Unicorn ranch where I'd hire leprechauns to do my laundry and cook for my family as I taught my children how to ride the silvery mystical beasts.

So far, I'm still looking.

Still, this book, (although sadly devoid of any unicorns,) was one I easily understood as the author told her real life story of love, family and blogging. How the universe collided when her blog was discovered.

Boy, do I understand that feeling. (Understatement of the year.)


It's a special treat for me to be able to have Catherine herself, guest post over here a la Redneck. She may not call herself a Redneck what with her French sophistication, but she is still my type of gal.


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Found here.

This autumn I’ll celebrate the anniversary of thirteen years in Paris. ‘That almost makes you a real Parisienne,’ said a French friend of mine the other day, raising an eyebrow.

I suppose it almost does. I’m one of those annoying old-timers who say ‘Beaubourg’ instead of The Pompidou Centre. I know where to stand on almost every métro station in the capital so that I’ll be correctly aligned with the exit when I reach my destination. My knowledge of Parisian public toilets is encyclopaedic, a by-product of being pregnant in Paris. (I’m particularly fond of the underground conveniences on place de la Madeleine with their old-fashioned shoe-shining throne.) I gave birth (in French) in a Parisian hospital.

What I’m not, however, une française. I’m sometimes mistaken for a native in conversation, but language is only ever the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t the faintest idea how to knot a Hermès scarf nonchalantly around my neck, for example. And I’m hopeless at fashioning an elegant chignon out of thin air with only a pencil to anchor it in place. I don’t consider an espresso and three cigarettes a square meal, and one square of chocolate – even 70% cocoa – is never enough.

One day I was sitting outside one of my favourite neighbourhood cafés with my four-year-old daughter, Tadpole, when another cultural difference became apparent. In between sips of my beer I was busy fishing various random objects out of the depths of my handbag for Tadpole to draw around. When my boyfriend (of two weeks) arrived, she was tracing around a tiny pot of Vaseline that I’d purchased in an English supermarket, which she then proceeded to transform into a sun, complete with wiggly sunbeams and a smiling face.

‘You carry Vaseline in your handbag?’ said the boyfriend, his eyes almost popping out of his head.

‘Mhm,’ I replied, reddening slightly. ‘It’s, um, for my lips. They’re always chapped…’

‘In France,’ said my boyfriend, ‘there’s only one thing people use Vaseline for.’

He smiled a sly smile. A smile that left me in no doubt a conversation about other potential uses of petroleum jelly lay in my not too distant future.