February 28, 2009

Lots of loud noise

 

There were only six of us at tower practise*, plus Cordelia, our one learner, so we all had to ring all the time.  Even when we were ringing plain hunt for Cordelia everyone else had to ring, because Edward was ‘minding’ her, which means standing beside her murmuring sweet nothings in her ear, such as, ‘hold up–now pull in–no, you’re after the three–LEAD NOW’. 

             Among the six three of us were our three weakest ringers:  Penelope, Leo and me.**   Now in a perfect, or even a moderately well-adjusted world, you want only one variable in any given touch:  you may put the likes of one of us flimsies on the treble and another on the tenor-behind, but you do not want more than one of us ringing inside.  This becomes problematic if you want to ring minor with this particular group of six ringers, where the tenor doesn’t ring behind, it’s a working bell like the rest.  So Leo wants to learn little bob minor, which is fine and valiant and everything, only Penelope has bagged the treble.  Which leaves me ringing inside.  So I was standing there with my hand on a rope, waiting for Penelope to say the magic words ‘look to, treble’s going’, in a daze of frenzied recall–I have rung little bob but I wouldn’t want to say I know it:  in fact I would much prefer to say that I do not know it–when it impinges on my consciousness that Edward and Leo are having a conversation about making fourths.  Making fourths–?  I struggle back toward the surface.  But you don’t make fourths in little bob.  Unless . . .  At about this point Edward notices the look of growing consternation on my face.  ‘Oh, there are going to be calls in this,’ says Edward, grinning the grin of a man with six aces, a loaded shotgun, and a getaway car.  Calls, you know:  that mix the bells up some more.  Just what you want when you only have a faint hold on the plain course. 

            Nobody died.  More to the point, perhaps, nobody got thrown out of the tower, and we got to the end of the touch in more or less the right order.  Yaay. 

            Then I came back to the mews and the hellhounds ate supper.  This is the first meal they’ve actually finished in several days:  there’s been way too much statuesque staring into the middle distance and way too little chewing.  I have this ridiculous habit of trying to figure out their prandial pretenses, which is like trying to figure out the logic of dust bunnies.  There is furniture:  there is dust:  there are dust bunnies.***  There are hellhounds:  there is food:  there is trouble.  If I go off and leave them first, will they eat when I get back because they’re so glad to see me?  If I rub their tummies for an absurdly protracted period† will the blood flow to their stomachs be increased, and they be inspired to eat?

            I am thinking, as I sit here writing tonight’s entry while I finish my post-prandial chocolate, speaking of prandial habits, before I go make rude noises on the piano, I’ll say it on the blog and then I can’t wiggle out of it later.  D’you remember that I yearn, in a feeble, foolish sort of way, for some other blundering, incapable quasi-musician to play with?  I have one friend and one relative who live just slightly too far away for this to be feasible, and apparently all of Oisin’s other students are either going to the Royal Academy or sane enough to keep their skeletons in their own closets.  Feh.  So unsporting of them.   What’s a blundering incapable quasi-musician to do? 

            Some of you may also remember that I struggled through learning the piano parts to a few extremely simple-minded flute and piano duets that Oisin had written for other students, with Oisin playing the flute, and by the last one or two I was actually sort of getting some kind of initial hang of this playing with another person thing.  But only sort of.  The main thing that happens when I set off in musical company is total panic.  Which is boring and dumb.  I’m sure I’d like playing in company if I could ever get past the automatic nervous breakdown stage. 

            Oisin gave me a little student-aimed Mozart duet to look at a long time ago.  Mozart!  My man!  But the part for the stupid second person is–as stupid-second-person parts so often are–all in the bass clef, and I couldn’t get my head around that and playing with another person, as well as its being Mozart which means too many notes,†† even though I can see that he was trying to control himself.†††  So that idea lapsed.  But I spend a lot more time paying attention in the bass clef than I used to, on account of my composing gig, and I know I’ve told you that  lately I’m having this ludicrously good time actually playing the piano again instead of merely making her a tool for writing music.   I also told you last week’s lesson was unusually thrilling as well as unusually exhausting‡, and I came home all fired up to do something ill-advised, and so tore into my unseemly heaps of sheet music‡‡ looking for that Mozart duet.

            I found it.

            So, here’s me flinging a gauntlet at my own face:  Oisin is on holiday this week.  But I’m learning the blasted Mozart.  And next Friday I’m going to take the freller in and poke the hard first part in front of Oisin’s nose and say ‘play that.  I’ve got the second part covered.’

            You read it here. 

* * *

 * I love the phrase ‘tower practise’.  Chess?  Warfare?  RPG?  ‘Hi, I’m a tower, and I have a .5 for intelligence but my strength is 1,000,000.  The only way to take me out is with black magicians and dragons, and you know, all that flying and fire-breathing really taps out your power reserves, don’t you want to stick to boiling the occasional foolhardy hero in oil?’ 

**  Penelope, Leo and I usually are there:  now I’m a bell junkie, so that explains me, but both Penelope and Leo have lives.  They’re just steadfast.  What is it about the Loyal Unreliables?  ‘We few, we happy few, we band of . . . um . . . siblings.’   Well, we’re clearly the tower regiment. 

*** There are dust antelope, dust walruses, dust asteroids in my house, all of them illogical. 

† This is one of the permanent drawbacks to male dogs:  so much less tummy to rub, due to obstructions.  And while I am a dog person, I will unreservedly acknowledge that cats arrange it better in this area. 

†† Semifreakingquavers!  Bars and bars of them!  Go away

††† It has to be hard being a genius writing for dorks.  Like a swan trying to teach frogs to fly. 

‡ I would not have made it alive through a touch of little bob minor inside last Friday 

‡‡ Now made even more untidy by sheets of manuscript paper sticking out at strange angles everywhere

Restorative

 

 I’m just back from two hours of ringing handbells* and my brains are melting out of my ears.  And I haven’t posted a recipe in way too long.  

Restorative Apple Butter Cookies** 

½ c slightly salted butter.  This will be easier if it’s soft.

½ c dark brown sugar***

¾ c apple butter

1 ½ c all-purpose white flour†

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

 Cream butter and sugar together thoroughly, then add the apple butter. Mix thoroughly.  Mix dry ingredients and work in.  You’ll probably want to use your hands. 

            At this point the lazy sluts take a sharp turn to the left and the honest, meritorious men and women take a handsome, gentle bend to the right.  The lazy sluts will scoop small spoonfuls of this stuff up and drop-cookie them on parchment-paper-lined baking sheets.  The honest meritorious brigade will pat the thing into a bolster, roll it in waxed or parchment paper, stow it in the refrigerator for two hours or so†† and then slice it sharply (you’ll probably need to flour the knife pretty often) into perfect little thin rounds and put them on parchment paper and a baking sheet.  Either way you’ll want to bake them 7-10 minutes at 350°F.  Let cool somewhat, but keep them on the parchment paper.  You’re about to make a mess. 

Icing/glaze 

2T butter, melted

Stir in 2T apple butter

Then start stirring in 1 c icing sugar, adding a few drops of not-just-out-of-the-refrigerator apple juice as necessary to keep it thinnish.

Twirl, pour or brush over your almost-cool cookies. 

Now sit down and let the restoration begin. 

* * *

 * Okay, it’s true, we stop for a cup of tea about an hour in, when we have got so stupid from too much concentration that we have barely enough synapses still firing to drink hot liquids safely.^  But because we’re pathetic we usually talk about bells.

            When was the moment I should have run screaming?  Probably the moment Niall first said hey, want to try some handbells?  No, before that, when my old ringing master at my old tower ten years ago bought his matchless new set of handbells and offered to teach any of us who wanted to how to ring them.  I so didn’t know what I was getting into.  The true repellency of the accomplishment hid itself from me originally however because poor Rupert was trying all by himself to teach three of us clueless wonders.  It wasn’t till ten years later and Niall was carting me off to ring with Esme–another excellent handbell ringer–every Sunday afternoon that I realised the scope of the disaster, and they spent months carrying me through endless plain courses of bob minor while I signally failed to catch on.  Esme, by the way, eventually moved to Shropshire to escape, but Niall, as previously noted, is insane, and wasn’t going to let me escape despite incontrovertible, and frequently repeated, proof, that I was thick as two short planks^^ in handbell terms.  But it is quite amazing what stubbornness can do, when you’re too stupid to stop.  I’ve been ringing handbells off and on for nearly as long as I’ve been ringing tower bells (again), so probably nearly four years . . . and it’s true, I’m finally getting somewhere.  What is worth four years’ hard labour to get to the starting line of?  Colin, drat him, is pretty much already all over bob minor, so it’s time we started learning something else to keep him amused.  Cue hyperventilation from McKinley.  But Niall gave us something easy . . . and neither Niall nor Colin has bothered to look at it this past week, obviously, while I was out with hellhounds and a little piece of paper with lines drawn on it in my teeth, counting one two three four five six one two three four five six one two three four five six, etc, with the result that this evening when we all had a go at it I was no worse than the other two.  This is, for me, about like stepping off the garage roof and discovering you can walk on air:  the consistency is maybe a little spongy and maybe you sink a little, but you’re definitely up there and no legs broken.  I know I keep going on about this, but why why why WHY am I so fascinated by something I am so frelling naturally unfrellinggifted at?  It’s like someone who can barely carry a tune deciding to learn to sing opera.  Now that you mention it, that sounds like fun. . . .  

 ^Well . . . I can never really drink hot liquids safely.  I started the Klutzim Klub, didn’t I? 

^^ It’s the short that makes this phrase.  Why do they have to be short

** Very good for resolidifying melting brains.  Applicable to a wide variety of life’s overheated events. 

*** You may want more or less sugar depending on how sweet your apple butter is and whether or not you are going to glaze them.  I tend to like unsweet apple butter but very sweet cookies. 

† Or a little more if your apple butter is very runny.  You know what a cookie dough, as opposed to batter, should look like, right?  Make it look like that.  Or, if you’re a lazy slut and are going to take the drop cookie option, a slightly more battery look is fine. 

†† The one convincing argument, to a lazy slut, that favours the chilled bolster is that it means you can have hot fresh neat cookies really fast when you take the bolster out of the refrigerator.  If you’re having someone over for tea both the fast and the neat are nice.  Drop cookies are never neat.

Radiators. And Newel Posts

 

So I went up to Third House today to talk to the builder.  Hi, builder, I said.  Hi, sucker, he said. 

            Sigh. 

            I  like my builder.  He carries me down ladders.  He always speaks to me in a calm, soothing voice, like a man faced by a snarling Dobermann.*  He seems to be doing what he said he’d do.  And he had an excellent recommendation from someone who is even less easy to get along with than I am.  Granted it’s in his interests to keep making suggestions and telling me the manifold things he and his minions can do**, but his suggestions, barring the ‘we need you to make a decision in the next two hours’ ones, seem to be pretty good.  They’re moving the tiny washroom in the loft a few feet over which will create space for a cupboard.  I’m actually getting three cupboards out of this job–by perhaps somewhat extreme means, as for example having to buy a new boiler, and the new invisible slimline environmentally correct one won’t need a cupboard.  I pointed out to him, when I went round to his house this evening to look at his radiators***, that we’re already one-third over budget, and I’m even counting from the second estimate, after they discovered they were going to have to blow up the floor to put cement footings in.

            SIGH.

            And I’ve just fallen in to the remodeler’s abyss.  Remember I’m supposed to be choosing radiators?  So I’d been reading the Radiator Catalogue† and after great writhings and forehead-clutchings I’d chosen a nice plain inoffensive thing, but when I went round to the roiling cloud of brick- and sawdust again I started wavering, partly because I can’t imagine how anything is going to look from present conditions and partly because the nice plain inoffensive thing . . . doesn’t make my heart sing, you know?  And the cottage, despite the prosecutable tiles in both kitchen and bathroom, and the present general air of the end of the world having arrived, does.  So this is the point at which Mr Nice Builder invited me round to see his new radiator††, which is a near relative of the one I’d picked out, and which  looks excellent and lovely in his brand-new conservatory . . . but is going to look pretty silly in a 1930s bungalow, even a 1930s bungalow with a new loft breasting the clouds.  Worse yet is the fact that there is a radiator that makes my heart sing [sic]. 

http://www.warmrooms.co.uk/acatalog/The_Radiator_Company_Vecchia_Cast_Iron_Radiators.html

 Be sure to click ‘enlarge’.  Now look at the price.†††  And that sound you hear is me falling into the abyss.

            And then Mr Nice Builder said, now, I need you to have a look at these newel posts and decide which one you want, and if you could do that right now . . .  

* * *

 * As the hellhounds and I were a day or two ago.  I didn’t manage the soothing.  I managed the squeak.

            Nobody died.

 ** They can make a cherry pie, a feather bed, and milk a heifer calf, but they’re all young things and cannot leave their mother.  It occurs to me with sudden light-minded^ amusement that his company name is Plum and Sons. 

^ Light mind is about all that’s going around here lately 

*** They have a very nice house with a conservatory to kill for and a utility room.  Oh, gods, I would commit atrocities^ for a utility room, me with my little row of dwarf appliances under the stairs at the cottage, and the permanently bruised skull.  There’s no place for a utility room at Third House either, barring taking a piece out of the front garden which is not to be thought of.  From my unlikely experience at the cottage I can apparently squeeze a good thirty roses in a utility-room-sized space, and I do have some scruples left.

            But this cobbler’s children definitely have shoes.  Hand stitched off their own lasts as you might say.  (And the kitchen cabinets–!)  Siiiigh.  

^ Wear red with green, eat meatloaf with a fish fork, call the Queen ‘hey babe’. 

† It is amazing the things there are huge glossy catalogues for.  Nearly half an inch thick of radiators with a few heated towel rails at the back.  Including designer radiators that look like large funguses or terrible accidents that are happening right on your very own wall if you have waaaaay too much more cash than sense.  Or taste.  I wonder if there’s any money in radiator design?  There’s obviously a niche going to waste here. 

†† Which he took home with him after someone ordered it, bought it, had it installed, frowned at it and said, take it away, I don’t like it.  What it is to have a rubber budget.  And a rubber bank account behind it.  Twang.

 ††† This is also why the kitchen counters at the cottage are cracked and peeling and curling up at the corners.  Because I want granite worktops–no, not the damn sparkly black ones that are apparently still all the rage:  a rage I don’t get in the least as something to cook on:  I want sparkly white with black and grey flecks–and I can’t afford them.

S l o w . . . D a y

 

Uhhh.  Well, not uhhh enough.  I don’t even want to think about how late I finally managed to pour myself out of bed this morning.*    Put clothes on to create human shape out of amorphous sludge–have a little trouble with the facial features which require too much detail**–attempt to walk hellhounds slowly–SLOWLY? say hellhounds.  YOU’RE JOKING, RIGHT?

            Uhhh.

            I did have tea in town with a friend which sufficiently invigorated*** me to keep on going out to the garden centre and buy pots.  The buying them was the easy part;  the hard part was hoicking them up the (steep) half-stair to the cottage and the cottage garden.†  But at least I can start rehoming the orphan plants savagely attacked by the amok café table.  Tomorrow.  Or next year.

            Then it all went pear-shaped.  There were six messages on my phone machine†† . . . two of them from my builder who rang me for the first time at 3 pm–twenty minutes after I left to meet my friend for tea–saying that he urgently needed me to come round and sort out a problem in the next two hours.†††  As I’m standing there listening to these messages it is three hours later.  Then there are two homeopathic queries . . . and one from Merrilee.  Using her Author Voice. 

            You have probably met the Author Voice in other incarnations–you may, if you are very unlucky, have had to employ it:  the I Have to Get Something Out of This Person Who Is Manifestly Dangerously Insane voice.  I have been sitting on the FIRE contracts for . . . oh, a while.  I hate the new paperless office.  At least hard copy, when you lose it, you have some hope of finding it again because it, you know, exists.  I got frightened into buying a new printer a few months ago and the truth is I don’t print out all that much so the breaking-in period (mine) has been rather protracted and I get very demoralised by machines that hum for a while and then turn themselves off without so much as a cryptic error message to guide you.  I’m supposed to print out these frelling contracts, which arrived by email attachment, which is another little ongoing problem:  attachments tend to produce pop up boxes that say things like:  We can’t possibly open this attachment because it is from a technology alien to this time stream and from a universe whose physics are antithetical to our own and if we did open it you would instantly become green and tentacled‡ and we’re not at all sure that universe has books, either.  We think possibly it does something with six-dimensional flower arranging.  Don’t blame us!  We warned you about the physics!   

            Oh yes and then I’m supposed to fax the contracts back . . . the printer is also a fax machine, copier, scanner‡‡ and it probably rings Cambridge Maximus and I’m holding it back from fulfilling its potential. 

            I am going to go lie on the sofa.  

 * * *

* Bow!  Bow to your master!  says the ME. 

** Especially at my age 

*** I can only make a joke about slipping a spoon in my pocket if enough of you have read http://butyoudontlooksick.com/navigation/BYDLS-TheSpoonTheory.pdf which is in ‘about’ but you might have decided these daily entries are more than enough. 

† The even harder part will be deciding what plant goes in which pot and where these new partnerships will be sited, because I will have bought the wrong size, shape, colour, material, finish and/or decorative design for the plants that need new housing AND nothing will go with the pots I already have, including exact replicas.  It’s quite extraordinary the way things morph the minute you take your eye off them:  they were (mostly) exactly what I wanted at the garden centre.

            Not to mention the one or two pots that will crack when Atlas puts the drainage holes in which the manufacturer missed. 

†† And none of them were from Peter.  I start having nervous breakdowns when there are more than two phone messages that aren’t from Peter. 

††† I rang his office/home and his wife, whom I hope gets paid a salary for the number of messages she takes and the amount of fur she strokes back in the right direction again, told me he was still at large and to ring his mobile.  I rang his mobile and it rang and rang and rang and rang and rang and I never did talk to him, and now I guess having missed the crucial two hour slot–it would have been cheating to warn me in advance--Third House isn’t going to have electricity.^  Better get the chimney cleaned and lay in a few oil lamps.  And an extra battery for my laptop. 

^ Like it already doesn’t have a phone.  I’ve told you this story.  Possibly more than once.  It preys on my mind for some reason.  British Telecom says there is no phone line to this 1930’s cottage in the middle of town+ and I have to pay to have one installed.  

+ And the phone jack in the sitting-room 

‡ But would I still have ME?  And are there horse equivalents if you’re green and tentacled? 

‡‡ That it’s a scanner is the reason I still exist as a light bulb on the forum.  I want to use an old hard copy photo of my Queen of Denmark, who looks like this 

http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/shrubs/roses/shrub-rose/bush-rose/other-shrub-rose/rosa-k%C3%B6nigin-von-d%C3%A4nemark/classid.77933/

 Be sure to hit ‘enlarge’

Fast Day

 

. . . to be inevitably followed by a self-defining Slow Day tomorrow.  Today has been one of those days I’ve got away with;  the ME must be visiting its mother or something.  But they don’t get on, so it’ll be back tomorrow in a nasty mood and full up with suggestions about how it should get its life in order and find a nice bacterium and settle down, and it’ll take one look at what I got up to in its absence and have a tantrum.

            Sigh.

             It is, however, rising midnight, and I’ve only just sat down to supper

            The day began with my getting out of bed early enough that I was not only dressed but roughly coherent by the time Atlas arrived with my brand new Café Table Support (patent pending).  I have a nice little enamelled-green café table and two chairs in the courtyard part of the garden which do in fact get sat in/on occasionally but you have to move all the plants first.  Well, first you have to recognise that there are a table and chairs under there and that it would be worth your while to move the plants:  you may not have registered the garden furniture in the photos–and it is green after all, and rather curly, the way old-fashioned café furniture usually is–but I have actual on-the-ground, in-person visitors who fail to realise that the underlying structure to the wild froth of osteospermums, geraniums, fuchsias, snapdragons, chocolate cosmos, pansies, verbenas, diascias and Miscellaneous Little Things in Pots was designed with humans in mind.

            But there is a problem about taking the plants off the table.  The table falls over.  Little café tables tend to be three-legged, you may have noticed.  You may even have managed to tip one over into your lap some time*.  I have coped with the three-legged situation chiefly because mostly things get crammed on to the table:  wholesale taking off is a rare event.  Until this autumn when I was seized by the wild whim to try and bring some of my osteospermums, geraniums, fuchsias, etc through the winter.  Which, until the Sitting-Room Jungle was created, when the polar ice cap came for a visit, meant hauling everything indoors every night–almost everything.  There are several broken pots of pansies, spring bulbs, a heuchera or two and a day lily being held together with bubble wrap and string, waiting for me to go buy more pots after being shot off the top of or shattered by the edge of  an avalanching three-legged plant theatre.**

            I set Atlas on this problem a little while ago and . . . I now have a small green six legged café table.  It can’t fall over till the laws of physics are repealed.***

            After toasting Atlas in very strong tea, I hurtled hellhounds, slayed twelve evil dragons†, found the secret treasure of two lost kingdoms and a lost queendom, visited Third House to find that they’ve taken the roof off–slates are all tidily piled up in heaps–there’s no floor, there’re no walls, but that’s not enough for them, they have to take the roof off too.  I’m supposed to be choosing radiators.  Radiators?  I’ve decided the real reason so many houses look like a series of very bad design mistakes is because they are a series of very bad design mistakes caused by being compelled to make decisions about a billowing cloud of saw- and brick-dust with a cement mixer in the front garden.††  I did get to see these astonishing steel staples that they’re using to hang the book-bearing attic floor from and–like I know anything about weight and stress and things–they are rather reassuring, since they look like they could probably support the Isle of Wight.  Then the builders had to help me down the ladder.  They practically tied me in a sling and lowered me like a bale into the hold of a freighter.  It should have been embarrassing but it was too funny.  I don’t do ladders.  As I’ve said here, when my roses get past about eight foot I stop pruning them.  Anyway.  Then I built four rainbow bridges to realms we wot not of, foretold the future for a convention of magicians†††, wrote a page or two of PEGASUS, played the piano, hurtled hellhounds again and  . . . went off to my New Bell Ringing Experience.

            I’d stopped playing the piano a little sooner than I wanted to‡ and hurtled hellhounds a little less than I might have because it had occurred to me that the ME might get back from its mother’s early and close me down and I really wanted one or two functioning brain cells left to make a good impression on a new bell tower.  As I was getting back indoors with hellhounds the phone rang, and it was Niall, checking that our plans for the evening were in place and that they matched and then as we were about to ring off he said:  Have you memorised the entire line?  Have I what? I said, my pulses suddenly pounding.  Cambridge, he said.  Have you memorised the line?  Have I memorised the line for Cambridge? I screamed.  Why should I be memorising CambridgeI thought that was the point, Niall said innocently.  That Colin had the band to let you have a go at Cambridge.  No, no! I wept.  All I want is a proper touch of Stedman!  Oh, well, if you say so, Niall said dubiously and rang off.

             So guess what I spent the half hour I was planning on spending sitting quietly and reading a book doing instead.  The thing about Cambridge is that it’s maybe a kind of final step into the true upper echelons of ringing–your first so-called ‘surprise’ method.  Nobody (well, almost nobody) is going to curl their lip at anyone who can ring Stedman‡‡ but surprise . . .  nothing counts as surprise but surprise.  And Niall was being provocative by asking me if I’d memorised the entire line, because the frelling leap into surprise methods is so extreme that usually you learn Cambridge in leads, of which there are five in a plain course.  Aaaaaugh.  So by the time Niall picked me up I had 1,000,000 more grey hairs than I had half an hour ago and I’d (maybe, sort of) memorised the first lead and a half of frelling Cambridge.

            I wasn’t asked to ring Cambridge at all, of course.  I was asked to ring St Clements which I’ve never frelling heard of.  Yes you have! Niall said helpfully.  I keep trying to get you to learn it on handbells!  –And to think I have imagined, in my foolish way, that this man is my friend.  So everybody else rang a touch of bob minor while I sat in a corner and gibbered and tried to learn my second method of the evening. 

            As ringing a strange method in a strange tower goes, it was not too bad.  I was seeing about half of it–and my minder was dragging me through the other half–which is not brilliant, but I’m not a brilliant ringer, and I don’t have to fall on my sword or anything.  Then–yaaaay–we rang some Stedman.  They have one other sort of Advanced Beginner like me who appears to be fractionally behind me on the Stedman front and Colin, who was obviously in a chirpy mood, started rattling off ‘singles’–which are the mixing-the-bells-up-further calls–like a madman.  There are always too many things to remember about change ringing, especially about what happens in any given method when a call is made, but there are particular evil ratbag aspects of Stedman that I’m too tired to try to explain to you tonight‡‡‡ but which have to do with what you do after you’ve managed to negotiate the call itself.  And I hung in there like anything, remembering which way I was going after every call, while the other learner was getting a trifle buffeted by fate.  We did eventually crash and burn–not by me!–but by then it was by far the longest touch I’d ever survived, let alone survived with frelling calls coming every few seconds:  another ratbaggery about Stedman is that you can have calls just about anywhere including more or less constantly.  Most methods require a little time for the new bell order to shake down before they can mess you over again.  Not Stedman.  So I was feeling a trifle flushed with victory when we finally stopped.

            At which moment I was forced at gunpoint to have a hack at St Clements again.  Now the purpose of St Clements is, in fact, that it’s a stage on the way to Cambridge;  some of the stuff you do in it you’ll have to do again in Cambridge, only with more stuff.  And I was by now pretty tired after ringing a long touch of Stedman§ in a strange tower, and they’d rung Cambridge a little earlier in the evening and I’d stood behind and watched§§.  And somehow or other these things conflated in my rapidly deliquescing brain, and when Colin shouted ‘Go St Clements’ I set gaily off on Cambridge. . . . 

* * *

 * Or possibly into the lap of the person opposite you, whom you didn’t want to see again anyway, right? 

** Plant theatres exist, you know.  They’re just up market shelving.  But I love the idea of Plant Theatre.  My Fair Jasmine.  The Sound of Tulips.  Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Rosebush. 

*** Which seems to happen once a decade or so, so I’ll be careful. 

† As opposed to the nice friendly kind 

††  Er–why is there still a cement mixer in the garden? 

††† Foretelling requires going into a trance first unfortunately so I don’t know what I said. 

‡ I am soooo enjoying playing my darling piano again.  Yes, I know, I owe you an entry about this.  And I still owe you the entry about how I found her in the first place. 

‡‡ When I’m queen anyone who can ring Stedman will get a medal 

‡‡‡ Please stop cheering 

§ One of the incidental, or maybe not so incidental, pleasures of the evening is that one of my old ringing colleagues from my first tower ten years ago was there–ten years ago when I never managed that across-the-flaming-chasm leap to ringing ‘inside’ at all–and was obviously delighted to see/hear me ringing Stedman.  He mentioned it several times with a big grin.  

§§ Wasn’t I just saying in here recently that there is bell ringing software but I can’t use it?  That as far as I’m concerned bell ringing software is just one more beastly thing to learn?  What I can do is stand behind someone in the tower, ringing something I’m trying to learn, and learn by watching.  This is less obvious than you think, because bell ringing is so physical a skill, and lots of ringers can’t do it, like I can’t use the software.

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