August 18, 2009

Not a Good Day


So it’s all little stuff.  Little stuff accumulates.

           It started last night, of course, my bad days almost always do start the night before.*  Yesterday may have been the hellhounds’ birthday, but the champagne** was preceded by practise at Colin’s tower and . . . we stank.  We metaphorically ingested abhorrent substances.  We performed unnatural acts upon the bodies of previously living donkeys.  It was bad.  My only comfort, such as it is, is that mayhem was general:  I may have been leading the way into ever-deeper darkness and destruction but no one struggled a whole lot against following me.***  Niall had to spend the drive home talking me out of running away to sea. †

            Today has been stuff like my latest mail order parcel†† arriving squashed flat and containing the wrong items, although if they’re going to be squashed flat I suppose I’d rather they were the wrong items.  But trying to get hold of the company has been interesting.  The invoice tells me, if you have any problems with your order please ring us on xxx xxx xxx.  So I rang them and got an instant robot voice saying, so sorry, we are having a telephone glitch and sometimes phone calls go directly to our answerphone but you can contact us on line BEEEEEEP.  The invoice doesn’t even have web site or email listed.  I go on line.  Under ‘contact us’ it says, if you have a problem with your order, ring our help line.  I emailed them.  I’ve now had three automated replies saying they’ll deal with my message any minute now and my custom is important to them.

            Hellhounds and I went muttering down to the mews for lunch, where hellhounds declined to eat.  They had help in their not-eating decision, though:  Peter had just gone up for his nap and I had just settled down to PEGASUS when the doorbell clanged, and it was Peter’s new housecleaning service arriving without having told him they were coming.  That’s certainly getting off to a cracking start for a long fruitful relationship.  So I wasted a quarter of an hour shovelling my corner of the kitchen into cleanable††† submission while hellhounds said, ooooh!  We can’t possibly eat with all this excitement going on!  Strange people!  Strange smells!  Strange rattling and abrading and roaring noises!  Is there anything to chase?‡  Oh, come on, there must be something to chase! ‡‡  So we went back up to the cottage (still muttering)‡‡‡ and discovered that the 1,000,000 metres of UV-treated bubble wrap had finally arrived. 

             1,000,000 metres of special rot-resistant bubble wrap is to swathe the inside of the summerhouse § at Third House which is to become my heated greenhouse this winter and eliminate the sitting-room jungle at the cottage.§§  I hope the tardis feature of the summerhouse expressed by how much bubble wrap you need to cover the walls is going to manifest again in terms of how many plants I can get inside. §§§  But do you have any idea how much room three rolls totalling 1,000,000 metres of bubble wrap takes up?  I was trying to figure out how to wedge it into Wolfgang . . . when the car next to us ¤ took exception to my proximity and its alarm went off.

             Not a good day.

             So possibly you’ll forgive me for quoting a little of an email that arrived this morning:

 I just reread Sunshine for the third time (because it’s the best vampire novel ever), and, as I recently discovered that authors have blogs, I went online to see if you had a blog and if you were working on something. And you do and you are! I am very excited about Pegasus (It has a great opening line!). 

The first time I read Sunshine, I went to the library looking for a sequel (I confess) and discovered Dragonhaven (best dragon novel ever). The second time I reread it I went back to the library and discovered Chalice (best novel about a bee-keeper and a fire priest ever). So I know that Pegasus will be the best flying horse and princess novel ever, and I can’t wait. 

Oh good.  I am however particularly taken with the idea that I have written the best novel about a bee-keeper and a fire priest ever, the competition being quite tough in that category.  But I do have some slight excuse for mentioning her email because she adds at the end: 

PS:  Here’s a quotation from a Leonard Cohen song (Anthem) that I always find encouraging; your stories of bell-ringing brought it to mind: 

Ring the bells

      that still

            can ring


      your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in

That’s how the light gets in


And here’s the full lyric if you’d like to look/refresh your memory:

 I used to know most of Leonard Cohen more or less off by heart:  he was one of those poet/songwriters that a certain style of weedy, artistic youth of my generation fancied him/herself similar to ¤¤ and while a lot of his stuff still speaks to me¤¤¤ I’ve got a bit lazy about him since I moved to England and started planting roses.  And while one or another version of the crack that lets the light in is a cliché, I’m still rather struck  (so to speak) by Cohen’s take on it—first of course because it’s bells° but second because one of the ways I’ve described my story-telling since the first time someone asked me after BEAUTY was published is that I have a crack in my skull where the stories come through.  Skull as bell, perhaps:  bong. 

* * *

* As long-term blog readers are abundantly aware 

** And the not eating 

*** Okay, I did make it through Kent.  But it was not a glorious achievement.  It was a sort of bell-ringing version of yes, I finished the London marathon.  It took me three days and a wheelchair. 

† Where there are no bells.  Ugggh.  Awful thought:  there could be handbells, even at sea.  At one point last night Colin was making the beginner ring on her own and suggested that Daniel, Niall and I might ring some handbells^ to distract everybody else because the beginner is sensitive.  Hey, what about me I’ve decided weddings are nothing compared to six really good tower ringers sitting around staring at you while you do your handbell trick:  handbells are kind of notorious even among tower ringers as the final bastion of the truly mad.  It was worse than that too because Colin and the beginner stopped before we finished our course. 

^ Niall goes nowhere without his handbells.  I’ve made this joke before, haven’t I?, that I think Niall keeps handbells in the bottom drawer of his desk like lesser mortals keep bottles of scotch.  And I amuse myself occasionally by imagining Niall at the company picnic . . . with handbells.  No, no, never mind the ham sandwich/the private little word with the boss/the cute girl/guy smiling at you.  Let me teach you plain hunt on handbells!    

†† I do so much of my shopping on the internet any more I’m forgetting how to do it in a, you know, shop.  Last week I was buying (organic) composted manure, (organic) slug bait, (non-organic) lawn-edge-trimmer and so on. . . . Got to the till, pulled out my credit card . . . and realised I didn’t have a clue what my PIN number was, nor where I was keeping my back-up clue, which ought to be on the RaspBerry but there’s been some slippage since my credit card got replaced again.^  You don’t need a PIN on line.  Yet. ^^

^ I’m beginning to think I have a sign over my head saying HACK ME. 

^^ No.  You need a password.  Which you also have to remember somehow.  Sigh. . . .

††† They need to be able to reach surfaces to clean them, you know. 



‡‡‡ Leaving the hellhounds’ lunch behind.  I know a lost cause when I see it. 

§ The shed with windows.  It’s more of a kiosk with a glass front than a summerhouse.   Summerhouse sounds like Jane Austen, or at least Mary Wesley. 

§§ I think Colin and Niall might object to having to stand up to ring handbells because the furniture is covered with plants. 

§§§ Actually the six layers of bubble wrap is going to eliminate all floor space entirely. 

¤ Which parking space belongs to one of my neighbours, but Wolfgang and I are fascinated by the endless parade of vehicles that park there.  My neighbours have either a magnificently complicated social life, an automobile fetish, or a very good turnover in hot cars.

 ¤¤ For better or worse I decided that being in a state of more or less permanent romantic tragedy was not my idea of a good time after all. 

¤¤¤ Not necessarily in a good way.  Hallelujah for the 1,000,000th time—or for that matter The Master Song for the 1,000,000,000th—still knocks me out, but they’re not exactly the upbeat, positive view of humanity and gender relations, and I don’t bounce back from the slough of despond the way I did thirty years ago. 

° There are a few change-ringing bell towers in Canada


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