I hadn’t exactly forgotten, but the implications of Niall being gone for a whole ten days had been a trifle muffled by the full on glaring shock of last Friday’s practise, when nobody suitable showed up that I could pass the poisoned chalice of mastership* to and was stuck pretending I knew what I was doing. With a lot of heavy cueing from Vicky.** It happened again this morning. There I am, on no sleep***, eight forty-five in the frelling morning, when no sane person should be awake, let alone dressed, preliminarily caffeinated, and arguing with several hundred pounds of metal on the end of a rope. And then there are all these beady eyes staring at you, waiting for you to say something. Something masterful. Gah. It doesn’t help that two of the beady eyes belong to Roger, who is grinning the grin of the retired-from-being-ringing-master-after-thirty-years-to-become-sane.† Gah.
And it’s all going to happen again NEXT week.
And then . . . whose idea was house guests? If this sounds a lot like whose idea was hellhounds?††, it is. Stop looking at me like that!††† It seemed like a good idea at the time! And I’m sure it was a good idea to get rid of three years’ accumulation of magazines!‡ And move the supplementary To Be Read Immediately book pile out of the upstairs hallway! And . . . never mind. There’s a limit to how much I’m willing to reveal in public of my shortcomings as a housekeeper.‡‡
Meanwhile . . . I have to go sing. My voice lesson is tomorrow because I have a train to meet Tuesday afternoon.‡‡‡ And I’m supposed to be singing in Italian again. Trying to make the notes and the syllables come out more or less even is bad enough when you know what the latter mean. When they’re things like ‘voglioamarvio’ and ‘chivagheggiarpuomai’§ it can get ugly. I should stick to Purcell.
* * *
* Ahem. So to speak. There’s probably some weatheraugury and clearseeing in there too. There’s certainly some talismanning: the bells themselves are large bronze fetishes. And some of us certainly climb the stairs/ladder to every practise or service ring praying to the bell gods and goddesses that we’re not about to make the most awful prats of ourselves—and hoping that’s not snickering we’re hearing from the belfry. Any of you who have read A Pool in the Desert will be aware that Damar has bells—parts of the northern border are kept rung in a complex sound-magic against invasion from the bad guys you may have met in SWORD and HERO. Damarian bells are alive^, and when you receive a new one for your bell tower, if it’s not alive, you send it back to the foundry. Very alchemical, Damarian bells. You’ll be able to read all about it some day in THE BELLS OF MAZAHAN.
Meanwhile, our generally-considered-inert-mwa-ha-ha-ha Hampshire bells are quite interesting enough to be going on with.
^ Or possibly inhabited. No one is quite sure.
** She missed her calling. She should have been a prompter. The kind with the electric cattle prod.
*** Possibly on account of an insufficiency of muffling.
Also because, after all day yesterday was made a burden by a rock concert^— they don’t usually have these things in town, go find some empty landscape and scare the cows—the Troll and Nightingale, my local pub, was having one of its live music evenings. Shouldn’t everyone be indoors closely watching the world cup, for godssake?
^ A seriously indifferent rock concert. Even through closed windows this much was clear. If it had been anybody interesting I’d’ve stopped planting roses/futzing about in the attic and gone.
† Vicky won’t let him torture me however. Kali also has a strong maternal aspect, you know.
†† Who had a magnificent run over the sports grounds a few sheep fields over from the mews this evening. I never let them off lead in town—they’re just too frelling fast, and it’s not worth the risk.^ But they found a tennis ball—they having now fully comprehended the Wonder that is Tennis Balls—and just about attained lift-off. They do this prancing, rocking-horse invitation-to-play thing that I swear involves levitation. And there was nobody around—inexplicably, a gorgeous late daylight June evening—and I was tempted, and I fell. And they had a fabulous time—back in the whippets’ day it was easier to lift one of them off the ground by their mouths around a tennis ball than my current guys^^—and we’re all alive to tell about it and I’m not even expecting any writs to be served on us tomorrow.
^ No one but another running-dog owner believes this. Normal dog owners look at you patronisingly and say, well, my dog is very fast too . . . leaving you to understand that your recall is being impugned. Well, that too. But their recall is actually pretty good . . . but whippets are pound for pound the fastest dog on the planet. Greyhounds are faster, but they’re also bigger. Your forty-pound seven-eighths whippet just let off the lead disappears. You blink and he’s gone. If he’s fond of you, fortunately, he’ll keep circling back. First Rule if you’ve lost your sighthound: stop where you are. He’ll come looking for you where he last saw you.+ You may have had a nervous breakdown by then, but he’ll be back—and will stoically bear the sobbing and hugging.
+ No, really. Jackie Drakeford says so. Jackie Drakeford is my Sighthound Goddess. http://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Lurcher-Jackie-Drakeford/dp/1904057349
^^ Yes, I’m sure this is very bad training. But we’re not training. We’re playing. Like the recall, they’re actually pretty good about ‘drop’ when told. There are lots of things they don’t do, but coming back and standing quietly to have their leads put back on, and dropping evil/disgusting/illicit objects when ordered are two that they do do. I can live with this.
††† Were you a ringing master for thirty years also?
‡ As well as the rather scary accumulation of geranium petals and cobwebs behind them, which were about to about to achieve critical mass and evolve. I’d already been through this once after Fiona hauled off sixty-seven bags of books to Oxfam last week. The geranium-petal-and-cobweb thing was pretty intense there too. It almost makes me rethink my devotion to indoor geraniums. Almost. After all, enough fallen geranium petals behind a radiator to morph into Frankenstein’s monster indicates clearly what heartfelt flowerers geraniums are. And the cobwebs . . . meh. Not much you can do about spiders. I’ve tried teaching them manners. They’re harder to train than hellhounds.
‡‡ Gah. Must change hellhound bedding tonight so I can get the hairy stuff washed tonight in the hopes of the ambient hellhound-hair mist having resettled sufficiently by Tuesday afternoon that I can hoover to some effect. Not to mention mopping out the inside of the washing machine. Sigh.
‡‡‡ This week has only been SIX DAYS! Weeks are horribly short enough when they’re SEVEN DAYS!
§ Which I have no doubt makes perfect sense to Italians. Even where the slurs run, which do not necessarily have anything to do with where the words break^, probably makes sense to an Italian.
^ That would be too easy.
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