A Double Arrgh Day
No, triple arrgh.
But first. 16 November is retreating fast into the twilight of history. And I know at least one person is going to come after me with a harpoon if I don’t tell you what was in those fancy parcels. Allow me a digression first however.* I’ve been doing the daily blog thing now for three and a bit years. I’m mostly used to the weirdness of yakking away about my life on line and in public and I haven’t (yet) woken up sweating at 3 am and thought Why did I tell them that?** But every now and then the extremeness of the weird clonks me one. It was one of those clonk moments when I realised that while I will blither on about my presents, because blithering is what I do, there’s no need to explain any of them, because regular readers will recognise them all instantly as familiar manifestations of McKinley’s personality.*** Starting with the posy of white roses sitting beside my computer.†
And moving on briskly to the revelation of contents. The only thing even faintly in need of elucidation is ASHES TO DUST . . . but it’s a book, isn’t it?††
The black cardigan with the banner of flowers thrown diagonally across its front is one of the divineliest pretty things I have ever seen. When Peter said he needed something to give me for my birthday I handed him the catalogue immediately. This one, I said. I’ve wasted a lot of digital whatever trying to get a good close-up of it; the flowers are embroidered, so they’re tactile as well as . . . pink. But the black background is that really shiny pima yarn which reflects like anything so my photos keep coming out with a grey haze over them.††† This one isn’t too bad.
And then . . . Stephen Sondheim. I’ve been mooning tragically over the complete score to SWEENEY TODD for years, for no good reason. Complete scores are grotesquely expensive but I could have afforded one. ‡ I think I thought it would be cheek in an odd sort of way: I like to include, say, Messiaen and Benjamin Britten in my composing influences, but that’s manifestly absurd and therefore harmless. Sondheim, for better or worse, is pretty much hands-on literally an influence, and getting my hands on a Sondheim score would be too much like taking myself seriously. But Sondheim turned 80 this year and is all over the place being feted and celebed‡‡—and has published FINISHING THE HAT‡‡‡, which has the delightfully explanatory subtitle: Collected lyrics (1954-1981), with attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes.§ For that I would want to read it even if I didn’t want to read it.§§ Peter asked me if I’d like HAT for my birthday and I said yes, and then I inhaled sharply and added: WouldyouliketobuymethecompletescoretoSWEENEYTODDtoo?
Which has had totally the expected effect§§§ of making me pull out some of my Finale [music software] files and start making terrible noises.# Which brings me to my triple-arrgh day.
Arrgh No. 1: Frelling Niall rang me this morning## and somehow managed to convince me to ring handbells tomorrow morning with Titus. Arrrrrgh. He’s pumping this ‘all my regular ringers are in Lapland chasing reindeer/ Somalia chasing gerenuk’ pretty dranglefabbing hard. He could have got Theophrastus together with Titus, it seems to me. Hmmph. Anyway. He is a bad man and I have no will power (which was the gist of my reply). This will be the third time I’ve rung handbells this week.
Arrgh No. 2: We were suddenly, unexpectedly, and somewhat dismayingly awash with good ringers tonight at tower practise . . . and it’s been months since I had a chance to ring Grandsire Triples and I totally frelled the freller. Totally. Frelled. Kill me now. Arrrrrgh. The second try was slightly better. A little. I also screwed up calling my siimple-minded touch of bob doubles. ARRRRRRRGH. But I was probably a little distracted tonight, because . . .
Arrgh No. 3: I took one of my longer and knottier terrible noises, washed, brushed and revised to make it more fearful, to Oisin today and he screamed a lot as he tried to play it.### He then fixed me with a large, glittering, Ancient-Mariner sort of eye~ and said, This needs to be orchestrated, you know. No! I didn’t know! I don’t know anything of the kind! Orchestrated! AAAAAAARRGH.
* * *
* You will allow me a digression, won’t you?
** That ‘waking up at 3 am’ is an oxymoron is beside the point.
*** And how weird is it to be hanging photos of your birthday presents on line at all?
† Well, why not white? We’ll get to something pink soon enough.
†† I used to read armsful of murder mysteries; not so much any more.^ But I like the ordinary-people-rising-to-extraordinary-circumstances thing, right? I’ve been talking about it in various of the recent spate of interviews. Which to my eye all mysteries are, pretty much by definition, even police procedurals (which I like, especially when the crack detective is a single mum with three kids or similar). And this book has had some very flashy reviews. We’ll see.
^ A digression for another evening.
††† Okay, a four arrgh day
‡ If I simply didn’t buy any books for a few months I’d recoup.
‡‡ Should that be ‘celebbed’ do you think?
‡‡‡ Which is a line from his SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, George being George Seurat, the Impressionist painter. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions. Or you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunday_in_the_Park_with_George
§ Another big gloppy Sondheim fan reviews it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/19/AR2010111903355.html
§§ And here’s an eyecatcher from a first browse. He’s talking about the song Anyone Can Whistle, which includes the lyric: What’s hard is simple,/ What’s natural comes hard./ Maybe you could show me/How to let go,/ Lower my guard . . . and he writes: ‘ . . . musical-theater rhapsodists have appropriated it as my personal statement. . . . To believe that “Anyone Can Whistle” is my credo is to believe that I’m the prototypical Repressed Intellectual and that explains everything about me. Perhaps being tagged with a cliché shouldn’t bother me, but it does, and to my chagrin I realize it means that I care more about how I’m perceived than I wish I did. . . .’ Yep. I know about this. And he gets a lot of points in my account-book for saying so.
§§§ No, not practising my Angela Lansbury as Mrs Lovett imitation in the mirror
# Almost as terrible as my Angela Lansbury imitation
## Almost late enough. I wasn’t very asleep.
### I only do it to annoy because I know it teases. Actually, I don’t, but I do enjoy the screaming.
~ Unhand me, greybeard loon!
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