November 28, 2010

Blah blah blah cold blah blah bells blah blah COLD COLD COLD


It’s damnably cold here and I have to keep going out in it.  Hellhound hurtles, frelling belling, hauling dustbins down the death-defying cottage steps for Monday dustbin collection, which involves a lockdown on the entire town for half a day, caused by a single very-well-deployed dustbin juggernaut.  The only thing I can think of (trying . . . trying) in favour of freezing your appendages off is that it does put an old Maine girl in the mood for Christmas.  Sort of.  Christmas lights have been going up all over this weekend and my inner Scrooge is stirring and muttering.*

        Stuffed Chaos in his coat this afternoon because he feels the cold much worse than Darkness does, and stuffed proves to be the applicable verb.  He’s filled out at last.  Yaaaay.  Well, yaaaay from a happy-owner-he-EATS** point of view***:  not so much from a I-paid-money-for-these-coats-and-now-I-have-to-do-it-again? perspective.  Although it’s less the money than the prospect of finding the necessary:  my guys fall between sizes in a highly inconvenient way.†  Chaos, who heretofore has put up with his coat with minimal fuss, was Not Happy, and produced some eloquent postures that Marcel Marceau might have killed for (expressively).  And chances are, if Chaos’ is straining at the seams, Darkness’ isn’t going to go round him at all, so I’d better get, ahem, hot on the greyhound apparel sites.  Happy Christmas guys!  New clothing!  . . . There are some things that none of the men in my life really understand.††

          Eight a.m. was somehow even earlier than usual today and autopilot was much in evidence.  I was just recovering with a cup of tea and a bit of handbell bob major on Pooka††† when the phone rang and it was Amy, needing a last-minute fourth ringer tonight at Sox Episcopi.  Certainly, I’m not doing anything this afternoon but writing a novel.  It’s a good thing I left early, the church is completely invisible in the dark—even after I figured out by a process of crude elimination, consisting of driving through the village two or three times and turning around a lot, where it had to be I still couldn’t see it.  Even the lych-gate, favoured landmark of church-seekers all over these islands, is nestled in caliginous shrubbery—very tall caliginous shrubbery, so espying the steeple isn’t an option either.  Dranglefab.  And of course since you’re ringing before the service the church isn’t lit up yet. 

            Sox Episcopi’s bells are not possessed by demons in any of the standard ways.  but they’re itty-bitty tinkerbells, slightly larger than your standard 250ml wine glass but not by very much‡, and for those of us accustomed to more weight in the hand it’s a constant check and pull in so as not to yank one inadvertently out of the tower‡‡—and the ropes, furthermore, are about as thick and, crucially, as glossy as embroidery floss, which means you can’t get a grip.  It was a trifle exciting.  Amy wickedly had her hand through the bottom loop, which you must never, never, NEVER do, and I was ringing with my hands horizontal instead of vertical, my left hand creating a 90° bend in the rope as it fed through my right, to slow the oiled-pig slither down somewhat:  and little bells turn fast on their little wheels, so we were also going at almost handbell speed . . . gah.  I apologised at the end for having less than perfect control over my instrument, and Amy, bless her, apologised for dragging me away from a heap of warm hellhounds and said on the contrary, she was very grateful I’d said yes, because the bells were a bit tricky, and there were a lot of ringers she didn’t dare ask.  Flattery will get you everywhere:  Amy now has a slave for life.  If a somewhat insubordinate slave.  It had occurred to me as I was casting around in the dark for this legendary church which like Brigadoon only appears every hundred years and/or when it jolly well feels like it, that I could perhaps ask very submissively if there was any chance that Amy could come to New Arcadia tower practise this Friday?, because Niall and Penelope are going on holiday, I’ll be in charge, and I need supporters.‡‡‡ 

* * *

* Chiefly NOOOOOOOO.  GET AWAY FROM ME WITH THAT TINSEL.  It’s funny, you’d think I’d be delighted—any sparkle must be good sparkle, right?  Hmm.  It’s challenging, being a pink-glitter-loving grouch.  I wonder if I’d like the flash parts of Christmas any better if one of the denotative colours was pink?  My native extremism gets a workout around Christmas and Christmas doodah and fandangle however—I tend to want either NONE or TOO MUCH, and if you’re going to go for the latter it needs to be the right kind of too much, which is to say tacky, but even here there are pitfalls:  there’s a right and wrong tacky too.  This year like every year since we moved into town I will make excuses to walk past my favourite overstuffed garden of gewgaw delights as often as possible^ . . . and, for the last three blog-burdened years, to sigh over the impossibility of photographing it.  On the other hand, the two-storey inflatable Homer Simpson^^ remains in my mind as a touchstone, if perhaps not quite a shining light, of the Wrong Way to Go.^^^ 

^ I’m sure the hedges, fences and little public greens on that street are just as adequate for hellhound purposes as any others. 

^^ Which was not repeated after its first Christmas:  possibly the neighbours had no sense of humour. 

^^^ I have no sense of humour either.  Besides, he wasn’t even dressed up as Santa.  Or Rudolf.  Or even the Nuckelavee, although if one were feeling sufficiently unkind one might say he didn’t need to. 

** usually 

*** This includes not cringing when I see the RSPCA or the dog warden van go by because they probably won’t stop and talk to me about neglect and the importance of regular worming, etc. 

† Not least because by having kept their balls, they’re more robustly built, as I think Diane in MN pointed out. 

†† Although Peter obeys signals better. 

††† It’s working.  I’m afraid to tell Niall.  His face will light up in a truly ominous manner and he’ll start talking about Kent and Cambridge again.  This is a bit like a pianist who has finally mastered Three Blind Mice using both hands being assigned Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for next week.  

‡ This is bellringerspeak, you know.  The biggest bell is about 400 pounds.  Which is a pretty large wineglass really. 

‡‡ More bellringerspeak.  They’re up there with monster great frames and a lot of hardware.  But you could certainly break a stay, which would make you very, very unpopular. 

‡‡‡ Holidays, for pity’s sake.  Who needs holidays?  Although . . . if I’m getting into blackmail^ . . . I asked Niall in an insinuating fashion if there was any chance of ensorcelling him off to ring at Rumbelow some Sunday afternoon:  I’m not a beginner any more, but it still wouldn’t be at all a bad thing to be bringing along a really good ringer if you’re making an assault on a ring of notoriously difficult bells with a crack band, even if said crack band is avowedly desperate for any ringers for their second Sunday service.  He went away and consulted, and was advised that the marital CEO felt that he was already spending quite enough time ringing, thank you very much.^^  I happen to know however that he’s ringing handbells this evening and I’m wondering if some trade-off might be accomplished, possibly even including a lead or two of handbell Cambridge or Kent. . . . I can only die if my brain explodes. . . .

 ^ Saints preserve me, I’m turning into a politician

 ^^ I’ve heard a similar line myself, once or twice.  These tedious people with their ideas about moderation


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