December 31, 2010

Why Do I Seem Do Be Having Kind of a Lot of Really Stupid Days?

 

I woke up last night because there was a Funny Noise.  And I lay there for a while, the way you do when you wake up at an inappropriate hour, and then I got up for a pee, because I was awake, and it’s what you do when you wake up, or I do anyway, and then I went back to bed, and there was still a Funny Noise.  Eventually I woke up enough to realise that it was the sound of the washing machine.*   Spinning.  And spinning.  And spinning.  And . . . I got up again, went downstairs, and pushed the dial along a click, till it stopped spinning.  And went back to bed.  When I got up (later) this morning I looked at the washing machine**.  It looked the way it always does.  I decided that it was probably fine, and that being awake at an hour you should be asleep does strange things to your sense of the passing of time, and it hadn’t really been spinning and spinning and spinning AND SPINNING.  But I also decided not to put another load on right away.***

            But I had handbellers coming this afternoon and the cottage is even more of a tip than usual, which is to say there are narrow winding paths among the stuff for access† and that’s about it, and I’ve got to be able to get at least one of those kitchen chairs into the sitting room.  And in case someone wants the loo, I should probably render the stairs slightly less an insurance adjuster’s nightmare, which means I need to unpack that new box of household apparatus†† . . . at the bottom of which is the mat I ordered to go under my desk in the hope of stopping my desk chair from eating holes in the carpet.  Do you know about Turtle Mats?†††  You put one down inside your front door and as you walk across it in your scandalously muddy hiking boots‡ there is this strange intense sucking sensation and when you get to the other side of the mat your boots are mysteriously SPOTLESS!  —I wish.  But they are good, and I have several‡‡ posted at various doors and perilous interior crossroads.  But they cost a bomb, and I’m planning to have changed my shoes before I sit down at my desk‡‡‡, so this new mat is a Turtle-type knock-off.  And I lifted it out of its plastic wrapper . . . and it promptly spilled a quarter inch of loose fluff all over the carpet.  I don’t have time to hoover. . . .

            As a result§ we got off on our hurtle unusually late, we got down to the mews for lunch unusually late, and we had then to flee back to the cottage almost at once because I had an appointment§§ to talk to Hannah before my handbellers arrived.

            She got the time wrong.  She didn’t ring.

            So I dithered around the cottage finding things that weren’t hoovering to do and glaring at the non-ringing phone . . . and when my handbellers showed up I was out on the front step trying to replace the outside light which burnt out weeks ago but the thing is a sod to replace and takes infinite twiddling, beseeching, and the offering of burnt sacrifices§§§ to deign to accept a new bulb and is absolutely not something you want to be standing around doing in the recent weather.  I wasn’t really in the mood for fighting with inanimate objects so Niall took the new bulb away from me and said he’d have a go and Fernanda and I went indoors and . . .

            . . . there was another Funny Noise and all the lights went out.  And there was a long, mournful wail from upstairs, which was the external battery/surge protector/ridiculously large black box under my desk which I’m always stubbing my feet on, declaring an assault from a hostile force on my computer.  Fortunately my torch# was where it should be, and nothing had blown, only the breaker switch had flipped over, and I flipped it back and the lights came back on but my computer did not.  You should just press the ominously-flashing blue button on the front of the box and it should stop howling like a Bedlamite and the computer should leap into action.  No.  Meanwhile I can hear bells being brought out and passed around so I went downstairs again, doing a little wailing of my own, to be a Good Handbell Host . . .

            Niall did get my computer going again.  And I’ll phone the electrician tomorrow about the frelling porch light.  But did I mention that I’d started another load of laundry while I was waiting for Hannah to ring?  It reached its peroration shortly before our tea break.  And it spun and spun and spun and spun and spun. . . .

            I can’t afford a new washing machine.  I have to buy a camera.### 

* * *

* I like lying in bed listening to the washing machine.  This is pathetic, right?  I found out I like lying in bed listening to the washing machine because I often put a load on last thing at night—partly because sorting out a wash is a useful type of needs-only-half-a-brain thing to do when you should have been in bed hours ago and while you’re waiting to find out if frelling hellhounds are going to eat their final frelling snack or not, and partly because as I lie in bed thinking about the manifold disasters of the day just past I can tell myself ‘at least I got the laundry started.’  And it’s a restful sort of noise.  Sloosh-slosh.  Sloosh-slosh.     

** And it looked at me. 

*** I’m doing hellhound bedding at the moment.  The horror, the horror. 

† It’s a narrow, if straight, path between the kitchen table and the Winter Table over the hellhound crate which has nothing to do with how many magazines I subscribe to. 

†† You know, the brush/broom/mop/duster/cleaning fluid/small electric goblin with three-speed rotating claws that is finally going to solve your worst cleaning problems . . . plus refills of the stuff you actually use.  

††† http://www.turtlemat.co.uk/ 

‡ Hurtling, in the company of hellhounds, around town WEARING ALL-STARS!!!!  YAAAAAAY!  This is on pavement, mind you:  the countryside is MUD.  But . . . rock-hardness with non-optional slither is returning . . . winter is coming back.  This weekend.  Whimper. 

‡‡ The silly ones of course. 

‡‡‡ Inspiration, as you rush indoors again from a particularly fruitful hurtle,^ can be quite a compelling thing, but usually not that compelling. 

^ “Only those thoughts that come by walking have any value.”  Friedrich Nietzsche.  He went mad, you know. 

§ No, not of hoovering.  Of sitting down for five minutes to read a nice soothing chapter in some book or other and . . . 

§§ Yes, we have to do it this way or we would never talk to each other.  She has a life.  I have superfluities in a number of areas:  hellhounds, bells, music, houses and . . . I hope . . . gardens with roses in them^, as well as an established habit of not answering a ringing phone if I’m not in the mood. 

^ What the hell am I going to do about the cottage garden—which is mostly in pots since all the plumbing in Hampshire runs one-half inch under the surface of the apparent earth—if we do keep on having these severe winters?  I’m dreading finding out how much I’ve lost, come April.  I know I’ve said this before.  I’ll say it again.  I’ll probably be screaming in April. 

§§§ That would be your fingers. 

# flashlight 

## Hannah—we talked later—got a Canon S95 for Christmas.  She loves it.  But she doesn’t have faster-than-a-speeding-digital-compact hellhounds.

San Francisco Bay PRC Report – Black Bear

 

Just before the rush of holidays is of course right when work gets the craziest, errands need to be run, pets demand attention, house requires cleaning… and PRC photos and reports begin streaming in from all fronts.  All these things conspired to prevent me from getting timely posts up for several of our December events, and I deeply apologize for those of you who’ve been patiently waiting for your PRCs to appear on the blog.   (I’m also hampered by having come down with a wretched cold; working at the world’s largest children’s museum means I am exposed to the world’s largest collection of viruses on a daily basis, and no amount of hand sanitizer can resist the onslaught of our holiday traffic increase….)  Anyway, I’m going to make it all up to you.  Today I present you with Equus Pedus’ report for the Bay Area PRC, with photos of tasty treats.  Future posts will combine a series of shorter reports from sundry parties, and we’ll finish off with a report of the Urbana Free Library event, which I can personally attest was fabulous!  Then in January we’ll have a roundup and the drawing for the signed copies of Pegasus.

****IF YOU HELD A PRC AND HAVE NOT SENT ME YOUR LIST OF ATTENDEES YET, PLEEEEASE DO IT NOWWWWW!!!**** 
I don’t want to have to drag this out, so the absolutely final cutoff for sending me names of attendees from your party is January 7.

Now, without further ado, I give you–Equus_Pedus:

Six of us gathered at Crixa Cakes over a variety of baked goods and coffee or chocolate based beverages. As only three of us had finished Pegasus (at least one person is holding out til the 2nd volume is available), we instead talked about other McKinley books, non-McKinley books, interesting people of our acquaintances, food, and pets. There are hopes for future gatherings. Aelia chose to remove herself from the raffle due to a lack of wallspace and already owning Pegasus. She drew Marina from the Hat to take home the book, while Sharon and equus_peduus received the posters. Attendees were Marina, Aelia, equus_peduus, Sequoia_sempervirens, and a couple lurkers, Kate and Sharon. While we did not photograph the actual people, we did photograph their baked goods…

 

Marina started with a slice each of Fresh Ginger Cake and Pumpkin Pie.

Sharon had eaten half her Krendel before I got to it with a camera.

Kate's Ginger Cake is posing with the poster, the raffle-copy of Pegasus and the Raffle Hat.

The hot chocolate about to be consumed by equus_peduus sports a fluffy pile of foamed milk.

Kate had The Last Romantic - an intense, bittersweet hot chocolate - and just to show how much more intense it was than the standard hot chocolate, here are the two cups next to each other.

Aelia enjoyed a slice of Black Forest Cake (which then led to a conversation about bees and Marachino cherries).

Sequoia's piece of Jamaican Rum Chocolate Mousse Cake is seen next to two copies of Pegasus. Marina's help was enlisted to help finish the cake, much to her undismay.

Sequoia subsequently posed with a poster, her accidental slice of Pumpkin Spice Cake, some tea, and most of the McKinley books that made it to the meet. This was then followed by some pumpkin pie (not pictured).

Weather and other circumstances*

 

IT’S MELTING.  One inexperienced with winter could be forgiven for leaping to the distressing conclusion that the entire countryside is melting, the way it goes from ice to MUD in one easy step.  But the temperature dragged itself above freezing yesterday and has been marching doggedly** up that hill since, to the point I shifted down a gear (so to speak) when I got dressed this morning:  I was becoming kind of tired of my few heavy woollies because I had got rid of most of my old Maine paraphernalia when we moved out of the old house, since in thirteen years I’d hardly worn any of it.***  So today I’m wearing nice little mild, temperate English layers.  And am not weighed down to the chair.  There are all kinds of things I’d forgotten about withstanding winter.  Which will be back in a week or so I guess, but meanwhile . . . maybe Peter and I should make a bolt to Wisley† while the bolting is good.

            Because most of the hellhounds and my favourite walks†† involve tiny back roads and Wolfgang we haven’t been on any much recently.†††  The last three days we’ve finally been getting back out of town again and it’s quite ridiculously thrilling.  Distant horizon with a crest of tall trees, wind in your face, rabbits dancing in the furrows, hellhounds trying to yank your shoulders out of their sockets on account of the dancing rabbits‡.  Now if I only had a camera to take pictures. 

* * *

* I’m still reading camera reviews.  AAAAAAUGH.  I had pretty much decided on one because it seemed to me the best compromise of the things I wanted:  excellent picture quality, speed of reaction for chasing hellhounds, macro for getting into my roses’ faces, low-light cope-withableness for indoor nonsense including being able to turn the flash OFF and jiggle with manual settings, relative idiot-proofness on the surface but with Hidden Depths tucked away safely in menus and things for some day I’m feeling brave.  And size.  Geez Louise, the things that get labelled compact and pocket sized.  If you’re a kangaroo or a pelican, possibly.   I also flatly deny that anything with interchangeable lenses IS A COMPACT.  If you have more than one lens, you have to have a camera bag.  This is not compact.  This is not compact.^

            So.  Anyway.  There was a clear winner^^ on all fronts . . . until I looked at the specs again and realised that the site that likes my choice best, and which I’ve therefore been using for that one as I play cut-and-compare with my Internet Explorer tabs, lists physical dimensions in a different order than the sites for the other contenders—height before length.  So in fact my front-runner isn’t the smallest but the largest.

            AAAAAAAAUGH. 

^ Also, my inner geek is showing, and despite my well-known weakness for pink, but I’m gobsmacked at the idea of buying a camera for the colour.  Yes, certainly if the model I chose came in pink, I’d get the pink.  And one or two of the runners-up may have stayed on the short list slightly longer than they might’ve on strictly their photographic merits because they did come in pink.  But I am not going to buy a camera for the colour. 

^^ I’m not giving you names and model numbers not to be cute, but because I’m still dithering, and I’m starting to suffer the freaked-out, hair-standing-on-end involuntary-wailing symptoms of information overload. 

** I’m trying to think what dogs are actually dogged.  Not hellhounds certainly. 

*** This is not the same thing as not complaining bitterly about the seriously frigid indoor temperatures.  55F/12C is positively balmy outdoors in January.  55F/12C is never balmy indoors.  I wore blankets indoors.  Mere jumpers and longjohns were gravely inadequate while you’re sitting quietly at your desk.

            I was considering leaving aside my longjohns tomorrow, when it may soar to 50F/10C.  But no.  That would be foolhardy.  I have a wedding to ring tomorrow at South Desuetude, and that tower is going to be opulently, awe-inspiringly cold.  I’m trying not to think what the ropes and the plain-bearing bells are going to be like. 

http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Wisley  Where we were going for Peter’s birthday a fortnight ago, only both a funeral and winter got in the way. 

†† All right, my favourite walks.  But hellhounds are quite capable of expressing BOREDOM if the weather has been insalubrious for too long and they’re seeing an awful lot of the same patch.  Spoilt?  My hellhounds?  Tut tut.  Although the cluelessness of dogs is one of their many charms.  They may worry about stuff—and both mine are worriers—but some things are given.  Like chicken.^  And daily hurtles.  They may begin to approach crankiness if I’m taking way too long to hang the laundry/beat into submission one of the piles on my desk/write three syllables of PEG II but it clearly never occurs to them that I’m not going to take them out for a hurtle.  If the pacing indoors seems to be becoming a mite feverish I will offer them the garden door.  They go out for a final pee every night^^ perfectly contentedly but if I try to put them out in the morning they look at me in outrage.  Waste good marking pee on the garden?  I must be joking.  Now if I will please put my shoes on and get on with things. 

^ Including when they don’t want any.   

^^ Or not.  I think Chaos fancies himself an astronomer. 

††† One of the many things against winter is the amount of time it takes to kit yourself and your hellhounds out to face the elements.  Good frelling grief.  And yaktrax, passionately as I adore them, become a yes-no-yes-no agonising decision to be made before every excursion as soon as winter starts getting worn through in a few places.  You feel a bit foolish looking for the bad patches to give your yaktrax something to bite into, but if you wear them on pavement they start breaking.  My first pair are still working, but they’ve snapped in enough places that I have to wind the little steel spirals back on the rubber straps before I go out again.  Gaah.  Meanwhile the worst stretch of road in this entire ungleblarging town has been the exasperatingly looong driveway to the Big Pink Blot of which Peter’s cottage is a part of the mews.  The drive was carved languorously out of the landscape in the days when the owners of the Big Pink Blot would, of course, have had servants’ attics full of peons suitable for applying to snow-accumulation difficulties as necessary.  Wolfgang, being four-wheeled rather as the hellhounds are four-legged, can slide majestically round the corner into the courtyard with occasional directional corrections rather like astronauts applying retrorocket bursts.  Me . . . not so much.  So to get in and out of my cul de sac and in and out of the mews on foot I have to wear my yaktrax even as most of the pedestrian pavement elsewhere is beginning to re-emerge.  Thus reality.  Fantasy is so to be preferred. 

NOOOO.  Hellhounds have a sad inability to recognise the difference between cultivated and uncultivated ground.  I’ve explained to them that rabbits have generally not been well brought up, and just because they play in a planted field or a standing crop doesn’t mean that we should.

Camera

 

I’ve been reading CAMERA REVIEWS all day and my brain exploded at least two hours ago.  I am presently running on emergency battery power while urgent repairs are being made to the mains connections.

            There are several problems with choosing my new camera.  The first one is, of course, money.  The bank was curiously unsympathetic to my application for a third mortgage to pay for cereal-free dog kibble.*  My heart sinks at the prospect of convincing them that I need a fourth mortgage for a new camera.**  And while I have been very fond of my Canon Ixus 70 until it BROKE, I have also been increasingly aware of its shortcomings—indeed I have been brooding about A Proper Digital Camera since Tilda was here flashing hers.  And they all cost, you know?***  The only ones cheap enough not to rouse price resistance in a free-lance writer who needed a third mortgage to feed her digestively inconvenient hellhounds take crap photos.  I don’t like crap photos.  They make me unhappy.  And while photo quality for the blog as channelled through WordPress is something less than sublime, it would be even less than less than sublime if the originals were crap before they got channelled. 

            Decades ago I was the kind of snob who took slides.  I did eventually stoop to film, but I cushioned the blow to my ego by buying a really nice camera—one of the classic old Nikon manuals, found (with some help from a friend) at a snooty second-hand camera shop.  And a fancy lens or two.  I even at last bought a camera with an automatic function—such a sad failure of principles, although it then meant I could leave my fancy macro lens on the old manual and not have to faff around with frelling lenses when there’s a bumblebee on that rose or a green woodpecker on the lawn right now—and I was still taking little metal cylinders along to the camera shop as their turnaround speed declined from overnight to five working days to a fortnight. 

            Someone gave me a cheap digital camera while we were still at the old house and I reluctantly allowed myself to be taught how to use it, but—why?  I took much better photos with my outmoded kit. 

            And then I developed a severe case of hellhound puppies.  I got through their infancy with my old cameras, but digital tech had improved in the five or so years since I’d last tried it, and Peter bought me a much nicer cheap point and shoot—partly on the grounds that he could perhaps also take photos of the three of us.  That adorable pair of photos of sweet cuddly puppies and ravening hellhounds in my lap are Peter and the cheapie.  The cheapie, in fact, is still with us and, fresh batteries installed, working—the two photos of presents under the additionally-decorated tree are the cheapie’s work.  But it functions at about daguerreotype speed—you can sing the first verse of the Marseillaise while waiting for the click after you’ve pressed the shutter button.  Take photos of hurtling hellhounds?  Not a hope.  Fairies at the bottom of the garden are a better chance.

            I had finally caught the, er, digitally enhanced shutterbug, however.  But in those days Asmodeus still reigned over all aspects of my electronic life, and I simply rang him up and said I wanted a digital camera.  One that would fit in a pocket and wouldn’t strain my technological ingenuity.  He turned up a day or six later with the Canon.  Which has been a faithful workhorse—although I feel it might have chosen some other day than Christmas to depart this mortal coil—for two and a half years.

            And Asmodeus has gone on to higher (or, possibly, lower) things, and the current Computer & Expanded Fiendish Technology Men, Raphael and Gabriel, are milder creatures generally . . . and besides I don’t FEEL like waiting till the holidays are over to ask their advice.  I am surrounded constantly by photo opportunities and every one I miss is a sharp kick in the solar plexus of a daily blog post.†  Also having a little insta-shoot in my hip pocket is now a given part of my life.  Its absence makes me feel all shaky and insecure†† (perhaps not only due to the dreadful awareness of that daily post).

            But with addiction comes the need for an ever sharper and more extreme buzz.   When I got the Canon Ixus it was a fabulous new toy and everything about it was clever and charming.  And I wouldn’t be looking to change it if it were still in service.  But it’s not.  And if I’m going to pay serious money for decent picture quality and shutter speed . . . I’d better be frelling getting better than decent picture quality and cracking shutter speed.  I want an upgrade on the Canon.  Apparently, unfortunately, I want an ‘advanced’ compact which is to say the thing a professional photographer throws casually into his/her back pocket for inconspicuous use when s/he is hitting the street in pursuit of Pulitzer Prizes.†††  Why isn’t there an excellent picture quality/fast shutter speed camera without a lot of bells and whistles?  I don’t even understand the reviews I’m reading:  my comprehension of photographic jargon goes no farther than f-stops and ISO.  RAW would be what, aside from what I don’t feed hellhounds?

            Stay tuned.‡

* * *

* Eventually I put an ad in the local paper for a little old lady, explained the problem, dressed her up as a Queen Victoria look-alike (circa 1900), took her along to the accounts manager and claimed she was my aged aunt and that I needed to make certain further structural changes to Third House so she could live there.^  She had the accounts manager eating out of her hand.  Her fee was a lifetime supply of tea and hot buttered scones, delivered daily by a personable young man, and an amusing new blog entry to read while she consumed them.  Now you know the real reason I’m so pathologically regular about posting.  Geraldine is a hard bargainer, and hellhounds must have their kibble. 

^ She’s spent all her life in the TROPICS so the main one is a REALLY BIG CONSERVATORY.  Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha. 

** To take pictures of hellhounds for the blog. It’s all connected.  I suppose Geraldine might have a cousin also in need of housing. . . . 

*** Yes.  I’m sure you know. 

† As Geraldine would be the first to point out. 

†† Last two days Hampshire has been going nyah, nyah, nyah, photograph me, go on, I dare you.  Yesterday we had ice fog, which is not very friendly^ but it sure is gorgeous to look at, and today we just had Dim Blue Winter Horizon™ which convinces me every time that Middle Earth is just over that ridge over there.  Although I’d quite like to know what state the place is in vis à vis Sauron and the return of the King and so on before I try to confirm my suspicion.

            Yes, it’s true, I could be taking the cheapie with me on our hurtles, but my heart’s not in it.    Hampshire countryside is only at its best when complemented by hellhounds. 

^ And it was 22F/-5C when we went out and 34F/+1C when we got back, which makes the responsibility for dressing all of us rather onerous:  and hellhounds don’t have waists suitable for tying unwanted garments around.  Nor do their coats go in for sleeves suitable for tying. 

††† Or when said obsessive professional photographer has been informed by nearest and dearest that they’re going on holiday and the camera gear is being left behind. 

‡ And to all of you who posted suggestions in response to my query for recs on Twitter:  thank you.  And if any forum or Facebook members would like to weigh in with their experiences of good quality pocket sized digital cameras please feel free to confuse me more than I am already.

TECHNOLOGY. JUST SAY NO.

 

[Am attempting to eat a turkey drumstick with one hand.  It is making typing . . . interesting.] 

I. AM. NEVER. DOING. THIS. TWO-BOOK. STORY. THING. AGAIN. *   If PEG II were a proper sequel—which is to say, for the purposes of this argument, a separate book with the same characters, carrying on from the previous but not necessary to prevent said previous from falling over like a pogo stick with no one pogoing, I would not be sweating it quite as hard as indeed I am.**  But I am deeply not to say nervously aware of rather a number of readers fixing me with beady little eyes—not unlike hellhounds expecting a hurtle, as I think about it—in, you know, expectation.  Eeeeep.  I have never been a fast writer and this isn’t the first time that every paragraph has had to be chipped from granite . . . but I do think it is UNKIND of the Story Fairy to be doing this to me over the second half of a story that is already OUT THERE.  Between covers.  Making other people crazy.  And with a deadline that in this case means something.  Like that my life will not be worth tuppence if I miss it.

            Fortunately there is email.***  This came in a few days ago and yes I did ask her if I could quote it here. 

I am a big fan of your books and writing style.  So when I heard about Pegasus I put in an order and waited, and waited, with I will admit not the best patience.  So as soon as I received the book I gave it as much time as I could squeeze out of my crazy days (my 3 daughters are my own personal hellhounds – which I say with the greatest of Motherly Love & Pride) and I must say I LOVED every minute .  It is now my favorite of your works.  You have created a truly beautiful and captivating world.  And I compliment your master ability to relay this world to the reader.  I have been re-reading your earlier books (Beauty, Hero & Crown, Blue Sword) in introduction to my 13 year old who is just now getting the reading bug.  And I enjoyed seeing the increase of your skills from these books to Pegasus.  It is nice to see a writer grow in ability and versatility.  I always feel sorry for the authors of that “great novel” you love and then the poor shadow of the original which follows, and follows, and follows.  I have never found any of your books to be this.  Each has seemed to me new, fresh, and exciting, yet familiar and comfortable like a dear friend with whom you are reconnecting and catching up. 
            As for Pegasus… I honestly really looked at my hands and felt uncomfortable in my own human skin imagining Sylvi in Rhiandomeer surrounded by such eloquent grace as you describe.  It was like being a teenager all over again walking down the halls at high school and watching other girls as they just seem to glide.  I must say I was greatly relieved by the notice on your web site of Pegasus II in 2012.  I was shocked by the “non-ending” at the end, even thought for a moment that the publisher had accidentally printed & bound my copy without the final chapters.  All of your other books that I have read (which is a lot if not all of your published works) have a resolution but plenty of room for the novels world to continue on in the readers imagination.  So thank you in advance for Pegasus II.  I did mention that I don’t have the best patience but I will try to wait… after all 2011 is just around the corner.  Please just make sure that you release it before the so called “2012 end of the world”, because what if they are right? Then I would really be left wondering how Sylvi and Ebon kick Fthoom in the ass, how far he goes, and just how much he liked flying, LOL.
 
Thanks.

Thank you.  I will sit up straighter and sharpen the trowel—er—dinosaur bone—er—reed—stylus—er—peacock feather—er—pointy end of the Story Fairy—with better heart and confidence in appreciation of your words.

As it happens Black Bear sent me this link on the same day, on the subject of the ratbaggery of cliffhangers: 

http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1866 

Snork. 

. . . . And at this point our regularly scheduled programme, or rather, our prospectively scheduled programme, since I was going to spend some time blethering about the wonders of the Hampshire countryside in company of hellhounds in an expanded version of my morning tweets, has been HIJACKED BY THE ANTI-WONDERS OF TECHNOLOGY.

            ARRRRRGH!!!!!!!.  MORE ARRGGGGGH!  MORE!!!  ARRRRRGH!!!  Have been attempting not only to eat turkey drumstick with one hand but also to load up Pooka with more music.  Er.  With the other hand.†  I had a hissy fit recently and ripped every multiple-disc set back off the Walkperson again because I was TIRED of playing hide and seek with what its database wanted to file different discs in the same set under.  So SWEENEY TODD was under Original Cast and Various, neither of which is exactly the first thing you think of when you want to listen to SWEENEY TODD and, furthermore, having managed to remember Original Cast and Various, the playlist only appears after you’ve hit the ‘play’ button, so if you’ve guessed wrong about which is disc one, you have to start all over, and the ‘library’ function on the Walkperson is not the finest at the best of times, and the best of times does not include juggling two hellhound leads, especially in the winter with gloves on.  And if furthermore you’re post menopausal and memory challenged and perhaps you played disc one but not disc two a few days ago you may have TO GO THROUGH ALL THIS AGAIN TO FIND DISC TWO.

            So I decided to move the multi-discs to Pooka, my iPhone, who is generally saner about these things.  I loaded THE MIKADO with no trouble and moved directly on to SWEENEY, since SWEENEY, after all, is necessary to my mental health†† while Gilbert and Sullivan are mere pleasant fripperies.  It loaded, so far as I know now, without trouble.  The trouble began when I asked it to ‘import artwork’.  It imported the wrong artwork—from another SWEENEY recording.  I stared at it in dismay and then tried to figure out how to delete it by poking around in the little info folders you’re offered.  I didn’t touch anything, I swear.  There didn’t seem to be any options for ‘have downloaded wrong thing because I am fathead/was programmed by fathead/am tired/hung over/wasn’t paying attention/who does this kind of thing the day after Christmas anyway? Wetware, spare me, next time I want to be on an unpersonned probe to Hoag’s Object’.   And when I came back out of the series of useless nesting-doll folders I discovered that Pooka’s ‘music library’ had had a nervous breakdown AND PRODUCED TWO COPIES OF EACH INDIVIDUAL SONG . . . AND DISPLAYED EACH INDIVIDUAL SONG AS A   S E P A R A T E   F O L D E R.    Would you like to know how many songs there are on disc one of SWEENEY TODD?  Twenty-one.  That means I suddenly had FORTY TWO NEW FOLDERS.

            I deleted them.  Painfully.  There may be a way to do a global sweep-up of proliferating folders, but I don’t know what it is.  And I want my SWEENEY.  While I was catching my breath, I loaded disc two.  It loaded.  I did not do anything provocative like ask for artwork . . . and it slid quietly into the library as disc two.  Encouraged, I reloaded disc one . . .

            AND THE SAME THING HAPPENED AS THE FIRST TIME.  No, not quite the same thing.  This time there was only one copy of each song.  Progress.

            Not enough progress.  I deleted the f****** again.  I also emptied the recycle bin, just in case there was some kind of demonic loop thing going on, although I’ve deleted other albums without their zombies rising from the grave to chomp me. 

            I loaded it again.  This time there are only twelve different folders . . . but I’m getting tired.  So I created a new playlist and started dragging the little sods in . . . and discovered that with all the other mayhem going on, the twelve folders actually add up to more than twenty one songs:  the library gremlin is suddenly trying to be helpful, and kept doing the pop-up box trick and saying, there is more than one copy of blithery bligh, do you wish to duplicate?  NO I DO NOT WISH TO FRELLING DUPLICATE.

            So, with the aid of the CD playlist I have recreated disc one—and copied the freller to my desktop in case of accidents.  But . . . why?  And is there Any Hope of One Day Having A Single Folder for SWEENEY TODD disc one?  As questions for the ages go I don’t suppose that’s in the top ten . . . but it looms in my life.

            Meanwhile, under the stress of the moment I have not only finished the turkey drumstick and a mince pie, but an entire bar of Green & Black’s.  Oops.  

* * *

* As if I had any say in the matter.  Sigh. 

** Would that this translated into the burning of more calories and the positive NEED for more chocolate, but unfortunately this is not the case.

*** Occasionally not so fortunately.  But I try not to quote those since the annotations would inevitably break the Language Suitable for the Entire Frelling Family rule.

† Am now typing with prehensile hellhound. 

†† I am aware this is not flattering to my mental health

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