February 24, 2011

One car, eight bells, and a large dark cloud of prospective dread


My sixteen-year-old hundred-and-fifteen-thousand-(and-five)-mile squeaky-steering dented-fender chipped-paint hellhound-haired mud-encrusted stuck-auto-windowed damaged-by-fire-lock* rattletrap beloved old car Wolfgang PASSED HIS ROAD TEST.  YAAAAAY.  In fact he passed it rather comprehensively.  All I got over the phone was that he was done and ready to be picked up so hellhounds and I hightailed it over green hill** and forested dale*** and when we arrived I cornered a Garage Man and said okay, now tell me the truth and he said, no, fine, you’ll need rear shocks† in a couple of months . . . really, the car’s fine. 

             YAAAAY.  I still have a live car.

            So we drove back to the cottage in triumph . . . thirty seconds before Niall arrived with handbells, although I’d actually passed him twice on the road as we crissed and crossed—this is the sort of thing that happens in a small town—which at least gave him warning that I was (a) around and (b) late-so-what-else-is-new.

athenapallas87 wrote:

Every time there’s a blog post about handbells, I feel like I’m reading about some sort of strange magic method from one of your novels, like kelar.# It’s all unfamiliar words to piece together into sense using context, and half the time I hover between absolute faith that it exists and wavering doubt that it’s all just made up.

#That would make you the plucky heroine learning the strange magic method, by the way.

It’s a tricky balance trying to decide how much to describe of one’s more tenebrous and arcane occupations.  I want you to have some kind of clue without boring you to death.  There are people who skip over the bell bits, and I get the occasional cranky email telling me that the writer is bored to death but . . . to some degree it again comes down to this is my blog and I have to keep myself amused first and while I do try to take into account that many of my readers are . . . er . . . more normal than I am, still, this is what I have to write about.   (I admit I doubt this is what either my agent or my publisher had in mind when they came after me with burning brands and told me I had to start a blog.)  As to the reality of handbells. . . . I suppose it’s a pity to make so mundane a remark as that there are a few method handbell videos on YouTube.  And I’m still totally planning on getting a video of Niall and me and two other victims—Colin presumably, I don’t know whether this would amuse Fernanda or not—ringing bob major.  I missed my chance:  I should have tried harder to get a video of Niall, Colin and me ringing bob minor, but I’m so ridiculously thrilled by ringing bob major nothing less will now do.  First, however, we have to get a trifle more reliable at it. 

            And the sad geeky truth is I feel like the plucky heroine, ringing bob major.  I’ve already referred to the extreme thrill of ringing the difficult inside pairs . . . but Colin, the ratbag, is agitating for us to get on and ring a few bobs and singles so we don’t start ringing by the tune.  Nooooo.  Waaaaaaah.  At the moment I’m an equal among equals—but this halcyon situation will disappear like roast chicken into a hungry hellhound†† as soon as we start ringing touches, because the others’ tower experience of bob major will instantly crush my tower nonexperience of bob major.  Sigh.  I’m not ready to let go of not being the least and last yet.

CathyR wrote:

. . . even as a total non-singer, I can appreciate that the thrill from singing must be qualitatively (and physically?) different from the (perhaps more intellectual – although I have been known to grin like a Cheshire Cat and jump around madly) satisfaction gained from ringing a method successfully.

When I start analysing it I start thinking maybe it isn’t that different.   But what someone else said—for singing you ARE the instrument.  Singing gives you a uniquely mad view of your own body—or unique in my experience.  And bell ringing is inevitably a team sport (unless you’re doing it with your iPhone).  What I’m LOOKING FORWARD to finding out is if singing in a group is more like bell ringing.

             And now . . . I was going to say something more about [whispers] knitting.†††  Geez, you guys.   But I have to go to bed early.  Because I have that second pestilential practise quarter peal to ring tomorrow.  And, please the gods, let me actually sleep the night before this one:  I have to ring inside.

* * *

* Although I’ve simply stopped locking him if it’s going to freeze.  If it may freeze.  If the hellebores are looking chilly.  If there is a fluffed-up robin [sic] on a nearby branch.  If the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars.  If it isn’t August.  

**And it has been such a gorgeous day—deepest gentlest spring which of course doesn’t say anything about tomorrow or next week, but for today it was glorious.  And the five miles to Warm Upford is shorter by daylight.  Not to mention that the worst mud-ravine did have a way around it—drat—although I had no way to know that last night in the dark.   I do carry a pocket torch as standard^ but you have to think it’s going to be worth using to go to the trouble of getting it out.^^  Also the gate at the far end of the field that detours around the real impassable abyss was open, but it’s a very long field to have to backtrack over and I would never have been able to find the way through the hedgerow in the dark.  Rural life is so complex. 

^Witness forum references to holding it in my teeth when picking up hellhound effluvia after dark in town.

^^ Ie with a large plastic rewind-handle-extending-lead in each hand. 

*** The last stretch to the garage is on the main road.  I had hellhounds snugged in on short lead and we were striding along, approaching a parking space that has been cut out of the bank, opposite one of those tiny humming barbed-wire-enclosed compounds beloved by the utilities industry.  In this case there was a BT car parked there—British Telecom, the UK’s answer to what used to be Ma Bell, but BT is not the colossus it once was either—and the BT man had already got out of the car and was crossing the road . . . when he caught sight of us, stopped dead in the middle of the road, turned, and zapped his car locks shut.  Snork.  Of course seeing us may have had nothing to do with his sudden realisation that he hadn’t locked his car^ . . . but it sure looked like it did.  We’re so dangerous

^ Maybe he was checking his weather aps for predictions of frost

† Sixteen years old is sixteen years old, and Wolfgang has earned the right to a new pair of shocks now and then.  But the fact that every time he goes in he has to have his steering rebalanced again gets a little . . . old.   I realise that VW is not BMW, but I feel it ought perhaps to have a little more of that famous German durability.  It’s not like I drive slalom courses over cobblestones at high speed:  just back country farm tracks at low speed.

†† A rare species, but there are sightings occasionally.

††† Some shockingly rude person on Twitter has suggested that I did not knit a whole half square last night at the Octopus, and demands photographic proof.  And then there’s the knitting books discussion.  And then there’s:


. . . keep scrolling.  With thanks to Sharyn November.


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