It has been a day of such protracted high drama I feel I should do tonight’s blog in bullet points. I will restrain myself. Well, from bullet points.
I was awakened this morning at an Ungodly Hour by the sound of someone knocking on my door. I opened one eye. And heard someone saying . . . in case they want to move their cars first. I was considering answering the door—I usually do consider answering the door if someone knocks on it: I realise this will come as a shock to those of you I have trained in my hellgoddessy approach to life—but fortunately the implications of ‘move the car’ penetrated before I got very far. Get dressed enough to move the car? Move the car where? Get dressed enough to walk back from Third House having moved the car? No. Whatever drastic thing was about to happen, Wolfgang would just have to bear it.
I closed the eye again. ROAR ROAR ROAR ROAR ROAR grumblegrumblegrumblegrumble THUNK. BANG. creakycreakyleverleverlever FWANG. I rolled over and put a pillow over my head (again). This was arguably worse than bats. FRAKFRAKFRAK CLANG. I gave up on sleep eventually and got up and got dressed, but it was too late to move Wolfgang. Whatever the roarer and gnasher was about, it was up at the top of the hill, and Wolfgang was behind it.
So I rang the Bat Conservation Trust. Polite young man on the other end of the phone, very professionally soothing . . . until I got to the FOUR HUNDRED AND TEN bats part and I could hear him moving my spot of bother up a category or two.* I’ve had several people who Shall Remain Nameless tell me that the last thing I should have done is ring up the official bat admin, because all they are interested in is bat welfare and if the bats want my house I can move into a tent in the back garden. Too late now. But I don’t want to drive my bats out or close down my nursery or anything—to try to do which would be illegal, just by the way—I only want them out of my attic, and it seems reasonable that the Official Bat Admin People would know the most about bats . . . ? Well. The Nice Young Man said he’d send me a Trained Bat Worker to advise me on my problem.
The attic in daylight looks very much like it always used to. Attic. Carpet. Chair. Geraniums. Small chest of drawers. Ridiculous paper star-lanterns left over from my predecessor. Yoga mats. Wall of Sweaters.** Stuff. This is the horror-movie element: you know how the pathetic, traumatised survivors of the night strike of the vampires/zombies/triffids/extra-large termites/killer rabbits totter out after dawn to stare hopelessly at the landscape that used to be theirs? Yes. And when I want a sweater or a pair of All Stars I brace myself. . . .
The Roarer and Gnasher was still at it, so I finally went out to inquire. Nice smiling man looked up from where he was obviously striving with a major underground demon*** despite the (presumed) assistance of a very large vehicle making loud lurid noises. Main sewer blocked up, he said cheerfully. Oh, ah, I said. Doooooo carry on.
Atlas arrived at about the point that the R&G and its wrangler moved to the bottom of the hill for a fresh assault on the demon. We conferred, and then hellhounds and I went off for a belated hurtle. When I got to the mews I felt the need to moan to additional people† so I emailed Niall, who replied:
….you lucky person….they’re not bats…they’re the embodied souls of your readers that have passed away and can’t bear to be parted from you. They know that if they just suck a little bit of your blood,…….they can become handbell ringers too!
Thanks. Never go to a bloke for sympathy. No, wait, never go to a handbell ringer for sympathy. But in fact I’ve been thinking . . . Tabitha gave me a stern lecture on Creating Your Own Reality/Positive Thinking, and the downward spiral of fretting. Yes. I know. It does no good at all, it wastes your energy, and it’s a downer. I still fret. But I can’t help feeling somehow mythically at least a trifle responsible for the Largest Bat Nursery in Hampshire: what more appropriate way for hellgoddess energy to manifest in this world? I may confuse the issue with bells and roses and knitting and singing . . . but the warm beating hearts at the cottage belong to two hellhounds and a hellgoddess. And ninety squillion bats.
So after this unsatisfactory exchange with Niall I settled down to a little handbell practise and . . . discovered, of course, that (almost) successfully ringing Cambridge in the tower last night has pretty well trashed my handbell Cambridge. GAAAAAH. Here I’ve just been thinking that I can finally see some useful relationship between learning methods on handbells and in the tower and . . . GAAAAAAH.†† I mean, I did a little homework last night, just in case I was going to get to ring Kent or Cambridge, and I felt I was risking enough by looking at two methods at the same time: this tends to result in Kridge or Cament. I suppose getting away with it last night had to come out somewhere. GAAAAAAAH. But I persevered. Because I am a sap.
And you know what? We’re beginning to stagger through to the end of a plain course of the wretched method—Cambridge, I mean, on handbells, not Kridge or Cament.††† I went into tonight’s practise thinking, you know, Cambridge on handbells may literally be too much for me. ‡ I may not be able to do this. And came out the other end thinking, no, damn it, I can do this. I just need a little more practise.
And so, suddenly and absurdly confident that I can do anything . . .
I went to Muddlehampton Choir practise tonight. Yeeeeeeeeeeep. . . .‡‡
* * *
* He also attempted to be reassuring by telling me that bat mums only have one offspring per year. I KNOW, I said. THAT’S STILL EIGHT HUNDRED AND TWENTY BATS. —All right, more like six hundred and fourteen, assuming half of last year’s are the babies and half of them are boys. And that the girls all lived to grow up and get pregnant. And that my arithmetic has more of a clue than usual. Whatever. Lots of bats. Which seems to be the theme recently. Lots of bats.
** And backlist. The All Stars shelves climb up the chimney.
*** Possibly a zombie or vampire.
† And Peter has his own problems. We need a roarer and a gnasher down here to deal with his kitchen sink. I said this morning, it’s better than bats. I’m not sure about that, Peter said thoughtfully.
†† Niall is not helping. He says I should be learning third or fourth place bell for the tower because it will blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah and then Colin joins in and says oh yes blah blah blah BLAH BLAH BLAH and pretty soon they have peace in the Middle East and Obama elected for a second term. And I can ring a quarter peal of Bristol Surprise Maximus.
††† Although Colin has this hilarious habit when he and I have derailed yet another attempt—since it usually is one of us, it’s rarely Niall, although he goes wrong occasionally just to make us feel better—of saying, Robin, ignore me, you just hold your line and I’ll figure it out. CHANCE WOULD BE A FINE THING.
‡ I’ve said this before, haven’t I? It feels kind of familiar. Hey, Cambridge is hard. Even on one bell.
‡‡ Hint: all their sopranos were home with flu/young lovers/knitting deadlines. There were about twelve altos and . . . two sopranos. One of the altos switched sides. That made three sopranos.
I sang with the sopranos. And when he needed first and second sopranos that meant there were two of us. . . . I was not a credit to either Nadia or Oisin—or Blondel—but I sang.
Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.