May 27, 2011

Yet more high drama (and bats)


Another day bursting with incident and suitable for bullet points. Again I will restrain myself. I’ve never used bullet points yet and when frelling Word tries to insert them for me I grow wroth. But now that I am singing in a choir I need to stop screaming so much. Hard on the voice.

We had another Roarer and Gnasher today at the cottage—an even bigger one. I would be grateful if this one did the job, so that our cul de sac will stop ponging of sewage: today’s overflow of dirty water overflowed kind of a lot. Ewwwww. I’m wondering if I could persuade either of my uphill neighbours with outdoor taps to hose the remains down a bit. The Roarer and Gnasher’s inescapable presence meant I needed extra caffeine to get going this morning, and I still got off late, although this has something to do with how late choir rehearsal runs.* I then complicated my life by finding some idiot child’s expensive bus pass, presumably fallen out of a pocket or knapsack**, on the river path during the morning hurtle. I did ring the school without much hope and they said oh, yes, pleeeease return it. So I was then late to Oisin because I had to fight my way through the crowds, as it turned out, of school leavers’ last day, getting emotional all over the landscape. GAAAAH. I am so glad to be old.

I went to Muddlehampton choir rehearsal last night, I said to Oisin. Oh, did you, said Oisin, showing more teeth than was absolutely necessary. Yes, I said. Tell me about Ravenel, I added—our fearless choir director. Whom Oisin had rung up a fortnight or so ago to inquire why Muddlehampton wasn’t answering emails from faint-hearted potential new singers, and who had replied, just tell the little wet to come along. Urp. Well, I did, didn’t I? Anyway.

Why are you asking? said Oisin. Because he gives the impression of being fierce and dangerous, I said, masquerading as kind and friendly.

He was a teacher for many years, said Oisin, head of the music department at Klangfarbenmelodie Academy. And how do you think you get results?

Oh, I said. Good point.

I had also brought all my music. I’m being dropped in it at Muddlehampton, because they’re already about a third of the way through rehearsal for their summer concert AAAAAUUGH, my own fault for not pursuing those unanswered emails sooner, but most of the playlist is fancy arrangements of folk songs with which I have some acquaintance, so learning the music at a dead run is at least possible. But this is also why I went for the sopranos: there weren’t enough of us to hide behind, but at least we were mostly doing the melody, and the little descants and things are pretty straightforward. But I’m rhythm challenged—see: learning to change-ring—so all that fancy cutting around among the different lines that choral composers are so enamoured of and, worse, constant frelling changing of time signatures, make me crazy. There was a lot of fast off-the-beat stuff in one of the songs that I just stood there looking like a dope for because I couldn’t even count it, let alone have a crash at coming it at the right place. So I brought that along for Oisin to tell me how to COUNT IT. Now let’s see if I remember till tomorrow. . . .

But the fun was that I’d also brought the book of Britten folk-song arrangements that I’m using for lessons with Nadia. But Nadia doesn’t play the piano; when I sing she plays the melody plus an occasional chord with one and a half hands, approximately, to give me something to, you know, hang around with, so I don’t have to be all alone out there. And while I was Not in Good Voice Even As My Voice Goes—and bad singing with a good accompanist kind of makes it worse—singing O Waly Waly and The Ash Grove with Oisin doing the real piano thing was enormous fun. I at least knew what O Waly Waly ought to sound like; it seems to be a favourite concert encore with certain classical singers. But Ash Grove, I had no idea . . . it starts out sounding fairly straightforward and then goes off the rails in a big way. What a, you should forgive the term, hoot. I wish I sang better. SIIIIIIGH.

I liked the Bat Lady. She’s really young—and Goth***. And clearly loves her bats. She was brisk about my attic, however, and said that there are still lots of cracks a bat could get through; what you could poke a pencil through is still too large. Bats can turn themselves into sheets of paper and slip under draught-proof doors; bats can turn themselves into .5 mm knitting needles and extrude themselves through invisible holes. The good news is that while you can’t use expanding foam (which I’d already been told by somebody or other) you can use ordinary polyfilla to block bat-holes. So. I have a few more nights of the attic bat-blizzard, as I think ajlr put it, and Monday I will arm Atlas with the biggest tub of polyfilla the local builders’ merchants can provide and . . .

The Bat Lady also suggested that the reason they chose this year to come through into my attic—since the cracks have been there since the cowboy plumber performed his botch some time during my predecessor’s tenancy—may be because of the drought. They can smell the water in the attic tanks. This makes perfect sense and I like it a lot better than the idea that this year’s 1246 bats are looking to expand their territory. She says that a nursery as big as this is likelier to be soprano pipistrelles than the common ones; it’s the sopranos that go for the huge groups.† She also runs a bat hospital and orphanage††—in Mauncester. And I’m wondering if she ever gives, you know, tours. . . .

All right, this is already too long, you’ll just have to guess about bell practise.

* * *

* I will have to get used to this.

** The child in question may in fact be a paragon of studiousness and responsibility and be in an agony of self-reproach for having lost its bus pass. But I doubt it.

*** Speaking of the dangerous possibilities of the manifestations of hellgoddess energy, how suitable is that? She was dressed down, I assume, for her professional appearances: I want to see her on a Saturday night. Except that on Saturday night she’ll probably be in a loft somewhere with a lot of bat-measuring equipment and a lot of bats. She keeps worse hours than I do: she has a bat gig beginning at 3 am tonight. 

Diane in MN wrote:

Tabitha gave me a stern lecture on Creating Your Own Reality/Positive Thinking, and the downward spiral of fretting.

No doubt fretting can lead to a downward spiral, but I would not myself hold out much hope for creating your own reality, and positive thinking will, alas, probably not produce a bat-free attic. (And all the positive thinking in the world would not resign me to the prospect of bat guano on my cashmere sweaters.)

CathyR added: I’m afraid that’s also my view entirely.

I was being slightly tongue in cheek, but I may also believe more strongly in the effect the mind has than you do. I hate hate HATE the self-righteous morons who declaim about how Thinking the Right Thoughts Will Keep You Healthy—that’s just another form of blaming the victim, which makes me froth at the mouth. The last thing someone suffering from x, y or z needs to hear is that they brought it on themselves: illness is enough of a ratbag—you don’t need any help wondering about what you should have done differently, or feeling down and depressed. But I’m a homeopath, and in homeopathy mind and body are all the same critter: treat or affect one and you treat and affect the other, not that the lines are ever clear, that would be much too easy. While constructive worry can do useful work, what I’m calling fretting does only pull you down. And creating your own reality in my view is to do with finding a good recipe for lemonade when all you’ve got is lemons, not giving yourself a headache trying to turn them into pomegranates by mind-waves.

But I may be just a little shrill when I laugh about a hellgoddess and her hellhounds clearly having attracted attendant bats, and I think it’s too delicious that the Bat Lady is a (tactful) Goth.

—And remember that my bats’ crap is relatively benign. The Bat Lady says that it’ll look rather like mouse droppings, but it’s very dry and crumbles into dust. The ‘crumbles into dust and doesn’t mark your cashmere sweaters’ is the part I knew.

†Speaking of strange energies. Why was I compelled to join the sopranos last night? Hee hee hee hee hee. Oh, and soprano pipistrelles are common too, it’s just that the Common Pipistrelle is the original one’s name. They didn’t figure out that the sopranos existed as a separate beastie until fairly recently.



Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.