May 31, 2011

Navigational Follies


Today was Peter’s appointment for his bone-density scan at the St Frumentious hospital. I also had Fiona coming today. I had managed not to notice till about three days ago that both these momentous events were happening on the same day.* I knew next Tuesday was Peter’s bone scan. I knew next Tuesday was Fiona. I hadn’t registered that these were the, you know, same next Tuesday.

And then there was Atlas, who was coming back today** with a tube of crack-sealant suitable for keeping the Titanic afloat, assuming there had been divers in arctic gear standing by for the moment of impact. I was maybe a little preoccupied with thoughts of the cracks and the sealant, and the possibility of premature baby bats scuba-ing in my water tank. So when the hellhounds and I got back to the cottage after the morning hurtle, Fiona having arrived in the meanwhile, I didn’t immediately take note of her rather extraordinary headgear.

Then I took it away from her and made her take a photo of me.

Bats. It's BATS. And what's more, it's SPARKLY bats.

I also (excuses, excuses) had had another rotten night last night and was lurching around trying to remember anything at all,*** let alone details like bats and bone scans. I decided that in fact my lack of organizational skills in this instance was providential, and that Fiona could drive us to the hospital.

Mind you, I thought I was being a wimp. MANY people have told me that the St Frumentious hospital is really easy to find. Even Peter’s next-door neighbour, who, like myself, has the navigational skills of a wet rock, told me it was easy to find. Oh yes, she said. The very first roundabout after you come off the motorway has a sign for the hospital. NO PROBLEM. But I thought hey, Fiona, she’s here, why not. The bookshelves at Third House have been a disaster area for years, another month won’t hurt. If I don’t have to do the driving I might even make it to handbells this evening.

And then—and then!!!!! The next time I see Peter’s neighbour I am—I am—no, I am not, Peter has to live here. But I’m going to think about it. Fiona has a theory to do with the little-acknowledged St Frumentious Triangle. You can drive into it—there may be distant cackling noises, but you think it’s just the traffic—but once you’re there you will spiral endlessly in a mist of orange construction-warning cones† and signs directing you to the Harrumphadilly Household Recycling Centre—which apparently has outposts north, west, south, east, and grumplemow, the grumplemow being the giveaway that you have entered another dimension. I’m still not sure how we made it to the hospital. Maybe we didn’t make it to the hospital, maybe it was all a part of the hallucination . . . no, no, I’m sure we did make it, because we had a sub-Triangle experience, a sort of Hexagonatron, at the hospital, where there were lots and lots of signs, all of them telling us to go in a variety of wrong directions, so that we had paced out a ritual figure of great power by the time we arrived at our oft-deferred destination . . . causing the front desk check in to shut down with a snap moments before we arrived. We were thus left to make our wary way down a long dark deserted corridor to the very end where there was a sign saying bone density over the door, and on the door was another sign that said, Don’t knock. Sit down and shut up. We’ll come out and fetch you when we frelling well feel like it.

To my surprise, they did. Fetch Peter, that is. I assume they also gave him his scan. They at least implanted a memory to that effect. Fiona and I knitted.†† Then we leaped through the force field trying to compel us back the tortuous way we came, dodged the deadly laser blast and the bionic Rottweilers, attained Fiona’s car . . . and then we had to escape St Frumentius.  Preferably heading back toward New Arcadia and not the Aleutian Islands.  I know I saw a sign for the Aleutians.  That was just before we got back off the motorway and turned around.  Again.

Well, we did it. But it wasn’t easy. The next medical field trip that Peter needs, it’s either in Mauncester or I’m demanding the NHS provide us with a helicopter.  And I’ve put in for Fiona’s medal.  Although I imagine the bureaucratic details will be extreme.  They’ll probably try to insist that the St Frumentius Triangle doesn’t exist.

I even made it to handbells. Niall had told me that his Tuesday gang were meeting at his house tonight. He told me this somewhat emphatically, in the quiet, relentless, tunnel-vision Niall-about-handbells way, which is to say that even after I made a TOTAL rat’s ass of tower practise last night††† he reminded me brightly that there were handbells tonight. I emailed him this morning during one of my breaks for more caffeine that I was probably not going to make it AND that this was the correct decision, and he emailed back by return electron, Glad we’ll be seeing you tonight! Have a look at bob royal, since there will be FIVE of us!

Fortunately, however, I was not alone in my incapacity, and we stuck to plain hunt on ten. And—if I do say so myself—I was one of the steadier pairs.

*  *  *

* This is surprisingly easy to do, possibly even for people with relatively normal brains but a certain tendency to offhandedness. My stuff goes in my diary^. Peter’s stuff goes on the calendar on the kitchen wall at the mews. Since Peter cannot be expected to grope around in my knapsack for my diary—and furthermore I can rarely read his handwriting—it is up to me to do more than keep glancing at the wall calendar and thinking, yes, next Tuesday, I won’t forget, but I really should write it into my diary. . . .

^ My RINGING WORLD pocket diary.

This is so pathetically geeky. Nearly half the silly thing is nonsense about bells—early learning, method lines, touches, tips for ringing touches, guilds, associations, biggest bells BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH . . . there’s even a diagram at the front of what a change-ringing bell and its frame look like, which is not for you because you already know, and therefore it is there clearly so you can whip it out and bore the socks off your non-ringing friends.

I love it. I wouldn’t be without mine. I’ve been buying them for as many years as I’ve been in New Arcadia and started ringing again, and I try to order early because the idea of being without one some year is too appalling to contemplate. And this has nothing to do with my loathing for electronic diaries. I’m sure I could find a nice paper diary with roses on it, say.

** Yesterday was ANOTHER FRELLING BANK HOLIDAY. There have been WAY TOO MANY FRELLING BANK HOLIDAYS lately. The UK economy is going to finish going down the tubes if something isn’t done about all these promiscuous holidays. And I have bats in my attic. Have I mentioned the BATS IN MY ATTIC lately? Bats don’t take holidays.^

^ Or maybe they do.  Maybe I’m going to go up there tonight to see how things are going and find them playing poker and eating salted peanuts and popcorn.

*** I can remember how to make a cup of tea and/or unwrap a bar of chocolate under any circumstances.

† No workpersons of course. Just the cones.

†† Fiona is making a shawl of great beauty and . . . neatness.


I am still sewing up Secret Project #1 in . . . increasing despair.

††† VERY VERY SLIGHTLY in my defense, it wasn’t at a tower, it was at Colin’s evil flower-pot mini-ring. I keep telling myself that I’ve got used to these wretched tiny bell-things. I’m lying.


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