A Day. With Bats.
Yes. I still have bats.
I believe there has been a certain cynical murmuring about my bats. Photos! so goes this murmur. We believe nothing we have not seen with our own eyes! You’re a storyteller! You could be making it all up (because you lead such a boring life, with all the hellhounds, bells, roses, singing, chocolate, and other people’s books! BORING! Not a single dragon! Not even a book tour*)!
I could be. But I’m not.
I’m just really, really, really, really, really glad that a few of the fifty or so photos I took are usable.** Someone who knew what they were doing could doubtless have got better photos out of my fancy, over-eager-to-please*** camera—but despite me it managed to cope with a small dark furry thing with a penchant for walking along dark tenebrous beams or flying at hellhound speeds with superfluous swooping—at twilight. And all without flash. Well, I didn’t want to upset my bat. The weird shadows are because the only light was a table lamp.
So I may have fewer bats. But I still have bats.
I had closed the attic window last night when hellhounds and I got back to the cottage well after bat-launch for bat suppertime. Just in case there were any carelessly roosting in my attic. That should have been the end of it. Because Atlas had SEALED ALL THE CRACKS IN THE ATTIC YESTERDAY.
I really am too dumb to live. Yes, reader, I left the attic hatch open. But whenever it was that I got home to a bat-blizzard last week . . . eh, it was Wednesday again . . . I had stood at the bottom of the attic stairs staring in disbelief at the aerial careering going on overhead. But they stayed IN the attic. So, fool that I am, today I thought that supposing, just supposing, there were still a few teleporting bats in my attic tonight, they would at least stay up there and wait for me to get back and open the frelling window for them. Bats as small flying hellhounds. But the teleporting ones are the adventurers. I should have realised I was in trouble when I came in from an extended stint of gardening this evening and found a bat . . . lying on my All Stars. No, really. I was going to take hellhounds out and . . . there was a small furry thing ON THE ALL STARS I AM WEARING TODAY. (Note that I garden in beat-up leather clogs.) Geep. Yah. Dustcloth, I said. I rolled her up (gently) in a dustcloth†, put her under the honeysuckle and, since she was showing signs of holding on, I let her keep the dustcloth. When I went back two minutes later with a mini-plant-saucer of water for her, she was already gone. I said to myself, either this was a single bizarre one-off like anyone could find a bat lying on their All Stars—anyone!—or it’s already too late. So fatalistically we went out for our hurtle.
Afterward I bundled hellhounds into the car and went into the cottage. And was not really surprised to hear faint skittery noises. I went upstairs and found a bat—this bat—trying to peel the screen off a corner of the bathroom window. Sigh. Mostly those screens are a good thing. She flew out and into my office . . . so I hastily opened an unscreened window. Bats know when there is an open window. Sure they do. Teleporting bats are the adventurers, as I said. She was in no hurry. She liked the beams, the books, the chandelier. Gah. I went (more) upstairs to open the attic window again and found a bat already there, patting the window glass impatiently. I’m coming, I’m coming, keep your hair on, I said. I opened the window. I came back down to office level. Hermione was still exploring the bookshelves and ignoring the open window. There was a crash behind me as another small furry flying thing engaged with the bamboo screen over the (closed) hall window. That’s four.
I can only vouch for four. Which would be fewer than the bat-blizzard a week ago. Still . . . bats. Indoors. I watched Hermione for a minute or two longer—I was not going to leave my office window open: if she didn’t find it now I was going to close it when I left for the mews and she could figure out the attic one again when she was tired of reading—which is when I finally bethought me of my camera. . . .
* * *
* I have, however, been failing to tell you that I’m doing a signing at the Forbidden Planet in London on 7 July. Details to follow. I keep forgetting. Duh. It’s true, I’m hopeless.
** And—trust me—I would have no idea how to make up photos.
*** What do you want me to do! I can do this and this! I can do this and this and this and this and this and this and this! And this! And thisthisthisthisthisthisthisandthis!!!!! All you have to do is choose! —And then, of course, press the right frelling buttons.
† Sigh. This is not what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to do the cardboard-and-shoebox thing, like the large, mammalian version of the glass and the piece of cardboard you use for getting bugs outdoors where they belong.^
^ Note that I was bitten by a ladybird today. Ahem. Stop that. I’m afraid this is probably the drought—they only bite people when they can’t get anything better. Hellhounds and I were out hurtling, and I was mid-smash, assuming what was biting me was a deerfly, only it was a ladybird. We need our ladybirds. So I halted the violent downward progress of my hand and merely knocked the little freller off my arm. But it’s clearly been a day for interactions with wildlife. Feh.
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