You’ve only got till midnight tonight
. . . USA Eastern Standard Time, that is. To get your FABULOUS BUTTERFLY MASKS in to Jodi for a chance to win a pair of FABULOUS CABLED MITTS. *
Meanwhile Jodi told me, perhaps unwisely, that she would give me a SECOND CHANCE in the draw if I MADE MASKS FOR THE HELLHOUNDS TOO. Which I (perhaps unwisely) had admitted was my first thought. But then certain tactical difficulties presented themselves.
Like, how to get the thing to stay on.
And how to convince the hellhound to let it stay on.
And yes, if I had a fortnight and nothing else to do I could certainly have constructed something that would (a) stay butterfly-shaped and (b) hook behind hellhound ears . . . and then train them to sit still long enough for me to get a photo of the two of them together. As it is, all a hellhound had to do was drop his nose and the thing fell off. And I failed miserably to explain to them the wonder of cabled mitts. They just kept looking at me. And dropping their noses.
So this will have to suffice.
* * *
So it’s Thursday. And I should have been going back to Muddlehampton Choir practise for my second bash of flustered-hen squawking . . . I mean, of sweet tuneful warbling, like to the lark at break of day arising, sings hymns at heaven’s gate. Ahem. I should have been going back to Muddlehampton, to see what corner the beleaguered Ravenel was going to stuff me into.
But I didn’t. District bell practise was tonight at Crabbiton. There are a lot of towers in this district, and I don’t, as a rule, go to district practise** . . . because I’m out too many nights a week as it is*** and one of the ways I pretend to keep some kind of control over my bell habit is to not commute to feed it. But Crabbiton is next door. I’m on Crabbiton’s list of emergency fill-in ringers.† I’ve been saying since the district diary went up that I’d go to Crabbiton’s district practise.
And then I finally started this choir, uh, lark. Gleep. Also damn.†† I don’t know what the Muddlehamptons’ turnover is like††† but I could kind of imagine a few of them frowning vaguely at each other tonight and saying, Wasn’t there a new woman last time? Sounded like a cat being stepped on?‡ So I fished out all the bumf I’d been given with the sheet music, which included contact info for everyone down to chief sub assistant tea lady, and rang the membership secretary. I explained who I was‡‡ and that I would be there next week. And then for good measure I emailed Ravenel. Who, to my astonishment, emailed friendlily back. ‡‡
Albert as district education master ran bell practise tonight, but Wild Robert was there being supportive and looking for ways to get ringers he knew in trouble. That would include me.‡‡‡ It was a funny mix of ringers, with a lot on the low end of experience and ability, so I got to sit out a lot and stare nervously at the line for Cambridge which I should know backwards and upside down by now# although at one point there was a general call for someone, anyone to ring the five for a touch of Grandsire doubles . . . and I discovered I’d been set up and was calling the beggar. Gah. Cambridge crashed and burned three times due to a little trouble down front—I was on the four, thank you very much, I was not a part of the trouble initially, although once the vortex was swirling nicely I was certainly only too willing to be sucked into it—and I was then dragged gleefully by the metaphorical hair—by Wild Robert, of course—through the abbreviated touch of Kent that is always everyone’s first touch of Kent. I did manage to prove I’m not entirely useless by being one of the steady ones in some plain courses of Stedman with a couple of learners caroming around rather. And I had quite a long chat with a fellow who rings at Forzadeldestino: twelve bells and a lot of attitude. Oh, definitely come along, he said, looking at me directly, as if I were a, you know, real bell ringer, like him, and not someone who needs to be dragged (by the hair) through a first short touch of Kent.##
Forzadeldestino’s practise night is Wednesday. And it’s close. It’s barely farther than Crabbiton. Hmmm. . . .
* * *
*Anyone who has spent the last twenty-four hours holding hands^ with a really cute member of the gender of your preference, in Paris or Rome or the shores of Lake Huechulafquen or some other deeply romantic place, and missed checking in,^^ details are in last night’s blog.
^^ I’m not sure how good the wireless pick up is on the shores of Lake Huechulafquen either
** which happens once a month, at a different tower each month. I assume till they reach the end of the list, and then they start over. It takes years. The point is that a bunch of hot-shot district-admin ringers come, so the local band can try stuff they may not ordinarily have the band to do on ordinary practise nights. District practise is open to everyone, so a few rogue members of neighbouring bands will probably turn up in the hopes of ringing something interesting. I was rather startled that I was the only New Arcadia ringer there tonight.
*** And on Thursdays I sing
† Crabbiton gets stuck with the organising when Madhatterington wants its bells rung.
†† Slightly in my defense they didn’t answer their emails when I tried to make contact after Easter, when they should have been starting up practise for the summer show. And it took me a while to whine to Oisin about it. Oisin rang up Ravenel smartly after that, but it then took me another fortnight or so to get my timid butt over there. And then Ravenel^ was on holiday last week.
^ I don’t think I told you that when Nadia asked me what he was like I said that I thought there was a rather scary iron fist in that velvet glove, and she got a rather scary twinkle in her own eye and said, you try running an amateur choir some time. Scary is good.
††† The rules of engagement say that you’re allowed to attend a few practises and make up your mind before they start coming after you with demands of fee-paying membership.
‡ A small, undernourished cat with a small undernourished voice, but piercing.
‡‡ I could hear her remembering me: Oh, the American woman.
‡‡‡ I’ve been trying to decide if this is a good thing or merely a thing. Maybe he’s naturally polite. Maybe it’s a bit of velvet-glove flimflam. He’s slightly deaf in his left ear and didn’t hear me last time. He’s not slightly deaf in his left ear and still didn’t hear me because . . . well, because.^ The Muddlehamptons have a steep turnover, and any recruits are welcome. Or possibly he knows that those of us prone to doing too much—I told him I was a bell ringer—are the likeliest candidates for continuing to show up to do too much. He doesn’t know about the ME yet. Still.
^ But Nadia thinks I will have a usable voice eventually. One that doesn’t instantly become more or less inaudible squeaks any time I’m not singing for Nadia.
‡‡‡ I admit I was determined to go on the assumption that Wild Robert would be there.
# And which arguably is my problem: I do know it backwards and upside down. Right side up and forward is therefore confusing.
## Kent minor. A mere six bells.
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