Aspects of the Magnificence of Hellhounds
Hellhounds are such ridiculous creatures. But cute. Fortunately. When we were out on our morning hurtle today we met Penelope walking home with her Saturday shopping.* We began to discuss bell ringing personalities** and what it is to be a bell ringer and have a life. Penelope is better about the having-a-life than I am: she’s not an obsessive. She has perspective.*** She even made the shocking remark that while she likes ringing some of what she does is only to Support Niall.† She does not lie awake nights wondering why she can’t ring Stedman Triples yet.††
Anyway. There was so much to say about ringing and personalities that hellhounds and I accompanied her the rest of the way, and she invited us in for a cup of tea. Well, the hellhounds got water. I got tea.††† Niall was home so we all sat round drinking tea. I sat on the floor, the better to suppress hellhounds, who are not accustomed to the excitement of visiting other people’s houses, but they’re reasonably willing to collapse in heaps as long as I’m there too. And in fact I often do sit on the floor: as long as there’s a carpet between me and the cruel reality of floorboards or tile I may very well prefer sitting on the floor. It gives you a better excuse to fidget, and I’m a fidget.‡
But after we’d discussed ringing, books, film‡‡, opera, food, gardening, the state of the global economy and chickens‡‡‡, I needed a pee before hellhounds and I started home. This meant hellhounds had to stay where they were for the sixty seconds or so it would take me to bolt to the loo and back again.
They stayed. Although they were in their best Ancient Hellhound God Lying Down Posture when I reappeared, where nothing on this mere mortal earth can maintain the curve of their bellies, their long straight necks have disappeared into the sky, and their bright beaming eyes are in danger of making holes in the walls. They are so cute.§ Of course when I said what good dogs, they broke and threw themselves at me. But that’s okay. They’re my hellhounds.
* * *
* Er, wow. I’m willing to lug a certain amount in a backpack, but even aside from the fact that if I’m on foot I probably have leads in both hands I hate carrying shopping bags farther than to a nice, nearby car park.
** MMMPHRRRGGGLMMMMPH. The stories I could tell. . . . But I won’t.^
^ No. I’m going to tell one story because it presses my buttons. One of our teenage learners pretty much only shows up when he doesn’t have a better offer. This is disappointing but fairly standard, and kids are worth putting the time in on because if they come back to it later, when their kids are half grown and they start having the occasional free evening, they pick it up so much faster+—also, simply having ringing registered in their minds as something that is out there to do, so they might come back to it, is worth some effort.
Last night our, um, Bad Frederick appeared for the first time in months. He rang some perfectly respectable call changes and we were all telling him how glad we were to see him and how if he’d just keep coming we’d get him started again on plain hunt . . . and then he pulled out some papers he wanted Niall to fill out and sign for him. I didn’t register if it was school or scouting or the Duke of Edinburgh or what, but the point was that he’d shown up merely to get his certification from the ringing master that he does, in fact, ring bells. We all blinked a bit at the blatancy of it and Vicky said encouragingly, you should come on Sunday mornings, you’ll get more time on a rope because we always need ringers on Sunday mornings and it’s time on a rope you need to consolidate what you can do. (Bad Frederick is a walking-distance local, like Niall and Penelope and Vicky and me—and Monty, who is Bad Frederick’s age, but still manages to show up most Friday nights and Sunday mornings.).
Oh, I’m never awake that early, said Bad Frederick, and disappeared down the ladder.
Vicky knows Bad Frederick’s dad. In this particular case I jolly well hope the brat catches some heat.
+ Insert the grinding of teeth here of a 59-year-old woman whose early experience of ringing when she started again six years ago was from when she was 48.
*** You’ll notice that even my doodles are low on perspective.
† Penelope is also Niall’s not-so-secret weapon when he’s so desperate to scrape together another handbell evening at his house that he tries to put the persuaders on me. Penelope is making a cake, he says. I’ll be there, I reply.
†† Because we haven’t got the band. Next question.
††† And the winner of the free doodle is . . . blondviolinist, who clearly knows me better than I realised, for ‘where there is tea there is hope’. The funny thing is that Annagail’s guess, which is the very next one on the forum thread, was the followup: ‘Ever try. Ever fail. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ Annagail said: I’ve never been able to decide if that quote is depressing or inspiring. Or both. But it’s a good one for days when it just Ain’t Workin. Yes. Agree. Which is probably why ‘where there is tea’ won.^ But as words I do live by, ‘fail better’ are probably nearer the mark, I’m just not sure I want my iPad reminding me every time I pick it up to play Montezuma or Fingerzilla. Which is also why ‘I love deadlines, I love the whooshing sound . . .’ didn’t get chosen: I really don’t need that one reinforced every time I pick it^^ up to play Montezuma or Fingerzilla.
It’s funny about ‘fit’ because all your guesses were good ones.^^^ But I have an anxious enough relationship with my ability to write my stories down, I don’t want to bring going after things with clubs into it, although he’s right. And ‘people say life is the thing, but I prefer reading’ has been true all my, er, life, and is the personal entropy I have to resist.^^^^ Of course I wouldn’t put any quotes up that I don’t like, but you lot seem to have figured out which ones are close to my bone. Hmmmm. I wonder if I should worry . . .
Now then, blondviolinist, if you would be so kind as to tell me what doodle you would prefer? A knitting violin?^^^^^
^ Also, Raphael voted for ‘tea’. I was holding up ORDERING MY iPAD by my indecisiveness.
^^ She’ll need a name. But I’ll wait till she arrives.
^^^ I’m a little surprised no one suggested ‘On the internet no one knows you’re a dog.’
^^^^ There are weeks when entropy wins. Herein lies the magnificence of hellhounds. Peter understands the need to disappear out of reality. Hellhounds don’t. Hellhounds think that a few hours on the sofa are excellent and should happen more often. But they then want to get up and do something. Hurtle. Interact.+ Stare at the food in their bowls. Enough with the reading, say hellhounds.
+ An interaction: Seen coming toward us a black-and-white streak of border collie, head low and ready for business. I hate low-headed streaking border collies: they bite. They don’t bite hard, but they can nip hell out of your ankles and cause distress and consternation among hellhounds. FRELL, I said, and left the path, hoping she would decide that honour is satisfied and streak past. Forlorn hope: border collies are all about herding. Sheep substitutes that leave the path are all part of the day’s work. She shot up to us . . . and flung herself at the hellhounds’ feet, tail wagging furiously. Oh, her owner did eventually show up. Gah.
^^^^^ Caveat. If you want something outré, you have to let me post it first. Always Looking for Blog Material.
‡ This may be one of the reasons I like handbells. Organised fidgeting. I can sit in a chair if my hands get to twitch and wriggle. Handbell tea breaks at Niall’s house . . . I sit on the floor. Very nice carpet they have.
‡‡ Including Penelope’s new film society, which starts up this autumn. Stay tuned. She’s another one who has a little trouble with the ‘copious free time’ concept.
‡‡‡ Penelope has chickens. And one of them is sitting on eggs that are due to hatch in about a fortnight. Little cute fluffy yellow cheeping things with wings!^ Yaaaay!
^ Except for the yellow part, you might mistake them for bats.
§ Speaking of little, way too cute, and bats, abigailmm posted this: http://daannniix.tumblr.com/post/3466796413/baby-pipistrelle-bat Is it possible to be any cuter? Awwwwwww.
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