October 27, 2011

Cambridge. My doom.


No, the bell method, not the city.* 

            When you are unceremoniously and repeatedly dumped off the air, and the blog you post to every night with, lately, increasing difficulty as it flickers from life to death like Schrodinger’s cat, takes six minutes to load and then crashes when you ask to see the forum, and when two emails in a row are eaten by demons** when Outlook freezes and then refuses to crash but just hangs there in suspended animation while you press the same surreally cyclical set of buttons*** and scream, you have several options, following the nervous breakdown caused by trying to get an emergency email to Blogmom, asking her to post an Out of Service notice on the blog because enough is enough is enough and you’re TIRED of being bent into a pretzel by your technology†: 

  1. Go to bed early.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.††
  2. Disgorge an additional 65,000 words of the novel you’re two months into your five months to write. 
  3. Practise your Cambridge.

I practised my Cambridge.

            There is of course history to this decision.†††  I was a trifle indiscernible this weekend due to hellhound pressure‡ but Niall told me Monday night that we weren’t going to have Gemma today for handbells, which meant just the three of us, Colin, Niall and me, like in the bad old days.  Only the three of us.  Oh blood, gods and death‡‡ that means Cambridge.  I had said feebly that I would look at my Cambridge.  Last night Niall did his Buddha-smile thing about handbells and I did not bash him with a blunt instrument and run away because we were in his car at the time, speeding through the Hampshire dark toward one of Wild Robert’s occasional special practises, last night at Sagging Dormouse, which is another of these back-of-beyond villages that only exist in the natives’ imaginations.‡‡‡

            However these are very imaginative villagers because there is a church with six bells in it as well as the other standard quaint appurtenances.  And we rang frelling Cambridge pretty much all night because almost everyone who came wanted practise treble bobbing—the problem being that Wild Robert had to weld who was left into a Cambridge band.  Erm.  The only people who knew what they were doing were Wild Robert himself and Niall.  It was not a pretty sight.  And I never did get through a plain course—I was dragged, harried, chivvied and belaboured through portions of plain courses, and granted I had lots of help going off the rails, but I was still going off the rails harder than anyone else.§  Cambridge.  My doom.  Whiiiiiiiine.

            Access to the Sagging Dormouse church tower has been less well imagined than other aspects and involves some very interesting twists through hyperspace, and as a result I was one of the last out and Niall had gone on ahead of me.  I half expected to find that he had shot off and left me so I wouldn’t contaminate his car.  Don’t be gloomy, he said.  —xlkashdgfggg!!!!!!!!!!

            So today I was going to have to face the beastly thing §§ on handbells.  I do not want to think about how many novel-writing and doodle-drawing hours I have spent on Pooka, last night and this morning, bashing at Cambridge:   dingdingdingCRASHding, dingCRASHCRASHdingding, CRASHdingCRASHdingCRASHFRELLding, etc.  You get, when you’re trying to learn something that is basically beyond you, into a peculiar sort of light-headed haze, where the world all seems sort of soft and infinitely malleable §§§ —and the world of course includes the thing you’re trying to learn.  Ding.  Crash.

            Well I’m not going to say that this afternoon was a Scintillating Victory, because it wasn’t.  Weeell . . . I’m not sure it wasn’t, but it depends on where you’re coming from.  I was getting through to the end of a plain course of the freller for the first time on handbells.  HANDBELLS.  WHERE YOU HAVE TO RING TWO WRETCHED BELLS THAT ARE PURSUING TWO DIFFERENT FRELLING LINES THROUGH A FRELLING PATTERN THAT HAS TOO MANY ZIGGY BITS IN IT ANYWAY.#

            Okay, I take it back.  It was a scintillating victory.  It will of course be more of a scintillating victory when we get to the end oftener than about one attempt in three, but after last night I’ll take what I can get.## 

            . . . And now, I can hardly wait to find out what kind of nonsense I have to go through to get this posted.### 

* * *

* I’ve been to the city twice.  The first time as a deranged, Anglophile ohmigods-I’m-in-England tourist, and the second time with my Kings-College-graduate husband.  There was no way I wasn’t going to like it, barring zombie hordes.  We didn’t see any zombie hordes. 

** Or possibly zombies.  I wonder if Schrodinger considered the zombie possibilities of his cat? 

*** Windows Task Manager only works when it works.  

† Clearly the email was eventually successful.  But I was getting on toward thinking I was going to have to write my emergency dispatch on Pooka and then go outside and stand in the pouring rain to inspire my 3G—do I mean 3G?—to send it.  The whatever-it-is that’s supposed to pick up when you’re not within a WiFi zone that your gizmo can climb into.  Although it’s hard to tell exactly what the hell is and is not working.  There seem to be levels of turmoil.  Sometimes Astarte goes on serenely beeping the arrivals of emails when the laptop has swallowed its own tail and is rolling around on the floor choking and flailing madly.  If the laptop falls off the cliff excitingly enough, and lands with a loud enough crash, however, Astarte usually withdraws into self-contained silence.   I still haven’t got her 3G option sorted partly because I object to paying for a package which I’m only going to use rarely—well I hope rarely—and partly because Pooka’s 3G is a little moody and I even more object to paying for a monthly service I’m not going to use and doesn’t work anyway.^

            There’s also the perhaps not insubstantial thought that if you’re going to be standing in the pouring rain with your flashy device, smaller is easier to protect from the elements. 

^ There was the to-me-infamous occasion of sitting in a gone-phut train outside Bristol for an hour on my way to visit Diana+ about this time last year, I think, with everyone around me having whipped out their phones and rung their friends and colleagues to say they’d be late and . . . I couldn’t get a signal. 

+ Siiiiiigh  

†† It’s not like I would sleep, you know? 

††† After all I could have read a good book.  I’d better finish THESE OLD SHADES for the eleventy-mmlmph time, because these are on their way:




‡ Hellhound appears to be fine.  I continue to have palpitations every time he squats. 

‡‡ And zombies, no doubt.  Me ringing Cambridge involves lots of lurches and moaning.  And I’m pretty sure my skin goes a funny colour. 

‡‡‡ Note that we went through Broceliande to get there. 

§ The villagers may have had serious second thoughts about the church-with-bells feature last night. 

§§ Cambridge, I mean, not Niall. 

§§§ Although that could be SHADOWS.  Either whacking the crap out of myself writing it in too much of a hurry, or the weird spaces my heroine gets herself into. 

# During our tea break Niall was saying, we should have had you learn Oxford treble bob first.  NOW YOU *&^%%$£!!!! TELL ME??!?  Niall blinked at me mildly.  You could learn it now, he said.  You’d find it really useful.

            . . . Words fail.  Which is just as well. 

## As I was moaning to Niall last night, I know the ratbagging line.  I know it, among other things, from struggling to ring it on handbells.  I pretty much know the line like I know how to make a cup of tea or put a harness on a hellhound.^  But you can practise handbells pretty efficiently on a computer, or an iPhone.  There’s nothing like pulling on a rope with hundreds of pounds of bell on the end of it except pulling on a rope with hundreds of pounds of bell on the end of it.  Sigh. 

^ Although I not infrequently get the harness on inside out and then don’t have anywhere to clip the lead. 

### We’re back to square one about what’s causing it.  I’ll tell you about the wonderful fun I’m having pursuing knotted lines of wireless iniquity, I mean inquiry, no I mean iniquity . . . some other night.^



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