Never Promise Anything for the Day After Your Birthday
. . . at least not if there was champagne involved. Although I don’t think I can blame the champagne, I drank lots of water* and was stony sober by the time I went home**. But it makes a better story.
I woke up late, of course, but I haven’t not woken up late in weeks, so that’s barely worth a FRELL as I bound*** out of bed and attempt to launch myself into the already half-over day.† One of the first things to catch my eye as I let hellhounds out of their crate was a business card sticking through the mail slot in the door . . . I had—that is, had had—an appointment with the house-alarm people this morning.†† ARRRRRRGH. I’m already two months late getting the thing its annual check up††† and I finally make the appointment AND I FORGOT. No, of course I didn’t look at my diary last night—I thought I remembered what was happening today.
What was happening today was handbells. I did manage to remember that. I was sufficiently on the spot even to email Niall to double-check. Yes. Handbells. Okay. And since I still don’t want to do anything too fraught with my clearly-improving-and-we-want-to-keep-it-that-way voice I wasn’t going to choir practise. I would have the night OFF and press on with SHADOWS.‡
Niall was even whip-crackier than usual about thrusting bells into our hands and getting on with it. Colin, who likes a bit of chat first, commented on this, and Niall said, oh, but I have to leave early tonight . . . and the other three of us chorused, BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO RING A HANDBELL PEAL SOMEWHERE. No, no, protested Niall, the picture of wounded innocence, because our daughter’s new film society is launching tonight, and I want to go.
NOOOOOOOO. Head-clutching from the menopause-brained American sitting to Niall’s right. The irony is that I had reminded Niall of the approach of this significant event earlier in the week and he’d forgotten. Tonight Niall looked at me pityingly. I’ll give you a lift, if you like, he said.‡‡ Penelope is going in early to help Selena set up. —So I threw my poor handbellers out early because I had to sprint the hellhounds, and then we shot down to the mews—where Niall was already waiting—and I slammed them indoors with Peter and ran back down the drive and fell headfirst into Niall’s car. . . .
Penelope keeps trying to educate me. She’s taken me to manga/anime before‡‡‡ and I’m like, what? I did know it was going to be more of the same tonight but . . . I hadn’t quite grasped the . . . er . . . the . . . er . . . Oh dear. I’m not the natural anime audience, I’m afraid. The evening started with a series of shorts about an extremely etiolated female mercenary naked but for her weaponry going around killing things in a creepy monochrome technoscape and—and this was the kind of interesting bit—getting killed herself. Repeatedly. Oh. Well, that’s one take on dealing with your serial protagonist. I didn’t like it worth a damn but I thought it was clever and creative and . . . icky. But I squick out easily.
Roll on the main event.
. . . I pretty much hated it. I also thought it would NEVER BE OVER. It’s ugly and stupid and the characters all suck and about half of them are only marginally identifiable one from another and there is almost no plot, just a lot of blowing stuff up. A lot of blowing stuff up.§ It is, I’m told, a classic of anime. Fine. I don’t need to discover any more fascinating new worlds. But bouncing off this one like a pigeon caroming off your sitting-room window still destroyed a perfectly good working evening.
The whole thing took three hours. We got home after eleven.
And I still have to sing§§ . . .
* * *
* Never mind what it does to your liver and, if I get it wrong, the never waking up properly the next day which is my version of a hangover, the REAL reason I’m not a big drinker is because of the getting up five times in the night to pee.
** Since going back to the cottage involves driving a car, I tend to be a little obsessive on this point. I haven’t yet decided we’d better walk, but it could happen. I really need that dog cart against this possibility, to transport my two-ton knapsack and briefcase equivalent.
*** Poetic License Alert
† Never mind getting dressed. The first thing is to get the caffeine stewing.
†† I’m sure I’ve told you this: yes, I have a house alarm. Yes, it is very silly when you live in a small cottage with several thousand books and two hellhounds, but everybody else in the neighbourhood has a house alarm, and you don’t want to be the only one who doesn’t.
††† See ‘silly’. It’s hard to get your brain around the needs of your house alarm.
‡ Hellhounds and I did manage to have a good hurtle. My grey louring birthday was bracketed by two gorgeous autumn days, all crisp and sparkling, but this time of year I’ll take my good weather any time I can get it. Meanwhile having polished off A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING^ as an audible.co.uk download^^ I’ve begun A BRIEFER HISTORY OF TIME and . . . well, compared to BRIEF, yes, it is vastly more user friendly. But I got halfway through listening to the explanation of special/general relativity for the third time, realised my brains were melting, and shifted over to Bryn Terfel singing Vaughan Williams for a while.
None of this is going to show in SHADOWS. Sigh. It’s not even going to make cocktail party conversation since I never go to cocktail parties.^^^
^ And have come away, I fear, with my standard jumble of semi-acquired factoids, an impression of a lot of very peculiar people+ and an uneasy conviction that the only bits I’ll remember in six months are the bits that have since been thrown out of the canon by superyarn theory or quantum knitting.
+ I am glad I did not have the famous Mr Newton as a next-door neighbour, for example. Not at all a nice fellow.
^^ And download, and download, and download, and download . . . SHORT was broken up into three files, and each one needed to be loaded at least twice . . . taking at least half an hour every time. New evening schedule: back to cottage, lock door, remove shoes, gallop upstairs with herd of hellhounds+, whip out Pooka and try to download something again.
+ There are absolutely more than two of them when you’re sharing a narrow twisty staircase with them.
^^^ I’ve received two invitations to publisher Christmas parties in the last week. Shudder.+
+ This would include the publishers of both SHORT and BRIEFER, but somehow I doubt . . .
‡‡ This was pretty funny in its own right. Niall drives all over Hampshire in his world-saving avatar as a water engineer. But he doesn’t have a clue about Zigguraton. Turn here, I said. And here. And—no that’s not the way to the media centre—that’s one-way the wrong way. This is why you brought me, right? I said, when we had finally arrived. So you’d get here.
‡‡‡ While Niall is ringing handbells.
§ It also rouses the King Henry Conundrum. You know the folk song (possibly as immortalised by Steeleye Span)? Where a giant loathly lady demands King Henry kill all his dogs and hawks and horses to feed her and then he has to go to bed with her? And when he does this she turns into a beautiful lady and it’s all hearts and flowers? I have objected to this since the first time I heard it. Henry is still a sh*t for killing all the critters that trusted him—and he f*cks her?? That is clearly implied in what she says to him after she turns into the fairest lady that ever was seen:
I’ve met with many a gentle knight
That gave me such a fill,
But never before with a courteous knight
That gave me all my will.
EWWWWWWWWW. MAJOR FRELLING EWWWWWWWW. Courteous knight? He’s a psychopath. And, you know, all the critters are still dead and he still killed them.^ This is not okay.
At the end of tonight’s epic the hero/villain TRANSFORMS and becomes a Superior Being. Pardon me, he still killed a lot of people when he was a nasty selfish petulant monster with (almost) unlimited power. Now he’s TRANSFORMED it’s all okay?
No. It’s not. He gets the King Henry Anti-Award.
^This shows up in SUNSHINE, in case any of you loyal readers are wondering why it looks familiar.
§§ But not King Henry.
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