They sang COLD HAILY WINDY NIGHT. Steeleye Span, that is. Tonight. At the concert Fiona got me by the hair, forced** me into her car as I moaned feebly: I have to work! I have to work!***, and made me come to with her.† I could be happy just looking at Maddy Prior’s clothing. ††
I had brought my leg warmers. That is, I brought a remarkably-crinkly-at-one-end skein of bitchy, tantrum-prone††† yarn, a pair of needles‡, and an increasingly battered-looking pattern, including the crib sheet Fiona wrote out for me MONTHS ago. We had allowed lots of time to get lost in which we then didn’t need‡‡ so I had a good half hour to get started again.‡‡‡ Aaaaugh. Counting. Aaaaaugh. And Fiona would keep trying to talk to me. What do you think this is, a social occasion? Just because she can knit an incredibly frelling complicated frelling sock pattern on forty-seven double-ended needles and look around at the crowd and chat to her neighbour, who is laboriously going, one, two, three, purl, one, two, three, knit, DOESN’T MEAN EVERYONE CAN.
And just by the way, some of what Peter Knight does on that fiddle isn’t possible.§
At the end Fiona said, so, are you glad you came? There must be more Steeleye sheet music out there, I said, having had trouble not joining Rick Kemp for COLD HAILY.§§ I even asked Maddy herself about sheet music on the way out and she looked puzzled and suggested I write to Park Records. §§§
And then we went back out to the car park, got in Fiona’s car and drove merrily away in the wrong direction because she had decided we didn’t need the satnav. . . .
* * *
* It was a near thing. Blogmom had sent along a last sale/auction order file which I had assumed was a few final sweepings-up, no big deal, and hadn’t even bothered to open it—Fiona could do it when she came. AND THEN IT TURNED OUT TO BE GINORMOUS. Gaaaaaah. WAAAAAAAAH. I knew I was not, in fact, going to get everything out before Christmas^ but I did think we were totally heading downhill for the final assault. No. Wrong. So the first thing Fiona had to do, having been obliged to reveal the awful truth, was prevent me from murdering myself messily in an assortment of creative and unpleasant ways.
^ Once again, grovelling apologies. There Is Too Much Going On. And I really do have to finish SHADOWS before I can no longer afford to keep the hellhounds in a manner to which they have become accustomed.
** I would make three of Fiona. Well, two and a half anyway. But she’s very persuasive. Especially when she shakes out a length of yarn in this sort of garrotte and clamps sharpened knitting needles between her teeth.
*** And I have an opera tomorrow. COGNITIVE DISSONANCE ALERT.^
^ I would like to say I’m going to a Metallica concert the night after that, but . . . no. And the truth is I don’t think I have the—er—mettle to go to a heavy metal concert any more. I don’t know what the audience at a Metallica concert is like these days, but back in my misspent youth+ I went to several fairly scary concerts where I was glad that my companion was a six and a half foot bloke, who, while soft-spoken and mild-mannered, looked like Mess With Me and Die.
+ Remember that I misspent most of my youth in my thirties, so we’re talking about the eighties.
† You realise it’s Friday. Sacred Home Tower Bell Practise. Only Steeleye Span could drag me away from my responsibilities.^
^ . . . But make me an offer. A stroll across the Kalahari? Sunbathing in Antarctica? A new diving bell attempt to reach the bottom of the Marianas Trench? Sure. After all, Niall left me to cope last Friday.
†† I am forcibly reminded, pretty much every time I go to a concert—or, for that matter, watch a clip on YouTube—that the one great thing about performing is the costumes. It’s pretty much the only thing I miss about being a travelling, live-appearance author: the opportunity to dress up. ^ And Maddy’s clothes are prime. I was thinking about this tonight—while I sang along to All Around My Hat^^—that this is the one flaw in my choir-joining plan^^^: choir members don’t get to dress up. I like a long black velvet skirt as well as the next woman but Maddy’s flounced blue satin is waaaay to be preferred. Unfortunately being a soloist involves . . . soloing. I don’t see a way around this. Unless that’s in a chapter in CHAOS I haven’t got to/figured out yet.
^ As demonstrated at Forbidden Planet a few months ago.
^^ Maddy came to the front of the stage, thrust her microphone in our direction+ and dared us to be louder than Margate.
+ Literally. Fiona and I were in the front row.~
~ Fiona orders the tickets. I just go where I’m told. Chiefly into the passenger seat of her car.
^^^ Supposing my incredibly tiresome throat stops being a frail heroine and lets me return to two-and-a-half-hour practises with the Muddlehamptons.
††† Yes I am thinking about simply buying a couple more skeins of hellhound-blanket yarn^ and using that. Wait . . . did I just say BUY MORE YARN?^^
^ The pink option, of course.
^^ I was reading Yarn Harlot the other night+ about stash, one of her favourite topics, and how the fact that you have more yarn than an infinity of monkeys could knit into bobble hats while waiting for that other batch of monkeys to produce King Lear++ doesn’t necessarily mean you have anything to knit with. Yes. Her ratiocinations on this subject will not be mine, but in my case all my nice yarn is Waiting for Me to Learn What I’m Doing. I can’t just carelessly pluck a couple of skeins out of some tote bag and start on leg warmers. Horrors.
+ In the bath, of course. Paperback editions of Yarn Harlot are ideal for the task.
++ Macbeth would do. And it’s shorter.
‡ Yes in the right size. Please.
‡‡ We will come to the topic of the drive home again in a minute.
‡‡‡ The lights went down mid-row, of course. Oh, now I’m in trouble, I said, and the woman on my other side . . . laughed. So during the interval I said to her, do you knit? I used to, she said. I keep thinking I should start again. Don’t let me put you off, I said. I’m a beginner, and this yarn is possessed by demons. We parted amicably at the end: next time bring your knitting, I said.
Postscript: I knitted five rows. And then I ripped them all out again. Sigh. However, it more nearly resembled ribbing than my previous efforts. It just wasn’t ribbing.
§ This is clearly stated in chapter mrrmngph of CHAOS.^
^ I’m reading/listening to it AGAIN, okay? This is challenging stuff for someone whose idea of higher maths is a touch of St Clements minor on handbells.
§§ He may be a great bassist. He is not a great singer. I admit that my crossover tendencies may not always stand me in good stead when judging folk singers, but I mostly feel that to be a lead singer of anything you either have to sound great, like Maddy^, or at least have a characterful voice, like Dick Gaughan—or Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen.
^ Although she’s still singing when a classical singer would have had to give up.
§§§ http://www.parkrecords.com/ In case you’re interested. I mean, yes, I could figure out the tunes, and most of the lyrics are on line somewhere, but what am I going to give Oisin? . . . Had I but world enough and time, I might write my own accompaniments, of course, but they would be a little non-standard.
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