May 26, 2012



IT IS TOO HOT.*  I didn’t sleep particularly well last night and I woke up when Pooka chirruped at me in that ‘text message incoming’ way, which I will sleep through—if I’m asleep.**  It was a friend telling me that I’d just been mentioned on Radio Four as an author who had used a hedge as something fairies come through.  The things Radio Four thinks of to create programmes around.***  Also, THE DOOR IN THE HEDGE is thirty years old—and sold about thirty copies.  However.  Whoever that person with a deep and surprising interest in obscure fantasy literature is, thank you. 

            Meanwhile, it’s too hot.  We were promised a Cooling Breeze and what we’ve got is a sirocco.  It ripped out the velcroed-on piece of screen in my bedroom window and threw geranium petals gleefully all over the upstairs.†  I daresay I should be grateful it wasn’t the geraniums themselves.  But everything I laboriously watered this morning wants watering again because hot dry violent winds are . . . violently drying.  Various long whippy green things needed tying up NOW before they beat themselves to death and I have a novel to finish in between the handbells and the singing for Oisin.  At the end of the singing for Oisin he said mildly, I think it’s time for Phase Two.  PHASE TWO?  WHAT DOES HE MEAN, PHASE TWO?  Seeing me starting to panic, he hurried on:  you need to face me instead of facing away. 

            Ugh.  Unfortunately he’s got me on this one.  I face away so I’m not flapdoodling overwhelmed both by the fact that he’s the real thing and I’m not and because the piano is so much LOUDER than I am.  I’ve got louder, and while a Steinway baby grand is still a whole lot louder, he doesn’t pound the freller, you know?  But the crucial thing is that I keep going on in my weedy way about making music with.  Making music, if you’re a soloist by neither ability nor personality, is about doing it with someone else.  In a choir there’s a lot of you.  But when it’s a singer and an ‘accompanist’, the accompanist counts, you know?  And of the stuff I sing with/for Oisin, one of my big favourites, and I want to work on it more when I’ve got more to work with,†† is Britten’s arrangement of The Ash Grove, because the accompaniment is so perverse.†††  And . . . I just like doing it with.  Even when I come in wrong.  As I often do.

            Okay.  Face him.  I can do this.  I can.‡ 

* * *

* And I have a non-eating hellhound.  Arrrrrrgh.  Although I think in this case it has more to do with the ingestion of cat crap than it does with undesirably elevated temperature.  This is why I frelling hate cats.  I keep trying to tell myself it’s not the cats, it’s their owners—and the frickfracking law that allows people to dump their cats outdoors and let ’em fend however they like.^  And while, yes, most dogs have disgusting habits and the fact that my hellhounds think cat crap is a delicacy is also not the cats’ fault . . . but I don’t want cat crap ALL OVER MY GARDEN.  Which is where I have it, at Third House.  And so far as I can tell, they have crap rivalries where every neighbourhood cat strains to outdo all the others.  The chosen arena is, as it has ever been, Third House.   When we went up there this evening about six cats leaped for the fence as hellhounds and I came through the gate—the frelling fence trembled.  ARRRRRRGH.^^

            Meanwhile, back on the cottage cul de sac, the hellcat has started targeting me.  When I’m out front, fussing with my pots^^^, he sits in his driveway, stares at me, and howls.  His people are home!  I am not necessary to happiness (and food)!  

^ If I had a two-pound coin for every person who’s told me complacently that they don’t even have a litter box because that’s what outdoors is for, I could buy the Isle of Wight.  

^^ Some forum person said that while if she had to choose, she’d choose cats, but she considers herself a critter person—sure.  Me too.  And, I suspect, most people who come out for any critter at all.  I think it’s that first yes/no that’s the most important—yes I want domestic fauna, yes I want something else in the house that breathes besides my human family+, if any, or no, I don’t.  I come down on the dog side, obviously, but I’m anti-cat because they are effectively vermin in this area.  I’ve told you, haven’t I, that the black cat that used to live on the corner of the cul de sac used to run under Wolfgang’s wheels, as we came home at mmph o’clock in the morning, so often than I had an actual plan for what I was going to do when I ran over it?  ARRRRGH.  Fortunately it moved house with its people—but a few weeks ago, coming home at mmph o’clock, a frelling black cat ran under Wolfgang’s wheels at the other end of town, which is where our nemesis moved, and I thought I KNOW YOU.++ 

+ This does of course also include plant life, even if they’re quieter about it.# 

# Someone tweeted me today that she’d love to have a dog but her significant other says that fish are less messy.  Hmmm.  Okay, you don’t have to sweep every day, but I’d rather sweep every day than clean out a fish tank ever.  It’s not just the enormous faff—and the way filters seem to exist to clog up or misbehave in some manner that involves gallons of water all over the floor and/or hidden invidious leaks that suddenly make the ceiling fall in downstairs—it’s the enigmatic quality of fish.  Other mammals are hard enough to read.  Dogs may wag their tails when they’re happy.  Cats may purr.  Fish?  The clue that a fish is happy is that it’s not dead.  

++ The other end of town is closer to the vet.  But the middle of the night emergency calls may happen pretty much anywhere in Hampshire depending on who’s on duty.  

^^^ And on the subject of the ‘I don’t live here and therefore these people and these people’s property don’t count’ tourist, one of my favourite examples of this behaviour was the day I heard loud voices under my sitting room window and saw one of my rose-bushes lashing back and forth as if it were in the grip of a sirocco, and when I went outdoors to see what the frell was going on . . . discovered some d—— yanking at the bottom of it.  There was an extremely anxious-looking woman with the d——.  I don’t think I managed to say, What the hell do you think you are doing?:  the d—— volunteered brightly, Oh, I’m just taking a cutting.  YOU F—— WHAT? I said.+ 

            He was offended.  He didn’t like my language.  )]#(*&^%£$”!”!!!!!  It’s not just cats, you know.  I hate people worse.  

+ Even aside from questions of courtesy, this is illegal.  Most modern roses—although I admit in this case it was not a modern rose, but I doubt this bloke had said to himself or his anxious companion, oh this is an old rose so it’s okay!—have what is effectively copyright on them.  I can grow the one I bought, but I can’t clone it and give it away.  And he’s stealing.  

** Yes, I sleep with my technology.  But remember Pooka is the phone number for the emergency button Peter wears around his neck.  

*** Although Oliver Rackham’s HISTORY OF THE COUNTRYSIDE is a fabulous book, and has a lot of hedges and hedgerows in it. 

† And speaking of undesirable indoor behaviour, and in answer to a number of people’s inquiries, I have no idea how my bats are doing.  I haven’t seen or heard a whisker of them this year.  And while every night I go back to the cottage and there aren’t any small furry frightened exhausted things with wings smashing themselves into the corners^ is a good night, still, I’d like to know they’re all right.^^  I haven’t made a dedicated effort to be, not merely in the garden, but paying attention to the significant corner of the eaves, some twilight, but when they’re in force you don’t have to be paying attention, and I haven’t seen them ducking and diving around either.  Maybe they’re just late—because of the funny weather.  I had them in April last year, which was early.  They’re supposed to reoccupy their nurseries in May. 

^ Or unfrightened, unexhausted things swooping around my chandelier. 

^^ Speaking of being a critter person. 

†† . . . I live in hope.  I will run to the end of Nadia’s miracles sooner or later, but I hope it’s later. 

††† Mind you, Oisin can provide perverse.  When my voice is in a funny mood, which it is in this heat, we often start with a simple, unBrittened folk song.  Oisin looks at the accompaniment that even I can almost play, and launches into the ad lib Stockhausen version. 


            Chaos threw up the extremely unlovely contents of his stomach and then . . . ate his dinner.

            That fish tank is suddenly looking pretty good.



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