June 26, 2012

How to feel like a GIRL


Gaaaaaah.  Go to farm store and try to wrestle large bags of potting compost.  Large wet bags of potting compost.

            So, I have (theoretically) a car that runs again.  So I decided to put a little strain on this hypothesis.  We went for a proper countryside hurtle yesterday—climbed into Wolfgang, drove somewhere, parked, hurtled, and drove home again.  Between time pressure and will-Wolfgang-start pressure we haven’t been getting out of town for true over hill, over dale, lost in the wilderness, up to our necks in brambles and nettles, hurtles as often as we were once accustomed.*

            Wolfgang ran beautifully.  So today on my way to my voice lesson I decided to stop at the farm store and buy compost.  I had run out with the last lot of half-price fuchsias.**  Peter wanted some compost too, so I headed for the Giant Three for Two Bag area.  Laid my hands on the topmost bag, pulled, and . . . nothing happened.  Got a better grip.  Pulled. 

            Nothing happened.

            When you buy compost at the home-and-garden store, they tend to keep it under a roof because all the wussy London commuters and would-be DIY types and little old ladies can’t deal with Giant Wet Bags of compost.  But some of us are poor and would rather be spending the money on plants***. 

            I got an EVEN BETTER GRIP, added some language, and yanked the &&&&&& sideways.  It frelling shifted.  Reluctantly.  And with a ripping sound.  There are two—or three—parts to the problem.  The first one is, of course, that compost gets heavier when it gets wet.  The second one is that the plastic bags it is not-quite-sealed into STICK LIKE FURY to others of their kind.  Water + two layers of bendy bag plastic = superglue.  I eventually did get six Giant Wet Bags of compost on my trolley—which was gritting its teeth and sagging in the middle—and then I had to ROLL the freller first to the till and then out to Wolfgang in the alpine car park.†  The third part of the problem is the sheer practical physics of an overloaded trolley with wonky wheels, an uneven ground surface, and a frustrated, red-faced, pop-eyed human motive force who weighs less than her possessed-by-demons freightage.   You have to figure out which way the sodblasted trolley wants to roll†† and then apply what influence you have in some kind of clever semi-opposed orientation which may or may not average out in a tiny sprint in the right direction.  And then do it all over again.  Several times.  And they had a huge pot of frelling pansies right in front of the exit door, which is mysteriously cantilevered to throw you away from whatever you were/were not aiming for, which is to say Wolfgang/pot of pansies.  ARRRRRRGH.

            And then you get to transfer your six Giant Wet Bags of compost into your car. . . .

            It’s amazing I could sing at all.†††

            But Wolfgang ran beautifully.  Including when I stalled him out on a hill in the middle of a traffic jam with Monster Bus from Hell behind me.‡‡ 

* * *

* And speaking of brambles and nettles . . . arrrgh.  This was not one of our standard walks, but it was chosen first because I knew I could park Wolfgang in the shade, heat having tended to aggravate his condition^, and second because it was only about two more miles if we had our hurtle, got back in the car, turned the key in the little hole and . . . had to walk home. 

            It’s not one of our standard walks because a long stretch of it skirts the Large Fat Ugly Smug We Have More Money Than You Do and We’re Entitled estate.^^   The deal is supposed to be that if you have a public footpath running beside or through your property you have to maintain it.  Some owners are total stars.  Some are Fat, Ugly and Entitled.^^^  These jokers had put up a fence slicing off the footpath from the rest of the field, which would be fine if you could actually use the supposed path without a machete.  Since we were there last they’ve put up a map CLEARLY INDICATING the path . . . which is now invisible through the thickets punctuated by the occasional fallen tree.  We went down the field.  I noticed with some dry interest that two of the fallen trees had taken out quite a bit of their fence.  We climbed over it at the far end . . . and were then faced with a literally impenetrable stile and a gate clogged shut by brambles that would have done Sleeping Beauty’s castle proud.  ARRRGH.  A machete would have been better, but I do have a jackknife and a bad attitude. 

^ I’m sure any self-respecting mechanic would say ‘tut tut—nonsense’ but from the clueless owner’s eye view it was true.  And he was parked in hot sunlight last Tuesday at the garage, when he memorably refused to start after having been mended to a very high standard by the Niagara-Falls-Wallenda-walking+ equivalent electrician++. 

+ http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/nik-wallendas-niagara-falls-walk-daredevil-high-wire-stunt-us-16586935


As someone who has to have Atlas prune the second storey of my Mme Alfred Carriere, this story is scarier than vampires.~ 

~ I mostly dread and loathe circuses, both for the clowns, and for the fact that I don’t want to see anyone get eaten by tigers or miss the net because there isn’t one. 

++ Which is to say this electrician would have fallen off.  

^^ I may have mentioned once or twice that I’m not a royalist.  I’m not an aristocracy-ist+ either.  

+ Have never liked the term ‘oligarchy’.  The few what?  Disease-resistant-rose breeders?  Olympic standard dressage riders?  Flying Wallendas? 

^^^ There are cranks in every stratum of society, but the wealthy and/or blue blooded seem to have a curiously high proportion of self-serving ratbaggery within their ranks.  

** You get these come ons in your email and you’re in a hurry, but you like fuchsias, and this nursery does nice healthy plants and you could use a few hole-fillers, especially the kind that don’t demand twenty-hour-a-day sunlight^, so you order the ‘border collection’.  And then they frelling substitute half the frelling plants and you end up with a lot of hole fillers where you’d rather have the frelling holesI actually wrote and objected and they wrote back sniffily that they had said there was a possibility of substitution.  Oh?  Where?  Not either on their web site or in the original come-on email.  They didn’t answer that one.  Life is too short.  So I potted the bloody things. 

^ I swear our best sunlight happens at about rmmgh a.m. while I’m pretending it’s not that late.  

*** But not again on half-price fuchsias.  

† Who was going to start. 

†† ‘judder’ is perhaps more accurate 

††† More or less.  Last week I went in there very very tense due to circumstances, including cars, trains, planes and buses^, beyond my control and even Nadia couldn’t quite winkle me loose and so I went home convinced that it was all over and I would never sing again, not that what I’ve been doing so far is really what you’d want to call singing.  This week was better.  This week I can Go On.  Although I hope Nadia doesn’t take very much maternity leave or I’ll have to . . . join a yoga class or something. 

^ Okay, maybe only cars and buses 

‡ I did it deliberately!  Of course!  Just testing!

‡‡ I’m sure I recognised it from last week.



Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.