It is now hot. Two days ago it was cold and sheeting and it is now HOT. My blood—as well as my brain—is still in Thick and Cold-Resistant mode. Hellhounds are all over me as I put my shoes and their harnesses on and then we walk outdoors into Wall of Heat and . . . they turn and look at me reproachfully. Again. There was a lot of reproachful looking two days ago with the cold and the sheeting. There was a lot of reproachful looking for weeks, there, with the cold and the sheeting. They’re going to lose faith in me. If they weren’t dogs they would ALREADY have lost faith in me.* Dogs: the only love, and against-all-evidence confidence in your omnipotence, that money can buy. It’s not necessarily a good bargain. Siiiiiiigh.
It has not been a great day overall.** It’s too HOOOOT and when I went up to Third House to view the situation for practicalities beyond sufficient compost and rose food because we have people coming to stay the end of the week, I found I’m out of things like soap and paper towels—how does this HAPPEN? Do basic household supplies MIGRATE or something? Cheez. And all the roses need deadheading, but I knew that.***
And then Niall and I went to Curlyewe tonight. We’d been due to go a few weeks ago and then Niall’s car was run into by a deer. Sic. He did not run into it, it ran into him.† Ex-deer and ex-car. We went to Curlyewe in his new car tonight.†† We blundered through the usual suspects (ouch! Oof!) on handbells†††, and then tower practise . . . the big kids got stuck on trying to ring a touch of Cambridge, which kept breaking down—cue heated discussion on who got what wrong and why—and then they’d try it again and something/someone else would go wrong. After this by the time they’d dragged their assortment of beginners through a great many plain courses of bob doubles it was time to ring down again. Feh. But I got a lot of knitting done.
Tomorrow could be better. Maybe I’ll try to get up earlier so we can hurtle before hellhound melting point is reached.
* * *
* If they weren’t dogs, they wouldn’t be thinking I control the weather anyway. When cats turn and glare at you after you’ve opened the door on meteorological extravagances they don’t approve of, you have the feeling that they aren’t surprised. They’ve always known you were a broken reed. With dogs it’s like every day you’re taking the ice-cream away from the four-year-old child who idolises you just because you can. The sad, forlorn look. The ‘what have I done wrong that you treat me so cruelly’ look. AAAAAAAUGH.^
^ Although . . . hellhounds. Speaking of AAAAAAAUGH. Hellhounds are their own little demonic subgroup within the vast complex enigma that is dog. We are continuing to struggle through an anti-food period. It’s not as bad as it was, but I’m still not having a good time. Lunch today, for example. They hid frantically in the back of the dog bed while I was putting it together and when I came after them with it they gave me the whole collapsed-subsmissive-enormous-tortured-eyes thing. It’s difficult to concentrate+ when you have to get out of your chair every ten minutes or so to move hellhound bowls and chirrup at them in a friendly and encouraging manner: ‘Eat your lunch, you monsters of prandial depravity before I turn you into rose fertilizer.’++
They did, eventually. Eat lunch. All that moving around gave them an appetite. About half an hour later I decided I’d better cut up the chicken for their supper, because Niall and I were going to Curlyewe, which is too frelling far away, and I had asked Peter if he’d feed them before I would get back. Suddenly I am besieged by a seethe of eager scrap-begging hellhounds. What the frell, guys? Eating makes you hungry?
+ I have only JUST had an important bit of frelling plot machinery delivered. FOR GODSSAKE YOU STORY COUNCIL GUYS, GIVE A WORKING WRITER A BREAK. I’m through the last draft, I’m at the final tinkering stage—the making sure the heroine’s second cousin’s boyfriend’s dog is a Dalmatian on both page 47 and page 213#—the plot was obviously The Plot and I had decided that this particular aspect of it was supposed to remain mysterious. Okay, I can do mysterious. I’d quite like to know what’s going on myself but . . . okay, okay, I don’t know, it’s not going to be in the story, whatever, fine, it’s not my decision, it’s never my decision . . . AND THEY SEND IT TO ME NOW? THEY SEND IT TO ME NOOOOOW? Frelling frelling frelling frelling FRELLING FRELLING FREEEELLLLLLLLINGGGGGG. I mean, no, it doesn’t change the story—for which I am devoutly grateful—but it sure casts some heavy srggghffdblugging atmosphere, we’re all a little rocked back on our heels here and our eyebrows are lightly singed.## Adjectives. I need some new adjectives.###
# Okay, you don’t meet any of Maggie’s second cousins, let alone their boyfriends or their boyfriends’ dogs, but you know what I mean.
## Even Mongo.
### Frelling does not appear in SHADOWS.
In the hard copy version of this article, which I only read about an hour ago, there is a page opposite the text, of photographs of nine roses. On line you have to squirrel around for another link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gallery/2012/jul/23/growing-roses-best-varieties-in-pictures#/?picture=393471114&index=0 This begins with a photo of Pearson’s own garden which, if a professional gardener can’t do any better I feel he should stick to close-ups of individual blooms. Anyway, I wanted to say, off-handedly, that I have seven of the nine he recommends# although this wouldn’t be my top nine list. I have very mixed feelings about orange in an old-fashioned rose. I have Lady of Shalott because . . .well, because I had to have a rose called Lady of Shalott, and I had to have Benjamin Britten for the same reason. The Lady of Shalott is pretty . . . frelling orange, and I don’t know what to call Benjamin Britten: she’s a sort of very dark burnt orange with a heavy pink overlay. It’s interesting but I’m not sure it’s a rose colour. The two I don’t have are Lady Emma Hamilton because . . . well, orange, and The Alexandra Rose who doesn’t really believe in leaves. I know about mixed borders to hide your roses’ deficiencies, but I feel there are limits about this. I grew TAR at the old house but she’s not one of those that I miss enormously. Those I miss enormously tend to get wedged into a corner here somewhere. . . .
Oh, and that’s a terrible picture of Graham Thomas, who is a glorious pure vivid yellow. This is better: http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens/Hyde-Hall/About-HydeHall/Plant-of-the-month/June/Rosa-Graham-Thomas-(-Ausmas-)
# Yes. They’re all David Austins. Yes. I keep saying that Austin roses are overrated. They are overrated. They’re just so sodblasted ubiquitous. And some of them are very nice indeed.
** See previous footnote, about late deliveries.
*** I was also scowling at my wisteria which is, I think, four years old and HAS NEVER PRODUCED A SINGLE FLOWER. I know wisteria are like this, but this is supposedly one of the ones that flower in the first year or two. This one is reverting to its Palaeolithic ancestor which flowers on its fortieth birthday. It’s already got a purple clematis growing through it. Maybe I’ll plant another purple clematis.
† Deer are like this. As some of you probably know.
†† It is very shiny. I am keeping it away from Wolfgang.^
^ And the MGB is dusty.
††† No, no, the shiny new car is fine.
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