July 27, 2012

We Are Twenty-One Today



 I may have reached a new low tonight.  Or a new something.

           It is our TWENTY FIRST ANNIVERSARY* and we went out to dinner at our single remaining favourite local(ish) Fancy Restaurant.**  And it was excellent.  I managed to have both chicken liver pate and foie gras—both champagne and Supreme Overwhelming Sticky Toffee Pudding in a Glass—the latter to go with the chocolate slice.  I generally have a second glass of champagne on these (fortunately for my liver) infrequent outings, partly because . . . because . . . well, because it’s champagne, but partly because there are very very few dessert wines that will actually hold their own against chocolate with attitude, and why waste my alcohol budget (the cough-syrup end of dessert wines tend also to be super fortified)?  This one held powerfully.  Yurp.  Fortunately I have no intention of being anywhere to ring any bells at 8:12 tomorrow morning.*** 

           Peter and I rarely discuss the future of the world when we go out to dinner.†  We tend to do crosswords.  Tonight we did the Times Literary Supplement Summer Acrostic which Peter had thoughtfully provided.  You know how this works?  You have clues you have to fill in, and once you’ve got the clues you write in the letters as directed into the acrostic box.  As the box fills up with letters you can start back guessing to the clues you may have missed.  And in this version, the acrostic quotation author’s name appears in the left-hand column of the clue grid.  Uh oh, said Peter . . . 


. . . the first two letters of the author’s name are ‘LM’.  LM Montgomery! I shouted . . . and so it was.  Now warning to anyone (still) planning to do the TLS summer acrostic, there are at least two egregious errors, which seems to me a bit rough, but we’re so clever, which is to say Peter is so clever, he got about 80% of the clues††, and we did it anyway.  Whereupon I asked if I could have the page out of Peter’s (new) TLS because my idea of souvenirs of important occasions is peculiar.  And he said, just let me have a look at the other side of the page . . . which he then proceeded to read.

            So I got out my knitting.  Of course I had brought my knitting to the fancy restaurant for dinner with my husband on our twenty-first anniversary.††† 

* * *

* Of the famous-to-regular-readers-of-the-blog beginning of a weekend in Maine when I went to the airport to pick up this odd fellow I slightly knew, Peter Dickinson, because we kept running into each other at book conventions and had a developed a vague sort-of friendship.  The weekend was going to be interesting because he was an interesting character^ but it wasn’t going to be a big deal.  Oops.^^ 

!!!!!!!! I again hesitate to attempt to delineate any of this since Peter reads the blog.  But to your average American, Peter was/is a total walking manifestation of someone you thought only existed in Anthony Trollope.  Starting with the BBC historical drama accent.  +

+ He has as much trouble with voice recognition software on the robot answering programmes on frelling every corporate, service or sales phone line out there as I do, although he dangles from a different branch of the accent tree.  Someone needs to build more of a tall spreading two-hundred-year-old oak unit as opposed to the stunted bonsai minichip presently enabled.  Grrrrr. 

^^ Our wedding anniversary is the beginning of January.  

** Back in the days when we got out more we were better at poking around in odd corners for interesting places to eat.  But I am less and less willing to spend that much money and time on a less than fabulous meal when we’d do it better at home, it would be organic at home, and I could read/work on story in progress/write a blog entry/cruise Ravelry’s new patterns^ over dinner.  I should say something here about How Terrible It Is to Get Old and Boring, but that’s not how it feels from the inside.  It feels from the inside like discarding the non-crucial as the future gets shorter.  I admit, however, that when our other favourite restaurant changed hands and was demoted, and our list of favourite restaurants became one restaurant long^^ I felt a trifle cul de sac-ish.  Not enough to do anything about it however.^^^ 

^ A recent addition to the list of ways I soak up hours so I don’t have time to have a life. 

^^ and one or two unfancy pubs 

^^^ Going out to dinner also really cuts into your bridge-playing and bell-ringing evenings. 

*** Some poor innocent person posted to the blog asking if I knew about Martin Creed’s All the Bells in England.  http://festival.london2012.com/events/9000961496  Yes.  It has only been this huge contentious topic in the method-bell-ringing world for months.  I’m not a fan.  I’m a first cousin to the Grinch who stole Christmas, okay?  I think it’s a dumb idea.^  And I saw an interview with Martin Creed when this ‘art work’ was first announced in which he came off as entirely up himself, but in his defense he may just interview badly or had just found out his wife had run off with the plumber two minutes before the interviewer arrived. 

            I’m also just a tiny bit discouraged that a regular forum poster and therefore I would imagine regular blog reader had to ask what the difference between chiming and method bell ringing is.  Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.  B_twin_1, thank you very much, posted an answer, but to anyone else out there who doesn’t read the forum and lets the whole bell thing pass them by as a faint breeze, START SKIMMING NOW, chiming is just wagging either the bell or the clapper hard enough that the one makes contact with the other and makes a noise.  Hard enough but no harder—and on a mouth down bell, with the clapper hanging loose.  For method bell ringing you start by ringing the bells all the way up, by yanking on the rope as they swing higher^^.  This does start with chiming but ends with the bells mouth up on a frame specially built to hold them—which is why you can’t method ring with any old bunch of bells—and the clapper lying against one side of its bell or the other.^^^  Method ringing is full circle ringing:  each bell swings 360° with every stroke,# beginning and ending mouth up.    

            And it’s the order of the strokes among a band of bells that makes method ringing beguiling, but I really don’t expect anyone who doesn’t do it to understand the difference between Grandsire and Stedman and Deedledeedledumpling Surprise.  But I’d appreciate it if you’d make ‘oooh’ noises when I tell you, okay?  Thanks. 

^ But then I’m not a fan of the Olympics either.  Grinch, Grinch, Grinch.  

^^ Yes.  This is a fairly exacting skill in itself, since method-ringing bells tend to range in weight between several hundred and lots of hundred pounds.  The biggest change-ringing bell in the world, at Liverpool Cathedral, is over 9000 pounds (82 long hundredweight.  Feel free to redo the arithmetic).  Biggest bell I’ve ever rung is pushing 2000 pounds, and that is . . . plenty big enough for me. 

^^^I will spare you the discussion of bells that go up ‘wrong’ which is to say the clapper ends up leaning against the wrong side.  Yes, it matters. 

# Okay, I am also sparing you the exceptions to this rule.  Some circles are a little short for reasons either of relative bell size or style of ringing. 

† Although some sotto voce discussion of persons at neighbouring tables is usually entered into.  We were next to a family where you could so absolutely see they were related to each other.  And behind Peter’s back there was a couple where the bloke was really hoping to get laid tonight.    

†† But my handwriting is better.  You can read the boxes I filled in. 

††† And yes.  I got the page.  It is here beside me adding to the clutter on my desk.



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