November 29, 2012

Hobgoblins, hellhounds, food and monks.


I have a small—although not quite so small any more—hellterror at my feet, or rather under my feet.  Said hellterror is having mad erratic spasms of I CAN’T POSSIBLY LIE STILL.  I CAN’T.  POSSIBLY.  I HAVE BEEN QUIET FOR AT LEAST TWO HOURS WHICH IS A VERY LONG TIME IF YOU’RE A THREE AND A HALF MONTH OLD PUPPY AND FURTHERMORE YOU FED ME WHICH ALWAYS WINDS ME UP.  Hmm.  You mean if I didn’t feed you you would remain nice and calm?  I wonder if there’s a food-replacement injection for puppies.  It would also save on dishwashing.  This is one of those things I wasn’t expecting:  dogs are predators.  They eat and they crash out.  They don’t eat and then go out and chase something else.  Maybe the fact that Pavlova eats several small meals a day rather than one enormous one twice a week means that after one of these tiddlers she wants to go out and chase the rest of it which must have got away.  THAT WAS A MINNOW AND I WANTED A BLUEFIN TUNA.

I should be grateful to her contortions, which are serving to help keep me awake.  I appear to be riding a small sailboat in a towering gale or a wild horse with the wind up its tail.  No, wait, it’s only a hobgoblin in a mood to sour milk.  Listen, kiddo, keep me awake long enough to write a blog and I promise to sit down on the floor and let you play Terminator all over my ass.  I remember when Southdowner and Olivia were warning me about hucklebutting—I think it was Southdowner who said bullies do racing-car turns up the walls—that Pavlova would be tobogganing across the front of the Aga before long.  In the last week or so she’s developed a new routine:  a combined hucklebutt, pogostick and end-swap (another bullie speciality, but my Hazel had the most amazing end swapping I’ve ever seen, at ninety miles an hour across the garden at the old house) done at little-scuttling-legs-a-blur speed—all within the tiny space between the Aga, the sink and the island-counter at the cottage.  It is hilarious.  Last night as she blasted in for her next racing turn . . . she went up and across my CHEST, as I sat leaning against the kitchen sinkI am not joking.  I was falling (the rest of the way) down laughing, but I am not joking.

That was the good part of last night.  I had been PLANNING ON GOING TO BED EARLY, as I count early, because I was determined to get back to the monks today.  Tintinnabulation has almost as many services as Forza has bells, and I keep looking at the schedule and thinking, well, I could go to that one, or that one, or that one.  Or that one.  I could do it today.  And then it’s frelling dark again and I don’t want to try and find non-existent villages with aberrant post codes in the dark.  I came out of Tintinnabulation’s chapel a fortnight ago saying this was the service, or at least the space, of the churches I’ve been to so far that most and most immediately speaks to me and I haven’t been back?  What is wrong with this picture?  All day yesterday I really did keep thinking, I could still go to that service . . . but I never quite did.

Today I was going.  I was going to go to midday prayer, and before you all snicker loudly, yes, I do keep late hours, but recollect that getting going in the morning now demands two shifts of hurtling.

And then last night Chaos went on serious hunger strike.  ARRRRRRRRGH.  This is one of the many wildly infuriating things about the hellhounds:  after something STRANGE has happened—like, say, a kitchen door possessed by hellhound-antipathetic demons—hellhounds don’t say, oh, right, okay, it’s over now, they say:  THAT DOOR HAS FOREVER CHANGED ITS CENTRAL BEING AND WE WILL NEVER TRUST IT AGAIN.  Oh, and no, we’re not going to colonize the Safe Area by the front door as suitable new supper territory.  No.  Absolutely not.  WE’RE JUST GOING TO GIVE UP SUPPER.

How many days has it been since the monsoon?  Two?  Three?  There have been a lot of whites of hellhound eyes at suppertime, but they have eaten.  But last night . . . Chaos decided that the stress was simply TOO MUCH and the clear, the obvious answer was to not eat supper.  Then we could all relax.

Um.  No.*

. . . Two hours later Chaos finally ate his supper.  And once he had started it was like, oh!  Hey!  This is cool, this food thing!  Can I have more?   ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGH.  I had, meanwhile, had a bath, read half a book, cleaned the kitchen windowsill, knitted two inches of pullover, and aged by about twenty years.**

I got up this morning anyway, to go to midday prayer at the monks’ abbey as planned.  I ingested caffeine.  I hurtled hellhounds.  I mini-hurtled the hellterror.  I climbed into Wolfgang and set off across hill, dale and badly marked roads, where whatever you’re looking for is always behind you, and the crossroads look like yarn a puppy has been at, and the central signpost for what you do want could be pointing at any of about six roads

We arrived.  We arrived early.  We arrived early without getting lost.  It must be an omen, right?  I crept down the long silent corridor to the chapel—Aloysius had told me that the chapel is always open, so even if you can’t manage to get yourself (or your hellhounds’ mealtimes) organised to go to a service, you can still pray in that peaceful present space.  And I had brought my knitting:  I could be happy indefinitely.

It occurred to me to look round for the donation box, which I’d missed under stress of generalised yeeep when I was there with Aloysius.  And there it was, bolted to the wall by ironmongery that looked like it had been blessed by the first Archbishop of Canterbury***.  On the top of it was a little pile of Gift Aid envelopes.  Over here, if you’re donating to a charity, if you fill in a Gift Aid slip they get to keep all of it instead of passing a sizable chunk to the government.  I filled out one of the envelopes.


Okay, how silly is this?  It’s like some kind of initiation ritual.  Can You Solve This Puzzle?  No.  I folded the freller up about thirty two times and jammed it into the narrow little slit.  They may have to pry the box off the wall and take it to the new Archbishop of Canterbury for a special unsticking blessing before they can get it out again. . . .

But the service was lovely.

. . . And the hellterror is asleep.

* * *

* The hobgoblin, having

How  I frelling hate frelling WordPress.  When I tried to ‘publish’ this a few minutes ago it crashed and burned with a lot of doolally about a database error.  It then mysteriously self-published . . . having hacked the footnotes off the end.  I am not frelling amused. 

Okay.  Reconstructed from the original Word draft:

. . . having wolfed her meagre portion, was pressed up against the wire of her crate, watching the drama unfold and saying, Put me in, coach!  You want that nasty food to go away?  I can do that for you.

** But part of the business of things not going away with hellhounds and food . . . the fact that it’s two or three days after the all-singing all-dancing door before Chaos got around to refusing to eat anything is a bad sign.  It means he’s escalating.  I suspect, from six years of coping with these bozos, that it also means that he’s frelling forgotten what the initial stimulus was and is now just freaking out because he’s flipped the freaking out switch.  I really really really didn’t want to let this go.  And hey, the pullover looks pretty nice and the book I was reading is fabulous.

*** Augustine.  597.  A long time ago.


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