Return to the Muddles
I’M SO COLD I COULD DIE. Frelling frelling.* The temperature has dropped about 20 degrees in the last twenty hours CLANG!!!!, just in time for me to go to my first sort-of official—NO NO I HAVEN’T PROMISED ANYTHING I’M JUST . . . I’M JUST . . . I’m just coming along to choir practise, okay? IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING. St Frideswide is always cold, except occasionally, briefly, in August, when it can become stickily, smotheringly, swelteringly too hot**, weather as something out of an MR James story. It was cold last week, when I wasn’t there for the full gruesome extent, but got to run away at the break and turn the heater up HIGH in Wolfgang driving home. Well, I turned the heater up HIIIIIIIGH tonight as well, but I was almost past saving. COOOOOLD. COOOOOOOLD.
Unfortunately I had way too good a time. In spite of the fact that I could no longer turn pages by the end because my fingers were toooooo coooooold even though I was wearing fingerless gloves.*** And the rest of the choir clearly all assumed I was, you know, back. NOOOOOOOOO. I HAVEN’T PROMISED ANYTHING. The frelling treasurer accosted me during the break about membership dues.† Arrrrrrgh. And Cindy, who I was sitting next to again, and with whom I shared music and leaned on heavily for any of the soprano lines I don’t know, came up with a really good way of ensuring that I come back next week: she sent me home with all her music. I can use Gordon’s if I want to practise anything, she said. You take it.
I have a grievous problem. †† My standard excuse for not having to take the Muddles seriously is that they invariably schedule their concerts on Saturdays I’m going to a Live Met Opera relay at the cinema. This wheeze is working as it should for their Christmas carol concert. It’s not working for the concert next February.††† And, furthermore, although I haven’t yet got to the bottom of the ENORMOUS pile of music Cindy gave me, most of it is stuff I like, and some of it is stuff I even know. I can probably catch up. Of course you can, said Cindy bracingly.
And I took a bottle of water. And I sipped it.‡ And I’m not hoarse. And us first sopranos spent a lot of time hitting frelling A, which I historically don’t rely on having available, but it was there tonight. It was there tonight in a, Problem? There is a problem?, way. Next February? it added. Sure. I can do next February. Write it down in the diary.
Well, I have to go back next week, I have all of Cindy’s music. . . .
* * *
* Try saying ‘frelling’ when your teeth are chattering.
** Especially in the ringing chamber, where I gasp out the occasional wedding.
*** I was sitting next to Cindy who was wearing proper gloves with fingers and still turning pages. Maybe this is a necessary Muddlehampton survival skill. Maybe I could get her to teach me. Or at least tell me where she buys her gloves.
† And then started talking about his military service in the ’60s, when they were quartered in leftover WWII Quonset huts which leaked, and how they all developed a blanket-folding technique so they could pull a flap over their heads so the snow falling on their faces didn’t wake them up. I can’t imagine why this story seemed appropriate tonight.
†† Aside from the two-and-a-half-hours-and-no-loo problem. Which I solved tonight by the simple expedient of not having had anything to eat or drink since two pears and a mug of tea this morning. Drastic but effective. I didn’t mean to skip lunch. I . . . forgot.
Well, I was running late because I’m always running late.^ And by the time I get two shifts of hellcritters hurtled^^ and fed an amazing amount of time always seems to have passed. So I went whizzing back to the cottage from the mews thirty seconds before everyone would be showing up for handbells, and had galloped around picking up puppy toys and sweeping up great globs of dog hair—did all the dishes in the sink, started a load of laundry—when it finally occurred to me that people were kind of late. Found a laconic little message on Pooka—who had managed to turn herself off, which is a whole lot easier than it should be—that handbells were cancelled and maybe they’d forgotten to tell me. ARRRRRRRRRGH.
At which point I might have gone back to the mews, had lunch, and got on with either Story-in-Progress^^^ or Kes moving in to Rose Manor but . . . I DIDN’T. The temperature was busy plummeting and I’ve already lost the dahlias and the begonias, snapdragons and chocolate cosmos hate being indoors so much it’s not really worth it, but I was looking at my geraniums. . . . I spent the afternoon getting a lot of geraniums indoors (and, what the heck, some of the cosmos, osteospermums and fuchsias) and figuring out which windowsills I can wedge how many of them on. I had left Pavlova at the mews with Peter, where she has a bigger crate with more wire mesh to look out through, but I’d brought the hellhounds, basically because I get twitchy if there isn’t at least one dog underfoot. Hellhounds have mostly outgrown wanting to help me in the garden#, and they lay around extending long trip-overable limbs and having bits dropped on them. And the half of the Winter Table not occupied by Pav’s travelling crate and assorted puppy gubbins is now jammed solid with the Indoor Jungle. And since I usually eat lunch at the mews, I wasn’t thinking about lunch at the cottage. And I had only just enough time to hurtle my shifts of hellcritters briefly again before I left for choir practice . . . And there was ice on the roads coming home.
^ Yes. Hellhounds ate supper last night. Eventually. Eventually. I got most of another swatch done. I’m trying the holding-two-different-yarns-together business, and I decided I wanted it on bigger needles. And I’m right, I do.
^^ Also a certain amount of unspare time was expended on freaking out today when not thirty seconds after a woman had made slightly too much fuss of Pavlova and said to me, you have greyhounds, don’t you? And you live on the little cul de sac up that way?—what am I going to say, ‘no’?—Pav and I walked into the pet store and they said, There are dog thieves around again. Be careful. All three of yours would be gone in a flash, you know. FREAK. OUT.
^^^ No, not EBON. I can’t face EBON till SHADOWS is definitively off my hands. This is a mere whim, a bagatelle, a . . . it’s SHORT, okay? SHORT.
# Mostly. Chaos occasionally wants a pansy of his own.
††† So, who’s going to be in Hampshire next February?
‡ And despite being hungry and dehydrated I still came through the front door at the mews and down the hall to the loo kind of rapidly.
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