Some days are not worth getting out of bed for
. . . especially if you only just got into bed a very wretchedly few hours ago. You could make yourself a nice cup of tea and go back to bed, with your iPad and your knitting and your 1,000,000 books*. And the windows carefully closed with the double-glazing panels run across because it’s cold, but also because from the far side of the house (my bedroom overlooks the road, not the garden, two walls over from my ex-tower) I can’t hear how many bells they’re ringing and therefore can’t feel guilty if the answer is guilt-inducing.**
But I did get out of bed because I have this menagerie.*** And after lunch I left in LOTS OF TIME to get to the abbey for afternoon service ring.
It took half an hour to find a parking space. ARRRRRRRGH.
Ringing was not totally, hopelessly, humiliatingly ghastly.† And thus we were all in relatively good spirits when we pulled off for what would probably be our last touch of the afternoon.
. . . When suddenly about ten tall lithe somber men in black poured into the ringing chamber and came to a halt, staring at us. And the black baseball caps with POLICE in large white letters across the forehead were not reassuring. WHATEVER IT WAS, WE DIDN’T DO IT. WE WERE RINGING. It was totally like something on TV, except I am very glad to say they were not carrying submachine guns or small cannon or specially trained alligators. Apparently the abbey has a Nameless VIP visiting this week and they’re sweeping out the corners. Good luck, mate. The abbey is all corners. Dark, cobwebby ones with enormous ancient beams, and those beams are capable of anything. But it is very disconcerting trying to keep your mind on your four-five up dodge when half a dozen Men in Black suddenly bolt across your line of vision out of one tenebrous archway and into another—and your peripheral vision is picking up murky motion your front brain is telling you is only the rest of the MiBs protecting the earth from the scum of the universe . . . um . . . but your hindbrain is saying VAMPIRES! DEINONYCHUS! RUN!, and if the conductor calls a bob, you’ve had it. Fortunately I think the conductor was a little distracted too.
We stalwart ringers then all descended back into the teeming mob of twenty-four shopping days till Christmas and it is a miracle I didn’t kill anybody.†† GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. But then I thought, I’m here already, I might as well drop into WH Smith and buy Peter a Christmas present, this object being one of the few things I’ve thought of to give him†††, I have to go that way to get back to Wolfgang anyway.
WH Smith has put in a few of those self-check-out electronic till things‡. The queue was shorter than for a live human being, so I went for the high tech option: the ones at Tesco’s don’t generally bite. It checked me straight through with only a few personal comments about my dress sense and gene pool, accepted my credit card and . . . suddenly stalled out, presenting me with a blue screen saying the end is nigh. Seek assistance.
It had run to the end of its paper roll and couldn’t give me my receipt. First I had to go make the people in the human-till-operated queue hate me, because the humans operating those tills were the only staff visible. The first person to attempt to unravel my problem ran away screaming. The second person, of stouter material, fed the thing a fresh new roll of receipt paper . . . which the machine spat out again instantly, demanding the mint-flavoured.
I was there for nearly half an hour. The poor sweating clerk never did get the thrice-blasted machine to accept any roll of branded WH SMITH TILL RECEIPT paper. Eventually he took me back to his till, decharged me and recharged me . . . and gave me a receipt.
Peter probably won’t like it anyway.
I should have stayed in bed. I wonder if I could teach Pavlova to make tea?‡‡
* * *
* Now including your Bible which is a BIG FAT THING.
** Having received a cryptic message from Niall at ringing-o’clock this morning I suspect it was guilt-inducing. But I was singing^ or refereeing hellcritters or banging my spoon against the side of my mug or something and didn’t hear it come in TILL MUCH LATER. Fortunately.
^ Oh . . . moan. I told you, didn’t I, that Peter was buying me a sound recording thingy for Christmas? Did I tell you it arrived? A few days ago. Peter, being a Very Nice Man, gave it to me early, because Nadia is taking several weeks off over Christmas. And I looked at it, and all the large obtrusive advertising on the box about everything it can do and I thought nooooooooo another thing to have to learn to use. So I took it along to Oisin on Friday, and made him figure it out. Unfortunately he was successful. So I took it home and—before I forgot how—yesterday afternoon I recorded me singing.
Oh . . . moan. I knew it was going to be bad but . . . I knew that, at best, I’m just some twittish talent-free+ middle-aged amateur but . . . How does Nadia stand it? There must be easier ways to earn a living. I have a voice lesson tomorrow. I feel a permanent case of laryngitis coming on.++ Which would sure solve the two-and-a-half-hour choir rehearsal with no loo problem.
+ Why am I so drawn to things I AM NO FRELLING GOOD AT? Singing. Bell ringing. Someone said in the forum recently, after a report on one of my small quavery triumphs, that maybe I should just accept that I’m a competent ringer. The problem is that I’m not. I have my moments—bashing through our quarter peal of bob minor with Gemma having quite a few quavery moments ringing a method she didn’t know was one of them—but I’m not reliable and the accuracy of my striking is pretty frelling dire. I’m what you get if you take a reasonably intelligent, unreasonably obstinate person and plonk her down in the middle of something she really wants to learn when the hard way is the only one available to her—and obstinacy does get you farther than you expect but it can’t morph your pig’s-earishness into a silk purse. I’m a useful ringer because I show up. That I keep showing up is my chief virtue. Sigh. Mind you, it is a virtue, but it would be nice to have a few more to keep it company.
++ You know that standard thing that voice teachers tell you to stop you cutting your throat? That you can’t hear what you sound like to everyone else because you’re hearing it from the inside? It’s even WORSE from the outside.#
# So don’t hold your breath about my debut on YouTube.
*** I swear there are more than three of them. Well, four, if you count the dragon.
† Translation: other people went wrong worse than I did. And I managed to hold my line when it was someone else screwing up.
†† Or if I did, they went down quietly and I didn’t notice.
††† I HATE THIS TIME OF YEAR^ I HAVE THE WORLD’S WORST HUSBAND FOR FINDING PRESENTS FOR AND HIS BIRTHDAY IS NINE DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
^ I know. I’m a Christian this year. Christ’s birthday etc. I’m working on it.
‡ With the robo voice that says things like ‘put your purchased item in the bagging area, you stupid git, how many times do I have to tell you?’ and ‘that’s not the barcode, that’s your fingerprint’ and ‘no, I’m not going to give you your change until you’ve sung the descant to Angels We Have Heard on High’.
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