March 27, 2013

Hellcritter update


In my attempt to fatten the hellterror up so the Bull Terrier Secret Police don’t come after me, coupled with cutting back on what I give the hellhounds both in the hope of stimulating some APPETITE but also having less leftover dog food*, Pav is presently getting more food than the hellhounds.

Including, after lunch a piece of Fish Jerky, which is pressed and petrified fish skin.  I had tried it on the hellhounds ages ago and they were Not.  Amused.  But Southdowner brought me a pack last week.  Hellterror will eat anything, of course, so I wasn’t surprised she liked it.  I didn’t bother to offer it to the hellhounds, they weren’t eating anyway.  But hellhounds are very interested in everything that happens to the hellterror differently than it happens to hellhounds.  This even includes food.**  So after getting a lot of outrage guff from hellhounds while Pav happily ate her fish brick, I gave them one each.  THEY ATE THEM.  Oh.  Well, that was unexpected.  That was yesterday.  Today I was still reeling from the equally unexpected joy of lunch-eating hellhounds when I gave Pav her brick.  I thought, why wreck it?  They’ll have gone off fish bricks by now.

But Chaos got out of the hellhound bed to follow me back to the extra-extra-large canister where I keep an increasing assortment of canine comestibles, and did a very clear Want That mime.  So I offered him one.  He took it in his mouth, stood there a moment looking bemused, dropped it . . . and turned to look at the hellterror, gnawing away happily in her crate.  I could see the thought-bubble forming over his head:  I want what she’s having such a good time with.  This is it, I said, picking up the rejected fish brick.  But at this point Darkness expressed interest—and Darkness is both very slightly less totally bonkers than Chaos and is also significantly less interested in what is happening with the hellterror^^, or anyway is more particular about what he objects to.  So I gave him a brick.  Oh yes, he said, I remember, I quite enjoyed the last one.  And he ate it.  Whereupon Chaos looked at me like we were all in league against him and he was a poor lone friendless thing in a hostile universe.  I offered him another brick.

He ate it this time.

PS:  Pavlova weighs twenty four pounds.  And while I haven’t taught her to stand still to be measured from where she slams into my legs when she’s hucklebutting without looking where she’s going I’d say she’s between 13 and 14 inches at the shoulder.  Which is about as big as she’s supposed to get.  The growth spurt is chiefly length.  I have to kind of fold her up to get her in her travelling crate any more, sigh, I really have to do something about this before the next time she has to spend more than the two minutes to get to the mews in it. . . .

* * *

* They will face what they have seen before only to a limited extent, especially when they’re already being grumpy about food, AND AT THESE PRICES I CAN’T BEAR TO THROW IT OUT.

** The standard form, when all three of my furry live entertainment cast are loose together at the mews, is for them to go tearing up and down the long(ish) sitting room^, Darkness barking like a klaxon:  IT’S HERE!  IT’S ALIVE!  IT’S LOOSE! and Chaos doing his fake snarly bark that says, Do that again and I’ll paste you one, whereupon of course she does it again^^, and he goes ROWRROWRROWR and looks very cross and supercilious like someone’s spinster uncle at an infant school outing, but he somehow goes on being in precisely the right/wrong place for caroming hellterrors.  This continues till either I or Peter can’t stand it any more, and then I nail the little one and stuff her back in her crate.^^^  To soften this barbaric act, and because when a critter is so easily assuaged why not, I toss half a handful of kibble over the floor of her crate, which usually means she goes STRAIGHT in with no stuffing necessary.  She will come looking for this if essential hunger overcomes the delight of torturing hellhounds, but last night I misjudged and she was cornering the appalled Darkness after I’d already thrown the kibble in her crate.  I FOUND CHAOS HAVING JAMMED HIS TOO-TALL SELF IN HER CRATE HOOVERING IT UP.  CHAOS WHO WON’T EAT HIS FOOD IS SUCKING UP PUPPY KIBBLE BECAUSE THE PUPPY GETS IT.  Not to mention the fact that he’s ALLERGIC to it because it has cereal grain in it ARRRRRRRRGH.  I told myself he hadn’t got much . . . I prayed that he hadn’t got much, and apparently my prayer was answered, since there were no hellhound digestive dramas today.  YOU BIG STUPID SCHMUCK.  Arrrrrrrgh.  I can’t wait to get her off puppy food and onto the no-grain stuff the hellhounds eat.

^ All the World’s a Stage
And hellhounds and hellterrors merely players:
They have their exits (YAAAAAAH) and their entrances (AAAAAAUGH);
One critter in its time plays many parts,
These acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the besotted future owner’s arms.
And then the whining puppy, tail between legs
And shining morning face, little legs braced
Unwillingly propelled into a crate with a door . . .

Hmm.  I seem to have gone off the track somewhere.  I don’t remember any crates in the original.  The shining morning face is dead on though.  I could do with it shining a little less when I’m stumbling around trying to make tea.  I’LL TAKE YOU OUT AND FEED YOU BREAKFAST.  IN A MINUTE, OKAY?  There ought to be a law against anything being as relentlessly cheerful and enthusiastic in the morning as your average puppy.

^^ This involves a sort of reverse dive-bombing.  There are a lot of frantic little legs involved.

^^^ The truth about life with a tricolour:  You get white hairs on your black clothes.  You get black hairs on your white clothes.  You get rusty auburn+ hairs on everything.  It’s somehow a whole extra magnitude of critter hair than the pale fawn and steel-mahogany-grey I’ve been living with for the last six and a half years, possibly something to do with hellhound hair being fine and silky and hellterror hair being coarse and rough.  It’s so dense it’s almost plushy in a bristly sort of way.  Although the little almost-bare fuzzy tummy is divine.

+ Southdowner, when she was here, said thoughtfully, her markings are unusually orange.  I don’t know that I’ve seen a tricolour who is quite so vividly orange before.  —ORANGE?  YOU’RE CALLING MY HEARTBREAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL HELLTERROR PUPPY ORANGE?

*** Unless this includes that she’s out of her crate and he is at RISK.


A little more blog comment catch up



I’ve told you, haven’t I, that PEG II ends possibly even worse than PEG? Slightly depending on your definition of ‘worse’.

Ummmm. No. I don’t think you had. And if you had I had BLOCKED IT OUT. Thanks.  

One of us is doing a certain amount of blocking anyway.  Like I’m blocking the whole trilogy thing.  THERE ARE TWO BOOKS LEFT.  AND I HAVE TO REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST ONE.  BECAUSE THERE’S A FIRST ONE.  Arrrrrrgh.  I was reading a snarky review somewhere of someone else’s first book of a trilogy, and the snarky reviewer was saying how tired she was of authors feeling they have to produce trilogies and that this one is already failing to support the length.  Well, I can’t speak for the length-supporting—and I’m sure some authors, possibly desperate to earn a living*, which does happen, silly us for quitting our day jobs, have signed up for a trilogy for the ‘paid three times’ aspect—but some of us don’t choose to write trilogies, trilogies choose us.  One might almost say mug us.

I didn’t mean to finish anything on a cliffhanger.  The end of PEG was supposed to be the end of part one.  The end of PEG II was supposed to be the middle of PEG II.  I don’t do time, I don’t do distance, I don’t do length or word count. . . . I am Not of This World.  Which explains a lot really.

I blame KES for your growing fondness for cliffhangers.

It’s the other way around.  The end of PEG was a big, Oh well hey moment, even though I knew a lot of people would hate me for it.**  Writing KES is an interesting experience*** not least because of the 800-or-so words per episode set-up and the need to create some structure out of the situation.  Eight hundred words doesn’t give you much opportunity for momentum.  Itty-bitty cliffhangers are a way to make the story feel like it’s moving forward.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Skating librarian

So have I missed something, does Pegasus II have a pub. date yet, that you are already anticipating reader’s reactions? 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.  I HAVEN’T WRITTEN IT YET.†  I’m anticipating reader reactions because PEG II also ends on a cliffhanger and I know what the end of PEG got me.  And if you ever browse around in the blog pre-PEG you may come across one of the occasions when I warn you that PEG has a Frodo-was-alive-but-taken-by-the-Enemy ending.  Readers frequently surprise me but some things can be successfully assumed.  Like that cliffhangers make a lot of readers cranky, especially when they’re not expecting it.††


Remind me to have her crate off the kitchen table and on the FLOOR before that [that the hellterror is too heavy to lift] happens

I’m sure she’d be happy to leap up on the table without you lifting her.

Yup.  She will soon.  She can’t quite bound reliably up on the chair from the slippery kitchen floor, and then she doesn’t have enough spring without a run at it to boing it from the chair into the crate.  But she’s now busy making me feel ENORMOUSLY GUILTY because the minute I put her on drugs and started feeding her more she’s having an unscheduled growth spurt.  Ask me how I know this (she says, rubbing her aching arms†††).  Sigh. . . .

* * *

* Scary publishing story?  Here’s a scary publishing story for any of us who aren’t J K Rowling or E L James—and for you/us readers.  I tweeted it a little while ago but for anyone who doesn’t immediately click on every link, here it is again:

Books are not widgets.  They are not one size fits all.  Another one of similar dimensions produced by another company is not a suitable substitute.  And it is not okay that the big guys are playing hardball with the little guys’ livelihoods and future careers because they can.

I would like to believe that when this gets sorted out both sides, who are, in fact, in the book business which does, finally, depend in some fashion on authors, will make some good on the books and writers that are being squeezed now.  But do I believe it . . . ?

** And I have—or anyway had, since I tend to delete them—the email to prove it.  What continues to fascinate me however is the number of people who seem to believe that was the ending.  I know I don’t write series or sequels and that I may even have made a slight doodah about the fact that I don’t write series or sequels, but it genuinely never OCCURRED to me that anyone wouldn’t recognise a cliffhanger when they saw one.  Also . . . have I ever ruined one of my heroines’ lives and left her in a crumpled heap on the floor?  Maybe some of these people have never read any of my other books and don’t know my reprehensible tendency toward the Technicolor sunset finish.  I grant that some books end more Technicolorful than others^, but do you really think Sylvi and Ebon are parted for life?  Please.

^ I still get furious, appalled or gravely disappointed mail about the end of SPINDLE.  These readers and Ikor should get together.  They could start a club.+

+ I’ve said this before.  But I think it again every time I get one of these letters.

*** Especially the part about HAVING NO IDEA WHERE IT’S GOING.  I know most of the immediate future, aside from the way every story changes in the process of writing it down, and I have some idea about some things farther ahead (or sometimes farther to one or another side), and I recognise as you might call them hot spots where there’s more story if I can wiggle what is there already around and get it aimed in the right direction, but mostly I have to trust to the extremely alive critter that KES is, and hope it/she continues lithe and frisky.  I AM OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE.  I DON’T DO SERIALS.

† I’m in the early No, no, nooooooo phase, including the Huh?  What?  I wouldn’t have put this in if the story didn’t promise me there was a reason NOW WHAT THE MANGY TICK-INFESTED FRELL WAS THE REASON?^ This is a not uncommon phase mid-story but I’m not used to having some of it out there in public already.

^ Distant sound of story, giggling.

†† Not to worry.  Much.  There will be a Technicolor-ish sunset ending.  Eventually.  I think.

††† Although I can still tuck her under one arm because she puts her feet in my pockets.  Southdowner warned me about this. . . . But really it’s a useful talent.  Usually.  Except when she uses it to trampoline herself out of your grasp.

Nuts nuts nuts. Business as usual then.


I don’t think I told you I was ringing three services today?  Feh.  But I tend to feel that if people want bells they should have bells and it’s Palm Sunday.  Especially they should have bells on Palm Sunday.*  So when Amy phoned me on Friday and asked if I could ring a service Sunday afternoon at St Obdurate in Gentle Dribbling I thought about how, with two service rings plus a bell-free church service, my Sundays are a bit of a wipe anyway, and said okay.

Today started with me having set my alarm wrong leaving me with twenty minutes instead of forty-five to get my rope-pulling hands to the tower YAAAAAAARG and so of course this is the morning that Pavlova would rather shadow-box with the rose-bushes** than crap.  I therefore got to the New Arcadia tower five minutes late, direly undercaffeinated, and only about one-third awake.  And went wrong in Grandsire Doubles which is usually one of the methods I have a reasonably good Sunday-morning-brain automatic pilot for SIIIIIIIGH.***

I went home and drank a lot of tea.  And gave everybody a good hurtle because the afternoon was a trifle overbooked.  And the Easter Bunny had brought me an early present:  the hellhounds ate lunch.  YAAAAAAY.  So I got off to the abbey in both plenty of time and with a song in my heart.†

Where we were five.  FIVE.  It’s the abbey, it’s Palm Sunday, we have four hundred and ninety-two bells and FIVE ringers?  At least I had a chance to redeem myself by ringing Grandsire Doubles . . . and without a tenor-behind, what’s more. ††

Gemma and I managed to lose an hour over a cup of tea††† and I came PELTING back to the mews to whizz first hellhounds and then hellterror around block-facsimiles for the purpose of eliminatory relief—but the weather is SO SUCKY that I don’t think anybody minded.  Then I leaped back into Wolfgang and drove off in all directions for Gentle Dribbling.

To my complete astonishment Amy’s very simple directions were adequate.  I feel that your average directions-giver fails to take into account when, for example, they say ‘next left after the rhinoceros’ there is that ancient aurochs trail that no one has used in thousands of years between the rhinoceros and the road you’re supposed to take, which a very determined person in a very old car that has seen worse and has the scars to prove it, could force herself down.  But in this case both Gentle Dribbling and St Obdurate were right where they should be.  And the bells were not possessed by demons so even on an insufficiency of sleep and getting on toward the end of a rather long day I didn’t do anything that might make the wrong sort of history. . . .

And I joined St Margaret’s tonight.  Officially.  The vicar was holding forth in a businesslike way when I burst through the doors—late as usual.  Lotte said oh, don’t worry, he’s just talking about voting for the council‡ but you have to be a member.  She looked at me thoughtfully and said, you’ve been coming six months, haven’t you?  You’d be eligible to join, if you wanted to.  But you need to fill out a form.

I filled out the form.  And the vicar snatched it away from me and said Welcome.  We’re glad to have you.

I belong to a church.  Yeep.

* * *

* Or Easter Sunday, or Christmas, or their wedding day, or whatever.  Occasions that happen anywhere near a bell tower should have bells.  If anyone is asking me, which anyone rarely does, I would say that includes the town fete, school graduation and the local something or other team winning its first game in twenty years.  Of course I also think that the town council should subsidize us, so . . .

** Which are leafing out, poor blind fools.  MAY I JUST REITERATE HOW MUCH I HATE THIS HARD FRINGLEFRANGLING FROST EVERY NIGHT AND EVERY DAY NOT MUCH BETTER WEATHER.  I was tweeting furiously about this yesterday.  My twenty-three thousand sweet pea seedlings arrived in the post this week . . . and it’s too cold to put them outdoors during the day, never mind needing to bring them in overnight, nor do I have anywhere to put them indoors, let alone somewhere to put them where they can get enough sunlight not to turn ashen and die.  I think I’ve only lost a couple of my begonia tubers—from having brought them in at midnight instead of at sunset about a week ago—and they’ll put up with staying indoors in the dark for longer, but they won’t start growing till they get some sunlight and warmth, and in my experience they’re a little slow off the mark anyway^ and therefore the spectre of having them finally in full flower just in time for the first autumn frosts manifests like a snow-fog vision.  ARRRRGH.^^

^ Unlike, say, dahlia cuttings, which grow like crazy.  If my dahlia cuttings arrive before the weather changes I am so screwed  

^^ I had only barely taken on gardening as a practical concept that last summer I was in Maine, when Peter came to visit the end of July and drastically altered my view of the future.  But I do remember that the ordinary backyard gardener didn’t buy begonia tubers, you bought plants already in full leaf and just coming into flower.

*** Very slightly in my defense, I yanked myself back on my line again.  Good ringers can do this so fast the rest of the band doesn’t even notice.  This did not occur in this case.

† Possibly I Wanna Be Your Dog

†† It’s perhaps a good thing that I was the one who caught the Dreaded Long Thirds when our conductor called a single.  The thing about abbey ringers is that they are CLUELESS about methods on fewer than seventy-eight bells.  I, on the other hand, am much more likely to get through a touch on five or six bells without humiliating myself.  I did say to Gemma on the way out that it amused me, in a dry sort of way, to be telling someone—ie her—who can ring frelling Grandsire Caters (nine bells with tenor-behind) how to ring plain bob doubles (five bells with tenor-behind and usually the first method you learn to ring).

††† I am short of sleep, time is the evil empire anyway, and I FORGOT I had a third ring . . .

‡ Do I mean council?  I can’t remember the word she used.  Church admin.

KES, 71


Eight boxes . . .  it was only the first layer.  There was an identical wall of boxes behind the first, and there would be another wall behind that.  I may have whimpered.  All right, wait.  First eight boxes successfully accomplished.  I wasn’t dead yet and the van was a whole layer emptier.  Two layers, if you counted the rose-bush, the sofa, and some of the fruits of my two trips to the Majormojo Mall.  The rose-bush was okay where she was but if I wanted to count the rest I needed to lug it up those villainous stairs.

I looked gloomily at the sofa.  Well, it would make a change.

I will spare you the details.  There was some shouting when, having hooked one of the legs over the railing and nearly pulled the stair out from under my own feet I staggered up the last steps rather too fast in recoil and got wedged under the porch roof.  I hoped Hayley was right that my neighbours were never there.  I was not making a good impression.  And I’d really rather they never saw the van at all.  Merry was going to be shock enough.

What I needed was a cup of tea.  Supposing I could find my tea-making gear.

I could.  Amazingly.  As I groped around in the dark van, one of the boxes on top of the freshly revealed wall of pain rustled faintly when I pulled at it.  It weighed nearly as much as any of the others, but its contents were clearly not solid and rectangular.  You’d think I might have labelled them, wouldn’t you?  But it hadn’t seemed necessary.  They were almost all books.

Cautiously I opened this one.  Inside was a lot of newspaper, bubble wrap, pots, pans, two china teapots and . . . tea.  Hallelujah.

I wrestled my find up the stairs and into the kitchen, and slid it gratefully onto the no-bending-over-necessary table.  Then I positively trotted down those wretched stairs to the van again.  I gathered up an armful of plastic bags containing t shirts and underwear before they started scampering away across the landscape—there was a wind picking up, although it didn’t seem to be blowing the clouds away—grabbed the apples and chocolate and as much of the dog stuff as I could and elbowed the van doors shut.  This time I felt rubbery going up the front steps.  Which was an improvement on feeling like a ninety-five-year-old chain-gang escapee.

The next question was whether I could get water-boiling heat out of the college-dorm-reject stove.  I looked at it dubiously.  I turned one of the handles and there was a bogus clicking noise but I saw no spark and nothing lit.  I sniffed.  That was gas all right.  I needed matches before striking one would make the kitchen explode.  I found an elderly half-full box in one of the kitchen drawers, but the first six snapped without doing any more than making a faint match-striking-board smell.  Arrgh.

Sid had followed me into the kitchen.  The last time she saw plastic bags like these she’d had tuna and hash and cheese out of the situation.  “In a minute,” I said.  I went back out to the van, again blessing Mr Screaming Skull, and retrieved the matches from the glove box.  I lit one of the burners.  The flame was a little excitable, wanting to dance on the tabletop.  I reproved it. It hissed at me.  I turned the cold tap on and watched it spit and snarl and finally erupt in copper-colored semi-liquid.  I pulled out my tea kettle and waited a little anxiously.  I sidled closer to the now steadily, not to say sullenly, burning gas flame.  When I wasn’t carrying boxes it was cold.  Ugh.  Even if Rose Manor had central heating I couldn’t pay for it.  I would warm up one hand at a time over the gas burner.  I glanced wistfully toward Caedmon, invisible in his shadowy alcove.

Sid was distracted from thoughts of cheese by the antics of the water supply.  BLOOIE.  POW.  The sink shook.  There was an ominous pause and then a blast like the last trump rattled the window.  At the same time something that I hoped was only wind slammed into the back of the house.  WHAM.  Who needs Cthulhu in the cellar when King Kong is ripping the walls out?  Sid barked.  The wind was now having a go at prying the window sash off and—whackety-whackety-whackety slam—that was hail.  And I still had 1,000,000,000 boxes of books to carry up a flight of outdoor stairs.

“If there’s a hob in earshot,” I said quaveringly, “I’d be very grateful for anything you can do.  I’ll buy some milk when I go back in town.  Unless you’d rather have a brownie.  Er.  The chocolate kind.”

Silence fell again, but Sid was still on alert and so was I.  And then like something out of a Shirley Jackson novel, the pipes all over the house started serially banging in off key harmony.  The furthest ones were first, so the sound got louder and closer.  I hooked my fingers under Sid’s collar and tried not to whine.  The bangs reached a crescendo, the long neck of the kitchen faucet trembled and . . . sparkling-clear water poured out.

“Thank you,” I whispered.


Singing, hurtling and eating. Or not.



The good news:  hellhounds ate lunch.  The bad news:  Eventually.  This is the first really long grim eating-resistant patch they’ve had since Pav came home and in the first place I’m out of practise being made this crazy and in the second place I. DO. NOT. HAVE. TIME. FOR. THIS. NONSENSE.  Night before last Chaos didn’t eat more than two mouthfuls of supper—Darkness scarfed his and looked like he’d eat more.  Last night I gave Chaos less . . . and Chaos scarfed his, looked like he’d’ve eaten more, and Darkness didn’t eat more than two mouthfuls.  AAAAAAAAAUGH.  And . . . which is why I feel obliged to be made crazy TRYING TO MAKE THEM FRELLING EAT . . . you can pretty much tell who didn’t eat much last meal:  he’s the one who tries harder not to eat anything NEXT meal.


Hellterrors are clearly my future.*  But I sometimes think Pav carries it to extremes.  I’d heard rumours of dogs that will lick up a homeopathic pill if you offer it to them—the pills are sweet, after all.  Pav does.  No problem.  Hellhounds do not,  of course, hellhounds who closely inspect even bits of chicken before they accept them (when they accept them), although fortunately they are only weary rather than hostile to my periodic prying open of their mouths to dose them with one thing or another.  I wouldn’t DREAM of trying to give them actual medicine any way but stuffing it down their throats by hand, or rather by poking finger.  Pav’s first pill a couple of days ago I went through the business of opening her mouth to put the pill at the back of her throat, and she was so HEY, DO I GET TO SWALLOW SOMETHING?  THAT’S GREAT, I LOVE SWALLOWING THINGS that because I am a silly person I offered her her next pill on the flat of my hand, like offering a horse a carrot.  She ate it.  She picked it up and ate it.  I waited a minute—probably with my jaw hanging open—to make sure it didn’t re-emerge.  Nope.  The next one I gave her the same way and I heard her chewing it up.  Crunch crunch crunch (they’re kind of big pills for a relatively little hellterror).

. . . It’s been another frantic day.  Fridays usually are.**  And in a few minutes I have to face hellcritter supper, two-thirds of which is likely to be fraught.

* * *

* I’ve told you I had my hand pretty much poised over the phone to make the appointment to visit the local greyhound rescue when I saw the ad for whippet-cross puppies—and that I came out of hellhound puppyhood gasping that I was getting too old for this and they were probably my last puppies.  Ahem.  Pav, however, as puppies go, is so frelling easy that I can imagine doing this again^, but I was thinking, if I ever get to the greyhound-rescue point again, a good rescue shelter knows its dogs, and I CAN ASK FOR ONE THAT EATS.

^ And if I breed the little hussy+ I almost certainly will

+ Southdowner asked me if I had a plan in place for when she comes on heat the first time.  I said that I was going to continue to crate them, and crate them separately, and the hellhounds thus far had never shown any great interest in bitches on the make. . . .  So you’re hoping to get away with it, said Southdowner, only a little sardonically.  It’s not impossible, she went on, but bullies tend to be sexy little things.  I was afraid you were going to say that, I replied sadly.

** Try warming up your singing voice while your hellhounds are refusing to eat their lunch.  Between the sheer ARRRRRRGH factor and the absolute necessity not to say ARRRRRRRRRRRGH to them, your voice snaps shut like a switchblade.  I sang anyway.  I am DETERMINED this time to start singing for Oisin regularly.  I am NEVER going to get used to singing with someone else doing something else/an accompanist/a partner if I DON’T DO IT.  Meanwhile I’d had this possibly sensible^ idea that I might have a better run at figuring out the system for singing-with if I started with songs that I know really, really, REALLY well—like the songs I sing when I’m out hurtling^^.  So I fished a few of these out of the rather terrifying stack(s) of music standing beside and around the piano^^^ and discovered . . . that in the weeks, months or years of singing them away from the piano I have, in a few cases . . . as one might say developed my own version.

I sang ’em anyway.  I tried to sing them the way Oisin was playing them. . . . #

^ Sensible?  Sensible?  Who do I think I am?

^^ I’ve been thinking about this.  When I was a kid you heard people singing—out walking the dog, or the guy at the garage pumping your gas, or your friend’s mom when you went home with someone after school (because in the ’50s in America your friend’s mom would be home).  I’m not so old I remember a time before radio but I certainly remember a time before transistor radios had completely taken over—when people still sang because there wasn’t a professional doing it better out of some small shiny electronic box near at hand.  Even then though you still heard ordinary people singing sometimes . . . you even heard them singing occasionally through the early eras of portable playback gadgets.  And then the Sony Walkman happened.  Wiki says it launched in 1979:  I remember it (and increasing numbers of rivals), in its turn, completely taking over in the ’80s.  And I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone over the age of about six singing for no particular reason in public.  I remember being a little uneasy back then about the turn on, tune in and drop out aspect of everyone’s favourite new toy—I was a teenager in the ’60s after all—although I succumbed pretty soon.  I’m maybe more conscious of the dangerous attractions of voluntary isolation than someone who works in an office and quite reasonably can’t wait to plug in away from his/her annoying colleagues.  The professionally creative always has the excuse of needing to earn a living for locking herself away from the rest of the world and music can be a very good way to engage with that ratbagging story that won’t tell her what it wants.  I’ve already answered my own question about why a nearly talent-free amateur dweeb should bother studying music—because any experience of performance spectacularly opens out your relationship with all music—but I’m still not going to try to strongarm anyone into coming to the Muddles’ next concert.  But . . . I think we’ve lost something, if people really don’t sing while walking the dog(s) any more, or hum off-handedly, and possibly off-pitch, while standing in a queue at the chemist, rather than automatically getting their iPod out and closing themselves off with earphones.

^^^ Very similar to the TBR pile(s) around the bed at the cottage.  And let’s not talk about the yarn.  In the cupboard, under the bed, and in the too-short-for-another-shelf-of-books-because-my-moron-of-a-carpenter-didn’t-do-what-I-said space+ above the upstairs bookshelves.

+Maybe he had a vision that I was going to need stash space in a few years.

# Which in the case of, say, Benjamin Britten taking the mickey out of Peter Pears, trying to follow what your pianist is doing is not helpful.

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