I’m out on the street again tonight—Street Pastors. The weather has warmed up a little—which is why we could handbell at the cottage yesterday evening, because the sitting room was not full of plants—and it’s GOING TO RAIN. Either that or turn cold again. Depends on who/what you read/listen to.* I have my new battery-pack-operated heated waistcoat charged up and ready to go, and ordinary batteries for the socks and gloves poised for action . . . so it will probably rain. I haven’t ordered my waterproof trousers yet.**
And . . . I think it’s going to become official that I don’t write a proper blog on SP nights.*** Maybe I’ll use it as an excuse to post the links I never get around to posting, because they’re too wonderful and I want to celebrate them properly, like this one, which most of you author-blog-following readers will have already seen, but for anyone who hasn’t†:
. . . or because they’re too infuriatingly CONFIRMATORY of what you’ve known forever:
ARRRRRRRGH. LOTR fails? Am I surprised? I am not surprised.†† But I’m not sure you can rate SHAWSHANK REBELLION down: It’s laid in a men’s prison, for pity’s sake. On the other hand, I’m appalled that all but one of the HARRY POTTERs fails.††† What was Hermione doing all that time? Not talking to girls, evidently.
Right. Okay. I have to go put a pair of dry jeans in a bag to take with me in case I need a change during the break.‡ Night-night. Those of you so inclined, please pray for me. We’re supposed to go out there radiating the Armour of God or what-have-you. Also I can use all the help I can get chatting to strangers, even if I’m wearing the Armour of God.
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* One of my favourite things about the BBC weather site, which I have bookmarked, is the way the graphic at the top often says something different than the text at the bottom. This feels like the real experience of English weather.
** Chiefly due to a failure to find enough info on line to be sure of trousers that are long enough in the inseam AND don’t make horrible slushing noises with every step. You know they don’t give you any help with these crucial outfitting questions during the lengthy and arduous Street Pastors training.
*** Of which I have another one only next Friday, due to the inevitable stupidities of clashing schedules and the occasional inconvenient fifth Friday in a month.
† Thank you, b_twin
†† Yo, Jackson, you gonna mess with the story, how about you messed with that?
††† I know, I know. I didn’t see them past the first one which nearly bored me to death. But you know I’m hopeless. I didn’t see RETURN OF THE KING either.
‡ You’ll have seen Blogmom’s post about her taking the forum off line to wrestle with elderly technology. THIS MEANS THERE WILL BE NO FORUM TOMORROW FOR KES. I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I LIVE FOR FORUM COMMENTS, ESPECIALLY FOR KES, SO WHILE I AM GOING TO BE A BIG PERSON AND POST IT ANYWAY^ PLEEEEEEEEASE SAVE ALL THOSE COMMENTS YOU WOULD HAVE MADE TILL THE FORUM GOES UP AGAIN. ::wipes fevered brow::
^ Also, I assume if I didn’t, some of you would hunt me down and kill me. You don’t want to do that, you know, I’m not quite finished at the far end where things are still Very Bad.
It looks like a terrifyingly expensive green [sic: my poor camera is once again contending with bad indoor light] suede bag I bought for like a fifth of full price because it was a floor sample but that I’ve always been afraid to use as a handbag. You know, put stuff in it that might STAIN or GOUDGE it? Put it down casually on the FLOOR?
STOP LOOKING AHEAD. That’s cheating. And yes, anyone who was at Forbidden Planet one evening nearly two years ago when someone was wearing a black leather miniskirt on a dare should recognise that pink knitted bag.
. . . That’s a yarn winding thingy to those of you who don’t. It’s also a nostepinne but I bottled out on the nostepinne. One thing at a time. Besides, I can probably get another photo blog out of my first nostepinne attempt.
After I had my last nervous breakdown winding yarn by hand I got serious about looking for a swift. But I wanted one that sat rather than clamped, and I wanted one made out of wood like a proper Lost Country Craft tool. That’s my piano bench it’s sitting on, by the way. And that odd little blue scrap on the floor to the left is a token of the hellterror’s affection.
The yarn is Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend wildflower. http://www.deramores.com/manos-del-uruguay-silk-blend-50g Wildflower is third up from the bottom in the left hand column.
I will spare you a graphic description of the several minutes of vivid language while I untied the blasted hank. Nice yarn makers tie their skeins off with bits of waste yarn, so you can just frelling cut them. These bozos use the live end to wind through and around the hank at several places, twisted into secret Masonic knots that require needle-tipped fingers and a graduate degree in physics to untangle.
We pause here a moment to contemplate the joy that is WordPress, that piece of insufficiently composted crap. I’ve been saving-draft like anything, composing this post, because I know it’ll frell me if it can, and if it can’t, it will anyway. Which it has just done. I wanted to get to bed tonight.
. . . I was trying to say something about the fabulousness of not getting enmeshed in your half-wound skein when the invisible cat squiggles it into anarchy between one eye-blink and the next. Also that I don’t know if this is a particularly fabulous swift or if fabulousness is the basic swiftian nature: but this one is very nice indeed. If you want this exact swift or one of its cousins, I bought it here: http://www.sunflowerswifts.co.uk/ My timing is not great, the home page says they’re closed till the end of September. But you can still poke around and admire what will be on offer again in a few weeks. There are also some rather more descriptive photos of this swift.
And now, rather later than planned, I am going to bed. I may knit a little to calm down. . . .
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* Well that was the plan anyway.
. . . Is it still up? Is it still up? Rats. I guess I have to write a post. It’s been really epic. Last night when it first fell off the air I thought oh pfffffbt. When it stayed fallen off the air I assumed it was frelling gremlins my end, because it usually is, either this blasted laptop is having the vapours again or my connection has . . . vaporized. EVENTUALLY, after a certain amount of language and banging and stamping and the hurling of old newspapers across the room* I bethought me of a link Blogmom had sent me a while ago that will tell you if your blog is working. It ruminated briefly and then came up with YOUR BLOG IS BROKEN.
And it stayed broken. I don’t know what fabulous adventures were going on at the doohickey admin but it has to have been at least an alien invasion.*** It was dead air for several hours last night and then Blogmom tag-teamed me till she went to bed† and I picked up again in the morning, when it was still playing hide and seek with standard consensual reality.
Tonight was a little blurry in the three dimensions for a different category of reasons. I had a friend preaching at St Radegund, who assured me the service would be over in plenty of time for me to pelt on to St Margaret’s in my I-think-it-probably-counts-as-habitual by now way. No. Wrong. I’d managed to arrive late†† which meant I was tucked away at the back . . . which was a good thing when at five minutes after I had to leave to arrive late at St Margaret’s THEY WEREN’T ANYWHERE NEAR THE END. My leather jacket and I tried not to creak on our hasty way out. . . .
The three-dimensional blur, however, was in the contrast between the two services. Evening services at both churches tend to be the informal end, with audience participation from people ineligible for dog collars, and, sadly, they both indulge in the fashion for icky soggy modern Christian song rather than real music. St Radegund, however, is polite, thoughtful, reserved and grown-up. I walked††† into the Youth Group service at St Margaret’s where about twenty striplings were up on the stage with a bank of rotating coloured spotlights and a particularly loud drum kit. YAAAAAAAH.‡ As Aloysius said several months ago, one of the strengths of the Anglican church is that it holds great variety. . . .
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* A folded-up weekend newspaper is a very good object for the venting of extreme feelings. As long as you aim carefully so you aren’t taking anything with it, it makes a very satisfying THUD on the opposite wall and does neither itself nor the wall any harm. REASONS TO KEEP HARD COPY AVAILABLE. I don’t think an iPad even in its protective shell is going to like being thrown across the room against the wall very often.
** I had assumed that my connection had some excuse for megrims last night because we’d been having spectacular weather—not only hellhound-pummelling rain^ but thunder, lighting and hail^^. It was sheeting when Peter was due to go to his bridge club, so I drove him over there and on the way back watched the sky lighting up with a display that Frankenstein could have animated a whole regiment of monsters off. So, I thought, am I going to make a bolt for the monks even in this? YES. NEXT SILLY QUESTION. I wouldn’t have thought you could hear anything through the monks’ chapel walls except (possibly) the Last Trump, but toward the end of the service there was the most unholy racket, apparently of a small lake being dumped over the chapel roof, and I had a bow-wave most of the way home. It did occur to me to wonder if critters would care if the lights went out . . . but if either lights went out or critters cared, it was all over by the time I got back. But I was not really surprised to begin with that the blog wouldn’t connect. It seemed almost more surprising that everything else would.#
^ Pav gets a little flat-eared and oppressed-looking by the time the floodwater is brushing her belly, but she’s generally willing to take the weather as it comes, and I don’t think she recognises pummelling, by rain, hellhounds, or anything else. Hellhounds, on the other hand, in wet weather are already going into their tragic postures while I’m still locking the door and we haven’t got down the stairs to ground level yet. And poor Pav doesn’t even have a raincoat—she has a hand-me-down waterproof fleece from a hellhound puppy but that’s only for serious penguin weather—I’m waiting for her to STOP GROWING.
^^ Among my least favourite memories of the old house is having the garden in full summer hurrah torn to shreds by a hailstorm. This didn’t happen often, but it happened a few times in the thirteen years I lived there—once, even more anti-memorably, less than week before an open day.
*** @robinmckinley also tweeted: AM TOTALLY W THIS SUGGESTION @Ladykuro Mayb it’s battling monsters frm another world, mayb hv guest blogs frm Other World when it gets back
# Wall? Garden wall? What about it? Oh, the gigantic hole? That’s been there forever. We hired someone to rebuild it, but we haven’t seen him around for a while. We think he drowned.
† Hey. I go to bed early Saturday nights. Because I am naturally perverse . . . no, no, because I seem to have re- or de-morphed back into a regular New Arcadia Sunday morning service ringer. I couldn’t stand the combination of Niall’s accusatory stare over handbells and listening to four or five bells ringing on Sunday morning. Funny how penetrating the sound is even through several pillows. I’m still an official member of the abbey band^ —as well as officially persona non grata with the New Arcadia admin, as evidenced by the fact that they rang seven out of their eight bells for the wedding yesterday.
^ The equally accusing stares of the ladies in the portraits overseeing the abbey AGM are still vivid in my memory
†† Due to complications arising from having too many hellcritters
††† Or rather tore, nearly a quarter hour late
‡ The sermon, by the way, by one of the teenagers who comes regularly to that evening service, was brilliant.^ She will probably invent practical faster-than-light travel in a few years.
^ With the exception of the clip from CARS that was showed on screen as an alternative approach to the concept of win/lose. You all know CARS? You all know how it ends? . BLEEEAAAUGGGH. But I am an evil-tempered cow. We knew that.
Web host’s server was out for several hours last night.
Looks like everything is back to normal now.
ARRRRRGH. I HAVE A BOOK DUE IN THREE MONTHS. I DON’T NEED TO BE DRIVEN ROUND THE TWIST BY TECHNOLOGY.* I have wasted an EXTRAORDINARY amount of time today . . . trying to get Feynman’s SIX EASY PIECES to download onto Pooka. I have already referred to the possibility of a small unassuming fringe of supporting background maths** in SHADOWS, except that maybe I mean physics***, and if it’s the latter, the obvious person to start with is Richard Feynman.†
Every time†† I have tried to download something from frelling www.audible.co.uk except that by now I’m fairly sure it’s not audible’s fault, everything blocks up like a kitchen sink drain full of tea leaves. This time . . . when I’m downloading something I really need to be listening to NOW . . . I’m completely stymied. Every time I jump through these downloading hoops there’s at least one more hoop than there was last time, but I’ve eventually toiled through to the last. Not this time. The audible ap on Pooka just sits there saying ‘connect to WiFi or iTunes’. YOU ARE CONNECTED TO WIFI AND ITUNES, YOU MORON. YOU’RE SITTING THERE WITH A CABLE COMING OUT OF YOUR BUTT AND STUCK INTO THE LAPTOP’S SIDE. The wretched book is on the laptop—it’ll play on the laptop—but it won’t travel down the wire into Pooka, who is clearly manifesting her Apocalypse side. I even swapped cables, thinking it might be a cable problem. . . .
I emailed Archcomputerangel Raphael at about 10 o’clock tonight and . . . because Raphael is both angelic and mad, he answered. He’s on holiday. He’s on holiday and he’s still checking—and answering!—business emails at ten p.m.††† He’s going to rouse poor Gabriel tomorrow morning, who is busy holding down the fort by himself, and try to get him here to scrape me off the ceiling (again) and (possibly) do something about the situation. It’s not like it’s just the downloading problem—it’s my ongoing broadband nightmare. I’m not crashing off the internet as often, I just frequently go to a page and find the ‘page not found’ squatting there like a toad. Refreshing 1,265,928 times will usually bring whatever it is back again . . . eventually . . . although meanwhile I’ve read two more chapters in a book I’m not enjoying nearly as much as I should be due to reading it under adverse conditions. The blog is particularly prone to these Cheshire cat fits when only a fiendish grin is visible. And having got so far, it’s all very well copying from Word and then hitting ‘save draft’ before I hit ‘publish’, in case of accidents, but the ‘save draft’ takes another minute or two and I have no reason to think it’s any more stable that just hitting ‘publish’ in the first place.
And the TIME WASTED. Gazum frelling argleblargle FRELL. At a moment—or rather at a three months—when I absolutely cannot afford to be wasting time—I am WASTING TIME. STRESS. STRESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.
Now let me tell you one more story of straightforwardness and efficiency, although taking place in a different dimension, out here in the reality of bruises and . . . rain. You will remember that the auction/sale did rather better than Blogmom or I were expecting.‡ I hastily ordered some backlist books which have been infuriatingly slow to arrive, not least because once they did arrive on these shores, the frelling carrier (a) kept putting cards through my door saying SORRY TO HAVE MISSED YOU, we’ll be BACK some day in the next MONTH, some TIME between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., but we’re not going to tell you WHEN and (b) ignoring my emails saying WILL YOU PLEASE JUST LEAVE IT?
I wrote them again over the weekend saying, I have no particular reason to believe you’ll pay attention to this email when you’ve ignored the last three, but this is my LAST try before I attempt to fight my way through your possessed-by-automated-demons phone labyrinth again this coming week. Of course they didn’t answer. But today hellhounds and I went back to the cottage on an extra hurtle because I wanted to fetch Pooka’s other cable, in case the downloading problem was the cable. It’s been tipping down rain most of the day, and I hadn’t been planning to go as far as the cottage again because the rain’s got heavier as the day’s gone on. But I wanted that cable. So we plunged through the door, streaming, and found . . . another card on the floor from the carrier. They’d delivered the box. They’d left it as requested. YAAAAAAAAY.
Um. Modified yaaay. When I tell anyone to leave a parcel, I am very specific about where. Beside the dustbins there’s a little roof, provided by the fair and clever hands of Atlas. Also, it’s a roof, you know? You can see it’s a roof. Roofs are good for keeping rain off, right? So . . . whoever this driver is had left it between the dustbins—opposite the roof, not under it—so not only was it sitting in the torrential rain, it was receiving additional drenching from the run off from the dustbin lids.
But because I had come home for the frelling cable, the box had not yet soaked through. I guess I have to count this as a win. . . .‡‡
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*Which is further yanking me around at this moment. I’m listening to Ruddigore on Radio Three via their ‘listen again’ programme—or let’s say I’m trying to listen to it—and it’s just dropped off the frelling airwaves again. ‘Low bandwidth’ the pop-up box says, primly. The story of my frelling life, lately. Low. Bandwidth.^ Arrrrrrrgh. When the frelling government does all these useless frelling studies of where they can shoehorn in more people—and the whole ‘build more houses!’ thing makes me nuts anyway, when we’ve got a colossal empty house problem already, at least in Hampshire—when they are passing over the whole infrastructure question because it doesn’t suit them to recognise that there is more to be considered than merely plot size for houses, do they even have internet access and broadband feasibility as an item on their list to be passed over? Or is that a dumb question? Don’t answer that.
^ It’s presently not saying anything. It’s not playing either.
** And have therefore terrified most of you into silence, apparently. I did tell you that you have nothing to fear: you’ll only notice it as a lack of polar bears in the desert. Or as I said in the afterword to OUTLAWS: I wanted to make the story historically unembarrassing— I’m aiming to make SHADOWS scientifically unembarrassing—at least up to the point where I jump off the deep end clutching my solemn textbooks and laughing maniacally. At the moment the magic, and the gruuaa, are winning. Which is fine. As long as it’s a fair fight.
*** My ignorance knows very few bounds.
†† Except not every time. That very first book—DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT [American] HISTORY—the first two of its four parts downloaded fine. Nothing like setting the frelling hook before you start fishing in earnest.
††† Angelic. Mad.
‡ And in case you’re wondering why I’ve never given you a final absolute total, that’s because I don’t know what the final absolute total is. It’s not so much the postage and envelopes and pads of A6 paper and things, I’ve got books that were donated by the publishers and books that I paid for—at author’s rate, mind, but still, paid for, and since there are more than two or three of these I need to reimburse myself, which I hadn’t originally expected to be an issue—and I’m going to have to take the whole show to the Tax Man and find out how to present it, and what goes in column A and what goes in column B, because I’m going to have to pay tax on it and then wait till the lovely IRS grudgingly disburses at least some of it back again. This has been a steep learning curve and no mistake. I have every intention of doing a little tiny charity auction again some day, because it’s a perfectly good idea and when you’re not thinking ‘eeep’ it’s also fun, but there’s an emphasis on little tiny. And Blogmom hasn’t forgotten the doodle window, it’s just that all the stuff she didn’t do while she was running the unexpectedly-successful Days in the Life sale/auction, has kind of fallen on her and she’s still catching up.
However, it is safe to say that I will be, thanks to your enthusiasm, writing a Very Attractive Cheque for the bell fund.
‡‡ The continuing saga: when I went to copy and paste into the blog admin window . . . it took six and a half minutes for the thing to open, an additional minute while it thought about accepting the copy and paste I had just (as I thought) inserted . . . and when the words finally appeared on the blank white screen all the formatting had disappeared. No punctuation. No paragraphs. Isn’t life with modern technology fun?