THERE’S TOO MUCH GOING ON* including various bits of news** both good and bad that I haven’t entirely got my head around yet*** although when I do some of them will make it onto the blog.
Meanwhile I thought I might at least post some photos of an attic full of book boxes as requested by some strange person on the forum.
This is what greets you at the top of the stairs. That’s the corner of my old double bed from Maine on the left, hard up against the end wall, pretending to be a Guest Room. When I get it made up again it will be a very good place for Lying with the Hellmob. The hellhounds and I had begun to explore this interesting possibility back when Third House was still Third House. And a double bed is enough bigger than a sofa I may be able to trap the hellterror in place more effectively.
But this is what I mean about lack of impressiveness–although you may be dazzled by my colour sense–you’re looking at nineteen or twenty boxes wedged into that corner, but since you can only see the outside rows it’s a big meh.
You’re now standing with the bed behind you and the yellow filing cabinet to your left, looking down the length of the attic. This is the long kitchen table, worth £1.79, built out of bits Peter had found in rubbish tips, that when we moved out of the old house I REFUSED TO GIVE UP. And I was right. It is perfect as a long skinny attic table. That’s the notorious dormer window that has produced those interesting ceiling angles, some of which you can see. And those are avocadoes on the window sill, in case you’re wondering, ripening in the sunlight that blasts in during the day. If you peer into the murk to the far end of the attic you may just about be able to make out EMPTY SHELVES. Yes. I keep putting stuff on them and then taking it off again because how am I supposed to choose? Although Peter’s 1,000,000,000 bound annuals of PUNCH take up a good deal of the space you can’t see, and my encyclopaedia will go on those shelves too when I find the rest of it.
And that architectural feature in the upper right-hand corner is the boxed-in, so to speak, chimney. Why it has a sort of hoop skirt built out from it halfway down (or up) I have no idea, but all shelves to pile books and book boxes on are good shelves.
This is the left-hand far corner, so what is beyond the table on the same side of the attic. And again . . . not so impressive. But you’re looking at nearly thirty boxes you just can’t see most of them. What you are seeing at the bottom of the picture in the open box is the limited edition illustrated ROSE DAUGHTER.
This is now behind the chimney. Peter’s gazillion PUNCHES are immediately to your left; the corner with the unimpressive thirty boxes is now behind you . . . more or less. You’re a bit crowded back here.
I am particularly pleased with the table. It’s one of the few pieces of furniture that came over with me from Maine, with the bed and the blue velvet sofa, and it was for the chop this move; there was nowhere to put it. I’m a little nostalgic about the stuff I brought over with me because barring the 1,000,000,000 books there isn’t a lot of it–and I did have to get rid of my baby grand piano. This table has been sitting at the mews waiting for the axe to fall since like the kitchen table it isn’t worth anything BUT IT’S A PERFECTLY GOOD TABLE. And then I thought, wait a minute, I can use it a Mediating Structure to make the wrangling of book boxes marginally less appalling. So it’s shoved up against the back of the chimney and there are and/or will be stacks of two boxes below it and stacks of two boxes on top of it . . . instead of stacks of four boxes of books. Hurrah. Yessssss.
The view from above. Just by the way, don’t get too excited by any labels you may see. Most of them are wrong. Well, most of the ones on Peter’s backlist are wrong. My backlist, on the other hand, is 99% gorgeously and specifically accurate because I have a secret weapon named Fiona.
And, when appropriate, I get books out of their boxes and pile them interestingly in available gaps, available being another of those mutable concepts. I’ve got a lot of Peter’s piled up on the chimney shelf just out of frame in the long shot of the ex-kitchen table. And just by another way, I have no idea where SHADOWS is. I haven’t seen it at all. I hope it’s hiding somewhere at the cottage.
And because I am hopelessly neurotic, I’ve saved a few empty boxes . . . just in case I need them later. Yes, that’s a sink on your right. I have them piled in the loo because there isn’t anywhere else.
* * *
* Well how unusual
** No, no, not the kind you want
*** Although I HAD MY FIRST VOICE LESSON IN FOREVER on Monday YAAAAAAAY. It wasn’t even as bad as feared^ but I still have a good deal of lost ground to make up. AND BOTH MY PIANO AND I SOUND DIFFERENT IN THIRD HOUSE’S SITTING ROOM.
^ Although if it had been as bad as feared it would have involved alien abduction and earthquakes and a recount in Scotland that demonstrated that they’d left the UK after all, which leaves quite a lot of room for a voice lesson still to be pretty bad in.
‘Pavlova, drag these boxes of books up the stairs for Mommy, please.’
::falls down laughing:: Now why didn’t I think of that? She’s got both the legs sprung of extra-supreme-alloy and the jaws of death.* We could have done it together. It could have been a bonding experience.**
However. It wasn’t. And at least this means there are no teeth marks on the books. And yes, I finished carrying the last monster boxes upstairs yesterday although I admit I unpacked the three heaviest*** and took them up in armfuls.
ME is a weird disease. I have no idea why I was allowed to heave a hundred book boxes† around without serious repercussions. Because—so far anyway—there have been no repercussions.†† I am inevitably reasonably fit because of all the frelling hurtling I do although on bad days it tends to be more like dawdling but the ME means that I have to assume I have No Stamina Whatsoever because I frequently don’t, often with diabolical suddenness, especially when we’re a couple of miles from where we left Wolfgang. You live like this for fourteen years and you start thinking of yourself as rather flimsy. I feel a bit like I’ve had an unexpected body transplant†††. No doubt the old familiar rickety one will be returned soon. And then I’ll fall over.
This isn’t the first time the ME has let me cope with something that I REALLY NEED TO COPE WITH‡—moving day itself, for example, when I was a lot thinner on the ground generally than I appear to be at the moment—but it seems to me unlikely that I’m really going to get away with this. Presumably one day soon, when I’m planting autumn pansies, say, or putting endless dog bedding into the washing machine or taking endless dog bedding out of the washing machine . . . I will suddenly need to sit down for thirty-six hours. Never mind. The backlist is in the attic. ‡‡
* * *
* Someone in the forum said, after I posted the photos of Pav on her birthday, that she found the Jaws of Death photo a little anxious-making. I HAD TO WORK REALLY HARD TO GET A JAWS OF DEATH PHOTO AT ALL. Pav is not naturally a Jaws of Death kind of dog. She just happens to be a bull terrier and the mythology around them is very jaws-of-death-y. If you push the lips of any dog back you get pretty much the same view: short front teeth framed with fangs. Pav is mouthy—if you play with her you’ll probably find yourself with your hand in her mouth at some point^—but she hasn’t bitten me since she was an infant and hadn’t quite got it that you can’t chew on humans the way you can your littermates. She was actually easier to get this point across to than the hellhounds had been because she’d been socialised very very very well before she came to me. She may yet grow out of being mouthy. Chaos, the eternal puppy, was mouthy for years.
^ I think I’ve also told you she’s a licker and a nibbler. The licking is fine, she’s not at all drooly+, but the nibbling is a little exciting since she favours places where the skin is thin, like necks and the insides of elbows.
+ Except in her water bowl. Ew. Which I have to change about four times a day. She has the most extraordinary drinking style. She’ll stand there going SLURP SLURP SLURP SLURP for, like, minutes, and when she comes away the water level hasn’t gone down at all, there’s just this—ew—churned up FOAM on the top. Good thing she gets a lot of wet food or she might die of not actually swallowing any of the water that passes through her mouth.
** The hellhounds would have opened one eye, gone, Eh?, and closed the eye again.^ The hellhounds had originally been Rather Interested in the new Alp in the garden . . . PEE ON THAT, GUYS, AND YOU WILL NOT LIVE TO PEE AGAIN. One of the things about having a proper garden is having your hellmob in it but things can get a little out of control when you’re also in the centre of town. When we got back from the second and FINAL book box run on Monday I let Pav out of Wolfgang because that’s what you do, you turn off the engine and let the critter(s) out but because of the size of Atlas’ trailer the gate was still open. Which Pav shot through and disappeared . . . while I was letting the hellhounds out of the house and discouraging their interest in the Alp. I heard Atlas calling her, thought OH GHASTLY AWFUL END OF THE UNIVERSE TYPE THINGS, ran out into the street and called her . . . and she came. Noble Pav.
*** One of encyclopaedias, and no I haven’t found the missing box yet^, one of MERLIN DREAMS and one of the illustrated ROSE DAUGHTER. Any one of these three weighed nearly as much as rather-large-box-shaped Wolfgang.
^ It would be encyclopaedias, you know? If it were one of my gazillion boxes of out of print editions of books I’ve forgotten writing I would never have noticed. In fact, I may be missing a few boxes of my gazillions of out of print editions of books I’ve forgotten writing and haven’t noticed.
† And I did break a hundred. I’d forgotten about the half dozen I left in Peter’s office, two of which because they were labelled ‘files’ and ‘mss’, and the others because he still has some empty bookshelves in there. But I didn’t carry these upstairs.
Also if you count the twenty or so boxes of his backlist from Peter’s office and bedroom at the mews that Nina and Ignatius packed and brought over THAT’S EVEN MORE BOXES OF BACKLIST TOWARD A TERRIFYING TOTAL.^
^ I notice that Peter has more copies of his recent books. This may just be the exigencies of publishing but I suspect there may be some malign influence from his second wife. THEY’RE OFFERING YOU MORE COPIES? TAKE THEM. SOMETHING IS GOING OUT OF PRINT AND THEY’LL LET YOU HAVE 1,000,000,000 COPIES FOR 7P PER? TAKE THEM. Let it be recorded that I have suffered for my sins.
†† Although the arnica will have helped. Arnica the Wonder Drug.
††† I wish they’d given me more hair and fewer wrinkles. Ah well, if they had, it would be harder giving this body back.
‡ I wonder a bit about late-onset ME. I don’t know that many other people who have had it long-term^ but my vague unreliable impression is that the younger you are the bigger and more unpredictable a rat bastard it is. My first eighteen months of it were entirely horrible but it mostly only knocks me over badly any more when I haven’t been behaving like a person who knows very well she has ME and had better stop with the shot-putting and the mixed martial arts. And it will usually let me pull myself together if it’s urgent, although it may make me pay and pay and pay and pay and pay for it afterward.
^ I’m also not convinced that people who get over it really had ME, although since I also believe it’s a continuum or a syndrome and not a single disease, they may just be at the far end of the range. That or it’ll be back when they least expect it. LIE DOWN NOW. BECAUSE I SAID SO.
Pictures? I would love to see pictures of the books. Even books in boxes. I’m just so curious to see what 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 books looks like. You know, in a house, or rather, an attic.
Hmm. I was looking the attic with this request in mind today. I’m not sure it’s really all that obviously impressive. I’ve done my BEST to wedge things around the edges—and there’s a chimney in the way—and it’s a long thin attic with peculiar corners, see previous blog on the subject of the ceiling.^ I’ll have a go at photographing the chief ramparts and see if I can make them look amusing.
^ I only hit my head ONCE. Of course now that the dramatic bit is over with I’ll forget to be careful again. Ow.
Before I went down with this lurgy I had booked Peter’s BathBot** for delivery and installation this past week. This meant lying on the floor*** festooned with hellhounds for an hour last Monday† waiting for this large heavy box†† to arrive.
Friday was installation day. I had a booking slot for noon to two. I was beginning to feel a little bit alive again by Friday, so having chased the hellterror around the churchyard and locked her up with a fresh chew toy the hellhounds and I went up to Third House where I re-embarked on that tired old house-move cliché of attempting to get too many books on too few shelves. †††
It occurred to me that time was passing in a lacking-installer kind of way.
At quarter to two I rang customer service‡ and said, um, I had a date with a toolkit and a drill for noon to two and neither hide, hair nor drill-bit had I seen thus far? Ooooh? she said. She took my post code and said she’d ring the engineer and get back to me.
At quarter past two I rang again‡‡ and this time, when some other woman took my post code she said, ooooh, there’s a message for you. The message said: the engineer has been delayed and will be with you at THREE THIRTY.
First I checked that they did, in fact, have Pooka’s correct number—Pooka, who had been lying open on the table for the last two and three quarters hours‡‡‡ so I would be ABSOLUTELY SURE to hear any incoming calls§. Yes. They read it back to me faultlessly. THEN WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME THE ENGINEER WAS DELAYED? I said, thinking of the poor hellterror back at the cottage wondering where the rest of her hurtle (not to mention lunch) was. I MIGHT HAVE ONE OR TWO OTHER THINGS I NEED TO DO TODAY. ASIDE FROM THE SHEER INFURIATINGNESS OF HANGING AROUND WAITING FOR SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T ARRIVE.
Do you want to reschedule? said the woman in a placatory manner.
NO, I said, I WANT TO GET THIS OVER WITH. BUT WOULD YOU PLEASE PASS IT ON TO ADMIN THAT YOU SHOULD TELL PEOPLE WHEN THEIR ENGINEERS ARE DELAYED? I AM, AT THE MOMENT, FEELING EXTREMELY CROSS. I’m sure she would never have guessed.
So I sprinted back to the cottage§§, pelted Pav around a bit§§§, hauled everyone down to the mews, produced lunch in which only Pav was interested, and the hellhounds and I were just about to leap into Wolfgang and return to Third House when Pooka started barking AND IT WAS THE ENGINEER WHO WAS TEN MINUTES EARLY.
He viewed me a little warily, I think, but I wanted the frelling BathBot installed, didn’t I? So I was as glacially polite as possible in this weather. And then I went back to my books on shelves and he got on.#
He was there over two hours## and I was feeling rougher and rougher, but I put it down to FURY, lack of lunch, and trying to keep any of the discarded books on the discarded pile.### And then he called me in to see what he’d done~ and as he said ‘the sealant will need a couple of hours to settle’ the smell hit me and I felt dizzy, queasy—well, queasier—and my returning sore throat started to swell. FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING I’VE BEEN OFFGASSED. If I’d actually been able to smell it before I was in the same room with it I might have had the sense to open some windows. . . . ~~
So I’m back on the sofa again. Still. Forever. Not. I hope.
And I feel like rubbish.
* * *
* or fortnight
** Since I’m about to be rude I will give them a belated alias
*** There are a few chairs at Third House but nothing to lie on, and chairs have mostly not been my best trick recently.
† An hour. One hour. Let me tell you about the wonders of DPD. http://www.dpd.co.uk/index.jsp First you get an email from your seller, telling you that your parcel has been dispatched to DPD and what day it will arrive.^ And then on the day YOU WILL RECEIVE A TEXT WITH AT LEAST AN HOUR’S WARNING OF THE SINGLE HOUR YOU NEED TO WAIT IN FOR DELIVERY. I adore DPD.
^ This for ordinary shopping like, ahem, say, dog food, when you haven’t booked a delivery day, as well as hideously expensive one-offs like BathBots when you have.
†† I’m not going to touch it, I said to Mr Delivery Man with his handcart. You just plonk it down there, and thanks.
††† Episode 76. Episodes 77 through 1,003 to come.
‡ Which was pretty much an event of its own since their 800 number apparently bounces from local office to local office to local office till—at last!—it finds someone not on a coffee break^ who could actually bear to pick up a ringing telephone and every time it bounces to the next office first you hear that little jerk in the ringing tone AND THEN YOU GET THE SAME FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING ROBOT VOICE ABOUT HOW CALLS MAY BE RECORDED FOR TRAINING PURPOSES AND YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO THEM FRELLING FRELLING FRELLING DOODAH FRELLING.
^ Not in a good mood here.
‡‡ Undergoing the same lively and engaging experience as last time.
‡‡‡ Because I’d got there early poor eager fool that I was, so I wouldn’t miss anything.
§ Absorbed as I might be in the books-on-shelves question. And its corollary, the I have here one hundred books and have space for fifty, therefore I must divest myself of fifty books conundrum. And the sub-corollary which says you will comb carefully through your hundred books and divest yourself of . . . three.
§§ Which is a really bad idea when you’re struggling with the end of flu and the familiar recidivist weight of the ME.
§§§ And aside from flu and ME the weather for the past week SUCKS DEAD BEARS. It is that gruesome hot-sticky-humid that makes you feel as if you had ME even if you don’t. We’ve had several nights of thunderstorms but all they provide is son et lumiere. There’ve been cloudbursts that wouldn’t fill a birdbath, and the water continues to hang in the air.
# Because the frelling Brits won’t allow ANYTHING ELECTRICAL in a bathroom you have to go through all these acrobatics any time you want . . . oh, a light switch installed, say, let alone a BathBot. So he looked at the ground and made some sensible suggestions and then let me decide—this was something he was good at, as opposed to the ‘keeping abreast of scheduling problems’ thing—and we now have wiring holes in the airing cupboard and some curious tech in a corner of the dining room. Feh.
## You can see how he could fall behind, because of having to fit everything but the Bot itself outside the bathroom and finding a remotely suitable location for this; I briefly wondered about putting some of it through to the attic but decided that was just too Cyberiad. We don’t give a lot of formal dinner parties anyway.
### The moment you turn your back, they hop back on the keepers pile. This is another well-known house-move phenomenon.
~ And to give the chronologically careless ratbag his due, he had done an extremely neat and well-disguised job in the dining room. The BathBot itself is the BathBot but it’s supposed to be, you know?
~~ In this weather it tends to be cooler inside than out so you don’t frivolously open windows.^
^ And while the well-being of the twit who stole six hours out of my day is perhaps not high on my list of priorities, and I’m prone to environmental allergies, which goes with the whole auto-immune ME-and-other-things spectrum, I do kind of wonder what breathing that stuff day after day is doing to him, however robust his constitution.
~~~ I know. KES. Some day.
Behind is good. Farther away from the FRONT is GOOD. Also, it turns out, good is the awful spotlights that frelling BLIND YOU. It means you can’t really see the congregation.
Yes. Never underestimate the calming power of bright lights in your eyes. Congregation? What congregation?
Yay for having fun with singing!!! And when you do write that power ballad, I want to hear it.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha. And here I thought you were going to say something all helpful* and knows-way-more-about-music-than-I-do. Fie.
But . . . I’m pretty sure it was you, a long time ago now, posted to the forum asking about Maggie’s mom’s chicken, apples and cream recipe.** I TORE MY KITCHEN APART*** looking for the frelling recipe and had just about decided that it must have been in one of the cookbooks I’d got rid of when I went off dairy—probably one of the Shaker cookbooks. You know all these clean pure lines of Shaker furniture and houses and how they dressed simply and were celibate and so on? THEY MAKE UP FOR IT IN THE FOOD. If there was ever massive sublimation going on Shaker food is it. Or anyway the several Shaker cookbooks I had in my twenties and thirties† were ALL cream and butter and thick gooey sauces and . . . glorious.†† Although it helps if you have a really fast metabolism and/or regularly save the world which is usually a high-calorie undertaking.††† The rest of us have to have a week’s detox on lettuce and water after every foray. Even if I hadn’t gone off dairy twenty years ago I’d’ve had to get rid of my Shaker cookbooks when I hit menopause and my metabolism said, nice knowing you. Going to sleep now for several decades.
BUT I FOUND IT. CHICKEN, APPLES AND CREAM. YAAAAAAY. From the notes in the margins there was at least one other recipe I had already tried—which probably was in one of those lost Shaker cookbooks—but I know I used this one too. It’s been so long since I’ve made it I can’t remember much about it except that it’s good. The original is from COUNTRY SUPPERS by Ruth Cousineau which I’ve praised in these virtual pages before. I think it’s a lovely cookbook and it should have been a fabulous best-seller and still in print. But it’s not—still in print, anyway.
2-3 T slightly salted butter
1 large sweet onion
2 medium-sized sour/cooking apples: popularity was busy ruining Granny Smiths when I moved over here: when they first hit the ground running they were the perfect all-purpose apple, not too sour to eat if you like brisk but excellent in pies and so on too. So I’m not sure what you Americans use now. I used Bramleys when I first moved over here‡ but they are VERY SOUR. Also, Bramleys tend to HUGE. You’ll probably only want one Bramley. Anyway. Choose your weapon. Then core, peel, slice. You know the drill.
3 T flour
1 c good strong chicken stock. Either make it yourself or buy proper stock in the refrigerator section of your grocery.
½ c heavy cream‡‡
4 c chopped cooked chicken‡‡‡
Melt the butter, gently fry your fine-chopped onion. Add apples and go on cooking gently. If you’re using Bramleys be aware that they get fluffy if they’re cooked too enthusiastically. Sprinkle on the flour and stir till you get something resembling a lumpy roux—all those apples and onions in the way. Then slowly add the stock and cream. As I recall I added it alternately in bits—so half the stock, stir till it’s all taken up, then the cream, stir etc, then the final stock. It’ll be much thinner, obviously, but it should still be a proper thick sauce.
Add the chicken and heat through.
You’ll need some salt: add how you like it. You may want pepper. I don’t but then I’m not eating this, am I? You can think of me and feel superior.§
* * *
* I need to learn how to change key signatures and how to write a descant. Okay?
** SHADOWS. For those of you still waiting in the loan queue at your library.^
^ Suggest they buy more copies.
*** It did not, in fact, look a great deal different than before I started the tearing process.
† Before I went off everything that was fun besides tea, chocolate and champagne
†† I was just googling Shaker recipes and there seems to be some revisionism going on. Simple pure lines of Shaker cooking. Hmm. Okay.
††† Ask Kes.
‡ I sashayed back and forth over the ‘no dairy’ line for a while till my body convinced me that it meant NO DAIRY.
‡ Oh frell. US/UK translation problems. I think if you’re in the UK you want what’s called ‘whipping cream’. I’ve just been pestering google and that seems to be the consensus. I too fell into the ‘double cream’ trap. The UK is just cream mad. Which is why I started falling off the no-dairy wagon when I moved over here. Clotted cream. Be still my heart. SIIIIIIIIGH. I’m old and mean now though. I’m used to my bitter privation.
‡‡‡ The original recipe calls for shredded chicken. Ugh. You can also just joint your chicken. It makes quite a nice presentation if you arrange your chicken pieces on a platter, pour the sauce over and artfully arrange a few slices of raw apple on top—not Bramley. People die of intense shrivelling by eating raw Bramleys. This method also saves all that chopping time. You could knit several rows in the time you didn’t spend chopping.
§ I CAN STILL EAT BUTTER. With black tea, champagne, chocolate and BUTTER, my life is not a desert.
Last night* did not begin well . . . when I shut Wolfgang’s front passenger-side door on my thumb.
I was very good. It was urble-mumble o’clock in the morning** so I did not scream to make the welkin ring, although there was some fairly dramatic hissing, and the thirty seconds or so it took to hustle the frelling hellhounds into the car—they dork around and dork around looking for THAT ILLUSORY PERFECT PLACE TO PEE—may have been the longest thirty seconds of my life*** before I could pelt back indoors and fish out the arnica bottle—with, you know, my other wounded hand, the one with the slightly cracked finger. Meanwhile I don’t suppose my thumb had really blown up like a balloon on an electric bicycle pump but . . . close.† So last night I took the other half of the bottle of arnica I’d started the night before when I semi-broke my finger. And last night’s insomnia was made more interesting by my thumb going BANG every hour or so necessitating me to sit up, groggily feel around for the arnica bottle, and take another tiny pill.†† Plus a certain amount of hypericum.†††
And today my thumbnail is turquoise. I think it’s slowly turning black, the way squashed fingernails do, but it was a positively brilliant turquoise this morning. New experiences. I could have done without this one. This is also the first time since my discovery of the wonders of arnica that I’m going to have a black fingernail anyway. Sigh. I hate black nails; it takes a good six months for one to grow out—on me, anyway. And it makes you look so hopeless. No one ever got a black nail saving the universe. It’s always because you’re a dolt and you shut your finger in a door. I need more sleep. I’m not usually quite this self-destructive.
Meanwhile . . . at the moment neither hand works very well. And except for the fact that it’s my left thumb which is superfluous to requirements on a keyboard, it’s a lot more inconvenient than the middle finger on my other hand. No opposable thumb. No grasping. Also I can’t hit the brake on Chaos’ lead—now that’s dangerous—and Pav is usually on that side too, but I can at least make a wild poke with my right thumb. But it’s REALLY GREAT TIMING that I have two sub-functioning hands when I’m trying to yank us toward readiness to move house. Which in this case chiefly means BOOKS. Lots and lots and lots and lots of books.‡
* * *
* And by night we mean that time at the end of a long evening which reaches well past both the big and the little hand on the tick-tock^ device sticking straight up, and begins with that fell and doom-laden moment I face the necessity of loading sixteen hellcritters and enough kit for an assault on Everest in January into Wolfgang to make our slow bleary way back to the cottage. Well, that’s how it feels.
^ I’m sorry, but all the best clocks still go tick-tock. And have hands.
** Which is late even for me. Well, I’d been having a long semi-unplanned conversation with an across-the-pond friend earlier, not for lack of trying to create something like an advance strategy. NONE OF MY TECHNOLOGY WORKS. NONE. Am I only suffering from aggravated nostalgia, or am I right in thinking that back in the days when street mail and telephones were your only options, they mostly worked pretty well? TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES wouldn’t make you crazy if misdelivered letters were a commonplace.^
^ ANGEL CLARE IS A MOULDY DOG TURD. Just sayin’.
*** Although the rather fewer seconds between bouncing off the side of a caroming car and watching the ground rushing up toward my motorcycle and me also took a surprisingly long time. I’ve told you this story, right? Well, I haven’t told you in at least six months and it’s one of my favourites. I was lying there in the road and someone who’d pulled over and stopped his car came running up to me yelling, Son, son, are you all right? And I said, Well, you could get this motorcycle off my leg, and he said, Oh my God it’s a girl—and ran away and was never seen again. Although he was probably responsible for the deluge of fire trucks and ambulances that began to arrive shortly thereafter. This was—gleep—over forty years ago. No one, including William Gibson, was entertaining any fantastic notion of mobile phones yet. You had to go find a phone booth or one of those EMERGENCY PULL/PRESS HERE boxes.
† I want to know—well, I think I want to know, graphic gore is not my thing—what happens if someone who’s shut a toe or a fingertip in a car door^ doesn’t have a source of cold water or arnica to stop the swelling? Fingernails don’t stretch.
^ All those jokes about silly-putty steel in modern vehicles are suddenly not funny. But then one of the reasons some of us like VWs and Volvos and various not-I-think-exclusively-German four-wheeled bombs is the higher percentage of real steel in their composition. A headlong juggernaut will still take you out but a careening lorry might not. I think there could be some research done into rubber door mounts however.
†† Plus the two phone calls and two no-you-don’t-have-to-sign-for-it-but-we’re-still-going-to-knock-on-your-door-and-wake-you-up-again deliveries. In their defense, both deliveries were after nine a.m. And I sleep in clothing I can answer the door in.^
^ Kes is telling herself that sleeping in chainmail would be really uncomfortable.
††† Hypericum is another really basic homeopathic first aid remedy. For injury you always start with arnica, but if it needs some help, hypericum is particularly good for nerve-rich bits like fingers and toes and your coccyx. Also for injuries that stab you repeatedly. This one echoed very unpleasantly not just through the rest of my hand but up my arm to my shoulder. BANG.
‡ The Oxfam bookshop is going to ban me. No! Not more classics of English literature that no one reads any more!^
^ I’m keeping Dickens and Faulkner. And Anthony Trollope. And Hardy. And George Eliot. And Elizabeth Bowen. Some Conrad. Some Henry James. And a ridiculous amount of poetry. Willa Cather is out. F Scott Fitzgerald—out. Madame Bovary—out. Most of the Russians—out.