I am going to amaze you. Sit down and take a deep breath.
We got LOST on the way to the yarn shop. There. You’re amazed, right?
Have we ever not got lost on the way to the yarn shop? Whichever yarn shop is on offer on a day Fiona and I are loose, together and dangerous? Barring the little one which I have to go out of my way not to walk past on the way to the abbey*, so even I would probably have some difficulty failing to find it. Fiona could try putting a bag over my head and spinning me in a circle. . . . That would probably work. . . .
I do feel that perhaps Fiona went out of her way to ensure we got lost today. We’ve been to this shop before** and we both know it’s sort of . . . that way. Fiona apparently decided that this was sufficient. I was a trifle taken aback that she hadn’t turned her possessed-by-demons—I mean her excellent, tactful and reliable satnav on but . . . the driver is god. And I’m way too happy not to be driving. And if there was a paper atlas in the car . . . when the ME is gnawing on me you really don’t want me navigating for you.*** So we set out for Opprobrium. Turpitude is just beyond it. Sort of. It’s sort of suspended between Opprobrium and Prinkle-on-Weald in what is a very unhelpful manner†, rather Tir-nan-Og-like, there not really being any roads between here and there. You have to kind of sneak up on it while whistling a little tune and looking in another direction—a bit like catching a slightly tricky horse in a too-large field.
So you are approaching Opprobrium and there are like fourteen roundabouts in the space of about fifty yards, each of which is bristling with sixty-seven road signs saying things like Tibet * —>5000 miles and London—>you want to turn around and go back the way you came and town centre—>MWA HA HA HA GO HOME. There was a sign for Turpitude, but there were poisonous snakes and a lot of guys with swords, and we lost our nerve. We took the town centre option.
Now I know Opprobrium a little, and I was under the semi-erroneous impression that Turpitude was roughly on the other side of it to the right, and that when we came out the other end there would be another sign indicating a road to Turpitude, and maybe this one would be free of poisonous snakes and big ugly guys with swords and maybe there would be fewer than nine-hundred-and-thirty-seven other signs to confuse us.††
No. No sign. No sign at all except to things like the recycling centre and Greater Footling which we knew we didn’t want. We were most of the way to Surfeit by the time Fiona folded, pulled into one of those extremely dubious-looking parking areas off the motorway where you’re sure poisonous snakes and big ugly guys with swords and a bad attitude hang out, and turned her satnav on.††† The worst of this is that when we did, in fact, get to Turpitude, and blasted Billy comes over all smug and says that we can thank him now because it was only possible with him and without him we would have been hopelessly lost, rather than throwing things at the windscreen we had to say YES BILLY WE KNOW BILLY SHUT UP BILLY.‡
And the yarn shop? Because we wasted so much time on the road I didn’t have a chance to get into NEARLY ENOUGH TROUBLE.‡‡
* * *
* Fortunately it’s usually shut at standard bell ringing hours. Woe for daytime weddings and other one-offs however. And it’s even worse than that: this little yarn shop likes dogs. I’ve taken both hellhounds and hellterror ALTHOUGH NOT ALL AT THE SAME TIME in there and they smile and croon and whip out photos of their hellcritters. So you can be having a perfectly straightforward alternative hurtle on a beautiful day when you felt like getting in the car and going somewhere else, maybe looking for otters on the river^, and suddenly, on the way back to the car park . . . yarn fumes. And your hellcritters can’t save you.
^ Which seem to be pretty blasé about tourists going oooooh, and whose den or nest or lodge or what you call it is out of reach.
** We’ve been to pretty much every yarn shop in Hampshire at this point and may be forced to widen our range, perhaps into Doorstep and Suffix. We particularly have our eye on Smite-the-Infidel in Wiltingshire, where there is a rumour of three yarn shops. Be still our hearts. Be terrified our credit cards.
*** Pride or, if you prefer, vanity, insists that I insert here that when I’ve got a few neurons firing I’m not at all bad with a paper map.
† I realise, having now got home again and looked at a paper map.
†† 67 x 14 – 1 = 937. I think. I hadn’t regularly done arithmetic in decades . . . till I started frelling knitting. Now it’s like um, yardage? Um. How many? Um. If Wicked On Line Yarn Shop is having a sale of 17.5% off but the frelling skeins are only 82 yards long so I need a lot of them, how much is it going to cost to make that car cozy? AAAAUGH. Maybe I could knit it on bigger needles. Better drape. . . .
††† We could have just gone to the yarn shop in Opprobrium.^ Or we could have taken a slight sideways sidle and gone back to the one in Frellingham. But noooooo. We had decided on Turpitude^^ and Turpitude was what we were going to have.
^ Yes we have. I’m sure I blogged about it. Opprobrium also has two old-books shops and we DROVE PAST ONE OF THEM today and Fiona with a swift, sure gesture hit the central locking on the car before I could get out. Hey! I bought TANGLEWRECK there! It’s a good shop!
‡ I think I have told you Fiona’s satnav speaks in Billy Connolly’s voice. I’m here to tell you that even a Scottish accent only gets you so far.
‡‡ Fiona did though. Fiona has an amazing talent for yarn trouble. And I did manage to buy a pattern for some yarn I’d bought a different pattern for and decided it wasn’t what I wanted but I really liked the yarn, and you yarnies out there will know how this story goes: I’m one skein too short for the new pattern.
* WORDPRESS I BLOODY HATE YOU. I have a beautiful arrow sign here and frelling WordPress is giving me a frelling a with an accent grave over it. GO. AWAY. So I guess I have to replace all my lovely arrows with stupid dashes. . . .^
^ Okay. I may have recreated ARROWS. ::holding breath:: ::punching PUBLISH button::+
+ Well . . . they’re not nearly as good as the original arrows. . . .
Pav is cycling, or gyrating, through another phase of, Jeans legs and shoelaces, pulling on; and I mean PULLING. ON. —which is interesting when Mavis is walking her because Mavis tends to wear leggings. I happened to be there today when Mavis was trying to get her out the door and . . . it was pretty funny. Anyway. I am a silly person, I consider dogs to be entertaining companions with a slightly unfortunate take on acceptable social behaviour, and I seem to like the ones who don’t pop out of the womb dying to be trained to DO SOMETHING. One of my theories of surviving puppyhood is that puppies do in fact grow out of a surprising amount of their most appalling behaviour*, and you keep mildly insisting they learn where the end of their frelling extending lead is, that they come when called**, and that they sit when you tell them to***, and hey, you let as much of the rest of it go by as you can without losing any major body parts or pieces of architecture. So when Pav decided to take me for a walk this morning by my right pants leg I said fine, whatever. She in fact divided her attentions between the jeans-hem and the shoelace on that side. I didn’t think a lot about this because I knot my laces several times and a wodge that size resists being compressed past being untied again. Oh. Woe. When I got home again I discovered that she’d managed somehow to subvert the laws of physics and created a Whole New Category of Gordian knot, this one with eleven dimensions and a chorus line. I tucked the frayed dangling ends together somehow and pelted off in pursuit of the rest of my day . . .
Which culminated tonight in a FREEZING COLD CATHEDRAL† listening to Harry Christophers’ The Sixteen being unbelievable.†† If you like this kind of music, it doesn’t get better.††† But because of my little shoelace problem I couldn’t wear my sheepskin boots tonight: I was stuck with my drafty canvas All-Stars. I took my knitting, of course. And my hands were perfectly happy, knitting, and wearing a pair of Jodi Meadows’ fingerless mitts.‡
My feet are still cold.
* * *
* Sometimes several times
** The audible jingle of kibble in the hand is a perfectly acceptable training aid, including that when your hellcritter is too far away to hear it any more^ she will still respond to the sight of your wildly shaking hand. Which is only shaking to make the kibble rattle together, okay? Right.
^Well, I think. I have no idea how spectacularly acute dog hearing is.
*** I am really not doing this right because she so makes me laugh. Our ‘walk’ command which is to say walking on a short loose lead as opposed to official ‘heeling’^ is not one of our best tricks but unless the weather is unspeakably dire and/or the Wild Hunt is bearing down on us from behind I do make her ‘sit’ before she’s officially released . . . to practise learning where the end of her frelling extending lead is. Sometimes she sits beautifully—I think I’ve told you that she’s got it that ‘sit’ usually does get her something she wants, so she has started sitting spontaneously and hopefully when she thinks something desirable may be impending, like, you know, FOOOOOOOD—and sometimes she does not sit beautifully. Sometimes she just stands there and stares at me—because by this time I’ve got her chin in my hand and we are looking at each other. There’s nothing quite like being stared at by the miniature Mack truck which is a hellterror. We could be here a while, I say, at which point she usually does sit.^^
^ For some reason my fingers just typed helling
^^ She is so not the spirit and essence of obstinacy, the way the bull-terrier mythology runs. She’d much rather have a good time than demand her own way. You can see the wheels turning behind the little beady eyes: Oh drat the woman, she’s going to insist.
But, you know, obstinacy? I have grown up in a hard dog-ownership school. I have sighthounds. Although I don’t think it’s exactly obstinacy. When Pav stares at me and considers not sitting, she is thinking about laying her will against mine, she just decides against it because life is short. Sighthounds are all la-la-la did you say something? Sighthounds, as opposed to being born LONGING TO BE TRAINED TO DO SOMETHING are born autonomous. Which, as many working sighthound owners have pointed out, makes perfect sense in terms of the job they were bred to do: run things down and kill them. To do this successfully they have to be able to use their own judgement: their human may be miles away at the kill.
I SO NEED A SIGHTHOUND. The Border Collies can’t catch the little sods. (Unless a hare was very very unlucky where it was situated).
Well, what are you waiting for? GET A SIGHTHOUND. You are going to have to train it to come back to you—there is a lot of rather dreadfully amusing training text out there about getting a sighthound’s attention and convincing it that obeying you is a good thing to do. (Mine are perhaps the extreme end, but they are not at all unusual in being totally resistant to food as bribes, I mean, training rewards.) You want something from a good working line, but you’d know that. And for the rest . . . hares are tricky, but a (good working) sighthound will figure out a strategy. You build its confidence first by letting it catch lots of stupid bunnies. Chaos frelling caught the first (stupid) bunny he ever went after. Well weren’t we all very startled (especially the bunny).
And Mrs Redboots, this area is rotten with brown hares. This time of year you just about have to knock them out of the way with sticks, as well as have your hellhounds on short lead more than either you or the hellhounds appreciate when you’re out in the countryside where you’re supposed to be able to run around. We have thickets of hares, skylarks, and bluebells— and it’s been like this for the twenty-one-and-a-half years I’ve lived here—but all of them are endangered, so they say. We’ve also got dormice, water rats and otters, and I think some rather nice little wild orchids. I mean, I know we have little wild orchids, but I think they’re considered nice ones. It’s a good area. I like living here. I’ll like it better when the weather warms up.
† I seem to specialise in freezing-cold places of worship. This was not in the plan.
†† http://www.thesixteen.com/page/the-choral-pilgrimage-2013 I don’t get to their choral-pilgrimage tour every year, but more often than not. And now that Nina and Ignatius live in the area we can sometimes hoick Peter by the armpits and make him come along. As tonight.
††† I’ll take a grown-up soprano over a kiddie soprano any day. I realise this is heretical, but I don’t much like child sopranos. They sound sort of squishy and creepy. You need some weight of both years and size to bring it off—to my ear.
‡ http://www.jodimeadows.com/?page_id=804 No, Jodi made mine. I am an unadvanced beginner, and I don’t do cables.
Fiona tried to kill me today.
And after we were stopped, sweating and shaking and trying to drag our adrenaline levels back down out of the stratosphere but ALIVE, and beginning to get our breaths back, she turned to me and said earnestly, Think of the blog material!*
Okay. I’m thinking of it. On the whole I feel a near-death experience is carrying the relentless quest for blog material a little far.
I told you that Fiona and I were playing hooky today. We were going to play more hooky but I got caught in a time warp with a mild but annoying stomach virus and a non-eating hellhound. No, not Darkness—frelling Chaos. WHAT THE FRELL YOU FRELLING FRELLER. Arrrrrgh. I’ve been really enjoying the (relative) straightforwardness of feeding all three hellcritters lately—till Darkness fell off the cliff.** Fiona (this was before she tried to kill me) said that there should be some way to pool the appetites and food attitudes of my bonkers three and then redistribute the result more evenly. Yes. Although the hellterror could eat for England. WHAT IS IT? NO, NEVER MIND, I DON’T CARE, JUST HOLD IT THERE AND I’LL EAT IT. Pavlova’s appetite, bottled, and then judiciously sprinkled over entire kennels full of anorexic sighthounds, would have them all eating their heads off, and she would still be ingesting your All Stars if you don’t walk fast enough.
Anyway. We left finally in enough time to make it to another YARN STORE***.
It was on the way home from this escapade† that Fiona turned the wrong way down a one-way piece of major divided motorway and we saw a flotilla of cars bearing down on us at 70 mph.
In her defense, it’s a very confusing section of road. I don’t know that particular bit, but it’s in an area where a lot of the old Roman roads have been inefficiently widened, or extra lanes and slip roads have been kind of bolted on without sufficient signage to explain how they’re supposed to be used. It still might have been the end of a beautiful friendship† but . . . Fiona was holding both tickets to tonight’s Steeleye Span concert and even if I’d wrested mine away from her we were still sitting next to each other so whatever. My hair has only turned grey. Not a big deal.
. . . This is now the second time today that Radio Three has played Vivaldi’s GLORIA. What is this, a conspiracy? Has the Muddles’ musical director bribed the BBC to play it as often as possible between now and the end of May in an attempt to make us do some involuntary homework?††† But with last night’s choir practise rather dreadfully fresh in my mind‡ it was very interesting listening to some professional singers who aren’t off the top of the chart super-accomplished, super-super-schooled and super-super-super gifted opera-singer types, but people with voices more like yours and mine and who merely know how to deploy them. Nobody is going to hire Peter Knight to sing Parsifal, but he gets his point across, you know?
Also it was just a brilliant show. It was a brilliant enough show that I’ve had something like six emails from Fiona since she got home suggesting a series of reasons that we go to another concert on this tour. . . .
* * *
* She was very embarrassed and contrite. But I’m not perfectly sure about the contrition. She might have been embarrassed that she missed. No, wait, I’m probably (relatively) safe till PEG III comes out. I’ve told you, haven’t I, that PEG II ends possibly even worse than PEG? Slightly depending on your definition of ‘worse’. But I think I can guarantee that it is not reader-friendly. And I can predict the hate mail. Sigh.
** I can’t wait for the hellterror to grow up so I can get her on the cereal-free kibble too. One of my recurring nightmares is the hellhounds getting into the puppy kibble. Mind you, if it weren’t that the puppy gets it they wouldn’t be the LEAST interested. But she does and they don’t, and it’s bad enough she exists. That she has Special Hellterror-only Food is just not okay.^ I’ve applied to Olivia and Southdowner about when I can put her on grown-up food—it seems to me she still has substantial growing to do but maybe the last burst happens slowly—the only cereal-free puppy food I know anything about is from the same line of rotblasted gold-standard kibble the hellhounds get ONCE a day because I can’t AFFORD it. The way the hellterror eats. . . .
^ Since I’d had no inkling of Darkness being out of my sight long enough to get into anything that could have caused the recent meltdown OF COURSE I wondered if it could have been puppy kibble, but I don’t think so. Also of the two of them Chaos is a lot more intent on snatching a mouthful. Darkness can’t quite bring himself to stoop to real interest—General All Encompassing Appalled Horror and Revulsion is his shtick+, of which pointed accusatory looks at bags of puppy kibble are merely one aspect of a unified tactical assault.
+ ALTHOUGH I had THREE HELLCRITTERS IN THE SAME BED . . . for about five minutes a few days ago. ALL THREE of them LYING DOWN. No, I didn’t get a photo. My gimlet eye was part of what was holding them there, and getting up to fetch the camera would have been counterproductive. In a big noisy way.
It would be nice if they could share some space during the day, but they will always be crated separately and probably not allowed to frolic together unsupervised—at least not if Pavlova keeps all her bits. The people at the pet shop have already started saying, oh, six months old? A small dog could come on heat any time now. SHUT UP, OKAY?
*** Having exchanged Christmas presents first. Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Fiona.^ Hers included a knitting bag that says ‘a day without knitting is like a day without chocolate’. Mine included an assortment of kitchen magnets, my favourite of which reads: I’d like to help you out. Which way did you come in? —Fiona knows me well, you think?
^ Or since Fiona has seen the hellterror. Hey, when did you trade in that sweet little thing for this RAGING MONSTER? —It’s true, Pav is getting to be quite an armful when she’s in frenzy mode. It still hasn’t occurred to her that one of these days I’m not going to be able to pick her up. Remind me to have her crate off the kitchen table and on the FLOOR before that happens.
† I DIDN’T BUY ANYTHING. No, really. I kept saying to myself, Wall. Remember the wall. Remember the SEVERAL THOUSAND POUNDS that wall is going to cost. WALL. WALL. WALL.
Fiona doesn’t have paying for a wall in her immediate future, sooooo . . .
†† Especially if we were both dead.
††† I almost didn’t go to choir practise yesterday—this generic all-over germ that has recently settled in my stomach is not making my life a joy and my energy level sublime. But they were very glad to see me when I did go since there were ONLY THREE SOPRANOS. THREE? SOPRANOS? WTF? Cheez.
‡ Even though one of us was the director’s wife, who has a nice strong voice and reads music deplorably well, when there’s only three of you, you are each relentlessly audible.
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.
There are one or two other things going on in my life right now . . . but the hellterror makes the best blog copy. I was out with the hellhounds this afternoon and for the however-manyth time I’ve been hurtling since this particular pair of jeans* came out of the drawer, I was thinking, I’ve now got frelling leg warmers I need to frelling well remember to wear them. Except that I also need to remember to take them OFF again before the hellterror, with the little hellstiletto teeth, emerges from her crate. I know you’re not supposed to allow your puppy to do this, that and the other thing, but they really do grow out of a lot of their crazy-making bad behaviours** and so I guess wrong about what they’re going to grow out of occasionally, eh, my problems with the hellhounds are not about my having been insufficiently fierce with them when they were puppies, and you could spend your entire life removing the puppy from doing whatever she’s doing which would get sad fast for both of you. So one of the things Pavlova likes to do is latch onto my jeans legs and pull. When we’re out for one of our erratic walks this is actually rather desirable behaviour because it means I know where she is. Little rocket puppy underfoot is dangerous . . . and as I said yesterday I think, one or two things at a time. At the moment I chiefly want her to go forward in the same direction (more or less) that I’m going, and not to have tantrums on the end of her lead.** We’ll worry about which side she should stay on later. Meanwhile we both have to live that long.
Guilty confession time: bull terriers never appealed to me until now. I didn’t like the head shape. But I’ve changed; I repent my earlier artistic ignorance and am now converted to…”That’s a very interesting shape of considerable appeal, when it’s on Pavlova.” And the picture of [Missy and Pavlova], large and small…OK, I get it finally. It’s a geometric sort of shape, and quite appealing. Starting with the tiny puppy version really did help.
*confesses meekly* – me too.
Change in perspective also helped by the fact that she is not just any anonymous puppy, but she’s Pavlova!! And hence special in any case.
Snork. Yes, you get fond of things/people/critters you wouldn’t dream of getting fond of if you weren’t being helplessly boosted in that direction by (say) a friend with a new puppy. And most baby things are cute by definition so you get kind of used to the grown-up version gradually as they grow in that direction.†
Bull terriers can be an acquired taste or a coup de foudre or possibly both. I had thought the head shape was weird, weird, weird till I met my first one up close and personal . . . a few months after I moved over here. She was a white bitch and utterly charming and suddenly bull terriers were on my short list of dogs I’d love to own. Destiny was clearly at work. I’ve told you about assuming I never would, however, because the fighting-dog background makes me nervous about finding a breeder I can trust to be breeding for the right things, however many Crufts trophies they’ve won. But—possibly because I was already a convert—I was pretty staggered by how beautiful Southdowner’s bullies are, particularly the bitches, which includes Olivia’s Lavvy. You don’t have to know spit about bull terriers to see ‘well bred’ scintillating all over them. The photos I’ve posted of Lavvy are of her goofballing for the camera because she’s 100% ham, but she’s also a drop-dead gorgeous dog. I haven’t really caught Missy at her best either—she’s too busy mugging for cheese—and Missy had a Tragic Youth so you have to be gentle with her. But seeing her standing tall and straight and alert and proud will make your heart stop (briefly). And Pavlova is going to look just like her. Except even MORE gorgeous.††
* * *
* I like them TOO LONG. I like them to come down well over the tops of my All Stars. But I think I’ve moaned to you before about the geometrically increasing difficulty of finding jeans in my size. There are MILLIONS of jeans out there and I’m sure my Perfect Brand exists somewhere, but after you’ve either tried on or ordered and sent back about a dozen pairs you start losing the will to live, or I do. I like clothes because they’re fun. I don’t like having to work at it. There are plenty of other things in my life I have to work at.^ So I’ve got one particular pair of black jeans that are basically crap but they’ll do although I’m not going to buy any more of them. And they look all right, but in terms of THE WIND WHISTLING UP YOUR PANT LEGS they are TOO SHORT.
^ Bell ringing for example. SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH. Sunday afternoon service ring at the abbey. SIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH. Well, nobody died. So far as I know there wasn’t even any blood spilt, although I think Albert may have rammed the wall with his head once or twice.
Vicky—she of New Arcadia—comes to afternoon service ring at the abbey not infrequently. We are excruciatingly polite to each other, or anyway that’s what’s happening on my end. With the exception of a few personal friends most of my ex-colleagues at the New Arcadia tower make me JUMPY AS GIMBLASTICON.+ And if I may say so the last thing I need is further instigations to jumpiness at the frelling abbey, although I am sure this is very character building.++ But Vicky did me a very good turn today: there’s a little half-day ringing seminar next Saturday that I would have wanted to go to if I had known about it which didn’t get up on the board at the abbey due to administrative error and Vicky told me. Oh. Thanks. So I launched a running tackle at Albert, who is going to be overseeing the seminar, and he agreed (hoarsely) that if I’d remove the lasso from around his neck he would add my name to the list. YAAAAAAY.+++
So as I was winding up my lasso again# Vicky approached me in a restrained and delicate matter. Will you be ringing here next Sunday morning? she said. No, I said, I only ring here in the afternoons. Vicky took a deep breath. Thendoyousupposeyoucouldring 10to10:30 atOldEdenextSundayitwouldbeVERY HELPFULwe’reVERYSHORT.
I blinked. Sure, I said. I could do that.
+ Ie very jumpy
++ But it’s not doing my RINGING any good AT ALL.
+++ I need more stuff to do. But it’s at a tower with nice friendly bells IN A CIRCLE and I may make less of a fool of myself than sometimes.
# Note that I finished winding up a hank of yarn last night that did NOT run amok, which makes a change, although it woke up to its human-enraging responsibilities at the very last minute and tried but there wasn’t enough loose yarn left to make a really kill-me-now tangle. I WANT A BALL WINDER. AND A SWIFT. I WANT MORE MONEY IN MY BANK ACCOUNT.
** With occasional reversions just to remind you they can, like Chaos, mid-leap, balancing himself by his front feet on my chest so he can lick my face.
*** Rowan was a nightmare about this. I began to think I never would train her to lead. And yet she was the one who popped both cruciate ligaments and whom I retrained to use the frelling leg after the (EXTRAORDINARILY EXPENSIVE) surgery by mere bullying, poor critter—I took her for walks on lead, saying in my best enforcer voice, Put. It. Down. Like she had any reason to know what I was saying. But she looked at me . . . and started putting that foot down. I think possibly because of that early face-off about walking on lead, which in her mind I guess she lost, so she took a deep tragic breath and ‘lost’ about this too, bless her furry little soul. Rowan was one of life’s victims. She’d have been happy to tell you all about it.
† The way, for example, some in-law or other is clearly the antichrist^. And twenty-one years later you realise they’ve become a good friend and they’d be someone you could ring if you were in trouble. How did that happen?
^ Naming no names or anything.
†† I’ve been trying to get frelling Olivia or frelling Southdowner to send me a good picture of Croissant, who really is another gorgeous puppy. If one of them ever does I will immediately post it here. Have I mentioned that her new owner is besotted? Well of course.