In the first place THAAAAAAAANK YOUUUUUUUUUU MOOOOOOOOOOODS!!!!! You are STARS! STARRRRRRRRRRRRRS!
* * *
So. How has my week off from the blog been?
I’ve been to three different vets so far this week. I’m going to a fourth tomorrow. Life is so exciting.
Other highlights of the past eight days include that hellhounds were just barely beginning to view food as a friend rather than an enemy again, and essaying the occasional mouthful without rushing across the room immediately after and hiding behind the sofa in case it came after them for this impertinence . . . when the hellterror came into the final, full-standing-fertile stage of heat*, and the hellhounds’ tiny little minds exploded with the rush of hormones to what passes in a dog for the cerebral cortex AND THEY STOPPED EATING COMPLETELY.**
They can’t afford to stop eating. Again. More. Longer. They already look like toast racks because first they were ill and then they weren’t eating because they had been ill, and this is always the way they behave after they’ve been ill. Or experienced any other disturbing stimulus. The sighthound’s first defense is always to STOP EATING.
So I’ve been FORCE FEEDING THEM. Try to imagine how much fun this is for all of us.***
Monday morning the hellterror went outdoors and produced a gigantic mushy sloppy glob. Nooooooooo. Because this is her pattern: this is how it begins. By the evening, while she doesn’t geyser with force the way the hellhounds do, it was the same substance even if the delivery system was a little different.
When I took her out yet again at midnight . . . she actually looked like she was having trouble walking. PANIC. I rang my new vets’ emergency service and was told to bring her in. Another nice young vet, this one male, Discussed the Situation and . . . I think poor Pav had just really really had enough and was feeling ghastly and was just coming to the end of the fertile phase of her first heat so while she put up with his fondling her abdomen when he went away and then came back she growled and snapped at him. I’ve never had a dog that bites. I was tired and stressed myself, and worried, I was completely nonplussed—and clueless. We got a muzzle on her, my little Jekyll and Hyde, and if anything could have made me feel even more miserable, that was it.
I brought her home again and she went comatose. It was TERRIFYING. I . . . um . . . didn’t go to bed Monday night. I didn’t understand what was happening, it’s been a bad several months, my hellhounds won’t eat unless I literally poke it down their throats†, I was totally losing my hold on reality and reality was sucking big time anyway, why would I want to have a hold on it? So I just stayed up, reading some of my backlog of 1,000,000,000 magazines, sitting on my stool next to the Aga, and glancing at the hellterror crate occasionally. Got through a lot of magazines by the time it was eight o’clock and the day shift was back on duty at the vet’s.
I took her in again at noon. She’d stopped being comatose†† by then, but she was still rivering. Aaaaaaaaand . . . my new young engaged-with-the-problem vet? Is now talking to me about how it’s IBS. It’s not something in the environment that we can, you know, find. It’s IBS. Just like the hellhounds.
THREE dogs, the third one seven years younger AND entirely unrelated AND a different breed . . . ALL have IBS†††? I know truth, that ratbag, is often a whole lot stranger than fiction, which has to pretend to mind its manners, but . . . REALLY?
Pav also tried to bite this vet. I was not in good shape. I hadn’t had any sleep the night before and I am tired of sick dogs—and being patronised by vets. I burst into tears. I don’t think this did me a lot of good in the ‘reliability of owner’ category in the clinic records. And I feel like I’m being told It’s All My Fault. I am a nervy, anxious paranoid person with IBS . . . and have created three nervy, anxious paranoid hellcritters with IBS. WAAAAAAAAAAAH.
Pav has a new appointment with the fancy internal-specialist vet tomorrow morning. The fancy internal-specialist vet that my old vet wanted to send me off to after one round of basic lab tests came back negative because the only other possibility was ‘stress’.‡ We’ve had one round of slightly more comprehensive lab tests with the new vet . . . and I’m being sent off to the fancy internal-specialist vet again.
I got some sleep last night. I woke up this morning in a temper. I rang my old homeopathic vet’s new office and they could fit me in this afternoon.‡‡ Which meant finding his new office. I took Peter so I would at least be getting lost with somebody.
We got lost.
But we got there.
And I have to go to bed, because I have to get up early tomorrow morning for our next veterinarian adventure.
* * *
* I haven’t had to deal with a bitch in heat in years and I’d forgotten the details, or possibly the details are more prominent on hellterrors. But for most of the year the exterior genitalia on your average bitch is a tiny little vaguely pointed bulge^, as seen from behind, where their hind legs meet. I knew it swelled when the bitch goes into heat, and sometimes it changes colour—and, of course, it drips. What I hadn’t remembered—although it doubtless varies from bitch to bitch and breed to breed^^—is that as it swells it turns outward and up. To the rather creeped-out human at the other end of the lead it looks like it’s saying F**********CK ME. Which, of course, it is.
^ They pee out of the same hole. I assume that the geography within that single external opening is sufficiently clear that a hopeful penis won’t take the wrong fork.
^^ Sighthound bitches are famous for whistling nonchalant little tunes while they go into and come back out of heat without anyone noticing. People who want to breed their sighthound bitches can be extremely frustrated by this.+
+ Hint: Be suspicious of a whistling bitch.
** On second thought, don’t try. No need for any more of us to be this wretched.
*** They also moaned a lot. Mooooooooan. Moooooooan. I always knew that having an entire bitch around two entire males was going to be challenging and it’s hard for me to tell, because of everything else that’s been going on, how drastically I need to change my coping mechanisms for next time.
† Then you slam the jaws shut, tip the head back and rub the throat with your other hand, supposing you have a free hand, while intoning, Swallow. Swallow, you effing argling *(&^%$£”!”!!!!!. Then you do it again. And again. And again. And . . . Did I tell you about getting liquid wormer^ all over the kitchen? That may have been this weekend. I’m not too good with liquids, although if it’s just water, no big, and even if it’s water with electrolytes, so the floor is a little sticky, so? But wormer . . . the label of which reads DO NOT GET ON YOUR SKIN OR CLOTHING . . . unh. Well, we had semi-pulverized dog food all over the kitchen too. Darkness after a brief manifestation of disbelieving shock goes all stoic and resigned and lets you maul him, but Chaos has a quite astonishing talent for squirting food back out the sides of his mouth even when you’re sure you got it into the back of his throat AND you have his mouth clamped shut. Arrrrgh. Blasted gappy carnivore teeth.
^ Special extra-strong wormer, in case whatever this is is worms, instead of the usual wormicidal tablets, which are a lot easier to manage.
†† The day vet said that what the night vet had given her was opium-based and it might have caused this effect. He couldn’t have told me?! All he said to me was that it was a muscle relaxant, to stop her gut spasming.
††† Or IBD. They seem to call it IBD over here: Irritable Bowel Disorder instead of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
‡ See: It’s all the nervy, anxious paranoid owner’s fault. Yes, well, paranoids really do have stuff blamed on them, just like they have real enemies.
‡‡ I stopped going when he got so overextended you couldn’t get hold of him when, as happened to Darkness, his prescription had made things worse. Life is too frelling short. But I’ve thought about him increasingly often over the last several months and he’s taken on another vet and some support staff which ought to make that end of things better. The other end of things however is that his new office is over an hour away.^
^ Remind me to tell you the Saga of Wolfgang which is the only thing that has gone right this week.
I actually am going to bed (somewhat) earlier and getting up (somewhat) earlier. It doesn’t seem to be working. The frustration just moves around a little. This reminds me of those dingdongs who say that Daylight Savings Time gives you more hours of daylight. NO IT FRELLING DOESN’T. IT JUST GIVES THEM TO YOU AT DIFFERENT HOURS. I mean, duuuuh. Twenty four hours is twenty four hours, more’s the pity. And this time of year I’m seeing dawn occasionally, not in a good way, in spite of being able to have the afternoon hurtle any time up to about eight o’clock—it’s still afternoon because it’s still daylight. You see my problem.
Anyway. I yanked myself out of bed BEFORE NINE O’CLOCK* . . . I swear there really is a hole in my life where time leaks out. Although today was additionally depleted by another live** baby-plant tray delivery . . . of the wrong plants. They were, however, gasping to get out of their useless little plastic containers, so I’ve potted the frellers on while typing (okay not quite simultaneously) a sardonic email to the nursery in question***. I now have three outstanding queries in to plant nurseries about botched deliveries—all three have sent me robo letters telling me My Inquiry Is Important To Them and they will respond as soon as they are able. One of these nurseries is one of these specialist bozos that go on and frelling on about being a family business through seventeen generations and how dedicated they are to customer service . . . and their dratblasted advertising always comes with a photo of some smiling family member with a phony signature scrawled at the bottom. They not only sent their robo letter a week ago but I’ve had both a street mail catalogue and an email from smiling family members since AND I THINK THEY SHOULD PAY LESS ATTENTION TO FORM AND MORE TO FUNCTION.
The point is that despite having all these HOURS this morning I was still late getting sixty-seven hellcritters and an awful lot of stuff † into Wolfgang for the outgoing journey to the mews.
I turned the key. The radio came on. Nothing else happened. I stared at the dashboard in disbelief. I turned the key again.
Nothing continued to happen.
I sat in my dead car and punched in the phone number of the RAC on Pooka. Forty-five minutes, they said. At least. I sighed heavily. I brought everybody back indoors again. I sent out an emergency lunch bulletin to Peter—I have critter food at the cottage, but I require daily injections of several gallons of lettuce, most of which are consumed at lunch. I had barely got my hands covered in greasy chicken carcase shreds††, the hellterror was just warming up for flinging herself frantically against the sides of her crate . . . when there was a commotion outside, which was one of my neighbours having her ingress blocked by a large orange RAC van. YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HERE FOR ANOTHER THIRTY FIVE MINUTES. AND YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO CALL ME FIRST.
Other than that, the service was exemplary. Although I was feeling a little cranky about my neighbours all queuing up to tell me I needed a new car. Hey! It’s a frelling dead battery! Any car can have a dead battery! —And this battery is several years old, although I feel it would have been polite if it gave me a little warning that it was about to pop its clogs. Phineas said that he’s amazed every time Wolfgang starts and I drive away anywhere. The neighbour whose ingress was blocked was so busy laughing she could hardly get the words out: Robin, you need a new car. —I DO NOT NEED A NEW CAR.†††
And to support this attitude I bought a battery that is guaranteed for five years.
* * *
* Yes, in the morning. Very funny. Ha ha ha ha ha.
** You hope
*** And they had better not tell me to return them.
† It was a big day for deliveries. I also took delivery on a GIGANTIC box of non-perishable groceries . . . only the heavy items of which had to come down to the mews.
At least I was there when they delivered it. I have yet to be home when the Gold Standard Kibble boxes arrive. You have to buy two of the extra-large size to get free shipping and at these prices IT’S WORTH IT. But it means that every few months I find myself grappling sixty-plus pounds of large rectangular shipping box down a perilously steep flight of stairs from the back of the greenhouse which is where deliveries are left^ and then back up the less steep but equally perilous steps to the front door aaaaand then through the pit-and-pendulum arrangement of stable-style (front) door, permanent puppy gate^^, chimney breast with coathooks bearing far too many coats, and the grandfather clock. And possibly some hellhounds, who enjoy the pranks the hellgoddess gets up to to entertain them.
The latest consignment arrived two days ago. I swear the deliveryman hides around the corner and waits till he sees me leave with some assortment of hellcritters or other and then nips in and deposits the by-this-time-starting-to-disintegrate cardboard box full of tungsten chips. He’s going to have to heave it up some stairs or other, and this way he can luxuriate in the awareness that the customer gets a double shot.^^^ All of this rant I am pretty sure I have ranted at you before. However I was thinking, this time, as I tried not to destroy anything, like an ankle or a pot of pansies, that I don’t know why I’m complaining, it’s only like carrying two hellterrors. I’d rather carry two hellterrors. Which may give you an idea. . . .
^ Except when they weigh more than half what you do, this is a sensible place to have things left
^^ which has been there since the hellhounds were puppies, and very glad I am to have it, except when wrestling annoyingly large parcels
^^^ And trust me, this is still better than trying to negotiate the greenhouse and the kitchen door, even though there would be no stairs involved.
†† ‘Chicken carcases’ are what’s left after butchers have cut all the separately-packaged bits off. They’re CHEAP and they’re CHICKEN but they are a pain to deal with.
††† And aside from the sheer fact of his advanced age, Wolfgang looks worse than he is. There are kind of a lot of dents. Er. And most of the chrome strips have been ripped off. And the bumpers may dangle slightly. And some of the headlight housing is missing. And the taillight housing leaks. And some of the doors work better than others, and let’s not talk about the frangledrabbing electric windows at all. Other than that . . . well, other than that I never wash him. I could do that. I could give him a nice bath. The once a year I do this I’m always surprised at how much better he looks (in spite of the dents). Poor Wolfgang.
Some things may be looking up. No, no, nothing about ARCs and books scheduled for publication in September*. Both hellhounds ate lunch today for the first time in weeks. Of course then we had an unexpected meltdown about dinner, arrrgh. However, eating was eventually accomplished at dinner as well . . . and then they got all cranky about Pav getting bits of chicken for afters too. Guys. Your neurosis is showing.
But I was thinking despairingly today . . . I may not only be starting to hope strenuously that Pav doesn’t get too big to pick up**, I may spend my declining years specialising in dogs that are small enough to pick up.*** It is the simple truth that Other People’s Dogs are starting to undermine my delight in my own dogs. Yes. It’s that bad.
I think it was two days ago I was giving Pav a last quick sprint around the centre of town. It was after dark and New Arcadia is not known for its heady night life. There were only a few people on the street. Two of them were standing talking to each other outside the Troll and Nightingale. Between them was a lying-down dog.
I am paranoid, but like the old joke goes, even paranoids have real enemies. This dog was just lying there but I knew I didn’t like the look of it, and I had taken note that it was not wearing a lead. I think we’ll not worry about it, I said to Pav, and picked her up. I then strolled out into the street, so we would be passing Ominous Dog at a little distance instead of possibly invading its private space by passing it on the, you know, public pavement.
We hadn’t even come level with it when it LEAPED to its feet and came barrelling straight at us, barking and snarling with all its hair up. OH GREAT. THIS IS GREAT. I REALLY GOT UP THIS MORNING SAYING PERHAPS TODAY IS A GOOD DAY TO DIE. I yelled, which is what I usually do in these situations, bellowing is less embarrassing than shrieking and if by any chance the human involved is going to do anything this is a SUGGESTION THAT THEY DO IT NOW.
They never do, of course. In this case as I yelled I swung around, on the theory that fewer dogs will attack a human than will go for the hellterror in the human’s arms, and Toxic Purulence Dog swerved off at the last minute, circled around us and came up behind me again. I don’t suppose I did feel its hot breath on the back of my neck but I felt as if I was feeling its hot breath on the back of my neck. Not a small dog. Just by the way.
Its human said, Awwwwwww, he just wants to say helloooooooo.
Words failed me, which is just as well. You can neither argue nor reason with these troglodytes—and in this case I guess there is more going on than mere denial. This guy’s getting off on his evil dog, in some weird passive-aggressive way. Toxic Purulence Dog eventually peeled away and left us alone, and I, even more eventually, put Pav back on her own feet.†
I was out with Pav after dark again tonight†† but we were at the other end of town. We were walking past one of the sports grounds which was all lit up because they were playing one of those men-in-shorts-kicking-balls games. I therefore couldn’t see much into the dark beyond, but I was pretty sure I was seeing . . . an off lead dog and a human. I picked Pav up. As we got closer . . . IT WAS TOXIC PURULENCE DOG AGAIN. How did we get so lucky? And it ran straight at us††† while its human said, Awwwwww, now, Uncle Wiggly‡ . . .
It swerved off again, a little sooner this time. Small favours. I tracked it going down the other side of the football field and thought, we’ll just take an extra loop around the hedgerow so we don’t all arrive back at the car park at the same time.
I was nonetheless looking around like Ripley in Aliens as we got close to the car park and . . . saw a large familiar-looking dog just jumping into a car. ‡ We lingered a little longer before venturing to cross the tarmac and . . . violent, hysterical barking broke out from the car we’d seen. I risked looking over my shoulder and . . . yup. Toxic Purulence Dog. Slightly muffled by being behind a closed window.
Here’s the really incredible bit. The troglodyte lowered the window so Toxic Purulence Dog could jam its head and shoulders through the opening and scream at us. I wondered in a cool detached way if TPD was actually going to get out and come after us again. . . .
What is the matter with people?
* * *
* SHADOWS’ official pub date is the 26th of September, if you want to draw a big red circle on your calendar. I Remember the Good Old Days when authors got their first copies weeks before the rest of the world did. Now it’s the other way around. With pre-orders and things readers who are not merely enthusiastic but organised may have your book in their hot little hands weeks before your publisher’s warehouse sends it to you.
** I can’t think of Pav as ‘small’ however. She’s just . . . low slung. She’s so frelling solid.^ When I think of a small dog, I think of the sort of critter that you’re afraid of breaking if you pick it up wrong or hold it too tightly. It’s not merely a question of weight: Pekinese are solid little beggars. Bichon Frises, in my admittedly limited experience, are not, although they may weigh half again to twice what a Peke weighs. While I’m not going to try dribbling Pav like a basketball^^, I’m quite sure she’d bounce and come up smiling.^^^
^ Even if she’s too thin.+
+ . . . mutters: she is not too thin.
^^ and am only occasionally tempted . . . STOP EATING THE CARPET. STOP EATING THE SOFA. STOP EATING THE HELLHOUNDS’ BED. STOP EATING YOUR LEAD. STOP EATING MY JEANS/SHOELACES/SOCKS. STOP EATING . . .
^^^ Love the bullie grin. Just saying.
*** My second to last dog will be a Yorkshire terrier. Then I’ll get one of those mobility scooter things and have an extra-large basket put on the front in which can ride a mini-bullie and a small whippet.^
^ Hazel, at nineteen pounds, all of which was leg and spine, curled up on your lap beautifully. Pav, at twenty-seven pounds, doesn’t fit in your lap at all, partly because she’s a rectangular solid and doesn’t bend very well.
† Pav was all, Okay, that was fun and exciting! What’s next? I was shivering with adrenaline and had to sit down for a minute. No, no, no, said Pav. Sitting down is not fun and exciting. Perhaps if I eat your shoelaces you will be aroused to take an interest.
†† I spent most of the afternoon IN THE GARDEN. Which I will probably tell you about tomorrow. (*&^%$£”!!!!!, etc.
††† And Pav sat up Very Straight and said, Ooooh, this is fun and exciting! —She’s been freaked out a couple of times by big dogs rushing up to her, even big friendly dogs. I would love to know what she’s thinking when we’re having an encounter while I’m carrying her. As I’ve said many times, she’s very, very good about being carried, because of all that holding when she was a baby; picking her up is, in fact, a good way of telling her to calm down; nine times out of ten she collapses instantly.^ But what she is thinking while Armageddon is racing toward us? ‘I’m taller than he is’? ‘Nobody goes up against the hellgoddess and lives’? ‘Wheeeee’?
^ The tenth time, of course, there is major blood loss, and you feel as if you’re holding onto a small exploding galaxy.
‡ Not Its Real Name
‡‡ I hope I’m imagining it that the troglodyte waved at me.
It’s southern England in the middle of March and it’s snowing. And the wind chill factor is something like minus eight hundred and twelve.* What’s the opposite of a meltdown? I’m having one. I am not willing to PUT UP WITH THIS WEATHER in the south of England in the middle of MARCH.** My crocuses, daffs, hyacinths and hellebores have SNOW on them. And the wind? Not only does it try to push your teeth down your throat should you be so injudicious as to open your mouth—in shock—to breathe, it makes Wolfgang rock on his (elderly) suspension as we speed toward Sorgumlea and Nadia and it lifted one of the Wall Man’s neatly stacked bricks and threw it at my greenhouse—crash! Bricks are heavy, you know? And their glide ratio is not good. But a brick still levitated off the pile, flew up into the air and whanged down on my greenhouse.
The Wall Man hasn’t been here in about four days—it’s been raining till it started snowing. So not only is our wall not being finished, but the WIND comes through the gap into my garden galloping like a jousting knight—GET OUT OF THE WAAAAAAAY. Pavlova was nearly tossed over the opposite wall onto Phineas’ lawn.***
Generally speaking however Pav doesn’t care. The hellhounds care. Make it stop or we’ll stop eating (again). I also hate picking up crap in this weather: you have to take your gloves off. For most of your average [sic] English winter fingerless gloves, especially the kind with the little fold-over mitten end, are perfectly adequate. I suppose if the evil aspect of winter is going to hang around more I will be forced to learn to adapt to picking up crap with my gloves on.† I took Pav with me today—now that the daylight is getting loonger†† in the afternoons again there’s a perfectly good hurtling opportunity post-voice-lesson before we return to familiar territory—and since as we know she only ever craps at home and when ordered to do so by the hellgoddess, the taking off of gloves was not going to be a problem. But it was so COOOLD that she managed to hucklebutt the end of the lead right out of my numbed fingers—she’s mostly figured out how long her (extending) lead is, just as the hellhounds did at her age, and watching her hucklebutt in a tight zigzag pattern is better entertainment than most West End plays. But she misjudges occasionally. Today when she got to the end the handle just rattled straight out of my failing-to-close non-grip. Oops. Loose frelling hellterror in the middle of vast edge-of-town park and sports and playground area with lots of lovely people and other dogs to meet. Hey, Pav, I said casually. She looked at me. Pav, come, I said, and knelt, which is one of those cheating-but-whatever-WORKS recall tricks—and she came to me instantly. Noble Pav. Fabulous Pav.†††
I finally made it to Colin’s Monday tower practise tonight too—I was thinking that in the last few weeks I’ve had a sick car, a sick husband, a sick dog‡ and a sick me. It’s not surprising my life is even more ramshackle than usual. But Nadia had dragged me through the first two pages of Vedrai, carino‡‡ and then offered me my first Schubert.‡‡ ::Beams:: This because I wanted to sing something cheerful, and this is one of those spring-it’s-spring-la-la-la-la songs even if it’s called FRUHLINGSGLAUBE for pity’s sake and is (duh) in German. So I was feeling all chirpy and upbeat and it isn’t snowing hard, the roads are clear. Although the South Desuetude tower has to be the coldest place on earth, if I hadn’t gone Niall would have kidnapped me off to Old Eden and those cranky bells in this rotten weather? Nooooooo.
Maybe if I sing FRUHLINGSGLAUBE with feeling it’ll bring the season on a little—?
* * *
*Fahrenheit, Celsius, Kelvin or Icicledoolally, I don’t care. Cold. Very frelling COLD.
** Cue every (old) person who has ever lived in southern England telling me about ice-skating every winter in the 60s. I don’t care. It’s not the 60s any more.^
^ For which I am very grateful. I did not enjoy being a teenager. At all. You know that so-called joke about locking kids up when they turn 13 and letting them out again when they turn 20, so that parents, other authority figures and random adults are spared the whole teenage thing? Sounds good to me. As the kid. I’d have been great locked up for six years as long as there were sufficient supplies of books, chocolate, a piano, what in those days would have been a ‘stereo system’, a (large) sketchpad, a dog or dogs at my feet and a (walled) field out back with two or three horses in it (horses are herd animals: you should have more than one).+ I’m getting all wistful just thinking about it.
+ I didn’t discover gardening till I married Peter and bell ringing requires other people.#
# And maybe someone could have taught me to knit when I was 12. So books, chocolate, yarn . . .
*** This probably has not improved her attitude toward the whole having-a-crap thing.
† I was younger when I still lived in Maine.
††† It’s always something. With the hellhounds, when they were insane puppies and I wasn’t sure of their recall, when they occasionally got away from me I freaked because they are so fast. I am not joking that they can have disappeared before I’ve finished shouting their names. Fortunately they never have,^ but they could. With Pav, my number-one fear is becoming that she is a dangerous bull terrier with dangerous bull-terrier fighting DNA^^ and people are STUPID. I realise that the Language of Dog is pretty much as complex as any other language but I feel that anyone who lives in an area that has pet dogs—which would be pretty much everywhere in England—ought to frelling recognise the wagging tail, flat ears and belly-creep of the (over) friendly hellcritter, whatever the shape of its profile.
^ knocking on wood here
^^ In terms of bull-terrier jaw DNA, by the time she’s grown I’m not going to be able to pry her mouth open any more. Hellhounds I still can—but they aren’t big clampers anyway, aside from not being wired to grab something and not let go. I am hoping by the time she’s grown I will have less need to pry her mouth open. Today I saw her go for something, and I could see by the way she was holding her mouth closed there was something in there . . . a broken-off chicken thighbone GEEZUM GEEZUM GEEZUM that could have killed her if she’d chewed it up and swallowed it—oh yes, she chews her trophies. I’m having to learn that too—hellhounds mostly just carry their treasures around—Pav, with that bull-terrier jaw, will chew up heavy plastic, for example, which SPLINTERS. Whimper. I will have to ask Olivia or Southdowner what you do when you have to get something out of your puppy’s mouth after she starts biting steel girders in half. Small pocket-sized titanium-alloy crowbar?
‡ And then frelling Chaos decided to stop eating too because the fact that Darkness wasn’t eating was making him nervous.
‡‡ Zerlina, in DON GIOVANNI. Mmmmm Mozart.
‡‡‡ Not quite my first Schubert. Blondel tried to give me the ratblasted Lotus Flower but I hated the lyrics so much I couldn’t engage, even with the protective colouration of the terrifyingly unpronounceable German.
I want COMFORT FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.*
I do have some excuse for being a little frantic.** It’s nine p.m. and I’m finally eating lunch. It’s been that kind of a day. A whimper kind of day.*** Fortunately I turned over a new leaf recently and began to take breakfast seriously. Heretofore—well, menopausal no-metabolism heretofore: there are photos of me eating breakfast in the garden at the old house† but that was a long time ago in many ways, including metabolic—I have felt that an apple and sixteen cups of tea was adequate. But advancing age and/or (advancing) ME deem otherwise: protein, they spoke in one voice. And a very interesting time I’ve had hacking out sufficient calories from the rest of my minimal-ingestion day to permit frelling protein before noon. However I have to admit that the new system makes the double-hurtle requirement presently in force†† a good deal more likely not to kill me.
The GUARDIAN tweeted this today:
My characters have tended to the caffeinated beverage and breadlike substance breakfasts—Maggie in SHADOWS drinks too much coffee and adds a little toast for ballast—although the ones who know they’ll be waving swords later may also indulge in protein. I will have to think about this. Sylvi will need to keep her strength up in PEG II (and III. Moan). At the moment out here in the real world I favour scrambled eggs or cashews—speaking of CALORIES—but when you’ve spent years not eating breakfast, six cashews is luxury. And the smell of them roasting—I buy raw organic—is so decadent it ought to be fattening.
And now I have to get on with dinner so I’ll have time to sing. Before I go to bed again. I have to get up sharpish tomorrow morning both because all hurtling must be done in daylight while this infernal cold spell‡ continues and also because I’m having my horrifying second lesson in playing bridge tomorrow afternoon. In one of my wilder moments I suggested that I should learn enough baby bridge to be pressganged into playing a fourth when they’re short. Why Peter’s local daughter couldn’t have two boyfriends so they could play four without me. . . .
* * *
* I think I’ve been hanging around with a hellterror for too long.
** Very like a hellterror, in fact.
*** Although we may have The Wall sorted. I hope. I had a letter through the door this morning after I finally staggered downstairs after a bad night even by my standards . . . from my neighbour detailing her bad night after our phone call. Siiiiiiigh. One of us needs to be calm and capable and confident. Um.
† Homemade marmalade on homemade bread. We bought the butter though.
†† And I mean FORCE. The troika still only goes out after midnight. And only when I’m feeling strong.
††† With the I think daft headline ‘the sexiest meal’. Anyone who pantingly turns to it is going to be disappointed. But for sheer journalistic idiocy I assume at least some of you know about the absurd and fraudulent hoohah about Hilary Mantel’s essay Royal Bodies?
I’m a republican all the way when it comes to the royal family, and the paragraph about hurting the queen’s feelings roused in me that most American of reactions, the Bronx cheer. But the point Mantel is making about royal women being acceptable by being fertile and dutiful—this even into the twenty-first century—I think is only too grotesquely true. Enter the DAILY MAIL shrieking and waving chains and truncheons and condemning Mantel’s ‘vicious attack’ on the latest pretty, dutiful and pregnant royal wife. ARRRRRGH. I’m torn between ‘get a life’ and ‘get either a brain^ or a bottom line sense of frelling ethics’. If this is what it takes to sell newspapers then I’m ready for newspapers to be over with. However the GUARDIAN which is usually pretty good about this sort of thing^^ published this:
And, yeah. I spared myself reading the original MAIL hysteria—I give the DAILY MAIL a wide berth: I have an OCD friend who is pretty urgent about brushing herself off after she’s been on public transport: I feel that way about passing too near the DAILY MAIL—but reading the original article I admired Mantel’s courage not least because I knew they’d get around to saying that the only reason she was going on about the Duchess of whatsit is because she’s fat and childless. She’s fat and childless, just by the way, because she was very badly botched by the medical profession. Which is another story. Anyway. This all produces lying-in-a-darkened-room time for me and it’s nothing to do with me, and I hope Mantel is resting in her own darkened room with a good friend and/or a good book and a bottle of cold champagne. And that it’s worth it to her. I can’t believe she didn’t know she was being dangerously provocative, but you can misjudge this kind of thing. Don’t bother to ask me how I know this. But I’m not famous enough to get yelled at by anybody but my agent. There are advantages to obscurity.
^ Can they possibly have genuinely misread what she said?
^^ Even if its willingness to bash homeopathy is deplorable
‡ IT’S THE END OF FEBRUARY IN SOUTHERN ENGLAND. GO AWAY WITH THE SUB-ZERO TEMPERATURES AND THE SNOW. You’re making my little flowering cherry miserable. And the hellhounds. And me.^
^ The hellterror says, Cold? Is it edible?