April 4, 2014

Shadows is here!

Curses. Foiled again.

 

I was supposed to be going to a concert tonight.  Well, I was supposed to be going to a concert tomorrow night, only I kept forgetting, because Saturday night is Monk Night* and that there might be something else going on doesn’t register unless you nag me relentlessly**.  So by the time I remembered—chiefly because I was going to be seeing the friend who was singing in it and wanted me to come—it had sold out.  Never mind, she said, come to the dress rehearsal.  Which I would probably have enjoyed more anyway because it’s more of the nuts and bolts of putting on a performance***.

It has not been a brilliant day.  I went with Peter when he saw his GP this morning, and the frelling doctor was forty five minutes late without explanation or apology.†  Sound of Robin scraping herself off the walls since Peter likes his doctor and I don’t want to disturb this desirable situation by, for example, putting said doctor through the clinic paper shredder.††   Then Peter and I had our usual Friday foray to the farmers’ market, to which I bring the hellhounds so they were okay, but I got back to the cottage finally and very late to an EXTREMELY CRANKY HELLTERROR who had to be soothed by . . . well, give her a dog biscuit and she’s your slave for life, or at least till the next dog biscuit, but I figured I owed her a good walk.†††

Meanwhile I’d had a text from Niall reminding me that the much-neglected-by-me Friday handbells were occurring tonight at 5:30 as usual . . . I’d already texted him back that I was coming, after which I was going to have to rip off to the concert.   Good thing I don’t write the blog every night any more, I thought, harnessing up hellhounds for their pre-handbell sprint.

. . . And Darkness has the geysers again.  WAAAAAAAAAAAH. ‡

So I stayed home.

And I thought, oh well, I might as well write a blog post.  Sigh.

* * *

* Which is a ratbag on your social life, if any.  But the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament—which I think I’ve told you before?, is that you stare at the wafers they’re going to use at Mass on Sunday morning, which are suspended in some manner within this golden starburst thing I’m told is called a monstrance^ is kind of booked to happen Saturday night.  Clearly weeks need an eighth day, so you can get your serious acting-out post-work-week over with, or possibly just go to a concert, on that day^^ between Friday and Saturday and be sufficiently clean, upright and awake^^^ for wafer-contemplation on Saturday night.

^ Which I feel is an unfortunate derivation.  Like calling angels vampires because one of the origins+ of ‘vampire’ may refer to spirits of the air.  And why is a rosary either a rose garden or a loop of prayer beads?  I know—garland.  But confusing.

+ disputed, but I think they’re all disputed

^^ Which I feel should be called Loki-day or Misrule-day except the world would probably end.  So maybe we could call it Dead Sheep day or Dwarf Conifer day.

^^^ I will not say no one has ever fallen asleep during the Exposition.  Unless you fall off your chair+ it’s not a big deal in the congregation—all one or two or three of us—because we’re sitting in the dark till the service begins.  The black-garbed chappies up on the dais . . . yeah.  They’re kinda visible if they start to nod.++  But the Benedictine order is heavily into physical, three-dimensional this-world work, and my monks have probably been rescuing kittens from the tops of two-hundred-foot leylandii cypresses and doing the steel-driving man thing alongside soulless steam drills+++ all day and are tired.

+ NO.  I HAVEN’T.  THANKS FOR ASKING.

++ Alfrick never falls asleep.  He’s my hero.

+++ And winning, of course.  Our railroads need a few miracles.

** And even then nothing is guaranteed except that I’ll probably bite your head off.

*** I’m singing again at St Margaret’s on Sunday—AAAAAAAUGH—the nice young man who is leading this week dutifully sent the playlist last night with the video links—AAAAAAAAUGH.  I’d far rather be learning The sun whose rays are all ablaze^ or I Want to Be a Prima Donna^^

^ The Mikado.  You’d’ve remembered in a minute.

^^ On the spectacular perversity of bodies:  my singing practise at home is pretty . . . erratic, both because I’m an erratic kind of person (!) but also because I have an erratic kind of voice, which I gather is pretty standard, it’s just if you’re good and/or professional you learn workarounds.  I will warm up a bit, sing a folk song, warm up a bit more, sing another folk song, lie on the floor and do a few breathing exercises, sing another folk song or an old gospel thumper, sing something I’m actually working on to bring to Nadia . . . do a few more warm ups.  What I sing and how I sing it is entirely based on the noise I’m making:  on a good-noise day I’ll do a lot more than on a bad-and-I-can’t-seem-to-make-it-better-noise day.  Most days are in between:  if I keep doing warm-ups and vowelly exercises and approaching the intractable from different angles I will at least improve.  Probably.  I also try not to get too hung up on what specific notes I’m singing—this is on Nadia’s advice—find a range my voice is happy in and sing there.

But by the end of a good practise I’m singing a high B as part of an exercise pattern without any particular effort—my much-desired-for-silly-reasons high C is clearly there I just haven’t quite had the courage to have a stab at it—somebody tell me why, as soon as I’m trying to sing a song, I can’t even hit a frelling G reliably.  Because my blasted throat closes up and goes no no no no no!  Eeep eeep eeep eeep eeeep!+  I tried to be clever about this the other day, and snaked out a few bars of Prima Donna where you’ve got a G-to-G octave leap, because octave leaps are a gift they’re so nice and obvious, and I use them in exercises all the time.  But my voice wasn’t having any of it.  I know what you’re trying to do, it said, and went squeaky.  ARRRRRRRGH.

Tonight’s concert included a professional soloist singing something that I—theoretically—sing, and I might have found this educational.  I might also have come home and burnt my music books, so maybe it’s just as well I didn’t go.

+ What’s even more irritating is when I’m sharp rather than flat.  Usually it’s flat—which is losing your nerve at a big fence so your horse raps it with his knees and brings a pole down.  Sharp is jumping eight feet over a three-foot fence.  But if I give up and sing along with the piano . . . okay, the note’s true enough but it’s got a frelling edge on it you could slice bread with.  ARRRRRRRRGH.

† I GOT A LOT OF KNITTING DONE.  It’s been a good week for knitting.  I got a lot of knitting done at St Margaret’s AGM equivalent earlier in the week too.  Gah.  Groups of PEOPLE.  DISCUSSING things.  Nooooooooo.  I’m a Street Pastor!  I’m going to be a Samaritan!  My social conscience is FULLY BOOKED UP!  I don’t have to do church-AGM-related things too!

†† No jury would convict me.  My barrister or whoever would be sure to load the jury with people who have WASTED HOURS OF THEIR LIVES IN DOCTORS’ WAITING ROOMS.

†††  She’s crated if she’s left alone, so if she’s been locked up longer than she thinks she should be she tends to emerge like the Blue Angels/Red Arrows at an air show.  WHEEEEEEEEEEEE.

What frelling happens in March?  We’ve had a really bad March, that is, the hellhounds have, and I have because I’m responsible.  The hellterror, I am delighted to say, seems to be maintaining intestinal integrity this year.  I thought we were coming through it. . . . But it all went horribly wrong in March last year . . . what happens in March? 

Car

 

I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR  HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR I HAVE A CAR

I HAVE A CAR

I. HAVE. A. CAR.

I HAVE A CAR

I! HAVE! A! CAR!

. . . Erm.  Wolfgang’s home.  It’s been a long nine days.*  And, as I write this, it is sheeting out there.  I mean, yes, again, but while ground water levels will take months to settle down and there’s still serious water on the road in a few places around here**, we’d not had rain in over a week and I was reduced to watering plant pots yesterday.  It rained a little last night, tactfully between the time of the last hurtle and when we had to roll out for the walk*** home, but at the moment we’re back to the End of Days.

Oh yes and Feebledweeb made a third attempt this morning.   They will stop now, right?

* * *

* And I’m running out of underwear.  Tomorrow I am bringing a lot of dirty laundry to Peter’s about-to-be-very-tired washing machine.  I was not looking forward to ferrying dirty or clean but damp laundry back and forth by gigantic knapsack.

Meanwhile I will have a full car going back to the cottage tonight with the nine hundred and eleven apples from this week’s organic grocery delivery yesterday—I get through a lot of apples, and the hellterror is not averse to offering modest assistance—the fifty-six knitting magazines I’m keeping from this month’s haul—I am a knitting magazine junkie, and I read a lot of them on the sofa at the mews—the several additional knapsacks, sweaters, pairs of gloves and socks that have accumulated down here for some reason, and the hundred and twelve books that did not make the Book Rec cut and need to go into the Oxfam Box by the door at the cottage.

** Including one stretch that is incredibly badly semi-marked and on a dark corner, and why no one has taken out the invisible barrier like Grond at the gates of Gondor for simply not being able to see it and possibly for the character flaw of not being local and therefore being unaware of neighbourhood booby traps, I cannot imagine.  Fortunately it’s only a little back road—although it’s one of those little back roads that is your only plausible choice from point A to point B—so wild veering into the centre of the road and into the path of oncoming traffic . . . can mostly be accomplished in the absence of oncoming traffic.  Even so.  I think I tweeted a county headline that the latest guesstimate about repairing Hampshire’s roads after the floods is that the price tag is going to hit £36K.    I believe it too:  not only are there potholes the size of Zeppelins but a lot of roads are simply narrower than they used to be, aside from invisible barriers protecting deep water, because the shoulders have disintegrated.  And what’s left of the road surface is like driving on stucco.  I bet tyre- and shocks-manufacturer shareholders are holding champagne parties.  I hope the list of urgently-needed mending is comprehensive.

*** Between the frelling thirty-pound knapsack and the fact that there are three of them it is a walk, although the hellterror does a fair amount of hurtling on her own recognizance.  Which brings me to a moral dilemma.  The hellterror adores the late-night strolls back to the cottage, and is, for her, surprisingly well-mannered.^  The hellhounds slouch along doing passive-aggressive sulking^^ but it’s been a year and a half, guys, get over yourselves.  And late at night is the only time it’s worth the risk taking all three out together.  I wonder if . . . it’s a pity Wolfgang can’t get himself home and the thirty-pound knapsack, and let the rest of us amble after.

^ I am really really really hoping it’s not all the frelling false pregnancy.  Which I keep hoping isn’t happening but—moan—her breasts are slightly swollen, yesterday and today, so it probably is.  Only someone who spends a lot of time rubbing her tummy would notice, but I do and I have.  She hasn’t started shredding newspapers and hiding under the sofa—she doesn’t really fit under the sofa any more—so maybe she can have the imaginary puppies imaginarily and get on with life??  But it’s been pleasant having an only semi-manic imp of the perverse about the place.  I’ve been thinking I need to take her training slightly more seriously . . . no, no, not the walking quietly on heel and the perfect recall:  the paw-offering and the playing dead.  The useful stuff.  The stuff, it must be admitted, that happens on the kitchen floor at the cottage last thing before closing her down for the night and I go upstairs for a nice hot bath and a dropping of reading material in it.  This is not, I realise, optimum training timing, but it has two things going for it:  (a) it happens at all and (b) I get a good laugh at the end of the day and on bad days this is very welcome.

^^ I am very, very, very tired of sibling rivalry, or whatever the doodah it is.  Chaos would rather be friends but Darkness is convinced she’s the antichrist and Chaos, for all his buffoonery and in-your-faceness, when in doubt, defers to Darkness.  Night before last Chaos forgot himself so far as to play tug of war with Pav and the stick she was prancing around flourishing.  There was much mock-growling and tail-wagging and I was thrilled . . . till Darkness, who had been lagging behind at the very end of his extending lead, suddenly leaped into full sprint and went past me like a cheetah after a gazelle.  I realised a third of a second before he bloody well had me over that he wasn’t going to stop, which gave me just enough instinctive time to yell and hit the end of the lead going the other way.  You colossal little ratbag.  Arrrrrgh.

Ongoing

 

Yes.  Feebledweeb came back this morning.  There was a postcard through my door about my missing my scheduled pick-up.  I’m probably imagining the petulance.  I am not imagining, however, the incredibly long, annoying, would-be mollifying robot email from a critter-supply site I have ordered from for the first time because they sell a Critter Fur Bag that is supposed to protect your (possibly new) washing machine from the extremes of critter hair production.*   Cosy Paws and Fuzzy Tummies Ltd is using one of the shiny new carrier companies . . . which I’ve already had several emails from informing me that my order is creeping inexorably nearer but they’re not going to tell me how fast or anything . . . I have to be AT HOME to SIGN FOR IT and they will only make TWO attempts to deliver before it’s returned to sender, etc.  HOW THE FREAKING ARGLEBLARGING FRELL DO THESE COMPANIES STAY IN BUSINESS?  Apparently I’m supposed to be able to track it tomorrow, when it’s (maybe**) due for Delivery Attempt #1 but I don’t even know what that means.  If I sign on tonight/tomorrow morning at midnight oh one, will it tell me that the driver is at home having a beer in front of the Late Show?***  Will Astarte chirrup at me at 6 a.m.† when the parcel is loaded into the lorry?  Will tracking include a klaxon when the lorry passes the New Arcadia town limits?  Arrrrrgh.  And the Seriously Irritating Robot letter from the critter-supply site says, ooooooh please be nice to us, we’re trying really hard.††  Sure you are.  Change delivery companies.  Change to one that when you say ‘LEAVE THE SODBLASTED PACKET BEHIND THE GATE’ they leave it behind the gate and don’t require me to poke a touchscreen with a plastic stylus in a manner that not only looks nothing like my signature, but doesn’t look like anything remotely resembling anyone’s signature.

The garage started work on Wolfgang today.  I’m supposed to ring late tomorrow afternoon and see how they’re getting on.  The suspense is killing me.  I WANT MY MONKS.  I WANT MY MONKS.  I also have an appointment to talk to Alfrick before service Saturday night.  If I started walking Saturday morning I might get there in time, maybe they’d let me sleep in the porch . . . after all I’d have to bring the hellpack, they can’t keep their legs crossed for thirty six hours, we could keep each other warm. . . .

And I’ve probably decided on my new washing machine.  ::Gasp::  It’s a Miele.  You know what Mieles COST?!  But if you ask six random critter owners what washing machine will best stand up to the depredations of critter fur, they will speak in one voice:  IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, GET A MIELE.†††

Um.  Ratbags.  Well, the hellhounds don’t eat much . . . and I could maybe buy fewer books and less yarn . . . .

And in other techie news:  My new phone machine appears to be working.‡  I can call out on it.  I can receive calls on it, even if the dargletching ring tone sounds like a drowning pigeon.  I can even pick up messages.  That’s all I can do.  At some point I will have to find out how to erase messages before the sorbligging Message Space fills up.  For some reason a number of people, having read the Are you sure it’s not Friday the 13th? blog post, starting with lecuyerv on the forum and for which thank you, have sent me a link to this:  http://xkcd.com/1343/   Yes.  Exactly.

* * *

* This:  http://www.washingnet.co.uk/en/animal-hair-filter-bag.html

But I didn’t buy it here.  If I’m going to be rude about the seller I’m not going to hang a link on the blog.  But I’ve heard of the site I ordered from, it has a good rep in critter-supply circles, and it had some happy customers reporting on the Fur Bag.

** There is some question about the depot being stolen by deranged djinns.  A little-known prediction of Nostradamus.

*** If there have been any djinn sightings?

† The drawbacks of taking your iPad to bed with you.  Remember to turn it off?  Are you kidding?

†† If we roll over will you rub our tummy?  —No.  I get enough tummy rubbing demands already.^  Humans have alarm clocks to get them up in the morning.  Hellcritters have tummy rubbing.  GUYS.  I’VE ONLY GOT TWO HANDS.  Darkness, who is his generation’s major tummy rubbee, however, does not acknowledge that this creates any sort of common ground with the hellterror.  You call that a tummy? he says.  At which point Chaos, who isn’t totally committed to tummy rubbing but does not want to be left out of anything, ducks under one of my arms, as I kneel blearily on the kitchen floor rubbing tummies while waiting for the frelling kettle to frelling boil, and knocks me over.

^ Also, I don’t like you.

††† Also, who knew that reading about washing machines could be fun?  http://www.whitegoodshelp.co.uk/about-whitegoodshelp-andy-trigg/

Miele is also, siiiiiiiigh, the top of the list by a margin of about seventy-three leagues at WHICH?

http://www.which.co.uk/

Although you have to join.  I’ve joined.  But nothing on earth will make me read an entire article on George Osborne.^ 

^ This comment will become obscure+ as soon as they put some other headline on their opening page.

+ I have a strange reluctance to use the word ‘obsolete’.  I think it’s very unfriendly of Bosch to stop making parts for a mere twenty-plus-year-old washing machine.  I bet Miele is still making parts for twenty-plus-year-old machines.^

^ At these prices, better had.

‡ Mrs Redboots

Um, I’m not quite sure why anybody buys an answering machine in this day and age – can’t you just record your message on 1571, which is what I do? . . . Of course, the huge downside is you have to remember to check the frelling thing, which I never do . . .

Um . . . pathological loathing of BT?^  BT, who, when applied to to turn the landline phone on at Third House declared that there was no cable to the house—the eighty-year-old house in the middle of town with the phone jack in the kitchen—and I would have to pay several hundred pounds to get one installed.  BT, who has insisted for nearly a decade that my problem with the upstairs phone at the cottage is to do with the house wiring and it will cost me several hundred pounds if they send an engineer, even though their own frelling linemen, laughing like drains at the state of the cul-de-sac’s common wiring, says that it is BT.  Yes, it’s true that my series of cheap, simple-minded previous phone machines were BT, but in the first place they were crap and they never pretended to be anything other than crap and in the second place a phone machine is a discrete thing that sits on your desk/table/electric keyboard/floor, it has a beginning and an ending, it has edges, and for that matter you can smudge it with burning sage if you want to drive the BT demons out.  I’m not going to use 1571.  It’s too personal.

Oh, and Peter uses 1571.  And never remembers to pick up his messages.

^ That postmistress didn’t retire.  She went to work for BT.

Feebledweeb

 

Once upon a time there was a carrier company. . . . Let’s call it Feebledweeb.  It’s been around a long time.  I had a lively and robust, not to say ranting, dislike of it over twenty years ago, before I left the States.  Before I discovered the true range of global carrier-company incompetence, creative perversity and aggressive unhelpfulness.

Feebledweeb made both of us crazy—although Peter bears crazy better than I do—back at the old house, when we were living out in the sticks of the sticks and there was a lot more hard copy in publishing than there is now.  Feebledweeb at the time was, I believe, the only carrier that would pick stuff up in the sticks of the sticks of southern England and deliver it, more or less safely and in one piece, to a Manhattan highrise.  And vice versa.  Maybe.  With a following wind.

They did, however, make their services coughcoughcoughcough as difficult and unservicelike as possible.  They toyed with the concept of timed arrivals, and even at that they could never be pinned down to anything more exacting than before noon or after noon.  But that was still better than ‘some time in April, and if you’re out, we’re going to reschedule you without telling you for some date which may or may not be at least six months in the future, oh, you have a deadline?  You should have thought of that before you took your dogs on that totally gratuitous walk, shouldn’t you?  And what do you mean by being so self-indulgent and unprofessional as having dogs that need walking in the first place?  We may not reschedule you at all, you’re not our type.’  Which system is what they reverted to.  All day, any day, whatever, if you don’t like it you can hitchhike to the coast and swim to Manhattan.  But being cruelly imprisoned by a time frame of before or after noon was giving their drivers palpitations and random crying jags and Feebledweeb are totally committed to employee welfare.

Snarl.

And then Peter and I moved into town.  And there seems to have been rather a boom in carriers, some of whom are no worse than dire and unreliable.  But Feebledweeb, unfortunately, seems still to control the frelling transatlantic routes.

Now it will amaze you to hear this, but I am not the perfect client.  I want to believe that I mostly behave myself with Merrilee, but Merrilee’s subrights department has little cause to love me, and it would not stun me with flabbergastery that there’s a doll hanging by the neck in a corner of the subrights department with a pin through her heart and a banner reading ‘Robin McKinley’.  I lose things.  I don’t remember ever having seen things.  When I send things back it turns out I signed the wrong pages, or didn’t sign enough of them*, or I didn’t put the date on when I should have or did put the date on when I shouldn’t.  And then New Arcadia’s post office exploded and was removed and rebuilt using reject Lego in the back of the village grocery, you’re no longer allowed to bring your critters with you to keep you amused while you wait in the endless queue**, and I, having been a borderline*** post office user since I moved over here†, became, um, pathological.

Re-enter Feebledweeb.  Who will come to my house and fetch my botched, ill-signed documents, and cart them off to a subrights department across the Water, where they will be the cause of screaming and nervous breakdowns—only some of which will be because I screwed up (again).

Recently we’ve been having a nice little extended torment trying to get Feebledweeb to do what it says on the tin/envelope.  Subrights and I got all excited—briefly—because according to Feebledweeb’s web site, subrights could include a prepaid return envelope with the documents I’m supposed to deal with in some way other than the way I will deal with them, and I can just pop them in the return envelope and post them in an ordinary post box, and Feebledweeb will take it from there.

Yes, they will.  They will deliver it back to me again with large red marks and seals all over it declaring that I am a liar and a cheat and that I haven’t paid them and their dog is going to pee on my shoes††.  We gambolled through this amusing cycle, I think, three times.

Okay.  The next plan of action is that we are going to revert to the earlier system of their coming to my house to pick up the envelope of mangled documents.

Feebledweeb were supposed to come last Wednesday between ten and two [sic].

Nothing happened.  Nobody came between ten and two and there were no postcards through my door when I returned after belated gratuitous critter-hurtling [see above].

Subrights emailed me anxiously that they had spoken to Feebledweeb again and Feebledweeb would now come this Wednesday between ten and two.

Monday I received a phone call from a very pleasant, very fluent young man with a very strong Indian accent, confirming that Feebledweeb was going to be fetching a parcel from me today—Tuesday.  Er, I said.  Wednesday.  Tuesday, said the young man firmly.  Okay, I said.  Tuesday.  What time?  Noon to three pm, he said.  Fine, I said, in fact, great, and wrote it down.††

Ten minutes later the phone rang again.  This time it was a woman with an English accent.  Confirming that Feebledweeb is picking up a parcel from you tomorrow, she said.  Yes, I said, between noon and three pm.  Certainly not! said the woman.  You can ring up tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. and they will give you your allocated time slot.  But— I said weakly, I have just been talking to someone at your call centre in India . . .

Ring tomorrow at nine, commanded the woman.  We never give out advance time slots.‡

I was downstairs and putting my tea water on at eight forty five this morning, I hope you’re impressed.  At 8:59 I rang the number the woman had given me.  Another woman answered and asked for my tracking number.  I gave it to her, watching an unmarked white van backing up the cul de sac and stopping in front of the cottage.  We have no record— began the woman, and there was a knock on the door.  Excuse me, I said, hope flaring in a sharp uncomfortable way, there is someone at the door.

I threw the door open . . . and there was a man in a Feebledweeb hoodie.  YAAAAAAAAAY,  I said, and thrust my envelope upon him.  I may have said one or two things . . . particularly because this is a guy I know.  Several of the regular drivers for the various carriers are regular enough that us (regular) customers say hi when we see them on the street.  FEEBLEDWEEB MAKES ME FRELLING NUTS, I may have said.  The guy held up his hands (my envelope in one of them), grinning.  You are not alone, he said.

He departed.  I picked up the phone and discovered . . . the woman had cut me off.  Never mind.  The package had gone.  And she rang back to say that the driver had just confirmed pick up and tracking number and all was well.

Five hours later I received an email from the subrights department saying that they had just got off the phone from Feebledweeb, re-verifying that one of their agents will pick up my envelope tomorrow, Wednesday, some time between ten and two. . . .

* * *

* I start to lose the will to live after about the ninety-third copy.  Why does the president of Dormidalump Multimedia Cupcakes and Related Pastry’s wife’s brother’s assistant’s hamster need a copy of the contract anyway?  I’m not sure I like the idea of CHALICE being turned into singing apple strudel, even if Merrilee did get a paragraph in there about how they had to use honey.  I should have held out for baklava . . . but that still doesn’t explain the hamster.

** It seems to me very sad that Pav may never have the fabulous experience of waiting in an endless post office queue.

*** Borderline as in personality

† THE POSTMISTRESS HATED ME.  SHE DID.  She also retired some years ago, but THE TRAUMA REMAINS.

†† Note that (a) the payment for this interesting process is coming out of the money that passes through Merrilee’s hands on my behalf and (b) apparently even if they believed they had been paid . . . they would still deliver it back to me again.  Because they can’t read.  Or because they can’t design forms that are readable.

††† He then asked me where I was from and acknowledged that he was Indian and calling from India. The thing that interests me though is that these overseas call centres have a very bad rep, which is mostly well earned, but allowing for the fact that Feebledweeb is messing him over as well as messing me over, the phone line was clearer than mine to Peter often is and he was intelligent and articulate and able to answer questions . . . off the sheet of bad info they had given him, but hey.

‡  Of course not.  OF COURSE NOT.

Are you sure it’s not Friday the 13th?

 

I have a DEAD CAR.

I have a DEAD WASHING MACHINE.

I am SUPPOSED TO BE STREET PASTORING TONIGHT*, but I can’t, because I have a DEAD CAR.  This means I’ve missed TWO MONTHS IN A ROW.**

I probably won’t get Wolfgang back till the end of next week . . . which among other things means I WILL MISS MY VOICE LESSON ON MONDAY.***

I will also MISS MY MONKS TOMORROW NIGHT.†

And the DEAD CAR means I have no way to schlep my dirty laundry to Peter’s washing machine—and New Arcadia is way too small for a Laundromat, aside from the question of how many machines one person with three hairy dogs can blow up in a single application.††

AND I—finally—bought a new phone answering machine†††.  Which I spent two hours over this afternoon, trying to figure out how to make the sucker work.  I HATE TECHNOLOGY.‡  This object is such a piece of rubbish in so many ways.  You have 1,000,000,000,000 frelling menus of obscure acronyms and impenetrable icons . . . and an ‘instruction book’ that fails to instruct.  For example:  it keeps saying, you press this little arrow till you get the listing you want, and then you hit ‘okay’.  IT NEVER TELLS YOU WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO FIND THE OKAY, AND OKAY DOESN’T APPEAR UNTIL YOU’VE DONE SOMETHING RIGHT ALREADY WHICH YOU WON’T HAVE BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR.  Frelling icons are frelling Rorschach blots, every one of them meaning:  YOU’RE TOTALLY SCREWED HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.‡‡

I think I finally got the date and time set up‡‡‡ and a basic message recorded . . . although that I am speaking through clenched teeth is pretty obvious.  Leave.  A.  Message.  After.  The.  Beep.   I have no idea what most of the superfluous crap on all those menus is . . . but this frzzzzzblggggng thing has only TWO ringtones, both of them nasty.  And this thing cost money!  It cost real money!  I’ve been putting off buying a new phone machine because BT stopped making the cut-rate plastic toy model that I used to use, which was not a total loss because they were SO cruddy they only lasted about a year before disintegrating like one of those cornstarch shopping bags . . . but they were simple.  I could use one.  Mind you, if you’re asking, I’d say they were overspecified too:  all I want is something I can record my voice on, so people ringing me know they’ve got my phone number—among my many, many pet hates is robot-voice answering machines so you have no idea if you’ve reached the right person/number or not—and that will record any messages.  I don’t want a phone machine that can make hollandaise sauce and tutor me in Russian and mechanical engineering!  I ONLY WANT TO RECORD MESSAGES, PLAY THEM BACK, AND THEN ERASE THEM.

. . . And now I have to shoulder my heavy knapsack§ and hike home . . . with three hellcritters gambolling delightedly in my wake.§§

* * *

* So this entry was supposed to be a stub.  It may yet be when a crevasse opens at my feet and the table falls into the centre of the earth, which would be about par for this day’s course.  I may or may not catch the laptop before it disappears forever, but my four knitting books from the library, at present lying on the table, will be goners.  Even knitting books are out to get me:  there is ONE pattern out of all FOUR of them that I can imagine knitting, and this includes two books by a designer I usually like.^

^ There’s also a yarn sale going on on a Web Site Near You where one of the listings is for £17 skeins of luxury yarn . . . at eight pence off the usual price.  Be still my heart.

** Last month was The Night of the Tempestuous Tempest, when the cops were telling us to stay home unless we HAD to be out.  And I was looking at all the raging torrents that used to be roads and gardens and sitting rooms and so on and thought, staying home, above the flood line, that’s a good idea.

*** I may end up hiring a car—NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO—but not till I’ve talked to the garage again on Monday, which will be too late for my lesson.  They’re ordering parts tomorrow, so some of my fate is riding on whether the gloppendorkenflurgetruder^ arrives on Monday.

^ Well, Wolfgang is German.

† Buckminster thinks he can find me a ride to St Margaret’s Sunday evening.  He hasn’t said anything about ‘if you promise not to sing’.^

^ I will miss my monks worse.  I like their music better.

†† I think I’ve told you that the hellterror is an astonishing producer of loose hair.  No wonder she eats so much.  Has to keep her strength up for all that intensive fur growing.

††† Delivered by an unusually delightful carrier, who put a postcard through my door after a failed first attempt, saying that they would try again the next day, any time from seven a.m. to six p.m., and upon a third failure the item would be returned to the warehouse and I would be issued a refund.  WHAT?  How does the seller stay in business with a system like that?  And as I’ve said—often—before, any blasted carrier who puts a postcard through my door saying they tried to leave my package with a neighbour is either lying or terminally lazy.  My neighbours are all either retired or work from home.

As it happens I was waiting in, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for the washing-machine man—the appointment was for ‘after nine’.  Well, it was certainly after nine:  in fact it was after noon—and I was therefore available at 11:45 when Delivery Attempt #2 happened—and I ran after him and pulled him down and snatched my parcel away from him before he could get back to his truck and lock the doors. . . . I should have let him keep it.

‡ The favour is, of course, mutual.

‡‡ I am reminded of the old joke which I’ve seen somewhere very recently, did someone post it on the forum?  Having no car and no washing machine is having an unfortunate suppressive effect on my brain.  So, this shrink shows a patient a Rorschach blot and says, what do you see?  And the patient says, a man and a woman making love.  The shrink shows the patient another blot and the patient says, that’s a man and a man really getting it on.  And looking at the third blot the patient says, and that’s two women having a very, very hot time.  The shrink says, I see that you are obsessed with sex.  The patient says in possibly justifiable outrage, that’s rich, coming from you.  You’re the one with all the dirty pictures.

‡‡‡ Which I will have to reset every time there is a power outage, and we have brief, settings-blowing power outages kind of a lot.  My old el frelling cheapo phone machine, you put a BATTERY in it and it HELD its settings through power cuts.

§ Having seriously damaged my back and shoulders hauling dog food in the other direction

§§ This is a rant for another day, but I’ve basically given up taking all three of them out together—the Off Lead Dog problem is too severe, and I’m at just too much of a disadvantage with three of my own.  The only time I’ll risk it is after midnight, like now. . . .

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