I got to bed too late.* I had Raphael coming in the morning so I had to get out of bed before the middle of the afternoon.**
I had a list for Raphael. I always have a list.
There is apparently no way to turn OFF the wretched monster photos that have taken over everyone’s Twitter feed. I’ll click on the photos I want to see, you know? Stop frelling trying to make clawing my way through the last twenty-four hours even more of a ratbag.***
There is apparently no way to tell Windows 7 NO I FRELLING DO NOT WANT TO HANG AROUND ANOTHER TWENTY MINUTES WHILE YOU DO A FRELLING UPDATE, I WANT TO CLOSE DOWN, PUT MY LAPTOP IN MY KNAPSACK AND GO HOME. You could on XP. You could tell it, no, later, and it said, okay, you’re the boss, and shut down.
My email is a NIGHTMARE and there isn’t much Raphael can do about it.† The settings all sit there sniggering behind their half-eaten address books and whimsical spam filters saying, We’re all optimally configured! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
When I finally got the poor patient hellhounds out†† there was not one but two off lead dogs in the churchyard, being ignored by two different irresponsible humanoid-shaped ratbags. And the middle of town was jammed solid††† because Father Bloody Christmas had arrived and his grotto was open for business.
Maybe I’ll go to bed what passes for me as early with a good book or twelve. Maybe I’ll even sleep. That would make a change.
* * *
* Duuh. In this case partly because I had loaded up my FABULOUS NEW EFFECTIVELY-IF-NOT-LITERALLY WIRELESS PRINTER with second-side paper and ran off a lot of knitting patterns.^ And when I pulled them out, having enjoyed the sound of a printer printing—no pings, no dings, no mysterious stoppages, no flashing lights, no screaming. Just printing—I discovered that my new printer wants paper loaded with the already used side up. Rather than down. Oh. My last several printers have wanted one-sided paper loaded BLANK side UP.
There was screaming after all.
And of course I had to do it all over again right then. It couldn’t wait till morning^^. A dozen knitting patterns I may never get to at all and certainly not any time soon since I have . . . um . . . several projects on needles already. BUT I HAD TO PRINT THEM OFF LAST NIGHT. YES.
^ Can some clever knitter person tell me if I could knit these on circular needles rather than DPNs? http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/f163-cleckheaton-country-silk-fingerless-gloves
I don’t do circulars+ but I really REALLY don’t do DPNs. Just looking at them makes me think of deep puncture wounds and the TOTAL FAILURE I was at cat’s-cradle.
+ Have I told you this story? After I started my big plain square JUST KEEP KNITTING winter scarf out of mind-blowingly gorgeous wool and silk yarn on circulars, thinking that it would be easier to manage that way and in less danger of spilling off too-short needles—broomstick-length needles don’t fit in your knapsack, and they probably won’t let you on public transport or in the bell tower where you’re a hazard to the already somewhat risky flying ropes—AND INSTEAD the wretched rows jammed every time they had to come back off the cable again and onto the working needle tips. The needle tips also needed screwing back on every time I got the fabric shoved onto the cable again. AND THEN, ONE DAY, ONE OF THE NEEDLE TIPS UNSCREWED ANYWAY. MID ROW. KNITTING ALL OVER THE LANDSCAPE. There was screaming.
I gave up circulars forever that day.# Interchangeable ones anyway. I still have a few basic bamboo-and-plastic fixed ones that Fiona gave me early on, saying to me in soothing tones that I would like circulars once I’d tried them. HA. HA. I’m sure the Romans told the Christians that the lions they were about to throw them to were pussycats really. But I could try knitting a glove on fixed circulars. You only cast on forty stitches, instead of a hundred and forty.## And I’d quite like to try this seamless deal.
The interchangeables came as a Yaaay! You SUBSCRIBED!### bonus from a knitting magazine. Moral: don’t subscribe to knitting magazines.
# And yes, I lost the two and a half or so inches of knitting I’d managed to wrench out of those ratblasted needles. Which is when I found out that my beautiful yarn doesn’t rip back very well.
^^ Or, you know, afternoon.
** I sent him a text at umph-plus o’clock asking him if he could please Not Be Early. I hope he turns his phone off when he goes to bed. Although he has three little kids: he may never sleep at all. Nadia has only two little kids and she never sleeps at all.
*** On the other hand I asked Twitter if there was a programme that would let me have more than one Twitter account open simultaneously and lovely Twitter people answered and I am now the more or less proud owner of a copy of Tweetdeck, which is already massively to be preferred in all the ways I can figure out.
Speaking of the kindness of computer nerd strangers, has anyone reading this ever had their Word 7 randomly turn blocks of text into italic? IT DRIVES ME FRELLING BANANACAKES. ALSO CREAM PIES. AND SOME COCONUT ONES WHILE WE’RE AT IT. COCONUT IS RELIABLY BONKERS. Sometimes it won’t turn off again: you highlight it, click, and it judders sideways and back and . . . stays italic. Sometimes it turns normal again as soon as you highlight it. Sometimes this block goes normal and then you flick up a page and discover a different block of text has gone italic. You tend to need a biggish block of text to set off whatever this is: it doesn’t happen (yet) to individual blog entries, but it’s really REALLY bad with KES, which I keep in files of a dozen or so eps per, because single words of italic seem to set off the gremlin and there’s kind of a lot of italic in KES.^
Anyone else seen this? Raphael looks at me warily when I tell him about it since (of course) I’ve never managed to reproduce it for him.
^ For some reason.
† Except maybe help me look at real estate ads for houses in areas with better broadband.
†† They don’t want to use the courtyard any more, even if they’re DESPERATE. WE’RE NOT THAT DESPERATE, they say, crossing their legs harder. The courtyard now belongs to the hellterror.
And, speaking of things going wrong, Raphael showed up before she was finished with her breakfast kong. By the time she is finished, she, her bedding, the crate and the kong are METICULOUSLY FREE OF ANY SUBATOMIC PARTICLE OF FOOD. But it’s a little messy on the journey. I don’t like keeping her crated when there are Exciting Visitors, it doesn’t seem to me fair, so I got her out and clutched her frantically to my bosom as I let Raphael in and shooed him (and hellhounds) hastily upstairs. I didn’t quite need a bath by the time I shut her back up with the remains of her breakfast. Quite.
Hellterror has had a good day however. After poor Raphael finally left to go attend to some normal, corporate client, we all went out to Warm Upford to put petrol in Wolfgang, and had a sprint around an empty sheep field before we came home. Hellterror doesn’t get out to deep country all that often and she was ECSTATIC. And I have two dislocated shoulders. One from an ecstatic hellterror, and one from two hellhounds trying to elude the ecstatic hellterror.^
^ The next field over was not empty so I didn’t dare let them off lead to sort it out among themselves.
††† Mind you this is easy to do in a town this size
Radio 3 was running Verdi’s RIGOLETTO, one of my favourite old war horses*, tonight, from the New York Metropolitan, and not only that, but one of my FAVOURITEST singers, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, was in the title role. Be still my heart.**
AND WE HAD TO GO TO THE SECOND SESSION OF FRELLING*** ALPHA.†
We heard like the last five minutes of the opera, which is certainly a good five minutes for listening to the bloke singing Rigoletto . . . but it misses out the previous three hours.†† AAAAAAUGH. And the Met broadcasts are never available for replay . . .
. . . and then there was an announcement that Rigoletto WOULD BE AVAILABLE for seven days on the Radio 3 iplayer. Suddenly the world is a brighter place.
EXCEPT THAT IT’S NOT AVAILABLE. Usually stuff goes up within a couple of hours after it’s gone out over the air. Not tonight. You go and click on it and it says ‘try again later.’ AAAAAAAUGH. Tenterhooks. Tenterhooks. Will I be able to hear my favourite contemporary baritone††† sing one of my favourite baritone roles? Stay tuned.
Meanwhile . . . another voice lesson when I had a voice to play with today. I’m trying to enjoy this phase for as long as possible because I can feel myself starting to make up a fresh new list of things I can’t do and must therefore become totally frustrated and hopeless about.‡ Also known as moving the goalposts. That I have any voice is still a frelling miracle.‡‡ And it means I get to sing really cool stuff! We were looking at new pieces for me to have a bash at over the Christmas hols—another Dring from the Five Betjeman Songs cycle that my beloved Hotel Proprietress comes from, and the Schubert song that he then went on to write the famous Trout Quintet from—but the song came first. I have one more lesson before Christmas, next Monday, when Nadia will attempt to drag me through the German so I can play with it over the holidays without breaking anything.
* * *
* There’s an ancient author-answering-questions-about-her-life-outside-of-writing^ piece on my web site about opera, in which I mention that the somewhat less famous trio after the famous quartet, when Gilda bangs on the bad guys’ door, knowing that this is going to get her killed, and the storm is breaking up the action from the orchestra, is one of my favourite bits in all opera. Verdi is The Man as far as I’m concerned because of the way he could write music that is the absolute aural definition of the emotion he’s describing. Wagner, blah blah blah, Puccini, blah blah blah, anybody else you want to mention, blah blah blah. Nope. Verdi—for me.^^
^ Ie LONG BEFORE THE BLOG.
^^ Now I’m trying to decide what to say about Mozart, who is the pinnacle of a different mountain. No, no, it’s too late at night, it’s been a long day, I can’t tackle it. I’ll say this though: Verdi is deepest darkest red, and Mozart is clear pure green.
** Granted this was on radio, but that Hvorostovsky is cute is secondary to the fact that he can sing. Also this was the Las Vegas brat-pack production and I think it would probably annoy me.^
^ This is one of those ‘do squirrels eat all the birdseed out of the bird feeders/ do menopausal women crave chocolate /is McKinley still pissed off about that stupid FAUST production she saw a couple of years ago when Faust commits suicide at the end’ questions.
*** Look at the psalms. People have been cranky about God and the validity of religious commitment and expression for thousands of years.
† If I were getting along with Nicky Gumbel’s anecdotal style better I might be less . . . um . . . cranky.^ I don’t think I’m a natural member of his target audience—whatever his target audience is.^^ Maybe my ignorance of most of the basic tenets of Christianity^^^ is the problem . . . except I thought the point of Alpha is that it’s for people who feel they don’t know enough. Although I suppose not knowing enough is a variable concept.
It may be a long ten weeks. Although we now have a break till after Christmas . . . additionally useful for those of us with composure to regain. I like our group#: unfortunately we talk less than Gumbel does.
^ The set up seems to be that you watch a video presentation by some Alpha admin person and then your own live group discusses it. I think Gumbel began the whole show, but he’s not the only presenter. St Margaret’s is running an Alpha with live streaming from London and Gumbel is taking only one or two of the series, but we’re watching recordings on TV in a private sitting-room and they’re all Gumbel.
^^ But it requires knowledge of national sporting figures and recent TV programmes. FAIL.
^^^ I’ve got it that Jesus Christ is the human incarnation of God. After that it starts getting blurry.
# One of the other women tonight was talking about Julian of Norwich, who is on my reading list but I haven’t got there yet. I’m about to move her up near the front of the queue.
†† I heard about ten minutes of the early sashaying around in the duke’s court—missed O Questo O Quella^ of course—while I was bringing my geraniums in. I was a few minutes late to Alpha because I shot back to the cottage first to get the PLANTS IN because the temperature, having been a really pleasant sunny mild-for-December day, was busy plunging, and while the local weather said no, no, no, no, definitely no frost tonight, I know what happened last time. Tonight, of course, there will be no frost. Because I got my tender stuff indoors. Unless of course in the dark I missed something. In which case there will be a frost, and whatever it is it will be dead by morning.
Being able to foretell the future isn’t all it’s chalked up to be.
^ The first fabulous old war horse aria in this fabulous old war horse opera.
††† Unless you want to count Placido Domingo. No, Placido Domingo goes in the Can Do Anything category. He and Daniel Barenboim. Oh well, probably neither of them can write fantasy with strong female characters.^ But probably neither of them has ever tried.
^ And critters. And Cinnamon Rolls as Big as Your Head.
‡ There are drawbacks to singing more advanced stuff: the more you get the more you know you haven’t got. To some extent this is just the amateur experience, but there are better amateurs and . . . less good amateurs. I am listening to my gorgeous operas and favourite singers with a whole extra layer of awareness and appreciation the last couple of months or so since I made my surprising little burst of progress in my own practise. But this inevitably includes a greater, more detailed and exact awareness and appreciation of how much I don’t sound like Joyce Di Donato. I want worse than ever to go sit in^ on some top-flight singer’s master class because I’ll get so much more out of it . . . but I may also crawl home after and burn all my music.
^ NOT perform, please note. I doubt I’ll ever reach that standard.
‡‡ Yaay Nadia, miracle-worker.
I had what passes in my case for a terrific voice lesson.
AND THE REMOVAL BLOKES GOT IT ALL IN.
These two large dazzling items totally outshine the rest which is a good thing because it was very nearly a disaster of a day.
. . . Starting with not getting to bed early enough last night, partly because I really needed to sing and one song leads to another. . . . Staggered out of bed this morning making hopeless croaking noises like an installation of rusty hinges* and started lubricating with caffeine. Took the poor hellterror for the fastest sprint she was capable of** and locked her up again with an extra kong to comfort her in our absence.***
I took hellhounds-of-the-touchy-digestion for a minimal get-it-over-with scamper around the churchyard. Darkness refused to comply with the purpose of this exercise. Arrrgh.
Hellhounds and I were on the road with twenty-five minutes to spare: five minutes to bolt up to Third House and ask Atlas to clear out drawers and move ill-placed piles of [book] boxes in anticipation of removal-men arrival this afternoon and twenty minutes for hurtling at the far end before my lesson.
Atlas wasn’t there.
I could feel my throat closing.
Well, nothing I could do about it; I couldn’t even ask Peter if he knew anything, since, in the first place, he wouldn’t, because he’s been in Gloucestershire all weekend, and in the second place because he was on a train somewhere and I guarantee his phone had no signal, because that’s the way it goes.
So we thundered on to our next scheduled activity.
Frelling Mauncester was backed up from halfway up the hill into town. Stop go (but not very far) stop go stop go stop go stop go stopgostopgostop. Chiefly stop. It was like this all the way through town.
I could feel my throat closing harder.
We arrived at Nadia’s with THREE MINUTES to spare. I took hellhounds for a three minute scuttle and . . . Darkness continued to fail to comply. ARRRGH.
I was pretty nearly barking by the time I burst through Nadia’s door. . . She did make me do some breathing and loosening up exercises before I sang anything, but my throat said, Ooooh! We’re at Nadia’s! We like it here! —And promptly warmed up a dream.†
WE GOT THROUGH THREE SONGS. THREE. IT’S A RECORD. We usually bog down on the first one because I’m doing so many things wrong, not that Nadia would put it that way, but I would. We may occasionally galumph through bits of more than one—indeed even three—but only because I have a specific technical question†† or they’re folk songs I’m singing at home and want a little general input—or scraping back from the brink. But THREE REAL SONGS? It doesn’t happen. And furthermore the third—Vedrai carino from Don Giovanni—I’d only brought because I wanted to go over the frelling Italian before I started really working on it. We’d had a stab††† at it a while ago and it got set aside, but it’s been on my mind and since I now more or less suddenly have more voice it’s one of the ones I snatched back from oblivion.
Oh, go on, let’s just sing it, said Nadia. So I did. Eeeeep. And she made one or two painless comments and told me to go home and work on it.
Then Un moto de gioja and we spent some time on that one. Here’s an example of why I adore Nadia. There’s a place in the middle of Un moto where you hold a note for a very long time and then come off it again with a wordless twiddle before you start the next verse. I hadn’t even registered that you’re supposed to sing the twiddle—when I started work on this song Nadia had told me to hold the note only as long as was comfortable, but to keep time and come in correctly on the new ‘un moto’. Then I ACCIDENTALLY heard Danielle de Niese singing it and she sings the twiddle. Oh. It ties the two halves together better, the twiddle. I can’t sing it up to proper twiddle speed at the end of a long note—which is the part I can do—and as I hurl myself into the next verse. So I sing it at half speed. Nadia said gravely, if you were preparing this for public performance I think I would take issue with your singing it so slowly, but for your purposes at present it works very well. —She takes you seriously. Even when you’re screwing up Do Re Mi or tackling something like someone with a flint axe trying to produce a knock-off of the Sphinx.
Finally we assailed the nightclub proprietress. This is such a fabulous song. There are no fully satisfactory performances of it on YouTube—that I can find anyway—but here’s the poem: http://wonderingminstrels.blogspot.co.uk/2006/05/song-of-nightclub-proprietress-john.html ‡
It needs Lotte Lenya—who may have died before Dring composed it, in which case I excuse her for having failed to record it—or someone else who can put over age and despair. I don’t say you have to be old (despair optional) because in fairness I would then have to give up singing Voi che sapete, say, which is sung by a teenage boy, or Vedrai carino, which is sung by a bouncy village maiden (to her thick plank of a fiancé). But you have to put old and hagged over. I have a chance of this, with lived experience on my side. But the thing that is Very Exciting is that I can hear me beginning to sound like a mezzo: not just the range‡‡ but the resonance. And this is a very resonant song.
. . . I then took hellhounds for another hustle and FINALLY. A CERTAIN PARTY EXCRETED. We then belted back to Third House and arrived with three minutes to spare . . . and the removal blokes were already there. NEVER MIND. I WASN’T LATE. I let them in, pointed out all the Large Objects that had to go, apologised for lack of pre-clearance . . . and bolted back to the cottage to feed hellcritters‡‡‡ and take the hellterror for another mini-hurtle while hellhounds contemplated their bowls with disfavour. I was on my way out the door to flee back to Third House when the phone rang and it was Removal Men saying they were ready. . . .
I looked at their lorry before they shut the gate and my heart plummeted. There was no way they were going to get that lot in. I had the hellhounds with me again—no one had got any kind of a real hurtle thus far today—and we took off across some countryside§ behind the storage warehouse while Valiant Removal Men wrestled with the standard three dimensions of the space-time continuum and when we returned . . .
THEY HAD GOT IT ALL IN.§§
Oh, and did I mention that tonight was the first night of the Alpha course—?
* * *
* On this day that the Turner Prize is announced, this seems like a perfectly valid idea
** All right, the fastest sprint I was capable of
*** I’m sure, if asked, she would prefer the kong
† Please remember, when I say silly things like this that IT’S ALL RELATIVE. I have made a giant leap forward in the last few weeks but it’s still an 11-hand Shetland pony qualifying for prelim at the county show against the odds, not the branded warmblood insured for a gazillion pounds qualifying for the Olympics, okay?
†† Huh, whuh, um, bleaugh?
††† Way too vivid a metaphor, stab. Or maybe I’m just hallucinating KES.
‡ Baby ’pollies is not a mystery: they’re little bottles of a kind of mineral water popular at the time.
‡‡ I’m still putting in petitions to get my high C back. Lots of mezzos have high Cs.
‡‡‡ ‘Feed’ used loosely, which is to say the hellterror eats and the hellhounds do not.
§ And I managed to cut myself on some barbed wire. Frell. There was a normal gate to get in, and then at the other end one of those horrible temporary gate things that anyone who has spent any time wandering over English agricultural landscape will know to their detriment: several strands of barbed wire stretched between two light posts and held apart horizontally by being nailed to a series of short loose lathes. This contraption is usually held at either end by a loop at ground level where you stick the bottom of your post and then at the top by another loop which you have to shove it under, around the post of the real fence it’s being attached to. These things are a menace anyway, and if you lose your hold they collapse on the ground in a grisly tangle of barbed wire. But in this case . . . the frelling loops were made of barbed wire. WHY? Anyone trying either to open or close the evil thing is going to have to handle the loops. I managed to nick a finger and it bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and bled and it was very boring and there are probably a whole series of predators out there tonight hopefully following my blood spoor. Sorry guys.
§§ Of course I still have ninety-six million books to do something with—I don’t mean Peter’s and my backlist, that’s already in its own storage unit—and a few odds and ends. Maybe a few more than a few.
Yarrrrrggggh. I promised Blogmom a doodle update today. And I’ve had my head down over stuff today* SECURE in the knowledge that I had a dozen doodle photos to choose from as illustration for the unwelcome news that . . . yes, I’m still turning the poor neglected things out. I mean, no I’m not done, no, I didn’t put the final load in the post today. At the moment Third House is getting in the way of [ever snail-like] doodle production: the sad truth is that doodles are the first thing to be shoved back in a corner when life starts whapping me up longside the head again.**
I know. It’s been two years. Two years. In fact OVER two years.
I’m sorry. Which with £3 or so will buy you a Starbucks Gooey-o-rama with chocolate sprinkles and a paper parasol.
As I have said on more than one occasion on these virtual pages I WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THIS AGAIN. But I will still ask Blogmom to set up a Doodle Shop when—and only WHEN—I get this ancient hoary backlog cleared. It’s not the doodles that are the problem: doodling, when I’m actually sitting there doing it, is fun. The problem is the doodler’s lack of a sense of time. Or lack of sense full stop.
So . . . I had twelve*** photos from which I would choose eight or ten to DEMONSTRATE that to the extent there was ever any touch to this silly business I haven’t lost it.† And when I stuck my memory card into my computer I discovered that I had had one of my UNUSUALLY CLUELESS MOMENTS, although I admit I have them rather a lot with this camera, and all but two of said doodle photos are dark grey and blurry. AAAAAAAAAUGH.
All right. That leaves two.
Oh. And Happy Thanksgiving.
* * *
* Well, and handbells. One of the many dumb things I feel guilty about is handbells, change ringing on handbells being one of the difficult frelling skills I have no frelling gift for that I’ve somehow managed to let myself get tangled up with.^ Having no (frelling) gift for it means I should spend more time studying and I, um, don’t. I don’t have time or I don’t have brain energy or I have too many dogs or [other explanations insert HERE]. But I like ringing handbells, except that it makes me feel even stupider than usual. So when Niall rings up and is insinuating my brain starts to explode. No! Yes! No! Yes! Noyesnoyesnoyesnoyes!!!! Niall, being Niall, only hears the yes part.
Niall rang up and was insinuating and heard ‘yes’. So we were going to ring handbells tonight. And then Colin’s builder discovered that the dumbleg trumwale^^ had morveldinky, and had to be FORKLED. RIGHT NOW. Which meant Colin wasn’t going to be able to get away early enough for handbells. OH THAT’S REALLY TOO BAD [I had no sleep last night and feel like death not at all well warmed over] I said, trying not to hiccup with delight.
And then I took Pav out for a supernumerary hurtle. She’s so self motivated that it’s rather too easy, when circumstances oppress, to decide that she expends enough energy in a relatively short space of time that merely getting underfoot counts to some extent.^^^
Pooka started barking at me as we were making our zigzag way home from Old Eden. Curses. Who invented mobile phones anyway.
It was Colin. The forkling had gone with unwonted dispatch. He was free for handbells after all.
So we rang handbells. THEY MADE ME CONDUCT. THEY MADE ME CALL THE FRELLING BOBS. AND THE EQUALLY FRELLING SINGLES.
^ Niall, you ratbag.
^^ It’s a particularly large and valuable dumbleg trumwale I believe.
^^^ No you may not eat my slippers. You may nest in the dirty laundry, you may not shred it. No you may not chew the corners of the furniture. No you may not chew any of the corners of any of the furniture. No you may not excavate the Ancient Magazine Pile under the kitchen table.+ No you may not wedge yourself under the tallboy++ to retrieve+++ the dustpan, the assortment of brushes, and Peter’s spare slippers.# No you may not torture hellhounds. No you may not torture me.
. . . At this point I frequently find myself thinking that it would be a lot simpler just to take her for an official hurtle and then feel justified in making her long down for a while.
+ This is a scary one.
++ I was HOPING she would get too big to do this.
+++ Retrieve, cough cough. Retrieve. Well, it starts with the retrieve.
# This list pertains to mayhem at the cottage.
** I know. It should be handbells. Although one of the reasons I don’t do my handbell homework is that if I have a few brain cells left at an unexpected time of day I don’t whip out a handbell method line, I whip out a pencil for a doodle.
*** No. Actually I had sixteen.
† Another way of saying this is that you can’t lose what you didn’t have.
I had another of my Stupid Bad Nights last night, which is to say that I got back to the cottage at a not-unreasonable hour as time goes with me and then got involved . . . in what I was reading* and in finding a certain item of tricolour wildlife absurdly charming and being reluctant to lock her up in her crate for the night when she’s being what passes in her case for good.** So I got to bed stupidly late . . . and woke up stupidly early and plunged instantly into worry mode which is not only splendidly useful but SO ENJOYABLE.
So by the time I was staggering around with my eyes one-quarter open waiting for my extra-super diabolically*** dingdong† blaaaaaaaack tea to steep, turned my phone back on and checked for any missed texts telling me I would have won £1,000,000,000 if I’d responded by x o’clock which is now two hours ago, I already knew that I was going to be too tired to drive to Fustian tonight, let alone ring bells when I got there, let alone drive home again after. I was due to have a relentlessly dashing-around day anyway, including a lot of driving, and it’s well within possibility that even if I were having a good day I wouldn’t have made it to Fustian tonight.
But I was in Ignoble Victim mode when I turned Pooka back on and while I did not find any YOU JUST MISSED £1,000,000,000 messages for which I am very grateful because they would not have improved my mood, I did find a text from Niall: was I available for handbells this evening?
The correct answer is NO. But I was in Ignoble Victim mode. And Niall is local. I texted back: I’m tired and I have no brain. What did you have in mind?
Niall replied: It’s only Caitlin and me. Maybe Colin. Nothing too arduous.
I answered: If you need the third so you can ring, okay. But if Colin shows up I may go home early.
Niall said: We need you! Thanks!
I reiterated: Remember: I have no brain.
I then had my high-speed day.††
Hellhounds ate dinner so I proceeded to Niall’s in a slightly better mood than earlier.††† Caitlin was late, so Niall and Penelope and I sat around talking about opera and chickens, and by the time Caitlin arrived I was feeling positively relaxed. No more intelligent, but definitely more relaxed.
I picked up my bells. Shall we start with bob minor? said Niall, all innocent.
The first touch disintegrated fairly quickly. Not a big deal. We started again. This one went on. And on. We were ringing a lick and I’ve never learnt to be fast and since I spend most of my handbell time any more ringing for beginners to bounce off of I’m way too accustomed to ringing slowly. I made a lot of dinky stumbles, any one of which could have blown the whole shebang if the other two hadn’t held fast, but I was TIRED and I had NO BRAIN. I had TOLD Niall I had NO BRAIN.
Fifteen or so minutes in to this touch of bob minor I thought, that ratbag. That ratbag. He’s trying for a frelling quarter.
Two leads from the end Caitlin stumbled badly. We had an entire lead of CLANG. CRUNCH.‡ At this point I did not want to lose the thing and by golly I held my line while Niall performed a rescue operation on Caitlin.
Caitlin found her line again.
We got the blasted quarter.
I had to crawl to the sofa for a cup of sustaining rooibos tea and a slab of Penelope’s admirable banana cake.
And I am going to bed. Now.‡‡
* * *
* Get away from me with that YA dystopian^ frelling novel, I don’t care how good it is. But someone frelling sends you a copy and it sits on your shelf looking hopeful and . . . It’s always an interesting reading experience when you’re about equal parts irritated and absorbed. This one is the beginning of a frelling series, so get away from me with that dangblatting YA dystopian novel several times.
^ I didn’t like dystopias even before they got fashionable. And no, I don’t think any of my alt-mod novels count. Sunshine’s, Jake’s and Maggie’s worlds are merely each screwed up in ways directly relating to the structure of that world. Sunshine’s has Others, Jake’s has dragons and Maggie’s has cobeys. They all have corrupt and/or clueless politicians and major thugs and losers in important decision-making positions. Which would make them a lot like ours as well as each other’s.
** This is somewhat more enforceable when she’s in your lap, but I think I have told you that I tend to sit on a stool in the kitchen next to the Aga at the cottage, and the only way to keep her in place is to wedge her up against the kitchen counter and you still need at least one arm for support. This limits your choice of reading material to things that lie flat and/or don’t need a lot of management.^ Last night’s tome was of the doorstop persuasion so the hellterror had to amuse herself by nesting in the dirty laundry and bouncing off the new, Perspex-refronted bookcase by the door.
^ Your critter-free hand up, how many of you out there bought ereaders because you live in a lap-based critter household?
*** Well, I am the hellgoddess.^
^ Yes. Turning Christian does complicate matters.
† As in, this’ll kill any old mere witch.
†† The high speed was not, strictly speaking, entirely mine. Wolfgang needed petrol so hellhounds and I drove out to Warm Upford and on the way back had the most colossal off-lead hurtle across some empty sheep fields.
††† After lunch, for example, which was not eaten, except by the hellterror, who would have been happy to make all those other bowls empty too, but I have a strange dislike of the idea of needing to tie a roller skate around her middle to carry her tummy.
‡ If kongs were made of metal, this is what the hellterror eating would sound like.
‡‡ Well . . . I do have an adorable hellterror in my lap at the minute. . . .