If you have a chance to see these dangerous lunatics*, I mean, this exceptionally talented and engaging AND ENERGETIC troupe of young men, do climb into or onto your internal combustion engine vehicle of choice, bring along a large picnic hamper of high-calorie comestibles and, if you’re sensible, a bottle of fizz, and several blankets because this is England after all**, and possibly folding chairs, if you’re ancient and decrepit***, and GO. The HandleBards are a hoot.
Admetus and I went last night. I admit I was not instantly overwhelmed with desire to see four men doing the stripped-down bicycle [sic] version of Shakespeare, since it sounds like a dumb-ass idea and I am not a Shakespeare fan, but I watched a few clips on YouTube, as above, and . . . well, I am rather drawn to insanity. I still can’t get my head around the 2000 miles on a bicycle thing, carrying all your kit, from show to show, plus setting up, doing your play at a hundred million miles an hour of adrenaline-cranked frenzy, striking it all down again, getting some food and sleep and then doing it all over again tomorrow, but then I am ancient and decrepit.†
What we saw last night was Midsummer Night’s Dream††. Now you go knowing that there are only four of them and they play ALL the parts. But I still spent the first scene with fathers, lovers, Theseuses and other riffraff milling about not having a clue what was going on, except that some of the people who were supposed to be on stage were being indicated by empty coats on poles which the four, you know, live actors would swirl into and back out of in a hurly-burly of something or other AND AFTER THEY’D CYCLED HALF A GAZILLION MILES EARLIER THAT DAY? Beulah, peel me a grape.
You do tune in pretty quickly to the mayhem. They also pad out a few scenes by shanghaiing members of the audience††† The two additional blokes cavorting in rainbow wings as Peaseblossom and Mustardseed deserve special mention and will probably never live it down. Since all I had was a blanket to keep me warm I was particularly taken with the armful of borrowed dog, bewildered but good-natured. The tallest and the shortest of the four principals were also the two with the facial hair . . . and who played Hermia and Helena, so they can get off the dwarf and painted maypole‡ lines.
You also start laughing before the show even starts. The ‘stage’ is mostly pegged-out bunting, but they do have a proscenium with arch equivalent, which must be their heaviest piece of kit. From audience-eye view it looks like a lot of long spidery legs with joints for folding up bicycle-pannier-sized‡‡ and a kind of mobile circular rail suspended above the not-much-bigger-than-handkerchief-sized curtain that gives them somewhere to hide not-that-scene’s bits, and behind which some of the split-second costume and character changes occur. They hang some of the scene-specific background bits on the rail—heraldic looking banners for Theseus, village-amateur props for the rude mechanicals. Someone pins or drapes that scene’s background to the stretch of rail at that moment behind the curtain . . . but the rail is connected to one of the long-suffering bicycles, and one of the longer-suffering bicyclists pedals the rail around, so the new scene background comes whizzing out from behind the curtain.‡‡‡ Snork.
It may take you a little while, somewhat stunned by the energy level as you will be, also to tune into the fact that these guys are not merely corybantic fruit loops but good at what they do.§ When they decide that 2000 miles on a bicycle carrying the complete works of Shakespeare is a bit excessive§§ I hope they’ll go on to be famous actors. §§§ They’ll deserve it in several more than the usual hard graft and working up from the Bottom ways. May their tyres never puncture and the weather maintain a little fair patch hovering over them wherever they go. It was perfect last night. Only one blanket required.
* * *
* Wrong country? The UK is a great place for a holiday! We have Stonehenge! We have the British Museum! We have skylarks! We have lots and lots of rosebushes! And we have more method ringing bell towers than in the entire rest of the world combined!^
^ Although you’ll probably need to take a rather long holiday to learn how to ring while you’re here.
** And, speaking of England, an umbrella, or possibly a tent
*** Or perhaps might be distracted by wondering what you’re sitting on. You know, ON. Even before I lived in town with three dogs I used to be a trifle wary about sitting on bare ground . . . although pre-three-dogs-in-town this was mainly because it was likely to be damp. A few weeks ago the hellterror and I rounded the corner from the main street into the churchyard and found a large number of serious walkers^ bestrewn about the grassy triangle you come to first. The same grassy triangle that every dog within miles rushes to with little whimpers of joy on sight—including mine.^^ Not all of whose owners are as pathologically over-supplied with plastic bags and paranoia as I am. And damp may come from a variety of sources. I hope when the walkers arose from their respite no one was too . . . unhappy.
^ Not a pair of All Stars in sight and I’m sure denim jeans and cotton socks are anathema. Proper hiking boots with proper hiking socks turned down at the tops and Nordic walking sticks and proper breathable sport clothing and the whole ninety-seven yards.+ Scary.
+ Or 88.69 metres.
^^ The hellterror on this occasion was bemused. She was willing to be generous, however, since people usually mean petting+ and furthermore, full length upon the sward they are at her level.
+ There is always someone(s) who goes ewwwww bull terrier VICIOUS FIGHTING DOG it’s in the GENES don’t tell me they can EVER BE TRUSTED they’ll RIP YOUR THROAT OUT in your sleep but there are fewer of these than I feared when I took delivery of my little shovel-headed# badger-faced bedspring-legged bundle of mania## getting on for three years ago.
# While shovel-headed is the term of endearment I’m accustomed to, the unique bullie profile is more, I feel, trowel-headed: those wide trowels for planting rather than the narrow ones for weeding. Or possibly pooper-scooper headed.
##Maybe the HandleBards should get their own bull terrier.
† Even if I do hurtle many miles every day in pursuit of the members of the hellmob. I have tough, case-hardened feet. But 2000 miles on a BICYCLE SEAT?
†† From our CHAIRS. Admetus has FOLDING CHAIRS. Folding chair technology has come a long way since my last attempt, specially imported from Maine with the eighty cartons of books when I arrived on these shores, and which I think died in the shrubbery somewhere at the old house.
††† If you go I recommend you do not go too early nor sit in the front row.
‡ I have always been fond of the painted maypole. I’d forgotten that the canker-blossom, always a good sound Shakespearean insult, had come from this scene.
‡‡ I’m assuming the spider legs fold, and the bicyclists don’t also have to bolt them together every night.
‡‡‡ If you’re hopelessly confused, watch the proscenium set up in the YouTube clips. I don’t think you see the rail moving, but you can see the hitched-up bicycle
§ And while the four on show are the only ones who climb on the bicycles the directors and adaptors and whoever else back at base are brilliant at what they do too. The cut down, ridiculousnessed-up version really works. I was surprised at the amount of physical slapstick and roughhousing: given the whole bicycle thing I would have thought—even allowing for the fact that this is a young man’s^ game—that they’d need to be a little careful of the bruises. Nobody is so flawlessly accurate about at-speed contact work that there won’t be any. But they freely grapple and throw each other around and fall melodramatically to the ground. I hope they’re taking their vitamins. And arnica for bruises.
^ I can’t help but hope that one of the personnel changes some day will include an insane young woman willing to engage with the imprudence and balderdash and 2000 miles on a bicycle seat.
§§ There have already been some personnel changes as you will see if you work through all the clips.
§§§ Peter and I went to a very beautiful, very grand garden today—one of the private-gardens-open-to-the-public-for-charity that are so popular over here. It was huge, with wild bits and orchards and meadow and views of the surrounding, and then nearer the (grand) house, clipped-hedge-differentiated ‘rooms’ of glorious flower borders, professionally designed and meticulously kept.^ And it really was beautiful . . . but it was also rather too gorgeous and definitely too relentlessly primped and weeded, although this may just be my guilty conscience about my tiny nettle-infested patch.^^ But . . . the HandleBards are better value.^^^
^ And tea with cake.
^^ Although my roses are fabulous.
^^^ And I don’t know if it’s a venue by venue thing or a head office thing but they could be a lot better advertised. So look them up and go if they’re anywhere near you, okay? And pass it on.
. . . only more annoying. Thanksgiving in England. Feh. COMPUTERS. GINORMOUS ERUPTING ARRRRRGH WITH LOTS OF BOILING LAVA. And maybe a fire-god or two. And Boadicea—she’s supposed to have flaming red hair, right?—and the scything knives on her chariot.* What’s the computer version of a red-haired warrior queen with whizzing chopper blades on her war-chariot’s wheels and a really really bad attitude toward her overlords? I NEED THIS. WHATEVER IT IS. I NEED IT BADLY. I NEED IT NOW.
Peter and I did manage to go out for dinner—I know, we should have been at home slaving over a whole series of hot, speaking of hot, cooking aids, including the wooden spoon you accidentally left in the whatever and which is beginning to give off a pleasant fragrance of charring wood, but—why? Christmas will be here soon enough.** Never mind my confusingly American-sounding accent, my passport, and my place of birth: I’m British. I find Thanksgiving quaint, and, with my digestion, superfluous. Another good reason to live in England. Tick that box.
But we didn’t go out to dinner to celebrate, if in a non-traditional way, because it was Thanksgiving. We went out to dinner because we were supposed to go out for tea, only I missed. I got to bed late even for me*** thanks to one of my duty shifts running over time, and when I finally staggered out of bed again I ENTIRELY FORGOT that I was supposed to be ringing Raphael so he could do his Remote Meddling and yank the latest diabolical computer miseries† back into some temporary but functional alignment†† . . . until I’d already had the first necessary injection of caffeine, and had tried to turn a computer on . . . ARRRRRGH.
By the time Raphael had returned from rappelling down the side of the Post Office Tower††† I was too late to go out for tea. But we went out for dinner. Which was really better anyway since you don’t usually get champagne at tea time.
* * *
* I could have put Kes in a chariot . . . maybe in book twelve or sixteen or something.
There is a surprising paucity of really satisfactory images of Boadicea, considering she’s one of the few major historical heroines around. I was looking for one with impressive, you know, gauntlets, which might conceivably be magical bracelets, with or without rose embellishments. There aren’t any that I can find after poking around in the usual places via Google:
Hey, lady, anything you say, if you stop waving that kitchen knife at me.
Um, how are they steering those horses? Telepathy?
** I spent one ENTIRE EVENING this week when I could have been, I don’t know, writing a blog post or something, on-line ordering frelling they-deliver pot plants to go to the members of the Dickinson clan it would be the most embarrassing if I forgot entirely (again) . . . I mean, I don’t forget, I just don’t get around to, you know, organising the final dash to the holiday finish line . . . including having got so far as buying things like calendars and tins of biscuits WHICH WILL HAVE GONE OUT OF DATE by the time I unearth them next year because I didn’t get them WRAPPED AND SENT LAST YEAR. Anybody want a decorative tin of stale biscuits? I can occasionally recycle the calendar photos which are often . . . oh, roses or something. And may I just remark that that venerable British manufacturing icon, Blu Frelling Tack^, is not worth its reputation. Sure, it’s reusable. It’s reusable up to and including the 1,000,000,000th time something has fallen off the wall/the back of the refrigerator^^/the side of the cupboard/the edge of the bookshelf, etc, that it was supposedly glomped onto by Blu Tack. I have other things to do with my time than resticking. ^^^
^ Why not Blue Tack or Blu Tak? Blu Tack merely looks confused and indecisive. +
+ Hums an old American folk song and does not make any obvious remarks about British politicians.
^^ which is much more attractive covered in calendar cut-out photos of roses
^^^ Laundry, for example. The INSUFFICIENT advantage of washing hellmob bedding every two or three days is that the critter hair problem is much reduced+. Well, sort of. The ambient hair level is definitely lower, as is the amount I claw out of the washing machine after every critter load. But it means that EVERYTHING I OWN that gets washed in the machine now has some critter hair in it. Yes, I run a quick cold wash after the mob stuff comes out, but that’s like using a broom to sweep off snow-laden steps that you’ve already tramped up and down several times. I used to be able to sort of stagger post-critter-washes so the jeans took the worst, and then the sweatshirts and outer layers and finally . . . hmmm. I’m here to tell you that I haven’t found a clothes brush yet—including those disposable sticky-tape ones and the little pads that are like a cross between velvet and Velcro—that works worth a damn on your underwear.
Meanwhile . . . I began Flea Protocol #7,243,006 today. SIIIIIIIIGH. One of the reasons I’m posting less often lately is that I’m frelling reading everything I can get my gnarly hands on about . . . well, about parasites generally, at this point, and about immune system strengtheners and blah blah blah, to give me more ideas about what else to try for fleas. The fact that there’s a huge amount of controversy and conflict and contradictory PROOF [sic] about what is safe to use is not helping. Maybe I could just bore the ugly little sods into going somewhere else? . . . Oh God guys here she comes again. I just want to suck blood in peace, what is her PROBLEM? We’re so tiny—she’d never have to know we’re here—all 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 of us. Okay mates we’re gonna hide behind this ear—NO NO SHE’S GOING FOR THE EARS. One of the advantages of naturally comatose++, plasticine+++ hellhounds is that you can roll them around and rub whatever into their fur, including all their private bits, any way you like. As long as it doesn’t involve swallowing anything it’s all attention, and it’s all good. The hellterror is also perfectly happy to be rolled around, but she tends to want to engage with the game WILL YOU HOLD STILL YOU THING. ARR-ARR-ARR-ARR, says happy engaged hellterror.
+ I still want to know whose brilliant idea it was to design the front-loader part of a front-loading washing machine to accumulate dirty water, critter hair, tiny shreds of unidentifiable gubbins and really unpleasant semi-dissolved yuck, in the un-get-at-able bottom of the door, defended by several heavy, uncooperative folds of rubber tubing. Which is apparently still standard over here, including the greater European Union, since both my last was and my current washing machine is, German#. My not-very-new-any-more washing machine gets very mixed reviews from me; not only is the front-loading door familiar in all the wrong ways, its filter is emergency only and you must approach it by precision serial usage of several Special Tools and the manual suggests sacrificing a black cockerel at the new moon as well, although advice about how to predict which new moon is the one heralding more-than-the-usual filter anguish does not seem to be included.
# Different brands. I try to make different mistakes.
++ Except, of course, outdoors, if there is a prospect of SOMETHING TO CHASE. Although Chaos did manage to slam into a cupboard once back at the mews because he saw a mouse amble across the floor.
+++ Or possibly Fawn, Charcoal and Tri-Colour Tack
*** I bring the hellmob back to the cottage from Third House sequentially, hellhounds first and hellterror second. I looooove the new system, by the way, because the Last Hurtle of the Day is built in, without recourse to Wolfgang, and can be any length I/we choose, depending on energy levels, the way the day/night has gone thus far, what is going to jump on me from a dark corner in the day to come, and a variety of other factors, lately chiefly the heaviness of the RAIN.^ Wednesday night I was coming back, as mentioned above, um, rather spectacularly late, which is to say, um, dawn, and noodling along not paying attention to anything much while Pav investigated every leaf, shadow and discarded crisp packet . . . and WE SUDDENLY MET ANOTHER WOMAN AND HER DOG. OOOOOOPS. The other woman and I looked at each other in amazement. I never see anyone else out at this hour! she said. Erm, I said, neither do I—failing to mention that I hadn’t been to bed yet. She had all the irritating glitter of the early riser about her.
^ Have I mentioned that fleas like warm and wet and that one of the things that haunts me is the possibility that this unprecedented invasion is a front runner of global warming? And I’m really looking forward to the return of malaria to southern England. Not.
† The beginning of the week I had no email for nearly two days. The middle of the week I had no internet for nearly two days. I’ve been doing a lot of knitting.^
And my new kit—ultrabook and iPad Air—was supposed to be here by the end of this week so Raphael could install it next week AND GUESS WHAT IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT AND I HAVEN’T HEARD ANYTHING.
^ Which I promise or, if you prefer, threaten, will be the topic of a blog post soon.
†† This process is seriously disconcerting. I turn on the gizmo programme from my end, it goes SHAZZAM!!!, my screen turns midnight-blue and suddenly Raphael, from however many miles away, is invisibly moving my mouse around and opening and shutting my files and my browser(s) and . . . eeeeep.
††† See, there was this peregrine nest dangling over the gruntzenjam ventilator of the main computer scorbovarg, and the operators all cried in one voice, RAPHAEL!^
^ He used a rope to keep up appearances. An archangel hovering beside the Post Office Tower in central London would definitely cause a traffic jam.
Peter has asked me, several times and a little anxiously, over the last few days, if I was up for going out on my birthday. YES. I MEAN, I DON’T KNOW IF I’M UP OR NOT BUT I’M GOING.*** NEVER MIND THE FOOD, I WANT MY CHAMPAGNE.
The food was good too.†
That’s our tablecloth because I thought I wouldn’t shoot off my flash in the face of the lively and interesting family party at the next table and waited till I got home where the crashed-out hellmob don’t care. But I recognise our table on my birthday because of the flowers waiting for us. Peter goes in to the florist’s next door and says ‘pink’. Since we go to this restaurant every year the florist is probably learning to recognise him.
Although, speaking of going to the same restaurant, regular blog readers will probably recognise the mirror frame in the ladies’. [Oops. I’ve edited it out. Next year.] But they have installed an OBNOXIOUS NEW LIGHTING FIXTURE that is unromantic in the extreme and that my peculiar posture is trying to disguise.
She’s sixty-two today, you know. She might want a lot of Vaseline on the lens.
And my favourite present. Remember I went to a Spectacular Yarn Fair last March with Nina, who felt she wanted to start knitting again? SHE MADE ME A RUFFLY SCARF. She is golden.
. . . Although Peter is giving me a sat nav finally if I can frelling figure out which one to order. I thought I had it all sorted—this is what I belong to WHICH? for, you go to their site, you are driven mad by the pop ups and the repeated demands to log in which you have already done, you read the reviews and you make an informed choice—and then I promptly fell, as into a large vat of ill-set custard, into a lot of customer reviews saying NO NO NOT THAT ONE. Whimper. Maybe I could just have Natty Bumppo on retainer.
Oh, and if you suspect you are seeing a knitting bag in the upper left hand corner of the photo, you are. It says: come to the Dark Side, we have yarn. I think Fiona may have given it to me. It contains the famous 12 mm needle project that I am advised I need a very large crochet hook or possibly a telephone pole with a hole punched in one end to weave in the ends with.
Notice knitting needles sticking out of fancy leather going-out-to-dinner bag.†† Ahem. I’m so used to carrying vast swathes of my life around in my ordinary daily knapsack–which as a result weighs a TON AND THREE QUARTERS and people not eternally preoccupied with the terror of being caught somewhere without enough to read/do tend to make remarks–that when I have to wedge myself for a few hours into a Fancy Going Out to Dinner Bag there are AWFUL DECISIONS TO BE MADE. In fact I don’t usually take my knitting to restaurants because (a) the light isn’t good enough and (b) I’LL PROBABY SPILL SOMETHING ON IT but the iPad goes as standard and it happens that most of what I’m presently reading is on e- and therefore I had space ordinarily taken up by hard copy AND THE KNITTING WON. Furthermore I now have this deeply cool little (pink) narrow-beam light that Peter gave me for reading the prayer service in the frelling dark at the monks’, which would work just as well clipped to a napkin in a restaurant as to my collar in an abbey.
And now maybe I’ll knit a few rows and go to bed. If the bed starts whirling when I turn the light off I will turn the light back on and knit a few more rows. Garter stitch is great when you’ve had too much champagne.†††
* * *
* I saw Alfrick last night and told him it was my birthday today. So I got a happy-birthday email from him saying, Glad to see you last night while you were young. —There’s nothing like^ a monk for that unique and astonishing degree of professional kindness and sympathy and profound insight into the human condition. I’ve noticed it often with Alfrick. BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH.
** With apologies for another KESless Saturday. Friday night Street Pastors was . . . stressful. You know if Hampshire is going to become the latest seething hotbed of excitable youth and popular with the feuding lout faction I’m frelling going to retire. I didn’t sign on for all this commotion. I signed on to stroll around passing out hot drinks to the homeless and flipflops to the overly high-heeled. I can deal with a certain amount of off-the-wallness, both drug- and alcohol-related and/or the results of social-services failures. I didn’t sign on to get involved in the stuff that the cops are for. That’s what the cops are for. Also, of course, I’m still barely frelling walking post-stomach-flu, and this has a certain dispiriting effect. But yesterday was mostly another lost day, although talking to Alfrick was good in spite of his sense of humour.
*** You come too, like the poem says. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173534
† And seems to be staying where I put it, which is an important point.^
^ Champagne is of course noted for its stomach-soothing effects.+
+ What I want to know is if I start drinking only about eight hours after I got up in the cough-cough morning does that make me a LUSH? Except this early (cough-cough) in the day approach to sin and heinousness does give you extra time at the other end to take your hellmob out for supernumerary hurtles to wear sin, heinousness and 12% alcohol off again.#
# ::pours a second pot of peppermint tea into the internal cauldron::
†† Some clever helpful person is going to say ‘circulars’. I HATE CIRCULAR NEEDLES.
††† Non, je regrette rien.
We’re having summer. Eh. I hope it goes away soon. I like daylight fine—us old people need our vitamin D—but HOT HOT HOT FRELLING DAZZLING SUNSHINE IS OVERRATED.* And it’s thunderstorm weather so for even those of you (strange) people who like hot-hot-hot-frelling it’s not good hot-hot-hot-frelling, it’s oppressive and headachy. I always get up in the morning [sic] feeling like the slurry in the bottom of your dishwasher but days like today it’s all I can do to play tug-of-war with the hellterror.**
Or by evening be capable of writing a blog post.***
Unnnnnngh. . . . †
* * *
* A certain heroine of a certain book might disagree with me. Although I don’t think even Sunshine wants her tyres—tires—melting into the pavement.
** This is an IMPORTANT PART OF THE MORNING RITUAL. I stagger downstairs in my semi-decomposed state and get my tea and the hellterror’s breakfast^ started. Then I brace myself and let her out of her crate while the hellhounds cower in the back of theirs. She goes out for a pee in the courtyard and then comes indoors and checks all the corners for escaped kibble.^^ And then at some point while I’m peacefully mincing leftovers to make her tinned food a little more exciting^^^ she will trot up purposefully carrying her long yellow rubber toy and if I don’t notice quickly enough she will whack me with it, smartly across the calves.#
Let me just say that any woman who worries about her upper arms## . . . consider purchasing a hellterror, or other square, solid critter with jaws that could chomp for England, and spend serious time playing tug of war with it. It will adore you, and you will have beautifully toned upper arms.
^ Have I mentioned that my local bird population is nuts? I’ve spent all this frelling money on bird feeders and bird food and THEY DON’T EAT IT. By the end of the winter I was tired of dumping out (expensive) mouldy bird food and scrubbing the frelling bird feeders so I . . . stopped. I took the one most prone to morphing its contents into sticky black sludge down altogether—it’s still around here somewhere all cleaned out and innocent-looking—and left the other three up. The wire fat-ball container in the apple tree does have some turnover, but I can’t see it that well from the kitchen window so I’m not absolutely sure it’s not mice, there being a vibrant mouse population in my garden. The suet block and seed feeders sway gently in the airy zephyrs and . . . over the months their fardels have become pretty disgusting-looking but I have other tasks ahead of dealing with superfluous feeders for ungrateful avian passers-by.
About a month ago I noticed that the by now black suet block was . . . diminishing. Eh. It was probably struck by lightning when I wasn’t noticing.
Nope. Birds. They ate the whole thing. Ewwwww. And, furthermore, the day that I noticed it had disappeared entirely there was also a crabby looking bird sitting on top of the feeder, swapping ends occasionally the better to keep watch for whoever was in charge of REPLACEMENT and also occasionally bending down to peer, in a significant manner, into the still offensively empty feeder. Just in case the bungling factotum was nearby and could be brought to awareness of her failings.
I bought a suet block that day. I put it in the feeder.
That was, I think, three suet blocks ago. I assume this is the Hungry Gap—which is always later in the year than I expect it to be—so I’ll be interested to see if the little feathered ratbags have now got into the habit, or if they’ll drop me again as soon as something better comes along.
^^ Since the hellhounds have stopped eating altogether and force-feeding+ is not an exact science++, this tends to be worth her while.
+ Aside from little matters like starving to death or the fact that the hellhounds’ unique internal economy goes haywire if they miss more than one meal, this new drug they’re on has to be given with food.
++ Not when I do it anyway. Siiiiiiiigh.
^^^ Given that it’s ORGANIC the PRICE is quite EXCITING ENOUGH FOR ME.
# Speaking of the somewhat uncontrolled exuberance of youth . . . there’s been a great spreading glob of building work near here since last winter. They were supposed to be finished by the end of March. Anyone with experience of Great Globs of Building Work will not be surprised to hear that they are still not finished. The most annoying thing about this particular glob is that it’s closed off a footpath that everybody in this town uses, including the youff. Now generally speaking teenage anarchy holds no charms for me but occasionally I do enjoy watching it take on self-righteous adult admin.
The glob admin reopened the footpath briefly about a month ago and then—no, no, mustn’t have that!—changed their minds and closed it off again. They closed it off by sticking a big gate panel in the gap in the fence they were now regretting.
Over the first weekend, the local youff knocked it down.
Next weekend, the admin attached it to the gateposts with these little plastic loop things like the builders’ version of the plastic loops that hold price tags on clothing.
The youff cut the loops and knocked the gate down again.
This weekend just past, the admin chained the panel to the posts.
The youff dug out the bottom of the panel and shoved it back far enough that they and, possibly, a cranky old lady and her ebb and flow of hellcritters could get through.
The admin have now lowered and tightened the loops of chain.
## And doesn’t have a change-ringing bell tower available^
^ With my usual caveat that good ringers do not use brute strength. I am not a good ringer. But I have unembarrassing upper arms.
*** Maybe I’ll tell you about my voice lesson tomorrow.
† Fortunately we have a oscillating fan so both Darkness and I can get some churned-up air. Neither Pav nor Chaos seems to mind that much.
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.