FIVE DAYS. TILL PUPPY.*
I’d gone to the big pet warehouse last week to view my options. The place gives me the whimwhams: it’s the size of Hyde Park, they should issue you roller skates at the door.** First you pass the glassed-in seas full of fish***. Then there are the vast enclosures down the centre that you have to skate/pony trek around, which contain 2,011 varieties of rabbit, plus hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, chinchillas, wombats, armadillos, capybaras, kinkajous, marmots, and rock hyraxes. By the time you get to the dog-paraphernalia section you’re losing the will to live.
And then you look at the prices of the kit you’re going to have to buy and you finish losing the will to live.† GIBBER GIBBER GIBBER GIBBER EEP EEP EEP EEP. Dogs are expensive.†† You don’t want a dog. How about a nice diamond tiara? The initial outlay is less, and the upkeep’s . . . a steal.
I had a run at the hellhounds, because the majority of their kit was rolled over from the previous generation of whippets. After that it was just food . . . except they don’t eat . . . and vet bills. Olivia is selling her puppies with the insurance already in place and, never having had pet insurance before, I’m doing it this time. I’m just about tearing holes in my cheque with the nib of my pen, I’m so doing the pet insurance thing this time.††† Meanwhile, back at the containment issue. . . .
I did have one bright idea. On my way to the pet warehouse this time I stopped at the farm store. They have some dog stuff—including crates. I bought a slightly less flash item, it’s missing out the gold tassels‡ and the cubic zirconia, but it’s essentially the same flapdoodling crate, for ONE THIRD of what it cost at the pet warehouse.‡‡ The cheezy plastic carrying crate, which I had to buy at the warehouse, and which Pavlova is not allowed to outgrow till she and the hellhounds are excellent friends‡‡‡ cost ten quid more than the medium-large proper metal crate. The plastic carrier is already riding around next to the hellhound box in Wolfgang, to hellhounds’ mild but disinterested puzzlement. Oh how little you know, you poor trusting innocents.§
* * *
* I think I’ve got her call name sorted. Peter asked, and I told him, and he said, what about her nickname? I said that for the moment she’ll remain Pavlova on the blog, but I added that there had been other suggestions, and his vote is May for Mayhem THANKS SO MUCH, MY SYMPATHETIC, SUPPORTIVE HUSBAND. PAVLOVA IS GOING TO BE YOUR LITTLE NIGHTMARE TOO FOR SEVERAL HOURS A DAY, YOU KNOW, EVEN IF YOU GET TO TELL ME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT PUPPY, AND I WILL TAKE HER AWAY AT NIGHT.^
^ Very late at night. You could suffer a lot before I take her away.
** Well. Possibly not roller skates, precisely. I never really got over the ‘dangerous’ stage of roller skating. But a pony would be nice.
*** Don’t try to buy any of these. The clerk will look at you with deep suspicion, and send for their specialist, who will emerge from some dark hideaway bearing a clipboard and a condemnatory expression, and she will then ask you 4,312 questions very few of which seem to have anything to do with the possible purchase of fish, and, when you’re worn down and off balance from trying to remember the name of your aunt’s second dog^ and whether perhaps you have a secret crippling aversion to live bloodworms^^ they spring it on you that you will be obliged to buy not merely a tank, but a circulator, an aerator, a heater, a punkah, a punkah wallah, a widglebadget, a plastic statue of a deep-sea diver and special water from Atlantis. And their home visitor will be in your area next week, and will need to approve your set-up (in triplicate) before you’re allowed to take your guppy or your goldfish home. And did you wash your hands before you came out? And did you comb your hair?
^ My aunt didn’t have a second dog. Which explains my failing in this respect.
^^ Any sane person has an aversion to live bloodworms. But I fed live mealworms to my robins and pieces of cut-up day-old (pre-dead) chick to the raptor on my wrist during that fabulous Day with Raptors a few years ago . . . WHICH WAS TOTALLY GROSS. But it didn’t ruin the experience. I could learn about bloodworms.
† Speaking of losing the will to live. THIS COMPUTER CONTINUES TO DRIVE ME FRELLING INSANE.^ Plus little teeny minor issues like re-frelling-inputting all my auto-text and shortcut-key things, like the symbols for my footnotes: AND WINDOWS EIGHT HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN HAS SHEETS MORE SYMBOLS THAN XP DID, AND IN NO BETTER OR MORE LOGICAL ORDER THAN XP DID. How many ways can I say ARRRRRRGH??
^ And furthermore I’ve just had an officious little pop-up from my argleblarging virus software for pity’s sake telling me I should close and reopen IE because it’s taking up too much memory. GET. STUFFED. FRELLINGLY.
†† . . . GO AWAY. I’VE NOW GOT SOME FRELLING RESEARCH WINDOW POPPING UP AND SAYING, WE CAN’T FIND ‘††’ WHAT DO YOU WANT US TO DO ABOUT IT?
I DON’T WANT YOU TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. I WANT YOU TO LET ME WRITE MY BLOG ENTRY IN PEACE.
Um. Where was I? Dogs are expensive. Yes, but, quarter-gram by quarter-gram, nowhere near as expensive as fish.
††† Although PAVLOVA IS GOING TO BE SCINTILLATINGLY HEALTHY. SCINTILLATINGLY. HEALTHY. IN EVERY WAY. AND A GOOD EATER.
‡ She’d only chew the tassels off anyway.
‡‡ Salaries for the specialists, including CPD^ seminars in scowling and intimidation, are extortionate.
^ Continuing Professional Development, over here. Don’t know what it’s called elsewhere.
‡‡‡ If I’m lucky she WON’T outgrow it. No channelling of inner standard [size^] bullie grandmother, please.
^ Standards can burgeon up to eighty pounds. Minis SHOULD TOP OUT at half that at worst. I’m kind of assuming a short-legged square hellhound. But she’s a girl,+ she might be smaller. Yessssssss.
+ And I am going to like having a girl around again. I bought her a pink food bowl. It’s one of these Guaranteed Does Not Tip Over things. Hahahahahahaha. Whoever they are, they have never met a real puppy.
§ GUILT GUILT GUILT GUILT GUILT. No, no, they’ll love her, they’ll think she’s a terrific idea, they’ll all get along great . . . eventually.^
^ Because I don’t have enough to worry about I was thinking . . . I have been planning to do the rolling-generations thing this time since I brought the hellhounds home six years ago because Life Without Dogs is unbearable but while you’re in the early grieving stage you can’t just go out and buy another dog(s) . . . and as you begin to get over the early grieving stage you start thinking do I really want to go through this again. Staggered generations is obviously the answer. But I wasn’t actually planning on doing it this soon. So does this mean I have to buy or adopt a FOURTH dog when Pavlova is six and the hellhounds are twelve?
Tonight’s blog may be short. My faithful workhorse laptop at the mews which has been trying not to die for months now . . . wigged/kirked/gonzoed out big time last night while I was in the middle of writing a KES ep.* I keep KES in batch files of about ten eps each and I’m near the end of the current batch and yes I back up, back up and back up so at worst I would’ve lost ONE ep but one ep is bad enough and it would still be EXTREMELY BAD FOR MORALE to see an entire batch file of KES go mega doolally before disintegrating into component pixels. This did not quite happen. But I did finish the ep on Astarte and email it to myself and then went trembling back to the cottage and posted from there.
And today, with joy totally failing to abound, I brought the no-longer-new giant non-economy-size laptop to the mews and am trying to use the fffffreller.**
I am not happy.***
* * *
* No not last night’s. I’m still holding at about ten ahead of what you guys see. Barely. There seem to be one or two other things going on at the moment. I seem still to be working on SHADOWS. I am, with terrifying slowness, addressing the doodle backlog^. And I have a puppy arriving in six days.
^ The terrifyingness of the slowness aggravated by my latest mandate. Which I will tell you about some other evening. For the moment . . . suffice that Doodling Is Happening.
** For those of you with better things to do with your minds than remember my tech embrangles, the old laptop was clearly on its way out the beginning of the year. So I bought a new laptop. Kicking and screaming when the archangels told me that I had to get over XP and move onto Windows 7. Noooo. Nooooooooooo. You’ll be fine they said. 7 is a sensible, friendly OS. Yes, and the moon is made of chocolate chip ice cream^, I said. So I bought it so that I could get over the Early Self Destructive Stage of learning to use a new OS before I started the third and final draft of SHADOWS. The last thing I wanted to do was start whacking at, and, more to the point, be whacked at by, a new OS while I’m trying to write the FINAL draft of a novel.
And then New Giant Super Flash laptop turned out to be a dud. And . . . this is when I get rude^^ . . . unless NGSF turns out to be the best computer I have ever spilled crumbs into the keyboard of, I will never buy an HP again. Because HP headquarters wasted an incredible amount of my and the archangels’ time, and their, HP’s, money, which means their customers’ money when they put their frelling prices up again, flailing around with this computer. If they had any dregwarted concept of customer relations, when they couldn’t fix it in . . . let’s say . . . a week, they should have given me a new one. But they didn’t. They dorked around, and dorked around, and dorked around . . . it was something like two months before I had the thing back again, by which time I was inevitably, helplessly well launched into that final draft of SHADOWS.^^^
So I give the ex-laptop presently lying on the piano bench in a confusingly computer-shaped heap of exploded processors and toasted hard drives and bent chips credit for trying. It hung on till I got SHADOWS turned in and its has not been the only voice moaning, for pity’s sake McKinley are you EVER going to finish it? And it can hardly be blamed if the prospect of further weeks of tweaking stretching off into the unknown foggy future was too much for it.#
^ It’s full or nearly full tonight, and it’s a nice clear night and . . . the moon looks like it’s made of chocolate chip ice cream. You know all those conspiracy cover-up theories about the moon landing? This is the real one. Pssst. The moon is made of chocolate chip ice cream. And they don’t want us to know.+
+ Seems to me it would give the space program a big fat boost, but what do I know.
^^ Rude? Moi?
^^^ And a good thing too, since it took me about four months rather than four weeks.
# And Raphael is coming on Wednesday to carry the dead warrior respectfully away and . . . just check that there isn’t some resuscitation flimflam a clever computer angel could perform on it. The original plan had been to strip everything off but Finale, the big fat music-composing programme—a lot of the old laptop’s problem is that it ran out of memory about two homeopathic software updates ago^—and leave it plugged in next to the piano. ^^
He will also be bringing several pints of fresh blood plasma, platelets and red blood cells to help repair the damage that two days of Windows 7 has done.
^ Homeopathy has many virtues but it doesn’t seem to attract good computer programmers.
^^ It’s perfectly true that laptops are more or less portable, but this one has been less for quite some time, since its battery died and it would cost nearly a new laptop to replace, and if you’re going to pretend to compose music at all you had really better have external speakers, even if they’re laughable witzy ones (yes).
*** Why is the default document heading full of Stupid Styles? Why does it keep RESETTING itself when (apparently) I breathe widdershins on some dinglebrained hyperlink? Why do new emails ping as they come in, but there’s no helpful little box that appears briefly in the corner of your screen to tell you what it is and whether you should go look at it now or not? Why is ‘select’ buried several layers in at one end of the screen and ‘copy’ is visible in the toolbar at the other end of the screen? Why are there sixty gazillion gradations of type colour and no PINK?^
^ You have to go ferret around in the customisable. Give me a frelling BREAK.+
+ Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to blog/retweet this since VikkiK sent it to me: http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/02/28/147590898/they-did-it-to-pluto-but-not-to-pink-please-not-pink
I did know there was no pink in the rainbow—it’s the sort of thing people who like pink keep having pointed out to them—but I hadn’t realised the Other People were trying to make something of this. So the rainbow is defective. Get used to it. Pink rules.
So last night I hung around at least ten minutes after I posted the blog, waiting for ONE OF YOU to save me from myself, having given you EVERY OPPORTUNITY to do so.* Don’t you have my best interests at heart? What? I may have knitted a row or two, waiting.** I may have done a little washing up. I may have riffled through the (CHEAP PAPERBACK) pattern books I bought yesterday, musing on this and that.
And then I GREW BORED WITH WAITING and nailed the freller. Four skeins***. Yessssss. Mine. Mine. And have I mentioned it was seriously on sale, as bin ends often are?
. . . But I was punished for my presumption. This is the email I wrote, after having narrowly survived the web site experience:
Dear Tranquillity Lake Yarns
Your web site is a disaster. This is my first order, Order Code: [tirra lirra by the river], and it will probably be my last. First, your site demands that I register if I’m to buy anything. It then repeatedly refused my chosen password. I have no idea why. It erased it over and over and over. I retyped it (twice each time) over and over and over. Eventually it let me through. Why? Why not the first time? If not the first time, why at all?
Then after I was already well into the check out process it refused my address. It was exactly the same address I’d typed in for the registration, and your site had already brought it up from my registration. But it sat there demanding I choose a country. The country was already chosen. I re-chose it about ninety times. I also had to keep rechoosing the first line of my address instead of ‘select address’ or ‘new address’. The address was also already there. There was only one address. And it already had a country selected.
Eventually it whimsically let me through again.
Then when I tried to pay, it hung. And hung. And hung. And hung. After about three minutes I hit ‘refresh’, whereupon I was sent back to the check out page again which now bore a red banner saying there was a problem and to check my details. My details were not the problem. Your site is the problem.
There is absolutely no way I would have lasted the course for this mess except you are the only site I could find this discontinued yarn still available on. ‘Tranquillity’ knitting? Don’t make me laugh.
PS: Your ‘thank you for registering with us’ email came in while your site was still refusing my password choice.
I have had no reply. I did, however, receive a confirmation of order last night—and a confirmation of despatch this afternoon.†
* * *
* Okay, maybe not every opportunity. I didn’t actually tell you the name of the yarn or the name of the specific colourway of the yarn. Or the name of the site that was selling the last four skeins on the planet. But hey. There are only 1,000,000 UK sites that sell Artesano. You could have showed some initiative. You had at least ten minutes.
** I think it was Diane in MN who finally told me for the nth time that a Row Counter Is A Helpful Thing so that it finally registered.^ Also, row counters are cheap and I’m all over cheap as an alternative to . . . compulsive stashing.^^ I mean, you can’t go into a yarn shop without buying something.
And a row counter is a helpful thing. It would be an even more helpful thing, however, if it came with a tiny operating system that would sense every time the end of a row was attained and would shout TURN THE FRELLING ROW COUNTER UP ONE, STUPID. A programmable OS would be even better. Then it could say DECREASE THIS ROW when you can’t remember if it’s this one, the next one, or two from now and THE PATTERN SAYS FOR THIRTEEN ROWS. THIS IS THE THIRTEENTH ROW. STOP.
It still provides a useful clue to progress. It’s just with minor modifications it could be more like The Book of Knowledge and less like The Wizard of Oz.
^ Apologies to the fifty-seven knitters who had told me this already. Some of them several times.
^^ I really didn’t need another hoarding category. And in response to the sub-thread on the forum about stashing blank journals, notebooks, sketchbooks, pens, pencils, inks, watercolours, chalks, pastels+ etc . . . yes. And this particular aspect of my life will riot out of control again as soon as I get SHADOWS turned in and turn at last to the dust-draped doodle deficit. One of the bad scary wicked FUN things about starting to draw again last year was poking around in art-supply shops. NOOOOOOOO. And I’ve always had a paper-journal-to-write-things-in habit. Which is why, despite Astarte the iPad, my knapsack still weighs like it’s full of dense paper objects. Because it is.++
+ Personally I’ve never tried oils. Oils are for people who know what they’re doing. I’ve dabbled briefly in acrylics. But I like watercolours and inks and coloured pencils. Also there’s the whole paper issue—which paper for which medium. I start losing the will to live when I have too many decisions past ‘oooh—shiny’ to make.
++ Also your fountain pen and three refills weigh a certain amount.
*** Of Artesano Hummingbird Turtledove, since you were asking. I have no idea why they called the line ‘Hummingbird’ and then the individual colourways things like Turtledove and Lapwing and Quail and Kingfisher.^
Fiona says it’s harder to resist a yarn with a name than a yarn with a number. So you’re wandering innocently through your local yarn shop^^ and you are suddenly mugged by a shelf/basket/heap/mega-wodge of yarn. It is the most gorgeous thing you have ever seen in your entire life. You also have more yarn at home than you and six friends will ever knit up if you live into the 22nd century, plus nine starving children and a rhinoceros. Are you more likely to buy it anyway if the label says “Tirra Lirra by the river sang Sir Lancelot”^^^ than “1248664a/9723.50/z”?
^ I suspect a gross ignorance of natural history. Never mind. They’re good at yarn.
^^ Yesterday’s yarn store is in the old part of Frellingham, which is a trifle idiosyncratically laid out. We saw several worried-looking people walking slowly past, staring urgently at street numbers. We could sympathise, having been two of them ourselves shortly before. But one pair stopped and glared. It’s a yarn shop! uttered one of them in accents of deepest opprobrium.
^^^ Blues, greens and russets to die for, trust me.
† I did, however ring Grandsire Triples successfully enough at the abbey tonight to wring a ‘well done’ from Scary Man.
I like to think there is hope. As well as knitting.
I am Very Short of Sleep. I tried to print out the first 1,000,000,000,000* words of SHADOWS yesterday evening. I knew it was going to be a less than happy, joyful experience, because my printer is POSSESSED BY DEMONS as SO MANY TECHNOLOGICAL APPURTENANCES BUT ESPECIALLY PRINTERS ARE. I cast my mind back, and I think I’ve always hated my printers, which live** to find reasons to refuse to print, but of course the current incumbent is most on my mind so I am convinced I HATE IT WORSE THAN I’VE EVER HATED ANY OTHER PRINTER.
Last night I got one—that’s one, that’s COUNT IT ONE page out of said printer before it jammed. ONE. ONE PAGE. ONE. Well, before it claimed to jam, which is one of its little jokes. So I opened all its stupid, sticky-catched doors and couldn’t find anything wrong of course (it very, very, very rarely has a paper jam, it just likes the attention), and hit ‘print’ again. Now it’s telling me there’s a Paper Mismatch in Tray, which is its default non-printing position.*** Usually if you yank the paper tray in and out a few times it will sullenly (and temporarily) accept its fate and print out a few pages. Not last night. I think the prospect of printing out lots of pages was giving it a more drastic than its usual case of the megrims . . . and so when I resorted to turning the bloody thing off, knitting a row†, and turning it back on again . . . there was a pause for warming up and contemplating its options before it shouted: TONER INVALID! . . . Which is a new one. I haven’t seen toner invalid before. New experiences are so refreshing. And then it ran through all the different toners individually: toner black INVALID! toner cyan INVALID! toner magenta INVALID! toner yellow INVAAAAAAAAAALID!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA GOTCHA!!!!!!!!
Whereupon I had a nervous breakdown and emailed Raphael. Who is an insane person, and checks his business emails even at 8 o’clock at night. I’ll ask Gabriel to get on it tomorrow, he replied.
Hellhounds and I hurtled back to the mews for dinner. And then—despite Peter warning me about the weather—we went home at our usual rrggmmph o’clock except, as you may recall, we are presently on foot, and hellhounds were TRAUMATISED, that’s TRAUMATISED by having to walk home in the RAIN. Now, granted, it was heavy rain, and if hellhounds were in the habit of listening to either husbands or weather reports they might have been feeling a little testy about my having ignored both these excellent sources of advice, but I’m pretty convinced they came up with the whole TRAUMATISED thing all on their own.
And they wouldn’t eat their supper. No, no, we couldn’t touch a morsel, they said, shuddering delicately, we’re so TRAUMATISED.
. . . And then Gabriel, bless him, rang first thing this morning.
I am very short of sleep.
Okay… so the dwarf doesn’t appear to be the landlord…
Well, if he is, Cathy and I need to have a more complex conversation than I realised. As I’ve told you I’m trying to stay about ten eps ahead of what I’m posting so I have some clue where I may be headed, and every now and then, while she gets on with her life, I send Cathy some new fragment of story info which has only just emerged . . . and I mean fragment. These tend to be so fragmentary that she would be forgiven for saying, um, you’re telling me this why?, except that they come with that charge, like putting your finger in a live socket, that says SOMETHING HERE.
Anyway. So far as I know Ron is not the landlord.
Do authors hate their characters enough to make them realtors? Oh, wait.
Hey. I have a friend who’s a realtor.†† Remember that KES is also a parody. I will send up anyone I can get my little hands on, Kes herself in particular of course, but everyone, and the horse they rode in on, and the street names of New Iceland, and . . . I’ve already told you that I’m really looking forward to writing the first scene/chapter of FLOWERHAIR THE INVINCIBLE—which you get a peek at, I think it’s next ep—but that doesn’t negate that somewhere down the line she has some trouble with attack mushrooms.
I’m working on some of Britten’s arias right now (Titania’s two big ones, from his version of “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and one from “The Turn of the Screw”) – he certainly does like to torture musicians. But it’s a good sort of torturing.
Wowie zowie honey, you’re in at the deep end. I think if your head will bend in that direction††† Britten is an absolutely fabulous education all by himself. One of my fantasies is to sing his setting of Auden’s Tell Me the Truth about Love but . . . not this week.
. . . this house is basically my dream home. Grottiness and out-of-datedness and possible Cthulhu and/or Yog-Sothoth in the cellar included.
Oh, me too. If I asked for a show of forum hands I suspect we’re in the majority. But that’s part of the fun (I hope). Parody and riffing on a favourite trope are very nearly the same thing.
I can’t help but wonder if Hayley is just a fan and doing her best not to totally fan-girl geek-out. Matching accessories notwithstanding.
Mother pin a rose on you.‡ I did wonder how many of you were silently having your suspicions. I didn’t know till, um, I think the second ep Hayley appears. I had the same initial reaction to her that Kes herself did. (No, damn it, we are not interchangeable, even metaphorically. There’s just a lot of overlap.) I still want to remonstrate with her about her footgear however.
As someone who normally bolts through a book, this sort of drip-feeding is….. causing me no end of anguish. (And then the author chuckles evilly…?)
Well, yes, I never turn down an opportunity to chuckle evilly, but . . .
I love this whole thing so much. But it really is torture, only getting a tiny bit at a time.
. . . tell yourselves that the only way you will have KES at all is like this. While I admit I hope she turns out to have some kind of long term, comprehensive, something-or-other future, I would, for example NEVER have written last night’s ep for a story that, you know, started life as a contracted book. KES is more work than I was, um, hoping, but she’s also even more fun than I was hoping. And I’ll take all the fun I can get. Especially when there are things like printers in my life.
::reads Kes 20:: ::reaches end of excerpt:: ::dies laughing::
‘dies laughing’?‡‡ You churl. Wait . . . wait . . . a new storyline is just coming into view. I can’t see it clearly yet . . . hang on . . . yes . . . it’s something about a violinist. Something . . . something awful happens to a violinist.
* * *
* I keep dwelling on how slowly this final draft and tidy-up and yank-together is going but as I organised the first lump for printing out I realised that one reason is because it has got long. It’s not in the PEGASUS category but . . . it’s not short. It’s not a cheerful little 75,000-word throw-off that it started life as. Well of course not. Who do I think I am. IT’S NOT LIKE THIS IS UNDER MY CONTROL, YOU KNOW.
** And caper and dance and laugh maniacally as soon as you’re out of your office.
*** It has paper size SETTINGS. It ignores these. You can carefully select the paper you’re using, and during the exciting hey-presto of PAPER JAM and PAPER TRAY MISMATCH it will have reset them. It will have reset them to a paper size that has never existed in the history of the world so that you don’t have opportunity to give it the paper it claims to want, to see if this makes any difference. I comfort myself with the thought that it wouldn’t.
† Waaaaaaaay better than that flimsy old counting-to-ten thing. I have no problem merely counting to ten and then committing murder. Knitting a row has an actual tranquillizing effect.^
^ Unless of course I make a horrible error.
†† And, if we’re counting, three friends who are accountants.
††† And no shame if it doesn’t, EMoon,^ everyone’s different, give me a minute and I’ll think of three major composers I can’t stick on any account.^^
[ep 20] is SO VERY MUCH what I needed tonight!!!
Oh good. ::Beams::
^^ You can take 90% of John Adams, Harrison Birtwhistle and Pierre Boulez, and 80% of Stravinsky and Ravel, and bury them in the back garden, for example.
‡ This is a common phrase, yes? It’s not just me?
My shout of laughter on the ending of Kes #20 just brought my office mates to my door. I believe they’re thinking that I’m the madwoman in the attic.
I think you might have a legal case for unacceptable working conditions. You might want to look into this.
I have just been trying to book next season’s tickets to Live from the Met(ropolitan Opera) and . . . ARRRRRGH. Glasnost and jelly donuts THERE ARE A LOT OF FRELLING AWFUL WEB SITES IN THE WORLD. The heavy hand of my suspicion falls on the shoulder of the Met Opera itself in this case, although the home site of the national Rapscallion Cinema chain is not my favourite battleground either arrrrrrrrgh. But in the first place you have to book every individual opera separately. This is such a confounded nuisance it literally loses them some of my custom—if I’m wavering about whether I want to see The Pirate, the Anglerfish and the Epipelagic Zone* I’ll decide against it just so I don’t have to groan through their horrible purchasing system again. This includes timing you out if you take too long. They timed me out three times tonight. Once it was because their site had hung.** The other two times I wasn’t anywhere near the end of their so-called time limit, they just threw me out for laughs. And then I had to START ALL OVER AGAIN. Now, I am a member of the sodding Rapscallion community, for the single purpose of being able to book Live at the Met a week or something early before rank and file are allowed in***—which system is at least finally working.† When I log on it greets me by name, and is happy to present me with my back catalogue of many, many Met Live tickets. But the moment I try to book another one . . . they want my name, several times, my email address, several times†† . . . you’ve got something like ten screens to get through FOR EVERY GODSFRELLING SODBLASTED TICKET, including things like ‘choose credit/debit card’ and you click the drop down AND THERE IS EXACTLY ONE CHOICE: CREDIT/DEBIT CARD. But if you don’t tick it, the page wipes itself and tells you you need to choose a credit/debt card. There are also at least two screens that merely say ‘confirm’. One of them is the one that crashed me. One of them is also the screen that prevented me from booking Francesca di Rimini at all. It hung for a while and then said Oops! There’s a problem!, and crashed me back to the beginning. I tried three times and gave up. I don’t know whether I want to see Francesca di Rimini anyway.†††
The day did not get off to a good start when we had a frelling tourist invasion.‡ Go. Away. I feel you notice the ‘not our town, we don’t give a rat’s ass’ much more strongly in a village than you do in a city—I remember this from Maine. In New York City it’s the tourists who are at risk.‡‡ Today’s high points were (a) when hellhounds and I were rolling along the wide green way to the mews and found an SUV the size of at least one House of Parliament rolling down the PEDESTRIAN PAVEMENT straight at us. He wanted to park on the grass so he didn’t have to pay the fee in one of the car parks. Like it costs a lot in a town the size of New Arcadia, you know? But most of the green way is blocked off from the road by trees. If you want to be the world’s biggest asshole, you have to drive on the pedestrian pavement. ARRRRRRRRGH. And (b) when both hellhounds picked up chicken bones. I want to kill people who throw their trash around anyway, and I really want to kill people who throw food trash around . . . but I suppose it’s just conceivable that some of our overweight not-at-all-wild‡‡‡ ducks might eat sandwich-ends before the rats got there, but CHICKEN BONES? People who throw chicken bones on the street should be buried standing up under the cornerstones of important civic buildings, and thus be of some use to society at last.
Okay. I’m not in a good mood.
But, speaking of wildlife—and of tantrums—cross-species adolescence, I love it. After various responsibilities and crises had been dispatched I said THE HELL WITH IT and rushed out into the garden, where I dug and toiled and planted for . . . longer than I should have, but I came indoors much more cheerful.§ My adolescent robin was perched in the apple tree right outside the greenhouse—the greenhouse where the saucer of mealworms lives§§ having a complete paddy that dad wasn’t dedicated to bringing him mealworms. Hey, you big fat turkeybutt, go get your own mealworms.§§§
* * *
* They all die in the end. Including the entire crew of the bathysphere. But the soprano goes out on some amazing top notes from the helium.
** You’re sitting there, knitting furiously^, and glancing periodically at the large banner heading that says ‘do not hit refresh or not only will this transaction crash and burn but we will refuse to let you back on our delicate, easily disturbed site forever and your kitchen will blow up’. So you don’t and . . . tick tick tick . . . eventually you time out, and then you get a snooty message telling you that if you’re going to frell about you deserve what you get. ARRRRRRRGH.
^ Got a couple more inches done yesterday, thanks to a forty-five minutes late bride. Who as a result got about seven minutes of ringing because most of the band had to go on to another wedding. Why it’s not in the contract that you’re hiring your ringers for exactly one hour from the time your wedding is scheduled to be over . . . I have no idea. Us hoi polloi keep suggesting this and the higher-ups keep muttering inaudibly and not doing anything.
*** After three years I have my seat. If My Seat is ever already taken I may have palpitations. I even found myself, this time, thinking, as I viewed with deepest gloom the six hours of Parsifal, that I wouldn’t book now, I’d wait till nearer time and if My Seat wasn’t taken . . . ^
^ This won’t actually help me much. It won’t be taken. The long Wagners are only attended by the faithful, which doesn’t often include me. There are many valid excuses for staying at home and doing your knitting from the comfort of your own sofa. I have ME. ‘I can’t stand that misogynistic Aryan bully, I don’t care if he knew a few chords’ is also valid. One of the things I have against Shakespeare is he goes on so. Wagner?? Dear merciful gods.
† First year I tried it, they took my membership money . . . and then declared ‘special events’, as for example the Met Live broadcasts, were not included. GAAAAAAAARGH.
†† They will also throw me out randomly for having ‘non matching email ID’. The first time, maybe. Typos are always a possibility. The second, third and fourth times, no. I guarantee my email address was accurate. But the gremlins were clearly getting bored.
††† And I decided I really can’t face Rigoletto in 1960s Las Vegas. Gods, demons and bell-bottoms. Why are directors allowed to pull idiot feckless crap like this? WHY?^ Stick to Broadway, honeybun. They love you there.
^ If every critic in the solar system gives it five stars, I’ll reconsider.+
+ But My Seat will have been taken, for a five-star Rigoletto.
‡ Trippers who stroll up my cul de sac because it’s quaint and part of their Sunday afternoon expedition should have boiling oil or at least hot borscht poured on them from an upper storey windows. I keep thinking about it. You know how beetroot stains—? So, you want a memento of New Arcadia? It can be arranged.
‡‡ ‘Hey, wanna buy a nice bridge?’
‡‡‡ And Darkness is going to nail one, one day. I’m just hoping he doesn’t take both himself and me into the river in the process. There would be language.
§ Until I decided to tackle the Met Live.
§§ I wouldn’t dare show my face in the garden if I didn’t top up the saucer both when I come out and when I finally go in again. In between I may be sworn at, but there are some limits.
§§§ Although speaking of the robin’s unbridled passion for mealworms: while I was inconveniently using the potting table in the greenhouse, I’d put the saucer farther in, on a shelf near the other door. Dad robin was not best pleased with this arrangement, and kept whirring in and out trying to dodge around me (and the paddying offspring in the apple tree. Dratblast it, where is the new nest?). I’d come back to the greenhouse when, apparently, he wasn’t looking, and was bending over to fetch a trowel off the ground as he came fizzing back in again—more or less as I was starting to straighten up. Both of us were dismayed—and neither of us stopped fast enough, and I briefly had a robin on the back of my neck. He trampolined off again . . .