June 24, 2014

Shadows is here!

Yes we are

 

. . . moving house.  Removal men with rippling muscles and a large lorry are coming 1 AugustYessssssss.  Any of you of a praying persuasion please pray it goes no more catastrophically than these things usually do.  And more important that Peter finds he positively likes it there at Third House once he’s in.  Any of you not of a praying persuasion are nonetheless welcome to dance supplicatorily around bonfires dedicated to minor deities who ease tiresome mortal rites of passage like house moves.  I personally prefer Jesus, but I’ll take any good will on offer.

And minions of British Telecom, that delightfully efficient and customer-oriented corporation, are coming the day before to install necessary wiring because, as regular blog readers may recall, BT declares that there are no lines to Third House, that eighty or ninety year old cottage in the centre of town and with a phone jack in the kitchen which you might think BT would find a little embarrassing.  HOWEVER we have got round my bootless fury on this topic first by the fact that we’re going to want wireless broadband and the connections for that probably do need to be updated from whenever . . . and second I just caved when the very loud, relentlessly cheerful woman who was brokering the deal rushed past the part about how they’d do all this for free if we bought their broadband.  So we’re buying their broadband.  And I am a weak, cringing worm.  Yes.  I just want it over with.

Eleanor finished cleaning Third House’s kitchen today.*

Jonas, who is a builder by trade and can do anything, is plumbing in the dishwasher because all the local plumbers are booked until Christmas 2017.

Atlas is getting on with carving out the Desk Aperture.**

Nina and Ignatius are coming twice this week to do anything someone else hasn’t got to first.  They may make a start on clearing the space for my shed.  And I may ask Ignatius to put up some shelves, since there is only one of Atlas and he only has two hands.  Fie.  You’d think someone who works in three dimensions for a living would have at least four.

And the hellhounds ate lunch for the first time in weeks.***

But too much stuff working might go to my head.  So the ME gallantly stepped in at this point and slapped me down.†  ARRRRRRGH.††  Therefore I think I’ll make one of my hilarious attempts to go to bed early.††† Night night.

* * *

* She has been giving me a very hard time about all the things I won’t let her throw away.  That’s a perfectly usable jar!  Leave it alone!  She even thinks I have too many books.  Friendships have been lost over comments like these.  But not when someone is cleaning your kitchen for free.

** I’m failing to get on with finding somewhere to put all the books thus made homeless.  See previous footnote.

*** Don’t get too excited.  They didn’t eat dinner.

† Do I really need the ME too?  It’s not like the next few weeks are going to be arid with ease and perfection.   In the first place I still have 1,000,000 phone calls to make to/about various which will be quite lowering enough when 60% or so produce the equivalent of all the local plumbers being booked till Christmas 2017.  I’m reminding myself we already own the house, no one can gazump us, that medieval torture device that has somehow been allowed to live on in the laws of England, Third House is in the same town and only half of us are moving anyway.  Hey, my piano is moving!  That counts!  Also the hellhounds are sure to Faint in Coils which will fail to be edifying.   But it could be a lot worse.  Hold that thought.

†† It’s The Little Things.  My last clean white shirt this morning had a big black spot at the centre of the neckline WHAAAAAAT??  I got the worst of it out with a sponge and wore it anyway.  Then I put on my pale blue white floral cotton jeans which are automatically a calamity magnet because of the colour.  And I was out in the garden this morning examining something or other while Pav had her morning pee and she galloped up to me and sprang . . . leaving giant muddy footprints all over my pale blue with white flowers jeans ARRRRRRRRGH.  There was language.  Pav ignored this, of course, because it had nothing to do with her.  She usually does jump on me first thing in the morning . . . but this usually happens indoors, I’ve never taught her not to^, and the only reason the garden was muddy is because I’ve been WATERING because we haven’t had any rain in yonks.^^  ARRRRRRRRGH.  Well I’m wearing the blotched up jeans anyway too, but everything goes in the washing machine tonight.

^ Theoretically she knows ‘off’.  She doesn’t know ‘don’t jump up in the first place you muddy-footed monster’.  Usually I find being jumped on by a thrilled-I-exist bull terrier ridiculously charming.

^^ It’s been long enough that a few Souvenir de la Malmaison roses have been unable to contain themselves to wait to go brown and mouldy in the next major downpour and have popped out properly.  It only takes a few to make my entire tiny walled garden smell divine.

††† HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  I kill myself, I really do.

It’s too hot to sleep anyway.  It’s not hot hot but it’s that kind of hot that sits on your chest like an incubus and won’t let you breathe.

 

Singing for Sanity

 

There is a person, let’s say Person A, we will call him Abelard, who is doing a Project.  He is canvassing reactions and seeking input from a variety of Other Persons.  I am on this list.  Recently I received an email from Abelard that was to everyone on the list.  I answered.  Most of our answers go to him individually—occasionally one escapes and comes to the entire list—and he then posts round ups about what everyone is saying about this or that.  I noticed that my input had not been acknowledged.  Hmm.  Then there’s an email saying that he hasn’t heard from everyone and he’s hoping the rest of us will get in touch.  !!!!!  So I emailed him again.

Nothing.

Then I emailed asking for acknowledgement that he’s receiving my emails.

Still nothing.

So I emailed his boss, Person B, whom we will call Bozo, saying that Abelard was not receiving my recent emails about his Project.  Bozo did not deign to reply to me, but he copied me forwarding mine to Abelard.  Next round-up email Abelard adds a paragraph saying Robin, I’m not getting your emails.

I forward this back to Bozo and say now what?

There is a pause, and then Bozo emails grandly, well, since you’re not really necessary to this Project why don’t you just let it go?

I stare at this in disbelief for a moment (Bozo and I have had our little differences before—just by the way).  Then I write him again.  Then I take out all the adjectives and I send what I have written, including a copy of my original email to Abelard, to demonstrate that I might conceivably have something to contribute.

There is another pause AND THEN I RECEIVE ANOTHER EMAIL FROM BOZO SAYING THAT ABELARD IS RUNNING THIS PROJECT AND I SHOULD BE CONTACTING HIM DIRECTLY.

DO I GET TO SAY AT THIS POINT THAT BOZO IS AN INCOMPETENT TWIT?

Then I took my two shifts of hellcritters out and sang like crazy.*

I told you last week that I was going to experiment in turning over a new leaf about my singing—well maybe blow on a new leaf or wave it around a little—or maybe turn over just a new petiole—although I suspect if you turn the petiole over the leaf goes with it.  Whatever.  But I was going to stop pretending I didn’t have any voice just because I don’t sound like Nadia or Joyce DiDonato, and I was also going to stop pretending that the only time I had any voice was during my voice lessons after Nadia had done her teacher magic and that it all went away again as soon as I was at home and it was just me and the piano and an assortment of beady-eyed hellcritters.**  And, since I do have a voice, such as it is, I was going to work on developing singing stamina.

And what better exercise aid than very long folk songs?***  I had another little epiphany about singing folk songs too, and this makes me look like even more of a nincompoop† than the ‘oh woe is me I have no voice’ thing.  I’ve taken folk songs in to Nadia off and on right along pretty much from the beginning and she’s even said (repeatedly) ‘find what works for you’ but noooooo I’m not going to let myself get away with it being easy.  So I keep trying to find THE EXACTLY PRECISELY RIGHT VERSION of whatever, which I will then learn slavishly . . .  but folk songs being the slippery little devils that they are I rarely do find the exactly precisely right version which means that . . . I can’t learn them.  No!  Not allowed!  It must be the ultimate perfect rubber-stamped passed-in-triplicate official THE VERSION!!!!!  How pathetic is that.  Very, very, very slightly in my defense, the problem often is that I have the version I like and I want to sing in my head and/or my imagination’s ear, from Maddy Prior or Jean Ritchie or someone, and the available sheet music is never it.  McKinley.  It’s folk music.  Make it upGood grief.

To be continued again. . . .

* * *

* Or, you know, like sanity.  Till I felt better.  Hey, it works.  A good murder ballad. . . .

** At Third House the critter beds will not be slap next to the piano.  WILL.  NOT.

*** I sang for service again this past Sunday.  This clearly counts as vocal press-ups, since over the course of a long evening you’re singing hard for probably an hour and a half.  Riordan, who was music leader for the evening service, sent us the playlist Monday evening.  Usually I’m whining for it Thursday or so and on at least one occasion we got it Saturday afternoon.^

It’s a mixed blessing however, having it that early.  You have so much less excuse for not spending serious time learning the latest rash of driv—I mean, these earnest, committed songs of modern worship.  ARRRRRGH.  What I have found, however, is that power ballads for God have the same effect on me that power ballads about everything else do—which is to say they depress the crap out of me.^^^  It’s all so moany.

So I maybe didn’t get quite as much practise in as I might have done for having had the playlist all week.  But the funny thing was that in the heat of the moment Sunday evening with everyone else singing and twanging and thundering~ . . . it all became quite jolly.  Aside from the whole ‘worshipping God’ aspect.  At the end of service as I was crawling around on my hands and knees coiling up ENDLESS, Midgard-Serpent-length frelling cables, Buck sauntered past nonchalantly and said, if you get too good at that, you know, we’ll put you on the rota permanently.

In six months I’m going to have a voice like iron.

^ People have lives.  Christians too.

^^ I would much rather sing Are you working in the vineyard of the Lord?, which isn’t on YouTube, which is very sad+ or When the roll is called up yonder, of which there are a gazillion versions on YouTube, many of them not fit for much beyond making you a Hindu++, although I rather like this one:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIB0xL-ejQk&index=11&list=PLD747A0359ACA320E  But then I have a weakness for the banjo after a misspent childhood listening to the Kingston Trio.+++

+ ‘From the desert wilds of sin/ Are you bringing lost ones in?’ Gospel lyrics don’t mess around.

++ Although if student performances of Voi Che Sapete can’t put me off Mozart—and they can’t—the Singing Goldfish# of Goodgodville shouldn’t shake my faith.

# Glub glub glub glub

+++ YES.  I AM THAT OLD.

^^^ I had a friend a million years ago in another life+ who used to call the soft rock radio station his wife favoured ‘suicide music’.  This is perhaps a little strong but I know what he meant.++

+ YES.  I AM THAT OLD.

++ Although I like this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0b2GFdxuVk&feature=kp

Wheeeeeeeee SPLASH.

~ Serious drum kit.  Golly.

† Not to say an incompetent twit.

Gardening. Continued. Indefinitely.

 

So I’m cruising a gardening site because I have no self-control and they’re having a HALF PRICE sale* and I come to the description of something under the ‘cottage garden plants’ category.  The heading describes it as a ‘half hardy annual’.  This means it’ll die if it freezes, but it’ll be toast next winter anyway so your job is only not to plant it out too early now.  And then in the description below the heading you are informed that while it is hardy to 18° F—which is pretty seriously hardy—it would be grateful for a little winter protection which if such is provided it will go on rewarding you with a dazzling floral display for years to come.  Oh?  Yes?  Um.

It’s no wonder people think gardening is complicated and confusing.

* * *

* I didn’t tell you I ordered another eight roses, did I?  Speaking of sales.  Peter Frelling Beales http://www.classicroses.co.uk/ had a loooooong end-of-bareroot-season sale AND THEY KEPT FRELLING SENDING ME REMINDERS.  I KNOW.  I READ YOUR LAST EMAIL, THANKS.  I WISH YOU’D GO AWAY.  THE SALE WAS FOR FORTY PERCENT OFF.  FORTY PERCENT OFF ROSE BUSHES????  YOU CAN’T EXPECT ME TO RESIST—TO GO ON RESISTING—THAT LEVEL OF TEMPTATION, CAN YOU?  Well, I can’t, and it was my credit card.  Besides, I have at least a half-packet of that help-the-roots-to-grow symbiotic fungus stuff left . . .

The thing is I got all those roses I bought from the (relatively) local rose nursery planted and then discovered . . . I still had perennial-shrub sized gaps left.  ‘Perennial shrub’ is a slightly flexible concept in my garden, of course, as is ‘gap’:  it’s surprising what (and how much) you can get to grow in a too-small pot if you keep it fed and watered.  This—right now—is also the most dangerous time of year for me—I’ve probably (finally^) done a certain amount of clearing out of winter detritus:  of last year’s annuals, last year’s failures, and the pruning you should maybe have done last autumn but I didn’t not only because I’m absent-minded and disorganised but because if you have a hard winter some things, including roses, will probably die back some, so if you have to take the last six inches off a three-foot stem that still leaves two and a half feet of live plant which you can prune later on if you want to for shape and so on.  If you cut it down hard last autumn, six inches of dead wood may leave you come spring with three inches of live plant, which is risky.  But I’m not a hard pruner anyway:  I figure if a rose bush wants to be five foot—or fifteen—you’ll make it unhappy by trying to prune it to be three or six.^^

. . . Anyway.^^^  This time of year there is probably bare earth out there.  Bare.  Earth.  In MY garden.  Somewhere I could PLANT SOMETHING.  Or wedge a pyramid of pots into/onto/around.  This goes badly to my head.  Despite the fact that by the end of March I’ve frelling DONE ALL MY SPRING ORDERING.  I DON’T NEED TO DO ANY MORE.  Except that what I’ve ordered is beginning to fade into the dank dark mists of the previous winter during which you wrote out copious lists of possible plant orders as a gesture of hope and belief in the future and a quelling or at least muffling of cabin fever#. And of course I never get around to printing out the invoices## of my final orders. . . .  And then the frelling sale come-ons start appearing in your email. . . .

Coming up ten (gleeeeeeep) years ago, when I bought the cottage, I looked at the Way Too Gardenery a Garden that the previous owner### was leaving me and thought, I am not going to turn this into a Rose Garden.  I am going to evolve it a little more toward Old Fashioned Messy Cottage Garden and away from Plantsperson’s Educational Display . . . but it’s NOT going to be a rose garden with a few pansies.

Well, it isn’t.  It’s a rose garden with a few pansies, clematis, delphiniums, foxgloves, primroses, fuchsias, begonias, dahlias, hellebores, daffodils, hyacinths, a few tulips, one trillium, snowdrops, crocuses, lungwort, corydalis, epimedium, geraniums/pelargoniums/whatsit, two bleeding hearts, snapdragons, cosmos, one hydrangea, one gardenia, daylilies, irises, dianthus, dwarf Japanese maples, Japanese frelling anemones, camellias, dwarf rhododendrons, peonies . . . some other stuff, including several things I either don’t know the name of or have forgotten the name of . . . and a flowering currant, a corkscrew hazel and an apple tree.%  It’s a rose garden with friends.

. . .  It’s okay though.  You can click on the Peter Beales link, the sale is over.  I don’t recommend you sign up for their email list, however, unless you live somewhere Beales won’t ship to.

^ No, no!  You’re supposed to leave your rubbish alone over the winter!  It gives WILDLIFE SHELTER AND FOOD!  ‘Wildlife’ includes the frelling mice I yesterday animadverted, as well as slugs, snails, vine weevils, lily beetles and black spot fungal spores.  And my incredibly spoilt local bird populations don’t eat seed heads or berries or rose hips.  And the bats are hibernating.

^^ There are fashions in pruning as in most things.  Some years I’m in fashion.  Some years I’m not in fashion.  Feh.

^^^ Buckminster, our vicar, gets quite a lot of stick for being easily distracted.  Church services when our vicar is preaching+ have been known to run on quite a while over time because Buck has been chasing hares (again).  I was thinking this Sunday while everyone was giggling that it’s a good thing no one at St Margaret’s—so far as I know—reads Robin McKinley’s Days in the Life.++  Especially Buck himself.  It might give him ideas.

+ You want to get home on time, pray Buck is not preaching.

++ With footnotes.

#  Yes, you can get a cabin-fever equivalent even in the south of England, although in my case anyway the lack of daylight is almost as claustrophobi-fying as not being able to get out the door because of the snowdrifts.+  This winter, of course, the solid wall of falling water that went on for about three months accentuated that shut-in feeling.

+ Pay the guy with the bulldozer scoop on the front of his muscle pick-up who clears your driveway for you promptly.  Never mess with a guy with a bulldozer scoop on the front of his muscle pick-up, especially not in a winter with a lot of snow.

## I’d only lose them.  So why bother.

### Trained horticulturists.  Double feh.

% And I’m TRYING AGAIN with the witchhazel and the magnolia stellata, drat them anyway.  And does anyone know how to get a frelling foxtail lily to FLOWER?  The beastly thing is coming up for the third year in a row but I’ve yet to get a flower out of it.  But three of my meconopsis are alive.  YAAAAAAAY.

My debut

 

I can’t remember if I told the blog that I’d been blowing off my mouth to Aloysius six weeks or so ago, after the gratuitous extra-fancy swearing-in of my intake of Street Pastors last January, with the forty-seven bishops and a miracle or two*, and which Aloysius and Alfrick had attended.  Given the forty-seven bishops and various other bits of high-churchery I was startled by the music, which was the Modern Christian Whatsit we sing at St Margaret’s and which drives me to despair.**

But I sang it, because singing is better than not singing.  And what I noticed—and what I imprudently said to Aloysius—is that while it used to be that when I was in a mob and wanted to feel that I was contributing, I dropped down to chest voice and BELLOWED . . .  now, after getting on for three years of Nadia’s elegant mercilessness, I make just as much noise in head voice and I suspect it’s more penetrating.***  And Aloysius responded promptly that if I ever felt like singing with the band† I would be more than welcome.

Hmmmmmm . . .

It had occurred to me some time ago that the only way I could, you know, validly try to have some effect on the music at St Margaret’s evening service is to become one of the people who produce it.  So I didn’t laugh like a drain or whap Aloysius up longside the head.  Or run away.  I said, Ah.  Er.  What an interesting idea.

And he said, If you want to give it a shot, I suggest you try it the next time I’m in charge.

Okay, I said.

. . . Which was last night.  AAAAAAAAAUGH.

Where do I BEGIN?  For example  . . . they don’t even much have sheet music.  It doesn’t actually seem to exist for a lot of this Modern Christian doodah??  It is no longer assumed that makers of music can, and might possibly want to, read the line they’re supposed to be performing?  Or possibly take it home and nervously pick it out on the piano first?  What?  And at St Margaret’s, for example, the regular keyboardist†† doesn’t read music—he plays by frelling ear.†††  Buckminster doesn’t read music either—he has a chord sheet, as does the church office guru who I think usually plays bass.  There’s a rota, and Samantha, who is a volunteer,‡ organizes folders of music for all the regulars, in whatever form the recipient of the folder prefers—so Aloysius gets sheet music (when it’s available) and Buckminster gets chord sheets.  Ugly, I think, just gets a playlist and maybe lyric sheets, although the lyrics are also computer-projected on the walls.  Samantha was a trifle startled by my vehemence on the subject of sheet music. . . .

Apparently you only get your playlist a few days before you go on.  GORBLIMEY GUYS.  THIS IS HARD ON A NEWBIE.  Aloysius emailed ours out on Thursday in the form of a title list and some YouTube links . . . and there went any possibility of my practising Italian art songs or German lieder for the rest of the week, while I got a lot of knitting done listening, relistening, and re-re-relistening to YouTube, whilst simultaneously moaning and chewing on the furniture.‡‡  St Margaret’s spends quite a lot of the evening service singing, so there were a lot of YouTube links.  Long YouTube links.  Fortunately about three of the songs are half familiar from regular evening-service use but the one that I’d never heard before in my in-hindsight-privileged ‡‡‡ life also had the worst performance, the one that made me want to stick my knitting needles through my monitor.§  The lead singer was having oral sex with her microphone, the massed electronic instrumentation was making drooly Technicolor-sunset noises which made me feel I was being hammered to death with fluffy bunnies and there was some escapee from the Swan Lake chorus line gambolling at the front of the stage WHAT IS THISALSO, WHY.  —I failed to learn this one.  I failed to go on trying to learn this one because I don’t really want to buy a new laptop just now.

But I put my time in on the others.  God help me, God, you got me into this.  And I’m supposed to trust in him, right?  Old habits die hard.  Because I am a hopeless wet dweeb I didn’t sleep very well Saturday night because I was going to have to sing from the wrong side of the microphone the next evening.  And . . .

TO BE CONTINUED.§§

* * *

* I could have sworn I had, because I remember remarking on the plentifulness of bishops, but I can’t find it in the archive.  It’s probably in a footnote somewhere.

** Alfrick, given the setting, hadn’t been expecting it either, and commented drily that it was out of his comfort zone.  I thought of the antiphonal chanting—and the little square tail-free notes of the music—at the abbey and tried not to laugh.  Or possibly cry.

*** I do not say this is a good thing.  I merely make note of it.

† Sic.  It’s not a choir;  the instrumentalists usually outnumber the singers, and said instrumentalists include the vicar on guitar or bass, the curate on guitar—he’s got more than one guitar, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play bass, but he has at least once played ukulele—and various admin and ordinary congregation members on electric keyboard, drums and the occasional woodwind.

Sigh . . .

†† Who I’m about to name Ugly, because he doesn’t approve of singers—and we are, furthermore, not singers but mere backing singers—and has declared that there are never to be more than three of us cluttering up the stage.  THREE?  THREE?  That is nowhere near enough bodies to hide among when you’re one of them.  I had noticed that there weren’t very many, week to week, but I hadn’t caught on that there were EVER only three.  I’m going to start putting peanut butter on the keyboard when I know Ugly is playing.  Hmmph.

††† Another reason to LOATHE HIM, just by the way.^

^ No it does not count that he probably doesn’t have a clue how to write a novel.   Or that he’s kind to his mother, has adopted six stray dogs and has solar panelling all over his roof.

‡ The kind of volunteer without whom a lot of things like churches and underfunded charities would not be able to function:  dedicated, competent, intelligent, and mad.

‡‡ Not the knitting needles.  Never the knitting needles.  TOOTHMARKS ON MY PRECIOUS ASH AND ROSEWOOD KNITTING NEEDLES?  ARE YOU KIDDING?^

^ I might chew on bamboo needles if I were desperate.  Fortunately the current project is on ash, because Hey God You’re My Bestest Bud, which I describe below, might have driven me to intemperate behaviour with bamboo.

‡‡‡ Ignorance is bliss.

§ Which would be one way of deciding it was time for a new laptop.

§§ Sorry.  I have to go to bed.  Raphael is coming tomorrow to discuss why Outlook occasionally decides to send a crucial email to perdition instead of to me^ and various other variations on a theme of technological havoc and I may be looking at a new laptop after all.  I need to be well rested for the conflict.

^ Maybe the hellgoddess shtick confuses its tiny solid state unmind?

Behind the headlines it was an exciting weekend

 

So there’s this major yarn and stuff to do with it, stuff to do it with and accessories like buttons and ribbons show that is not so far from here I can’t toy with the idea of going to it . . . especially if Fiona was driving.

But this is now the second year that Fiona has declined to go on the flimsy grounds that she had to WORK that weekend.*  And I was feeling obstinate and cantankerous.  And I happened to mention that there was going to be a fabulous yarn show with lots of STUFF to Nina, who said, oh, that sounds like fun.  I’ll come.

Now Nina, once you bash past her British self-deprecation, is good at kind of a lot of stuff;  she plays the violin, she cooks, she gardens, she sews, she embroiders, she does long-distance bicycling, and her end of the charity she works for runs very well.  But I didn’t know she knitted.

I used to, she said.  But a friend has started me crocheting, and I’ve been thinking about picking up knitting again.  What I need is a project to inspire me.

So we arranged to meet at the venue, which is one of these Ancient Buildings Repurposed, and half the experience is about going the wrong way through the wrong end of the wrong aggregation of corridors and small crooked well-raftered rooms, and seeing the proud civic collection of sealing-wax stamps and the sepia photos of Prince Edward at the opening of the new railroad in 1887, but failing to find what you were looking for. 

Which was a lot like my experience of getting there at all.

There was actual sunlight [sic] that morning [sic] and I set off in a hopeful and positive manner/deeply guilty that I wasn’t staying home and working in the garden**, and about the first third of the way is pretty familiar and the last two-thirds used to be pretty familiar before age, decrepitude and ME set in.  I had my Google map print-out taped to the dashboard and just before the stoplight where I was going to have to turn off the modern roads, built for fast-moving fossil-fuel-propelled vehicles, and into the frelling medieval frelling maze . . . they changed the road layout.  AAAAAAAAAUGH.***

So I made one of those hasty decisions, the way you do at fifty miles an hour with lorries the size of WWII blockhouses bearing down on you, and shot off toward the centre of town a lot sooner than I meant to and I was now in the wrong end of town† without a clue how to get to the right end.  Whimper.

I think I saw the small town-centre Sainsburys six times as the one-way system kept chewing me up and spitting me out and I kept stubbornly turning around and coming back for more pinballing, ka-chung, ka-chung!  There was ONE sign for the dratblasted yarn show with one of those ambiguous directional arrows that could have meant anything including finding a flagpole to climb and looking around from the top of it;  and one overhead banner stretched from one side of the (narrow medieval) street to the other proclaiming the existence of the yarn show but failing to say anything about where to find it.  Some of the surrounding melee was, in fact, on my Google map, but Google does not feel the need to include any street names but the ones immediately relevant to your journey.  Haven’t these people ever driven anywhere?††  Have they no sense of the clue, the hint, the landmark, the burning need for the adjacent street sign?†††

By the time I got to a car park somewhere near the centre of town, feeling that if I couldn’t find the yarn show I could at least go to Sainsburys and bury my sorrows in chocolate, which said car park would actually let me in rather than telling me that the apparent gate-like aperture with a clear view of parked cars beyond it was nothing of the kind and I had to enter by another gate-like aperture that a car could not, in fact, approach on account of the cemented-in bollards in the way . . . the car park was full of cars driven by people who had sacrificed virgin black goats to the appropriate gods earlier in the day.

But—!  There was a brief lapse in the forces of anarchy and bedlam!  THERE WAS A PARKING SPACE!!!!  I hurtled into it, had only just bought my ticket and displayed it prominently on the dashboard‡ and was beginning to worry about where, exactly, Ancient Building Repurposed was in relation to Car Park that Will Let Cars In, when Pooka started barking at me‡‡.  I knew it was Nina:  I was thirty-five minutes late.  I’m sorry, I said . . . No, no, said Nina, I’ve only just got here myself;  I misread the bus schedule and. . . .

TO BE CONTINUED.

* * *

* She says she’s blocking out that weekend in her diary for next year NOW.^

^ Like all you Americans—at least all you east coast Americans, and there’d better be a few schlepping in from at least the Midwest and the southeast or I’ll feel underappreciated—are blocking out 13-15 February for Boskone next year.  There will be a certain irony if Fiona has to go alone next year because I’m in Boston.

** The hellpack would also have preferred this latter option

*** I didn’t even have Fiona’s satnav to abuse.

† I would start seeing sepia photos of Prince Edward at any moment

†† No they were born with a silver computer in their mouths and the only time they venture outside is to go jogging, well wired up to their iPods and wearing dark glasses, or to pick up Chinese food/pizza when the delivery Vespa is broken.

††† Or the not so adjacent.  At one point I found myself passing the hospital, which meant that I had gone from the wrong end of town to the right end of town but hadn’t noticed, and instead barrelled on through and out the other side and was now approaching . . . Wales.

‡ Ever had your Pay and Display ticket blow off the dash in the backdraft (presumably) of you closing the car door and be found several hours later in the footwell upon your return?  I have.  I am very happy to say that the Parking Enforcement Officer didn’t come to my end of the garage that day.  Either that, or PEOs are specially trained to see through the dark of footwells to the honestly obtained ticket that may be lying there.

‡‡ Er.  New Blog Reader Alert:  my iPhone’s name is Pooka, and her default ring tone is a barking dog.

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