August 21, 2014

Shadows is here!

And I haven’t even told you the latest BT saga

 

It’s not the actual moving that puts a house move at the top of the stress list:  it’s the everyflippingthing that goes wrong.

I’ve been trying for about five weeks to find a plumber that isn’t booked up till 2020.  The plumbing company that I used satisfactorily for several years has stopped answering their phone.  You get a message saying leave your phone number and we’ll get back to you, and they don’t.  I kept waiting for the real human being to return from the longest lunch in employee history and she never did, so I finally left a message, and that didn’t work either.  Meanwhile I was asking everyone who might have cause to know about local plumbers—other men* driving vans full of tools, for example, or the sector of the market which sells hammers and spanners and garpenscrads to them.  I even asked the nice lady at the estate agent’s who I talked to last autumn about letting Third House.  Hers was, as I recall, booked till 2032.

You can’t get away from plumbers’ vans in this frelling area and they all have emblazoned down their long sides variations on a theme of QUICK FRIENDLY PROFESSIONAL SERVICE.  HERE IS A SELECTION OF PHONE NUMBERS, HOME, MOBILE, THE LOCAL PUB THAT TAKES MESSAGES, AND MY DOG** WHO LOVES TO ANSWER THE PHONE SO MUCH I’VE GIVEN HIM HIS OWN LINE.  I ALSO ACCEPT SMOKE SIGNALS.  Snarl.  Most of these geezers aren’t too fabulous in the social niceties either.  I understand that they don’t like turning down work, but someone should gather them all in a room and teach them to say, clearly and calmly, I’m really sorry, but I’m booked till 2032.  The ‘I’m sorry’ part is important, as is the tone, which should not suggest to the hapless caller that the sound of her voice is similar to the sensation of hot needles being plunged into their ears.***

I am absolutely clueless about things like plumbers and I didn’t want just to start going through the phone book.  Dire things and cowboys proceed from such desperate procedures.  The most recent local independent I asked, on the recommendation of another Bloke Who Should Know, and whose van I see around town all the frelling time, turned out to speak in complete sentences and didn’t seem to hate me for wanting to give him some work.  So I asked him.

He said, uh, yeah, try Blithering Doodah.  They’re a big national company and they’ve got a branch in Mauncester, and they’re pretty good about who they hire, and I know some of the guys.

So I tried Blithering Doodah.†  That was Monday.  And I got this terribly chirpy and efficient sounding young woman who said certainly, we will send you a gas boiler specialist,†† since the purpose of my feverish search for a plumber is that neither Peter’s nor my boiler is working properly, and they could do it . . . Wednesday.  YIKES, I said, or words to that effect, you mean the day after tomorrow?  Certainly, said the young woman.  YES PLEASE, I said.

She then took my details down to my shoe size and the number of dogs in the household.†††  She took the post codes of both houses;  she consulted with her manager if the Gas Boiler Specialist could look at both boilers on the same job;  the manager said he could;  she took careful directions how to find the cottage, in case his SatNav failed, and said firmly that he would come to the cottage first since that was the phone number I was calling from, and we could proceed from there to Third House subsequently.

Fine. Great.  I spent nearly thirty six hours in a daze of success and accomplishment.  Also Peter is looking forward to not having to boil several kettles to take a hot bath.‡

This morning, much too early, the phone rang.  It was Blithering Doodah who wanted to tell me that my slot was no longer one to three this afternoon, but three to six, and I could assume it would be nearer five than four or three.  Golly, I said, he doesn’t mind working late?  No, said this new person, he doesn’t mind.  And then the new person proceeded to take all my details all over again, including the shoe size and the range of domestic fauna, but CONFIRMED that the Gas Boiler Specialist would come to the cottage.  At five o’clock or so.  And the Gas Boiler Specialist would ring me on my mobile about half an hour before he arrived.

You see where this is going.

I spent the morning shovelling a path at the cottage so he could get in.  I was finally taking the patient hellhounds out for a hurtle‡‡ and decided to swing by Third House to water those potted plants.  Peter plays bridge Wednesday afternoons so there wasn’t anyone there.  I’d just let all of us in the door when the hellhounds shot back outside again and there was a whoop of alarm from the courtyard.  Frell.  I followed them hastily and discovered a young man just barely not climbing a tree.‡‡‡

You wanted a plumber to look at your boiler? said the young man.

It was about three-forty-five.  I gaped at him.  You’re not supposed to be here for hours, I said.  And this is the wrong house.  And you were supposed to ring me half an hour before you got here.

This is the only address they gave me, he said.  They didn’t give me a phone number either.

ARRRRRGH.  Well, what a good thing I happened to be here.

Blithering Doodah are pretty good generally, he said.  But their customer service, um.  At least they gave me the right day this time.  They don’t always.

So.  He examined Peter’s boiler.  And there was something wrong with it.  Modified hurrah.  But it’s not like the funny noise your car is making and the mechanic looks at you sidelong and says I don’t hear any funny noises and it’s running fine.  Here’s my bill for two hours of drinking coffee and chatting up the new receptionist.

There is, however, something wrong with Peter’s boiler to the tune of several hundred pounds.  Arrrrgh.

The young man then goes off in his van to meet me at the cottage—my arrival somewhat delayed by the fact that now the hellhounds decide to perform various ablutions, and they do not hurry their ablutions, my hellhounds—spends about thirty seconds looking at my boiler, appears to be repressing snickering and says . . . I’m sorry, but this thing is a piece of rubbish.  You should just get rid of it and buy a new one.

YAMMER YAMMER YAMMER GIBBLE GIBBLE GIBBLE GIBBLE.§

Yeah, he said.  But by the time you buy the parts you’re halfway to a new one anyway . . . and this one never was any good.  An Infinity Dreadnaught will last you forever.

Anyone want to guess what an Infinity Dreadnaught costs?§§

. . . I have to go lie down again.§§§

* * *

* Are there any female plumbers?  Maybe in other countries?  Iceland, which may not be known for fiscal stability but they’ve got the best rating for gender equality in the first world?  Don’t you school-leavers out there know that you will ALWAYS be in work if you’re a plumber?  And if you don’t want to worry about those blocked-loo calls, you can specialise, and then you can charge more too.

** There’s a woman I see occasionally waiting for her ride when I lurch past behind some hellmob division or other.  She is, unusually, an admirer of both my hurtle shifts;  I’ve noticed that generally the lurcher and the bullie admiration societies are non-overlapping sets.  Pav saw her slightly before I did the last time and was already in full assault mode before I got her hauled in.^  But the woman laughed and said she had a dog of her own.  So we’ve become quite friendly in the monosyllabic ‘hi’ ‘hi’ way.  Tonight I was very tired after striving with plumbers and it was the hellhounds that got away from me and started milling about this woman as if she were their presumed lost forever best friend and by the way she was responding maybe she was.  I have ascertained in our minimal conversations that she doesn’t merely have an accent—as I have an accent—but that English of any variety is not her first language.  Tonight I said, you told me you have a dog, what kind is it?  Oh it is a lavender, she said and I instantly translated this as Labrador without even noticing I was doing it, probably because the L-word is always what a dog beginning with ‘L’ is, never a Lithuanian Hound or a Lhasa Apso, and there are more frelling L-words around here than all the other dog breeds combined.  Oh, I said politely, they tend to be very friendly and enthusiastic too.

It wasn’t till I was already striding down the road again at hellhound speed^^ that I was playing the conversation back in my mind and I thought, lavender?

^ Note:  arrrgh.  I am not so doting as to assume that everyone likes being hustled by dogs, even a hellmob as beautiful and charming as mine, and if you possess a bunch of eager hustlers, it behoves you to be quick on the brake button.

^^ They’d had kind of a boring day due to plumbers etc and had some catching up to do on the wind-in-their-fur thing.

*** Maybe they don’t like American accents?  Maybe it’s part of the Secret Plumber Handshake ritual?  ‘And we all hate American accents!’

† I should have realised from the name, right?   Umm . . .

†† See?  Specialist.  I bet he’s never unplugged a loo.

††† None.  Two hellhounds and a hellterror however.

‡ I merely have no central heating.  I won’t care for another couple of months and I may not care then since with the Aga in the centre of this little house and at the foot of the stairs so the heat streams up the hall, I only turn the heating on for short hedonistic self-indulgent bursts.  The last time I tried, in March or thereabouts, nothing happened.  Eh, I’ll worry about it later, I thought.  But it makes me faintly anxious that half my boiler isn’t working—the hot water might follow—and it seems like the responsible grown-up thing to do, to have it mended.

‡‡ Leaving an outraged hellterror hanging from the top of her crate making noises like a jungleful of monkeys.  We go through this every day.  She has Riot Time at the cottage—and if the hellhounds retreat to the back of their crate I shut them in so she can’t get at them—including extensive tummy rubbing, Long Yellow Thing wars and varying individual excitements such as helping me water the potted plants or going upstairs to check if the document I just printed actually did.  And then I shut her up again with her breakfast.^  And try to get out the door with the hellhounds while she’s preoccupied.  This doesn’t stop the protests, but the noise is a bit muffled.

^ Well.  Let’s say first meal of the day.

‡‡‡ Clearly he does not have a lavender at home.

§ Including the fact that it’s only a few years old. I’ve already frelling replaced it once.

§§ And when he rang back to the head office to order the parts for Peter’s boiler—my arglefargling new one is a more complicated process—they had lost my credit card details AGAIN.

§§§ I could live without central heating.  But I really want my hot water.

Ah the continuing arrrgh of a house move

 

 

We have enough frelling cling film to plastic wrap England if not the entire United Kingdom.  Or possibly the planet.  WHY?  We hardly ever use cling film, it’s against my frelling ethical eco doodah principles.  It must be gremlins.  Cleaning out drawers is not my idea of fun at the best of times and at the tail end of a frelling house move it feels like the discovery of a brand-new hitherto unsuspected circle of hell*—and cleaning out cupboards and closets and sheds and garages and attics and crawl spaces and overhead shelves you can’t see into YAAAAAAAAH—for all eternity noooooooo I’m sure I wasn’t that wicked and evil**.  Ahem.  Anyway in the short term there’s still kind of a lot of this vile business LEFT to do*** AND THE GREMLINS HAVE BEEN SHOVING ROLLS OF CLING FILM IN EVERY AVAILABLE INTERSTICE.  And a few that aren’t available.  Peter also has a surprising number of pairs of shoes.†  And you know that stuff-you-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-so-you-shove-it-in-the-back-of-a-cupboard?  Possibly in a box with some of its friends?††  Well, now think about going through all those boxes in all those cupboards for someone else.†††

PamAdams

Yay- piano fits!!!

I’m still having palpitations every time I walk through the sitting room.‡ I measured the garden gate about six times, had Atlas clear off the [clematis] montana jungle [clematis montana are prone to junglifying] and take the latch off the gate so there were no protrusions or attack foliage, even though there was plenty of room.  Never so much as thought of the front door.

and who wouldn’t have a Steinway if that’s the choice??  My university campus has just gone all Steinway.

Steinways at a college?  Golly.  You don’t mean a music school or something?  Juilliard has Steinways.  My liberal arts college had Yamahas.  Major meh.  I’m really tired of people telling me what good pianos Yamahas are.  I wouldn’t give one house room.  And as I’m fond of saying my Steinway cost only a little more than a totally mediocre new piano.  Like maybe a boring plywood Yamaha.

Blondviolinist

Yay! Huzzah for wonderful regular movers, and huzzah again for fabulous piano movers! Being able to play music somewhere makes it ever so much more like home.

I love our regular movers but I hope I never see them again except on the street to say hi to.  And when their frelling bill came I had to sit down and take some deep breaths.  But did I tell you that the grandfather clock case came apart in their hands?  They were worriedly showing me where the wood had cracked and the glue shrivelled up but one of the things about local movers that you know is that you also know they’re careful.  I knew the clock had been held together with a large leather strap since we left the big house but the coming to pieces was a little dramatic.  And then . . . turns out one of the movers likes to repair old furniture in his spare time.  I asked the head guy—who’s the one we’ve known for about twelve years—and he said, yeah, it’s true, and he does beautiful work.  So I said thank you very much, take it away, and give us a shout some time when you think you might get around to it.  He spent that weekend gluing it back together.  It looks fabulous.  It looks better than it has in years.  No, decades.

And as for being able to play music makes somewhere home . . . there speaks the frelling violinist.  My piano tuner is coming next Tuesday.  I can’t wait, although in truth I’ve had no time to think about music . . . although if my poor darling didn’t sound like a shoebox mandolin with a few screws and a fuse of unknown provenance rattling around inside I’d probably at least have had the ritual performance of There Is A Tavern in the Town by now.

Diane in MN

I hope the bulk of the tedious hauling and even more tedious unpacking is done and you can all start to relax a bit.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  You know you crank yourself up for the actual move, and while you know there will be a long, tiring and frustrating aftermath—which will get longer, more tiring and more frustrating as the adrenaline rush from the adventure, however undesirable, of the startling physical relocation wears off—but you tend to forget the way EVERYTHING GOES WRONG.  Doorhandles fall off.  You may be able to prevent the local dogs from crapping in your driveway by keeping the gate shut, but the cats could care less.‡‡  You can’t find a wastebasket for your half loo.  THERE AREN’T ENOUGH SHELVES.‡‡‡  And British Telecom is possessed by demons.

Raphael did provide us with a booster for the feeble router which did what it was supposed to . . . BUT DEMONS ARE VERY RESOURCEFUL.

And, speaking of endlessly creative and resourceful demons, I have to go to bed.  I have to ring BT at eight o’clock tomorrow morning.  Unbearable joy.

* * *

* Dante was a bloke.  Very unlikely he knew anything about cleaning out kitchen drawers.^

^ Or about cling film.  Not much cling film in the late thirteenth century.

** Er . . .

*** Whimper.

† Says the woman who owns 1,000,000,000 pairs of All Stars and a few flowered Docs^.  But Peter isn’t like me.

^ And a pair of plain but blinding pink.

†† Although Peter tends to little jars and plastic containers accommodating three unidentifiable screws, a totally recognisable piece of tool except for having no idea what the tool is or whether the piece of it is CRUCIAL or broken-off and dead, and a fuse or a few batteries of unknown provenance.  Arrrgh.  I’m the box girl.  Also I worry about, you know, running out of things.^  Or that I won’t be able to get that kind I like any more, so I’d better buy several while they’re available.^^ This leads to . . . interesting, sometimes rather bulky, agglomerations.  Except for Peter’s UNSPEAKABLY VAST FRELLING TOOL COLLECTION, which is the size of Roumania, my hoards take up more room.

^ Remember that my impressive All Star collection began during that decade when All Stars were only something that old people nostalgic about their distant youth wore.  I bought All Stars in my size on sight.  The habit lingers.  And has, um, spread.  The big house was probably bad for my character.

^^ Like the three Redoute rose teabag tidies, right?  I WISH I’D BOUGHT MORE.

††† Peter:  Where is x?

Me:  I don’t know.  I probably threw it out.

Peter:  Okay, where is y?

Me:  I’m pretty sure I threw it out.

Peter:  Well, where is z?

Me:  I THREW IT OUT.

‡ Although palpitations in the sitting room—where the one lone phone connection is, as well as the piano—could have a variety of causes.  Remember I’d decided to stop hating BT because they were laying the new line for free if I agreed to buy broadband from them for two years?  I’VE CHANGED MY MIND.   We have a saga of epic BT squalor and consummate incompetence spoiling the carpets right now.  I think I’ll let it lurch and drool through another confrontation or two before I tell you about it.  Besides, at the moment, my blood pressure couldn’t stand it.

‡‡ I slipped the hellhounds at a cat standing in the middle of my driveway saying ‘make me’.  Cats never expect the speed of a sighthound and it was so busy running it missed its leap to the top of the fence and cartwheeled over.  Backwards.  I hope it is now considering the possibility of seeking pastures, and latrines, new.

‡‡‡ And there is no hanging space because this is a British house.^

^ Don’t know enough about Wales or Northern Ireland, but my limited experience of old Scottish houses is of another entirely hanging-closet-free society.

My piano comes home

 

It is tragic the amount of fabulous blog material I’ve missed using the last five days or so.  For example the BT landline engineer on Thursday had just finished telling me that it couldn’t be done because the wiring was too old, or possibly because it had been plastered over irrecoverably when I hired a small army to create an attic out of a large crawl space, or at least it couldn’t be done till 2017 because they were going to have to rewire Hampshire first,* or at very least it couldn’t be done that day, as scheduled, because they were going to have to import a special lorry with a special hoist which was presently in Belgium, or possibly Tanzania, with which to approach sufficiently reverently the overhead wiring from 1878 which was, of course, made out of string,** and, in 2014, can use all the reverence it can get.  So he had just finished telling me this when his phone rang*** and it was his manager saying that his brother had rung from hospital WHERE THEY HAD TAKEN HIS FATHER AND HE SHOULD GO THERE NOW.   Oh dear . . .

They sent me another engineer.  Which is pretty impressive since this meant he would be working past closing time.  And he was a little cranky about this—he says he rarely sees his two-year-old except on weekends—but he was in no way taking it out on me and I have total sympathy with cranky.  And he found a hoist in, I don’t know, Berkshire or Essex or Norway or something, and it came*** and HE GOT THIRD HOUSE PLUGGED IN NOT ONLY TO THE TELEPHONE BUT TO WHAT PASSES FOR THE REAL WORLD ANY MORE, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN . . . well, at all, for the internet, but a number of years for the phone, because Third House had stood empty for quite a while before the heirs put it on the market.  And then it hung around on the market for another while because it was overpriced and I kept walking past and fretting, having been in to the estate agent and discovered that (a) it was WAAAAAAAY out of any semblance of my price range and (b) in the estate agent’s opinion it was overpriced, and I should bide myself in patience.†  And we know how that ended.  And then I got my knickers in a twist about the ‘several hundred pounds to lay new phone line’ thing.  Oh, and the great deal I was getting from BT?  That they’d lay the new line if I’d agree to buy their broadband for two years?  Is anyone amazed that it’s not all that good a deal?  I get one connection.  If I want, you know, extensions, I have to pay for them.  I get one connection with one underfrellingpowered router with built in wireless THAT IS SO FEEBLE IT WON’T REACH TO THE OTHER END OF THIS LITTLE HOUSE, LET ALONE INTO THE ATTIC.  ARRRRRRRRRRGH.  So we have wireless broadband (mostly††) in the sitting room.  Peter can’t even get it in his office which is about eight feet away.  ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

BUT I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY PIANO.†††

I had asked Oisin and he’d said I should ask our mutual piano tuner about someone to move my darling, and the piano tuner clucked and said there was the less expensive option and the more expensive option and I said this is an old, heavy Steinway upright and I want her treated gently, and he said Sigurd of the Silver Doohickey was the bee’s knees of piano movers pretty much over the entire south of England but they were not cheap.  I rang Sigurd and they quoted a price that didn’t seem to me, the owner of an old heavy Steinway upright‡, all that remarkable, so I said yes and, furthermore, since what they do is move pianos and are always galloping back and forth across the south of England they managed to find me a slot for today . . . the first working day after the rest of the furniture went.

I will also at present leave out describing the amount of hauling of little stuff, from the mews to Third House, that has been going on both before and since Friday, and the sordid appallingnesses thus implacably revealed‡‡.  TODAY I was at the mews at 2 pm awaiting Cinderella’s coach with the reinforced suspension, the turbo jets and the crane.

This rather mild-mannered van rolled into the courtyard at 2:15.  It was bigger than your average White Van Man van but looking at it you didn’t immediately think panzer division, although it did say SIGURD OF THE SILVER DOOHICKEY SPECIALIST PIANO MOVER on all visible surfaces.  And three young laconic guys dropped out of it and strolled in a deeply cool manner to the front door.  In hindsight I suspect they were waiting to find out if I was going to be a Fainting in Coils type who would need to be managed but my first thirty seconds’ impression was not particularly positive.  Whatever.  Sigurd is the best, these guys must know what they’re doing.

I started to come round to them when they viewed the situation calmly, and the mews is not exactly set up for the easy moving of old heavy upright pianos, and there had been a fair amount of drama from the gang who had brought her.  One of these guys fetched one little skateboardy rolling thing and the other two started edging my darling out of her corner.  The one with the most tats—who fetched the skateboard—acknowledged that he was a hired gun and the other two were the Real Piano Movers.  They looked so, you know, normal.  Until the bigger of the two simply LIFTED one end of my piano a good eighteen frelling inches off the floor so they could start working the skateboard under.‡‡‡  Eeeeeep.

Well, they loaded her up and slid her across the floor and DOWN THE HORRIBLE LITTLE STEEP FRONT STEPS with only a titanium alloy ramp and the two blokes to keep her where she belonged, and the third guy scampering around adding stability where requested.  And while the two blokes waited for the third one to lower the tailgate ramp lift thing I said, I know there’s this mythology about heavy upright pianos and everybody thinks theirs is the heaviest, so, tell me, on a scale of upright pianos, where does this one go?  And they laughed—a little breathlessly, I’m happy to say—and replied, this model is the heaviest upright Steinway ever built which is to say this is the heaviest upright piano ever built.  A lot of full size concert grands weigh less than this piano, they said.

Oh.  This probably explains why Sigurd was so careful to ask for model number . . . and why they had the third bloke along today.  And I guess the van is the extra super reinforced concrete suspension Cinderella’s carriage.

So we trundled down to Third House and I, fool that I am, assumed that the worst was over, except for the part about how the sitting room would suddenly be Very Full of Piano once she was in.  NEVER MIND.  Atlas had cut back the clematis montana over the garden gate so you can actually get through without bending double and/or being strangled, and my piano and attendants came through with a flourish and swooped around to get a straight shot at the front door.  My hero looked at the door, looked at me and said, you did measure the door, didn’t you?

MEASURE THE DOOR?  IT’S A DOOR.  LIKE ANY OTHER DOOR . . . I was literally clutching my head at this point.

My hero looked at the door again, shook his head and said, I don’t think it’s going to go through.  They didn’t even use the ramp this time, they just kept picking her up over the steps.  What do they feed these boys?

AND SHE DIDN’T FIT THROUGH THE DOOR.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH

They were still so calm.  Well, this must happen all the time.  Stupid clueless people who assume that one ordinary front door is like another ordinary front door.  So they looked at the new situation—calmly—while I tried not to fall down in fits (or coils) and start gnawing on the outdoor furniture which looks very nice on the lawn here, by the way.

We’ll take the door off, said my hero.  I think if we just take the bottom off§ we can bring the piano in backwards and swing it around inside.

Which is what happened.  It was still a terrifyingly tight squeeze, and while they had her padded with blankets the frelling plastic door frame squealed unnervingly.  BUT SHE CAME THROUGH THE DOOR THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.  And they swung her around like doing the do-si-so—the so-called fitted carpet didn’t cooperate with this manoeuvre but along with the screwdriver as standard equipment for removing doors they’re also accustomed to what they call correcting the carpet—stood her up against the wall and . . . the sitting room is a trifle full of piano but it’s not actually as FRELLING SQUASHED LOOKING as I was afraid it would be.  And the really great thing?  Both the inner sitting room door and the outer door—the one that came off and that they put back on again because they are polite young gentlemen as well as major beefcake—into the garden OPEN ALL THE WAY.  With like three-quarters of an inch to spare, both sides.  Three quarters of an inch is all we need.

MY PIANO IS HOME.§§

* * *

* Which is probably true.  There’s all this bluster about getting Hampshire super-fast broadband and the first swathe happens next year.  Uh-huh.  We’re in the swathe for 2017.  And have I mentioned they’re building houses in this town faster than a hammer can fall on a nail?^  And that the broadband we have is grinding slowly to a dead halt as more and more people sign up?  And let’s not even talk about traffic and parking and the way you sometimes can’t get through the centre of town on foot.^^

^Possibly because they don’t use hammers and nails in house-building any more.  That’s so two centuries ago.+

+ Also because England deforested itself of suitable house-building trees more centuries ago than that.  They may still use hammers and nails in Maine.

^^ Especially not with totally clueless four-legged companions.  You’d think the hellhounds would have learnt to look both ways by now.  Pav, eh.

** Copper-impregnated galvanized string.  They don’t make string like they used to.

*** I’m beginning to forget what life was like before mobile phones.  Not in a good way.  I still consider Pooka back up not the main event.  And maybe in retaliation she decided the end of last week TO BE UNRELIABLE FOR A FEW DAYS.^  So I’m leaving messages all over the landscape DON’T USE MY MOBILE USE MY LANDLINE and . . . I have two messages on my landline, neither of them important, and about twenty seven on Pooka, most of which won’t pick up.  What is the MATTER with people?^^

My very best example however of the profound basic demon-possessed infuriatingness of mobile phones happened only this morning.  I was out with hellhounds.  Chaos had just Assumed the Position to have a crap at the edge of the pedestrian pavement.  Mildly embarrassing, with people streaming by, but not a big deal.  Not like it hasn’t happened before:  we frelling live in the centre of town.  I was focussed on him, getting my little black plastic bag out and so on, and glanced over my shoulder to check that Darkness wasn’t doing anything he shouldn’t.  AND DISCOVERED THAT HE HAD ASSUMED THE POSITION IMMEDIATELY IN FRONT OF THE DOOR OF THE BARD AND OPHARION.

And Pooka started barking.

And Peter’s favourite bridge partner’s wife walked by, started to say hello and burst out laughing.

Oh, and the person who was ringing?  WAS SOMEONE I HAD TOLD TO USE MY LANDLINE.  I told her I’d ring her back.  That’s fine, she chirruped.  I’ve rung her five? six? seven? times over the course of the rest of the day . . . and she’s never at her desk, in her office or on the radar.  Possibly because her digital exchange says, ooooh, landline, how retro, and her assistant says, landline?  We don’t want to talk to any clumsy vulgar landline, we don’t do string anyway.

^ Or more than a few.  We don’t know yet.  Raphael remonstrated with her briefly today but he had his hands full trying to bring the frelling BT frelling broadband frelling crap router to heel.  Note:  he failed.

^^ I’m not going to ask what’s the matter with Pooka.  That way madness lies.

*** The driver doesn’t see his kids except on weekends either.

PATIENCE?  YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?

†† I’m not even going to start on this epic.  Raphael is coming back later in the week.  Maybe then.

††† There were epics on Friday, of course, but our loyal movers—this is now the third or fourth, depending on how you’re counting, time they’ve moved us.  We all call each other by name and say ‘hi’ in the street, you know?  Small local family firms.  Salt of the earth.  Adore, adore—were fabulous.  As they have always been fabulous.

‡ People go all faint when they see she’s a Steinway.^  As I keep saying, she was cheaper than a lot of mediocre new pianos and who wouldn’t have a Steinway if that’s the choice??  I’ve told you the story of how I bought her, haven’t I?  Another of my epics.

^ The logo is usually covered up by my music rack.

‡‡ And that the chief reason I haven’t blogged before today is that I’ve either been racing around like a crazy woman or collapsed in a weepy little puddle of ME on the nearest horizontal surface, floor, ground, hellhound bed, hellhound(s), whatever.  The ME is not exactly behaving itself, but I’m getting a certain amount of stuff done . . . and Nina and Ignatius are so golden.  I don’t know what we’d be doing without them.  They were here a couple of days earlier last week, they were here Friday, they had the temerity to take the weekend off^, were here again today and are coming back tomorrow.

^ Nina, who is clearly insane, booked some holiday to help her dad move and Ignatius has one of these all or nothing jobs and he’s in a mostly nothing phase at the moment.

‡‡‡ Let me say that I am glad to admit that I stopped finding young guys hot some years ago.  They’re so . . . you know, young.  I like the old beat-up ones that look like we might have stuff in common to, ahem, talk about.   But I might make an exception for this chap.  He is not that big and he’s not that bulky although you look at him and guess you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side in a pub brawl . . . but I’ve never liked the ripped gym-bunny look even when I was young.  I had a serious case of the hots for my blacksmith, many years ago when I had a horse, because he had major muscles from USE, you know?  The definition wasn’t much because he wasn’t doing gazillions of specialist curls but he was strong and I’ve always kind of swooned for strong, especially the easy-going, almost careless, strong-because-it’s-part-of-the-job-description kind of strong.  Also, turned out, once I apparently wasn’t going to turn into a Fainting in Coils, today’s hero has a really nice smile.  I hope his main squeeze appreciates him.

§ Here’s one of those big fat juicy ironies.  I hated the old plastic door and have rarely been as happy as when Atlas finally got around to putting the wooden stable-style door in that I’d bought yonks ago but there’s only one of Atlas and Peter or I keep pulling him off one thing to do something else.  But finally . . . YAAAAAAAY.  NICE DOOR IMPROVING GARDEN SIDE VIEW OF NICE HOUSE not to mention Aura of Sitting Room Within.  But if it had been the nasty old plastic door today the piano would have fit through it.  Because of the frame that the old door left behind—and which would have been an expensive ratbag to replace—Atlas had to install the new door slightly, um, in.  Thus narrowing the entrance/egress part of the deal.  Which I’d never really registered.  My bad.  Uggggh.  Disaster narrowly averted.

§§ And if this blog is a little less coherent than usual, well, forgive me, it’s been a rough week. . . .

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.

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It's easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time, and the instrument will play by itself. -- Johann Sebastian Bach