It’s raining again.
Pav is, of course, still in season.
Darkness is driving me bonkers.
Three is not the charm.
Diane in MN
Darkness is seriously lovelorn. Aaaaaaaaand has stopped eating altogether.
Darkness is not unique in this. Lovelorn boys frequently stop eating, so they can concentrate on the only and most wonderful girl in the world that you’ve hidden away somewhere.
Yes, I’ve met anguished canine swains before now, but they were not my problem. Also, NORMAL dogs NORMALLY eat, so if they hit a FOOD IS THE ENEMY patch they don’t go skeletal in forty-eight hours.
. . . I cannot imagine much worse than a bitch in heat . . . and two male dogs inside the house in a spell of rain and flooding. So the sympathy, and the awe that you are still sane dealing with it.
I AM NOT STILL SANE [she screamed]. NOT. Not only is Darkness not eating* but he’s started doing this little tremulous singing thing that makes me want to kill. him.
Diane in MN
Sometimes they start calling for their beloved.
AAAAAUGH. This noise doesn’t even sound like a dog. It sounds more like something hiding in the whooshing pine trees while Kes hides under the covers in her friend’s Adirondack cabin. Unfortunately I know that it is a dog. A dog that desperately wants to be TURNED INTO A HEARTHRUG. He also just whines, of course. I hate whining dogs.
(Sometimes she calls back. ::shudder::)
Well, Pav has occasional tantrums, but I think that’s about being locked up more than usual rather than about a woman wailing for her demon lover. So to, um, speak. But she’s not pushing at the boundaries of canine articulation the way (*&^%$££”!!!!!! Darkness is**. I’ve ordered the bitch pants, rather after the fact, but this is only the second week and while with the luck I haven’t been having much of lately things will start to calm down the third week, if the pants*** arrive promptly I’ll still give ’em a try.† It’s not like I don’t think I could stop anything happening before it finished happening—sometimes the size differential is your friend††—but I would expect the pants to muffle the effect somewhat, including [graphic description omitted because this is a family-friendly blog†††].
Meanwhile . . . I said it was RAINING? It’s hammering it down out there again now—as I know because I’ve just been ferrying [sic] my assortment of hellish creatures back to the cottage in it, because I have a few more management choices at the cottage. Hellterror has a brief sprint outside as a final opportunity for eliminatory functions; hellhounds expect a ten-minute to quarter-hour stroll around the churchyard. We are going to die.
We actually had a few hours of that random and not-entirely-persuasive phenomenon, sunlight, again earlier. I took Peter to the farmer’s market and the hellhounds and I went on into Mauncester for a city walk. Golly. Egmont Street, pretty much at the bottom of the river valley, is sandbagged: everybody’s gates and doorjambs are barricaded. The river’s exploded its banks and sprawled across the road; people in wellies briskly step over the sandbags at the doors and go about their business. The river footpath that has been officially closed for some time now—that I have reported previously people are walking on anyway, self and hellhounds included, and splashing through the places where the river has climbed up to play with us—is now genuinely closed: the footpath is a frelling millrace, and I am not exaggerating: white water rafting at your doorstep. You can’t even get to the red dedicated-dog-crap bin; you have to go on to the next one.
And, speaking of dog crap. . . . If I don’t post tomorrow it’s because we never got back from the churchyard tonight. . . . ‡
* * *
* We had a brief exciting moment at lunch when, the hellgoddess having stuffed the first two mouthfuls down each of them, Darkness ate the last two by himself.^ And therefore Chaos refused his, because we can’t have two hellhounds eating at the same time.
^ A four-mouthful lunch. Yes. We’re pretty much on starvation rations because as previously observed there’s a LIMIT to the amount of force feeding I’m willing to do. If B_twin were here this week she might think about it a little longer before she said she’d seen skinnier dogs.
** I’ve tried singing (*&^%$££”!!!!!! Daaaaaarkness but it’s a little . . . screechy.
*** I went for their best-selling black with pink spots. You did click through on that link the other night, didn’t you?
† And there’s always next time.^ Yes I’ve thought of stowing her up at Third House but by next time that option shouldn’t be available . . . and I don’t actually like leaving a dog all by herself for long, especially one who isn’t used to it—especially one, furthermore, who is already being stressed out by her hormones—dogs are pack animals and some of the other three or four of us are pretty much always around in Pav’s life. Also she has a rather majestic bark for something that weighs thirty pounds and I don’t want her making any unfortunate impressions on Third House’s neighbours.
But I’m certainly going to have to come up with A Plan. But not until after the current epic is over: I have no brain. I’m as strung out as frelling Darkness.^^
^ I know I look like a clueless wonder not to have expected something like this . . . but dogs and bitches vary. Sighthounds are often just not very engaged, as I have said, with things of the flesh, and the hellhounds’ attitude toward food might have led me to false hopes. And I know dog people who have both genders entire in the same household and hair does not turn white overnight and nobody sleeps in a dustbin+. Of my three Darkness is the problem. Pav is such a trollop anyway I can’t see a lot of difference, and when she protests her incarceration she just sounds CRANKY. Chaos is certainly interested, and I wouldn’t leave him and Pav alone together (!!!!!!!!!!) but he’s not ruining anyone’s life over it. Darkness is. Mine.
+ That would be the human in supposed charge. A well-padded dustbin with a soundproofed lid.
^^ Although I’m a little curious about the mechanism in my case. Is it just that the situation is MY PROBLEM? Am I picking up their stress level? Are the pheromones—and to my dull human nose Pav only smells a little more strongly like she always does+—winding me up in an unconscious UH OH TROUBLE way? I would have thought excited mammalian hormones might have a generalised effect.
+ which just by the way isn’t much like the standard dog smell. Maybe bullies are a different species.#
# Known, however, unfortunately, to breed successfully with dogs.
†† Diane in MN
Mind you, she’d have to stand on the sofa.
Maybe not. Two minds with but a single thought can perform surprising feats of cooperation, alas.
True. I’m sure there are dachshund/Mastiff crosses out there. But one has also seen, for example, a pony stallion giving his all between the tall thoroughbred mare’s thighs, and not where it’s going to do the job. The point is that there is a sofa here, and I don’t want my reprobates figuring it out.
††† Although I was very impressed at the woman who tweeted me that she and her eight year old had enjoyed the Oatmeal link I posted the other night.
‡ I know, tomorrow is KES night, but you can’t murder me if I’ve been washed away now can you?
YAAAAAAH. The balance of household horror has shifted: the hellterror’s Swollen Bits have become less engorged and appear to be giving her less discomfort . . . but they have become ominously spongy and by the ratcheting up of the hellhounds’ concentration I would say The Time Is Now. She’s easy—so to speak—she’s always been a shameless flirt** and now that she no longer wants to rip off the offending personal protuberance she seems to have reverted to her usual attitude which includes assuming there is the customary fun to be had caroming about the place and bouncing off hellhounds and furniture and why won’t I let her pursue this splendid and familiar course?? Furthermore Darkness, long proof against hellterror charms, is finally falling into line and I WON’T LET HER PLAY WITH HIM? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?? A powerful aversion to the prospect of puppies is what’s wrong with me. Chaos is still fairly la-la-la about the whole situation—Chaos, as previously observed, is chiefly interested in Chaos***—but Darkness is seriously lovelorn. Aaaaaaaaand has stopped eating altogether.†
AND IT’S RAINING. And raining and raining and raining AND RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINING and rainingandrainingandrainingandrainingandraining and. . . . Okay, it has been raining (and raining and raining) but I have MOSTLY been able to bolt out during brief cessations of the wet stuff whomping down from the scary-looking overhead and get my assortment of furry disasters hurtled. I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve been mostly keeping (feeble) control of The Situation by making sure everyone is well hurtled,†† especially the hellterror, because she doesn’t get to riot around indoors as much as she’s used to. Today I haven’t been able to get the multitudes out nearly enough. YAAAAAAAAAAH.††† Furthermore Pav’s even worse than the hellhounds about rain—come on you little madam, you’ve got fur dense as Goretex††† you are not going to melt—and there gets to be a limit to how far you’re willing to drag a four-legged breeze block that is causing further crater-like potholes with every resentful, resistant step. She’d far rather go back indoors and RUN AROUND WITH THE HELLHOUNDS. NOOOOOOOOOOOO.
Tomorrow has to be better. Although the flood warnings are proliferating and getting closer and closer and closer and closer and we have a fresh prediction of gales tonight . . . .
* * *
* Whose idea was rain?^
^ God, you ratbag. Don’t you know about subsurface irrigation systems?+
+ You ought to. Presumably you invented them.
** Motto: ‘whatever it is, flaunt it’
*** The reason he’s so stuck on me is because I am the Source of All Good Things as well as a few bad ones that he’s always trying to talk me out of. Eating, for example.
† My hands are frelling chapped from the need to wash them thoroughly after each mouthful I stuff down a hellhound throat. I only do one mouthful per hellhound at a time and go away—sometimes they eventually get bored and finish on their own. But this makes for a lot of hand-washing. Sigh.
†† As a result I’m a lot more thoroughly hurtled than seems to me at all necessary, especially when I’m a little dubious in the rude health department^ to begin with. I tell myself that the more superfluous calories I burn off tottering after critters the more chocolate I can eat.
^ Rude, yes. Health, no.
††† It’s funny, although with little ha-ha-ing to be had from it, we’re actually not that far off the standard daily hours of hurtling. But there’s something very claustrophobic about the continuous thudding of the rain on the roof and the streaming of water down the windows and a louring grey sky so very low that you feel if you stretched your arm over your head you could poke a hole in it with your finger^. Maybe it’s just watching the flood warnings creeping nearer and nearer—Warm Upford is already under water, for example, where we used to live—and wondering if the dog-food and chocolate delivery lorries are going to be able to keep to schedule.
^ Thus no doubt releasing a bruising cascade of additional rain
‡ AND FRELLING FRELLING FRELL DOES SHE SHED. She sheds significantly more than both hellhounds together. Wash hellhound blankets: clean washing machine filter after. Wash hellterror blanket: pry open filter door^ wearing your flak jacket and shatterproof goggles and stand back.
^ I have raved here previously about the design idiocy involved but at least there is a filter: most average UK-available washing machines don’t have them.
Radio Three’s Live from the Met[ropolitan Opera] series has semi-migrated this season. Sometimes it happens on Saturday as it always has, and which I admit is no longer ideal because I’m at the monks’ for most of it; but sometimes it happens on Monday. I am not in favour of the Metrofrellingitan Opera hammering me on a Monday. I have my dinglefarbing voice lesson on Mondays. I am feeling fragile on Monday evenings* when it comes on, if it’s a Met Monday night. It was tonight. And it was Madama Butterfly, for pity’s sake, one of the hugest soprano roles in the flapdoodling repertoire.** I’ve decided to devote the rest of my life to collecting pieces of string too short to save.
I went in to Nadia today saying, I am having a crisis. As crises go it is not an important crisis and since I have no intention of giving up singing it’s not really a crisis at all but I listened to my recording of last week’s lesson and TELL ME WHY I AM BOTHERING.
She said, I wondered if I should let you tape last week. You have a lot going on in your life right now and it’s sitting on your voice. Yes, you have tuning problems, and you have a habit of going flat when you’re under stress, that’s you holding on. You’ll get over this. That’s why you’re bothering. (Also, you love to sing.) And right now? Don’t obsess. It’s the SITUATION. It’s not YOU and it’s NOT YOUR VOICE. Sing. Keep singing. Um, try to enjoy it?
I stared at her, wondering how much I was going to risk believing. Okay, I said. But . . . how do you STAND it? I sound dreadful.
Only to you, she said. Yes, you’re flat a lot of the time. Yes, you sound worse than you did two months ago. But I can hear a lot more than you can hear. I can hear what’s underneath what’s weighing on you right now.
. . . Okay. Just to be going on with, I’m going to believe her. . . .***
* * *
* Fragile isn’t really the right word. ‘First cousin to chopped liver’ might be closer. It astounds me that I used to go bell ringing regularly on Monday nights, after Nadia. I have thought that it was a sign that either the ME or old age was creeping up on me that I can’t any more but I think in truth it’s that I’m investing more in my voice lessons. I’m not becoming a great singer, but something is sure getting winkled out of hiding and integrated with the rest of me. This is a tiring process.
** I’m a late convert to Puccini. I’ve always liked Boheme, but I was also always a little cranky about what seemed to me the bogus gloss of verismo, and yes, I know, Puccini gets on the list of verismo opera composers, it’s what he does.^ But stick to the tragic love story and let the poor starving artists thing be a little background colour, okay? You can still bump Mimi off. Violetta dies of consumption too and no one has ever accused La Traviata of being verismo.
But I failed to warm to Butterfly. The ugly American aspect got on my nerves and Pinkerton bringing his wife along on his US Navy warship is a piece of suspension of disbelief I am incapable of.^^ And I always found Butterfly herself way too much of a blunt instrument for thwacking the audience into Tragic Mode. ALL RIGHT. I GET IT. NOW BACK OFF. I also heard Butterfly the first thirty times or so with Renata Scotto singing it and—sue me—I’ve never liked her voice.
I’m not sure what happened. But ten or fifteen or twenty years ago—it was in England but at the old house—Un bel di, that old war horse among old war horses, Butterfly’s most famous aria and one of the most famous tunes in opera^^^, came on Radio Three and it stopped me dead in my tracks. Oh. I can’t even remember who was singing it. (Not Renata Scotto.) But . . . oh.
The problem with having come round to Butterfly, however, is that the opera really is that emotionally manipulative and if you go along with it you squirt out the other end and fall with a splat like the last squeeze in an old tube of toothpaste.
^ Uh huh. Now let’s talk about Turandot+ and ::PET PEEVE ALERT:: the homicidal fairy-tale princess who kills a lot of guys but is INSTANTLY CONVERTED TO SWEET FEMININITY BY TRUE LOVE’S KISS and everybody lives happily ever after, except, of course, all the dead guys, including the slave girl she tortured to death because the princess is a bad loser. No amount of fabulous music can save this libretto and Puccini loses a lot of points for trying.++
+ And Tosca? Verismo? Please. A famous opera singer, her famous painter lover who is doing well enough to own a villa and the sociopathic chief of police. And all of these people eat, wash, sleep and dress well. It’s a melodrama.#
# I admit I can’t actually think of many operas I’m willing to call verismo. Carmen, certainly. Cavalieri Rusticana, which kind of started it all. Maybe Pagliacci, which CR is often paired with. Um . . . ~ But opera doesn’t lend itself to realism (say I), it’s not what it’s for. Melodrama is what it’s for. All these ridiculous people bursting into song all over the shop. It’s a tough job for realism.
~ McKinley, stop thinking. You have to go to bed.
++ And that it killed him is no excuse.
^^ Do your frelling homework. Show me a maker-up-of-things, and I’m assuming it’s as true for painters and sculptors and performance artists as it is for writers, and I’ll show you someone who has got it wrong in public in ways that, if they are prone to insomnia, keep them awake at night.+ But at least check the obvious stuff, okay?++ Cheez.
+ Ask me how I know this.
++ Illustrators who blithely draw dogs and horses and haven’t bothered to make sure they know where the joints in their legs are should be . . . made to hose down kennels and muck out stalls and hang out with the occupants of each till they learn better. There’s always a shortage of critter-care staff. So these pinheads could be contributing to society while they de-embarrass themselves. Call it a work-study programme.
^^^ And I’m sure it’s been used to sell loo rolls and coffee grinders and lawn mowers.
*** And while I was mostly still flat—and it’s not like I don’t know I have tuning problems, especially when I’m upset about something or feel overfaced by what I’m trying to learn to sing, BUT TAPING MY LAST TWO LESSONS HAS BEEN REVELATORY AND NOT IN A GOOD WAY—Nadia had a very good go today at releasing some of the seethe that’s going on under the lid I’ve involuntarily slammed over myself: by the end of the lesson I was making my own ears ring.^
My warm-up exercises hadn’t started off too well and Nadia stopped, looked thoughtful, and said, what’s your favourite swearword?
Um, I said. *&^%.
Okay, she said. You’re going to sing *&^% on a descending scale. Go.
*&^% *&^% *&^% *&^% *&^% *&^% *&^% *&^% /!!!!!!! I sang.
Excellent, said Nadia. Now let’s try a song.
^ I didn’t tape it today. . . .
I realise this is the second Pav the Heroine story in three days*, but sometimes it happens like that. Also it’s to do with her age**: she’s starting to become a little more reliable about stuff—a LITTLE—or a little more responsive to me as mistress of the known universe or at least the corner that concerns HER and so I’m . . . frelling risking it a little more because life is short and being in a constant state of readiness for the worst is time-consuming and dead boring—and expecting the worst eventually becomes depressing. Six months ago I’d’ve probably gone back and picked her up and carried her past the World Order Threatening Grey Balloons because I wouldn’t have thought my chances of persuading her to come on her own recognizance were worth the time and the likelihood of failure.
When I’m letting her out the front door at the mews to have a pee I don’t bother to put her harness and lead on any more; she likes indoors, indoors has hellhounds and fooooood and toys*** and she’s happy to come in again. I do look around before I let her out, in case of innocent neighbours, exciting delivery vehicles, etc.
This afternoon I looked out. Nothing. I opened the door and a small furry torpedo shot past me . . .
At the moment that two large, off lead Labradors† wandered across the open archway into the mews.
Pav of course instantly set off toward the archway, head and tail up, at full prance. I am not a fluent reader of dog body language, but I would have said she was not expecting trouble but was not going to cringe away from it if it addressed her.
And I’m out there in just my shirt and jeans, because we’re only out for a minute. I carry a little plastic bag of emergency kibble and Thrilling Canine Treats††† in my raincoat [sic] pocket. Not in my jeans.‡
Pav! I call. And I can hear the panic in my voice. If I can, she can too.
One of the Labs notices us. It stops. It raises its tail to the ‘alert’ position. Noooooooooo.
Pav! I shout. Sit! —All you dog people will know this. You have a much greater chance of your escaping hellcritter sitting than turning around, away from the thing it is going toward, and coming back to you, if you foolhardily attempt a recall. If it sits, you can saunter gently up to it, you hope, and GRAB IT.
Pav keeps going. The Lab’s tail goes up another notch or two. I’m already seeing the headlines in the local newspaper: American Woman and Her Ten Stone‡‡ Rabid Pit Bull Attack Perfectly Behaved, Kind to Its Mother Local Labrador. ‡‡‡
PAV! I shriek for the third time.§ SIT!!!
And . . . she stops. She looks over her shoulder at me. She TURNS AROUND, trots back TOWARD ME and SITS. Wagging her tail.
Gibble. Gibble gibble gibble gibble gibble.
* * *
* It’s actually the third Pav the Heroine story in three days but I can’t think how to tell the third one on a public blog. Let’s just say that she was uncharacteristically polite to someone it was extremely advisable, not to say critical, that she be polite to.
** Hellhounds were a little over a year old when I started this blog. Gah. How time flies whether you’re having fun or not, as a friend recently said. However hellhounds have just eaten their dinner immediately and with no fuss at all so the world is bright for the next several hours till I have to feed them supper. Sigh. I’m sure some of my insomniac problems are a result of the throbbing blood-pressure headaches attendant on non-supper-eating hellhounds but I need that third meal for the opportunity to tamp a little more food into them and breakfast is spectacularly a lost cause. I might never get out of bed at all if the prospect included feeding hellhounds breakfast.^ It’s funny, sort of, that they’re so jealous of anything the hellterror is getting that they think they aren’t getting—they don’t want to eat it, you understand, just that they don’t think she should be allowed to eat it either—except at breakfast. At breakfast—and Pav roars out her crate I HAVEN’T EATEN ANYTHING IN OVER SIX HOURS. I’M STARVING TO DEATH. WHERE’S BREAKFAST?—you can see hellhounds turning away and delicately pressing metaphorical handkerchiefs to their noses in a gesture that would not disgrace the Duke of Avon.
^ Although since I take Astarte—with her Kindle app, and a live credit card registered on amazon—to bed with me, who needs to get up?
*** This category includes Peter
† Mrs Redboots
I think bulldozer-headed Labrafrellingdors are a Race Apart. Just not far enough.
Noooooooo – they’re LOVELY! Best dogs in the universe! Intelligent, obedient, loving…. what’s not to like?
Well, I’m not going to agree that they’re the best dogs in the universe, but you mistake me. I’m not damning all Labs, just the huge stupid—um, bulldozer-headed—ones which invariably belong to people who don’t have a clue or they’d have bought a real Lab. The old-fashioned working-style Labs are still around and while occasionally they too are rowdy fractious pains in the patootie, generally the old-fashioned ones have manners because they belong to people who teach their dogs manners. I’ve even known one or two this-kind of Lab I’d have been happy to have stretched out on my sofa.
But I think it’s true I’m more drawn to the hard-graft dogs. Neither sighthounds nor bull terriers are terribly interested in the finer points of the human ideas of training. If I were going to get a super-trainable dog it would probably still be a border collie . . . because I like the manic.^ Gun dog breeds tend to be the exact opposite of manic. You don’t see many Labs who’ve been taught to dance. . . . Although Pav’s latest somewhat-on-command trick is standing on her hind legs and she’s good enough at it she could probably learn to dance if I put the time (and the fooooooood) into it.
^ Possibly not all border collies are manic. All the ones I’ve known are, however, including the ones who can speak seven languages and have advanced degrees in quantum physics.
†† These dogs are a *&^%$£”!!!!! sore point. They belong to regular visitors—a bit like me, then—and while they aren’t exactly thrown out and left to their own devices, their people don’t stand there and watch them the way I do mine. And when there is unpicked up dog crap in the mews courtyard, it is not my dogs who are responsible. Or I who am irresponsible.
††† None of which work on the hellhounds. Just by the way.
‡ Clearly I should start carrying Emergency Hellterror Retrieval Rations in my jeans pocket too.
‡‡ A stone is fourteen pounds. I have no idea why. Pav, who is a mini bull terrier, not a pit bull, weighs a little over two stone.
‡‡‡ Who never ever craps in inappropriate places. Its people are not included in the attack, by the way, because they are nowhere around.
§ ‘Never repeat a command. You are teaching your dog to ignore you.’
MY EMAIL IS DEAD*. AND I WANT MY SERVER’S GUTS ON A PLATE.**
I had an email a few days ago from my host or whatever the arglebargle jerkface, saying that my email was migrating. Quack quack quack or similar. I had no idea that email was of a nomadic bent. And that when this process was complete and it was contentedly nest-building in its new neighbourhood I was going to have to mrffjjjx darblefhha gormblad, being extra-careful with the tuvuprk so that it doesn’t hipplycritz. I leaped back with a cry as if I’d been burnt, and forwarded this dreadful memorandum to Raphael. Who replied laconically that he would come out and reconfigure, and that he’d bring restraints for the tuvuprk , which was prone to bolting.
Migration was supposed to occur on Monday. How was I supposed to know if it’s happened or not? My email continued to behave as normal, which is to say as if possessed by demons, but no better or worse than it ever does.
Raphael came today on the assumption that my email must have moved into its new home by now and was ready for him to hang the pictures on the walls and fix the leaky tap and the sticky door.
Nope. Still migrating. Maybe it has a lot of boxes of books.
So he can’t reconfigure. And therefore he took his departure*** and I went about my (slow†) business
This evening, firing up the laptop for the first time since about an hour after Raphael left . . . MY EMAIL IS DEAD. I sent a suitably outraged text to Raphael who rang me from home, trying not to laugh, but it’s so dead he can’t talk me through a patch.
He’s coming again tomorrow, poor man. The hellterror will be delighted.
* * *
* So is the dishwasher.^ This is a CALAMITY. Peter, while admirably domestic in theory, and goes through the motions beautifully, belongs to that quaint British philosophy which holds that most household chores are performed for their ritual function, in which gesture, posture and the type and quality of your ceremonial objects are the crucial aspects, and hygiene has nothing to do with it.^^ AAAAAAAAAUGH.^^^
^ I mean the electric appliance. Calm down.
^^ Yes. British. Sue me. We have slobs in America—lots of slobs, in fact—but this business of faithfully and energetically applying the dish mop# to no discernable effect is British.
# That’s part of the problem right there. Dish mop?
^^^ Also something previously living has taken its final departure from this mortal coil somewhere rather too nearby and we have the invasion of big fat bluebottle flies at the mews to prove it. Yuck.# The only thing to be said for having them in the middle of winter is that they’re really slow and you can just about whap them out of the air, should you want to, and not bother waiting for them to light somewhere. I HAVE THREE DOGS AND NOT ONE OF THEM IS INTERESTED IN CATCHING FLIES. It’s not a rabbit, say the hellhounds. It’s not a hedgehog. IT’S TOO HIGH UP, says the hellterror, whose pogosticking is not an exact science.##
# Peter, at the far end of the mews, which is very nice for those of us who sing a lot louder than we used to and don’t want to be heard by the neighbours, is slap up against farmland, and the farmer in this case is a slob, speaking of slobs. Peter’s too nice to take her to court. He could.
## I think I’ve told you—? the story of one of Peter’s in laws ringing us up in a panic, many years ago now, while we were still at the old house, because she was having a sudden invasion of bluebottles and was assuming The World Was Ending? I happened to answer the phone. Nah, I said, it’s just that something’s died in your vicinity. If you have any closed-up chimneys or similar—especially if there’s a funny smell—it’s worth trying to find and dispose of it. If not, buy an extra fly swatter and hunker down. It’ll be over pretty soon—a few days, a week. Oh thank you, she said. I knew you’d know.
** Yes, Peter is still alive and breathing and his body parts remain in conformance to the standard arrangement. Although he went to his Wednesday bridge club today and confessed when he came home that he had faded badly by the end. You had a stroke a month ago. Lighten up.^
^ I’m still not in a very good mood. I’m being vouchsafed the honour of giving him a ride home from town tomorrow morning+ because he has to climb up the long hill to my end of town. I’ll get the palanquin dusted off.++
+ Sic. Late morning.
++ Hey. We have four bearers. Two hellhounds, a hellterror, and me. I admit the height differential is tricky#, but we’ll figure something out.
# Not to mention hellterror directional control
*** After a brief frustrating conversation about Android tablets, because the tablet-sized homeopathic software I want is only on Android. Fie.^
^ And while Astarte is a wonderful machine in many ways+, even Raphael has never managed to make her play nicely with PC-based email. Speaking of frelling email.
+ I am presently reading another cheap ebook that I again bought for the author’s name when it appeared in one of the weekly Kindle come-ons and . . . . arrrrrrgh. FOR PITY’S SAKE GET ON WITH IT. It’s alternate history and they want you to know they have DONE THEIR HOMEWORK. If this were hard copy I’d’ve thrown it across the room by now. As it is the skimming swipe-finger is so seductive I may even finish it. If reading one page in five counts as finishing.
† I’m due to go Street Pastoring this Friday and I’m going. ME, are you listening? You can knock me around two more days. Friday night I have plans.