The thing that amuses me is that that flowered paper on the far right appeared three times this birthday: people seem to think they know what I like. They would be right about this.
I was going to post birthday photos yesterday and then frelling Niall and his frelling handbells intervened. To put my tiny triumph into perspective, by the way, tonight at tower practise one of Forza’s good ringers was telling me excitedly that she’d rung her first full peal on twelve bells. In the tower, this is, so she was only ringing one bell, but she was standing up for three and a half hours to do it and it was some infernal surprise method—I don’t think anyone bothers to ring anything but Infernal Surprise on higher numbers of bells—so while I don’t think she rings handbells, and I did tell her about my quarter, it was still like telling someone who’s just earned a place in the Horse of the Year show that you won your walk-trot class at the local gymkhana.
Anyway. I wanted to get my NEW WATCH back from the jewellers before I posted photos: I needed about nineteen links taken out of the massive wristband* but I wanted the blog photo of it ON MY WRIST.
This is however slightly a lesson in ordering things on line. As soon as I discovered that pink gold [plate] and rhinestones were in in wristwatches I stopped looking at anything else. And as soon as I noticed this one had a day dial—I haven’t had a watch that told me the day of the week in decades, and I love having a watch that tells me what day it is: us stay at home free lancers can be seriously pathetic that way**—I knew this was the one. Also I love Roman numerals—Roman numerals and it tells me the day of the week?? And rhinestones? Be still my heart. I’ve never had anything half so fabulous.
And it is fabulous. It also weighs four ounces—a quarter of a frelling pound—and is nearly half an inch thick. I knew the face had to be big from the on line photo of everything that’s on it. I did not know wearing it would feel like having a pendant hellterror dangling from that wrist at all times, or that I couldn’t ring [tower] bells in it because it would hook the rope.*** I feel that someone somewhere along the design line absent-mindedly added a zero on the dimensions; and the giant-sized wristband is perfectly in keeping with the watch. It was originally made perhaps for the Brobdingnag market, where pink and rhinestones did not go over.
But it is definitely fabulous. And yes, those are rhinestones in the face as well as around the border: the border ones only look pink because they’re reflecting the pink gold.
You will now see me coming any time I have my sleeves pushed up.
Oh, and my favourite silly present from a friend:
In case I never find that blank needlework pillow I’m still covered. † This is one of the other things that arrived in that rose paper in the first photo. . . .††
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* This was part of my running-around day yesterday. I also did thrilling things like buy vitamins. And puppy toys. There’s a very high rate of attrition in the puppy toy category.^
^ Ignorant, naïve people say to me, she’s not a puppy any more, she’s a year old! Hollow laughter. Whippets (and perforce whippet crosses) and bull terriers are apparently notorious for being slow maturers, but are there any dogs out there who are actually ADULT at a year old? I’ve never met one. I’m not planning to panic about the lifestyle of the adult bull terrier for at least another nine months.+
+ There is a fifteen-month-old puppy having a swell time with a bit of disintegrating sofa cover right now. She has however earned it: she long downed for AN HOUR with only occasional interventions. I can even get out of my chair to pour myself another cup of peppermint tea without her immediately bouncing to her feet to follow me.# Usually. ##
# Because any excuse will do.
## And having spent 90% of that hour stiff with outrage/misery/disbelief/despair, despite the comfy nest of towels at my feet and the fact that all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, if obliged by circumstance she is quite a good sleeper . . . upon release she spent ten minutes racketing around the house like an extra-large rhinoceros in a china shop . . . and is now completely crashed out on my lap, which practically speaking is a lot less comfy than the towel nest.
** Handbells are quite a useful way of keeping track of the passage of the days however because of the texts from Niall.
*** If I wear it for ringing handbells my left arm will become twice as large and muscular as my right. I suppose I could swap wrists to a carefully balanced schedule.
† Whoever said I’d have trouble finding one . . . you’re right. WHY? There must be other people out there who’d like to choose their own Words to Live By.
†† Bratsche, I’ll post a photo of my dress TOMORROW.^
^ If I forget, nag me.
I’m a little . . . slow today. I almost never drink alcohol any more which means that when I do, um, the earth moves. So to speak. And I had three glasses of champagne last night: my LIMIT is two. Well it wasn’t my fault. Peter barely drinks any more either, so we asked for one glass of champagne and one empty glass, in which we would decant a few mouthfuls so that he could toast me*. They brought us two glasses of champagne and then made Peter’s complimentary when we explained they’d made a mistake. Well I couldn’t waste it, could I? The problem being that it was already there, and later on, when they came around and asked me if I wanted a second glass . . . the answer had to be yes, didn’t it?
This is why taxis were invented. It’s also why we only go out seriously about twice a year.
I realised the enormity of my peril tottering out to the taxi, which involves stairs down from the restaurant door.** So hellhounds got a rather brisker and more elaborate final hurtle than usual and I drank a double potful of peppermint tea. And I don’t have anything tacky and vulgar like a headache today but I am . . . a little slow. Although I nearly survived a touch of Stedman Triples on the two this afternoon. <geekspeak alert> I assumed we’d ring a plain course since I am even less safe on the two than the treble, and then frelling Frelling called a bob and I got through it and someone else went wrong. Fine, I thought, it’s Sunday service, if we try again this time it will be a plain course. NO. WRONG. And I got through two frelling affected bobs this time before . . . I came unglued making the bob and forgot to go in slow. RATBAGS. I ALMOST DID IT. But even almost, when you’re talking about a touch of Stedman Triples for service and especially the day after your birthday when you’re feeling a little slow . . . is worth celebrating.
Or that’s my version.
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* Only toasts in champagne really count. Even a good red wine is not an acceptable substitute^. Anything but champagne is like ringing a false quarter [peal]^^. Even if the method was flawlessly called and struck for the entire duration it doesn’t count and you don’t get to send it in to be published in THE RINGING WORLD.
^ Peter’s thing is big fat leathery Rhone wines, and when I still drank enough ever to be willing to waste a few alcoholic tokens on anything that wasn’t champagne I liked it too.
^^ You can ring a false peal but that doesn’t bear thinking about. A quarter is only forty five minutes or thereabouts which I think is quite long enough AND I WANT IT TO COUNT. A peal is three hours, frequently plus,+ and three-plus hours of intense concentration, not to mention the standing up and yanking on a rope part, and it doesn’t COUNT? I would totally take up bungie jumping after a disaster like that.
+ I’ve said this before: I don’t plan ever to attempt to ring a full peal: I haven’t got the stamina. Fortunately I don’t even want to. It’s funny though, one woman’s manifestation of madness is another woman’s achievement and satisfaction. I imagine there are a lot of peal ringers out there who would consider Street Pastoring a completely bonkers way of ruining your circadian rhythm.#
# The perils, speaking of perils, of being a Christian. I’ve also told you that at St Margaret’s evening service, communion is passed around. The priest starts the basket and the goblet at one end of the front row, and then that person turns and offers it to the next person, and so on. But you break the bread for and offer the goblet to your neighbour, and you say a few words—these tend to vary but I think everyone says something—as you do it. I don’t actually like this system; communion is SERIOUS~ and I want a professional in charge, not us kittle cattle. But the saying of a few words as you pass the wine is somewhat dependent on the bread having NOT instantly adhered to the roof of your mouth with a superglue-like tenacity.
Tonight it barnacled on like it was going for the Olympic gold in attachment.
Fortunately you’re not expected to mumble your words very loudly and of course I have a funny accent.
~ Although at least us Anglicans don’t have to believe in transubstantiation. Brrrrrrrr.
~~ Although there may be something in the trans-something theory because I have noticed that all bread used for the Eucharist takes on an uncanny genius for cleaving valiantly to the roof of your mouth—the Wonder bread squares of my generic Protestant childhood, the standard tasteless church wafers and the somewhat variable productions of St Margaret’s. I’m sure there’s an important theological point here.
** Aggravated by the ninety-seven yards of skirt on my dress and the fact that my lady shoes did, in fact, have teeny-weeny heels, although everything has heels if you wear All Stars all the rest of your life.
The dress with the extreme skirt is my favourite dress in the universe and I haven’t worn it in two years because . . . the moths got it. I won’t use standard laboratory-made toxic chemicals for anything if I can help it, partly for green reasons, partly because of the ME, and cedar oil does work against moths but you have to keep topping it up, and there are no balls in my life that I don’t take my eye off some time, and this includes the generously reapplying cedar oil to the animal fibres in the cottage attic ball. It’s still my favourite dress, however, even with moth holes, and I finally thought FRELL it, it’s pretty dim in the restaurant and if we pay the bill who cares if the old dame’s dress had moth holes? Very Ms. Havisham. So I wore it. And I was thinking, next time, Doc Martens and then it becomes a look, especially with my getting-on-toward-disintegration black leather jacket. I’ll have a thoughtful stare at my All Stars shelves but I think for this purpose I need proper stomping boots. I have some flowered Docs that I think might do the trick. . . .
I really need a night off.* So I thought I’d leave you with two Exciting Announcements and a few links.**
Peter’s IN THE PALACE OF THE KHANS has been nominated for the Carnegie long list:
And just in case you haven’t already bought your copy, here’s a reminder:
The ‘buy now’ takes you to amazon.uk but amazon.com and Barnes and Noble have it as well.
And SHADOWS is coming out in the UK:
EBook 5 December
Paperback 2 January
The cover will look pretty much the same and the blurby stuff has been rewritten but it’s still about Maggie and some very peculiar shadows. It should be available for pre-order by now.**
And if you wish to be encouraged, possibly inspired, but not to say hectored, pleeeeease read this:
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* You know there are several people out there who have offered guest posts and then disappeared. . . . Just thought this might be worth mentioning.
** You’ll have to look the link up yourselves. I don’t go near the Robin McKinley pages on amazon.
*** Or if you want to be reminded of my back catalogue you can read this:
I’m so glad it’s short Wednesday, I’m so tired I am in grave danger of falling off my chair.*
Also, I am in shock. Which is very tiring.
***MY BANK APOLOGISED.***
FURTHER TRUMPET FLOURISHES. IN FACT AN ENTIRE CONCERTO, INVOLVING SEVERAL ORGANS WITH FIFTY THOUSAND PIPES EACH AND A FEW OF THOSE HUGE JAPANESE TAIKO DRUMS THAT FEEL LIKE YOU’RE BEING PUNCHED IN THE CHEST WHEN SOMEONE THUMPS THEM.
It’s taken my bank nearly four months and they’ve still got both my name and my address wrong BUT NEVER MIND. THEY APOLOGISED. They’ve REFUNDED the substantial number and £££ of fines they charged me and have sent me copies of all the letters they wrote to all the people whose cheques bounced—including scary, credit-rating-ruining people like my credit card companies—saying it was THEIR FAULT. NOT MINE. THEIRS. THE BANK’S. THE BANK’S FAULT.
Good news. I can USE some good news.*** And I can continue to contemplate the goodness of this news tomorrow during the three and a half hours I am due to be in dentist from R’lyeh’s torture . . . I mean, chair. † I think you had better expect tomorrow night’s blog to be short too.††
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* It was a bell-ringing night, one of those nights when there were only six of us so all of us had to ring all evening. You know retired people may still have some BRAIN left by the end of the day. . . .
Also my beloved Celtic-knotwork-pattern-cover cushion is going—has gone—to pieces. There is no security in this insecure world where things wear out. I am sure I am much unsteadier in my chair in the mews kitchen with my chair cushion in SHREDS,^ whether or not I just spent an hour and a half on the end of a bell-rope.^^ And I’m totally failing to get my head around replacing it. There are gazillions of cushions out there.
^ It disintegrated all by itself, with no help from hellterrors whatsoever.
^^ One of the other ringers, whom I would have said I had never met before, stared at me for a minute and said, I know you. I rang a wedding with you at Ditherington last year. You’re the knitter.
** Pity they can’t make an itsy-bitsy further error, move the decimal place over six or seven or eight places to the right and make me wealthy.^ Then I could not only keep Third House I could build a conservatory off the sitting-room.^^ I suppose, having noticed one error, they might notice this one too. No, wait . . . I pointed their previous error out. I had to point it out. Hmm.
^ And for those helpful people telling me if I’d only write this or that book/sequel I’d immediately become wealthy . . . in the first place *&^%$£”!!!!!! and the frelling horse you frelling rode in on. In theory this blog nonsense—and the Twitter nonsense, and the Facebook nonsense, and the public email address nonsense—is so that public people can have some direct contact with their private readers/fans/supporters. And vice versa. Which seems to me to be mostly a good idea: we’re all human beings first and last. But shouldn’t there be some FAINT responsibility in that vice versa-ing, for paying attention? Which is to say HOW MANY RATBLASTED TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY I ONLY WRITE WHAT I AM GIVEN TO WRITE? I’D BE ON SUNSHINE SEVENTEEN AND DAMAR THIRTY-TWO BY NOW IF I COULD.
And in the second place . . . SUNSHINE and Damar didn’t make me wealthy the first time. There’s no reason to think that a second or a third or twenty-seventh book would do any better. Remember that for every GAME OF THRONES there are 1,000,000,000 series that only did well enough to bully the poor sweating author to keep trying.
. . . an autographed book sale? I’m sure that the hell-hounds and -terror would cooperate to place ‘official’ pawprints.
Sure. The minute I finish the last frelling doodle from the now-ancient-history Bell Fund. Siiiiiiigh. . . .
^^ Have I mentioned that one of the knock-on effects of letting Third House is that I won’t have the little summerhouse as a greenhouse this winter? I have therefore, with Atlas’ aid, brought the grow-light to the cottage and hung it from one of the big ceiling beams in the already-small sitting room, and in cold weather we will have to have handbells at Niall’s because my sitting room will be full of PLANTS.
*** There are way too many alligators in my immediate vicinity. As the saying goes.
† On Halloween.
†† And apropos of nothing at all, any of you folk on this side of the Atlantic have experience with Lovefilm vs. Netflix?
Last Street Pastors training weekend this weekend. What I hadn’t got around to telling you because THERE’S BEEN SO MUCH GOING ON is that my dog minder quit without warning a few weeks back.*
The first two SP training weekends had long Saturdays and Sundays—longer days than I wanted to leave the hellpack for. Pav is still a puppy and she has to be crated when I’m not there frelling SUPERVISING and being shut up in a crate all day is not the stimulation a manic hellterror needs—and We All Know about the hellhounds’ interesting intestinal challenges. I pulled out the training schedule for weekend three and discovered . . . Sunday ended early. Faint hope dawned. It was not ideal, but this meant I had only one day I absolutely had to make emergency arrangements for. . . .
I’ve told you Southdowner has family on the south coast, which is her excuse for coming through here to check on Pav occasionally.** And so I threw myself upon her mercy.*** Don’t you feel an OVERWHELMING URGE to visit your family the second Saturday in October? And then you could stop on the way and . . .
Southdowner, who I would bet money had no intention or desire to visit her family on the south coast the second Saturday in October, and whom I am planning to recommend for sainthood on the next intake†, said yes.
So that was Saturday sorted. But I thought I’d better check about the short Sunday. So Friday night while we were milling around waiting for everyone to show up, I asked Llewellyn about it. Oh no, he said, it’s only the training that stops early. After that there’s the commissioning service. What with one thing and another, that’ll be about two and a half hours. . . .
TWO AND A HALF HOURS?? THAT MEANS SUNDAY IS GOING TO BE LONGER THAN USUAL.
I fell down in a heap and gnawed on the carpet. Llewellyn looked at me in alarm. Well, if he decided I wasn’t suitable SP material anyway that would solve the problem, wouldn’t it?†† But he didn’t. We’re a small group of trainees this time. He probably didn’t feel he could afford to lose anyone.
Saturday was fine††† although I suspect Southdowner of supplementing Pav’s lunch a little since there was half a bag of dog food missing and Pav’s belly was dragging on the ground when I got home‡. Maxine, who has child minder problems, had also been looking forward to the short Sunday, and we had discussed what to do. The official consensus seemed to be that the commissioning service was first and it was chiefly social milling around and whatevering after‡‡, so we decided we’d do a runner as soon as the Holy Panjandrum had finished the panjandrumming. And I decided that I was going to tweak the hellcritter feeding schedule‡‡‡, grit my teeth, and hope for the best.
So this afternoon I had already grappled myself together and shot out to meet Maxine§ when Pooka chirruped. Text from Maxine: her car had died. She’d already left to fetch me and . . .
Waiting for the AA§§ or Someone Like Him.§§§ Loooooong. Paaaaaauuuuuuusssssse.
. . . her car is really dead. AAAAAAAAAAAUGH. Now what? A flurry of texts later—including to Llewellyn to tell him we were, at best, going to be late—and Eleanor, whom I am also nominating for sainthood, was climbing in her car to fetch Maxine and then pick me up.# Eleanor and her car has been my back-up plan from the beginning of training## and she’d already told me that she and her husband### and the other St Margaret’s Street Pastor, Jonas, were going to come to the commissioning to wave our local banner a little since we were on Lesser Disconcerting’s territory and they outnumbered us better than twice over.~
The hellpack got another hurtle while all this was going down, me stopping under trees in the still-pouring rain to answer and send more texts~~. Corey, bless her, swapped the training sessions so that Maxine and I missed the one that was less applicable to us~~~ and were there for the final ‘street craft’ session.
And then we were commissioned.&
. . . I’m a fully functional, qualified, signed, sealed and delivered Street Pastor, Llewellyn will give me my new team posting next week AND I’M TERRIFIED OUT OF MY TINY MIND.
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* I lost my previous dog minder by using her too little. I appear to have lost this one by using her too much. I’m considering never leaving home for more than four hours at a stretch^ ever again. It seems so much simpler.^^
^ Hellhounds have amazing ability for keeping their legs crossed when they’re not in digestive mayhem mode. It’s just you never know when digestive mayhem mode may return. I don’t know what Pav’s limits are or may eventually become since whatever they are they tend to be subsumed in worrying about hellhounds.
^^ All right, I’ll be gone for six or seven hours once a month SPing. But that is the middle of the night into the small and medium-sized hours, and the hellpack should be willing to sleep through it.
* I’m reasonably sure she doesn’t mind hanging around for knitting, chat, hurtling, monks and/or roast chicken^ but it’s not like I don’t know she comes for Pav.^^
^^ I also think Olivia gets on the phone to Southdowner and starts panicking. All right, all right, first bull terrier, steep learning curve, blah blah blah blah, we’re both still alive, okay? And so are the hellhounds and Peter. And the only scars are from tripping over her.
*** The thing is that both the hellhounds and Pav are . . . a bit of a handful, in their various ways. I’ve had a few, you know, ordinary friends offer to fill in, but I would fear for their sanity if not their lives.
† This Street Pastor gig ought to be good for something.
†† The training has been fascinating. Never mind the going out on the street part. The training has been FASCINATING.
††† The drawback to the fascinatingness of the training is that much of it is, inevitably, about various of the common ways people screw themselves up or are screwed up by others. Maxine reached her nadir of confidence about SPing with the paramedic last weekend. I reached mine Saturday afternoon with the presentation on child sexual abuse. SPs are only out there to provide lollipops and a listening ear, but the more we know about what we are or may be looking at and when to call the professionals the better.
‡ You may recall I’m supposed to be fattening her up so Southdowner can show her. I AM fattening her up. She’s four pounds heavier than I think she ought to be, which is a lot on something that is about the size of a large shoebox on legs.
‡‡ The whatevering included cake but maybe we could snag some on the way out the door.^
^ Note: yes.
‡‡‡ Which chiefly meant feeding Pav an ENORMOUS breakfast, running her around for optimum through-put, and giving her a minimal lunch. Hellhounds, eh, they’re only too happy to miss lunch entirely, and they don’t eat breakfast anyway. Also, Sunday training starts and runs later than Saturday training, which fits in the hellcritters’ cough-cough normal hurtle schedule better.
§ In the pouring rain. At least this means I don’t need to water the garden.
§§ Automobile Association. Not Alcoholics Anonymous.
§§§ Any other Firesign Theatre fans out there?
# Aside from any question of suggesting giving normal people a lift in Wolfgang, who is health-and-safety-alertingly full of dog hair, spare leads, spare harness, spare towels, a bottle of water and a bowl, emergency Pav-retrieving rations and so on, there’s the question of a normal person driving him, since going with Maxine started because I can’t do the commute and the training. Cars have come a long way in the seventeen or eighteen years since he was new.
## This was her offer, mind you, but I do keep reminding her that this is all her fault since it was her presentation at St Margaret’s about the Street Pastors that made me think, Oh! They take old ladies! She keeps trying to shift the blame to God.
### Who, when you ask him if he has any thought of becoming a Street Pastor, blanches violently before he says no.
~ Plus one random trainee from Smite-the-infidel, who has really been putting the miles on his car.
~~ Situations like today . . . I am totally on board with all this frelling modern technology.
~~~ We don’t SP schools—yet—which Lesser Disconcerting does. We will, though, if Jonas has his way.
& It was a pretty much a church service with extra bits in.