I bought nine roses last week.* AND I PLANTED THE LAST TWO OF THEM TODAY. It’s only been a WEEK.** And I’ve already got ALL OF THEM them in the ground.*** Are you impressed? Trust me, you should be impressed.
So I thought I’d give myself a Slightly Short Blog Day to celebrate.† And maybe I’ll do a little work. Or go to bed early.†† Or something.
* * *
* Hey. I need more roses.
** I can’t remember if I told you this story or not^. I’d ordered from a rose nursery that isn’t impossibly far from here and said I would pick them up. When they rang me that my roses were ready I suggested to Peter that he come too and we’d go on afterward to the big public garden nearby and have a wander. So that’s what we did. Except that by the time we got to the big public garden . . . we were too tired.^^ So we didn’t walk around it. Ho hum. Life in the Slow Lane. But I did get my roses.
^ And the Footnote Labyrinth makes trying to look back and check somewhat challenging.
^^ In my case all that frelling driving was aggravated by a long conversation I had with one of the rose-nursery proprietors about, how surprising, roses. She was full of embarrassing information I should have known.+ I have, for example, never had any luck with the symbiotic fungus stuff that you put in the hole when you plant your rose, and it colonises the roots which then develop like crazy in all directions and your rose is very, very happy. Except it didn’t and it wasn’t. I thought it was another fashionable scam. Nobody told me that root fungi don’t like blood-fish-and-bone which is the traditional rose and general perennial shrub food. You ALWAYS put BFB in the hole you’re planting a rose in. Not when you’re using mycorrhizal fungi. Oh. –So I bought some more of the frelling stuff and have used it. Except I’ve only used about half the packet and it only keeps for about a year and it’s stupidly expensive, you wouldn’t want to waste it nooooooooooo. . . . .
+ Although we did a little mutual howling about people who don’t get it that roses are, you know, living things. I told her a story I know I’ve told you, from when we were still at the old house and opened our garden on the National Gardens Scheme. I had someone at least once every open day saying, your roses are amazing, how do you get your roses to be so amazing? My roses are barely struggling along. And I would say, well, what do you feed them? And they would look at me blankly and say, Feed them? FOR PITY’S SAKE, GUYS. HOW DO YOU THINK ROSES PRODUCE ALL THOSE FLOWERS? MAGIC? How can anyone look at a modern, repeat-flowering rose, frelling bowed down by the weight of its flowers, not least because it’s been overbred for flower production at the expense of everything else like leaves and stems and good health, and not realise it’s going to need a little more help than scratching a hole in the ground and plonking it in?? That’s like buying a racehorse and feeding it straw. GOOD GRIEF.
*** Well. Mostly not in the ground. Not in the All the Plumbing in Hampshire cottage garden. Most of them are in pots. I suspect I have rather good drainage, between the builder’s rubble and all the plumbing in Hampshire, but most roses that aren’t major thugs, in this garden, do better in pots, possibly just because they don’t have to fight off the thugs. But I lost a few this wet winter that I don’t think I should have lost so . . . more pots. A few of the new intake are in pots smaller than they’ll stay in forever . . . but they’ll do for a year or two. Or three. Just keep feeding them.
† Also because I took Peter to the ex-library again today and we battered our way through all the other media and went and hung out in the small dark corner where the books now live. I found a little trove of knitting books . . . and then read one of Peter’s thrillers over tea. During which I absent-mindedly ate a Very Nasty gluten-free pistachio cookie. I think I object to a book so absorbing that you can eat nasty food without noticing till it’s too late. That’s the problem with thrillers: they make you forsake all rationality and keep turning pages.
And then I went bell ringing at Crabbiton for the second week in a row. I haven’t been ringing, I’m too tired, and the idea of facing eighty-six bells and a ringing chamber the size of a ballroom at Forza is too much for me. Crabbiton has six bells, and a pretty laid-back and low-level band, and I found out by accident that Wild Robert has started teaching there pretty regularly again. So I went along last week and made bob minor possible—they generally only have four inside ringers, and bob minor requires five—and so this week they were really glad to see me. It’s a hoot being one of the big kids. Although Felicity had to go and wreck my feeble glow of self-satisfaction by inquiring if I wouldn’t like to make up the number at Madhatterington on Mothering Sunday. Nooooooooooooo.
So . . . after all this febrile self indulgence . . . work would be good.
†† No! No! Not that!
GREAT BIG FAT HAIRY DROOLING WE-INTERRUPT-OUR-REGULARLY-SCHEDULED-PROGRAMME-TO-BRING-YOU-THIS-IMPORTANT-ANNOUNCEMENT NEWS
Tra la la la la la la . . .
I’m going to be Guest of Honor at Boskone next year.
Boskone, I hear some of you saying? I think it’s one of the oldest and most regularly annual of the (American) SF&F conventions* but I’m afraid I don’t pay any more attention to the fan-run end of the book world than I do to the professional publisher end** so I could be wrong. But it was my first big SF&F con, back when BEAUTY was new, and I was living next door in Boston. I attended sporadically for some years before I got kind of burnt out about the public-author thing generally*** but I’ve retained a soft spot for Boskone.
I had an email from next year’s chairperson about a fortnight ago inviting me to be next year’s GOH and I thought BOSKONE? I WOULD LOVE TO BE GUEST OF HONOR AT BOSKONE . . . and have since been in agonies not so much of indecision but of trying to figure out what the frell I could do about the hellpack if I said yes.† Pav isn’t a problem; given the basic facts of bull terriers she’s, you know, normal. The hellhounds, now. . . .
But a friend dropped round for a cup of tea this afternoon and in the process of trying to force said hellhounds to eat their lunch I found myself moaning to her about the situation. She, having extracted the salient facts that (a) YES I WOULD LIKE TO BE GOH AT BOSKONE NEXT YEAR and (b) no I haven’t been anywhere in the last seven years because I have these bizarrely-constituted hellhounds†† . . . said, FOR PITY’S SAKE SAY YES. GO. GO. You’ve got a year: we’ll figure something out.†††
So I said yes. ::Beams::
I asked the chair to let me know when they announced it so I could time it to go up more or less simultaneously on this blog. That was about seven hours ago and she answered by return electron that they were going to be putting it up on NESFA’s web site by the end of the day and I could go ahead as soon as I liked. I don’t think it’s up yet—although as I say Google does not love me—I’ll add a link when it does.
BUT HERE’S YOUR OPPORTUNITY. SEE AND HEAR MCKINLEY LIVE IN PERSON. Although you want to remember that I’ll be sixty-two by next February, so don’t expect much: I’m old, wizened and EVEN CRANKIER THAN YOU REALIZE. But I’ll be there. Smiling in a dangerous manner.
BE THERE OR BE SQUARE.
* * *
* Here’s Wiki’s stub about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boskone The New England Science Fiction Association has a web site but it’s kind of full of this year’s Boskone at the moment, which is only just over and also, I am stupid, and Google doesn’t love me.
** That sound you hear is Merrilee banging her head against a wall
*** That sound you hear is Merrilee banging her head against a wall harder
† I’ve spent a fair portion of the last fortnight making phone calls toward this end.
†† Remember that in my life this isn’t as appalling as it sounds. I like staying home and hurtling and ringing bells and planting rose-bushes and so on. But it would be nice to go back to America SOME TIME and not be a foreigner the minute I open my mouth^, and while day to day I don’t think about it, and year to year the idea of author touring is about as appealing as going into battle in your nightgown^^ . . . the invitation from Boskone made me fall over the edge immediately.
^ Except that I will be because while my accent hasn’t drifted east much my usage sure has
^^ Now I wonder why that image occurs to me
††† Peter said exactly the same thing, only faster. And his kids will keep an eye on him in my absence.
In theory I’m supposed to be Street Pastoring tomorrow but . . . I doubt it. Increasing amounts of Hampshire are under water and we’re due to have not only more torrential rain tomorrow but possibly the worst gales yet. Even uni students, one hopes, will have the sense to stay home. They may not have a choice: most of the campus is a lake. I’ve already told Fearless Leader that if the driving looks iffy I’m not coming, and there have been various emails among the team about who can and can’t get out through the current floods; not everyone can; and it’ll be worse by tomorrow night.
Another of the big old trees—that used to be part of the fancy drive to the Big Pink Blot and are now a strip of parkland running beside the main road through New Arcadia—went over in the latest windstorm. That’s three this winter. It’s a longish strip but it’s not that long; the gaps show. There have been big branches down too, making more gaps, including in the old wall where they struck. But the ground the trees are standing in has become marsh. One of the short leg-stretch-and-a-pee hurtles from the mews is down one side of the trees, next to the old park wall, and back on the pedestrian pavement next to the road. We stay on the pavement lately; even Pav, the smallest and lightest of us, squelches; and some great hulking human like me, and with only two feet to spread the weight, forget it, I need a diving bell. Hellcritters are willing to venture onto the quaking bog in pursuit of smells; but they tend to prance back to me and the pavement shaking their feet and looking disgusted. I wouldn’t have expected a hellterror to care about mud and while the hellhounds with their longer legs have a more impressive prance, Pav’s message is the same: ugggh.
If it doesn’t dry out soonish—which it shows no sign of doing—the trees are going to rot where they stand, and then they’ll all come down. The civic daffodils are trying to come up—it rather amazes me they’ve got this far—but a lot of them are blind.
Hellhounds and I went down to look at the river today. The river path has been impassable for a while and we’d already stopped going there as often as we used to because I’d got very very tired of being mugged by off lead idiots. I mean their dogs. But your average off lead idiot doesn’t want to get his/her designer wellies dirty so I thought it was probably worth the risk, seeing how far we could go.
Well the ducks are sure happy. The bit of river we were splashing along beside isn’t running amok so we forded the feeder streams* and kept on. There are some houses on the river bottom, poor things**, and I don’t think the sandbags are going to save their fitted*** carpets.
And then hellhounds and I rounded a corner and came to the shores of The Sea. When Peter and I first moved to New Arcadia there was a stretch of the river path that was outrageously badly kept—for a town two of whose important constituents are wealthy retired Tories and businesses dependent on visitors—and EVENTUALLY the town council stopped whining and ordered enough hard core and blokes to shovel it that the path became quite serviceable, thank you very much.
Well. It’ll all be to do again when—when, I’m assuming, not if—The Sea retreats. I don’t know how deep it is but from my memory of what it used to look like . . . Pav, at least, would have to swim, and I think you’d need waders, not wellies.
We took the footbridge past one of the sandbagged houses† and looped around by the road. When we got back to the river we had a really exciting ford to cross, with the water crashing over the path, and Chaos wanted me to believe that it would carry him away†† but I heartlessly pointed out the stout fence preventing this happenstance and we gained the far side without incident††† and toiled back up the hill toward town. That roaring sound you hear . . . is the new New Arcadia Victoria Falls, another smoke that thunders. Golly. And standing on the far side of the river the spray still fogs up your glasses. It used to be a picturesque little local millrace.
I’d better get back to the cottage. We’re going to try to make a sprint for the farmer’s market tomorrow morning before Armageddon returns. Which means I should go to bed, you know, cough cough, early.
* * *
* To Chaos’ horror. I’M NOT CARRYING YOU. COME ON.
** We actually looked at one when it was up for sale some few years ago, before I bought Third House. Brrrr.
*** Wall to wall
† And were divebombed by a black cocker spaniel . . . a friendly black cocker spaniel, fortunately, and while it looked full-grown it was presenting as a puppy and couldn’t get enough of the hellhounds who were happy to return the compliment. Modified arrrgh. I thought it was going to follow us back onto the main road ARRRRRRGH whereupon in good conscience I’d’ve had to go back, knock on the door, and say something between clenched teeth to whatever off lead idiot answered, but it got timid at the end of its stretch of path. I looked back worriedly a lot though.
†† If you’d eat you’d weigh more and be harder to wash away.
††† When they dry out, my pink All Stars will probably be a lot cleaner. Choosing footgear for this kind of expedition is problematic. I can’t walk any distance in wellies—they’re perfect for clomping around gardening or mucking out stalls but not hurtling—and hiking boots have their uses in wet grass and ordinary mud but fording foaming rivers is not their thing and once they get soaked they stay soaked. All Stars are actually my footgear of choice for this, although I put plastic bags over my socks first when I remember. When I remember. I didn’t remember today.
There may be hope. The whining is now broken rather than incessant and HELLHOUNDS ATE SOME OF THEIR DINNER. Chaos ate about two thirds of his and Darkness half, but I think that’s the FIRST eating Darkness has done voluntarily in about FIVE DAYS. Aaaaaaaaaaugh. ::Gibbergibbergibbergibber::
Diane in MN
It’s really really NOT EASY to have intact dogs and bitches in the same house,
APPARENTLY. Gaaaaaaah. The thing is, I have known people who do/have done it.* Unfortunately I don’t know any of them now, so I can’t ask.
even a big house*, so I truly sympathize with your situation. I hope young Pav is an early ovulator and stops broadcasting super pheromones sooner rather than later.
If I’m right that IT’S BEGINNING TO WEAR OFF—and there have only been sporadic outbreaks of moaning this evening—then she’s about dead on average, because this has been her second week. All century. All eon. I mean all this week.
I’ve never tested the theory that giving a bitch chlorophyll tablets masks or reduces her scent, but I do know that a drop of vanilla on the dog’s nose does not prevent him from knowing what’s up (it was a forlorn hope but worth trying). . . .
I have so many allergies myself I’m twitchy about experimenting on my hellcritters. Once this is OOOOOOOVER and I can maybe think about something again I’ll do some research and consult my vet(s). This last week has been bad for additional reasons** and ordinarily I’m pathologically anti-drug and anti-squashing-Mother-Nature-just-because-she’s-pissing-you-off—although I’d’ve tried the vanilla if you’d said it had worked—but the stress level was such that I was afraid if someone said here, try arsenic/strychnine/amatoxin/cyanide, I’d’ve said fine, great, what’s the dosage?
* I have a big house, and it didn’t help. They just called to each other LOUDER.
I’m still not convinced that Pav has known what’s going on. It has seemed to me that she wants to get at the hellhounds the way she always wants to get at the hellhounds—and she has been fabulously dog-resistant on hurtles.*** Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But all those morons out there with their off-lead male dogs? Yes. So I’ve had a few interesting occasions of clutching thirty pounds of snarling fury to my (muddy) chest while some four-legged Lothario tries to climb my leg.† Pav hasn’t been miserable this week the way she was the first, but rampaging hormones haven’t been doing her temper any good. Anyone would think she was having her period.
You will be able to guess why my boys were pretty regular visitors to the boarding kennel.
Sigh. I can’t board the hellhounds. In the first place I wouldn’t because of all their digestive issues, but in the second place I can’t because I don’t vaccinate them every year and the vast majority of boarding kennels require yearly vaccinations. A lot of traditional, middle-of-the-road vets are saying that yearly isn’t necessary, that three-yearly is plenty . . . but boarding kennels just roll over and Big Business wins again. There is a homeopathy-using kennels about an hour from here that doesn’t require yearly vaccinations that might be a possibility for Pav some day if neither Southdowner nor Olivia could have her and I needed to stow her somewhere for a bit . . . but that’s not going to solve the hellhounds’ guts and you can’t foist a hormonal bitch on a boarding kennels.
Mum and I once minded my aunt’s girl when she was in heat because our dog was neutered and the boys at my aunt’s weren’t. It was a special kind of hell.
I assume your dog was neutered in fact but not in, um, attitude? I know this happens with a lot of critters who are neutered late—people who geld a dog or a horse because it’s acting too male often find not much has changed except that they don’t have to worry about the possibility of offspring.
(The following year they tried to keep her at home… and that’s how I got my first chihuahua. Although they made the basic mistake of trying to throw a barbecue party instead of watching the dogs)
They had a FERTILE bitch LOOSE with DOGS AROUND?! That was . . . very unwise.
The flooding situation out this way isn’t much better. . . . The river paths in Windsor, and it’s been touch and go all week, were well under on Friday and the current river forecast is that the Thames will continue to rise until the middle of next week. . . .
Pretty much every town and village around here has a flood watch or a flood incident or is simply closed due to flooding. I’ve retweeted a few repressed-hysteria bulletins from the Hampshire County Council. They’ve got the ditch-dredgers and the sandbag-layers working twelve-hour shifts round the clock, poor, um, sods. Peter’s mews is low-lying enough that it will eventually be at risk at this rate; I’m on a hill and it’s half a flight of stairs to my front door. If I’m at risk then we’ve already lost London and Manhattan.
I would have thought excited mammalian hormones might have a generalised effect.
I wonder if there’s any sort of correlation with what you may (or may not) be picking up from Pav et al and what happens in new parents. Because when Schmoo was newborn, I knew somewhere in my brain that certain things smelled horrid (some of those being my fault: milk is lovely)
GRATUITOUSLY GRAPHIC REMARK WARNING: In my extremely limited experience of babies and babysitting one of the things I noticed is that 100% breast-fed babies’ crap was startlingly inoffensive. It wasn’t till they started eating something besides breast milk that diaper-changing became a trial.
but they never smelled horrid to me. So maybe there is a sort of… anxious scent that you’re living with these days. It could also just be the silted up stress of the past while, compounded and focused by the WEATHER we’ve been having.
Certainly my stress level is in the high gazillions AND THE WEATHER IS NOT HELPING.†† But the thing that suddenly occurred to me a day or two ago is that I’ve had more hot flushes/flashes in the last ten days or so than I’ve had in years. Which are totally hormonal. I don’t understand the mechanism because it doesn’t make any sense but the hot flush style I specialise in is putting out so much heat that when my super-heated clothing then touches my skin it feels like I’m being burned. I was glad to think this stage was over.
And the other thing . . . and I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this on the blog before . . . stallions know when you’re menstruating. I’ve talked to enough other women about this that (a) I know I’m not making it up and (b) it’s not that I hung out with peculiar stallions. But they get very bright-eyed and interested. And the thoroughbred stallion I adored was the most colossal flirt. He’d make little humming noises and hug you with his long beautiful stallion’s neck during your time of the month.
Critters go to heaven too. I say so.
I’ve never quite understood the people who feel like they need to spend a lot of theological time proving that critters don’t go to heaven. Why??? If God is a good God who loves his children, why on earth (or heaven!) wouldn’t he make sure the animal friends they love could be with them?
Well, and if God created the lot then dogs/horses/cats/blowflies are his/her/its/their children too. But my childhood churches’ insistence that animals didn’t go to heaven because they didn’t have souls is one of the things that put me off Christianity early. I’d be glad to miss out on eternal tapeworms, cockroaches, blowflies and so on but I assume they get all shiny and appealing in heaven somehow too.
In vet school, one of my patients was a deerhound who presented for castration . . . he was a bad eater (at the time I wasn’t reading this blog so didn’t know it was a sighthound “thing”);
Deerhounds and Salukis are supposed to be the worst. BUT SID IS A GOOD EATER. Maybe it’s the winter she spent starving on the street. BUT SHE IS A GOOD EATER.
the owner was hoping that losing his testosterone would do what happens to normal dogs – castrated males tend to eat a bit more and tend to put on weight rather more easily than entire ones. . . . However, that owner makes you, Robin, look positively laid back on the subject of dog-not-eating.
The dog had the world’s most varied and unbalanced diet, involving various mostly raw meats, raw and cooked eggs, yoghurt, lard and salmon oil. You should have seen the bags of groceries she gave me for his two-night stay at the university hospital (which, btw, included the night-before-surgery-therefore-no-food night… she gave me enough food to feed a family of four for a week). She also forcefed him something like 8 times a day, and oddly enough, he never ate the free-fed kibble always available to him… I also wondered if part of the reason he didn’t eat on his own was because he was never hungry because he always had something in his stomach and who wants dry kibble when you could have raw hamburger shoved down your throat?
Was she expecting you to force-feed him? That’s over the line. And . . . she’s force-feeding him eight times a day with enough food for a family of four? And he was STILL THIN? There’s more wrong there than a bad attitude toward food. And yes, I’d begun to worry, this last week, that since the hellhounds are such bad eaters, they’d decide to stop eating entirely and leave it up to me. NOOOOOOOOOO. So since they ate dinner at all tonight I haven’t force-fed the rest even though this means that Darkness has had even less than the starvation rations he’s been getting poked into him. Although I keep thinking, as I prod the fabulously expensive kibble and the lovely roast chicken scraps and the raw liver that under normal circumstances is Darkness’ favourite thing far enough back in their mouths that when I clamp their jaws shut they have to swallow†††, that they can’t possibly taste any of it, I might as well be using cheap (cereal-free) unadulterated kibble. Yaaargh.
Have the bitch pants arrived?
YES. AND THEY MADE EVERYTHING WORSE. They are awful cute though. . . .
* * *
* Including Kes’ mum. Kes probably has some stories about this. Maybe they’ll come up.
** MY BANK IS DICKING ME OVER AGAIN. FOR THE SECOND TIME IN LESS THAN A YEAR. Speaking of things I have to do some research on BECAUSE I’M NOT DOING THIS AGAIN.
*** Although she let a (female) puppy take liberties. It fascinates me to see my puppy acting like a grown-up to eager clueless babies.
† The morons, of course, think that it’s MY fault for bringing A BITCH IN SEASON TO PUBLIC GROUND. Oh right, I’m going to keep her in a closet for three weeks because you can’t be bothered controlling your dog.
†† I know people have lost their homes, farms, livelihoods and there’s a lot of scary stuff for all of us thinking about the future. But I’m just FRELLING SICK OF HURTLING ON PAVEMENT because all the countryside is under water.
††† . . . probably
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. . . .