So, all this time I’ve clawed back by no longer writing a blog every night? Has disappeared without trace. Of course.
Today, for example, it has disappeared without trace by my having spent NEARLY TWO HOURS IN DENTIST FROM R’LYEH’S CHAIR OF DREADFUL TORMENT. Owwwwwww.*
Yesterday it disappeared because . . . MAJOR TRUMPET FLOURISH . . .
MY NEW WASHING MACHINE FINALLY ARRIVED.
This wasn’t easy. Even leaving out the amount of time I spent researching** frelling washing machines*** I was so freaked out by the PRICE of the one that was going best to cope with all the hair in this household† that I put off ordering it for most of another fortnight. Peter had grown a bit testy about my usurping his washing machine so I decided in that non-decision way that I hope most people who read this blog have experienced for themselves, that I would merely accumulate dirty laundry because, after all, I was going to buy a washing machine. Fortunately I have a lot of clothes†† although the hellpack is down to pretty much its final lot of bedding.†††
I had a four-hour delivery slot booked for Wednesday morning during which I paced the floor and wondered what I was going to do when the delivery persons Viewed the Situation and said they couldn’t do it. The Winter Table is still up because I’m still fetching recently-arrived-and-potted-up little green things indoors when the temperature starts re-enacting the Pit and the Pendulum. Plus there’s a hellterror crate since the last time any major kitchen appliances were brought in or out. Also, washing machines weigh. My last appliant purchase was the refrigerator—refrigerators weigh nothing. I can lift a refrigerator‡. A washing machine I can barely shove back into its corner when it starts walking across the floor. And they were going to have to wrestle the new marvel up the narrow flight of stairs with the black iron railing from street level to the front door, around the sharp 180 degree bend into the kitchen—and, while they were making that turn, lift it over the puppy gate, which is bolted to the wall.‡‡
They came. They viewed the situation. Their eyes got rather large. They withdrew to the street and muttered between themselves while I wrung my hands and thought dire thoughts about washboards and rocks in rivers.
BUT THEY DID IT.
I tipped them lavishly. They were, to their credit, startled, and I said: what was I going to do when you looked at this kitchen and said that getting large heavy camels through eyes of needles one storey up, over Becher’s Brook and at a 180° angle wasn’t in your job description?
I hope they got together and bought their wives a nice bottle of champagne.‡‡‡
* * *
* I won’t tell you what this thrilling^ experience did to my bank balance. OWWWWWWWWWWWWW.
^ I have told you, haven’t I, that the wonders of scuba diving are Forever Closed to Me on account of the number of hours I have spent in Dentist from R’lyeh’s chair staring at the video loop of tropical fish on the TV screen on the ceiling? I totally support+ the presence of distracting video on a TV screen on the ceiling. And I can forfeit scuba diving. Even though the fish are pretty fabulous. I’m grateful it’s not opera or BUFFY reruns.
+ And I do. See main footnote *
** You have to figure it’s going to be an important member of the family for at least a decade so, especially when it lives in the kitchen of your very small house, which happens also to be the room that (a) you spend the most time in (b) the main beds of your three fur factories^ indwell, which helps to explain (a)^^, you and it had better be good friends. ^^^
^ Note also: fur factories
^^ Remind me to tell you the Pav’s Bed in My Office story. Sigh.
^^^ Peter had Radio 4 on recently when it was a programme on psychological problems and the discussion was about hoarding disorder, which is apparently defined as an inability to throw things away to the point where the accumulation gets in the way of normal function. Hmmmm. One of the things they mention is when you can’t get into your bed because of all the stuff on it? Feh. I can still get in my bed . . . I may have to roll some of the books, knitting magazines and homeopathic journals over a little . . . and it’s true I’m an uncharacteristically quiet sleeper. But I was really thinking about this after I’d cleared off+ the old washing machine and the refrigerator, which was going to have to move to get it out, and had nowhere to put anything.
+ Mostly the stuff on top, which was in layers. But I also stripped off all the kitchen magnets . . . which fill a mixing bowl. A small mixing bowl . . . but still a mixing bowl. Not a cereal bowl or a soup bowl. You could definitely get a batch of muffin batter out of this bowl. I often have.
*** I think I told you I joined WHICH? http://www.which.co.uk/ just so I could read their washing machine reviews? They’ve got this clever hook-the-sucker system where you only have to pay £1 for a month of membership, including a copy of the magazine and free access to their gigantic site—and individual phone support for ‘consumer and finance issues’ which bait really attracted me after my recent scary, infuriating and demoralising banking experiences—and at the end of the month if you forget to cancel they quietly make you a full-price member because, after all, you gave them your credit card number for the £1. Fine. They got me. The magazine is full of interesting stuff. And now I’m researching juicers. ^
^ Everyone see this report? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10735633/Healthy-diet-means-10-portions-of-fruit-and-vegetables-per-day-not-five.html Good luck getting this one over to Person in the Street. But it is one of those Why [mild] ME Is A Good Thing Really moments. I have evolved, over the past sixty-one years, from a few frozen peas and a leaf of iceberg lettuce style reluctant veg eater to a major rabbit+. And in the last fourteen years—since the ME felled me—I am eating ten a day++. It’s a life style, okay? You get used to it. And I like broccoli.+++ I’m more inclined to take this report seriously—ten a day does seem like kind of a lot for someone who doesn’t already have chronic health issues—because they make the point that vegetables are more important. Yes. A large glass of orange juice with your chocolate croissant is not the same as a large bowl of broccoli . . . er, probably not with your chocolate croissant. I’d like to hear a little more about ‘juice is worthless’ however. Out of a carton, maybe. But I’d’ve said there’s pretty good substantiation for the belief that the Juicer Phenomenon is worthwhile. Although it’s another life style. At some point you have to wonder what you’re preserving your life for if you’re spending all your time preserving it.
+ Unfortunately my teeth don’t keep growing. That would solve a lot of problems, if the cavities just grew out and you could gnaw them off. Carrots are a lot cheaper than Dentist from R’lyeh.
++ Except occasionally when I’ve been in the Chair of Dreadful Torment and can’t chew.
† There isn’t nearly as much of mine but mine is LONG. You’d have to line up like fifty-three of Pav’s for an equivalent pilose factor. Pav, however, has plenty to spare.
†† Which is what happens when you like clothes, have been more or less the same size for nearly forty years, and have hoarding disorder.
††† There is less of this than there might be because the hellterror—like the hellhounds before her—used to eat hers When She Was a Puppy, which, of course, now being almost tw‡‡o years old she is not. Cough. Cough. But she did give up eating her bedding somewhere around her first birthday—which is better than can be said for Chaos.
‡ Well. I can lift a dwarf under-the-stairs size refrigerator.
‡‡ Because I was tired of it falling over every time Chaos stood up and put his forepaws on it. Which, being a rather dim sweetheart, he never took advantage of, and Darkness is above that kind of thing. Pav, however . . . it’s a good thing it was bolted in by the time Pav arrived.
‡‡‡ Or, possibly, husbands.
. . . to force BT to put a landline in, since there isn’t one in this centre-of-town, eighty-year-old house with the phone jack in the kitchen.
This is so eye-wateringly insane for me as an outsider that I can only imagine
No, no, you don’t want to imagine. Really you don’t.
how you can manage to prevent yourself tearing strips off the wall and frothing at the mouth over it.
Hey, I’m not going damage my walls. But the hellhounds and I do hunt down carelessly parked BT vans and write things like BT DOES NOT RULE on the windscreen in blood-red lipstick.
What did the electricians find behind the phone jack in the kitchen?? (presuming that it is the same system there in that the phone jack has a plastic plate and socket over the hole in the wall where the wires come in to)
Oh you poor creature, hampered by rational intelligence and an assumption of logic. There has been no electrician/BT technician. They’re making all these pronouncements by reading their computer screen and making patronising noises at me down the, er, phone. If they sent a BT operative to Third House it would cost me over £100. Just to say hi and let him/her in the door. It costs extra if he/she actually looks at plate and socket . . . and I’d probably have to get a second mortgage if they took the illusory phone-jack plate off the wall and examined whatever is behind it, before declaring that it’s all a fever dream and I should try to get more sleep, sign here, the invoice will follow.
. . but eventually I managed to find the very small print in the handbook that SAYS you can’t turn the ring off the portable handset. It does not, however, tell you why.
There is a radical solution. Next time you want to turn the ringer off (like at night etc) – take the battery out of the handset….
MESS with the thing? Give it MORE EXCUSE to misbehave? And besides, dropping it on the sofa and then flattening a heavy blanket*** over its face is strangely satisfying.
Although for hysterical-making LOUDNESS, any of you have back-up batteries for your desktop computers?
Mrph. We have a whole office full of them. I have insufficient words to explain the delight of them all going off at once.
Oh . . . my. Sympathies.
… There aren’t bluebells yet, are there? My mom and I carefully planned our late April/early May England trip to try to intersect with bluebells somewhere – south or north, we’re not fussy. ::chews nails:: But we’ll be happy with whatever we get. I bet there will be, you know, flowers. Maybe even roses by then…
There will certainly be flowers. I’m interested that Rachel recommends Gloucestershire for bluebells the beginning of May, but they are that little bit more north than us—ours are mostly going over by then. But for breathtakingly fabulous spring gardens down here in the south I recommend Wisley http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley . . . camellias . . . mmmmmm . . . camellias. And also Savill Gardens and Windsor Great Park http://www.theroyallandscape.co.uk/gardens-and-landscape/the-savill-garden which will certainly have bluebells although I’m not sure what stage of out or over they’ll be in. Unless April is 80°F all month—which I pray most earnestly it will not be—you’re unlikely to see roses yet: a few of the first species or species-type roses maybe. Oh, you may have them in London! London is crazily early—all that ambient fossil-fuel heat brings stuff on. You can get roses flowering all winter too sometimes.
But have a spectacular trip. It’s rather a nice country, England†, I’m very fond of it . . . and it’s pretty frelling amazing for gardens.
And in small personal garden news: my snakeshead fritillaries are coming out. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/07/plant-offer-snakes-head-fritillary Yaaaaaaaay. It doesn’t get much better for a fumbling amateur gardener in the south of England: now if only my mysteriously-alive meconopsises stay alive and produce flowers . . . oh yes and all my roses rush out dazzlingly. . . . It’s hard to remember sometimes that I’d only put stuff in the ground for the first time that very last summer in Maine before Peter happened. Nostalgia? Not really. I’d rather be here.
* * *
* Also, I am tired. For various reasons I’ve been in Wolfgang way too much today but I found myself in Mauncester before the bookshops closed. And as if sleepwalking I discovered I was striding through a doorway surrounded by bookshelves. I was looking for something frivolous . . . or possibly knitting. Which is, of course, not frivolous. THEIR KNITTING SECTION WAS TERRIBLE. But I was already upstairs in nonfiction so I caromed from ‘hobbies’^ to ‘music’ where I picked up, not without effort, Michael Steen’s nearly a thousand pages of LIVES AND TIMES OF THE GREAT COMPOSERS and from there, all bent over from the weight, lurched to ‘religion and philosophy’ where I picked up over a thousand pages of Diarmid MacCulloch’s A HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY . . . for balance. I then fell downstairs, paid, and crawled out the door. GET REAL, MCKINLEY. Oh, okay . . . so I stopped at the yarn shop on my way back to the car park and bought TWO KNITTING BOOKS . . . but they were on sale.^^
. . . Also, in my defense, I’ve been listening to the MacCulloch on Pooka and really need a hard copy crib. The subtitle is ‘the first three thousand [sic] years’ and a thousand pages isn’t enough. The stuff just streams by and you’re staring either at your knitting or some assortment of hurtling hellcritter butts and thinking, What? Who? When? Where? . . . What?
^ I should have realised that any bookshop that categorizes knitting as a hobby will have no clue.
^^ I narrowly escaped buying some yarn also on sale . . . I gave up CATALOGUES+ for Lent, I didn’t give up yarn, books or sales. Maybe I need to draw the contract up more carefully next year.
+ Yes. I did this last year. I need to do it again. It’s the negotiating that’s so frelling slippery: a lot of us, myself included, live by catalogues and the internet, and if you’re buying dog food or black cotton socks or The Art of Song Grade Seven for High Voice so you can give your teacher her copy back, it’s fine and great and a time saver and all that. But browsing . . . especially because I hate paying full postage on only one item . . . which of course the evil red-eyed drooling site proprietors are counting on. The latest development, or at least I’ve only just begun seeing it, is these frelling little pop-up boxes that say, Only £1,000,000.06 more and you’ll get not only free postage but an aircraft of World War I tea towel and a stuffed penguin! —GO AWAY. . . . no, wait, I can always use another tea towel . . . STOP THAT.
*** The heavy blanket, in fact, that is still going with me to the monks’ every Saturday night. You know it’s supposed to get up to SEVENTY DEGREES [F] tomorrow? I wonder if I dare . . . noooo, the chapel will still be freezing. . . .
† Barring the politicians, the road signs, the broadband availability, and all the other usual things that are wrong with first-world countries in the twenty-first century.
I’m beginning to feel cursed. You already know about the temporarily comatose Wolfgang and the definitively dead washing machine*. Last night/this morning at five a.m. my smoke alarm decided it needed a new battery. Aaaaaaaugh. So you’re dragged out of a deep, satisfying sleep (!) by this frelling chirping noise . . . and first you have to decide you’re not imagining it because in fact you weren’t really experiencing deep, satisfying sleep because deep, satisfying sleep is not among your skill set. Then, having more or less decided that it is a real noise and not the sound of all your brain cells clicking together like billiard balls, and wondering if you need to wake the hellterror and bring her upstairs so she can find the source of this alleged real noise for you**, and you are in the arduous process of getting out of bed*** because one way or another this must stop, it slowly manifests in your sleep-raddled mind that the only thing in your experience that makes a noise like that is a smoke alarm that wants its zonking battery changed. They programme them to make this decision while you should be asleep, right? I think possibly they programme them to study the household first so as better to ascertain when horizontal bed time most often occurs: if you’re a farmer with cows to milk you might well be awake and on your second cup of coffee by five.
So then you get to stagger around trying to remember where you might have stashed one of those frelling square batteries that almost nothing else uses but you’re pretty sure you do have one because you’ve been here before, although it’s so long ago you don’t remember where you put the spare battery . . . but this is one of those super-frellers that if you try to unplug it so you can deal with it in the morning the BACK UP BATTERY kicks in and there’s no courteous, mild little cheeping, it screams death, dragons, disaster, debacle and defeat and the back up battery itself is one of those horrible tiny round things that you need a Special Tool to open the door of and it doesn’t open and it doesn’t open and it doesn’t open possibly because you have no idea where your Special Tool is and are using a 5p piece and then when you finally do wrench it open the battery leaps out and rolls under the table. Where you have to be sure to retrieve it before the hellterror eats it. But the whole teeny stuck battery-hatch thing is not going to happen at 5 a.m. since neither my fingers nor my eyes are up to that much focussing so we’re back to finding a new square battery for the main event.
Okay. I found it. I reattached the little wires. I shut the barglegleebing plastic battery door. Silence fell.† AT WHICH POINT I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO TURN THE RING ON MY NEW PHONE OFF. So I could, you know, sleep. I used to do this regularly on the old machine: unplug the phone from the machine, the machine silently picks up messages, and the phone doesn’t ring. YOU CAN’T TURN THE RING OFF ON MY NEW PHONE/ANSWERPHONE. Who the freaking double grasking whatsit argle frell figured that one out? THAT YOU CAN’T MAKE YOUR PHONE NOT RING? The ‘base’ unit will allow its ringtone to be turned off. Not the portable. You can turn the volume down—which, just by the way, is about as effective as turning a barking hellterror down—but you can’t turn it off. Eventually I buried the thing under the sofa cushions and (finally) went back to bed. . . .
* * *
* And—just by the way—Pooka continues to refuse to pick up the internet when we’re away from our home wifi. I can have all the little ‘signal’ bars that there’s frelling room for dancing the fandango and singing ‘I feel pretty’ and Safari just sits there saying ‘Nope. And you can’t make me.’ Since Astarte doesn’t have a mobile connection THIS IS VERY IRRITATING. And yes, while it’s true that we’re all overconnected out of our tiny minds, it IS CONVENIENT, while you’re waiting for something to happen, to be able to whip out your tech of choice and check, for example, on the weather. You are (let’s say) a quarter mile from your car and your umbrella is still in the car. Frell frell frell frell frell.^
^ I was at a meeting tonight# and I got there about fifteen minutes early because I’d been worried about the traffic and/or getting lost. So having failed to check the weather I . . . of course . . . got out my knitting. I think everyone else in the room commented##: knitting as nonthreatening topic of conversation among a bunch of strangers waiting for something to happen.
It was the kind of meeting where your fearless leader decides that you should start with something that makes you talk to each other.### So she passed out sheets of paper headed: Find Someone In the Room Who . . . and it’s a list, like, has moved house in the last year, plays a musical instrument, loves Marmite. The first thing on the list was: ‘knits’. Nine pairs of eyes immediately swivelled to focus on my name tag.
# And no I wasn’t rained on on the way back to Wolfgang.
## But no one else got out their knitting. Everybody keeps telling me how popular knitting is. I sure hang out in the wrong crowd.
### NOOOOOOOO. NOT MORE CONVERSATION WITH STRANGERS. “IT’S A BIG SQUARE SCARF” AND “YOU JUST KEEP KNITTING—IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GORGEOUS YARN” IS AS FAR AS I GO.
** There’s no use in asking the hellhounds. They would open one eye, say eh, it’s a noise, and close the eye again.
***. . . while reluctantly deciding that hellterror involvement is a bad idea. She’s very good at finding and pointing things out, it’s just that a crucial element of the pointing-out process is barking at them and while my semi-detached neighbour is a paragon of tolerance and patience I think a hellterror paroxysm at 5 a.m. might be pushing it.
† Except for hellterror snores.
Yes. Feebledweeb came back this morning. There was a postcard through my door about my missing my scheduled pick-up. I’m probably imagining the petulance. I am not imagining, however, the incredibly long, annoying, would-be mollifying robot email from a critter-supply site I have ordered from for the first time because they sell a Critter Fur Bag that is supposed to protect your (possibly new) washing machine from the extremes of critter hair production.* Cosy Paws and Fuzzy Tummies Ltd is using one of the shiny new carrier companies . . . which I’ve already had several emails from informing me that my order is creeping inexorably nearer but they’re not going to tell me how fast or anything . . . I have to be AT HOME to SIGN FOR IT and they will only make TWO attempts to deliver before it’s returned to sender, etc. HOW THE FREAKING ARGLEBLARGING FRELL DO THESE COMPANIES STAY IN BUSINESS? Apparently I’m supposed to be able to track it tomorrow, when it’s (maybe**) due for Delivery Attempt #1 but I don’t even know what that means. If I sign on tonight/tomorrow morning at midnight oh one, will it tell me that the driver is at home having a beer in front of the Late Show?*** Will Astarte chirrup at me at 6 a.m.† when the parcel is loaded into the lorry? Will tracking include a klaxon when the lorry passes the New Arcadia town limits? Arrrrrgh. And the Seriously Irritating Robot letter from the critter-supply site says, ooooooh please be nice to us, we’re trying really hard.†† Sure you are. Change delivery companies. Change to one that when you say ‘LEAVE THE SODBLASTED PACKET BEHIND THE GATE’ they leave it behind the gate and don’t require me to poke a touchscreen with a plastic stylus in a manner that not only looks nothing like my signature, but doesn’t look like anything remotely resembling anyone’s signature.
The garage started work on Wolfgang today. I’m supposed to ring late tomorrow afternoon and see how they’re getting on. The suspense is killing me. I WANT MY MONKS. I WANT MY MONKS. I also have an appointment to talk to Alfrick before service Saturday night. If I started walking Saturday morning I might get there in time, maybe they’d let me sleep in the porch . . . after all I’d have to bring the hellpack, they can’t keep their legs crossed for thirty six hours, we could keep each other warm. . . .
And I’ve probably decided on my new washing machine. ::Gasp:: It’s a Miele. You know what Mieles COST?! But if you ask six random critter owners what washing machine will best stand up to the depredations of critter fur, they will speak in one voice: IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, GET A MIELE.†††
Um. Ratbags. Well, the hellhounds don’t eat much . . . and I could maybe buy fewer books and less yarn . . . .
And in other techie news: My new phone machine appears to be working.‡ I can call out on it. I can receive calls on it, even if the dargletching ring tone sounds like a drowning pigeon. I can even pick up messages. That’s all I can do. At some point I will have to find out how to erase messages before the sorbligging Message Space fills up. For some reason a number of people, having read the Are you sure it’s not Friday the 13th? blog post, starting with lecuyerv on the forum and for which thank you, have sent me a link to this: http://xkcd.com/1343/ Yes. Exactly.
* * *
But I didn’t buy it here. If I’m going to be rude about the seller I’m not going to hang a link on the blog. But I’ve heard of the site I ordered from, it has a good rep in critter-supply circles, and it had some happy customers reporting on the Fur Bag.
** There is some question about the depot being stolen by deranged djinns. A little-known prediction of Nostradamus.
*** If there have been any djinn sightings?
† The drawbacks of taking your iPad to bed with you. Remember to turn it off? Are you kidding?
†† If we roll over will you rub our tummy? —No. I get enough tummy rubbing demands already.^ Humans have alarm clocks to get them up in the morning. Hellcritters have tummy rubbing. GUYS. I’VE ONLY GOT TWO HANDS. Darkness, who is his generation’s major tummy rubbee, however, does not acknowledge that this creates any sort of common ground with the hellterror. You call that a tummy? he says. At which point Chaos, who isn’t totally committed to tummy rubbing but does not want to be left out of anything, ducks under one of my arms, as I kneel blearily on the kitchen floor rubbing tummies while waiting for the frelling kettle to frelling boil, and knocks me over.
^ Also, I don’t like you.
††† Also, who knew that reading about washing machines could be fun? http://www.whitegoodshelp.co.uk/about-whitegoodshelp-andy-trigg/
Miele is also, siiiiiiiigh, the top of the list by a margin of about seventy-three leagues at WHICH?
Although you have to join. I’ve joined. But nothing on earth will make me read an entire article on George Osborne.^
^ This comment will become obscure+ as soon as they put some other headline on their opening page.
+ I have a strange reluctance to use the word ‘obsolete’. I think it’s very unfriendly of Bosch to stop making parts for a mere twenty-plus-year-old washing machine. I bet Miele is still making parts for twenty-plus-year-old machines.^
^ At these prices, better had.
‡ Mrs Redboots
Um, I’m not quite sure why anybody buys an answering machine in this day and age – can’t you just record your message on 1571, which is what I do? . . . Of course, the huge downside is you have to remember to check the frelling thing, which I never do . . .
Um . . . pathological loathing of BT?^ BT, who, when applied to to turn the landline phone on at Third House declared that there was no cable to the house—the eighty-year-old house in the middle of town with the phone jack in the kitchen—and I would have to pay several hundred pounds to get one installed. BT, who has insisted for nearly a decade that my problem with the upstairs phone at the cottage is to do with the house wiring and it will cost me several hundred pounds if they send an engineer, even though their own frelling linemen, laughing like drains at the state of the cul-de-sac’s common wiring, says that it is BT. Yes, it’s true that my series of cheap, simple-minded previous phone machines were BT, but in the first place they were crap and they never pretended to be anything other than crap and in the second place a phone machine is a discrete thing that sits on your desk/table/electric keyboard/floor, it has a beginning and an ending, it has edges, and for that matter you can smudge it with burning sage if you want to drive the BT demons out. I’m not going to use 1571. It’s too personal.
Oh, and Peter uses 1571. And never remembers to pick up his messages.
^ That postmistress didn’t retire. She went to work for BT.
Let me see, where were we? Well, where was I . . .
I still have a dead car. I rang up the garage this afternoon and most of the parts have arrived . . . but not all of them. Of course. This is how it goes. The flusterdamitter is still en route from Enceladus* and won’t be here till Wednesday. Or Thursday. Whimper.
The hellpack and I stream** up and down main street on foot, pitter patter pitter patter, to and from the mews.*** I am poised to try to rent a car if Peter wants me to . . . but I’m not going to unless he does. The worst of the week is over: I’ve already missed my singing lesson.
And I have a definitively dead washing machine. The repairman’s wife, who is also his secretary and office manager, rang back today to say that the necessary part is obsolete. Sigh. Meanwhile I had had a look on line for washing machines and there aren’t any that say HAS EXTRA-STRENGTH FILTER.† CAN STAND UP TO THREE HAIRY DOGS. I have asked Mrs Repairman to ask her husband if he can recommend one. Meanwhile when I contemplate the likelihood of my carrying large knapsacks of dirty/clean laundry up and down main street in the near future the idea of a rental car starts to look pretty good.
* * *
* They relocated the factory because those cold water jets make cooling all that molten steel^ a snap. Also native labour is cheap.
^ As if they made cars out of steel any more. HAhahahahahahahahaha. But Enceladus’ surface contains substantial deposits of rmmfglorple, which makes really great Car Plastic.
** New Arcadia is mostly not streaming any more, but down by the river there are great chunks of the path missing where the water has undermined it till it collapsed. There’s at least one spot where you have to leap, and for some reason you don’t see as many pushchairs^ on that path as you used to. The river is still really high all along its length and at the most exciting point it’s broken up through actual paving slabs, where an overstressed tributary is joining the main flow and it’s gushing out across the path and torrenting down the little hill built over the confluence. It’s strong enough to wash away small children and unwary dogs, and the hellterror, who is a bit of a delicate flower for a bullie, doesn’t like it much. You might have thought legs that short couldn’t do a decent passage^^, but you’d be wrong. But the look I get nearly burns through denim.
The dog-encounter stories just keep on however, and we’re trapped in town at present. Saw what is possibly the nastiest of our local dogs again a few days ago—off lead of course—this thing is totally known to be dog aggressive. I was out with Pav, fortunately, not the hellhounds, saw dog and murder-worthy owner. No-jury-would-convict-me owner looked at us, glanced around for his vicious off lead brute . . . and then kept on coming! ARRRRRRRRRRGH! —Pav and I crossed the road.
My most recent meltdown, however, was a day or two before that. I’m not the only near relation with dogs at the mews. We’ve had mostly minor encounters with the worst offenders but one of these is a border collie type—it’s either a crossbred or a very badly bred border collie—who is the kind of aggressive-manic that gives border collies a bad name^^^. It’s frequently loose, of course. Arrrrrrgh. The other day Pav and I were coming back from our afternoon hurtle, came through the gate, and there was that criminally idiot owner surrounded by her three dogs, one harmless Lab, one semi-harmless Lab . . . and this border collie. To give her what little credit she’s due, she saw us and did put them all on lead, and they trailed her across the drive and into the big garden that belongs to her father/mother/uncle/halfsister/secondcousintwiceremoved . . . and then she deliberately dropped the leads.
And as Pav and I walked past the wide, entirely open mouth of that garden, the border collie just went for us—trailing its useless lead. I had time to pick Pav up—just. The no-jury-would-convict-me-for-this-one-either is screaming her head off and the dog is, of course, ignoring her. It’s growling and snapping and making little leaps at Pav, who is comfortably folded up chest-high in my arms~ and even allowing for the situation this is a mean looking dog. It ran away as its owner came after it—she didn’t say a word to me of course—and have I mentioned that a lot of what used to be the parkland around the Big Pink Blot has sheep on it?
But we were even more of a draw than the sheep. Once it had lost its owner it came after us again. It was not willing, fortunately, to attack a human, so we strolled the rest of the way back to Peter’s—I’m not quite up to walking briskly clutching thirty pounds of hellterror awkwardly to my chest~~ —with it circling and snarling. . . .
And there’s not a thing I can do about it, not really. The police don’t care. The dog warden has most of southern England to patrol. And the family the idiot is visiting . . . well, let’s simplify the politics of cooperative ownership and say they have seniority. Which I assume is why no one else has ever complained . . . about the dog crap that loose unsupervised dogs tend to leave about the place, for example.
::is beyond words:: ~~~
^^^ I know that Cocker spaniels are supposed to be the top of the bitey dogs list, but I and several generations of my dogs have been nipped by far more border collies. It’s not frelling all herding instinct.
~ There are advantages to the little short legs. She weighs nearly twice what Hazel did, but Hazel was a whippet with legs that went on and on. Upon similar occasions it would have been better if I could have hung her around my neck, but there was never quite time.
~~ The funny thing, if I’d been in a mood to appreciate it, is how laid back Pav was about the whole thing. Maybe because she was already out of reach by the time the marauder arrived? But she peered down with interest and no alarm whatsoever. At least having her relaxed made her easier to hang onto. She can be quite challenging in this regard when she’s in LEMME AT ’EM mode.
~~~ Which is a bad thing in a professional writer.
*** During the day we go down to the mews in shifts—I was bringing Pav down at lunchtime when we met Mr Notorious Evil Ratbag—but we do all go home collectively after midnight. Speaking of challenging, trying to pick up crap when you have not merely three leads to deal with but a heavy knapsack throwing your blasted balance off . . . and last night Pav’s extending-lead spring failed. I’m a little amazed we all got home in one piece. There may have been language.
† Preferably one that does not exist suspended in a reservoir of dirty water two inches from the floor which you have to bail out spoonful by spoonful because you can’t get a container of any size under the frelling hatch.