IT’S PAV’S BIRTHDAY TODAY. PAV IS TWO YEARS OLD. . . . Which basically means she’s a snarky adolescent with a lot of attitude. Yeah. That about covers it. She’s also adorable. Just by the way. And she’s been remarkably good-natured about the amount of time she’s been spending in crates the last week. There are occasional eruptions but she always comes out the open door smiling and ready to have a good time.
I’d like to say I fed her steak for her birthday. Um. I didn’t feed her steak. But we had a very good Long Yellow Thing game this morning and a faaaaabulous tear around Third House’s garden this afternoon followed by a long lap.
There’s running around like a mad thing, and there’s hucklebutting. These are two separate and distinct activities. Hucklebutting frequently evolves from running around like a mad thing with the addition of certain agility feats including end-swapping, spinning round and round and rolling over and over and over. The interesting thing about this last aspect is that it tends to happen an inch or two above the ground. I have no idea. I only report what I see.
It RAINED last night. Just in time for the greenish stuff that we mow as if it were grass to take a deep happy breath and . . . turn more or less green again. Third House’s garden really is triangular, that’s not an optical illusion. It’ll be a really nice garden again as soon as we get the house a little more under control. Well not as soon as but you know what I mean. At the moment the willowherb is winning.
This in fact is the moment when Peter came out to join the fray, I mean fun, and she wanted to make sure I’d noticed. Unfortunately all the photos of her and him are either hopelessly blurry or I’ve cut his head off. You’ll just have to assume that a good time was had by all. Bruises optional.
It is tragic the amount of fabulous blog material I’ve missed using the last five days or so. For example the BT landline engineer on Thursday had just finished telling me that it couldn’t be done because the wiring was too old, or possibly because it had been plastered over irrecoverably when I hired a small army to create an attic out of a large crawl space, or at least it couldn’t be done till 2017 because they were going to have to rewire Hampshire first,* or at very least it couldn’t be done that day, as scheduled, because they were going to have to import a special lorry with a special hoist which was presently in Belgium, or possibly Tanzania, with which to approach sufficiently reverently the overhead wiring from 1878 which was, of course, made out of string,** and, in 2014, can use all the reverence it can get. So he had just finished telling me this when his phone rang*** and it was his manager saying that his brother had rung from hospital WHERE THEY HAD TAKEN HIS FATHER AND HE SHOULD GO THERE NOW. Oh dear . . .
They sent me another engineer. Which is pretty impressive since this meant he would be working past closing time. And he was a little cranky about this—he says he rarely sees his two-year-old except on weekends—but he was in no way taking it out on me and I have total sympathy with cranky. And he found a hoist in, I don’t know, Berkshire or Essex or Norway or something, and it came*** and HE GOT THIRD HOUSE PLUGGED IN NOT ONLY TO THE TELEPHONE BUT TO WHAT PASSES FOR THE REAL WORLD ANY MORE, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN . . . well, at all, for the internet, but a number of years for the phone, because Third House had stood empty for quite a while before the heirs put it on the market. And then it hung around on the market for another while because it was overpriced and I kept walking past and fretting, having been in to the estate agent and discovered that (a) it was WAAAAAAAY out of any semblance of my price range and (b) in the estate agent’s opinion it was overpriced, and I should bide myself in patience.† And we know how that ended. And then I got my knickers in a twist about the ‘several hundred pounds to lay new phone line’ thing. Oh, and the great deal I was getting from BT? That they’d lay the new line if I’d agree to buy their broadband for two years? Is anyone amazed that it’s not all that good a deal? I get one connection. If I want, you know, extensions, I have to pay for them. I get one connection with one underfrellingpowered router with built in wireless THAT IS SO FEEBLE IT WON’T REACH TO THE OTHER END OF THIS LITTLE HOUSE, LET ALONE INTO THE ATTIC. ARRRRRRRRRRGH. So we have wireless broadband (mostly††) in the sitting room. Peter can’t even get it in his office which is about eight feet away. ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.
BUT I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY PIANO.†††
I had asked Oisin and he’d said I should ask our mutual piano tuner about someone to move my darling, and the piano tuner clucked and said there was the less expensive option and the more expensive option and I said this is an old, heavy Steinway upright and I want her treated gently, and he said Sigurd of the Silver Doohickey was the bee’s knees of piano movers pretty much over the entire south of England but they were not cheap. I rang Sigurd and they quoted a price that didn’t seem to me, the owner of an old heavy Steinway upright‡, all that remarkable, so I said yes and, furthermore, since what they do is move pianos and are always galloping back and forth across the south of England they managed to find me a slot for today . . . the first working day after the rest of the furniture went.
I will also at present leave out describing the amount of hauling of little stuff, from the mews to Third House, that has been going on both before and since Friday, and the sordid appallingnesses thus implacably revealed‡‡. TODAY I was at the mews at 2 pm awaiting Cinderella’s coach with the reinforced suspension, the turbo jets and the crane.
This rather mild-mannered van rolled into the courtyard at 2:15. It was bigger than your average White Van Man van but looking at it you didn’t immediately think panzer division, although it did say SIGURD OF THE SILVER DOOHICKEY SPECIALIST PIANO MOVER on all visible surfaces. And three young laconic guys dropped out of it and strolled in a deeply cool manner to the front door. In hindsight I suspect they were waiting to find out if I was going to be a Fainting in Coils type who would need to be managed but my first thirty seconds’ impression was not particularly positive. Whatever. Sigurd is the best, these guys must know what they’re doing.
I started to come round to them when they viewed the situation calmly, and the mews is not exactly set up for the easy moving of old heavy upright pianos, and there had been a fair amount of drama from the gang who had brought her. One of these guys fetched one little skateboardy rolling thing and the other two started edging my darling out of her corner. The one with the most tats—who fetched the skateboard—acknowledged that he was a hired gun and the other two were the Real Piano Movers. They looked so, you know, normal. Until the bigger of the two simply LIFTED one end of my piano a good eighteen frelling inches off the floor so they could start working the skateboard under.‡‡‡ Eeeeeep.
Well, they loaded her up and slid her across the floor and DOWN THE HORRIBLE LITTLE STEEP FRONT STEPS with only a titanium alloy ramp and the two blokes to keep her where she belonged, and the third guy scampering around adding stability where requested. And while the two blokes waited for the third one to lower the tailgate ramp lift thing I said, I know there’s this mythology about heavy upright pianos and everybody thinks theirs is the heaviest, so, tell me, on a scale of upright pianos, where does this one go? And they laughed—a little breathlessly, I’m happy to say—and replied, this model is the heaviest upright Steinway ever built which is to say this is the heaviest upright piano ever built. A lot of full size concert grands weigh less than this piano, they said.
Oh. This probably explains why Sigurd was so careful to ask for model number . . . and why they had the third bloke along today. And I guess the van is the extra super reinforced concrete suspension Cinderella’s carriage.
So we trundled down to Third House and I, fool that I am, assumed that the worst was over, except for the part about how the sitting room would suddenly be Very Full of Piano once she was in. NEVER MIND. Atlas had cut back the clematis montana over the garden gate so you can actually get through without bending double and/or being strangled, and my piano and attendants came through with a flourish and swooped around to get a straight shot at the front door. My hero looked at the door, looked at me and said, you did measure the door, didn’t you?
MEASURE THE DOOR? IT’S A DOOR. LIKE ANY OTHER DOOR . . . I was literally clutching my head at this point.
My hero looked at the door again, shook his head and said, I don’t think it’s going to go through. They didn’t even use the ramp this time, they just kept picking her up over the steps. What do they feed these boys?
AND SHE DIDN’T FIT THROUGH THE DOOR.
They were still so calm. Well, this must happen all the time. Stupid clueless people who assume that one ordinary front door is like another ordinary front door. So they looked at the new situation—calmly—while I tried not to fall down in fits (or coils) and start gnawing on the outdoor furniture which looks very nice on the lawn here, by the way.
We’ll take the door off, said my hero. I think if we just take the bottom off§ we can bring the piano in backwards and swing it around inside.
Which is what happened. It was still a terrifyingly tight squeeze, and while they had her padded with blankets the frelling plastic door frame squealed unnervingly. BUT SHE CAME THROUGH THE DOOR THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. And they swung her around like doing the do-si-so—the so-called fitted carpet didn’t cooperate with this manoeuvre but along with the screwdriver as standard equipment for removing doors they’re also accustomed to what they call correcting the carpet—stood her up against the wall and . . . the sitting room is a trifle full of piano but it’s not actually as FRELLING SQUASHED LOOKING as I was afraid it would be. And the really great thing? Both the inner sitting room door and the outer door—the one that came off and that they put back on again because they are polite young gentlemen as well as major beefcake—into the garden OPEN ALL THE WAY. With like three-quarters of an inch to spare, both sides. Three quarters of an inch is all we need.
MY PIANO IS HOME.§§
* * *
* Which is probably true. There’s all this bluster about getting Hampshire super-fast broadband and the first swathe happens next year. Uh-huh. We’re in the swathe for 2017. And have I mentioned they’re building houses in this town faster than a hammer can fall on a nail?^ And that the broadband we have is grinding slowly to a dead halt as more and more people sign up? And let’s not even talk about traffic and parking and the way you sometimes can’t get through the centre of town on foot.^^
^Possibly because they don’t use hammers and nails in house-building any more. That’s so two centuries ago.+
+ Also because England deforested itself of suitable house-building trees more centuries ago than that. They may still use hammers and nails in Maine.
^^ Especially not with totally clueless four-legged companions. You’d think the hellhounds would have learnt to look both ways by now. Pav, eh.
** Copper-impregnated galvanized string. They don’t make string like they used to.
*** I’m beginning to forget what life was like before mobile phones. Not in a good way. I still consider Pooka back up not the main event. And maybe in retaliation she decided the end of last week TO BE UNRELIABLE FOR A FEW DAYS.^ So I’m leaving messages all over the landscape DON’T USE MY MOBILE USE MY LANDLINE and . . . I have two messages on my landline, neither of them important, and about twenty seven on Pooka, most of which won’t pick up. What is the MATTER with people?^^
My very best example however of the profound basic demon-possessed infuriatingness of mobile phones happened only this morning. I was out with hellhounds. Chaos had just Assumed the Position to have a crap at the edge of the pedestrian pavement. Mildly embarrassing, with people streaming by, but not a big deal. Not like it hasn’t happened before: we frelling live in the centre of town. I was focussed on him, getting my little black plastic bag out and so on, and glanced over my shoulder to check that Darkness wasn’t doing anything he shouldn’t. AND DISCOVERED THAT HE HAD ASSUMED THE POSITION IMMEDIATELY IN FRONT OF THE DOOR OF THE BARD AND OPHARION.
And Pooka started barking.
And Peter’s favourite bridge partner’s wife walked by, started to say hello and burst out laughing.
Oh, and the person who was ringing? WAS SOMEONE I HAD TOLD TO USE MY LANDLINE. I told her I’d ring her back. That’s fine, she chirruped. I’ve rung her five? six? seven? times over the course of the rest of the day . . . and she’s never at her desk, in her office or on the radar. Possibly because her digital exchange says, ooooh, landline, how retro, and her assistant says, landline? We don’t want to talk to any clumsy vulgar landline, we don’t do string anyway.
^ Or more than a few. We don’t know yet. Raphael remonstrated with her briefly today but he had his hands full trying to bring the frelling BT frelling broadband frelling crap router to heel. Note: he failed.
^^ I’m not going to ask what’s the matter with Pooka. That way madness lies.
*** The driver doesn’t see his kids except on weekends either.
† PATIENCE? YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?
†† I’m not even going to start on this epic. Raphael is coming back later in the week. Maybe then.
††† There were epics on Friday, of course, but our loyal movers—this is now the third or fourth, depending on how you’re counting, time they’ve moved us. We all call each other by name and say ‘hi’ in the street, you know? Small local family firms. Salt of the earth. Adore, adore—were fabulous. As they have always been fabulous.
‡ People go all faint when they see she’s a Steinway.^ As I keep saying, she was cheaper than a lot of mediocre new pianos and who wouldn’t have a Steinway if that’s the choice?? I’ve told you the story of how I bought her, haven’t I? Another of my epics.
^ The logo is usually covered up by my music rack.
‡‡ And that the chief reason I haven’t blogged before today is that I’ve either been racing around like a crazy woman or collapsed in a weepy little puddle of ME on the nearest horizontal surface, floor, ground, hellhound bed, hellhound(s), whatever. The ME is not exactly behaving itself, but I’m getting a certain amount of stuff done . . . and Nina and Ignatius are so golden. I don’t know what we’d be doing without them. They were here a couple of days earlier last week, they were here Friday, they had the temerity to take the weekend off^, were here again today and are coming back tomorrow.
^ Nina, who is clearly insane, booked some holiday to help her dad move and Ignatius has one of these all or nothing jobs and he’s in a mostly nothing phase at the moment.
‡‡‡ Let me say that I am glad to admit that I stopped finding young guys hot some years ago. They’re so . . . you know, young. I like the old beat-up ones that look like we might have stuff in common to, ahem, talk about. But I might make an exception for this chap. He is not that big and he’s not that bulky although you look at him and guess you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side in a pub brawl . . . but I’ve never liked the ripped gym-bunny look even when I was young. I had a serious case of the hots for my blacksmith, many years ago when I had a horse, because he had major muscles from USE, you know? The definition wasn’t much because he wasn’t doing gazillions of specialist curls but he was strong and I’ve always kind of swooned for strong, especially the easy-going, almost careless, strong-because-it’s-part-of-the-job-description kind of strong. Also, turned out, once I apparently wasn’t going to turn into a Fainting in Coils, today’s hero has a really nice smile. I hope his main squeeze appreciates him.
§ Here’s one of those big fat juicy ironies. I hated the old plastic door and have rarely been as happy as when Atlas finally got around to putting the wooden stable-style door in that I’d bought yonks ago but there’s only one of Atlas and Peter or I keep pulling him off one thing to do something else. But finally . . . YAAAAAAAY. NICE DOOR IMPROVING GARDEN SIDE VIEW OF NICE HOUSE not to mention Aura of Sitting Room Within. But if it had been the nasty old plastic door today the piano would have fit through it. Because of the frame that the old door left behind—and which would have been an expensive ratbag to replace—Atlas had to install the new door slightly, um, in. Thus narrowing the entrance/egress part of the deal. Which I’d never really registered. My bad. Uggggh. Disaster narrowly averted.
§§ And if this blog is a little less coherent than usual, well, forgive me, it’s been a rough week. . . .
It was going to be a really bad day.** The ME is using me as a punching-bag again*** and I got out of bed in stages, saying, it is Monday, and I am going to my voice lesson. I am going to my voice lesson. All I have to do is crawl to the car, unlock the door, and put the key in the little hole. Wolfgang knows the way.
It has been a really bad week for—not for singing, see previous about singing for sanity, but for attentive practise, so that I don’t feel a total fool going to sing for Nadia.† After my voice slammed shut on me last Monday—which was actually rather alarming—I gave it two days off anything but folk songs and Leonard Cohen†† . . . and then I had stomach flu and all those deep breaths and gut-disturbing diaphragm action for singing seemed like a pretty bad idea, although I could (maybe) stop worrying about the slamming shut, which was probably germ related. †††
I did sing over the weekend—a little—and I noticed at church last night that I was making a noise.‡ But this morning, warming up, I felt like I’d Never Seen Any of This Music Before in My Life‡‡ and did not set out for my lesson in a very positive frame of mind.‡‡‡
But fate and body parts are often perverse little creatures. I don’t even know how to explain what happened; if I try it’ll sound like gibberish to non-singers and will probably make those of you who would understand what I was talking about if I could explain it properly fall down laughing. The point is I made what Nadia herself called a Technical Leap Forward having to do with waking up the ‘mask’ sinuses and persuading all the various bits and pieces—tongue and soft palate in particular—to clear out of the way and let the sound resonate. Gleep. And she took me up to the high B-flat I need for both Batti, Batti§ and I Want to Be a Prima Donna—I didn’t know it, of course, although I knew we were getting up there—and which I do erratically have at home when I’m focussed on not paying attention and shutting myself down because I Can’t Possibly Do That, so I know the frelling thing exists. And as she pointed out, grinning, I sang it with no strain and no muscle tension. It’s the lack of tension that was so astonishing—she said, yes, your support has come a little adrift, but we can fix that.§§ You’ve made real progress today.
And . . . golly . . . you know . . . I may yet make a singer.
* * *
* Although everything is relative. See next footnote.
** It’s been a bad hellhound day for weeks. With the very, very occasional exception, Darkness more often than Chaos, neither of them is eating. The only reason they haven’t starved themselves to death by now is because I keep force feeding them. They haven’t eaten a scrap of anything today, voluntarily, for example. This is utterly demoralising for me even when the ME isn’t bad. It’s not the taste of the drug; they get three meals and only two of them are dosed. If they are having a unique nauseous reaction to this stuff—nausea which lasts through the third meal—that would explain it, but I doubt it’s that simple, and neither the vet nor I can ask them how they feel or why they’ve decided food is the enemy.^ Meanwhile although their output is improved it’s still far from . . . um . . . a neat pick-up so we persevere. Wearily.
^ Although if it were that simple, anorexia in humans would be less scary and less difficult to treat. I remind myself of this sometimes, on my knees beside the dog bed, stuffing cold sticky food down recoiling hellhounds.
*** I did survive^ my first official Samaritan duty shift, thank you for asking. It was a relatively quiet night which given that I was not at my best is probably just as well,^^ although I need some demanding shifts to get through the list of things your mentor has to support you through before you’re turned loose to function mentor-less. I did write a few texts^^^—and I hope you eventually get over that initial shock of, oh, you poor thing, let me give you a cup of tea and a biscuit.#
The next fortnight is going to be a little unnecessarily exciting however since I’m still at the tremulous beginning of learning Sam weekly duty-shift stamina and I’ve got Street Pastor shifts two weeks in a row too. This is from the swap with Eleanor—she took my Friday night before a Saturday-morning Sam training in June and I’m taking her Saturday in July while she’s touring great swathes of America with her husband. Meanwhile the ME needs to clear off.
^ . . . I’m here. I’m writing a blog entry. This is not the new Zombie McKinley. Breath on the mirror and everything.
^^ And I’m going to assume that hang-ups are not in response to my American accent.
^^^ My mentor, whom we will call Pythia, has a very good line: if you had written what this person has written, is this the response you’d want to read? —Since ‘I have a magic wand and I’m about to make it all go away’ is ineligible, like the cup of tea, if for different reasons.
# Tricky, of course, since they could be texting you from anywhere. New Guinea. Mars.+
+ A CUP OF TEA AND A BISCUIT?? I’M SO BRITISH.~
~ I have no idea what the cup-of-tea-and-a-biscuit equivalent is in either New Guinea or Mars.
† Although I continue to be tempted to take . . . probably Matty Groves in to Nadia. Some folk song with drama. I told you, didn’t I, that I asked her how you sing a maddened nobleman who is about to off both his wife and her lover when you’re a soprano? And she said it’s all in how you release the consonants. And. Glory. Yes.^
I may not have told you since I don’t remember admitting that I’m not a big Sandy Denny fan^^. I know. Heresy. I am, indeed, so lost to all finer feelings that I wonder if the Sandy Denny cult might be somewhat based on the fact that she died young. Nice enough voice but . . . eh. Give me Maddy Prior or June Tabor or Norma Waterson. The Matty Groves take that makes my blood beat hard and my hair stand on end is Fairport Convention after Sandy Denny, with the blokes singing. And they can roar, which is not an option available to a soprano.
But I think I’m still not quite up to eating the scenery for Nadia. Maybe a few more weeks. Months. Years. . . .
^ ‘ . . . And I shall Strike the very next blow, and I will Kill you if I Can.’
^^ But when the ME is this bad I don’t have any memory either.
†† Famous on twenty-three continents^ for having a vocal range of two and a half notes, and tends to write songs accordingly.
^ This includes Mars
††† Your Body Is Your Instrument. Why didn’t I stick with the piano?
‡ I mean . . . singing. Melodic. More or less. Probably. I wasn’t in the band this week so it didn’t matter.
‡‡ Mozart? And he was—?
‡‡‡ Although the presence of non-eating hellhounds in the back seat, looking forward to their Monday afternoon post-lesson walk somewhere interesting, probably was not helping. They like me wrecked by ME: I’m much more willing to noodle along while they investigate every clump of grass for the recent presence of other dogs and/or fascinating pieces of litter.
§ Oh—that Mozart
§§ She also said that if I can’t do this free resonating thing at home this week—don’t panic. But that I should only sing new music—stuff I’m working on for the first time now—if I break out Che Faro, for example, which is absolutely my longing and desire, I’ll just revert to old habits. Wait a little now, she said. We’ll go back to Che Faro later, I promise.
One of the nasty little surprises awaiting me at Third House* was the FRELLING BOXES OF OLD PAPER FILES. Crushed frelling boxes, just by the way, since they’d got mixed up with the backlist. But when Atlas was loading up his trailer to take backlist to the storage unit last autumn I asked him to set anything that wasn’t book boxes aside. And then life happened and the last few months Atlas has seen more of Third House than I have.**
It’s quite amazing how much STUFF is left after you’ve emptied a house. Curtains. Rolled up rugs. Bits of china you never liked and hadn’t decided what to do with. BOOKS THAT MUST BE SORTED. It’s also quite amazing how many old files I seem to have. Speaking of things that need sorting.
Twenty or thirty years ago when I was buying filing cabinets in Maine you could get black ones. Or grey ones. Or black. Or grey. Or . . . I bought black. But I did not love them, and I left them behind because standard British paper is longer than standard American paper and it wasn’t going to fit in standard American filing cabinets. I had a gorgeous old wooden filing cabinet at the old house, its only drawbacks being that it took ten strong men and a team of eight Shire horses to move it and that the drawers kept falling off their rails. It then declined to fit through the door at Third House. MORE ARRRGH. So I sold it, and put the files in cardboard boxes. Which I was going to deal with. Later.
Well. It’s later. And I have to WEDGE everything I had sprawled all over Third House into the attic because the ground floor is now Peter’s.***
I went on line. I searched for two-drawer filing cabinets, because they have to fit under the eaves that make the attic a living space for people who like crawling around on their hands and knees. COLOURED FILING CABINETS. COLOURED FILING CABINETS. Be still my heart. So I bought a PINK one. Of course I bought a pink one. Two pink ones is so obvious however so I bought a yellow one.† Yaaay.
Except that the on line description says ‘self assembly’. Golly, I thought, nuts and bolts. But I have my secret weapon, Atlas, so, fine. I ordered. And I had them delivered to the cottage because of the whole WHAT DO YOU MEAN DELIVER TO AN ADDRESS NOT ATTACHED TO YOUR CREDIT CARD AND OF COURSE WE AREN’T GOING TO TELL YOU WHEN WE’RE ARRIVING SO YOU CAN GET UP THERE TO ACCEPT DELIVERY. WHICH WE WON’T LET YOU HAVE ANYWAY BECAUSE IT’S NOT THE ADDRESS ATTACHED TO YOUR CREDIT CARD thing.
I don’t know what the self-assembly part is but two filing cabinets arrived today. I looked at them and my heart sank. I wasn’t at all sure even one of them lying on its side would fit in Wolfgang’s boot.
Wolfgang, my hero.
* * *
* That’s aside from the fact that we’re going to have to RIP OUT BOOKSHELVES to get Peter’s desk into his office. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. What is wrong with it is that the second, smaller bedroom is now a staircase with a little angular wodge of semi-usable space around it. Arrrgh. Building regs^ ARRRRRRRGH. And Peter is so inconvenient as to have a LARGE desk. Why can’t he just balance his laptop on his knee? Feh. Half a wall of bookshelves has to go. Misery.
^ For anyone who wasn’t reading the blog then: I wanted to put a WEIGHT BEARING FLOOR in the attic for all the BACKLIST. As soon as you put in a weight-bearing floor the Building Regulation Goons are all over you. A weight-bearing floor means living space, never mind you can’t stand up in it. Or that it’s going to be full of boxes of books. Living space means you have to have a proper staircase. Good bye, second bedroom.
** Mowing the grass, propping up the frelling FRELLING boundary fence so next door’s evil little ratbag terrier doesn’t keep getting through and crapping all over my garden,^ taking over the garden shed with boy tools.
^ Evil little spiky-haired ratbag terriers are an entirely different, monumentally inferior order of being from, you know, bull coughcoughcough terriers.
*** This happens to involve carrying all 1,098 crushed boxes of files up the stairs to the attic again.
† I probably need three or four. I’ll worry about that LATER.
Third House has shrunk. I should have realised that the shiver in the aether when Peter said ‘okay’ Saturday afternoon was reality contracting. Oh, and the books on Third House’s shelves have all reproduced. In fact I think most of them have had litters. Arrrgh. I didn’t notice immediately, I was too busy dancing the fandango* and telling Third House we’re finally going to live in it.**
The red-shifted or Dopplered or whatever mystery of physics describes what happens to a house you’re about to start living in*** became dreadfully clear, however, when Fiona† showed up Tuesday morning†† and we tackled the surprising amount of stuff left over from last autumn when I was clearing out toward handing it over to the letting agent.††† ARRRGH. Fiona‡ had already agreed to come for a day and make me by her presence GET THE FRELLING FRELL ON WITH IT, when I still thought I was going to be letting it. But we’ve been haemorrhaging money on storage since last autumn: get your butt in gear, McKinley. So I told Fiona that she was to keep repeating: NEVER MIND. NEVER MIND. JUST PUT IT IN A BOX AND PICK UP THE NEXT THING.
The angle of approach to the eventual goal has altered, but the merciless bottom line is still that it’s Too Much Stuff and Too Little Space. But at least it’s our too little space again.
And you know the most amazing thing? Fiona the B is coming back next Tuesday.‡‡ To do it all over again. Which includes the fact that doing it all over again is necessary, sigh. Now if only I could figure out a way to sic her on BT. . .
* * *
* If houses can shrink, I can be two people and dance a fandango
** It’s a nice house. It should be lived in. Aside from housing shortages^ I have felt bad for however many years I’ve owned it that I’m/we’re not doing it justice. At the same time I was pretty discouraged about the prospect of letting it—very sensible, should have done it years ago, but it’s my house. I want my books on the shelves (and the floor) and my drawing table in the attic.
^ Which I don’t in fact feel very guilty about since one of the many governmental scandals that resurface when there’s nothing newer and hotter to develop migraines over is the number of council houses that stand empty because the local council can’t get its act together to have them set to rights. This would be less of a scandal if a lot of those local councils didn’t prefer to build new ones . . . which will need repairs shortly.
*** Usually they wait till you start unpacking your 1,000,000,000 boxes, but the situation here is unusual.
† Hereinafter to be known as Fiona the Blessed or possibly Fiona the B.
†† Well . . . um . . . it was still nearly Tuesday morning. Fiona the B had some silly story about a flat tyre. I had my usual silly story about non-eating hellhounds and going to bed so wound up I was humming like a gyroscope.
††† Unfortunately the need to do stuff like find out why the toilet tank erratically leaks^ and finally placate the ratblasted TV licensing mob who have suspected me of malfeasance for nearly a decade now^^ and enter into *&^%$£”!”!!!!!!!! negotiations with *&^%$£”!”!!!!!!!! BT^^^ has not evolved in the slightest.
^ and all you DIYers out there, no, it’s not that you just have to difflegag the dorgummer, because if it were the obvious thing(s) Atlas would have done it.
^^ She owns TWO houses and she doesn’t have TV in EITHER of them?? A likely story.
Yeah for Peter moving closer! Does this mean you’ll have to resume discussions with BT about the phone line?
Snork. The things you people remember. Yes. BT claims there is no phone line to the house despite the fact that it’s an eighty-year-old cottage in the middle of a several-hundred-year-old village+ and there’s a phone jack in the kitchen. And that if I want a phone line put in for the first time in eight hundred and fifteen years (approximately) it’s going to cost me a lot of money because they have to start with the Roman aqueduct.++ But Peter has said diffidently that he really does feel he would be happier with a landline . . . and I need my internet. And even Peter uses email+++.
I’m sure the hellterror will be happy- another pair of hands to pet her all day long.
??? The hellpack and I are at Peter’s mews more than we’re at the cottage. We sleep at the cottage# and the hellgoddess imbibes her morning caffeine at the cottage. Then we schlep down to the mews—pausing to pick Peter up in front of the grocery store because post-stroke he can walk one way into town, not both ways. I usually try to hurtle critters back to the cottage for a spell in the afternoon to garden, do the laundry, shovel the accumulation of whatever off the stairs, etc. I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD TO NOT HAVING TO COMMUTE ANY MORE. As real commutes go it’s piffle, but it’s just far enough that you can’t nip back for something you’ve forgotten, and whatever you want is probably at the other house. Hence the whole gruesome business of two knapsacks, three hellcritters and Wolfgang, every frelling day, no weekends and no holidays. And you’ve still brought the wrong coat.
I love it when procrastinating on something big like renting out Third House turns out to be a huge blessing.
Ha. Indeed. Although I wish I’d merely procrastinated about turning the CLEAN SHINY EMPTY FULLY MOD-CONNED### HOUSE over to the nice rental agent rather than having stalled at the gee, wasn’t this supposed to have gone into storage/what about ALL OF THESE BLASTED BOOKS? phase. Not to mention the overflowing toilet cistern.
That sounds better! So does that mean you will sell your place, too, and move into Third House with Peter?
Good golly no. Third House is LITTLE. And littler than it was a week ago too, before Peter said ‘okay’, see above. It only had two bedrooms to begin with and one of them is now mostly staircase on account of the No You Can’t Do What You Want to Do with Your Own House building-reg disaster of putting a weight-bearing floor in the attic for the 1,000,000,000,000,000 boxes of backlist. Couldn’t one of us have been a chef or a horse trainer or something? My idea was an attic like at the cottage, which is finished, with a Velux window and a fitted carpet and everything, but you get in and out by something more like a ladder than a stair, and removable. That would No Longer Be Allowed### Because Building Regulations Have Decreed That a Weight-Bearing Floor Means Living Space and You Can’t Live in Something You Can Only Reach By Ladder.~ As I found out when I hired my architect. So I now have Living Space I can’t stand up in (it’s still an attic) and a second bedroom that you could maybe get a single bed in. Maybe. If you don’t mind rappelling in from the doorway.
Or, if you and the hellhounds are staying put (although the hellhounds will have lots more garden to roam in, which means lots more lovely photos!!!), is it a lot nearer and more convenient?
Yes. In the first place it’s a BUNGALOW so the only stairs are to the backlist and Peter has staff (that would be me) to fetch and carry. In the second place it’s across the churchyard from my cottage instead of at the other end of town and in the third place it’s a short level walk to the shops instead of half a mile and a hill.
I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to having that garden again. I stopped letting the hellpack play there when I decided to let the house so I’d be used to the loss by the time I gave it over to the agent. But I was really dreading walking past it—and it’s slap on one of the basic hurtles from the cottage, there’s no way I could not go that way some of the time—and seeing other people and, probably, other people’s dogs in it.
We haven’t started using the garden again because I’m a bit preoccupied with getting on with the house.~~
Less stress for everyone, I hope, and YOU GET TO KEEP THIRD HOUSE!
No bothering with renters! You could put the backlist back in the attic! …Well. If it doesn’t immediately fill up with Peter’s things.
The backlist has to go into the attic. WE ARE GOING TO GET ALL OUR STUFF OUT OF STORAGE. I was staring at the walls at the cottage this afternoon and thinking, okay, I can put another bookshelf up there. There’s still a terrifying amount of stuff to deal with, one way or another. The only reason I haven’t just run away from home and joined the space programme~~~ is because I keep reminding myself that the mews, while it has the most floor space of our three little houses it has the least storage. It pretty much has no storage aside from some unsatisfactory crawl spaces. What you see is what there is. Which is bad enough.
Great news … It would seem your life will be much less complicated and Peter’s much safer.
That’s the plan, yes, thanks.
+ Granted that telephones were rare in 1200.
++ Start what with the Roman aqueduct?
+++ And google at least twice a year.
# Theoretically we sleep at the cottage. We at least assume a recumbent position at the cottage. The hellpack, by the snoring, sleep pretty well. Me, not so much.
## Including a frelling landline phone and broadband at a speed not less than that attained by a dead muskrat.
### The attic in the cottage was done up by my predecessor. I’ve been there a decade (!) and it was a few years old when I bought the cottage.
~ Tell that to Lothlorien’s elves.
~~ But I did buy an extra tray of snapdragons today.
~~~ Aside from there being no space programme to join, and that they don’t take clueless retirement-age-approaching women whose only degrees are BAs in English lit.
‡ the B
‡‡ I’ve told her the cattle prod is optional