Okay. People. Listen to me please.
If you google ‘del toro emma watson robin mckinley’ you will get a very long page of hits. Here are two more or less at random:
If you leave the ‘robin mckinley’ off your search there are a lot more hits. Wherein lies my point. My point further includes the ‘has evolved since’ quote in the clips that include me and the fact that (apparently, this is not a world I follow) del Toro has a habit of running too many projects at once to predict with any confidence when he might get around to one in particular. EVEN IF THIS FILM IS MADE, WHICH IS IN FACT NOT VERY LIKELY, IT WILL NOT, REPEAT NOT BE THE SCREEN VERSION OF MY NOVEL.
I had no idea that news of del Toro’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST project was about to be shot out there—or that there was news of del Toro’s B&B project. Which is another part of my point. Yes, Warner’s optioned BEAUTY* a while ago, but there are like 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 options bought for every ONE movie made, so while option money is lovely because you haven’t done anything extra for it except sign your name, I didn’t take it seriously. I’ve been optioned before. I did register the fact that it was del Toro and Emma Watson behind Warner’s interest, two filmy people whom I’ve even heard of**, an almost un-heard-of situation, and I therefore asked Merrilee about six months after signing if there’d been—by wild, unforeseen circumstance—any movement on the option, and she said there wasn’t. At which point I forgot about it.
Till this morning when I received an email including a del-Toro-Watson-McKinley link from a friend saying, Oh, hey, I’m impressed!, followed by about forty more emails and a tweet from people who love BEAUTY and are under the erroneous impression that (a) this means it’s going to get made and (b) del Toro’s movie (supposing it gets made) will have ANYTHING to do with the book.
So to reiterate: I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THIS. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. Except that I signed an option contract a while ago. IT IS STILL VERY UNLIKELY THAT THE MOVIE WILL BE MADE. And IF IT IS MADE IT PROBABLY WON’T HAVE ANYTHING IN COMMON WITH MY NOVEL EXCEPT THE PRESENCE OF A BEAUTY AND A BEAST. Maybe. With del Toro you never really know. Which can be a good thing. If disconcerting.
And as the author of the book in question . . . if they make the movie, I hope they DO render my novel TOTALLY UNRECOGNISABLE. (Which that ‘has since evolved’ sounds like they will. Yaaay.) I’m not a fan of books into movies: they’re entirely different media, and not only do I think the translation process rarely does the book any favours, the reading experience is . . . well, it’s to be treasured. I don’t want it spoilt, for BEAUTY or any other good book, by even a dazzlingly first-rate film. I hate it that GENERATIONS of film-goers are now going to forget that LORD OF THE RINGS was a book first . . . or even at all.
I don’t know anything about Watson*** but del Toro has made some brilliant movies. His take on that very, very old and much retold tale of Beauty and the Beast could be fabulous. And if my version(s) helped inspire him, great. And the money I’d be paid for a film that was actually made would be very nice indeed.†
But I’m not counting these chickens before they’re hatched. And if they are hatched they won’t be chickens anyway. They’ll be velociraptors or harpy eagles or dodos or something.
And sure, I’d be glad of the rights money, if the movie is made. But what I’d like most of all is that some trifle of the movie publicity rubs off on the unrecognisable book . . . and a few more people READ IT. That is what makes a writer’s little heart beat faster. Readers.
* * *
Peter bought me a pink begonia in a pot for Valentine’s Day. The funny thing is he used to hate Valentine’s Day. But he’s gone all soppy with advancing age. I’ve had Valentine’s Day presents regularly the last few years. Not complaining. Not complaining. I said, I don’t have anything for you for Valentine’s Day†† and he said, no, no, this is one of those remaining genderist things, the bloke is supposed to produce a present. Oh, I said, burying my feminist instincts under the desire to keep on with SHADOWS, well, if you’re really determined, never mind the dozen red roses, I’d much rather have a houseplant.
Peter seems to think begonias lack fervour and ardency. But I like begonias. I can usually even keep them alive. It’s not that I don’t love a vaseful of red roses, but they don’t last long. Don’t you want your Valentine to last?
Also, there was champagne.
* * *
* and ROSE DAUGHTER, because this is how Hollywood works: they don’t want a rival B&B retelling if they can help it, so they block this one as a clause in the option for the other.^
^ Hollywood’s predilection for wanting control over EVERYTHING is a can of worms I’m not going to open here. But my desire to control my own books’ fate is why I regularly refuse to entertain film option offers.
** true confession: I’ve only ever seen the first HARRY POTTER film and . . . ahem . . . wasn’t hugely riveted. And while I loved the first HELLBOY I’m like, oh, there’s another one?, and I loved BLADE II but I didn’t know till I looked up del Toro’s filmography this minute that he directed it. I’m a Wesley Snipes girl. Although even Snipes couldn’t rescue BLADE III. But del Toro has the fantasy chops, certainly. They just don’t have a lot in common with mine.^
^ If his are chops, mine are sort of . . . pudding. Chocolate pudding.
*** Except that she had great hair when she was a little kid.
† Although loose change by Hollywood standards.
†† My day was further complicated by taking Wolfgang out to Warm Upford to the garage for his MOT.^ Or rather, driving him out there was not a problem, but it’s about five miles back to New Arcadia over hill and dale. Peter, coming in to find us crashed out on the sofa, said, were the hellhounds tired? No, I said, but I was. We generally have our longer hurtle in the morning, and by evening hurtle time, even early evening so we were back to town streetlights by the time it was dark enough to need them, I’ve been at SHADOWS for several hours and adventures are not entirely welcome.
Now, all fingers crossed that when I ring up the garage tomorrow he’s passed.
^ Required yearly road test.
Both Darkness and I are feeling a trifle thin on the ground. Darkness is monumentally better, I hasten to add, but he’s clearly not right yet and from the severity of this, er, outburst, I know it’s going to take a little while to calm down completely. But I’m not sure what I should be expecting and I worry easily.* I did not make it to service ring this morning and have pretty much felt like a flag at half mast all day. This is exactly the sort of thing that makes the ME come back full bore—sudden crisis followed by clean-up and worry. In theory I have a voice lesson tomorrow. And tower practise at Glaciation. Not to mention a novel to write in five months.
Mrs Redboots wrote: No, don’t tell us anything about the not-Pegasus novel you’re doing just now! Tease us by referring to it as NOT-PEGASUS and tell us absolutely nothing else until it is set in stone and the editors have given you the proof. We will all plead and beg – myself included – but it would be such fun not knowing what, or who, to expect!
This really made me laugh. I think the readers who want to know something about MYSTERY NOVEL outnumber those of you who don’t—and I had been planning on telling you enough to be annoying. I’ve pretty much had this conversation with both Merrilee and my editor—how much is enough** for various audiences—blog readers as opposed to marketing departments, for example. Because nobody knows anything at all about this book yet (except me) I had to write some copy for my editor’s presentation at her big autumn sales meeting.*** Aaaaaugh. Writing any kind of advertising copy is a unique and exacting skill, and being able to write novels and semi-truthful blog entries is no indication of success in this demanding area. And the short and snappy is not my forte. You also do find yourself thinking, what is there new and original to say about pegasi-dragons-vampires-fairies-goddesses-magic in a paragraph or two? Merrilee and I sweated over this for a while and I believe the ultimate outcome was something along the lines of: New Robin McKinley fantasy novel!!! No, not PEG II! That’s later! To be followed by PEG III even later yet! New!
. . . Tick the box and move on to the next item.†
So here are a few random facts about MYSTERY NOVEL:
(a) It is not a mystery novel.†
(b) It’s modern-alternate-this-world. Contemporary fantasy.
(c) There are no vampires. Just to get that out of the way. ††
(d) There is origami. This is why I was trying to drag what little I used to know of it, dusty and creaking, out of the back cupboard. Which is fine.
(e) There may be trying to be some . . . maths.††† I am resisting this. This is also why I pulled ALEX IN NUMBERLAND off the shelf where it’s been sitting for over a year, and when I discovered www.audible.co.uk had it, bought,‡ downloaded and listened to it. ‡‡ I haven’t decided yet if this was a good idea or a bad one. It doesn’t seem to have had any influence on the story, but then my futile attempts at research rarely do. These attempts do, however, occasionally allow me to keep up.
(f) I’m going to get this random fact over quickly: If all goes as planned‡‡‡ this will come out the year I’m sixty. It will also be my first official YA novel, with a heroine in her senior year in high school. Feh.
(g) Its working title is SHADOWS. And I’d rather call it SHADOWS than NOT PEGASUS or MYSTERY NOVEL, if you don’t mind. Well, even if you do mind. Author’s prerogative. I have to write the thing.
Audrey Falconer: Mind you, I do also want that one that featured bells….
If I’d had any sense, I’d’ve got that one out and had a run at it; there’s a lot of it already on paper.§ Although SHADOWS isn’t totally a bolt from the blue, just almost. The initial idea drifted past about eighteen months ago, and I wrote a few pages of it to check the, um, storyness of it, but I had PEGASUS to be getting on with,§§ and put it (nameless at the time) in a folder and forgot about it. But it’s SHADOWS that came boiling out of the . . . shadows . . . when I knew I had to put PEG II aside, and said meeeeeeeeeeee.
But THE BELLS OF MAZAHAN is still on the list. It’s just ‘list’ in my language is probably not what it is in anyone else’s language. §§§ Like ‘sanity’ or ‘organisation’.
* * *
*Yes, I’m going to ring the vet tomorrow and ask.
** . . . to be annoying
*** And I’m certainly not going to tell you that much.
† Eeep, I said. It’ll be fine, Merrilee said. Eeep, I said. But I’ve been reminded that she was right the last time. . . .
jmeadows: See? Merrilee told you it [the announcement] wouldn’t be bad AND IT WASN’T. You should listen to your agent more. *g* (*may have just experienced something like this and should take her own advice*)
††When I was younger, and also thought I would write ‘straight’ fiction some day, I also wanted to write at least one mystery. Even then I knew I wasn’t going to be good at the plotting and the deviousness but I thought I might manage one.
You never know. I wasn’t going to write a trilogy either.^ As several of you have pointed out, however, PEG is not really a trilogy, it’s a Novel in Three Volumes.^^ Like Tolkien’s LOTR, as one or two people further helpfully suggested.^^^ I appreciate your faith in me, but this is not a reassuring thought.
PEGASUS is a trilogy.
Oddly – and I mean oddly as I have no idea why – I’m not surprised. It just feels like one of those things that, when you find out about them, had to be.
Sigh. Yes. I should have known. . . .
^ anef: OMG you’re having triplets! Many congratulations!
Snork. Thank you.
^^ Diane in MN: Oh, Robin—not a trilogy, a three-volume novel, right?
Right. Think of all those Charles Dickens novels that were published serially in volumes.
^^^ Whom I will not quote here, for fear of bursting into tears. I can deal with Charles Dickens’ three-decker novels. I can’t deal with even remote and superficial similarities to the author who probably made me a fantasy writer, even if a significant part of how he made me a fantasy writer is by inspiring a burning ambition to have some girls involved in the story.
†† Although I think it is in SUNSHINE’s . . . continuum, as you might say. It’s not the same world, but I think it’s the same universe. I’m pretty sure all my ‘high’ fantasies join up somewhere; it wouldn’t surprise me if all my alt-moderns do too.
††† No, no, no, you maths phobics. Stop screaming. It’s not like that. It’s like . . . if there’s going to be a desert, there’d better not be a pine forest and polar bears. This is the writer’s problem. You the reader are only going to see the desert. Relax.
‡ Again. As a study aid, this two-media thing is a very good deal. From a financial standpoint . . . not so much.
‡‡ Not without difficulty.
‡‡‡ Erm. Better to say hoped for.
§ And on a floppy disc somewhere. Although you probably need an Antique Tech Translating Device to extract it any more. The floppy is not hugely crucial since when I go back to it I’ll start on page one of the hard copy and write a fresh draft.
§§ Hollow laughter.
§§§ “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – - that’s all.”
Frell and damnation, it’s already the middle of the night and I still have a blog post to yank out of aetherwhere. I’ve shipped off a lot of photos to Blogmom so that she can start creating the masterwork that will be this auction. I was just saying to her that I take some comfort in the thought that my bells will not need serious restoration work again for another century or two.
Meanwhile I’m very pleased that people on the forum are expressing interest and enthusiasm. I feel my neck is sticking out pretty far. I will be glad if this auction is a relative success not only for my bells’ sake but for mine, so I don’t look like an utter drooling prat. So thank you all once already, and please keep those bid-button-pressing fingers limber.
Gonetotervs: Another suggestion to raise money — if you still own the e-rights to any of your earliest short stories, put them individually on Amazon for $2.99 and see how many of us will buy them…..
Merrilee and I have a Cunning Plan—although probably not in time for the auction. Watch this space.
Texturedknitter: Lots of attractive things in your auction list. I’ve never cared about collecting autographs, but regret now that I didn’t get one at Balticon, lo those many *mumble* years ago.
Nothing to regret! I’m still writing my name on things! (I’ve still got the Balticon 1898 mug somewhere, holding pencils or paperclips or dragon baby teeth or rose petals or something. The date on it is a little startling, I agree.)
Also, maybe offer a little bat doodle thank you, alternate to the bells doodle thank you? I’m kind of unreasonably fond of the bats (distance helps with this, I expect).
I’m fond of the little frellers myself. I like hearing them enjoying themselves in the accommodations provided . . . just not so much at 5 a.m. I’m not quite sure how we’re going to arrange this, but doodle-buyers will be allowed some say in what the doodle will be. Certainly anything that appeared in last night’s extravaganza is fair game. Although doodles evolve, as anyone who doodles knows. Last night’s Hermione or spider or running hellhound may not be next week’s Hermione or spider or running hellhound. The map of Damar will probably stay fairly constant however.
librarykat: once things get going, I’ll see what I can bid on, or simply donate (depends on how crazy bidding gets)
Donations are good*—but you can at least buy a doodle! (Or three!) I’m hoping to offer both $5 and $10 doodles (there is also going to have to be some add-on for postage, but I haven’t faced this yet), but I’m dependent on what Blogmom tells me about the tactical technology of all this. I’m also hoping that there is some clever way I can say/offer that if any biddable item is particularly hot, if it’s something I’ve still got spare copies of, I’ll make available extra copies at top bid price.
Diane in MN: Which we are going to be expected to sell tickets to. We’ve already had one pep talk, not to say exhortation, from Vicky about this.
Oh gods. I spent four years in high school having to sell things as part of fund drives, and made a solemn vow that I would NEVER SELL ANYTHING AGAIN. Which has meant, on more than one occasion, buying a lot of raffle tickets that I wasn’t about to try to unload on my friends and acquaintances. You have my very sincere sympathy for this. Do you suppose Vicky would let you off if your auction brings in a pile of cash?
THIS IS EXACTLY THE PLAN. THIS. IS. THE. PLAN. I am totally hoping to lay a startling cheque in Vicky’s lap and add ‘and I’m not selling any frelling tickets.’ So, listen, everyone, not only are you contributing to the bell fund, you’re contributing to GETTING ME A REPRIEVE FROM TICKET SELLING. Going around confronting people with stuff you want them to buy is the worst. You know all those studies that say that public speaking is the majority number one fear? I can do public speaking. But selling things? The mere idea makes me feel slightly ill. Brrrrrrr. So, bid in the auction. Buy doodles. Please. I’ll stay up late drawing portraits of your Aunt Fanny and setting Chesterton’s Lepanto to music. Anything. Just don’t make me sell tickets.
CathyR: Can’t wait for the auction! *so excited* !!
This is the right attitude. We support and encourage this attitude.
AJLR: *sits poised on edge of computer chair, with finger flexed over the PayPal button*
B_twin: I’m eyeing off that copy of ROWAN and SUNSHINE…
AJLR: OK, BIDDING WAR in prospect! And if R and I have to live on bread and dripping for a week in aid of Robin’s bells, well, I’m sure he won’t mind…
Someone married to a bellringer has to understand. (Please quote me.)
Glinda: I’d go for a bell doodle. Or a bat doodle. Or how about both together, for a bit more money?
This is the idea behind the $5 and $10 options. Or two doodles.
Black Bear: Hey all, eyes off that copy of Rowan!!!
AJLR: Gonna make me, huh, huh?
*squares up to Black Bear*
Umm . . . ROWAN is one of the ones I have extra copies of . . . ::whistles nonchalantly::
Amyrose: What about just selling autographed copies of various books? I would gladly pay $10-$20 in addition to the price of the book, especially since it’s for such a good cause.
I’d consider this. Anyone else out there interested?
Of course, then who would ship them out? And who would order the necessary books? I suppose that would be a logistics nightmare.
Well, me. That’s who’s doing all the grunt work anyway.** But I wouldn’t expect the demand to be all that overwhelming. Famous last words, I suppose.
But – *wistfully* – it would be nice to get a copy of Spindle’s End with a signature. And maybe a doodle of a spider… or a fox..
I could do that. Oh, fox! I could do a fox.
PamAdams: I would certainly buy a doodle or maybe two. (Plus I’m hoping for some Peter books–any chance for King and Joker or Skeleton-in-Waiting?)
Another thing about an auction list is you probably can’t let it get too long and overwhelming or people will take one look and go back to reruns of THE WEST WING. Unless you’re Sotheby’s, which I am not. And I think KING and SKELETON don’t appear because we haven’t got spare copies. Peter had this appalling habit of giving ALL his copies away and neglecting to order more. And then the book goes OP and that’s that.
AnguaLupin: …Now I really have to find money in the budget to bid on the Serious Doodle.
Oh good. Yes please.
Mrs Redboots: Is there anything the Hellgoddess can’t do????
Write books that sell millions of copies. Knit like you can. Ring a touch of Stedman Triples. Ring even a plain frelling course of Cambridge minor in hand. Stop my roses from getting blackspot. Convince my hellhounds to eat every day. Sing like Beverly Sills/Marilyn Horne/Janet Baker/Joyce DiDonato/Bryn Terfel. Fly like a pegasus. End world hunger. . . .
I love the doodles!
Oh good. Thank you! Thank all of you!
Meanwhile . . . you won’t remember this, but a couple of months ago I made reference to a Secret Gardening Project. Look.
My very first edible crop . . . of anything but apples off my predecessor’s tree, and my little patio peach and nectarine trees (this year’s harvest are ripening nicely, thank you). Peter used to grow our vegetables but his back has not been cooperating this year with the basic gardening concept of lots of bending over. I saw a tray of six-inch broad-bean seedlings out in front of the florist’s and thought oh . . . feh . . . nothing ventured. And they take up a huge amount of room, demand to be watered all the time, and totally refuse to be staked in any way I understand staking*** . . . and then you get this weeny handful of pods after all that, which are mostly pod.†
But then you bite into a broad bean that was still on the plant an hour ago and you say ‘oh. Wow. Yes. This is why.’ So I probably will do it again next year. Maybe I’ll try a few more plants. Maybe . . .
* * *
* I’m also thinking that after all of this I will have to figure out how to get a recording of us ringing our newly cleaned, pressed and mended bells. I’m the one going CLANK.
** And Fiona, of course.
*** Note to self: broad beans are not dahlias.
† I should get about this much again, I think, unless the next lot of pods decide they’re not having a good time and decamp to the Bahamas.
On Tuesday, this arrived in my inbox from Ajlr:
To share the excitement, message below just received from our bee tutor. We’ll have our own bees in 48 hours! :) :) :)
Think of us on Thursday evening, driving around with a box full of bees…
I understand all went well at the weekend and . . . I’ve just looked at the nucleus and the queen is laying to the point that the little box is brim full of bees.
So if you would like to come and collect it, it’s yours. You will need to come late evening when they have stopped flying and we can seal the entrance and strap it closed for travelling. . . .
I suggest you take it to the apiary and put it where you are going to have the hive and let the bees get orientated for a couple of days. Then at the weekend or early next week you can move it to one side, put the hive in its place and transfer the occupied frames over. . . .
I replied in suitably modest, restrained hellgoddess manner:
YAAAAAY. Okay, I’m stoked. :):):)
Do I get to mention it on the blog? That Ajlr is driving around the east of England with a box full of bees???? :)
And she generously replied:
Yes, mention it by all means – lots of positive thoughts would be very welcome. :)
I won’t be back until about 8 on Thursday evening, but we’re going to go over then and pick the bees up, to move them straight to the apiary area that evening. I think I’ll have to be suited up when we unblock the entrance in their new home though…I’m not sure they’ll be that happy after 15 minutes in a car.
Oooh, my bees, my bees. ::goes into nurture mode:: :) **
If you think of it (and have time) send me an email. I’ve written it in my diary . . . but that still means I have to remember to look in my diary. And Thursday is handbells AND Muddlehamptons, so I will be distracted.
This then came in while I was Muddlehamptoning:
Off to pick up and move our box full of bees in about 15 minutes. Keep your fingers crossed that they don’t try and break out of it while we’re all in the car together! :)
And when I got back to the mews*** I wrote:
YAAAAAAAY. Well, you *must* be back by now . . . I hope ALL WENT WELL. :):):)
This then arrived with the subject line ‘A car with 5864 passengers’:
So, we picked up the nucleus box full of bees from out tutor’s home just now. She let us borrow a hive strap, so the lid was securely fastened for transit, and stuffed a good lump of foam rubber into the entrance hole of the nuc so no one could come out and start insisting on different driving techniques during the journey. And off we went, with our young colony of bees carefully wedged in the back of the car. I can’t say that was the most relaxing four miles we’ve ever driven, not with our ears constantly assessing the level of grumbling coming from the box. R drove as carefully as possible but small country roads are not noted for their level surfaces. When we got to their new home, I suited-up and put the box on its stand, removed the strap and then, from the back, leaned over and pulled out the plug from the entrance hole. A small and agitated cluster of bees immediately poured out of the entrance and looked around with an air of bewildered belligerence. However, there was no-one there for them to pick a fight with and when I tiptoed back 30 seconds later there were only 30 or so crawling over the front of the box, near the entrance. It was 21.45 by then, dusk, and chilly, and as I watched they all went back inside.
On Sunday we will move the colony into their full-sized brood box, on the same spot where they are now in their nuc box. It looks like being a fun morning!
I’m sure these are going to be the most wonderful bees in the history of beekeeping. I’m not sure how long it will take us to learn all their names though…†
If any of this is useful for the blog, it’s all yours. :)
THEY ARE ALREADY THE MOST WONDERFUL BEES IN THE HISTORY OF BEEKEEPING! YAAAAAAY!
I’m glad to know you aren’t driving frantically for the Channel with 5864 angry bees in hot pursuit. :)
I’m quite glad we aren’t heading for the Channel, too. :)
. . . But by that time last night I was already most of the way through a blog entry about handbells and singing. Today I emailed:
I think it is VERY NOBLE of you not to have mentioned your bees on the forum. All this goes in TONIGHT.††
I haven’t mentioned it at all, thinking you might want to use it. And yes, I’m EXTREMELY noble, it’s almost unbearable. I’ll even add to it and offer to write ‘Steps to bee-keeping IV’ in about a month’s time, if you wish. Now, where’s my halo gone…:)
The rain is coming down stair rods here at the moment. My poor bees will be sitting in the entrance to their box, looking out gloomily at all the wet and probably squabbling with each other. And the queen will be humming ‘now children, children, settle down’. (Anthropomorphise? Moi?) †††
OF COURSE I WISH IT. DON’T BE SILLY. :) ‡
Yes, I’ve been thinking of your poor bees sitting in their new home and wondering drearily why they’ve been horribly magicked to this watery place. Stair rods here too. At least cranky hellhounds don’t sting. :)
Must go to bell practice. NIALL’S HOME!!! I’M NOT IN CHARGE!!!!! YAAAAAAAAY!!!!!
* * *
* And yes, I did ask her first.
** Aside: note that I am totally on board with the nurture thing. Oisin keeps telling me that I must apply for the bat-exclusion license whether I use it or not—that it’s sensible to be prepared. Noooooo, I keep saying, my bats, my bats! He says, look, I know you’re a pathetic wet knee-jerk liberal. Get the frelling exclusion anyway while you have a sympathetic Bat Lady. She could move to Canada^ and her replacement could decide that you are superfluous to bat requirements.
^ I’m sure there are lots of splendid bats in Canada
*** And had fed the hellhounds. And begun a blog post. First things first.
† Hmmmmmmm. Maybe we should have a bee-naming contest??? Hmmmmmmmm.^
^ As a happy, well-named bee might say.
†† I might even conceivably get another paragraph of PEG II written/bent/tied to the chair/negotiated for better terms with^ tonight. Or maybe I’ll ring some Cambridge on Pooka. I might even try to get the fragment of a song I wrote while I was waiting for Oisin to get back from looking at electric organs for other people onto Finale. It looks more singable than my stuff usually is. I wonder how that happened.
Or I could knit. ^^
The possibilities are dazzling.
^ I keep telling you we can’t grow llyri grass in this world.
^^ We are not discussing Sewing Up Secret Project #1.
††† Some of you may remember it was Ajlr who helped name my bats. Eadgyth is her fault.
‡ Okay, all you blog readers. Sign on the forum and leave an EAGER COMMENT about more bee-keeping posts.
The phone rang at 7:30 this morning. This is my idea of an ungodly hour even on Sundays, when I drag myself groaning out of bed at 8 for service ring at 8:45. In theory I have the upstairs phone unplugged because I do not want to be disturbed by people who lead normal sorts of lives and keep normal sorts of hours. In practise I can hear the downstairs phone perfectly clearly and the more ungodly the hour the faster I answer it. I can get the flex jammed back into its connection while my eyes are still glued shut.
Sorry to trouble you, said Peter’s voice in his best I’m-fine-really tone, but I’ve just fallen down and bashed the back of my head against the bath, and there’s rather a lot of blood. Can you come?
This was—just by the way—the second fall in less than two days. Yesterday afternoon Peter had been hanging a picture I had unearthed at Third House and brought down to the mews . . . and there was this loud thud in the hall and a faint, startled moan . . . and I leaped over the kitchen table and wrenched open the door, and there was Peter, lying on the carpet. Other than the actual falling down part, he seemed unhurt.
Today . . . there was rather a lot of blood, trailing thrillingly all over the (dry) bath.* I’ll never feel the same about raspberry coulis.** I’m taking you to A&E***, I said.
No, said Peter. I’m fine. But thanks for coming down.
You are not fine, I said, having checked for things like pupils the same size and eyes tracking together. He’s already demonstrated that he can speak in complete sentences, he’s got his dressing-gown on right-side-up and is walking around. —The back of your head looks like someone hit it with a hammer.
I’m fine, said Peter. It’s just a graze. Here, feel it.
I am not touching anything, I said. I know sod-all about concussion, but I do know that scalp wounds bleed like the levee breaking, and there’s a bathtub in the vicinity that supports this view. I am taking you to A&E.†
We compromised. Peter rang the out-of-office-hours emergency-doctor service—the one I got quite chummy with last spring—who of course immediately said, tell your wife to bring you in to A&E. I want my breakfast, said Peter, sullenly: you do not get between this man and his three and a half square meals a day. So we compromised again. I took very alarmed hellhounds†† for a quick placatory hurtle while Peter had breakfast.††† I then bundled still very alarmed but no longer suffering internal urgencies hellhounds back to the cottage, and Peter and I set out for A&E.‡
. . . Where they told us it would be at least two hours—Sunday morning after Saturday night, what can I tell you, although there were a lot of little kids who probably hadn’t been in bar brawls—and Peter sent me home. ‡‡ Hellhounds were not the least bit deflected/propitiated by a second abridged walk by a clearly distracted hellgoddess, but at least it lowered my guilt level somewhat—and when I drove back to the hospital, there was Peter sitting on a wall in the sunshine, dubiously pressing buttons on his mobile and failing to make Pooka ring, to tell me to come fetch him.
Peter is officially fine. They didn’t even put in any stitches. But he’s about as sore as you’d expect, if you were 83 and had had two heavy falls in less than two days, and he’s written a letter to his doctor that I put through the clinic door on our afternoon hurtle, and his doctor is pretty good about making contact.‡‡‡ Falling down has already got old, and we would like some alternatives.
Meanwhile, I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I go to bed early. Gods help me, I’m supposed to have a voice lesson tomorrow. . . .
* * *
* When we were first married, we used to shout, We be of one blood, thou and I! a lot. —Speaking of blood. But tripping over your own feet and into an empty bathtub is the sort of thing Peter and I do. No, I only got a few bruises, last time I tried it.
** And I’ve never liked the modern art approach to culinary performance anyway.
† Let me tell you about living in a country with a national health service. There are several crucial aspects to arguments with one’s bleeding spouse when you live in a country with a national health service, to wit:
- It exists.
- It exists.
- It exists.
- One’s obstinate ratbag of a bleeding spouse cannot put forward the argument that you cannot afford to go to a doctor.
- One can, however, put forward the argument that if the bleeding spouse doesn’t come quietly to A&E, one will ring for an ambulance. 83-year-old man had a fall in the bath, blood everywhere? I could have an ambulance here in minutes. ^
- It exists. Did I mention that it EXISTS?
^ Probably. But response rate is pretty good in this area.
†† Dogs are funny. Warning: too much information follows. I’ve had about six cups of tea today, partly because I’m badly short of sleep^, partly in response to the horrible grey aftermath of a major adrenaline spike, and partly out of anxiety, something-to-do-with-my-hands, comfortable-familiar-ritual . . . and I wonder why I twitch at small noises . . . and as a result I’m peeing about every five minutes. Every time I get out of my chair to go have another pee . . . hellhounds bounce out of their bed and follow me. They know something’s up and they’re sure it’s not a good thing. They’re right, of course.
^ There was the little matter of lying in the (full) bath to read another chapter last night
††† Peter also phoned his second cousin once removed and apologised for not coming to the party. And I phoned Niall and said I wasn’t going to make service ring.
‡ You better believe the Mobile Knitting Unit came with me. When things calm down a little I will have to introduce you to the new range of Mobile Knitting Units. A Unit for Every Mobility! —I also brought four books.^ And Pooka, of course, although the intricacies of learning a new handbell method were wildly beyond me today.^^
^ . . . waiting for the iPad 2 to be released in the UK . . . waiting . . .
^^ It’s been a very good day for knitting. I knew I wanted a nice friendly obsession that you can do sitting down in the warm and brain dead, if you’re careful about your choice of enterprise. I can just about slash off a hellhound blanket square these days without—er—very noticeable error. Don’t ask me about the error rate of Secret Project #1. Siiiiigh.
‡‡ He tried to tell me he’d take the bus home whereupon I threatened not to leave in the first place. Marriage. The art of compromise.
‡‡‡ If he fails in this case I will hunt him down and suck the marrow out of his bones.