August 16, 2014

Ah the continuing arrrgh of a house move



We have enough frelling cling film to plastic wrap England if not the entire United Kingdom.  Or possibly the planet.  WHY?  We hardly ever use cling film, it’s against my frelling ethical eco doodah principles.  It must be gremlins.  Cleaning out drawers is not my idea of fun at the best of times and at the tail end of a frelling house move it feels like the discovery of a brand-new hitherto unsuspected circle of hell*—and cleaning out cupboards and closets and sheds and garages and attics and crawl spaces and overhead shelves you can’t see into YAAAAAAAAH—for all eternity noooooooo I’m sure I wasn’t that wicked and evil**.  Ahem.  Anyway in the short term there’s still kind of a lot of this vile business LEFT to do*** AND THE GREMLINS HAVE BEEN SHOVING ROLLS OF CLING FILM IN EVERY AVAILABLE INTERSTICE.  And a few that aren’t available.  Peter also has a surprising number of pairs of shoes.†  And you know that stuff-you-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-so-you-shove-it-in-the-back-of-a-cupboard?  Possibly in a box with some of its friends?††  Well, now think about going through all those boxes in all those cupboards for someone else.†††


Yay- piano fits!!!

I’m still having palpitations every time I walk through the sitting room.‡ I measured the garden gate about six times, had Atlas clear off the [clematis] montana jungle [clematis montana are prone to junglifying] and take the latch off the gate so there were no protrusions or attack foliage, even though there was plenty of room.  Never so much as thought of the front door.

and who wouldn’t have a Steinway if that’s the choice??  My university campus has just gone all Steinway.

Steinways at a college?  Golly.  You don’t mean a music school or something?  Juilliard has Steinways.  My liberal arts college had Yamahas.  Major meh.  I’m really tired of people telling me what good pianos Yamahas are.  I wouldn’t give one house room.  And as I’m fond of saying my Steinway cost only a little more than a totally mediocre new piano.  Like maybe a boring plywood Yamaha.


Yay! Huzzah for wonderful regular movers, and huzzah again for fabulous piano movers! Being able to play music somewhere makes it ever so much more like home.

I love our regular movers but I hope I never see them again except on the street to say hi to.  And when their frelling bill came I had to sit down and take some deep breaths.  But did I tell you that the grandfather clock case came apart in their hands?  They were worriedly showing me where the wood had cracked and the glue shrivelled up but one of the things about local movers that you know is that you also know they’re careful.  I knew the clock had been held together with a large leather strap since we left the big house but the coming to pieces was a little dramatic.  And then . . . turns out one of the movers likes to repair old furniture in his spare time.  I asked the head guy—who’s the one we’ve known for about twelve years—and he said, yeah, it’s true, and he does beautiful work.  So I said thank you very much, take it away, and give us a shout some time when you think you might get around to it.  He spent that weekend gluing it back together.  It looks fabulous.  It looks better than it has in years.  No, decades.

And as for being able to play music makes somewhere home . . . there speaks the frelling violinist.  My piano tuner is coming next Tuesday.  I can’t wait, although in truth I’ve had no time to think about music . . . although if my poor darling didn’t sound like a shoebox mandolin with a few screws and a fuse of unknown provenance rattling around inside I’d probably at least have had the ritual performance of There Is A Tavern in the Town by now.

Diane in MN

I hope the bulk of the tedious hauling and even more tedious unpacking is done and you can all start to relax a bit.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  You know you crank yourself up for the actual move, and while you know there will be a long, tiring and frustrating aftermath—which will get longer, more tiring and more frustrating as the adrenaline rush from the adventure, however undesirable, of the startling physical relocation wears off—but you tend to forget the way EVERYTHING GOES WRONG.  Doorhandles fall off.  You may be able to prevent the local dogs from crapping in your driveway by keeping the gate shut, but the cats could care less.‡‡  You can’t find a wastebasket for your half loo.  THERE AREN’T ENOUGH SHELVES.‡‡‡  And British Telecom is possessed by demons.

Raphael did provide us with a booster for the feeble router which did what it was supposed to . . . BUT DEMONS ARE VERY RESOURCEFUL.

And, speaking of endlessly creative and resourceful demons, I have to go to bed.  I have to ring BT at eight o’clock tomorrow morning.  Unbearable joy.

* * *

* Dante was a bloke.  Very unlikely he knew anything about cleaning out kitchen drawers.^

^ Or about cling film.  Not much cling film in the late thirteenth century.

** Er . . .

*** Whimper.

† Says the woman who owns 1,000,000,000 pairs of All Stars and a few flowered Docs^.  But Peter isn’t like me.

^ And a pair of plain but blinding pink.

†† Although Peter tends to little jars and plastic containers accommodating three unidentifiable screws, a totally recognisable piece of tool except for having no idea what the tool is or whether the piece of it is CRUCIAL or broken-off and dead, and a fuse or a few batteries of unknown provenance.  Arrrgh.  I’m the box girl.  Also I worry about, you know, running out of things.^  Or that I won’t be able to get that kind I like any more, so I’d better buy several while they’re available.^^ This leads to . . . interesting, sometimes rather bulky, agglomerations.  Except for Peter’s UNSPEAKABLY VAST FRELLING TOOL COLLECTION, which is the size of Roumania, my hoards take up more room.

^ Remember that my impressive All Star collection began during that decade when All Stars were only something that old people nostalgic about their distant youth wore.  I bought All Stars in my size on sight.  The habit lingers.  And has, um, spread.  The big house was probably bad for my character.

^^ Like the three Redoute rose teabag tidies, right?  I WISH I’D BOUGHT MORE.

††† Peter:  Where is x?

Me:  I don’t know.  I probably threw it out.

Peter:  Okay, where is y?

Me:  I’m pretty sure I threw it out.

Peter:  Well, where is z?


‡ Although palpitations in the sitting room—where the one lone phone connection is, as well as the piano—could have a variety of causes.  Remember I’d decided to stop hating BT because they were laying the new line for free if I agreed to buy broadband from them for two years?  I’VE CHANGED MY MIND.   We have a saga of epic BT squalor and consummate incompetence spoiling the carpets right now.  I think I’ll let it lurch and drool through another confrontation or two before I tell you about it.  Besides, at the moment, my blood pressure couldn’t stand it.

‡‡ I slipped the hellhounds at a cat standing in the middle of my driveway saying ‘make me’.  Cats never expect the speed of a sighthound and it was so busy running it missed its leap to the top of the fence and cartwheeled over.  Backwards.  I hope it is now considering the possibility of seeking pastures, and latrines, new.

‡‡‡ And there is no hanging space because this is a British house.^

^ Don’t know enough about Wales or Northern Ireland, but my limited experience of old Scottish houses is of another entirely hanging-closet-free society.

I Don’t Want Another Week Like This One Please: Relapse


You may have to wait another day (or two) for how I got to yesterday, including the two days on the sofa in a coma, the vague realisation* Sunday afternoon that I hadn’t actually eaten anything in about forty-eight hours which might be contributing to my extreme lassitude, etc.**  The point is yesterday I was better.

It’s been hot this week and muggy with it*** but mostly it eases up and cools off in the evenings which have (mostly) been pretty fabulous in the long summer twilight.  So I was attempting to take patient hellhounds† for the first half-decent hurtle they’d had in about six days.  In a light-headed moment of madness I decided to take a look in on the rec grounds, where I never take hellhounds any more because of the other people’s dogs problem.  Lo and behold, fate appeared to be being unnaturally kind:  there was a game on, one of those sports involving men in shorts kicking a ball.††  Hurrah! I thought.  That means people will be keeping their dogs on leads to keep them off the (unfenced) playing field.

You see where this is going.

We were skirting the edge of the game, and I was paying more attention to not getting hit by a wild ball than by what might be coming up on us from the outside.  While the playing field is flat there’s a bunker type slope off it with a few trees marking the boundary and then a gradual hill in its original contours.  So you don’t necessarily see what’s bearing down (or up) on you till it’s much too late for evasive action.  Not that it would have done us any good in this case.

I turned around idly in time to see a brown-and-white torpedo, ahem, surging toward us.  CALL YOUR DOG! I shouted, thus destroying in three syllables what my cheese-grater, broken glass and drawn-dagger sore throat had begun to recover from.

There was no human in sight.

I’ve seen this dog around town with its people.  Joy.  It’s local.  It’s a half grown Staffie cross, I think, and it’s growing up big.  Unless there’s a line of (presumably show) Staffies with longer legs, this one’s got something else in there.  Mastodon possibly.  It’s not aggressive yet, but give it time.  It’s clearly growing up to be a thug.  It sailed into the hellhounds with none of that piffling puppy posturing and Chaos, who is ordinarily happy to play with the most bumptious puppy, was . . . well, at first he was only nonplussed.  I was more worried about Darkness, who is still pretty fragile†††.

A 12- or 13-year-old girl shambles up and makes a couple of ineffectual grabs at the Young Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  Eventually, and this is now over a minute since this delightful meeting began, some idiot woman who has finally, I don’t know, got off her mobile phone and noticed her dog (and her daughter) have disappeared?, comes streaking up over the bank.  Where has she been?  And she proceeds to tell me that I should stand still so she can grab her dog.  YOU SHOULDN’T LET IT OFF THE LEAD TILL IT’S OBEDIENT! I shrieked, thus setting convalescence and the possibility of my ever singing again‡ back by six weeks or half a millennium.  She realizes, perhaps, that there is no reasoning with me—no, there isn’t—and attempts to concentrate on seizing her miscreant.

The whole episode took probably five minutes.  This is a long time when it involves an off-lead dog out to make as much mayhem as its adolescent brain can yet conceive.  The only bright spot—aside from the fact that it hasn’t fully grown into its obvious gift for malice—was that Darkness, probably because he was still drugged to the gills, was only unhappy, he wasn’t doing his full protective berserker thing thank you God.‡‡  Chaos, however, was increasingly freaked out, so Young Stay-Puft concentrated on him.

I didn’t think about it at the time—I was too busy trying to hang onto my distressed hellhounds in my own not too steady condition, and with this bloody woman telling me to keep still—but I’ve thought about it too much since.  It wasn’t just the torpedo approach or the lack of puppy love-me moves.  All the brute’s hair was up and its head was low and its look intent—and it singled out Chaos because he was providing more fun.  In six months it’s going to be eating small children.

I despair.  And after that adrenaline spike, I’ve been back on the sofa again—you were going to get the first somewhat-post flu bulletin‡‡‡ last night.

And my throat hurts.

* * *

* Very vague:  you don’t think well in a coma

** Also, at sixty-one, you don’t have the bounce you did ten or forty years ago.  You can just sleep—or coma—off a lot when you’re twenty, and then get up groggily at a strange hour, make a large platter of scrambled eggs, and be fine.  At sixty-one you need a little more continuing support.

*** Speaking of producers of lassitude

† Let me also say that the hellpack have been brilliant this week.  Granted hellhounds start hating the heat even sooner than I do but they do still like to get outside for a panting, oppressed and put-upon amble, and they’ve only been getting slow groping turns around the block for necessary purposes with me leaning on the trees and stopping at every bench—thank God there are benches both in the churchyard and the wide strip of green alongside the road to the mews.^  And the hellterror, bless her manic little heart, has been amazing.  Now, also granted that she is highly self motivated and you can pretty much just let her out of her crate and stand back while she caroms off the walls, but even overseeing her is exhausting when you’re only about .05% of normal.  I’m not even sure she got fed as often as usual.  But she was always glad to see me and did not take advantage when I tottered outdoors with her—she could have had me over if she’d wanted to—and went cheerfully back into her crate^^ and was quiet for hours without complaint^^^.  Like the man said, You can’t always get what you want/ But if you try sometimes well you just might find/  You get what you need.

^ I’ve had three dog minders, each one more disastrous than the last.  I really don’t want to start the countdown to catastrophe on a fourth.

^^ suitably bribed

^^^ Except of course when someone came to the front door or the wind through the garden door made a funny noise or the dishwasher went click-clump as it changed cycles or the book you had been pretending to read fell out of your nerveless hands to the floor or she objected to the music on the radio+ or . . . whatever.  She’s still a bull terrier.  However she is also a bull terrier who shuts up when requested.++

+ She was right about this.  It was Harrison Birtwhistle.  I managed to assume verticality long enough to turn it off.

++ After only a little grumbling.  Unless it’s clearly pirates and I’m just not taking the threat seriously enough.

†† I have no idea.  Although there are several men in shorts kicking balls sports, I believe.

†††  See:  I do not want another week like this one, and, you may have to wait for the details of how I got to yesterday.

‡ I am really missing singing.  It’s like missing a body part.

‡‡ Yes.  I wish I knew why God doesn’t solve the off-lead dog problem that has very nearly wrecked my pleasure in having dogs.  The hellhounds’ little peculiarity about food pales in comparison.

‡‡‡ Trust me there is plenty of material.

In medias res


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:: ~~~

^ Strollers


^^^ 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.

In which Peter narrowly misses being murdered by his loving wife


And no jury would convict me.

I still feel like death on stale toast* and while I was up by nine this morning two hours later I was still having trouble trying to figure out how to get out of my dressing gown and into my jeans.  So I rang Peter to tell him that I was, once again, going to be late for taking him shopping.

He didn’t answer.

I muttered to myself a little but he’d call back in a few minutes.  I returned to figuring out which part of my jeans went over my shoulders.

He didn’t ring back.

I’d got my jeans on by this time, having wasted a certain amount of time shoving everything that had fallen out back into the pockets**.  I rang him again.

He didn’t answer again.

At this point I was getting worried. Very worried.  In fact VERY worried.  I’m usually pretty good in emergencies but it takes me a while to find the ‘adrenaline’ button when the ME is weighing on me this heavily.  I decided to whip the hellhounds round the churchyard for immediate-relief purposes—Pav goes out first thing—and then I could haul everyone down to the mews and find out what was going on.

I rang Peter a third time.  He still didn’t answer.

As I loaded up Wolfgang I knew I was heading for a ring-the-ambulance situation.  The only question was how bad it was.  He might have got up for a pee ten minutes after I left last night, had a fall, and spent the last twelve hours wedged against the bathroom door.  He could have hit his head and bled out. . . .

I was also sort of testing my own spongy boundaries:  yes I could get him to A&E myself if the ambulance was going to take too long, but I was also going to pay for this later.  The ME is a usurer, and there are no regulatory bodies it listens to.

The mews front door was unlocked when I arrived.  This is a tentatively good sign:  whatever happened had happened after he got up this morning and got dressed.  He has not spent twelve hours wedged against the bathroom door.  Probably.

I burst in.  And there was Peter standing in the middle of the kitchen floor, holding his knapsack and looking a little startled at my precipitate arrival.

He had decided to walk into town and do his own shopping—for the first time today since his stroke, so yaay, hurrah blah blah blah etc —without telling me.   

I nearly freaking killed him.

* * *

* Although I’ve started learning A Bay in Anglesey, another of the Five Betjeman Songs by Madeline Dring, she of the Nightclub Proprietress^.  I’ve been hiding in other languages, the last few weeks.  With the occasional exception like Che Faro,^^ which is very nearly tattooed on my heart, even when I know the English translation pretty well it’s easier to stay safely aloof when it’s in Italian or German.

^ Which in my present state of negligible energy and mood to match I’m not going to touch with a barge pole (‘ . . . But I’m dying now and done for, What on earth was all the fun for?  I am ill and old and terrified and tight’) except that I found myself singing it to the hellhounds today.  They were fine.  Dunno about the neighbours.


This is one of those base-line WHY AM I BOTHERING?? performances for me.  I’ve posted it here before.  But speaking of things I’ve posted here before, I’ve posted the why before here too, which is that grappling with a beloved piece of music as a performer transforms your relationship with it, I mean TRANSFORMS.  It’s like going from two dimensions to three.  Or eleven.  It’s worth it in a Where There Is Joy There Is Paaaaain kind of way . . . but it also serves to make me crazy, because I am in such need of extra things to be made crazy by, that schools keep calling stuff like art and music optional or superfluous or frivolous.  We should be taught/given/forced into some kind of personal engagement with music the way we’re taught/given/forced into relationship with the alphabet and with (shudder) numbers.  Do we want two-dimensional humans or eleven-dimensional humans?+

Also, just how does Janet Baker sing ‘ben’ in that gorgeous open way???  —This is at the very end when she’s rising to her final despair.  The lyric is pretty simple and you keep repeating most of it, including ‘where will I go without my beloved’.  But it’s only at the end that you’re expected to soar up to ‘Dove andro senza il mio ben’.  It’s only a frelling F, but try singing ‘ben’ on a high F without sounding like a goat overdue to be milked, standing at the gate, going behn.  Behn.  Behn.  Eff eff eff eff.  Both Blondel and Nadia have told me to bag the syllable and concentrate on getting a nice full throbbing F.++  But some day I’m going to get ‘ben’ back in there.  On a good day I almost can, not that I’m ever going to sound like Janet Baker.  But if you listen very closely you’ll notice that even Baker is cheating a little:  her high-F ‘ben’ is a lot more like ‘bain’+++ than it is ‘ben’.  It becomes ‘ben’ again when she drops down to C.

Now all I have to do is get the ‘pre’ back onto the high G in Un moto di gioja.  At the moment I’m just singing pah.  Mozart is usually pretty singer-friendly but this may be one of the pieces he wrote for a friend he wanted to tease.  For this music, you put up with the teasing.  Pah.

+ It’s a new term and All Change.  I usually have my voice lesson after Boris, the baritone who could have been professional and decided to be a doctor instead.  He’s pretty intimidating.  HE’S VERY FRELLING INTIMIDATING.  Very nice man but VERY INTIMIDATING SINGER.  I’ve told Nadia she’s not allowed to schedule him right after me, when he might HEAR.  ME.  She thinks I’m having my little joke.#  But yesterday I was right after one of her new beginners.  Yet another woman probably nearly as old as I am deciding that if she’s ever going to do it the time is now . . . and taking voice lessons.  She’s not as bad as I was two years ago but listening to her sure brings it all back, that little tight thin giving-nothing-away sound.  Oh my.  Honey, wait’ll the first time you open your mouth and a REAL NOISE comes out.  You’ll scare yourself silly.

# Although she’s afraid I’m not having my little joke.  Yep.  I’m not.

++ Thus sounding more like a sheep who has lost her lamb.  BAAAA.  BAAAA.

+++ Nadia says, think ‘bairn’ and leave the ‘r’ out.

** This is a seriously hellterror-compromised pair of jeans so a certain amount of creativity may be necessary in tying them on.

Even more KES comments. And a little ranting and raving.


I was running late this morning.  Well.  So surprising.  Not.  And I came blasting into the courtyard at the mews about mid-afternoon, didn’t quite spurt gravel into West Sussex as I spun Wolfgang into his corner, flung open the door and . . . almost stepped in a Gigantic Pile of Dog Crap.

I attained orbit a whole lot faster than those slow rockety things from Cape Canaveral ever did.  ARRRRRRRGH.

Among other things I get so frelling tired of feeling that I’m permanently bent over in a posture of abject apology for having dogs at all.*  And I believe there aren’t any full-time dogs at the mews/Big Pink Blot—which is run as a kind of Grangerford/Shepherdson cooperative—I think dogs may not be allowed in the articles of whatsit.  But there’s at least one other regular canine visitor . . . whom I’ve yet to see on a lead . . .


And of course everyone around here gives me the hairy eyeball, because our multi-legged (and hairy) comings and goings are extremely conspicuous.  I PICK UP AFTER MY HELLCRITTERS.  AND THEY’RE NEVER, EVER OFF LEAD EXCEPT UNDER MY [EXTREMELY HAIRY] EYEBALL IMMEDIATELY OUTSIDE THE FRONT DOOR FOR A PEE BEFORE THEY GET BACK IN THE CAR.

People are slime.  Make a note.**

On the other hand I had a rush of blood to the head and had a look at bobs and singles for St Clements minor and Colin and Niall and I had an Amusing Time this evening trying to ring touches of something besides plain bob minor. Of course Colin had to louse this up by splicing in plain courses of plain bob when I’m trying to grapple with the essential horror of ringing any bobs and singles on handbells.  I don’t need any additional abominations of random courses, however plain, of some other frelling method.  I am meanwhile welded to the St Clements trebles*** till further notice.


Yes. One might ask “Where is Kes going to sleep? Not even Cademon can guard against such antics as these!”

SLEEP?  You think anyone is thinking of SLEEP in current circumstances?†

And WHERE is she? Is this really taking place in a house she rents? In the same world as the motel and the truck? Really?

Oh, now, let’s not get all literal here.  Is Sunnydale any less Sunnydale just because the hellmouth happens to yawn evilly on a corner near you?

I also wouldn’t count on Merry being . . . normal.


There’s a corpse on the floor and a man speaking High Forsoothly, but I, like Kes, am most immediately concerned about bloodstains on her books.

Yep.  Under stress we revert to type.  Me too.

Oh wait, why didn’t we see Sid next to the body? Did she move out of the way in time? Last thing from last week was Sid biting the shadowy attacker’s arm, and now our shadowy attacker is bleeding all over the floor, dead.

No, no, no, no.  Not to worry.  This is a McKinley story, right?  Can you possibly imagine that I would let anything dreadful happen to Sid?  If I would defy the Story Council to give Kes a dressing-gown if she wasn’t wearing a nightgown, do you really think I’d let them do anything nasty to Sid?

Although this is another example of the weirdness of tiny-chunk serials.  You’ll see Sid again this Saturday.  I couldn’t get her and the books into last Saturday’s.

Watermelon Shoulders really isn’t terribly good at explaining, is he?

Well, High Forsoothly is very bad for the mental processes.  Think of all the drivel Gandalf could spout when he reverted to Ancient Mage mode.

Dear me… poor Kes. If she knows how much blood is in the human body, she’s doubtless well aware of what it means when your sword has a name.

Yep.  After all she writes that stuff.

And what a place to stop! “We have need of thee”!? … Can’t wait for Saturday!

Kes, on the other hand, would be very grateful to hide under the bed.  If she had a bed to hide under.

Diane in MN

doing a serial in tiny chunks like this

No problem with tiny chunks. Big problem with tiny MEMORY!

Yes.  Now try and imagine what it’s like being the author with a tiny memory.  No—wait—no—wasn’t it urglfwiddy in ep 4012?  Didn’t the attack mushrooms eat Gelasio’s new inamorata?  Was Serena’s to-die-for crumble pear, plum, peach or rambutan?

There will probably be quite a lot of tidying-up to be done for the hard-copy version . . .

This is, of course, not the author’s fault. But I am quite looking forward to some future date when Kes will be available in one BIG chunk

. . . toward that BIG chunk we are ALL looking forward to.††


I’ll also just add here that while forum members don’t rank in the millions or anything, if I posted a birthday KES for every forum member who had a birthday . . . I WOULD BE VERY BUSY WRITING KES.

Helpful comment: No matter how many millions of readers you get, you’d still only have 365 KES episodes to write.

Oh, another frelling literalist.  In the first place there are weird odds and statistics about people’s birthdays:,5753,-22978,00.html

Never mind the logic of how you get there, twenty-three people doesn’t seem anything like enough to produce two with the same birthday.  These odds however were made vivid to me in junior-high chemistry [sic] and there weren’t even quite twenty-three of us in that class—but another girl and I had the same birthday.  So what’s the other end of that—how many forum members would we need to produce birthdays EVERY DAY of the year?  And if there are more than one birthday person on a given day, will one episode satisfy them?  Or if person x got an episode this year, would person y—with the same birthday—expect their episode that day the next year?

I prefer to reject the whole birthday-ep notion unilaterally.  It’s so much easier.  For me.


1. I am going to start calling someone, anyone, really, “Watermelon Shoulders”, cause it cracks me up.

Assuming that you will apply this to someone whose physique includes large powerful shoulders I hope you will tactfully ascertain in advance if the cognomen will be appreciated in a positive manner.

2. I am not sure whether to be glad or upset that I will never have strange apparitions in my house as I have not one, but two techies.

I’d go for grateful.  Kes is not going to be having a good time for a while.

 3. I am saying this quietly as to not get hurt, while I love Kes, I just recently reread Pegasus and the ending is a killer and I would really love to read Pegasus II. So please, Robin, please, keep writing both!

Hey.  I want to keep eating.  I have a desire so overwhelming to read PEG II—and PEG III—in their perfect, finished entirety that your mere readerly longing is comparatively speaking a rose petal drifting in the bottomless ravine.

* * *

* Let alone three dogs, which anyone but Southdowner might find excessive.

** Pav took against someone for the first time in weeks the other day.  This jerk has three or four working-hunter type dogs, spaniels.^  Because he is a working-hunter type bloke he is clearly superior to the rest of us with our wispy pet dogs, and while his dogs do obey him, they are always off lead and he clearly doesn’t feel any great need to curtail their fun in terrorising the riff-raff.  His big male thug doesn’t like my hellhounds, and they return the sentiment.

I saw this delightful crew coming toward us and I picked Pav up.  I don’t need the hassle and she doesn’t need to be intimidated by testosterone-poisoned idiots.  The human jerk sauntered up to me and said, in as sneering a tone as humanly possible, Are we frightened?  I said in as neutral a tone as possible, There are rather a lot of you.

I think it was probably because he stank of ciggies, and Pav is passionately anti-smoking^^, but it may have been that I didn’t sound as neutral as I wanted to.  But she went ballistic, which Jerkface, fortunately, found amusing.  He sauntered off . . . and I staggered, with my ballistic bullie, to the nearest bench^^^, where we sat for a long time before she finally morphed back into my Pav and we could continue our hurtle.  Meanwhile we’d lost the last of the daylight.  I think Parliament might pass a law ordering more daylight in December.  Christmas is fine# but I want daylight.

^ In his case this is definitely too many.

^^ Passionately enough I wonder if something happened with a cigarette-stinking human when I wasn’t around.

^^^ This only works if your exploding critter weighs under thirty-five pounds.  I’m glad I don’t have to try and Hold a . . . Great Dane, say.

# Sort of.  Christmas, for this still-new Christian, starts the countdown to Easter again.  I know I got through Easter last year—and I know about the resurrection, thank you—but it still scares the frzzlmp out of me.

*** In the first big fat tier of ordinary methods, the treble only goes straight out to the back and straight down to the front again with none of the jiggy bits that make inside ringing so . . . entertaining.  So if you’re ringing the one-two on handbells, the amount of mayhem that bobs and singles can cause is limited because only the two is affected;  the one just keeps on truckin’.  It’s still bad enough that the two goes doolally, because that changes the relationship between your two bells.

† Granted that the author/recorder’s difficulties with the whole concept of sleep may be muddying the ground here.  OH LOOK.  AN INARGUABLE REASON NOT TO BE ABLE TO SLEEP.  MODIFIED RAPTURE.

†† Well, I hope many of us are looking forward to.  Please.^

^ See:  keep eating.

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