October 14, 2014

Shadows is here!

Niall, the evil ratbag

 

I haven’t seen much of Niall in quite some time because I haven’t been ringing bells. I’m aware that I miss ringing but there’s been a lot going on including all the major life change stuff and I’m so boring I keep getting tired.  We’ve stayed in touch by text* which in Niall’s case is chiefly offers of handbell opportunities which I mostly rebuff although he’s caught me once or twice by being pathetic, when they really really really need a third person or they can’t ring.  Sob.  But we also occasionally exchange fascinating information like that fresh brownies have just come out of the oven** or that there are mushrooms growing on the dashboard*** since the torrential rain that broke our early autumn drought last week with an unnecessarily extended HURRAH.  The seasonal river at the bottom of our hill is now in places pretty much up to the hellterror’s little evil eyes since of course the storm drains are blocked up again because that’s what storm drains do.  Ask any local council.

But Penelope has been ill so I’ve been going round their house to see her with Niall in attendance and it’s a lot harder to blow off someone bringing you cups of tea and fresh brownies† on a tray and staring at you with beady, meaningful eyes†† while ‘handbells’ forms in a thought bubble over his head.

Arrrrgh. So last night I had late duty††† which ran over time because that’s what it does, and when I get home I still have me and a hellmob to feed, and the hellmob needs a final relieving hurtle and I need a bath in which I will fall asleep and then not be able to sleep in my bed.‡  So I was staggering around this morning on even less sleep than usual wondering where the teakettle was‡‡ when Pooka chirruped.  I just about got her open and on and . . . Niall.  Wanting to know if I might come along before Old Eden tower practise tonight to be a steady pair of hands to ring handbells with his new beginner.‡‡‡  No.  Next question.  I scowled at the screen.  Poor earnest hopeful Niall§, wishing for a mere half an hour of my time, and even in my present condition I can (probably) ring plain hunt on handbells, in fact it’s probably one of the few things I am capable of so it would be half an hour of this bleary day that would not be wasted.  Think of the next pan of brownies§§.

Okay, I texted back. But I’m too tired for tower bells;  it’s been too long and the Old Eden bells are possessed by demons anyway.  Thank you, replied Niall politely.

You see where this is going. I successfully rang handbells with Niall’s very nice beginner.§§§  My basic handbell autopilot is still alive and well even if the rest of me is mushroom compost.  The tower bell ringers began trickling in and . . . stopped.  There were at final count six of us, including the very new beginner and one less new beginner.  And Niall and Vicky.  And Monty.  And me.  I stayed.  Obviously.  I rang. I enjoyed it.#

I MISS MY BELLS. DRAT YOU NIALL. HOW AM I GOING TO FIT TOWER BELLS BACK INTO MY LIFE?

* * *

* Old people. Texting.  You youngsters^ may need to avert your eyes.

^ I know there are youngsters who read the blog.  They email me sometimes.  Hi, I’m sixteen, and your blog makes me laugh.  —Oh good.  I think.

** Niall retired about a year ago and has learnt to bake. Clearly I should be cultivating this connection.

*** All right I don’t really have mushrooms growing on the dashboard.  But I will soon. It’s a little-known fact that commercial mushroom compost is made of compressed dog hair.

† Okay, they’re not really brownies. He thinks they’re brownies, but he’s a bloke. They haven’t got enough chocolate in them. They are totally superlative cake, dense and moist and studded with cranberries and raisins and other redeeming social values and with a faint pleasant haze of chocolate just discernible in the background.  THESE ARE NOT BROWNIES.  Brownies must be so saturated, so rampant with chocolate that they suck all the light out of their immediate surroundings except for a faint seductive gleam on their enigmatic darkest dark brown almost-black surfaces.  Redeeming social values wither and die in the vicinity of true brownies.  Penelope however, is no fool. Darling, she says, these are excellent. And has another one.

†† Almost hellterrorish, Niall, staring at you.

††† And anyone who is wondering why I haven’t mentioned the Samaritans by name on the blog in months, it’s because the admin asked me not to. Oh.  Ah.  I know they are pathological about confidentiality—which is a GOOD THING!!!!—but, um.  I may try to renegotiate the absoluteness of the ban some day in future but at the moment, while I’m still a frelling beginner, is not the time.  I will however risk mentioning that I’m out of the initial clueless wonder apprenticeship period and into the second, theoretically not quite so clueless^ apprenticeship period and yaaaaay. But the main thing is, yes, I’m certainly continuing with it.  I hope that joining is proving to be one of my better ideas—and yes, one of the new time and energy holes in this blog, as I anticipated when I stopped posting every day, is/are my Samaritan duty shifts and various relateds.  And if anyone reading this has been wondering if volunteering for the Samaritans is for them—find out where your local is and go along to an information evening.  No, it’s not easy work, but yes it is rewarding, and like pretty much every other worthwhile organization in this world, they can always use more bodies.

Shutting up now.

^ I would cross my fingers but that makes it harder to answer the phone.

‡ I swear if I could figure out a way to keep the water effectively hot I’d just sleep in the bath.^ Although as soon as this became official I’m sure the demons would say SHE’S SLEEPING IN THE BATH. RELOCATE. YOU’RE NOT AFRAID OF A LITTLE WATER ARE YOU?

^ No a waterbed is NOT the same thing.

‡‡ On the counter. Where it always is.  I have a relationship with my electric kettle and my large bag(s) of loose leaf tea and various necessary accoutrements not unlike my relationship with my glasses.  I can’t see anything till I find my glasses, including where I put them.  I can’t possibly get a couple of handfuls of those tiny black shreddy things into that ridiculously narrow-mouthed sieve and then accurately pour just-off-boiling water into it and over them . . . till I’ve had my caffeine.  I can almost see why tea bags caught on.

‡‡‡ Niall has this hilarious idea that handbells help you learn tower bells. Well, yes, they do, after several years of hard graft and when you’re getting used to the sensation of your brain melting and running out of your ears every time you ring a method.  Not so much when you’re in the early not-strangling-yourself-in-your-rope phase, when ‘plain hunt’ sounds like ‘nuclear physics’.

§ You frelling manipulative ratbag

§§ Cake

§§§ I hope she stays.

# With two beginners it’s not like we rang anything demanding. And when I folded half an hour early the others were ready to pack it in too:  ringing bells possessed by demons nonstop because there are only five or six of you is taxing even if you don’t have ME and a complicated life.

McKinley FAIL [again]

 

Yarrrrrggggh.  I promised Blogmom a doodle update today.  And I’ve had my head down over stuff today* SECURE in the knowledge that I had a dozen doodle photos to choose from as illustration for the unwelcome news that . . . yes, I’m still turning the poor neglected things out.  I mean, no I’m not done, no, I didn’t put the final load in the post today.   At the moment Third House is getting in the way of [ever snail-like] doodle production:  the sad truth is that doodles are the first thing to be shoved back in a corner when life starts whapping me up longside the head again.**

I know.  It’s been two years.  Two years.  In fact OVER two years.

I’m sorry.  Which with £3 or so will buy you a Starbucks Gooey-o-rama with chocolate sprinkles and a paper parasol.

As I have said on more than one occasion on these virtual pages I WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THIS AGAIN.  But I will still ask Blogmom to set up a Doodle Shop when—and only WHEN—I get this ancient hoary backlog cleared.  It’s not the doodles that are the problem:  doodling, when I’m actually sitting there doing it, is fun.  The problem is the doodler’s lack of a sense of time.  Or lack of sense full stop.

So . . . I had twelve*** photos from which I would choose eight or ten to DEMONSTRATE that to the extent there was ever any touch to this silly business I haven’t lost it.†  And when I stuck my memory card into my computer I discovered that I had had one of my UNUSUALLY CLUELESS MOMENTS, although I admit I have them rather a lot with this camera, and all but two of said doodle photos are dark grey and blurry.  AAAAAAAAAUGH.

All right.  That leaves two.

Gonturan

Gonturan

 

Several people asked for cats and books.  This one's the most recent.

Several people asked for cats and books. This one’s the most recent.

Oh.  And Happy Thanksgiving.

 

I don't think the muffins have fangs.

I don’t think the muffins have fangs.

 * * *

* Well, and handbells.  One of the many dumb things I feel guilty about is handbells, change ringing on handbells being one of the difficult frelling skills I have no frelling gift for that I’ve somehow managed to let myself get tangled up with.^  Having no (frelling) gift for it means I should spend more time studying and I, um, don’t.  I don’t have time or I don’t have brain energy or I have too many dogs or [other explanations insert HERE].  But I like ringing handbells, except that it makes me feel even stupider than usual.   So when Niall rings up and is insinuating my brain starts to explode.  No!  Yes!  No!  Yes!  Noyesnoyesnoyesnoyes!!!!  Niall, being Niall, only hears the yes part.

Niall rang up and was insinuating and heard ‘yes’.  So we were going to ring handbells tonight.  And then Colin’s builder discovered that the dumbleg trumwale^^ had morveldinky, and had to be FORKLED.  RIGHT NOW.  Which meant Colin wasn’t going to be able to get away early enough for handbells.  OH THAT’S REALLY TOO BAD [I had no sleep last night and feel like death not at all well warmed over] I said, trying not to hiccup with delight.

And then I took Pav out for a supernumerary hurtle.  She’s so self motivated that it’s rather too easy, when circumstances oppress, to decide that she expends enough energy in a relatively short space of time that merely getting underfoot counts to some extent.^^^

Pooka started barking at me as we were making our zigzag way home from Old Eden.  Curses.  Who invented mobile phones anyway.

It was Colin.  The forkling had gone with unwonted dispatch.  He was free for handbells after all.

Oh.

So we rang handbells.  THEY MADE ME CONDUCT.  THEY MADE ME CALL THE FRELLING BOBS.  AND THE EQUALLY FRELLING SINGLES.

^ Niall, you ratbag.

^^ It’s a particularly large and valuable dumbleg trumwale I believe.

^^^ No you may not eat my slippers.  You may nest in the dirty laundry, you may not shred it.  No you may not chew the corners of the furniture.  No you may not chew any of the corners of any of the furniture.  No you may not excavate the Ancient Magazine Pile under the kitchen table.+  No you may not wedge yourself under the tallboy++ to retrieve+++ the dustpan, the assortment of brushes, and Peter’s spare slippers.#  No you may not torture hellhounds.  No you may not torture me.

. . . At this point I frequently find myself thinking that it would be a lot simpler just to take her for an official hurtle and then feel justified in making her long down for a while.

+ This is a scary one.

++ I was HOPING she would get too big to do this.

+++ Retrieve, cough cough.  Retrieve.  Well, it starts with the retrieve.

# This list pertains to mayhem at the cottage.

** I know.  It should be handbells.  Although one of the reasons I don’t do my handbell homework is that if I have a few brain cells left at an unexpected time of day I don’t whip out a handbell method line, I whip out a pencil for a doodle.

*** No.  Actually I had sixteen.

† Another way of saying this is that you can’t lose what you didn’t have.

Sixteen November, revisited

 

 

Mostly Peter.  The magnificent peony bag is from Nina (and contains a SPARKLY scarf).

Mostly Peter. The magnificent peony bag is from Nina (and contains a SPARKLY scarf).

The thing that amuses me is that that flowered paper on the far right appeared three times this birthday:  people seem to think they know what I like.  They would be right about this.

I was going to post birthday photos yesterday and then frelling Niall and his frelling handbells intervened.  To put my tiny triumph into perspective, by the way, tonight at tower practise one of Forza’s good ringers was telling me excitedly that she’d rung her first full peal on twelve bells.  In the tower, this is, so she was only ringing one bell, but she was standing up for three and a half hours to do it and it was some infernal surprise method—I don’t think anyone bothers to ring anything but Infernal Surprise on higher numbers of bells—so while I don’t think she rings handbells, and I did tell her about my quarter, it was still like telling someone who’s just earned a place in the Horse of the Year show that you won your walk-trot class at the local gymkhana.

Anyway.  I wanted to get my NEW WATCH back from the jewellers before I posted photos:  I needed about nineteen links taken out of the massive wristband* but I wanted the blog photo of it ON MY WRIST.

Tah dah.

Tah dah.

 

This is however slightly a lesson in ordering things on line.  As soon as I discovered that pink gold [plate] and rhinestones were in in wristwatches I stopped looking at anything else.  And as soon as I noticed this one had a day dial—I haven’t had a watch that told me the day of the week in decades, and I love having a watch that tells me what day it is:  us stay at home free lancers can be seriously pathetic that way**—I knew this was the one.  Also I love Roman numerals—Roman numerals and it tells me the day of the week??  And rhinestones?  Be still my heart.  I’ve never had anything half so fabulous.

And it is fabulous.  It also weighs four ounces—a quarter of a frelling pound—and is nearly half an inch thick.  I knew the face had to be big from the on line photo of everything that’s on it.  I did not know wearing it would feel like having a pendant hellterror dangling from that wrist at all times, or that I couldn’t ring [tower] bells in it because it would hook the rope.***  I feel that someone somewhere along the design line absent-mindedly added a zero on the dimensions;  and the giant-sized wristband is perfectly in keeping with the watch.  It was originally made perhaps for the Brobdingnag market, where pink and rhinestones did not go over.

But it is definitely fabulous.  And yes, those are rhinestones in the face as well as around the border:  the border ones only look pink because they’re reflecting the pink gold.

You will now see me coming any time I have my sleeves pushed up.

Oh, and my favourite silly present from a friend:

Hee hee hee hee.

Hee hee hee hee.

In case I never find that blank needlework pillow I’m still covered. †    This is one of the other things that arrived in that rose paper in the first photo. . . .††

* * *

* This was part of my running-around day yesterday.  I also did thrilling things like buy vitamins.  And puppy toys.  There’s a very high rate of attrition in the puppy toy category.^

^ Ignorant, naïve people say to me, she’s not a puppy any more, she’s a year old!  Hollow laughter.  Whippets (and perforce whippet crosses) and bull terriers are apparently notorious for being slow maturers, but are there any dogs out there who are actually ADULT at a year old?  I’ve never met one.  I’m not planning to panic about the lifestyle of the adult bull terrier for at least another nine months.+

+ There is a fifteen-month-old puppy having a swell time with a bit of disintegrating sofa cover right now.  She has however earned it:  she long downed for AN HOUR with only occasional interventions.  I can even get out of my chair to pour myself another cup of peppermint tea without her immediately bouncing to her feet to follow me.#  Usually.  ##

# Because any excuse will do.

## And having spent 90% of that hour stiff with outrage/misery/disbelief/despair, despite the comfy nest of towels at my feet and the fact that all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, if obliged by circumstance she is quite a good sleeper . . . upon release she spent ten minutes racketing around the house like an extra-large rhinoceros in a china shop . . . and is now completely crashed out on my lap, which practically speaking is a lot less comfy than the towel nest.

**  Handbells are quite a useful way of keeping track of the passage of the days however because of the texts from Niall.

*** If I wear it for ringing handbells my left arm will become twice as large and muscular as my right.  I suppose I could swap wrists to a carefully balanced schedule.

† Whoever said I’d have trouble finding one . . . you’re right.  WHY?  There must be other people out there who’d like to choose their own Words to Live By.

†† Bratsche, I’ll post a photo of my dress TOMORROW.^

^ If I forget, nag me.

 

Various. Or possibly variable.

 

 

Katinseattle

. . . It’s that communication problem again. . . . I thought the comment about engineering texts was funny. But I did feel dumb about my shock over the empty dish. Of course I knew the hob was there. . . .

It must have been good writing.

YES.  DEFINITELY.  IT WAS DEFINITELY THE GOOD WRITING.  Also may I say you’re reading it in the spirit in which it was intended.  If you give a story its head and let it run away with you, you will be surprised at the things the story wants you to be surprised about.  It doesn’t have to be a big surprised.  Just a little ‘you’re the boss’ surprised.  When you close the book (or the ereader-of-choice case) you think, why was I surprised about that?  Of course the villain was going to tie the hopelessly wet heroine-facsimile to the railroad tracks.  And of course her dishy true love is going to arrive in time and untie her . . . and whap the villain up longside the head while she’s at it, and then order her hopelessly wet girlfriend to take those frelling self-defense classes.  Of course.  You’d have seen it a mile away, if you hadn’t been letting the story have its way with you.  Which is a very nice thing in a reader.  Just by the way.

As for ‘seventy is the new fifty,’ a cousin blithely emailed that to me. A much younger cousin. I growled back at him, via email. I’ve spent seventy years growing up. I’ve left a number of difficulties behind and collected more that I’ll never leave behind. I want to now say, “I’m 70, I can’t/don’t want to/won’t do that anymore.” Don’t tell me now I have to wait another twenty years.

YES.  I COULDN’T AGREE MORE.*  Granted I’m only sixty (-one) but the principle has been manifesting itself in my life for some time.  I’m not crazy about the wrinkles and the horrible squidgy sagging skin—I’m especially not crazy about the skin, but I’ve had awful skin all my life**, why should it change for the better now—and the memory that makes a snapped rubber band look like the much-desired steel trap, and the stealthily accumulating assortment of aches and pains.  But they absolutely beat being young and clueless and having all those frelling mistakes yet to make.  Granted some people make fewer mistakes than others . . . some of us make LOTS AND LOTS MORE than others . . . but everybody makes some.  And I made a few that it’s worth being thirty or forty years older to be thirty or forty years away from.  And a lot of that thirty or forty years has been pretty interesting in its own right.

Nat

When I have ‘What the?’ moments, I just think, why SHOULD I expect to understand everything?

Everything?  I don’t want to understand everything because then I’d be God and I have enough trouble being responsible for three hellcritters.  I wouldn’t like reigning over all of creation at all.  But it would be nice to understand one or two things occasionally.  And I feel the labelling and signposting system could be expanded a good deal.

. . . BTW- are there publishing rules on having the same exact title as another author?

Ah yet another query about my life’s work that I can’t answer.  Generally speaking, however, no.  I imagine that if you named your book Qzhhgorgum because it was about a race of creatures called qzhhgorgum which you invented, you’d have some kind of copyright protection against someone else calling their book Qzhhgorgum:  the Doodah, or possibly even Qzzhhgorgim:  the Semi-Original, as well as the line of merchandise including the fuzzy earmuffs (qzhhgorgum have four ears) in a range of exciting decorator colours and the frying-pans with the specially adapted handles (qzhhgorgum have four fingers and four thumbs) and . . .

. . . Ahem.  But—still generally speaking—you’re going to avoid, if at all possible, having the same title as somebody’s else book for all the obvious sales and marketing reasons.  It happened to me once:  ROSE DAUGHTER started life as ROSE COTTAGE.  And then Mary Stewart came along in the same frelling year and from the same frelling publishing house.  I grant you that ROSE DAUGHTER is a much better title for my book*** than ROSE COTTAGE would have been, but at the time I was not at all happy when my publisher told me I had to change it.

Rachel

. . . I feel I need to stand up for linoleum. It is not anything to do with vinyl, but a wonderful floor covering made from naturally occurring substances. (The lino bit of the name is from linseed oil.)

I actually knew that about linseed oil.  But I didn’t google it first, and would have said if I were asked that it was probably one of those things that originally had linseed oil in it and the name was still being used, like ‘knitting wool’ may in fact be acrylic.  And I wouldn’t have been surprised if the linseed oil part was an urban myth and people who knew better fell down laughing if you said there was a floor covering with linseed oil in it.

 Its trendy new name is marmoleum.

. . . And I did not know it still existed.  I do know that my floor-installers got very huffy when I said lino, and insisted that theirs was the much superior . . . um, vinyl.

 Vinyl is a much easier material to install and is waterproof, but all the eco credentials are with lino.

Yes.  Sadly the vinyl pongs.  I want to believe that you stop smelling it not because human noses aren’t very good but because it stops off-gassing SOON after it fulfils its purpose and becomes a floor.

To find out more, can I recommend the fabulous linoleum museum at Kirkcaldy. (If you are not a lino fan, it also has an amazing collection of Scottish colourist paintings.)

Okay, now I am going to fall down laughing.  A small Scottish museum specialising in . . . lino and the Scottish Colourists.  I wonder if there’s a B&B in the area that takes hellcritters.  Several hellcritters.

Gwyn_sully

But I don’t like eating in a group and I resent being forced to do so…

Ah, my mistake. I misconstrued the problem. Preferring not to eat in groups is totally a different deal than dietary requirements. I can’t say for sure how I would deal with it, since we’ve always been upfront that dinner is part of what we do and I assume that people who don’t like to eat in groups join a group that is a better fit for them. . . .

It’s the Curse of the Talking Fingers thing again I think:  if we’d been speaking face to face we’d’ve had this sorted before we knew there was anything to sort.  I’ve never been a happy social eater but I’ve grown worse about eating in groups as I’ve got older and have less slack for making bad guesses about food—both what’s in it and if I’ll get away with eating it.  And I used to do a lot of cooking ESPECIALLY BAKING and I used to like feeding people, a select few at a time.  Any more, eh, well, putting together one of my gigantic mixing-bowl-ful lunch salads takes a surprising amount of time, even after Peter washes the lettuce.  Before I sound too pathetic, I miss communal food philosophically more than literally:  my life abhors a vacuum at least as passionately as Mother Nature ever did, and time that I might once have filled with baking brownies tends to silt up with other activities.†

There’s another thing to keep in mind:  I’m not at my best and brightest at (usually) mmph o’clock in the morning when I’m writing this thing and I hope none of you are at your best and brightest when you’re reading it and, if I’m lucky, making amusing/interesting/engaged comments on the forum.  It’s a blog.  It’s only a blog.  So we’re all going to misstate ourselves from not being awake yet/enough or because our minds are on the funny noise upstairs/the funny noise from the dog bed/whether or not to ask the cute cop for his phone number/whether or not to ask the cute cop for her phone number/etc.  It happens.  I hope we’ll all live.  Especially me, since odds are overwhelmingly that I screw up the most.

* * *

* Except about the good writing.  I agree even more about the good writing.

** Although if anyone had ever heard of dairy allergies forty-eight years ago I might have been able to miss out both the pizza-faced stage and a lot of by-the-time-I-figured-it-out, lifetime-established digestive mayhem, and focussed on the stunning variety of rogue rashes.  Yes I know I’m oversimplifying.

*** Thank you Peter

† Handbells, perhaps.  It was to laugh, tonight.  Gemma had brought her husband, who claims for some inexplicable reason to want to learn to ring handbells.  There were FIVE of us which was pretty amazing—especially wedged into my tiny cottage sitting-room—and trying to get five people properly rung in takes a while.  Niall finally had to leave in something of a hurry to go be ringing-master at the tower and didn’t have a chance to do his Diary Trick and browbeat all of us into another meeting.  The four of us remaining all sat around chatting^ instead of dutifully going along to tower practise. . . .  hee hee hee hee hee.

^ And eating brownies.  Just by the way.

Blondviolinist

Niall so has your number.

Yep.  I expect the insinuating texts to start up any minute.

I’ve been Nialled

 

The last few weeks . . . months . . . have not been splendid in every way.  You hear about most of the bloggable stuff*;  I assume it will not surprise you that quite a lot of screaming, throwing things and hiding under the bed happens off line and stays off line.  Arrrgh.  I also make periodic attempts to yank my life into something more nearly resembling order** which always involves . . . less.  Less doing stuff.  Less running around.  Less overbooking myself because there seems to be white space in the diary.***  Less signing up for new stuff.†  Less acquiring stuff.††  Less less less less less.†††

Feh.

However.  In the scrum of failing to become organised, things get lost.‡  I’ve barely been ringing handbells all summer.  Initially I had made a laudable attempt to cut back on how much handbell ringing I did, not least because it’s seriously brain-draining and I do need to reserve a few of my easily-tapped-out brains for other purposes:  earning a living, for example.  But cutting back on handbells went a bit wrong.  Colin kept frelling going on frelling holiday‡‡ and then Gemma kept going on holiday‡‡‡ and then, I don’t know, I lost the plot.  I had some ME days, I had various eruptions like Ms OTP, my dogminder quit/fired me, and the Street Pastor training was rather involving.

And then we rang handbells for that wedding on Saturday and I was thinking, eh, handbells, and I looked in my diary and there was a small timid handbells?, with a question mark after in this week’s diary for today.  Thursday is the Colin-and-Niall day:  Colin and Niall who can ring anything, or at least anything I’ve ever heard of.  So on Monday I texted Niall.  And for some reason he thought handbells on Thursday was a good idea.  And—even more amazing—Colin wasn’t on holiday.

I haven’t rung anything but frelling bob minor and some teaching-type methods in yonks and here was my opportunity.  I decided I had three options:  I could brush up on my St Clements, my Kent, or my Cambridge.§  I threw Cambridge out at once.  It’s way the hardest, although it’s also the one I’ve spent the most time trying to learn and I was nearly there when life started happening in a handbell-unfriendly way.  I was a little wistful about Cambridge but I was sure this was the right choice for starting up again.

That left St Clements, which is really only a bob minor variation§§, and Kent, which is kind of the gentle approach to Cambridge.§§§  It was going to be fine.  I half-knew them both already, I just had to drag that half-knowledge out of the shadows#, dust it off, and start sticking it to its other half.

Or halves.  And therein lies my TERRIBLE MISTAKE.  I didn’t look at them together.  I did not look at them in relation to each other—a method is a method;  it doesn’t matter what some other method is—and I therefore didn’t notice that the beginnings of these two methods are as if malignly meant to confuse the living doodah-whatsit out of you.  Can I explain this in a way a non-handbell-ringer will understand?##  Three people ring six bells.  Each row consists of all six bells ringing once each.  Each bell can move only one place from one row of six to the next row of six.  So if in row one you rang in thirds and fourths place, your third-place bell can ONLY ring in either second or fourths next row and your fourth-place bell can ONLY ring in either thirds or fifths.  Or stay in the same place, which is also permitted.

I’m ringing the trebles, the first pair, which are the easiest pair in most ordinary methods because the no.1 bell has the easiest path through the method, so when you start ringing touches where the pattern gets messed up by the conductor’s calls, only your second bell is affected.  The first bell toils on doing what it always does and never mind how explosive the other five may become.

The problem for me was the first frelling leads of Kent and St Clements are like the evil antipathetic twins of each other.  Like that extremely subtle Star Trek The Original episode where these two guys really hate each other because one of them is black down the right side and white down the left and the other one is black down the left side and white down the right.  Kent is a treble-bobbing method which means the treble has a different basic unaffected line through the diagram than St Clements does.  And furthermore bell no.2 in both methods hangs around the front for a long time before it heads out to the back, but in St Clements its location in the row goes: 1-2-1-2-1-2-1-2 and in Kent it goes 1-1-2-2-1-1-2-2-1-1-2-2.

Okay, you have no idea what I’m talking about.  Let me be succinct:  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.

By the time Colin and Niall arrived this afternoon I couldn’t ring anything.

But by the end of the afternoon I was ringing little tiny, and perhaps somewhat lumpy, TOUCHES of St Clements.  We even essayed a small bit of spliced, which is where you change frelling METHODS in the middle of a touch, and we did not crash and burn, which is to say I did not crash and burn.

It was fun.

Whereupon Niall got his diary out and said, well, we can ring major [eight bells] tomorrow, because Gemma and Jillian are both available.

I can’t do tomorrow, I said.

Can we meet here again? said Niall, staring at his diary.

I told Gemma at tower practise on Wednesday that I couldn’t do this Friday, I said.

I’ll text her, said Niall.  We start at 5:30, okay?

I thought about it.  When I cut back on my handbells, I said I was going to ring only once a week.  If I rang Thursday, I wasn’t going to ring Friday.  This Friday . . . I was supposed to go to a dog show.  Southdowner is still trying to convince me that it would be fun to take the hellterror to some breed classes.###

But I can’t go because I don’t have a dogminder to cosset hellhounds in my absence.

Okay, I said.  Five-thirty.

Niall smiled.  Evilly.

* * *

* Occasionally there’s so frelling much of it I don’t get around to all of it.

** Not very nearly resembling order.  In fact not nearly at all.  Just slightly resembling order.

*** Very misleading, white space in the diary.

† First Street Pastors duty night in a fortnight.  Eeep.

†† Fewer hellcritters, say.  Oops^.

^ And we’re not even going to discuss bookshelves.

††† More sleep would be nice however.   Which is to say when I manage to be in bed with the lights out and my eyes shut I should be ASLEEP.

‡ Just had an email from Merrilee reminding me of something I’d promised for a fortnight ago.  Something on deadline.  AAAAAAAUGH.  I don’t even remember which catastrophe derailed this, I emailed to her.  I know, she replied.  That’s why I’m here.

‡‡ What did he think it was, summer?  What did he think he was, retired?

‡‡‡ Who did she think she is?  A woman with a big family she wants to spend time with?

§ They’re METHOD NAMES, okay?

§§ You know, like the Hammerklavier Sonata is only a variation of Chopsticks.

§§§ And a partridge in a pear tree is the gentle approach to sending your true love round the twist by day twelve.

# I have a serious word-usage problem any more, with a hellhound named Darkness and a book named SHADOWS.

## Let alone care.

### Probably closely related to the fun of destroying your brain with handbells.

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