I had an email from Aloysius yesterday saying that he had a meeting in Oxford* and wouldn’t be here for silent prayer today, and would I hold the floor down in his absence?** I’ve done this before. I think I told you, months ago, the first time it happened, I asked him for suitable opening and closing reading-out-loud prayers***, which he duly sent me, a print-out of which I carry around in an increasingly frayed state in the little notebook in my back pocket.† And I read them out, turn on my electric candle, set the temple-bell timer app on Astarte, and sit quietly—by myself—in St Margaret’s†† little side chapel. But along with believing in prayer in the standard ritual praise/petition/penitence/doodahdoodah ways I believe in the consequences of ordinary mortal structure and schedule—if you commit to Wednesday afternoon silent prayer, then you have to go on doing it. It matters. Even if you’re the only one and you suspect your curate is humouring you.†††
There were three of us today. My jaw didn’t smack to the floor, but that’s possibly only because I had an armful of blanket in the way.‡ It’s pretty amazing how many more people three is than one, you know?
I still read out Aloysius’ prayers and used the temple-bell app. . . . ‡‡
* * *
* a likely story
** These weren’t quite his words. Aloysius is a polite young British priest.^
^ I have a long-downing hellterror at my feet again. She is being afflicted beyond measure or bearing by the fact that Peter is kneeling on the floor not six feet away, groping in the bottom drawer of the freezer. OH. MERCY. HE’S NOW LAYING LARGE FASCINATING PACKAGES ON THE FLOOR BEHIND HIM. OH. OH. OH.
*** I think I’ve also told you that Llewellyn says all us Street Pastors should trying being a Prayer Pastor some time—which means staying at base and, um, praying. I would like to try PPing; prayer is very grounding and centring. Both of which aspects of mortal life and character I’m a little short of, and, never mind the worshiping God part, is a lot of the lure of contemplative prayer for me—the Wednesday afternoon at St Margaret’s/Saturday evening at the monks’ effect. Prayer Pastoring takes the spiritual strength of prayer (you hope) out into the practical world—or anyway the world rings you up on the Street Pastor mobile and asks you to pray for stuff.
The problem is that as a Prayer Pastor you have to pray out loud. You have to make it up as you go along. I’ve been known to mutter supplicatory phrases under my breath at home^ but PRAY OUT LOUD? USING MY OWN WORDS? ARE YOU KIDDING?
I haven’t volunteered for Prayer Pastor duty yet.^^
^Although a lot of this, sadly, is of the ‘God please send a thunder-bolt to blast this frelling object’ variety.
^^ And I’m denial about the fact that some day someone on the street will ask me to pray for/with them. People do. It’s one of the things they think Street Pastors are for. They don’t want some invisible Prayer Pastor half across the city. They want you. Eeeep.
† The one that on several pairs of my jeans is coming off due to small heavy scrabbly hellterror hind feet. The notebook is getting pretty frayed too.
†† Freezing cold, just by the way. You expect an old church like the abbey to be cold. St Margaret’s is newish and not terribly interesting . . . and freezing cold.
††† Aloysius told me a while back that one of the few legal requirements of being a priest is that you have to pray every day.^ So he can at least multi-task Wednesday afternoon. Except when he’s in Oxford.
^ This is one of those ‘I’m an alien in a foreign culture’+ moments for me, the separation-of-church-and-state American. Priests must pray every day or they’re breaking the law. Jeepers.
+ And I don’t really speak the language.
‡ See: cold.
* * *
‡‡. . . And at this point, Darkness, who has been obviously anxious and uncomfortable all evening, went and stood by the door in a worried and meaningful way.
We’re just back from racing over half Hampshire while he geysers—I don’t know what hurtling has to do with geysering but the latter seems to require the former.
It started raining and I get tired quickly, hurtling late at night. So I brought them home too soon and he threw up magnificently all over the carpet, whereupon I had a meltdown of epic proportions. I also cleaned up the carpet.
I can’t remember if I’ve told you I’ve gone back to my old homeopathic vet again. I will ring him tomorrow, since the latest remedy is clearly not having the desired effect.
And, you know, I’m not sure how long I can go on doing this.
You’ll excuse me if I stop a bit abruptly tonight.^
^ Yo, God, why are you torturing my dogs?
It has not been a good day. I overslept—which at least has the advantage that I got some sleep—but I was racing around tripping over a puppy very anxious to be helpful trying to catch up with myself and failing, of course, does anyone ever catch up?*, and one of my split-second decisions was to leave the GIGANTIC HOUSE SPIDER perched precariously on a skirting board near the front door—he was too big and he didn’t fit, and was having to extend some of his supernumerary limbs around the corner and grasp the front of the bookcase—and finish throwing the last six animals and twenty-two knapsacks in Wolfgang and get down to the mews before sunset.
Which means he’s still at the cottage. Somewhere. Waiting for me. Unless of course he’s found his beloved and they are experiencing marital bliss . . . somewhere. You don’t seem to find pairs of spiders so I’m ASSUMING I don’t have to worry about the happy couple(s) once they are. But it’s now definitively nighttime and by the time we all** get back to the cottage I’ll be tired and . . . I know it looks like a really dumb decision. But there’s the additional factoid that neither of my spider catchers are actually up to the job of autumn-sized house spiders, the ones that are as big as your hand. That Godzilla I posted photos of a couple of years ago is still a personal worst, but this time of year there are always several jolly little pony-sized arachnids that, like the cockroaches outside Charlie’s Coffeehouse, you can hear as they clatter across the lino’d*** floor. Ugggh. But I wonder what spider-catcher-inventors are thinking about when they design something big and strong enough to tackle a somewhat undernourished daddy-long-legs? I have never used the box one on anything bigger than my thumbnail because I dislike cutting legs off, even of spiders . . . and I’m probably not going to bother with a spider that small anyway—I’m a sort of mutable arachnophobe—and the box-catcher, while it was sold to me for spiders, is useful for wasps and Other Things That Sting.
I have been put off forever using the bristle-brush catcher, where you plop the business end of this bushy broom thing over your spider and then run the handle down toward it so the bristles close over it, TRAPPING IT SECURELY. Yes. Indeed. An autumn-sized spider says ‘hmm, indoor hedgerow, don’t like it’, bursts through the plastic bristles without breaking a sweat AND RUNS UP THE HANDLE TOWARD MY ARM. Exit screaming.† I may have told you this story before. The memory lingers.
. . . I thought this early story-arc of the hob was dead obvious. Dead obvious isn’t necessarily bad—see previous response: OF COURSE I’m going to feed a friendly hob—but it’s usually, erm, obvious. You must read too many engineering texts or something and your eye has got out for fiction.
Well, yes, looking back, it was obvious. **defensively** I’d just turned 70 the day before. I was rather shaken by the idea that my extended middle age is over. 70 is undeniably old.
I seem to have left a piece of my brain behind. But, hey, I’m 70; I have an excuse. Right?
I’m sorry! ::Grovels:: I meant to be teasing you. —It goes on being a problem, this communication thing, even after 1,000,000,000,000,000 years of evolution from space dust or sea-bottom slime or whatever††, and email and the internet have just super-extended it into eleventy-seven new dimensions. You get so used to talking with your fingers that you forget how many of the traditional social cues you’re not picking up.
Er . . . happy birthday? I had a friend commenting when she turned seventy several years ago that everyone was telling her that ‘seventy is the new fifty’. No it isn’t, she said. That would make sixty the new forty, and I can vouch that sixty is not forty, new or otherwise.
. . . Best insomnia cure for Christians: Read Leviticus.
::Shudder:: Not for me. Leviticus is too full of horrors. You’re supposed to do what because of what? Noooooooo. Not to mention killing all those poor critters and splashing their blood around.†††
I cook for my home group regularly, and we have some people with very restrictive diets. I would always rather know as much as possible as soon as possible (within limits of what they are comfortable telling me, of course). For me, hospitality is a big deal. So if someone does have a limitation and they don’t tell me, I always feel bad that I wasn’t allowed to provide them what I provided everyone else with (or at least the equivalent). It makes my hospitality feel incomplete. I would say I do feel like you would be ministering to me by telling me because it would relieve me of the guilt I would feel for being inconsiderate of someone else’s needs, even if it was unintentional. . . .
Sure. And I have emailed the organiser. But I don’t like eating in a group and I resent being forced to do so. I wouldn’t join a home group that required me to accept the food hospitality of the organizer as part of the regular meetings: if this Alpha course began every meeting, instead of just the first one, with a group meal, I wouldn’t sign up. Hospitality, and providing for your guests, is your big deal. What if one of your guests has a big deal of being able to eat in private without someone’s need to be hospitable looming over them?
Diane in MN
. . . hellhounds are, erm, undesirably reactive to rabbit and venison and they won’t eat any of the other within-my-price-range options.
If you haven’t already tried it, you might look at turkey as an alternative to chicken. The taste is similar but the proteins are different (I was allergic to chicken, but not to turkey), and if it’s a new food they might not be sensitive to it. That’s assuming turkey is as commonplace in your markets as it is here, of course.
Turkey is available over here at Christmas, at £1,000,000,000 per carat. If there are other turkey options I haven’t found them, although I admit my google-fu is poor. I’ve had other Americans suggest turkey—and duck, which is nearly as expensive although available most of the year in case anyone wins the lottery—and I’ve tried the dog-food turkey and duck, either 100% or at least grain-free, and hellhounds, of course, won’t touch it. Fortunately Pav will so all those frelling tins aren’t going to be wasted.
. . . I adore Bendicks Bittermints, they are not thin and squidgy but thick and solid with a really intense mint hit.
Yes, I remember those. Before I discovered G&B, and before I was clobbered by the ME, I got through a lot of Bendicks Bittermints which are, as you say, excellent. But the ME comes with a lorryload of chemical/environmental sensitivities/intolerances as well as the straightforward food issues and I’m pretty paranoid about organic. And Bendicks, unfortunately, is not organic. I admit that I wonder what kind of corners G&B may be cutting behind their behemoth corporate front, now they’re no longer independent. And do things like disguise inferior new product in a superior old product’s packaging.
Yeah, I’ve been VERY lactose intolerant for about a year now, and the thing that I hate most is how difficult it makes communal food (especially dessert). My church is making efforts to be better about labeling . . . but mostly in the direction of being accommodating to people with gluten sensitivities. . . .
Food allergies and intolerances are so common now—and commonly known about—it amazes me, not in a good way, how slow how many providers of public or communal food, including restaurants, are to respond in any useful way. One of the things that used to make me crazy when I first moved over here is that any vegetarian option WAS UP TO ITS ARMPITS IN CHEESE. It’s like the entire country had got stuck in the early Moosewood Cookbook stage. It’s better now, but it’s still not uncommon to find the one ::trumpet fanfare:: vegetarian option on a restaurant menu to be three kinds of LOCALLY SOURCED!!!! cheese artfully woven through some risotto rice. And if you’re dairy- tomato/potato/eggplant/etc- and gluten-intolerant HAVE A NICE LIFE. Somewhere else. If you can. Fortunately I do—and can—eat meat‡, or I’d’ve starved to death years ago.
Restaurants are fun, too. Last night, for example, I found myself dragged along to an Italian place. And it’s not that I don’t like Italian food. But ALL ITALIAN FOOD IS BETTER WITH CHEESE. . . . If anyone has suggestions for what Italian food I should be ordering that would still be interesting without cheese or milk, I’m open to ideas.
Okay, I may be able to help here. Back in the days when I was only lactose intolerant I discovered harlot’s sauce. Most Italian restaurants have it and I never had a bad one—famous last words I daresay. I can’t immediately find my recipe since it’s been retired and while I’m used to being dairy-free I still suffer lingering sulkiness about being tomato-free, but this one looks like the right stuff:
* * *
* Don’t answer that
** The thirty-seven animals and ninety-eight knapsacks
*** We’re not supposed to call it lino any more. Lino is scruffy and low-class. I think it’s now vinyl. I have a very nice floor, whatever it calls itself, except for the muddy spider footprints. The hellcritters and I all wipe our feet carefully. Yes.
† Pav is extremely fond of the bristle-brush spider-catcher, although not for the use for which it was intended.
†† And the hand of God, but in one of his obscurer moments. Although on a bad day I think the entire Bible is one long, gruesomely over-extended obscurer moment.
††† Definitely an obscurer moment.
‡ AND LOTS AND LOTS OF (mostly raw) VEGETABLES AND FRUIT. I’m so Paleo. I’m probably healthy as **** and will live forever.^
^ Well, if I am healthy as **** it’s nice idea. . . .
The ME, dazzling ratbag that it is, decided to give me a few hours last night off. This is one of its favourite tricks—I’ll feel my energy reservoirs, empty as the hob’s bowl, suddenly and without warning beginning to refill—a sort of counter leak, with energy seeping in, as if some kind of risky, unreliable guerrilla rescue. I got all excited—as one does—and did a bunch of stupid, low-level stuff like folding laundry that I have not been getting round to* because I’m genuinely tired by the last few weeks AND because you, or anyway I, do not want to do anything too demanding when I’m hoping** to SLEEP soon. However, by the time the laundry was folded, all the houseplants watered, the trove of puppy toys hoicked out from under the kitchen cupboard*** and various other domestic chores too embarrassing to admit were accomplished, it was well after mmph o’clock and I was still much too buzzed to sleep. . . .
STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID
. . . which is either the system, or how I’m feeling, on two hours’ sleep† and a lot of gaudy hallucinations, or both. Probably both.
Monday is, however, my voice lesson, and very little can get between me and Nadia. Also . . . considering the boiling-crap level of life generally it’s been a surprisingly not-bad week for singing. One of the most frustrating things about being, well, terrible, with very little voice to begin with and what there is of it tied up in barbed wire so any movement causes a thin desperate squealing, is that it takes so much frelling effort to unwind enough of the barbed wire to make some kind of singing-facsimile possible that you’re tired, cranky and demoralised before you’ve got past your frelling warm-up exercises. I do keep reminding myself how much more voice I have now than I did two years ago when I started with Nadia†† but it’s like the difference between a molecule and a mitochondrion—yes, in terms of percentage, huge, but no one without a microscope is going to notice.
I’ve got round the hideousness of beginning warm-up by singing folk songs††† but there have still been days/nights when F looks like too great an effort—I admit rarely any more—but beyond F there is G and then A . . . or the occasional whapped-by-an-angel frelling B.‡ And I never know. Some nights are still hideous.
But this week, despite all, it hasn’t been too bad. I start off with enough noise to do something with, and practising a new song is less like bending wrought iron with my bare hands than sometimes. And this week the new song was Voi, che sapete which I ought to know instantly since I’ve been playing Marriage of Figaro about five times a week for the last forty years . . . but as many of you out there know, performing something is always a tiny bit more demanding than listening to someone else performing it. I went in today nervous because I had a new song, still . . . it was a familiar new song, and I’ve mostly been able to sing it this week.
I think my bottom-line set point has moved up a fraction. This is the second week in a row that we haven’t had to spend half the lesson winkling my voice out of hiding, so we got going on a song sooner than usual. And I was way more out there than usual—I’m not sure what to call it because it’s not just volume; I’m capable of being (relatively) loud in that small room; this was something beyond that. This was . . . my voice trying to become itself, to be, you know, distinctive, as I said last week. I can hear this. And, if you want to know, it’s frelling scary, being out there, even if only Nadia can hear me. It has fresh drawbacks too: there is a much greater graphic reality to the fact that I’m not Marilyn Horne or Janet Baker or Joyce DiDonato. I don’t know how to explain it: it’s better and worse at the same time . . . but it’s a bit exciting. And while I’ve spent the last two and a half years being a good little dweeb about not listening to Real Singers on YouTube I’ve also thought it’s kind of a joke because I’m not capable of trying to sound like someone who knows what she’s doing . . . I’m starting to stumble over the line where I might. I might try to do one thing rather than another. It’s about to become significant, down here at mitochondrial level, that I learn to find my own distinctive way rather than pick up someone else’s. Maybe.
What’s the next level after mitochondrion? Golgi apparatus?
* * *
* Sorting and then putting the laundry into the washing machine and turning it on was challenge enough
** Against both history and reason
*** To the great joy of the puppy. I must remember to ask Atlas to plug the frelling gap the toys disappear through, which of course was created by the puppy in question doing her ricocheting trick. Southdowner had warned me about the hucklebutting and the high-speed end-swapping. She hadn’t warned me that a bull terrier, being made of case-hardened steel as they all are, is perfectly happy to do this through or in spite of trees, furniture, you (ow),^ other dogs^^, etc.
^ I have a new theory that bullies are dogs for young people.
^^ Darkness runs away. Chaos, however, does this folding-his-legs-under-him-and-floating trick like a kind of furry, fawn-coloured Yoda till she caroms past him.
† I got up when I heard Pooka ringing—despite the fact that she was turned off. If you are so not asleep that you can hear the faint burring noise a turned-off iPhone makes when it rings, you might as well get up.
†† Two and a half, minus maternity leave, I think.
††† And old gospel thumpers. I’ve told you before that one of the sillier bennies of this conversion shtick is the excuse to sing When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder and Shall We Gather at the River etc at top volume, doing the washing-up, behind Wolfgang’s steering wheel, and frequently when out hurtling hellcritters. This also has to make up, however, for the tosh we sing at St Margaret’s. I’ve pretty much given up singing. I drop down into unreconstructed chest voice and bellow. I have a few musical friends, including Nadia herself, who say that they keep themselves from going mad under such circumstances by singing harmony, but I’m mostly not steady enough for this—yet. It’s on the list. I’m still half-plotting suggesting to Buckminster we have an occasional real hymn-singing evening—but Eleanor says I’d have to be ready to go through with it, which means run the freller, because Buckminster would say ‘yes’ instantly because he likes his congregation to feel involved. Eleanor says she’d help. Hmmm.^
^ Yes. Think of the blog material.
‡ Eh. I should have a piece with a high B in it to sing when it’s visiting. Might encourage it to stay, or at least come back oftener. It’s always such a shock when it drops in it’s like whoa what do I do now. And then I don’t do anything and it decides it’s not appreciated and goes away again.
If you’d asked me a month ago I’d have said KES PART ONE won’t make it to episode 120. If you’d asked me a fortnight ago I’d’ve said it would be over by ep one-twenty.
I’m writing one-nineteen now. It’s not going to be over by one-twenty.
IS ANYONE SURPRISED IT’S RUNNING LONG? ANYONE?
I didn’t think so.
Perhaps it’s still a bit too early to say this, but I was rather fearful that Kes wouldn’t actually make it inside Rose Manor, and that she’d instead end up elsewhere.
IT’S TOO EARLY TO SAY THIS. Mwa hahahahahahahaha.
It’s only her first night. They’re letting her off the hook (sorta). Second night… anything could happen (and probably will at this rate. LOL)
The SECOND night?!? Are you kidding? The first night has barely BEGUN.**
Besides, the poor hob needs his milk. (Her milk? Its milk? Are hobs generally male?)
The only ones I’ve felt a personal connection to (chiefly William Mayne’s and Katherine Briggs’) have been male. That said . . . erm . . . and some day I have to dig my Tam Lin retelling out again. That has a hob in it too. Of (currently) unknown gender.
…I’ll be on pins and needles for poor Kes till the next chapter!
Depending on how you’re defining ‘chapter’, I suggest you figure out a way to get comfortable. . . .
When I moved here, I moved alone because my husband was still working where I’d come from . . . Slept on the floor. Woke up the next morning to the town-wide news that the town had, overnight, its second murder in its entire existence.
SNORK. Sorry. One shouldn’t laugh at murder but . . . only you, EMoon, would have a story like that about a first night in a new house. Have you ever considered writing fiction?
The hob’s milk was gone.
(I’ve only been worrying about the poor hob getting fed since he (or she) first helped out with the faucet.)
Hey. This is a MCKINLEY story. What did you THINK would happen?!
The hob’s milk was gone.
This isn’t a cliffhanger. I feel like I came right up to the cliff and dropped over it.
You do? Golly. I thought this early story-arc of the hob was dead obvious. Dead obvious isn’t necessarily bad—see previous response: OF COURSE I’m going to feed a friendly hob—but it’s usually, erm, obvious. You must read too many engineering texts or something and your eye has got out for fiction.
I love this story. I don’t think I want it to go any faster. I don’t want it to end.
OH GOOD. Since we seem to be headed in that direction.*** Pacing and storytelling speed are funny things. I like leisurely, filling-in-the-background storytelling as a reader† so it’s not surprising that those are the kinds of stories I tell as a writer. But there are people out there who would rather things happened a little faster. Sorry.
Very glad there seem to be enough of you dilatory types to keep me and the hellcritters in munchies. Very glad.
* * *
* Also, speaking of siiiiiiiigh, this being so tired I could die thing HAS GOT VERY OLD. VERY, VERY, VERY OLD. Also the insomnia, which probably has a little something to do with the tired.^ Also the thrice-frelling aches and pains.^^ I can see all you other victims of chronic auto-immune syndrome ratbaggery nodding sympathetically. Arrrrrrrgh. You only get one life, why do you have to mess with—or be messed with by—this kind of superfluous crap?
^ I know I’ve ranted this rant to you before but it continues to be so flapdoodling apposite. I’m an alternative-medicine adherent and barring broken bones and/or bleeding to death I’m pretty much a keep-away-from-me-with-that-thing anti-adherent of conventional medicine. But as I read my alt books—chiefly but not exclusively homeopathy—I keep tripping over some form or other of the ‘wisdom of the body’ philosophy. SNARL. If the frelling body were so frelling wise it wouldn’t wind itself up into paroxysms of insomnia when it really really really needs sleep.+
+ Valerian doesn’t help me sleep and gives me a vicious hangover. Chamomile tea tastes pleasant but doesn’t do anything, and I’m rather conscious of the fact that ODing on chamomile makes you crankier. There’s only so much cranky one mortal frame can contain. I’m allergic to milk, warm or otherwise. I’ve been through meditation and yoga, and while that was before the ME took up residence, I’ve had spells of insomnia all my life and neither technique did anything about it.# When the insomnia is bad I am rather prone to nodding off in the prayer-space however, which shares certain things in common with the meditation-space. At the monks’ this is embarrassing and at home I just wake up again.
# Although I’ve been meaning for twenty-two years to start doing yoga again, since that’s one of the things that got (inadvertently) left behind in America.
^^ Since you ask, ringing handbells for the wedding yesterday went very well, thank you. I think ringing the wedding party out of the church with the organ blasting away was probably mostly a wasted effort+ but they had a sort of pre-reception reception in the big glamorous church hall after, so Gemma, Niall and I went and stood in a corner and were the romantic string quartet substitute. We were a little more audible in a corner of the hall++ and this was a startlingly polite and/or intelligent group. People only asked questions when we weren’t ringing. Gemma has very classy friends. Gemma, by the way, did amazingly well. She had a bad five-second brain blank at the very beginning and after that, except for worrying—and some nods and winks from Niall—she was fine. I saw her today at afternoon service ring at Forza and she said she had lots of very nice comments about us.+++
As were my stupid hands and arms fine, more or less. I was thinking about this, as one does, that my arms and hands were hurting when we started and the first thing that happened was that they instantly got worse, and I was standing there gritting my teeth and thinking shut up and COPE . . . and they did. By the end they were very little worse than when we’d started, and half an hour ringing Sunshine’s-cinnamon-rolls-sized handbells is a lot of big handbell ringing. This is the kind of thing that gives a lot of the murky auto-immune, poorly defined and even more poorly understood diseases/syndromes a bad name. If whatever is wrong with me is plain ordinary straightforward strain/inflammation/doodah it should get worse from rapidly raising and lowering several pounds of bells—with enough of a wiggle every stroke to make them sound crisply—for half an hour. Mind over matter is film at eleven, Elvis Ate My Dead Alien Baby, stuff. It’s not that it doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t happen like this.
+ Although Oisin keeps saying that organ is underpowered for the size of the church, and having now heard it in full roar I’m inclined to agree. It’s still a lot louder than six handbells. Even six big handbells.
++ Although not as audible as a string quartet would have been. We were also what passes in the bell-ringing community for well paid . . . although still not in the string-quartet category.
+++ Great. Hire us. We’re cheaper than a string quartet. We’d still be cheaper even if there were four of us.
** Mwa hahahahahahahaha, etc.
*** Muffled siiiiiiiiiiiigh.
† Especially in F&SF. Both because you can’t make assumptions and because it’s interesting. Or it better be.
I’m better. But I’m not enough better. Although this may be a good thing because I cancelled my dentist’s appointment for tomorrow—three hours, no lie, and at £300 a minute I’m expecting my entire mouth to be gold-plated with cabochon diamonds generously studding all the teeth that show when I smile.* If I ever smile again after paying the bill. Anyway. I was supposed to go in and be hammered and excavated and shot full of creepy toxic dental anaesthesia tomorrow, but I don’t dare so soon after a major ME shut-down day. I’m not actually thrilled with putting it off—now I have to go through the Approaching Dread phase twice—but because I am a clueless la-la-la brain I’d managed not to notice I have a handbell wedding—that is, a wedding I’ve agreed to ring handbells for—this Saturday. The three of us, Niall, Gemma and I, are finally only getting together for a practise run-through this Friday, the day before—and the day after I was supposed to spend three hours at the dentist. If I’m very polite the ME will probably let me do this: I have no negotiating skill with dental anaesthesia hangovers. So it’s kind of just as well it’s turned out this way. I cautiously went to tower bell practise tonight, which was not a total disaster although the brain was definitely deliquescent by the end, and Gemma was asking anxiously about the wedding (it’s her friend’s daughter who’s getting married). The worst that happens is that we’ll have to ring plain courses, I said.** And I may have to sit down occasionally. And we may have to shift to smaller bells*** if my wrists give out.† ME is just one big fat frelling har-di-har-har after another. Arrrgh. Anyway. I’m better.
Meanwhile it’s still short Wednesday.
A friend send me this a few days ago: http://www.matthaig.com/some-fucking-writing-tips/ ††
The link’s address gives you fair warning about the one thing you need warning about. If bad language bothers you, don’t go there: he does say going in that he’s just coming off a long gig where his only directive was that he couldn’t swear, and he had a lot of catching up to do.††† But the writing tips made me laugh and laugh.
Although this one made me laugh even more:
Haig also writes very good, very funny books. I even blog-recced about TO BE A CAT. I admit I am shamelessly waiting for THE HUMANS to come out in paper. I could buy the e version . . . but I don’t want to. I want to be able to drop it in the bath when I laugh.
* * *
* Supposing there are cabochon diamonds, but I don’t fancy scratchy facets against the inside of my lip.^
^ I think tongue, cheek and lip piercings look painful.
** I ring methods on handbells, remember. Not tunes.
*** It’s a big church. Even big handbells are going to be kind of lost. Maybe we could stand on a large box with a megaphone. Handbell weddings I have attended previously have been at seriously quaint old rural churches, not some frelling urban monster which except for the exigencies of church hierarchy which I don’t understand ought to be a cathedral.
† One of the oh so terribly amusing things about Growing Old with ME is that you have no idea what’s frelling causing anything. Do my hands hurt because I’m having an ME flare or a rheumatism/arthritis flare?^ Discuss. No, don’t bother to discuss. Have a cup of tea and think about something else.
^ I read somewhere recently that almost everyone has at least some arthritis by the time they’re sixty. So I have lots of company.
†† I especially commend #1 to your attention. All of you who think being a writer is some kind of glamorous.
††† And—ahem—on a bad day I sound just like this. On a day when the hellhounds aren’t eating, the hellterror has just eaten another blanket,^ PEG II is dead in the water, it’s raining and the right-colour All Stars have a hole in the bottom, the house is full of spiders and my singing voice is full of crackly splinters I SOUND JUST LIKE THIS.^^
^ She has MILLIONS of toys! She’d rather shred her bedding! ARRRGH!
^^ If I can’t sing I might as well shout.
‡ Although #3? Feh. He’s a Brit, he can find a bell tower to join. And #9 made me laugh so hard I nearly threw up. You might not want to be eating when you read it. Or maybe it’s just I’ve heard from JesusRainbowUnicorn too. Although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Idaho. Possibly Yorkshire.