April 11, 2014

Shadows is here!

Kitchen Appliance Triumph


So, all this time I’ve clawed back by no longer writing a blog every night?  Has disappeared without trace.  Of course.

Today, for example, it has disappeared without trace by my having spent NEARLY TWO HOURS IN DENTIST FROM R’LYEH’S CHAIR OF DREADFUL TORMENT.  Owwwwwww.*

Yesterday it disappeared because . . . MAJOR TRUMPET FLOURISH . . .


This wasn’t easy.  Even leaving out the amount of time I spent researching** frelling washing machines*** I was so freaked out by the PRICE of the one that was going best to cope with all the hair in this household† that I put off ordering it for most of another fortnight.  Peter had grown a bit testy about my usurping his washing machine so I decided in that non-decision way that I hope most people who read this blog have experienced for themselves, that I would merely accumulate dirty laundry because, after all, I was going to buy a washing machine.  Fortunately I have a lot of clothes†† although the hellpack is down to pretty much its final lot of bedding.†††

I had a four-hour delivery slot booked for Wednesday morning during which I paced the floor and wondered what I was going to do when the delivery persons Viewed the Situation and said they couldn’t do it.  The Winter Table is still up because I’m still fetching recently-arrived-and-potted-up little green things indoors when the temperature starts re-enacting the Pit and the Pendulum.  Plus there’s a hellterror crate since the last time any major kitchen appliances were brought in or out.  Also, washing machines weigh.  My last appliant purchase was the refrigerator—refrigerators weigh nothing.  I can lift a refrigerator‡.  A washing machine I can barely shove back into its corner when it starts walking across the floor.  And they were going to have to wrestle the new marvel up the narrow flight of stairs with the black iron railing from street level to the front door, around the sharp 180 degree bend into the kitchen—and, while they were making that turn, lift it over the puppy gate, which is bolted to the wall.‡‡

They came.  They viewed the situation.  Their eyes got rather large.  They withdrew to the street and muttered between themselves while I wrung my hands and thought dire thoughts about washboards and rocks in rivers.


I tipped them lavishly.  They were, to their credit, startled, and I said:  what was I going to do when you looked at this kitchen and said that getting large heavy camels through eyes of needles one storey up, over Becher’s Brook and at a 180° angle wasn’t in your job description?

I hope they got together and bought their wives a nice bottle of champagne.‡‡‡

* * *

* I won’t tell you what this thrilling^ experience did to my bank balance.  OWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

^ I have told you, haven’t I, that the wonders of scuba diving are Forever Closed to Me on account of the number of hours I have spent in Dentist from R’lyeh’s chair staring at the video loop of tropical fish on the TV screen on the ceiling?  I totally support+ the presence of distracting video on a TV screen on the ceiling.  And I can forfeit scuba diving.  Even though the fish are pretty fabulous.  I’m grateful it’s not opera or BUFFY reruns.

+ And I do.  See main footnote *

**  You have to figure it’s going to be an important member of the family for at least a decade so, especially when it lives in the kitchen of your very small house, which happens also to be the room that (a) you spend the most time in (b) the main beds of your three fur factories^ indwell, which helps to explain (a)^^, you and it had better be good friends. ^^^

^ Note also:  fur factories

^^ Remind me to tell you the Pav’s Bed in My Office story.  Sigh.

^^^ Peter had Radio 4 on recently when it was a programme on psychological problems and the discussion was about hoarding disorder, which is apparently defined as an inability to throw things away to the point where the accumulation gets in the way of normal function.  Hmmmm.  One of the things they mention is when you can’t get into your bed because of all the stuff on it?  Feh.  I can still get in my bed . . . I may have to roll some of the books, knitting magazines and homeopathic journals over a little . . . and it’s true I’m an uncharacteristically quiet sleeper.  But I was really thinking about this after I’d cleared off+ the old washing machine and the refrigerator, which was going to have to move to get it out, and had nowhere to put anything.

+ Mostly the stuff on top, which was in layers.  But I also stripped off all the kitchen magnets . . . which fill a mixing bowl.  A small mixing bowl . . . but still a mixing bowl.  Not a cereal bowl or a soup bowl.  You could definitely get a batch of muffin batter out of this bowl.  I often have.

*** I think I told you I joined WHICH? http://www.which.co.uk/ just so I could read their washing machine reviews?  They’ve got this clever hook-the-sucker system where you only have to pay £1 for a month of membership, including a copy of the magazine and free access to their gigantic site—and individual phone support for ‘consumer and finance issues’ which bait really attracted me after my recent scary, infuriating and demoralising banking experiences—and at the end of the month if you forget to cancel they quietly make you a full-price member because, after all, you gave them your credit card number for the £1.  Fine.  They got me.  The magazine is full of interesting stuff.  And now I’m researching juicers. ^

^ Everyone see this report?   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10735633/Healthy-diet-means-10-portions-of-fruit-and-vegetables-per-day-not-five.html   Good luck getting this one over to Person in the Street.  But it is one of those Why [mild] ME Is A Good Thing Really moments.  I have evolved, over the past sixty-one years, from a few frozen peas and a leaf of iceberg lettuce style reluctant veg eater to a major rabbit+.  And in the last fourteen years—since the ME felled me—I am eating ten a day++.  It’s a life style, okay?  You get used to it.  And I like broccoli.+++ I’m more inclined to take this report seriously—ten a day does seem like kind of a lot for someone who doesn’t already have chronic health issues—because they make the point that vegetables are more important.  Yes.  A large glass of orange juice with your chocolate croissant is not the same as a large bowl of broccoli . . . er, probably not with your chocolate croissant.  I’d like to hear a little more about ‘juice is worthless’ however.  Out of a carton, maybe.  But I’d’ve said there’s pretty good substantiation for the belief that the Juicer Phenomenon is worthwhile.  Although it’s another life style.  At some point you have to wonder what you’re preserving your life for if you’re spending all your time preserving it.

+ Unfortunately my teeth don’t keep growing.  That would solve a lot of problems, if the cavities just grew out and you could gnaw them off.  Carrots are a lot cheaper than Dentist from R’lyeh.

++ Except occasionally when I’ve been in the Chair of Dreadful Torment and can’t chew.

† There isn’t nearly as much of mine but mine is LONG.  You’d have to line up like fifty-three of Pav’s for an equivalent pilose factor.  Pav, however, has plenty to spare.

†† Which is what happens when you like clothes, have been more or less the same size for nearly forty years, and have hoarding disorder.

††† There is less of this than there might be because the hellterror—like the hellhounds before her—used to eat hers When She Was a Puppy, which, of course, now being almost tw‡‡o years old she is not.  Cough.  Cough.  But she did give up eating her bedding somewhere around her first birthday—which is better than can be said for Chaos.

‡ Well.  I can lift a dwarf under-the-stairs size refrigerator.

‡‡ Because I was tired of it falling over every time Chaos stood up and put his forepaws on it.  Which, being a rather dim sweetheart, he never took advantage of, and Darkness is above that kind of thing.  Pav, however . . . it’s a good thing it was bolted in by the time Pav arrived.

‡‡‡ Or, possibly, husbands.



I’m so glad it’s short Wednesday, I’m so tired I am in grave danger of falling off my chair.*

Also, I am in shock.  Which is very tiring.




It’s taken my bank nearly four months and they’ve still got both my name and my address wrong BUT NEVER MIND.  THEY APOLOGISED.  They’ve REFUNDED the substantial number and £££ of fines they charged me and have sent me copies of all the letters they wrote to all the people whose cheques bounced—including scary, credit-rating-ruining people like my credit card companies—saying it was THEIR FAULT.  NOT MINE.  THEIRS.  THE BANK’S.  THE BANK’S FAULT.


Good news.  I can USE some good news.***  And I can continue to contemplate the goodness of this news tomorrow during the three and a half hours I am due to be in dentist from R’lyeh’s torture . . . I mean, chair. † I think you had better expect tomorrow night’s blog to be short too.††

* * *

* It was a bell-ringing night, one of those nights when there were only six of us so all of us had to ring all evening.  You know retired people may still have some BRAIN left by the end of the day. . . .

Also my beloved Celtic-knotwork-pattern-cover cushion is going—has gone—to pieces.  There is no security in this insecure world where things wear out.  I am sure I am much unsteadier in my chair in the mews kitchen with my chair cushion in SHREDS,^ whether or not I just spent an hour and a half on the end of a bell-rope.^^  And I’m totally failing to get my head around replacing it.  There are gazillions of cushions out there.

^ It disintegrated all by itself, with no help from hellterrors whatsoever.

^^ One of the other ringers, whom I would have said I had never met before, stared at me for a minute and said, I know you.  I rang a wedding with you at Ditherington last year.  You’re the knitter.


** Pity they can’t make an itsy-bitsy further error, move the decimal place over six or seven or eight places to the right and make me wealthy.^  Then I could not only keep Third House I could build a conservatory off the sitting-room.^^  I suppose, having noticed one error, they might notice this one too.  No, wait . . . I pointed their previous error out.  I had to point it out.  Hmm.

^ And for those helpful people telling me if I’d only write this or that book/sequel I’d immediately become wealthy . . . in the first place *&^%$£”!!!!!! and the frelling horse you frelling rode in on.  In theory this blog nonsense—and the Twitter nonsense, and the Facebook nonsense, and the public email address nonsense—is so that public people can have some direct contact with their private readers/fans/supporters.  And vice versa.  Which seems to me to be mostly a good idea:  we’re all human beings first and last.  But shouldn’t there be some FAINT responsibility in that vice versa-ing, for paying attention?  Which is to say HOW MANY RATBLASTED TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY I ONLY WRITE WHAT I AM GIVEN TO WRITE?   I’D BE ON SUNSHINE SEVENTEEN AND DAMAR THIRTY-TWO BY NOW IF I COULD.

And in the second place . . . SUNSHINE and Damar didn’t make me wealthy the first time.  There’s no reason to think that a second or a third or twenty-seventh book would do any better.  Remember that for every GAME OF THRONES there are 1,000,000,000 series that only did well enough to bully the poor sweating author to keep trying.


. . . an autographed book sale? I’m sure that the hell-hounds and -terror would cooperate to place ‘official’ pawprints.

Sure.  The minute I finish the last frelling doodle from the now-ancient-history Bell Fund.  Siiiiiiigh. . . .

^^ Have I mentioned that one of the knock-on effects of letting Third House is that I won’t have the little summerhouse as a greenhouse this winter?  I have therefore, with Atlas’ aid, brought the grow-light to the cottage and hung it from one of the big ceiling beams in the already-small sitting room, and in cold weather we will have to have handbells at Niall’s because my sitting room will be full of PLANTS.

*** There are way too many alligators in my immediate vicinity.  As the saying goes.

† On Halloween.

†† And apropos of nothing at all, any of you folk on this side of the Atlantic have experience with Lovefilm vs. Netflix?

I’m feeling pretty fragmented so let’s have a fragmenty blog post




. . . how my mother helped capture a pair of bank robbers and managed not to sell them the guns they wanted to buy.

Guest.  Post.  . . . Please?  Or if you’ve told the story elsewhere, a link?


It may be time to go to the Financial Ombudsman Service about the bank.

I passed the eight weeks’ necessary time lapse yesterday if we’re counting from the date on my initial complaint letter.  If I have to wait from the first written acknowledgement I had from the bank, add a fortnight.  If the clock only starts ticking from the first case-specific letter I had from the bank add about five weeks.  I wrote to, and have been sending updates to since, the Guardian consumer champion people but apparently my case is not interesting enough—which kind of makes you wonder what is going on elsewhere.  Oh, and the latest?  My local branch told me that the reason I can have only one cheque-writing account tapping my holding-tank account is because you’re only allowed ONE account feeding off ONE other account.  WHAT?  I’ve had two cheque-writing accounts kept topped up by my single holding-tank account FOR TWENTY TWO YEARS, my personal individual account AND A SECOND ONE that I share with Peter.

I still have a headache.

Mrs Redboots

If it were me, I would be taking up residence in the bank and insisting on speaking to Someone In Authority, and not moving until you did. And if they won’t give you satisfaction, then I’d be on the phone to First Direct or one of those….

Well, it’s not you.  My local branch doesn’t have a person in authority and the idea of trying to find a bigger, hairier branch that does and then staging a dignified tantrum for said authority’s benefit doesn’t sound like a successful stratagem for me.  I’m an introvert with ME.  I have stamina problems anyway—and I’d have to drive to whatever confrontation I planned—and aside from the sheer grisly blank-mind-inducing horror of trying to have what is essentially an antagonistic conversation with a stranger about MONEY, my least favourite topic and around which I have minimal skill, between the ME and menopause I have no memory.  I want to slog through this fiscal murk as much as possible leaving a clear shining paper trail.  Or at least a slightly scintillant email trail.

But yes, I suspect First Direct is in my future.  I’ve had several people recommend them.  Even Which? likes them.*    Old person than I am, I’m not crazy about the idea of an on-line-only bank, but I like VERY MUCH that there is always a human being to talk to.


Glad you made that dental appointment. One of my friends recently decided to “tough-out” a toothache, but he waited too long and by the time he sought out treatment it had gone all septic on him. He ended up near death in the hospital for a week to the tune of a bazillion dollars. (All better now though, just poorer.)

OH PLEASE.  THAT IS VERY RARE.  I’m very sorry about your friend, and I’m glad he’s better, and I’m sorry Obamacare isn’t doing anything for septic tooth related emergency hospital care . . . but he was also unlucky.  I have some of the worst teeth in human history—about twenty-six of them left, I think, although one is a glossy high-tech plastic thingy cemented onto a titanium implant and I wish I could afford more of these—and I have toughed out bad toothaches a few times when I had a deadline, most memorably for DRAGONHAVEN a few years ago.  Even before I had ME I had a history of bad times with dentistry, and if I need to keep working I’ll put off Terror by Chair with Fish** as long as I can.

On this particular visit to a sunken city in the South Pacific redolent of ancient evil . . . it’s going to cost a fortune because it always does, but I don’t think anything but my sanity (and my bank balance) are at risk.  Both of these however are at serious risk.  Whimper.

Thus I reeled back out onto the pavement today after this first sizing-up-the-victim*** appointment and . . . staggered up the street to the department store with a knitting precinct and BOUGHT TWO MAGAZINES.  I narrowly missed falling afoul of some Rowan Summerspun† which the wicked clerk†† had left scattered across the floor when—so she claimed—she was called away.  A likely story.  But I was STRONG.  I RESISTED.†††


whippets and greyhounds are the easy end

Ok, ok, advice accepted. But I don’t suppose whippets and greyhounds come with long hair options (think Ash disguised by the Moonwoman.)? That is one large attraction of Salukis.

What about a nice Silken Windhound?

http://robinmckinleysblog.com/2013/04/02/silken-windhound-a-guest-post-by-sarah/  ‡

* * *

* http://www1.firstdirect.com/1/2/banking/current-account?WT.mc_id=PSR0000019&WT.Srch=1

In case you’re interested.

** The videos on the ceiling screen are still fish.  I think my attitude toward aquariums—aquaria if you prefer—has been permanently damaged.^

^ Although I still have a fantasy about a betta splendens.  Or two.  In separate tanks:  I know.

*** Moustache-twisting and mwa hahahahaha optional.  However, guess what?  My dentist has had a three-YEAR argybargying, ombudsman-adjudicated row with his bank.  No, it’s not the same bank.  I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  There aren’t that many monster, medium-sized-country owning, multi-gazillion bonus CEO maintaining, ordinary person underfoot crushing^ type banks out there.  One would have liked the incompetent ones to be in the minority.

^ Although dentist from R’lyeh and I really don’t belong in the same category.  If he’s a Cthulhu, I’m a single nightgaunt.  A single stunted nightgaunt.  A single stunted nightgaunt with issues.+

+ I bet real nightgaunts don’t have problems with their banks.


. . . In case you’re interested.

†† She’s from R’lyeh too.

††† I totally don’t want to go to this.  Totally.  Absolutely.  Not.  No way.  Ridiculous.  Never.  No.


And if one more person tells me how fabulous it is I am going to strangle her in her own yarn.^

^ And furthermore, I have no money.  And if I did, I’d have to give it all to the dentist from R’yleh.  Again.

‡ There are also Afghans and Borzois if you want long hair.  All sighthounds are inclined to be a trifle inconveniently independent-minded—because they have to be able to make their own decisions when they’re flat out after their quarry—what I know about Afghans and Borzois is that they’re a little farther out on that continuum than greyhounds and whippets.  Afghans are stupid north-northwest, when it suits them;  like all sighthounds, they’re stubborn.  Borzois have a unique sense of humour.  Deerhounds tend to be sweeties, like most greyhounds and whippets, but I’m told they’re also on balance the worst eaters of the lot.  I personally am not going there.  But what you want is to make friends with a breeder who loves acquainting people with the sterling qualities of his or her own chosen breed.  Or several breeders and several chosen breeds.  And then go home and see who you dream about.

A Day in the Life


There’s a footnote, on Wednesday night’s blog, that the someone who had come to the door of the cottage while I was in the greenhouse locked in inadvertent mortal combat with a robin* was Penelope.  A large lorry had crunched up her car (fortunately she was not in it at the time), she was on foot, and wanted to know if she could leave some of her kit with me—she was on her way to a home visit and didn’t need the full panoply,** and it was a long walk back to her own home.  Of course, I said, and inquired after the details, which included that the lorry driver and the insurance company might not see eye to eye right away and she had a nursing-home gig on Friday that she had to get to if she had to hire Santa Claus’ sleigh—and it might come to that, since the four-day Jubilee weekend is upon us and the likelihood is that every functional vehicle*** is already booked.  I said she could borrow Wolfgang if she couldn’t do any better.  That Wolfgang had an erratic fault but that as long as you didn’t try to start him when he was warm there wasn’t a problem—and that he hadn’t misbehaved in months.

            You see where this is going.

            Thursday morning I was, as so often, late, so hellhounds and I had a as-far-as-we-can-get-out-of-town-from-the-cottage-front-door hurtle.  Upon our return I bundled hellhounds into Wolfgang and fetched my insanely large and hulking knapsack and moderately bulging briefcase from the cottage for our standard schlep down to the mews.

            Wolfgang didn’t start.  It doesn’t happen like this.  It doesn’t happen when he’s been sitting quietly overnight under his tree† at the cottage.

            Aaaaaaand he didn’t start after five minutes. 

            I got out my knitting.

            Half an hour. 

            I rearranged my Critical Daily Mass and took the briefcase back to the cottage.††  I shouldered my ludicrously heavy knapsack and we walked down to the mews.  We did not hurtle.  We walked.

            It was at about this point that the downstairs toilet at the mews stopped working.

            This may have distracted me from the main issue slightly.

            Hellhounds and I semi-hurtled back to the cottage later in the afternoon.  Wolfgang was still not in a starting mood.  I stuffed Penelope’s rather large bag into another knapsack, and we set out across town to take it to her creaking with the irony of it.

            Peter, who gets up earlier and has a better phone manner than I do†††, set to work this morning.  Our usual garage out at Warm Upford is so booked they can’t promise to get us in next week either.  And—just as I had been discussing with Penelope Wednesday evening—every car hire in the country has all its stock out on the roads already, including the golf carts, the forklifts, and the retired hearses.  Peter found somewhere in Arizona that could let us have a lunar roving vehicle but I had a paddy about the difficulties of fetching it. 

            The RAC man arrived, bless his gigantic orange van.‡

            And of course Wolfgang started immediately.

            I leaped out of the driver’s seat, rushed across the top of the cul de sac and started trying to climb Phineas’ three-storey house so I could throw myself off the roof.

            Turn it off and turn it on again, said the nice calm RAC man.

            This time Wolfgang did not start.  Modified rapture, if you follow me.

            The only good thing about any of this—and have I mentioned that I have a wedding to ring tomorrow afternoon in Sox Episcopi which is about half an hour from here?—is that the RAC man said, no, no, that’s not the starter motor—so at least I didn’t spend way too much money getting it replaced, the thought of which (money) is why I haven’t done it yet.  It’s not that I thought the Erratic Fault is going to go away, just that while it’s erratic I can’t demonstrate it to a mechanic‡‡—and if I can put something off, I will.

            Peter found another car hire place several thousand miles closer that will let me have the front half of a 1945 Jeep.  Fine.  I’ll take it. 

            The RAC man says it’s electrical, that it should be a straightforward pull out bad thingy and plug in good thingy, that there’s a garage that does emergency repairs half a mile away and he’ll give me a lift back—he’s got Wolfgang running, but he says all bets are off about whether he’ll start again.‡‡‡

            We convoyed down to the repair shop, and the RAC man and a random mechanic had one of those conversations in another language:   I’m pretty sure it’s the gusslebladder findlewhopping the zork, etc.  Apparently there is a Volkswagen specialist warehouse/whatever in Lesser Disconcerting and if they have The Part they can messenger it over this afternoon and if they don’t I’m frelled.  No, I’m catching a bus to Mauncester to pick up the front half of a sixty-seven-year-old Jeep.  The garage will ring me as soon as they know if they can get The Part or not.  I need to know by x because I need to be in Mauncester by y because the car-hire place closes at z. . . .

            I’d been keeping a running email conversation with Oisin about whether or not I was going to look in on my way to the bus stop, and I was trying to cancel handbells only Niall was en route somewhere on his way back from Wales§.  At the point that the garage was clearly not ringing me, I told Oisin I’d see him next week, harnessed the hellhounds and set off for the garage, assuming that a hysterical woman on the ground would be harder to ignore than a hysterical woman over the phone.§§

            None of the people who had been there that morning were there now.  This didn’t seem to me to be a good sign.  Someone said he’d be with me right away, and wasn’t.  I kept reminding myself these people were doing me an enormous favour by looking at Wolfgang at all the day before a four-day holiday. . . . And when the man who wasn’t with me right away finally ambled in he said, your car’s ready.


            It wouldn’t start for us either, he said.  The mechanic found a fault, and fixed it, and now it starts.  Of course we don’t know if that’s all the problem. . . .

            The Part does not seem to figure in the story at all.  And I have no idea what this sterling piece of Good Samaritanism is going to cost me.  They’ll put the invoice in the post, airily said the man.

            I then had to wait another ten minutes while the car parked in front of Wolfgang was washed.  Why they didn’t move it and let me out first, I have no idea.  At that point I didn’t care.  I had a car.  I had Wolfgang.  I did not have the front half of a Jeep even older than Wolfgang.  Even older than me (although not by very much).  I put the hellhounds in their bed in the back seat.  I got out my knitting.

            Peter did not find a plumber for the downstairs toilet.

            The dustbin men failed to pick up my garbage.

            And the crown on the tooth immediately behind the crown on the tooth that fell out a fortnight ago . . . JUST FELL OUT.

            And have I mentioned recently that this is the beginning of the frelling Jubilee frelling four day frelling weekend?           

* * *

* I’ve been creeping out and humbly putting prehensile mealworms in the planter for her, or for the bloke who got her into this mess to bring to her.  What is the weird mechanism whereby she sinks lower over the course of the fortnight or so that’s she’s sitting on a given nest?  You can see all of her clearly to begin with.  By the time the nest is full of little fluffy things that you can’t see over the brim, you had barely been able to see her over the brim for the final few days.  It can’t just be her ridiculous pretence of weight.  This clutch must be close to hatching because I can only just see her—in fact I thought she was gone today and was pretzeling myself into hopeless contortions to try and get a better look for little fluffy things or (horrors) if after my inappropriate, imprudent and stupid interference the other day she’d deserted after all (in spite of the mealworms).  But she’s still there.  

** I long to make her a shaman and launch into a vivid description of the rattles, fetishes, capes, stones, wands, chalices and other fascinating impedimenta . . . but I’d probably better not.  The so-called anonymity of this blog is rather less use than Venus’ hair in Botticelli’s painting, and I know Niall and Colin have occasionally read these virtual pages.  Penelope is one of the range of health visitors this island nation rejoices in—the impedimenta part is true, as is the purpose and the training for healing.  And if you think I might be dissing shamanism, quite the contrary.  I studied experiential shamanism—the, er, doctrine more or less re-begun by Michael Harner^—for some time, and still use what it taught me. 

^ Whose famous book THE WAY OF THE SHAMAN I do not endorse, just by the way. 

*** Including the little red wagon Kes’ mum taught a gang of Ghastlies to pull. 

† Being extensively crapped on by pigeons.  Why don’t all the frelling neighbourhood cats catch some pigeons? 

†† As I was locking the cottage door again, a dazzlingly shiny and pristine cherry-red convertible Jaguar with equally shiny and pristine white leather interior turned up the cul de sac.  I looked at it, and its dazzling and shiny occupants, with disfavour.  It was stopped, thwarted, at the top of the hill—which put it immediately behind Wolfgang—when I caught up with it:  immediately behind beat up dented seventeen year old probably-cost-as-much-as-the-Jag’s-wing-mirrors-when-he-was-new Wolfgang.  The woman in the passenger seat got out to talk to me.  They were looking for an address that was clearly not up here.  I assume they thought I was the cleaning lady. 

††† Not to mention being British and a bloke 


‡‡ I’d had a couple of people who claimed to know something about cars who had heard Wolfgang not starting months ago say they thought it was the starter motor, so I wasn’t just plucking a plausible-sounding phrase out of the aether.  

‡‡‡ I was very amused to discover—he having sent me off to have a nice cup of tea while he worked—when he knocked on the cottage door again that he’d made a mess of getting Wolfgang out of what is admittedly the diabolical jigsaw of his parking space (it actually is worse than it looks) and had simply left him at a funny angle in the middle of the way.  The RAC man climbed straight-faced into his orange van and left me to cope. 

§ No, really.  It was a ringing outing.  But it was only towers.  He didn’t want to miss handbells.

§§ There was also a tiny issue about not knowing its name and not being able to find it in the phone book.

ME Awareness Week. And some bad bells.


Hey.  People.  I read the forum.  But you don’t seriously believe I’m going to post the second part of Corellia’s saga right away, do you?  Blow off two guest posts in a ROW?  If I had two nights in a row off I’d have established a habit of lying on the sofa covered with hellhounds during blog-writing time, eating bonbons and reading trashy novels.  Marabou-trimmed satin lingerie optional.  No, no, no.  Besides, torturing blog readers is one of my few pleasures.

            . . . ‘Pleasures’ certainly not including bell ringing.  Oh gods.  Practise tonight at the abbey was unbelievably awful.  Awful.  As I said to Albert as I raced out the door* to escape as soon as possible, this habit of taking one step forward and two steps back is getting discouraging.**  Profound and utter humiliation is disagreeable at best but in this case I don’t know what to do about it.  I’ve only ever learnt . . . well, pretty much anything, but particularly bell ringing . . . by grind.  Relentless grind.  You don’t get to grind at the abbey—there are too many ringers at too many different levels (especially upper) to have time for grinding any of them.***   I’d been hoping that I was far enough down the ringing road generally that I wouldn’t need to grind the way I used to . . . wrong.  But the big spiky unmediatable situation here is that it’s specifically the abbey that’s the problem:  those bells, that frelling ringing chamber, the fact that it’s the abbey.  I can ring Grandsire Frelling Triples at other towers—not gloriously well, but I can ring it.  Or I could.  I think I’m forgetting, because what I’m chiefly doing lately is failing to ring it at the abbey.  I cannot begin to tell you how WILDLY FRUSTRATING it is to listen, or to stand behind and watch someone else ringing, something that in any other tower I’d give my eyeteeth† to have a go at—I should be consolidating my Grandsire Triples and practising bob triples and major, Stedman triples, Cambridge minor, treble bobbing to surprise major.  But I can’t ring at the abbey. 

            I wasn’t even expecting the worst tonight.  Usually I’m horribly good at expecting the worst.  Tonight when I pulled off the bell felt familiar—it is not, in fact, the bells, it’s the ballroom-sized ringing chamber and the abbeyness of it.  And I thought, pulling on this familiar bell, oh good.  I’m getting there.  I’m making progress.  This is, or at any rate is going to be, my new home tower.

            Does anyone have a bridge handy that I could throw myself off? 

* * *

Meanwhile . . . @cambridgeminor/CathyR tweeted me this today: 


I know there have been ME awareness weeks—possibly every year at this time, one of the symptoms is really bad memory—but I’d missed we were having one now.   And ME, like way too many other badly understood and/or scary don’t-want-to-think-about-it-because-it-might-happen-to-me afflictions and ailments, can use all the good press it can get.  Yes, it’s a real disease.††  No, we’re not all malingerers.†††  Hurrah for journalists who write articles‡ saying that ME is a nasty kick in the head from fate and to take it seriously.  And I’m very glad to see someone making a noise about the appalling so-called ‘treatment’ of enforced exercise, which I’ve railed about here before.  If you have ME the last thing you should do is force yourself to do stuff.  That only makes it worse.  As I’ve also said—but to me, being someone with ME, this is all worth saying again—there may be a few ME-diagnosed people out there for whom enforced exercise worked . . . but I’d personally doubt that in that case what they did have is ME.  It’s a fairly slippery disease/syndrome and there’s a lot of overlap with other fateful kicks in the head. 

            But I want to add (again) that my experience of it is also that what energy, physical and mental, you do have you MUST USE, because if you don’t it will not only go away again—but you’ll feel worse, just like if you forced yourself to do too much.  The Lack of Slack Syndrome.  One of the things this article also mentions, and good for her, although I’d put quite a few underlines around it too, is the good days and bad days thing—you may also have good half days and bad half days, good hours and bad hours . . . good minutes and bad minutes.  She mentions people who have to put their lives on hold because they can’t do anything consistently.  Yes.  This is one of the big ratbags about managing it—and leads to why I seem to get away with so much.  I’ve told you (often) before there are a lot of smoke and mirrors on the blog—well, if I have to lie down for an hour or a day, I just do it.  I don’t have to tell you or my boss about it—and the hellhounds adore it, of course.  But one of my bottom lines is that I have no stamina, despite all that hurtling.  I gave up horses (several times) because I can’t ride regularly enough.  I don’t ring quarter peals because I never know when I’m going to have a bad day or a bad hour, and you’re letting down five or seven other people if you fold up unexpectedly.  I don’t travel for a variety of reasons, but head of the list is the ME.  Managing it on the road is . . . well.  I’d rather have bell practise nights like tonight, when throwing myself off bridges seems like a rational reaction, than cope with a bad ME day away from home.

            This is one of the things I’d like to see more recognition of—that most people with ME are still capable of doing something—and most of us want to:  who wants to be helpless, hopeless, dependent and bored?—but we need SLACK from the healthy, functioning world.  We need FLEXIBILITY.  The business/working/income-oriented world is still lousy about people who don’t fit their pattern.  It’s like the colossal waste of energy and talent of parents who want to, you know, raise their kids themselves.  The corporate world still seems to think that kids are something you do in your spare time, and that making widgets and earning money is the real centre of the universe.  What is wrong with this picture.

            Everybody would be happier if they could work and live to a model that suited them better, you know?  You don’t have to have ME or little kids.  Elasti-world!  Now all we need is a logo and catchy tag line. 

* * *

* Not a good idea from this tower.  GERONIMOOOOOOOOOO

** I’ve also started wondering again how long before they tell me not to come back.  

*** Except in terms of ‘into little pieces’.  I came home in a basket.  

† As if anyone would want these eyeteeth.  I did, however, get my crown glued back in today. 

            Dentist from R’lyeh was on holiday, so I saw An Extremely Chirpy female dentist.  Extremely Chirpy.  Except that I guess you aren’t allowed to make jokes about doctors on drugs I’d say she’s on drugs.  Nobody is that chirpy without chemical assistance.  I commented, as I produced the small offending object, that it was remarkably clean, as was the post-stub it used to be stuck to.   This is, in fact, a crown put in by Dentist from R’lyeh himself, so they could look it up in their records and the chirpy dentist went off into peals of tinkling laughter when the assistant declared that he’d glued it in originally with Glurpbggg™ ^ which is a temporary cement.  Oh, that’s why the crown was so clean! sang Ms Nitrous Oxide.  Temporary cement always dissolves over time!

            Erm, I said, spitting out the crown, which she had spronged back in place to check rapport and congruity with the surrounding teeth, and then couldn’t dislodge again, why?

            Oh, because it’s such a good fit! she trilled.

            Um.  From where I’m sitting . . . the temporary cement was always going to dissolve?  Therefore I was always due to be back here in this chair having spent x number of days chewing on one side of my mouth and worrying there was something actually wrong, and then spending an afternoon I might have spent getting on with novel-in-progress schlepping into Mauncester to have it put back in?

            Um.  Why?

^ I can hardly wait to see what WordPress does to the TM symbol.  I wonder if I need popcorn. 

†† Although I personally think it’s a syndrome.  As I keep saying.  If I were going to guess more, I’d guess that it’s caused by a variety of sensitivities to the extremely not-what-we-evolved-for life we lead now.  A kind of uber-allergy.   

††† Note that of course there are malingerers among us.  It’s like some accountants embezzle.  That doesn’t mean the definition of an accountant includes ‘embezzler’.  

‡ Although please the frelling gods couldn’t they have hired a PROOFREADER?  Text as bad as this undermines both the message and the professionalism of the journalist or the paper or both . . . or maybe that’s just that I’m a professional writer with ME.

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