Hellhounds and I took a turn by Soggy Bottom today to see how it’s, um, flowing . . . and the personhole covers over the storm drains have been shoved off by the pressure of the water driving up through the inadequate apertures. It’s almost as good as a play, or it would be if we didn’t live here: the little round-headed jets of water boiling up through the holes, and this great wave sluicing out through the gap where the personhole cover has lost its place. Three of these rush together with the naked overflow from the ditch and, well, hurtle down Soggy Bottom toward the raging torrent that used to be a ford over a quiet little Hampshire stream that the locals call a river. If I’d been in wellies rather than All Stars* I might have been tempted to leave hellhounds dry-footed in Wolfgang and slosh down in that direction and see how far I could get. The lake by the Gormless Pettifogger is deep enough that the person approaching as Wolfgang and I paddlewheeled through stopped, apparently aghast, at his shoreline . . . and turned around. Oh, come on, it’s not like you’re driving a Ferrari with zero-point-four inches clearance.**
It rained today. Of course. It’s Tuesday. It rained yesterday. Of course. It was Monday.*** It’s going to rain tomorrow. Of course. It’s Wednesday.
HAVE I MENTIONED RECENTLY HOW TIRED I AM OF RAIN?
* * *
* Well I wouldn’t be in wellies rather than All Stars but I used to have a spare pair of (ordinary black^) wellies that lived in the, ahem, boot. It occurs to me to wonder what I’ve done with them. Maybe I’ve just forgotten giving them to the itinerant mage in exchange for . . . for . . . well, I certainly didn’t trade them for a rain stopping charm.
^ From the days when you could only get black or child-of-the-earth green wellies
** I saw an SUV—the kind you need a stepladder to get into—turn around at the edge of a large puddle some time recently. I laughed so much I nearly ran off the road.^
^ She’d probably heard the rumours that giant squid from the centre of the earth were using southern England’s floods to lurk in wait for their favourite snack, SUVs. No, no! Relax! It’s a ridiculous rumour put about by people who don’t have anything better to do than retweet silly urban myt—SLURP.
*** Monday had even less to recommend it than the rain. I got to Nadia’s and discovered she wasn’t teaching this week either. ::Sobs:: I wrote it down wrong in my diary; I knew she wasn’t teaching last Monday, but this Monday I thought if I didn’t hear it meant she was, when it was if I didn’t hear she wasn’t.
Fortunately I had hellhounds with me so throwing myself off a cliff^ wasn’t a good plan because neither of them can drive Wolfgang to get themselves home.^^ So we went to the farm supply shop and bought compost and fertilizer^^^. I was wearing singing-lesson-day clothes, not going-to-the-farm-store-in-the-rain-day clothes#. I considered asking one of the stalwart young men to heave the nasty bags around for me but while, generally speaking, I’ve got over the extreme feminism of my youth when asking a bloke for help was SELF BETRAYAL##, I still occasionally get all tough/stupid virago with bare-able teeth and (metaphorically) bulging muscles. I slung the frelling bags myself. And while I managed to keep my cute little cropped cardi safe, my jeans were goners.
And then I destroyed another pair of jeans today, getting the blasted bags up the stairs### to the greenhouse ARRRRRRRGH. This shouldn’t happen at home. I have a lovely pair of gardener’s chaps, which snap over your belt and around your legs and heroically repel mud (and thorns). But in one of the monsoons of the last few months, when the rain was not only coming in sideways but from a funny direction, EVERYTHING IN THE GREENHOUSE GOT SOAKED. Which I didn’t realise till later. I’m still unearthing little quagmires in corners arrrrrrgh. The chaps are still drying out. I think they’re resuscitate-able. Please. I have no idea where I bought them and google is not forthcoming.
^ Which are in short supply in most of south-central England. At the old house when circumstances conspired I used to threaten to drown myself in the pond, of which we had two, and both Peter and Third House have ponds here. But somehow drama-queen drowning doesn’t hold the appeal it does when not drowning is a daily goal and preoccupation.+
+ Dentist from R’lyeh has been driven out of his large glamorous multi-storey office by floodwater. I’m not laughing ::mrmph:: really I’m not ::MRRRMMFFFF:: Being from R’lyeh and all you’d think he’d be fine with a spot of drowning, wouldn’t you?
^^ They like the central heating+ and the soft bed out of the rain. THE FOOD DOESN’T INTEREST THEM AT ALL.
+ Or the Aga
^^^ Which is to say cow crap. Organic cow crap. I prefer it to chicken—which is the other common commercially-available one+—because it smells less. I admit I don’t know how the plants feel about it. They’d probably say they were missing an essential element without the pong. Like dogs adore tripe. TOO BAD. I don’t know how long I can go on with Pav’s dried pigs’ ears either. She doesn’t eat them fast enough.
+ When I had a horse we made our own critter-crap fertilizer and it was lovely.
# I have enough trouble fighting with my wardrobe every morning. I get dressed once. I do not change for anything less than serious festivities that include Taittinger’s or the Widow, and not merely Prosecco.
## I don’t entirely fault my young self for this attitude. Back in the early 1800s or whenever it was I was young, blokes offering, or responding to requests for help tended to do it with a gloss of patronage.+ Men have died for less. I would know.
+ Not that this doesn’t happen now. But either it happens less, or I hang out with a better class of bloke than I used to.
### The only young man who lives on my cul de sac is slenderer and more willowy than I am and so far as I can tell he doesn’t do the adrenaline-rage thing that enables slender willowy people to do things they can’t. I wouldn’t be so unkind as to ask him to help me with large muddy bags of compost and other even less salubrious substances.
It’s raining. Whiiiiiiine. It held off long enough this morning that I managed to hurtle everyone, including myself of course, extra hard, against the forecasted likelihood that by afternoon we’d need water wings. Or a helicopter. And, those being the choices* would elect to remain indoors. Hellhounds are major wusses about rain** so I took them out first***. It was beginning to leak increasingly by the time the hellterror and I were on our way out but she’s, you know, a dog, and she shakes herself and gets on with it rather than turning hopeless and pitiful.† Although hopeless and pitiful is to be preferred when you get home again and are trying to towel off a whirling dervish.
I’m trying to remember the last time we had a proper country hurtle. We skirt the town perimeter occasionally but real countryside is all eyebrow-deep in mud and washing everything you’re wearing again gets old very quickly as well as reusing already muddy critter towels because you’ve only got 1,000,000 and they’re all wet, including the recently-washed ones steaming off as fast as possible on the plug-in heated-airer rails.†† And there’s no amelioration to needing several raincoats which you wear in rotation, to give them a chance to dry out. Not to mention the permanent aroma of wet hellcritter. †††
Sigh. And to add to the joy of the assembled the hellterror, as previously observed, is in season. The last few days I’ve been determinedly getting her out for an extra walk(s) so I can have the excuse of keeping her locked up in her crate more indoors. I know the smell of lurrrrrve is pervasive but the hellhounds seem to cope reasonably well so long as she’s not, you know, swinging her booty in the immediate vicinity—which she does whether she’s in season or not. Aside from longer crate hours she’s not having a good time, poor thing, she throws herself around like that swollen thing sticking out behind her is uncomfortable, which it probably is and FORTUNATELY she and the hellhounds don’t seem to have any clue that together they possess an answer to this situation. Mind you, I’m patrolling the bzzrgrmph out of any time they’re loose together, so they do not have the opportunity to experiment. The kitchen floor at the cottage is never so clean as when there’s a dripping hellterror occupant: she’s worst in the morning, for some reason, maybe just because overnight is her longest stretch shut up. But she also doesn’t understand why I don’t seem to want her in my lap at the moment—you can see the thought bubble: All This And No Lap??—so we have sacrificed a clean dry towel toward rectifying this sad situation. Now an ex-clean towel.‡
We’re going to a concert‡‡ tomorrow night when I usually go to my monks, so I went to the evening prayer service tonight. There is water everywhere. When it started chucking it down again after B_twin left we were back to standing water that made the landscape dazzle when the sun managed to come out for a quarter hour or so. By now we’ve got above-ground water torrenting down the roads and drowning the pedestrian pavements. I was thinking as I sloshed after the hellhounds this evening on a brief pee run that I’m going to have to start wearing my hiking boots in town: the water sluicing over the pavements is higher than the rubber edges of my All Stars.
With the rain pouring off my leather jacket as well as my umbrella I met Alfrick on my way into the abbey—trying to shake off the worst on the mat by the door before I left trailing-wet footprints down the corridor—who raised his eyebrows and said, Where did you park the ark?
On the way home again the long queue of traffic on the 60-mph bypass was going 35, because of the amount of water on the road. And I haven’t even told you about how the main road into New Arcadia has been dug up by the water company, and we all have to take the back way which involves sliding off the hardtop into the sticky trough that is what the shoulder has become, every time you meet a car coming in the other direction. . . .
* * *
* And helicopters are expensive
** I’ve never decided if they hate their raincoats because they hate their raincoats or because they only ever wear them when it’s, you know, raining. And I, as Putter On of Hated Raincoats, am doomed either way. Nor have I ever managed to convince them that the hellgoddess’ remit does not include the weather.^ Today I decided to cut my losses and not put raincoats on.
^ Hellgoddess: Guys . . . you really think THIS is the weather I would conjure if I could conjure weather? COLD? WET? HORRIBLE?
Hellhounds: Well, you make us eat.
Hellgoddess: AAAAAAAAAUGH AAAAAAAAUGH
Hellhounds: ::blank innocent looks::
*** They came with us to the farmers’ market and had a wonderful time moseying through the back streets with me while Peter negotiated with vendors for emeralds from Samarkand and so on. But when we got home and I took them out again immediately you could see them giving each other the hairy eyeball and wondering what my problem was.
† Hellgoddess: Guys. You won’t melt. I promise.
Hellhounds [faintly]: Oh you can’t possibly be sure. [Hellhound delicately raises paw. Delicately raises second paw. Attempts delicately to raise third paw. Other hellhound is trying to hide under a hedgerow.] This is particularly . . . penetrating rain.
Hellgoddess: It’s been seven years. You haven’t melted yet.
Hellhounds turn two pairs of huge golden eyes^ reproachfully on their goddess: Today is today. The last seven years have been the last seven years.
^ Dark They Were and Golden Eyed. If hellhounds are part Martian it could explain a lot.
†† I might almost be thinking about a proper electric tumble dryer if I had anywhere to put it.
††† I actually rather like the smell of clean wet dog. Just not all the time.
‡ Which I have to keep folded up and out of hellhound reach. LIFE AND PROCREATION ARE SO RATBLASTED GRUBBY.
‡‡ That is Peter and Nina and Ignatius and I, not the hellpack and I.
Interested to hear how the recording went.
AAAAAAAAAUGH. AAAAAAAAAAAUGH. Anybody not know who Florence Foster Jenkins is?* If you are so fortunate, allow me to ruin your evening/ morning/ afternoon/ life. Go google her and come back. I can wait.
You now know everything you need to know about my singing.** ::Bangs head against wall::*** Nadia did warn me last week, when I took the recording doohickey in for the first time, that recent events were audibly weighing on my voice and if I was going to record and listen to the recording, to try not to be discouraged. . . . †
Nadia has also said that contrary to apparent reality, tuning is not my problem and that it’ll come right when the rest of it comes right—like not cranking your horse’s head in to get him/her on the bit. Concentrate on getting your seat and legs right and the front end will sort itself out. So my musical seat and legs equivalent still need a lot of work.††
When I wrote the blog entry for last night I hadn’t played this week’s lesson back yet. I had listened to last week’s recording before this week’s lesson and had more or less managed to absorb the punishing truth, which is that I sang more flat notes than accurate ones but that was last week. This week I went in prepared to lighten up a little††† so that my voice wouldn’t keep breaking its fingernails trying to hoick itself up over the edge of the right note.
Well. I may have thought I was prepared. HOW DOES NADIA STAND IT? WHY DON’T I JUST TAKE UP KNITTING? ‡
Speaking of erratic leaps forward… they don’t really happen for everyone who slogs, you know.
I imagined it. I take it all back.‡‡
The teacher has to be good
That I have in full measure. Have I mentioned lately that Nadia walks on water?‡‡‡
& the student has to be honestly trying to change things, not just putting in hours . . .
Dunno. We may have a slight semantic difference in the definition of slog. Slog as in dragging aggrieved hellhounds through hip-deep mud, well, no, this does not improve with practise.§ Slog as in loyally doing your grindlefarbing vocal ratblasted exercises and learning, so you thought, the notes to your new song . . . yeah. I think that catches up with you eventually. Sometimes it’s more catchy and sometimes it’s more eventually. . . .
Although thank you for being supportive.
I’ve met plenty of—well, let’s call them musicians for lack of a better term—who’ve been stuck in the same place for years. They’ve essentially hit a musical wall, either through bad teaching, no teaching, or pig-headedly not listening to advice.
Yes, like bell ringers who don’t want to learn anything past call changes, or maybe trebling. They’re not going to learn methods and you can’t make them.§§
That you’re getting More Voice (and I’d lay money that people besides you & Nadia can hear the difference)
Yep. They can, poor things. I’m LOUDER. I’m seriously louder. I’m not loud like Nadia or Joyce DiDonato is loud but I’m loud compared to the average congregation member at the annual carol service. Siiiiiiigh.
is credit both to Nadia’s excellent teaching and to your own engagement with the process.
Oh, engagement, schmengagement. Yes, I love singing, but then . . . so did Florence Foster Jenkins. The thing that I was leading up to last night—before I heard this week’s lesson playback§§§—is that I’ve been formally invited to join the ‘band’ for the evening service at St Margaret’s. You know, singing.
* * *
* I’ve mentioned her here before but you may not have been paying attention.
** Except I haven’t learnt the notorious Queen of the Night aria yet.^
^ Ha ha ha.
*** This will doubtless have an enormous positive effect on my singing. Doubtless.
† Of course it’s possible that Little Recording Doohickey is possessed by demons. Most of my tech is.^
^ Everyone’s favourite trick at the minute—that is desktop, laptop and iPad—is suddenly to go, This page cannot be displayed because you are not connected to the internet WHEN I’M CONNECTED JUST FINE ON THE OTHER OPEN TABS.
†† I was never much of a rider either. Siiiiiiiiiiigh.
††† I’d brought a crowbar, you know.
‡ Oh . . . right. And I don’t show any great talent for knitting, either.
‡‡ The leap forward anyway. Possibly not the erratic.
‡‡‡ Which with the weather we’ve been having is a very useful skill.
§ Neither does the hellgoddess’ temper.
§§ This is a somewhat controversial and contentious subject in the ringing world. I think if you enjoy ringing call changes, especially if your tower is short handed, which most towers are these days, and you don’t want to break your brain and insomniacify your nights with learning methods, you shouldn’t have to. But at the same time I can’t imagine not wanting to go on, to try for the next level, and most of the people I’ve known—a limited group I admit—who have stopped with call changes have Other Issues, including being taught wrong. Either wrong in an absolute sense or wrong for them. The problem with difficult skills is that there’s also more than one way of learning them and bell ringing is volunteer and most towers are lucky to have anyone even relatively able and willing to take on the frequently discouraging and onerous^ task of teaching at all. There’s also a controversial and contentious conversation going on about teaching ringing teachers and setting up some kind of system whereby a teacher has to pass some kind of competence standard . . . and if you’re asking me, it’s going to end in tears.
^ Because of the spectacular attrition rate. Bringing a beginner on is a colossal investment of time and effort from the entire band, especially the teacher, and then they go and quit, usually at whatever point where it realio trulio dawns on them that ringing is a DIFFICULT SKILL and is going to require BRAIN and COMMITMENT. I don’t blame people for deciding they’d rather stay home and shampoo the cat, but I wish they’d figure this out a little earlier in the training process.
§§§ All right, yes, I did sound better this week. BUT I’M STILL HORRIBLY FLAT. What I do notice, and I can’t decide if this is hopeful or even more frustrating, is that every now and then when I hit a note more or less like true and full . . . it’s not bad. And it’s spectacularly not the thin sour noise I was making several years ago. If all my notes sounded like that, which they do not, I could get into that goodish choir. But I was saying last night that my new voice doesn’t feel old, it feels young? My relationship with what I’m trying to sing is a whole lot like watching a newborn foal try to get up on those four spindly things stuck on the corners of its tiny squished-together body. Now, this one goes here . . . WHOOPS. Um. Well, this one goes here . . . WHOOPS. And so on. I always used to think that whatever my shortcomings I could carry a tune, and . . . apparently I can’t any more. And this feels like the result of having more voice. Nadia even said as much—not on the subject of carrying a tune; she’s tactful like that—that it’s like when you shift up from the 13 hand pony you actually outgrew a couple of years ago and you’re on a 15.3 hand thoroughbred and . . . WHOOPS.
Maybe I’ll figure it out. Whimper.
I realise this is the second Pav the Heroine story in three days*, but sometimes it happens like that. Also it’s to do with her age**: she’s starting to become a little more reliable about stuff—a LITTLE—or a little more responsive to me as mistress of the known universe or at least the corner that concerns HER and so I’m . . . frelling risking it a little more because life is short and being in a constant state of readiness for the worst is time-consuming and dead boring—and expecting the worst eventually becomes depressing. Six months ago I’d’ve probably gone back and picked her up and carried her past the World Order Threatening Grey Balloons because I wouldn’t have thought my chances of persuading her to come on her own recognizance were worth the time and the likelihood of failure.
When I’m letting her out the front door at the mews to have a pee I don’t bother to put her harness and lead on any more; she likes indoors, indoors has hellhounds and fooooood and toys*** and she’s happy to come in again. I do look around before I let her out, in case of innocent neighbours, exciting delivery vehicles, etc.
This afternoon I looked out. Nothing. I opened the door and a small furry torpedo shot past me . . .
At the moment that two large, off lead Labradors† wandered across the open archway into the mews.
Pav of course instantly set off toward the archway, head and tail up, at full prance. I am not a fluent reader of dog body language, but I would have said she was not expecting trouble but was not going to cringe away from it if it addressed her.
And I’m out there in just my shirt and jeans, because we’re only out for a minute. I carry a little plastic bag of emergency kibble and Thrilling Canine Treats††† in my raincoat [sic] pocket. Not in my jeans.‡
Pav! I call. And I can hear the panic in my voice. If I can, she can too.
One of the Labs notices us. It stops. It raises its tail to the ‘alert’ position. Noooooooooo.
Pav! I shout. Sit! —All you dog people will know this. You have a much greater chance of your escaping hellcritter sitting than turning around, away from the thing it is going toward, and coming back to you, if you foolhardily attempt a recall. If it sits, you can saunter gently up to it, you hope, and GRAB IT.
Pav keeps going. The Lab’s tail goes up another notch or two. I’m already seeing the headlines in the local newspaper: American Woman and Her Ten Stone‡‡ Rabid Pit Bull Attack Perfectly Behaved, Kind to Its Mother Local Labrador. ‡‡‡
PAV! I shriek for the third time.§ SIT!!!
And . . . she stops. She looks over her shoulder at me. She TURNS AROUND, trots back TOWARD ME and SITS. Wagging her tail.
Gibble. Gibble gibble gibble gibble gibble.
* * *
* It’s actually the third Pav the Heroine story in three days but I can’t think how to tell the third one on a public blog. Let’s just say that she was uncharacteristically polite to someone it was extremely advisable, not to say critical, that she be polite to.
** Hellhounds were a little over a year old when I started this blog. Gah. How time flies whether you’re having fun or not, as a friend recently said. However hellhounds have just eaten their dinner immediately and with no fuss at all so the world is bright for the next several hours till I have to feed them supper. Sigh. I’m sure some of my insomniac problems are a result of the throbbing blood-pressure headaches attendant on non-supper-eating hellhounds but I need that third meal for the opportunity to tamp a little more food into them and breakfast is spectacularly a lost cause. I might never get out of bed at all if the prospect included feeding hellhounds breakfast.^ It’s funny, sort of, that they’re so jealous of anything the hellterror is getting that they think they aren’t getting—they don’t want to eat it, you understand, just that they don’t think she should be allowed to eat it either—except at breakfast. At breakfast—and Pav roars out her crate I HAVEN’T EATEN ANYTHING IN OVER SIX HOURS. I’M STARVING TO DEATH. WHERE’S BREAKFAST?—you can see hellhounds turning away and delicately pressing metaphorical handkerchiefs to their noses in a gesture that would not disgrace the Duke of Avon.
^ Although since I take Astarte—with her Kindle app, and a live credit card registered on amazon—to bed with me, who needs to get up?
*** This category includes Peter
† Mrs Redboots
I think bulldozer-headed Labrafrellingdors are a Race Apart. Just not far enough.
Noooooooo – they’re LOVELY! Best dogs in the universe! Intelligent, obedient, loving…. what’s not to like?
Well, I’m not going to agree that they’re the best dogs in the universe, but you mistake me. I’m not damning all Labs, just the huge stupid—um, bulldozer-headed—ones which invariably belong to people who don’t have a clue or they’d have bought a real Lab. The old-fashioned working-style Labs are still around and while occasionally they too are rowdy fractious pains in the patootie, generally the old-fashioned ones have manners because they belong to people who teach their dogs manners. I’ve even known one or two this-kind of Lab I’d have been happy to have stretched out on my sofa.
But I think it’s true I’m more drawn to the hard-graft dogs. Neither sighthounds nor bull terriers are terribly interested in the finer points of the human ideas of training. If I were going to get a super-trainable dog it would probably still be a border collie . . . because I like the manic.^ Gun dog breeds tend to be the exact opposite of manic. You don’t see many Labs who’ve been taught to dance. . . . Although Pav’s latest somewhat-on-command trick is standing on her hind legs and she’s good enough at it she could probably learn to dance if I put the time (and the fooooooood) into it.
^ Possibly not all border collies are manic. All the ones I’ve known are, however, including the ones who can speak seven languages and have advanced degrees in quantum physics.
†† These dogs are a *&^%$£”!!!!! sore point. They belong to regular visitors—a bit like me, then—and while they aren’t exactly thrown out and left to their own devices, their people don’t stand there and watch them the way I do mine. And when there is unpicked up dog crap in the mews courtyard, it is not my dogs who are responsible. Or I who am irresponsible.
††† None of which work on the hellhounds. Just by the way.
‡ Clearly I should start carrying Emergency Hellterror Retrieval Rations in my jeans pocket too.
‡‡ A stone is fourteen pounds. I have no idea why. Pav, who is a mini bull terrier, not a pit bull, weighs a little over two stone.
‡‡‡ Who never ever craps in inappropriate places. Its people are not included in the attack, by the way, because they are nowhere around.
§ ‘Never repeat a command. You are teaching your dog to ignore you.’
That would be me.
I’ve told you that I’ve done that standard stupid human thing of getting through the crisis—in this case the immediate aftermath of Peter’s stroke—and then when everything else is beginning to find some tentative stability . . . going to pieces. In my case of course the manifestation of disintegration is the multiply-blasted ME. I’m just about getting the hellpack hurtled . . . and the rest of the day is horizontal, in spirit anyway.* I’m getting out of bed at what is nearly a responsible adult hour in the moooooorning but it’s not doing me much good; the first two or three hours are a blur, which means I’m still having trouble getting down to the mews before lunch to take Peter shopping.
At the moment I may have an hour or two around midday that are not too bad and then it’s all downhill again. Yesterday I was already pretty marginal by the time I had to leave for service ring at Forza . . . so I didn’t go, telling myself that this should at least mean I could pull myself together enough to go to church last night. Nope.** By the time I would have had to leave to go to St Margaret’s I was definitely not safe behind the wheel of a car, not to mention the whole ‘sitting upright in a chair’ thing once I got there.
But today . . . today was my first voice lesson in a month. I was not going to miss this if I had to yoke the hellpack to a sledge. . . . Nah. Wolfgang knows the way. And a good thing too.
I’m paying for it now and I’m trying to make no plans about tomorrow. But I’m still glad I went. It’s been interesting, in that I-could-have-done-without-knowing-any-of-this-way, trying to sing, these last few weeks, the noise I make, or not, and the stuff I’m willing to have a go at and the stuff I’m not willing to have a go at—this latter is not about the technical difficulties, which are just technical, but the emotional ones: I’m not in the mood to sing anything I’m going to have to inhabit. Just doing warm-up today with Nadia tweaking and adjusting as she does, I could hear some of the last three weeks coming out. So could Nadia, of course. But . . . as I said to her, I wanted to come today because singing is good for morale, but also my voice wanted to come, because it knows she’s its friend and me, not so much, lately. It’s very odd, this having a voice. That even with the ME, once Nadia had found where I’d hidden the key to the jail cell and let my voice out, it was . . . there.
* * *
* Hellhounds are cool with a horizontal hellgoddess. Hellterror not so much. And she’s a lot easier to suppress on your lap than your chest. She’s as big as you are, on your chest. Eeep.^
^ Also she’s a solid little hellspawn. When she bounces on you you know you’ve been bounced.+
+ . . . I’ve just wasted about fifteen minutes of my . . . well, zero-brain time can’t really be wasted because the implication is there’s something to waste. Anyway there’s a series in the Sunday GUARDIAN, which is to say the OBSERVER, called ‘why it works’ and every Sunday there’s a photo of a celebrity and some member of staff does a more or less tongue-in-cheek run down of why the look ‘works’. Generally speaking it never looks like a look to me; mostly these people look like celebrities being more or less dorkily aware that someone is taking a photo of them and they’re celebrities so that’s why they’re wearing what they’re wearing, including if it looks like something they picked up at Oxfam five minutes ago. Especially if it looks like something they picked up at Oxfam five minutes ago.
This week it’s Marc Jacobs. People who don’t spend all their more or less spare time hurtling hellcritters and ringing bells may know who Marc Jacobs is. I didn’t till just now when I was trying to find a link to the ‘why it works’ page. Now that I know he’s a frelling clothing designer I realise that the ridiculous coat he’s wearing is actually a fabulously expensive designer creation and not a rather adorable piece of over the top kitsch. I’d wear it—I’d’ve seized it instantly if I’d found it in Oxfam. It’s fuzzy plush, like what stuffed animals for kiddies are made of—at least I hope it’s fuzzy plush and no real animals died for this—with rainbow stripes. Cootchy-coo.
Anyway. He’s walking his dog. And his dog is a (standard not mini) BULL TERRIER. YES. And furthermore it’s a coloured bull terrier, not a white one. Coloured. Like someone we all know# and love, although I think Marc’s is brindle and white rather than tricolour. And it’s strolling along with its head down looking away##, and the ha-ha funny why-it-works caption goes: The dog. ‘No pictures!’
NO. WRONG. If this dog ever finds out its photo was taken unawares, it will be crushed. It will be devastated. Bullies LIVE to play up to any opportunity that presents itself###. And here was an opportunity and it MISSED IT??! This bullie may feel itself obliged to hunt down this photographer and deliver a little lecture, with the famously evil, varminty little eyes shooting out laser beams and a certain shark-like smile much in evidence.
Oh, and Marc is carrying a little green bag of dog crap. Yaay Marc. Either that or a seriously ill-designed man-bag. I prefer to think it’s dog crap.
# And some of us have the bruises to prove it.
## In what I admit is a rather un-bullie-like posture—maybe it had had a hard night sitting in celebrities’ laps and drinking champagne.
### And one had better present itself fairly regularly or the bullie in question will be forced to create one. Ask me how I know this.
** When you’re choosing a church you don’t really think in terms of how often your frelling ME is going to prevent you from driving that far. Although maybe you should. The additional aggravator in this case is that St Radegund, from which I am two garden walls over at the cottage, also has an evening service but it’s earlier than St Margaret’s. I’m still deluding myself I’m going to make it to my own church when St Radegund’s service starts. Feh.