Sigh. Exactly what I was afraid would happen is happening, once I stopped blogging every day—which is that I’m always going to do it again tomorrow. Mind you, there are things going on. Including that I keep frelling collapsing, and if I have any spare energy I should probably give some member(s) of the hellmob or other a better hurtle than they’ve probably had today. Whereupon I will be too tired to do anything so frivolous as write a blog and furthermore I’ve been knocking myself out for way too much of the last week writing frelling COPY for a big wodge of my backlist that is going to be rereleased soonish, and about which I will give you all the details as soon as there’s a schedule to give you the details of. BUT TRY TO IMAGINE HOW MUCH I HATE NOT MERELY WRITING COPY FOR MY OWN STUFF, which regular readers of this blog are well aware of, BUT WRITING IT FOR A WHOLE FRELLING STACK OF MY BOOKS.* No, don’t try to imagine, it would be very bad for you.
But for a further graphic example of things going on, the twice frelling put off** new boiler installation finally happened yesterday. YAAAAAAY. Well, sort of, barring the gaping hole in my bank balance that is letting in a frigid blast of hostile air despite the mild September we’re having locally and the war zone the army of two left behind. WORKMEN. ARRRRRRGH.*** And where did all the frelling red dirt come from? What is this, Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama/Georgia/South Carolina?† My entire house is sheeted in a thin, less than delightful film of powdery red dirt.†† So charming. The bathroom was hazy with it Monday night and the excitingly renovated linen cupboard looked like something out of a bad fantasy film: Evil Witch’s Grotto. Put the red cellophane over the lens. I could feel the cloud clinging to my skin as I climbed out of my (hot: definitely hot) bath last night. I don’t want to think about the newly-slightly-red-tinted condition of my lungs. SO CHARMING.
The army of two showed up as promised at 10 am and were not early, so we got off to a good start—which is to say I was not only dressed but I’d had enough caffeine to be able to figure out how to get the front door key out of my pocket and open the door with it—this pleasing punctuality aside from the fact that if they hadn’t shown up as most recently promised I would have had to hunt them down and kill them because I am VERY TIRED of having my entire bathroom in cardboard boxes . . . not only because I can’t find anything but because there’s already no available floor space at the cottage because of the immediate distressing results of moving from a somewhat larger house to a somewhat smaller house, and the first time Joachim cancelled it was already the morning of the day he was supposed to come so I had sensibly already pulled everything out of the cupboard AND PUT IT IN BOXES. You have no idea what you’ve managed to wedge into a rather small airing cupboard, rather full of boiler and hot water tank, till you have to take it all out and put it in boxes AND PUT THE BOXES SOMEWHERE.†††
Let me make this short, which the day was not.‡ Joachim and adjutant arrived. They arrived with amazing amounts of kit, which meant I stayed downstairs with the Aga—which they had to turn off, so that was not satisfactory from a keeping-tea-hot perspective—because I couldn’t get into my office with the upstairs hallway JAMMED with screwdrivers‡‡ and winches and a small backhoe, and I didn’t like to decamp to Third House when they kept asking me things like, where is the gas line?, which I could have told them over the phone but not so they could find it without serious excavation‡‡‡, or where is the nearest plumbers’ supply house? When they didn’t have a spare of something that just broke. Oh.
They were due to clear off by three in the afternoon. Four latest. THEY WERE THERE TILL SIX THIRTY. But I’m looking on the bright side. They only destroyed one window screen and a rather good fuchsia, although I’m hoping the latter will recover. They did attempt to clean up after themselves.§ They were polite.§§ And while the additional space in the airing cupboard may be a bit of a bust there is definitely more space in the attic where the holding tank came out. And I haven’t seen any bats emerging from the new holes in the ceiling . . . but I’d better get Atlas to patch them before the bat mums come home to the largest pipistrelle nursery in Hampshire next spring.
And I do (still) have hot water. But I had hot water before. The crucial moment comes later in the season when I try to turn the central heating on for the first time. . . . §§§
* * *
* Especially old ones where I may actually have to read a bit here and there to make it likelier I get it right. There’s very little worse than flipping frustratedly through something you yourself wrote because you’re CONVINCED that this or that thing happened and it has to have happened before/after this or that other thing, didn’t it? DIDN’T IT? MAYBE IT WAS IN SOME OTHER BOOK NOOOOOOOOO?? Arrrrrrgh. How to feel really, really stupid without even any recourse to maths.^
That’s aside from the nooooo I didn’t really use that cringe-making metaphor did I? I didn’t really allow the plot to do that did I? I didn’t really name that character that, did I?^^ Why didn’t I grow up to be a mechanic?^^^
^ Hey, I don’t hate maths like I used to+ but all those clever maths books I like reading in the bath? I read the story or the set up or the problem or the joke or something and go, oooooh, cool . . . and then I look up the answer in the back of the book.
+ Unless there’s something about money involved in which case I hate it worse. Money is a stupid system. Let’s find another one. Which may or may not be maths based. I vote for not.
^^ That’ll be one of the names the story didn’t give me, that I had to choose. Brrrrrr.
^^^ Because no one in his, or her, right mind would hire me. Mercy Thompson would laugh till she did herself an injury. So would Munch Mancini.
** Due to what sounded like a pretty genuine family emergency and resultant critical shortage of childminders. Or maybe Joachim just uses hire-a-kid for verisimilitude.
*** Okay, the really good part? No builder’s cracks.
† I know there’s really RED red dirt in the American South somewhere because I remember being amazed by it. I just don’t remember where I was at the time.^
^ MAYBE IT WAS IN SOME OTHER BOOK NOOOOOOOOO?
†† Okay, it’s probably brick dust. That’s not nearly so romantic.
††† The irony is that one of the things he seduced me with is the fact that there would be more ROOM in my small airing cupboard because the new boiler is an on-demand so . . . no tank. Well. Sort of more room. Because of where the new thing is hung and where its dashboard is there’s not hugely more room than there was when there was a tank in there the size of a small nuclear silo.^ The best thing about the new gold-plated^ whatsit is that there is no hideously complex control panel for the end user—the dashboard on the thing itself is for professionals—the frelling wall panel for the shivering householder on my old one was diabolical. You had like six columns^^^ and you had to choose the right button in each of the six columns to get what you wanted. The permutations are . . . mathematically intimidating. And this is one of the few occasions when the right answer is not ‘chocolate’. THE NEW ONE YOU JUST TURN THE HOT TAP ON OR THE THERMOSTAT UP. There is NO control panel. I could almost talk myself into it being worth the money.#
^ You could still run out of hot water if you topped up your cooling bath too often. Hey, it’s an exciting knitting magazine! Double sized with pull outs! I want to finish reading!
^^ At this PRICE? It better be gold-plated. I think I was promised diamond encrusted. Maybe there are diamonds once I get the red dirt cleaned off. +
+ Furthermore it’s STICKY. It doesn’t come off EASILY.=
= See? It is clay. It’s not brick dust.
^^^ Hot, cold, yes, no, left, right, octopus and Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
# Although this is one of those Where Did We Go Wrong moments. The furnaces and hot water of my childhood were like this. You could go down into the basement and stare at a couple of glass tubes with motor oil or magma or something moving slowly back and forth in them but generally speaking you turned the thing on or off upstairs and it worked and when it didn’t work you called a plumber. You couldn’t programme it to turn on for seventeen minutes February 3rd, 2044, no, but I do not consider this facility worth the misery at 3 a.m. tonight when you just want a bath. If one of the six columns had ‘hurtle the hellmob’ as an option I’d reconsider, but I have yet to see a boiler out on the trot with a lead extruding from its input valve. Yaay retro. Yaay primitive. Yaay HOT BATHS ON DEMAND.
‡ And I have to go to bed in order to get up FRESH and SPRINGY and ATHLETIC and ready to go on mashing the attic at Third House. The backlist comes home next Monday whether I’m ready or not.
‡‡ One of which they left behind. The shank on it is about three feet long. I don’t want to know.
‡‡‡ It’s in the greenhouse. Nuff said. Where the tap to turn the water into the house off is worse however because I hadn’t thought to clear that cupboard out. Sigh.
§ I only found half a dozen screws, presumably to keep the screwdriver company. As well as a lot of adherent red dirt.
§§ Even if Joachim can’t stop calling his elderly female clients ‘darling’. I think possibly on account of my eruptions on the subject of control panels he thinks I need looking after.
§§§ I don’t want so mild a winter I don’t ever turn it on. I want the slugs and snails and the black spot and the aphids and the red lily beetle to die.
It was going to be a really bad day.** The ME is using me as a punching-bag again*** and I got out of bed in stages, saying, it is Monday, and I am going to my voice lesson. I am going to my voice lesson. All I have to do is crawl to the car, unlock the door, and put the key in the little hole. Wolfgang knows the way.
It has been a really bad week for—not for singing, see previous about singing for sanity, but for attentive practise, so that I don’t feel a total fool going to sing for Nadia.† After my voice slammed shut on me last Monday—which was actually rather alarming—I gave it two days off anything but folk songs and Leonard Cohen†† . . . and then I had stomach flu and all those deep breaths and gut-disturbing diaphragm action for singing seemed like a pretty bad idea, although I could (maybe) stop worrying about the slamming shut, which was probably germ related. †††
I did sing over the weekend—a little—and I noticed at church last night that I was making a noise.‡ But this morning, warming up, I felt like I’d Never Seen Any of This Music Before in My Life‡‡ and did not set out for my lesson in a very positive frame of mind.‡‡‡
But fate and body parts are often perverse little creatures. I don’t even know how to explain what happened; if I try it’ll sound like gibberish to non-singers and will probably make those of you who would understand what I was talking about if I could explain it properly fall down laughing. The point is I made what Nadia herself called a Technical Leap Forward having to do with waking up the ‘mask’ sinuses and persuading all the various bits and pieces—tongue and soft palate in particular—to clear out of the way and let the sound resonate. Gleep. And she took me up to the high B-flat I need for both Batti, Batti§ and I Want to Be a Prima Donna—I didn’t know it, of course, although I knew we were getting up there—and which I do erratically have at home when I’m focussed on not paying attention and shutting myself down because I Can’t Possibly Do That, so I know the frelling thing exists. And as she pointed out, grinning, I sang it with no strain and no muscle tension. It’s the lack of tension that was so astonishing—she said, yes, your support has come a little adrift, but we can fix that.§§ You’ve made real progress today.
And . . . golly . . . you know . . . I may yet make a singer.
* * *
* Although everything is relative. See next footnote.
** It’s been a bad hellhound day for weeks. With the very, very occasional exception, Darkness more often than Chaos, neither of them is eating. The only reason they haven’t starved themselves to death by now is because I keep force feeding them. They haven’t eaten a scrap of anything today, voluntarily, for example. This is utterly demoralising for me even when the ME isn’t bad. It’s not the taste of the drug; they get three meals and only two of them are dosed. If they are having a unique nauseous reaction to this stuff—nausea which lasts through the third meal—that would explain it, but I doubt it’s that simple, and neither the vet nor I can ask them how they feel or why they’ve decided food is the enemy.^ Meanwhile although their output is improved it’s still far from . . . um . . . a neat pick-up so we persevere. Wearily.
^ Although if it were that simple, anorexia in humans would be less scary and less difficult to treat. I remind myself of this sometimes, on my knees beside the dog bed, stuffing cold sticky food down recoiling hellhounds.
*** I did survive^ my first official Samaritan duty shift, thank you for asking. It was a relatively quiet night which given that I was not at my best is probably just as well,^^ although I need some demanding shifts to get through the list of things your mentor has to support you through before you’re turned loose to function mentor-less. I did write a few texts^^^—and I hope you eventually get over that initial shock of, oh, you poor thing, let me give you a cup of tea and a biscuit.#
The next fortnight is going to be a little unnecessarily exciting however since I’m still at the tremulous beginning of learning Sam weekly duty-shift stamina and I’ve got Street Pastor shifts two weeks in a row too. This is from the swap with Eleanor—she took my Friday night before a Saturday-morning Sam training in June and I’m taking her Saturday in July while she’s touring great swathes of America with her husband. Meanwhile the ME needs to clear off.
^ . . . I’m here. I’m writing a blog entry. This is not the new Zombie McKinley. Breath on the mirror and everything.
^^ And I’m going to assume that hang-ups are not in response to my American accent.
^^^ My mentor, whom we will call Pythia, has a very good line: if you had written what this person has written, is this the response you’d want to read? —Since ‘I have a magic wand and I’m about to make it all go away’ is ineligible, like the cup of tea, if for different reasons.
# Tricky, of course, since they could be texting you from anywhere. New Guinea. Mars.+
+ A CUP OF TEA AND A BISCUIT?? I’M SO BRITISH.~
~ I have no idea what the cup-of-tea-and-a-biscuit equivalent is in either New Guinea or Mars.
† Although I continue to be tempted to take . . . probably Matty Groves in to Nadia. Some folk song with drama. I told you, didn’t I, that I asked her how you sing a maddened nobleman who is about to off both his wife and her lover when you’re a soprano? And she said it’s all in how you release the consonants. And. Glory. Yes.^
I may not have told you since I don’t remember admitting that I’m not a big Sandy Denny fan^^. I know. Heresy. I am, indeed, so lost to all finer feelings that I wonder if the Sandy Denny cult might be somewhat based on the fact that she died young. Nice enough voice but . . . eh. Give me Maddy Prior or June Tabor or Norma Waterson. The Matty Groves take that makes my blood beat hard and my hair stand on end is Fairport Convention after Sandy Denny, with the blokes singing. And they can roar, which is not an option available to a soprano.
But I think I’m still not quite up to eating the scenery for Nadia. Maybe a few more weeks. Months. Years. . . .
^ ‘ . . . And I shall Strike the very next blow, and I will Kill you if I Can.’
^^ But when the ME is this bad I don’t have any memory either.
†† Famous on twenty-three continents^ for having a vocal range of two and a half notes, and tends to write songs accordingly.
^ This includes Mars
††† Your Body Is Your Instrument. Why didn’t I stick with the piano?
‡ I mean . . . singing. Melodic. More or less. Probably. I wasn’t in the band this week so it didn’t matter.
‡‡ Mozart? And he was—?
‡‡‡ Although the presence of non-eating hellhounds in the back seat, looking forward to their Monday afternoon post-lesson walk somewhere interesting, probably was not helping. They like me wrecked by ME: I’m much more willing to noodle along while they investigate every clump of grass for the recent presence of other dogs and/or fascinating pieces of litter.
§ Oh—that Mozart
§§ She also said that if I can’t do this free resonating thing at home this week—don’t panic. But that I should only sing new music—stuff I’m working on for the first time now—if I break out Che Faro, for example, which is absolutely my longing and desire, I’ll just revert to old habits. Wait a little now, she said. We’ll go back to Che Faro later, I promise.
You were due to get a blog post tonight and I have stomach flu. As these things go it’s mild* but it’s knocked my energy level over and squashed it flat, because that’s what happens when you have ME and some blasted interfering ‘acute’ comes along and joins the party.
Meanwhile I had my observation duty at the Samaritans last night—and was aware of feeling a little peaky** but that might have been tension level***—and I have my first official duty shift tomorrow. And I’m going. So let’s hope I can sit in a chair and speak in complete sentences, okay? I want to do this. And I don’t want my mentor to have to do it for me because I’m convulsing on the floor. Arrrrrrrgh.†
* * *
* May it stay mild, thank you very much
** I’ve actually been peaky most of this week, the kind of peaky that makes me think ‘oh help the ME is getting worse I’m not going to be able to keep on floundering through as much stuff as I do if this is settling in to be the new system’—also PAIN. Golly. I really do not like pain and it makes me CRANKY^ and at my age it also makes me feel dangerously old. Having the intensification of the ME coalesce into something like stomach flu, which can reasonably be presumed will go away again, is actually a relief.^^
^ I would have been such a bad martyr. I wouldn’t have forgiven anybody.
^^ This is how acutes tend to manifest with me, that the ME gets worse and then as if spits out the acute.+ But of course during the run up I don’t think ‘oh I must be coming down with something’ I think OH WOE MY LIFE IS OVER.
+ Not everyone with ME follows this pattern but it is a common one.
*** There weren’t any ordinary people who just wanted a chat last night—yes the Sams get those although that’s not what they’re for—YEEEEP. The Sams really are the sharp end. Yeeeeeep. I was there mid-shift so I could watch the handover, the point being that there’s always someone available to answer a ringing phone and there’s always a debrief every shift with the admin^, so I had a chance to speak to four duty-shift Sams plus my mentor^^ plus yesterday’s admin head and I was saying yeeeeep and they were all saying sympathetically, well, yes. That’s what we do.
It has come up constantly from the first information evening when you’re still deciding whether to apply or not that the Sams support their people. What the Samaritans do is rough. And you can’t take it home with you or you won’t be able to do the job for long. Hence constant, structured checking from admin and colleagues that you’re okay.
The other crucial aspect of this is the Sams’ rule of ABSOLUTE CONFIDENTIALITY. The only people you’re allowed to discuss Sams’ callers with is other Sams. And I had a little taste of what this is going to mean in practise last night. Intellectually I totally get it and totally agree with it too—that’s what makes the Sams such a great resource. Have something that’s eating holes in you that you either have no one to discuss it with or you just can’t discuss it with friends and family? Ring the Sams. You can tell them anything, they’ll not only listen, it won’t go any farther. Terminally ill and want to talk about death but your family are all in denial? Ring the Sams. Suicidal from the break-up that everyone thinks is your fault because they won’t hear the truth about your ex-partner? Ring the Sams. Your dog died and nobody gets it that it matters? Ring the Sams.
But to engage, to empathise, as a Sam you do have to get alongside whoever you’re talking to. And you also have to put it down again when you put the phone down.
I’ll learn to do this—as I told my mentor I’m reasonably confident about the long term: short term is the yeeeeeep—but the new skill is not being able to talk about it. I’m a girl. When stuff gets to me I find a friend to talk it through with. It’s what girls do. I wrote a couple of emails to friends last night and I probably sounded pretty distracted because what I was chiefly thinking about was what I couldn’t say. ^^^ Grim stuff is undoubtedly more of a burden when you can’t ask a trusted friend to help you lever it off and lay it down.
^ The admin are all practising Sams too. They know what you’re doing, what life on the, ahem, line is.
^^ Whom I like a lot, by the way. I feel in safe hands with her: that she’ll catch me if I screw up but she won’t make me feel like a retarded liver fluke for screwing up.
^^^ It’ll be easier once I’ve made some friends in the Sams. The Street Pastors keep schtum too but since most of what we do happens in public and out on the street the lockdown isn’t as absolute. And I went into the SPs as one of four from St Margaret’s, the other three of whom were already my friends by the time I started doing duty shifts. Clearly I need to send that email to the other five trainees of my Sams intake saying, so what about meeting up for that beer then?
† What you guys really want to be hoping/praying/dancing around bonfires for however is that I’m sufficiently alive and functioning to tweak another chapter of KES and release her to the world Saturday night.
. . . moving house. Removal men with rippling muscles and a large lorry are coming 1 August. Yessssssss. Any of you of a praying persuasion please pray it goes no more catastrophically than these things usually do. And more important that Peter finds he positively likes it there at Third House once he’s in. Any of you not of a praying persuasion are nonetheless welcome to dance supplicatorily around bonfires dedicated to minor deities who ease tiresome mortal rites of passage like house moves. I personally prefer Jesus, but I’ll take any good will on offer.
And minions of British Telecom, that delightfully efficient and customer-oriented corporation, are coming the day before to install necessary wiring because, as regular blog readers may recall, BT declares that there are no lines to Third House, that eighty or ninety year old cottage in the centre of town and with a phone jack in the kitchen which you might think BT would find a little embarrassing. HOWEVER we have got round my bootless fury on this topic first by the fact that we’re going to want wireless broadband and the connections for that probably do need to be updated from whenever . . . and second I just caved when the very loud, relentlessly cheerful woman who was brokering the deal rushed past the part about how they’d do all this for free if we bought their broadband. So we’re buying their broadband. And I am a weak, cringing worm. Yes. I just want it over with.
Eleanor finished cleaning Third House’s kitchen today.*
Jonas, who is a builder by trade and can do anything, is plumbing in the dishwasher because all the local plumbers are booked until Christmas 2017.
Atlas is getting on with carving out the Desk Aperture.**
Nina and Ignatius are coming twice this week to do anything someone else hasn’t got to first. They may make a start on clearing the space for my shed. And I may ask Ignatius to put up some shelves, since there is only one of Atlas and he only has two hands. Fie. You’d think someone who works in three dimensions for a living would have at least four.
And the hellhounds ate lunch for the first time in weeks.***
But too much stuff working might go to my head. So the ME gallantly stepped in at this point and slapped me down.† ARRRRRRGH.†† Therefore I think I’ll make one of my hilarious attempts to go to bed early.††† Night night.‡
* * *
* She has been giving me a very hard time about all the things I won’t let her throw away. That’s a perfectly usable jar! Leave it alone! She even thinks I have too many books. Friendships have been lost over comments like these. But not when someone is cleaning your kitchen for free.
** I’m failing to get on with finding somewhere to put all the books thus made homeless. See previous footnote.
*** Don’t get too excited. They didn’t eat dinner.
† Do I really need the ME too? It’s not like the next few weeks are going to be arid with ease and perfection. In the first place I still have 1,000,000 phone calls to make to/about various which will be quite lowering enough when 60% or so produce the equivalent of all the local plumbers being booked till Christmas 2017. I’m reminding myself we already own the house, no one can gazump us, that medieval torture device that has somehow been allowed to live on in the laws of England, Third House is in the same town and only half of us are moving anyway. Hey, my piano is moving! That counts! Also the hellhounds are sure to Faint in Coils which will fail to be edifying. But it could be a lot worse. Hold that thought.
†† It’s The Little Things. My last clean white shirt this morning had a big black spot at the centre of the neckline WHAAAAAAT?? I got the worst of it out with a sponge and wore it anyway. Then I put on my pale blue white floral cotton jeans which are automatically a calamity magnet because of the colour. And I was out in the garden this morning examining something or other while Pav had her morning pee and she galloped up to me and sprang . . . leaving giant muddy footprints all over my pale blue with white flowers jeans ARRRRRRRRGH. There was language. Pav ignored this, of course, because it had nothing to do with her. She usually does jump on me first thing in the morning . . . but this usually happens indoors, I’ve never taught her not to^, and the only reason the garden was muddy is because I’ve been WATERING because we haven’t had any rain in yonks.^^ ARRRRRRRRGH. Well I’m wearing the blotched up jeans anyway too, but everything goes in the washing machine tonight.
^ Theoretically she knows ‘off’. She doesn’t know ‘don’t jump up in the first place you muddy-footed monster’. Usually I find being jumped on by a thrilled-I-exist bull terrier ridiculously charming.
^^ It’s been long enough that a few Souvenir de la Malmaison roses have been unable to contain themselves to wait to go brown and mouldy in the next major downpour and have popped out properly. It only takes a few to make my entire tiny walled garden smell divine.
††† HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I kill myself, I really do.
‡ It’s too hot to sleep anyway. It’s not hot hot but it’s that kind of hot that sits on your chest like an incubus and won’t let you breathe.
Last night* did not begin well . . . when I shut Wolfgang’s front passenger-side door on my thumb.
I was very good. It was urble-mumble o’clock in the morning** so I did not scream to make the welkin ring, although there was some fairly dramatic hissing, and the thirty seconds or so it took to hustle the frelling hellhounds into the car—they dork around and dork around looking for THAT ILLUSORY PERFECT PLACE TO PEE—may have been the longest thirty seconds of my life*** before I could pelt back indoors and fish out the arnica bottle—with, you know, my other wounded hand, the one with the slightly cracked finger. Meanwhile I don’t suppose my thumb had really blown up like a balloon on an electric bicycle pump but . . . close.† So last night I took the other half of the bottle of arnica I’d started the night before when I semi-broke my finger. And last night’s insomnia was made more interesting by my thumb going BANG every hour or so necessitating me to sit up, groggily feel around for the arnica bottle, and take another tiny pill.†† Plus a certain amount of hypericum.†††
And today my thumbnail is turquoise. I think it’s slowly turning black, the way squashed fingernails do, but it was a positively brilliant turquoise this morning. New experiences. I could have done without this one. This is also the first time since my discovery of the wonders of arnica that I’m going to have a black fingernail anyway. Sigh. I hate black nails; it takes a good six months for one to grow out—on me, anyway. And it makes you look so hopeless. No one ever got a black nail saving the universe. It’s always because you’re a dolt and you shut your finger in a door. I need more sleep. I’m not usually quite this self-destructive.
Meanwhile . . . at the moment neither hand works very well. And except for the fact that it’s my left thumb which is superfluous to requirements on a keyboard, it’s a lot more inconvenient than the middle finger on my other hand. No opposable thumb. No grasping. Also I can’t hit the brake on Chaos’ lead—now that’s dangerous—and Pav is usually on that side too, but I can at least make a wild poke with my right thumb. But it’s REALLY GREAT TIMING that I have two sub-functioning hands when I’m trying to yank us toward readiness to move house. Which in this case chiefly means BOOKS. Lots and lots and lots and lots of books.‡
* * *
* And by night we mean that time at the end of a long evening which reaches well past both the big and the little hand on the tick-tock^ device sticking straight up, and begins with that fell and doom-laden moment I face the necessity of loading sixteen hellcritters and enough kit for an assault on Everest in January into Wolfgang to make our slow bleary way back to the cottage. Well, that’s how it feels.
^ I’m sorry, but all the best clocks still go tick-tock. And have hands.
** Which is late even for me. Well, I’d been having a long semi-unplanned conversation with an across-the-pond friend earlier, not for lack of trying to create something like an advance strategy. NONE OF MY TECHNOLOGY WORKS. NONE. Am I only suffering from aggravated nostalgia, or am I right in thinking that back in the days when street mail and telephones were your only options, they mostly worked pretty well? TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES wouldn’t make you crazy if misdelivered letters were a commonplace.^
^ ANGEL CLARE IS A MOULDY DOG TURD. Just sayin’.
*** Although the rather fewer seconds between bouncing off the side of a caroming car and watching the ground rushing up toward my motorcycle and me also took a surprisingly long time. I’ve told you this story, right? Well, I haven’t told you in at least six months and it’s one of my favourites. I was lying there in the road and someone who’d pulled over and stopped his car came running up to me yelling, Son, son, are you all right? And I said, Well, you could get this motorcycle off my leg, and he said, Oh my God it’s a girl—and ran away and was never seen again. Although he was probably responsible for the deluge of fire trucks and ambulances that began to arrive shortly thereafter. This was—gleep—over forty years ago. No one, including William Gibson, was entertaining any fantastic notion of mobile phones yet. You had to go find a phone booth or one of those EMERGENCY PULL/PRESS HERE boxes.
† I want to know—well, I think I want to know, graphic gore is not my thing—what happens if someone who’s shut a toe or a fingertip in a car door^ doesn’t have a source of cold water or arnica to stop the swelling? Fingernails don’t stretch.
^ All those jokes about silly-putty steel in modern vehicles are suddenly not funny. But then one of the reasons some of us like VWs and Volvos and various not-I-think-exclusively-German four-wheeled bombs is the higher percentage of real steel in their composition. A headlong juggernaut will still take you out but a careening lorry might not. I think there could be some research done into rubber door mounts however.
†† Plus the two phone calls and two no-you-don’t-have-to-sign-for-it-but-we’re-still-going-to-knock-on-your-door-and-wake-you-up-again deliveries. In their defense, both deliveries were after nine a.m. And I sleep in clothing I can answer the door in.^
^ Kes is telling herself that sleeping in chainmail would be really uncomfortable.
††† Hypericum is another really basic homeopathic first aid remedy. For injury you always start with arnica, but if it needs some help, hypericum is particularly good for nerve-rich bits like fingers and toes and your coccyx. Also for injuries that stab you repeatedly. This one echoed very unpleasantly not just through the rest of my hand but up my arm to my shoulder. BANG.
‡ The Oxfam bookshop is going to ban me. No! Not more classics of English literature that no one reads any more!^
^ I’m keeping Dickens and Faulkner. And Anthony Trollope. And Hardy. And George Eliot. And Elizabeth Bowen. Some Conrad. Some Henry James. And a ridiculous amount of poetry. Willa Cather is out. F Scott Fitzgerald—out. Madame Bovary—out. Most of the Russians—out.