I’m sitting here in a skirt.* Yes! A skirt! A real live skirt! And it’s not my birthday or Peter’s birthday or even a hellcritter’s birthday! We just randomly went out to dinner tonight!!!! It’s so exciting! **
Well, not quite randomly. It’s a 26th. I’ve told you that if we feel the need of a celebration creeping over us we’ll try to fend it off till the next 26th or 3rd, those being our two official monthly opportunities for festivities.***
So we were feeling festive. So we went to The Bard and Orpharion and ate duck leg confit and drank champagne (me) and Chilean merlot (Peter). And we took a pack of cards with us and dealt bridge hands and then Peter got all interested about how we would play them. Eeep. Did I tell you I did, in fact, survive my second bridge lesson last weekend? I mean with two other people so we were, like, pretending that I could play bridge? And I keep saying that I have the wrong shape of brain for bell ringing. Well, I do. But at least bell ringing doesn’t make you guess what the other ringers are going to do next and the winning and losing aspect is a little more tactfully obscured. Arrrgh.
* * *
* Furthermore I’m sitting here writing an evening blog post at the cottage. With my feet propped up on the front of the Aga and an acute and sublime awareness that I’ve already done the coming-home thing with three hellcritters and a ridiculous amount of kit^ and don’t have to do it again tonight.
^ A gigantic knapsack plus a bulgy canvas carryall briefcase thing.
** You mean . . . some people just go out to dinner? I’ve been living in a small town in Hampshire with too many hellcritters for too long and I’m losing track of modern cultural mores.^
^ And we won’t even discuss modern technological mores. My editor’s poor assistant wasted kind of a lot of perfectly good time and air space explaining some of SHADOWS’ copyeditor’s more arcane (and sometimes invisible) marks to me. Like the one that made it look like she’d spelled Haydée Haydé. (Maggie has read THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO.) ARRRRRRRRGH. Worrying about this sort of thing keeps authors awake at night. It’s your name on the book jacket. To publishing hopefuls still working toward their first sale of course this sounds like the MOST THRILLING THING EVER.+ To those of us it has happened to, while it’s still totally worthwhile and I don’t want any other job++, there is indubitably a mixed-blessing aspect. Like when people get really angry with you because pages 35-60 in their copy are repeated and 61-86 are missing and when you tell them that you’re sorry but it’s nothing to do with you, to take it up with your publisher, they think you’re blowing them off and become abusive. Or they want to know why you haven’t made movies of your books, don’t you know that’s where the money is? Um. Well, that’s where the money is for the few, not for the many, and very, very, very, very, VERY rarely for any writer involved . . . not to mention that this isn’t up to me either. But the proofreading mistakes? Totally yours. The thing is, they’re at least half right about that. Your publisher hires eagle-eyed professional proofreaders, but you see the final pages too. Occasionally some hideously embarrassing botch creeps through the gauntlet of all those searchlight eyes and appears in all its malign glory in the finished book+++. But usually it’s something that’s gone wrong in the process somewhere, like a full stop dropping out or quotation marks curling in the wrong direction or a half sentence disappearing at the bottom of a page. Even the missing full stop will haunt your dreams, once you’ve noticed it, or had it pointed out to you, AND YOU SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT IT IN PROOFREADING. BUT YOU DIDN’T BECAUSE YOU ARE A MORON.# AND IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT. It would have been a really good book if it weren’t for that missing full stop. As some reader, somewhere, will tell you.
I am not looking forward to proofreading SHADOWS. I will miss the quotation marks curling in the wrong direction and the use of ‘their’ when it should have been ‘there’. Which will be lacerating enough. But what will be worse is discovering THAT ENORMOUS FRELLING PLOT HOLE that it’s now way way way too late to do anything about.##
+ Even more thrilling than randomly going out to dinner.
++ Not least because I’m pretty sure I’m unemployable by any normal standard
+++ Regular readers of author blogs will know that there is a LAW OF THE UNVERSE that says that any author opening any first copy of any new book—I mean that author’s new book—must open it on a page with a proofreading error on it. I get around this by not reading my stuff once it’s published. I can’t read it anyway. It’s a sort of combination effect, like psychic eczema, migraine, and being trapped in a stuck lift/elevator with a bore. A pedantic bore. A smelly pedantic bore. And the smelly pedantic bore has a large smelly dog who doesn’t like me.
# You are a moron who, furthermore, has looked at these insanely annoying words in this beyond-insanely annoying order WAY too many times AND CAN’T LOOK AT THEM ANY MORE.
## You can make limited editorial changes at the proofreading stage, with an emphasis on the limited. If you go over a certain short sharp maximum your publisher will charge you for it. If you want to make real structural changes . . . I think they gag you and lock you in a closet till the book is safely out. I don’t know. I don’t want to know.
*** For new readers or old readers who have better things to remember: The Beginning was when I met this fellow Peter Dickinson, whom I knew slightly from book conventions and things, at the Bangor, Maine airport, to bring him back to Blue Hill for a weekend’s exposure to life in a small New England town. This was on 26 July, twenty-one and a half years ago. We got married the following 3rd of January. I’m not young and Peter is old, and when we decided to do this thing, Peter said that there weren’t enough years left for a sufficiency of anniversaries so we needed to celebrate some monthlies as well. So we do.
I should be carrying on with the copyedits for SHADOWS which are at this point overdue . . . I’ll finish tomorrow, really I will. But by this stage of a book I can’t frelling focus on those frelling words any more* and I don’t think that right this minute I can stand to handle the pages any more tonight . . . which is my own fault for needing hard copy, but if I were doing it only on screen I’d have pixelated eyes by now as well as an advanced case of Technicolor heebie-jeebies. As it is the heebie-jeebies are displaying quite a tactful, restrained palette of peach to salmon to rust with occasional highlights of green. . . .
Part of the problem is that I’d be a perfectionist if I could . . . but I can’t. My brain won’t hold that sharp an edge, however energetically you hone the soggy thing. So you have to go for good enough. What you hope is good enough. What, some of the time, you believe is good enough. Is sometimes even . . . plain unmodified good.
But not while you’re dealing with copyedits.
But good enough is something I’ve been thinking about since last night’s blog—since Bratsche’s first harp post and my Monday singing lesson. I think good enough is sometimes really hard to define.
I’m a good enough dog owner. My three hellcritters have daily walks—walks plural—a warm place to sleep, the almost constant presence of the hellgoddess (which is supposed to be a good thing in dog pantheon terms) and tasty sustaining food (when they eat it). They are not trained to a high standard**, especially not the recent addition to the family***, but they have some concept of what training is, and they’re nice to have around (mostly). I’ll share a sofa with them any time. They’re all bonkers, of course, but I pretty sure they’d be bonkers anyway, although a more dedicated trainer might have reshaped the bonkersness more than I have done.
When I was still riding, I was a good enough rider for a certain kind of horse; a horse I suited I could groom and exercise and have (mutual) fun with, and even bring on a little in its training, possibly with the help of a trainer for me. I’m a good enough cook.† I’m even—marginally—a good enough bell ringer, since there’s a shortage of any kind of ringer in this area, and bells and the upkeep of bells still exist in exchange for calling Christians to church services. I’ve rung a lot of services where I as an available pair of hands was absolutely good enough.
But the line about good enough is always blurry, and sometimes it’s so blurry it’s just a smudge. Would those horses whose training I contributed to have done better with a better rider? Probably. I’m a good enough cook if you like brownies and roast chicken—not so much if you want Beef Wellington and Baked Alaska. And I’m not a good enough ringer to be invited to ring quarter peals any more often than some patient teacher type can bear to organise.
The farther you go over a different line into territory that might be considered art, I think the concept of good enough gets harder and harder to define—or possibly to accept. As long as you’re tending to a critter’s basic needs—and that includes comfort and contentment, not just food and shelter from the weather—good enough is fairly straightforward. Brownies and roast chicken hit the spot, even if they’re not glamorous.†† And you don’t have to be able to ring Snorkel Upstage Flugelhorn Major to tell people to get their shoes on and stop dozing over their coffee.
I don’t know what good enough singing or piano-, harp-, violin- or flugelhorn playing is. I think music does fulfil a basic human need, but I’m not sure how to describe it. I’m really enjoying the conversation going on in the forum right now, beginning with the response to Bratsche’s first harp post and gaining momentum last night after my Monday-singing-lesson-aroused response to one of Bratsche’s comments. I hope you’ll keep talking. Please.††† I think I’m learning something.
* * *
* Except for those occasional, flaying moments when you realise THIS ENTIRE CHAPTER MAKES NO SENSE/CONTRADICTS WHAT YOU SAID IN CHAPTER TWELVE/UNDERMINES THE ENTIRE PLOT IN A SUBTLE WAY THAT NONE OF YOUR READERS PICKED UP WHEN YOU STILL HAD ENOUGH BRAIN LEFT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT/IS GENERALLY SENSATIONALLY, PRODIGIOUSLY, SUPERABUNDANTLY STUPID . . . etc. But you’re frelling lunchmeat about this book by now, and you just have to hope none of your other readers will notice either, because any significant change you tried to make now would probably turn out to be like adding chopped liver to the strawberry shortcake. Unwise. This is, however, when you start reading the job ads for openings for shelf restockers and file clerks. I didn’t know they still had file clerks. Maybe only in small backward Hampshire villages.
** ::falls down laughing::
*** ::injures herself falling down laughing::
† When in doubt, add chocolate.
†† Although I feel this depends on your brownie recipe. Brownies can be very glamorous.
††† Not only because I can probably get another comment post out of what’s been said so far. . . .
I think it is weird to have Valentine’s Day during Lent. I know there is some kind of history to St Valentine—starting with the fact that there are several of them—and St Valentine’s day as February 14th is based on when some unfortunate St Valentine was martyred, possibly in one of those exceptionally creative ways that the killers of future saints seem to go in for, and which is why I’d just as rather not look it up. But romantic soppiness for Valentine’s Day started with Chaucer, right? That’s a long time ago—and well before that Henry fellow came along and invented the Anglicans who maybe don’t take Lent quite so hard—I don’t see Henry fasting, do you? And maybe Valentine’s Day doesn’t usually come during Lent. Still. Weird.*
Fortunately I’m not giving up flowers or presents from my husband, so the posy by my plate today was totally welcome.
But I want to see Sid’s reaction to the HOUSE! Maybe skip a detail on two – it’s been so l-o-o-o-ng since Kes and Hayley were at Rose Manor. Pretty please?
It doesn’t work that way. While I love watching you forumites guess and debate, in the first place I’m ten or fifteen eps ahead of what I’m posting and in the second place The Story Is The Story even when I’m presenting it in this nonstandard way. I can’t go back and jigger with the pacing before I hand it in to my editor, you know? And as a reader I’ve always liked the details so it’s not surprising that as a writer I tend to put ’em in. Some of my single-mindedness is no doubt natural perversity, but it’s also the only way I’ve ever been able to write anything—by listening to the Story and shutting everything else out. These people who send out their first or second drafts for feedback. . . . Shudder. Obviously it works for them. I’d rather retrain as a telephone lineperson. And I’m afraid of heights.
Oooh! Are those runes on the collar I wonder?
I think it is safe to say they are not a company logo. Poor Kes’ problem is that she hasn’t yet realised—despite Mr Melmoth, Watermelon Shoulders, and burgundy velvet—that she’s in a fantasy novel.
And apparently Kes’ mother had one or two good points, at least when it came to looking after dogs.
Yes. I’d love to meet Kes’ mum—er, mom—myself. I have no idea if she’s as dire as Kes makes her out to be. Kes is understandably peeved at her reaction to Kes’ divorce, but I don’t think she’d have dragged her daughter to all those dog shows if the daughter really really didn’t want to go. And she did send her to horse camp. Which is expensive, and there wasn’t a lot of money around.
beneath the exterior of screaming skulls there beat the heart of a plastic roller skate
Oh, thank you, thank you. It makes my day when someone laughs at my jokes.
I am very intrigued that it’s not quite the same ‘Sid’ on the other side of the ‘whateveritis’. And maybe not quite the same ‘Kes’ either? She clearly has a different wardrobe but I wonder if her physical appearance is the same in both worlds.
I don’t know either. I assume we’ll find out. —You can see why I try to keep some eps ahead. It is VERY UNSETTLING sending stuff out there in public when I don’t know what’s going on or what’s going to happen. Granted I have more idea than you do—and some stuff to aim at, or maybe I mean a few stepping stones in the quaking bog—but I don’t know nearly enough.
I do like how Kes seems to freak out so calmly. It’s a skill I could use.
Oh, glory, me too. (There are a number of ways in which KES is purest, sheerest wish fulfilment.) Although I think she does the screaming and melting down too. But there are moments when stunned disbelief is the only possible response.
So, Kes is now bleeding through to the other side, instead of the other side bleeding through to her… interesting. I like.
And I am very curious about the Topaz version of Sid.
Yup. Me too. See above.
Also, I love that the part that seems to freak her out the most is the wardrobe change.
But . . . but . . . clothing is against your SKIN. All the rest of it could be a massive hallucination, but if you lift your hand and see and feel somebody else’s clothing . . . the hallucination has just rocketed to a whole new horrifying level.
Ok, tell me — was that wonderful horse in the story before the ‘Fair Days’ guest post??
Good heavens, of course. I’ve been horse-mad for fifty-six years (approximately) and have loved the big hairy-footed things from the first time I set eyes on one, which was pretty soon after first exposure. I’ve even schooled a few.
“I’m raving,” I said. I let go of the keys in my pocket
Not literally. But . . . um . . . well, it’s not going to surprise you that Rose Manor has, you know, form, in the living-in-a-fantasy-novel situation, is it?
We still don’t know why Mr. Wolverine is calling…
Nope. We don’t. I have some idea—I know how it begins—but I also have the nervous feeling that this is one of those conversations that isn’t going to go the way I’m expecting it to.
Here’s my guesses: The landlord will turn out to be a smoking hot cool guy (when he finally shows up). His cousin, on the other hand, will probably have something to do with the appearance of Mr. Melmoth.
Well, the cousin and Mr Melmoth are definitely on the same team. The Bad Guy team. And there is a smoking hot cool guy somewhere in the vicinity of Mr Demerara, but I’m not sure whether it’s Mr D himself, his son, his valet, his tame magician or his pet shapeshifting Elasmotherium.
I don’t like the sound of the landlord’s cousin across the lake with a tick-like nature and a fancy old car…bet he’s a snoop. Maybe Sid will bite him, and something dire will fall out of his pocket and prove he’s a serial killer.
‘Why, that looks like Major Klondike’s Foolhardy Conservationist Medal for rescuing six polar bears and a very confused wombat from that ice floe forty years ago! He always wore it! And I haven’t seen him around lately! And what is that wrapped around it? Why, that looks like Sallie Mae’s hair ribbon, from when she was prom queen last spring! And she disappeared right after the prom!’
Clearly Hayley uses the 4-inch-heels for smashing pigeonholes
Have I ever told you anything about DESTINY? It is, theoretically, the third in the non-trilogy of vaguely world-linked novels beginning with SUNSHINE. Which is to say there are vampires (but no Sunshine, and no Con. Calm down). Destiny has an interesting pair of insanely high heels which do some pigeonhole smashing.
I love that Kes is making connections with people. That’s reassuring, even though I suspect things won’t stay nearly so grounded going forward (I’m talking to you, Watermelon Shoulders and Mr. Melmoth).
Heh. And this comment was written before the burgundy-lace-and-Topaz scene. But wouldn’t it be nice if major life changes went more like this, where most of the people you meet are not merely polite and well-disposed but are on your wavelength and have what you need when you need it? Speaking of wish fulfilment. Sigh.
I am contemplating moving to Maine: should I be taking notes, or checking in to a padded cell?
I wish Eats were local!
Well, I do and I don’t. I have enough trouble with both my waistline and what my stomach is prepared to recognise as food, and I think Eats might just make me cry a lot.
I am sooooo wanting to hear more about Mr. Watermelon Shoulders! My curiosity it all a-dither!
He’s cute. I’ll tell you that for free. He’s cuuuuuuuuuute. Well, I think he’s cute. He’s a little challenged in the modern world viewpoint area, but you can put up with a few faults for serious cute.
Sid! (only blonde) http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/lurcherphotos.htm
. . . and a bloke. I don’t think Sid is ever going to look this smooth—Saluki fur is very silky, but Deerhound is wiry, and sticks out in all directions, and a cross between the two could be anything—but we aren’t going to know till she gets fed up and clean. Also an ill- or under-nourished dog’s coat will need to grow out again on good food before you know what it’s going to be. But this is a very handsome dog and I’d totally invite him in and feed him tuna-fish sandwiches.
Not all divorce lawyers are bad/evil/venal.
Oh, of course not! Serena had a really bad experience and Kes and Mr Wolverine are never going to be best friends, but I think he’s good at his job. But Kes has almost no money of her own and doesn’t want to take Gelasio’s, and this attitude frustrates the banana fruitcake out of Mr W.
And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go sing. Kes sings. I don’t yet know how good she is. It’s a ratbag, trying to move on with your wish fulfilment and having the Story periodically getting in your way and saying no, you don’t have that. I don’t care what you want. This is what you have.
* * *
* Note the forum is not barred at the gate against non-Christians. I know of at least two Buddhists who read this blog and a lot of the important people in my life are Jewish, including both Hannah and Merrilee, my best friend and my agent. Many ways up the mountain, as I believe I said last September or shortly thereafter, and I arrived (breathless, with dirty knees and messy hair) in the lap of Christianity by a somewhat nonstandard route besides. I hope anyone who might want to say something from another viewpoint will do so.^
^ The usual Pollyanna caveats apply.
I was supposed to go to a different Saturday morning prayer group yesterday—it starts half an hour later than Aloysius’, I might make it to this one. I was awake and caffeined and dressed and everything . . . and it started to snow. And sleet. And rain. And sleet. And hail. And sleet. And snow.
I didn’t go, because I just don’t push anything about driving. When it started its variable precipitation performance it did look like it was lying, as in nasty slippery stuff on the roads, but it didn’t after all—but I would have spent the entire meeting not thinking about God, but staring out the window and worrying, so I was still better off staying at home.*
Sigh. I don’t seem to have been made for Saturday morning prayer groups.**
This morning I got up early again*** and went through the awake-caffeine-dress thing again† and sprinted for the New Arcadia bell tower. I’d kind of forgotten that the sprinting is not merely a time thing but a good way to reinforce the effect the caffeine is having on your unwilling body, which is trying to be floppy and hopeless and moaning, Normal people have a lie in on Sundays. Niall called for Grandsire doubles, which is fine, a nice little touch of Grandsire and we can all sit down again. But Roger, who was calling it, was having a brain spasm or something and the touch went on and on and on and on and ON and ON and ON and there was a frelling call nearly every lead and I swear I did about three-quarters of the frelling long thirds†† and my hands are bleeding. Finally we came out into rounds and he let us stop and I hung up my rope thinking, I didn’t go wrong! I didn’t go wrong! First crack out of the box on Sunday argleblargle morning, an endless touch of Grandsire with me ringing inside and catching most of the ratblasted long thirds AND I DIDN’T GO WRONG. YAAAAAAAAAY.†††
I dunno, this getting up in the morning thing might catch on.
* * *
* Since the weather changed its mind and went away quietly^ I did go back to the monks last night. Saturday evening prayer is my favourite monkish service because there’s half an hour of silent contemplation before they start singing, and sitting in company is good.
I think I’ve told you that one of the peripheral things I like about the monks is how ordinary and matter of fact they are, barring the distracting business of the long black frocks. They are less homogenous-looking a group than a church choir, say, which seems to put on a desire to blend with their choir robes—which of course the choir will take back off again in an hour. The nearly identically black-robed monks however are unmistakably each who he is. I’m beginning to be able to guess who is walking past me^^ as they file in (I prefer to get there early) or out by the sound and what I suppose I might call the displacement of air—none of them are all that large, but they carry themselves differently, aside from height, breadth and choice of footgear.^^^
This includes matter-of-factness about certain aspects of the ritual. At the end of evening prayer, the abbot sprinkles the monks and the congregation with holy water. That’s what the little what’s-going-on book that you pick up on your way in says.# It says sprinkles. Well, he sprinkles the monks. Then he comes down to the edge of the dais and hurls it at the rest of us. He’s got a censer-y looking thing, it’s just got water in it instead of smoke. The wind-up is more Sandy Koufax than St Paul. There are never very many of us, and he is very punctilious about including us all in, even if we’re spaced out over the entire area, which we probably are. You can hear the water splatter, and if it hits bare skin it may sting faintly.## I’m always wearing my heavy leather jacket for warmth but it will do as protection as well.
I love this. I love it that holy isn’t necessarily prim.
^ It didn’t go away nicely—sunlight would be nice—but it went away.
^^ I don’t know if you’re supposed to keep your eyes down, but I do.
^^^ Several of them wear sandals.+ In that freezing icy brumal algid SIBERIAN chapel?!? Now let’s discuss how many monks have coughs and colds.
+ Birkenstocks. Of course.
# Mind you, it still leaves an awful lot out. I should badger Aloysius with more questions. Christians remind me a lot of bell ringers. The old hands have forgotten what it’s like to be a beginner.
## Possibly the stinging only happens to hellgoddesses. Standard mortals merely get slightly damp.
** Maybe I was expressing solidarity with my origins. I don’t guess anyone got to their Saturday morning prayer, yoga, mud wrestling or knitting groups in the northeast USA yesterday.
*** Eeep. Uggh.
† Hellhounds opening one eye (each) and shutting it again, hellterror going YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH SOMETHING’S HAPPENING WHATEVER IT IS ME TOO. OH, AND ABOUT BREAKFAST—?
†† Long thirds are probably the worst of the ‘work’ in Grandsire, and you only have to ring them if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time when the conductor calls a single. I don’t myself think they’re nearly as grisly as the Dreaded Three-Four-Down Single in plain bob, but they do need paying attention to, especially on Sunday mornings.
††† No, it wasn’t all downhill from there. I rang Grandsire triples—not dazzlingly well, but I rang it and I didn’t go wrong—at the abbey this afternoon, and while we went off the rails ringing Cambridge major with me on the treble it wasn’t me.
And I went to St Margaret of Scotland tonight for what I was expecting to be an ordinary mild-mannered Sunday evening service and discovered the place packed out and a large plastic swimming pool installed beside the altar. They go for immersion baptisms. Golly.
But I have to go back to work. My copyeditor hates hyphens. What did a hyphen ever do to her? Poor little hyphens.
So I wasn’t going to ring bells either yesterday or today. Because I had this book to finish again, in this case dealing with my editor’s queries. This is the stage, I find, where a good 90% of everything you do you throw out. Because the book by this time is pretty much The Book and it doesn’t take kindly to your meddling. I know this going in and therefore morale is not high. Plus there are those delightful moments when your editor—okay, my editor—finds those places where you—I mean I—had a brain spasm and cut out something crucial or inserted a few random phrases while you, I mean I, was under the influence of the Gflytch transmitting station on Venus. And so there’s a little note in the margin saying, um, what is going on here? And you—I mean I—have to do something.
But, you know, my mere career isn’t going to keep me from bell ringing.** But the weather will. Yesterday afternoon I cancelled going to Glaciation that evening because it’s kind of a long way, as I count long ways, and on twisty little back roads, and it was supposed to snow and sleet. Whereupon frelling Niall rang up at about an hour before time, while I was in the throes of chapter divisions***, and started leaning on me to come to the once-a-month practise at Old Eden. ARRRRGH. He knows me too well: my ringing life feels to me chiefly notable for long languishing periods where I don’t actually learn anything either because the practise is too busy and there are too many people that need to get their hands on ropes during the course of the evening, or because the practise isn’t busy enough and can’t provide the band I need—I who only learns by ENDLESS FRELLING GRIND. I therefore really hate the idea of beginners not getting their grinding because there aren’t enough ringers to make a band. So Niall, grinning evilly, picked me up at the mews and brought me in triumph to Old Eden, where Vicky, looking up in surprise, said, Ooh! The cavalry! And while we had eight ringers for six bells . . . only three of us were proper method ringers, Niall and Vicky and me, so yeah, I served a purpose. Oh, and then the weather did not plunge below freezing, the roads stayed dry, and I could have gone to Glaciation after all.
Tonight is the twice-monthly ‘improvers practise’ at Fustian, and I emailed tonight’s ringing master—Bailey and Nestor swap, like Scary Man† and Albert do at the abbey—that I would be there barring sleet. I was there. It did not sleet. And—speaking of grind—they let me ring two plain courses of Cambridge minor which I am going to learn before I die of old age, I am, the problem being the GRIND thing again, how long have I been trying to learn it?? But I don’t get my grind.†† I don’t get my grind, I don’t learn.
There weren’t very many of us tonight, so we were all having a break while Bailey stared thoughtfully at the whiteboard. QP next week, he said.††† Are you here? he said, one by one, to the others assembled. I kept my eyes on the floor, because I’m a visitor. They don’t owe me anything: it’s nice of them to let me come to their practises, but generally speaking you only get invited to ring quarter peals at other towers if you’re good.
A pair of shoes appeared in my field of vision. Robin, are you here next Tuesday? said Bailey.
Eeep, I said. Um. Sure.
Would you like to ring a quarter peal? pursued Bailey.
Um. Sure, I said.
He nodded, and wrote my name on the whiteboard.
WHAT A GOOD THING I’VE FINISHED THE BOOK (AGAIN). Which is to say I don’t think the wretched thing will have been through copyediting by next Tuesday. . . .
* * *
* May I just say I hated the movie. Talk about fear of female power dear loves-both-genders-equally God. A witch who falls in love loses her witchcraft? And the so-called romantic lead decides to take her back WHEN HE FINDS OUT SHE LOST HER POWER WHEN SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH HIM?^ This is my era, okay? It came out in 1958 and I saw it in the late sixties some time when I was a teenager, and was already having trouble with the fact that none of the women on STAR TREK THE ORIGINAL LAUGHFEST ever did anything except show their legs and fall in love, and I had already been marked for life by Walt Disney’s SLEEPING BEAUTY. Why am I a feminist? This is why.
^ Note that I’ve always loathed Jimmy Stewart anyway. It’s a Wonderful Life makes me throw up. Frelling sue me.
** Or singing. I had my voice lesson yesterday and went in moaning first about not singing in the Muddles’ concert and second about how the halfway okay noise I can (sometimes) make singing exercises—which is a lot of why I like exercises, as I used to like Hanon when I was playing the piano regularly—GOES AWAY as soon as I try to sing a song. Nadia was nodding before I got halfway through this latter plaint. Yup, she said. Normal. Get used to it. And it just goes on like this however good you get. Cecilia Bartoli probably feels exactly the same way.
*** I loathe chapters. If it were up to me there would be no chapters, just line breaks and part one and part two etc if necessary. Like I got away with in SUNSHINE but this doesn’t work very often. And since I don’t write in chapters I have to go back and put them in later. Arrrgh.
† I really have to give poor Scary Man a name.
†† Catherine, on the forum, who wrote two guest blogs about her first experience of bell ringing last September has already rung her first quarter peal inside. ARRRRRRGH. Listen, honey, if you ever come to one of my signings, don’t introduce yourself because I will crush you underfoot with extreme prejudice. First quarter peal INSIDE after FOUR MONTHS? Kill me. Kill me now.
And do goad your conductor into posting it. Your first QP is IMPORTANT!
††† The Tuesday system is two ordinary practises for people like me, one gruesome brain-melting practise for people whose idea of ‘improving’ is something you need a magnifying glass just to read the line in the method book because it wiggles so much, and a quarter peal.