I was rushing around because the Mongol Horde & I had to get going early because I was having my SECOND SEWING LESSON in the afternoon.* The having-to-get-going-early would be why iPhone from Hell decided to blare at me. I would like to say I shouldn’t have looked, but it’s a good thing I did, resultant nervous breakdowns notwithstanding, because Genghis & I were going to pick up my beloved pocket watch, which isn’t actually a pocket watch, you click it onto a belt loop like a Victorian housekeeper’s chatelaine**, which had gone in for the clockwork version of a spa weekend at the local jewellers, & one of the things the text blare was telling me was that my bank had shut off my one & only credit card due to Possible Funny Business. AAAAAAAUGH. & then it gave me the details of the transaction it suspected.
In the first place, the tocsin text was so badly composed that if it hadn’t called me by the name that my bank keeps insisting on calling me even though it’s incorrect, & for some reason for the last thirty-plus years it’s never NOTICED that it’s calling me by some bogus name which, for example, does not match the name both on my account & my cheques***, I would have thought it was the scam. I’ve pointed out their appellatory error on a number of occasions, including when there are live human beings involved & no one does anything but fuss & blither & wring their hands, or, I suppose, their central processing unit & random access memory. & my next robot letter or email comes yet again to Dear Ermengarde.† AAAAAAUGH. I hadn’t thought of this before, but it does make a useful proof of legitimacy when your incompetent bank is contacting you incompetently. It’s no wonder idiot scams are so successful, we’re all brainwashed by the total bunglefest exhibited by the real guys.
So I stared at the dubious charge. It was to Large Anonymous Magazine Subscription Cartel. No, of course it doesn’t tell you what magazine it’s for. I subscribe to . . . WAY TOO MANY magazines. & when you subscribe, you subscribe to the magazine, & the cartel doesn’t appear, unless perhaps if you’re in the habit of reading the eeny weeny unreadable text at the bottom of the sub page, telling you things like .0001% of your money is going to saving the penguins & the rest of it is buying luxury yachts for the shareholders, & even if I had, & I might have, because I’m paranoid, I would not have retained a no-doubt-purposely ambiguous name like Large Anonymous Magazine Cartel. I looked at the blasted sub rate & thought, so, what the flaming doodah is that for?? Because it seems to me a really good scam would be to disguise a counterfeit charge as a magazine subscription. & in this terrifying world the idea that scammers might be able to put together a list of people who sub to more than 1,000,000 magazines & won’t notice another fee seems perfectly plausible. WHY DON’T THEY BLEEDING TELL YOU WHAT THEY’RE CHARGING YOU FOR OR QUERYING YOU ABOUT??
Nah. That would be too easy, & wouldn’t cause nearly as many cases of the screaming abdabs which wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.††
Okay, short form?††† I figured it out. & they turned my card back on. & my pocket/belt loop watch is ticking calmly at my waist. But have I mentioned in the last six hours or day & a half how much I hate technology?
* * *
* Yes, it’s true, I lead an indescribably exciting life, full of swords & heroes^ & vampires & dragons & rabid seagulls & rhinoceros-sized seals with long gleaming teeth & Mongol Hordes & ^^
^ I don’t have to specify female, right? I’m the author of THE HERO & THE CROWN after all.+
+ I don’t mind the odd guy. Here & there. As long as he doesn’t get in the way. & is perhaps decorative.#
# MISANDRY!!!!!!! No. Sarcasm.=
= SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE MEN. Ha ha ha. I was married to one for nearly twenty-five years.~ That has to count for something.~~
~ Granted he was unusual.
~~ & then I don’t have to count how many best friends I have.
^^ I have a copy of that gorgeous quote ‘There have been no dragons in my life, only small spiders & stepping in gum. I could have coped with dragons’ tacked up to my full-length corkboard+ on the door leading to the potting shed. It’s on a blank greeting card from about a gazillion years ago, well early Pleistocene anyway, & the author isn’t listed. For years—this was the Pleistocene remember, some years before the internet—I assumed this was one of those zeitgeist things & maybe there wasn’t really an author??? There is. Niki Nymark. Shame on the original greeting-card printer.
Now this is where it gets really, really weird. I went on line++ to check I was spelling Nymark’s name right.+++ & the first, the FIRST, link to ‘small spiders & stepping in gum’ sent me here:
arrrgh arrrgh arrrrgh.
I am failing to figure out how to insert a small tactful on-line address of the (blog!) post in question. As soon as the over-helpful *&^%$£”!!!!!! admin here in my blog sniffs out an internet addy it sticks it up HUGE with a photo & the first couple of paras & dancing girls & boys in feathers & hot pink lipstick & stiletto heels, & I’m not trying to give this somewhat tactless person a shout out, thank you, I want to make a small off hand comment on weird serendipity & maybe about credit where credit is due. So you’re going to have to take it on faith that the first link, as above, took me to a page where someone had, after fully spelling out Nymark’s name, painstakingly detailed the entire plot of HERO, speaking of dragons. But without mentioning where it came from. AHEM?!
. . . So back to our regularly scheduled programme. It’s a weekend, I’m not going to hassle Blogdad, it’s a blog post not a PhD thesis, I’m not going to rewrite or it’ll be another two months before I hang it.
EXCUSE ME. SPEAKING OF AUTHOR CITATIONS. ++++
But the thing I was MEANING to say about small spiders & stepping in gum . . . it’s a great line & it will stay on my corkboard. But really . . . how many people can say it truthfully? I don’t think I know anyone who can. Anyone who’s had someone important in their life die on them? Dragon. & who hasn’t? Lost your job? Dragon. Lost your student grant? Dragon. Relationship breakdown? Dragon. Relationship breakdown by dishonesty or emotional betrayal? Dragon & a half. I have a friend going through cancer treatment for the second time. That’s at least two dragons. Never mind the virus itself, anyone out there come through Covid lockdown unscathed? Global dragon. The only real problem with dogs is they don’t live long enough?++++ Permanent ongoing dragon for all dog people. Etc. I’d like to see more acknowledgement that we all have dragons, & all of us get flamed one way or another, & we cope as best we can, & the small spiders & stepping in gum is light relief.
+ One, nonetheless, of several corkboards, & that doesn’t include the two (smallish) refrigerators & two (smallish) freezers# that are covered with decorative & frequently rude magnets, & bits cut out of magazines held in place by said magnets, & other bits either copied out in my almost illegible handwriting or cut out of still more magazines## plus the occasional postcard taped or blu-tacked to the walls.###
# All four of these humble appliances bungie-corded together would not make up the cubic storage of a single one of those monster side-by-side fridge-freezers. The kind that loom. The kind that make you contemplate a story about bouncers at an intergalactic pub that caters to the dangerous multi-species rogue element. The kind that are CLEARLY chock full of hazardous technology. The kind that murmur the just-barely-audible hum that says they’re alive & watching you. Oh, &? America the too large, the too in your face, the too too? They’re called American-style fridge-freezers over here.
## Don’t forget the important position magazines appear to take in my life & surroundings~. This will come up again. If I ever get back to the main post. Is there an echo in this blog?
~ teetering piles of unread included.% Many thanks to the inventors of Large Sturdy Pieces of Furniture with Flat Upright Sides.
% Also too many read ones. These go in another pile from which I will (some day) extract the interesting articles I want to keep, which will . . . go in yet another pile . . .
### For every two or three people who cross my threshold & come in, sit down & calmly accept a cup or cups of green or peppermint tea, there is one who gets as far as the kitchen/dining/general living space door, opens their eyes very wide & perhaps slightly bulgily, & remembers a crucial engagement on the other side of town. Or possibly Czechia.
This does hurt my feelings. However four people a year is a pretty heavy social calendar for me so I don’t have my feelings hurt too often.
++ I spend my entire life on line, like almost everybody else on the planet who lives near a doodah whatsit supplier & can afford a doodah whatsit device to use it! I’m just NOT VERY GOOD AT IT!!#
# & my capricious lifestyle includes NO SOCIAL MEDIA WHATSOEVER.
+++ I wasn’t.
++++ Anyone who has tripped over this blog for the very first time, is wondering what they’ve—er—stepped in, have never read a Robin McKinley book & are reminding themselves that while they may read to the end of this blog post because this footnote thing has a kind of deranged fascination, they are not going to risk any of this crackpot woman’s professional output~ . . . go look up a plot summary of the aforementioned THE HERO & THE CROWN.~~
~ I don’t do footnotes in my novels. Just sayin’.
~~ & no, really, these footnotes are, in all their peculiarity, going down chronologically. I’d already made my remark about female heroes when I went to look up small spiders. Life is sometimes as weird as fiction.
+++++ I am assuming I do get to call this zeitgeist. I don’t know a dog person who hasn’t said it in one form or another. & it’s dogs I know best. Cats can live to 20 years, horses to 30. It’s not long enough but it’s better than dogs. I should have gone for a cockatoo. Too late now, I don’t want to traumatise it when I die.
** Well not a LOT like a chatelaine. Mine is the stripped-down modern male version. But you do snap it on a belt loop. I gave it to Peter a long time ago & he wore it faithfully. When he stopped wearing it I adopted it, & while the poor thing leads a hard life being cracked into countertops & Aga rails, I love not wearing a wristwatch, which was Peter’s point too & WHY I was clever enough to find one & give it to him.
*** Although no one uses cheques any more so what the hey.
† Why are they calling me by my first name. Even if it’s the wrong one. Snarl.
†† Readers of the old blog may remember that I believe that the Borg are behind the entire computer-centred & internet-implemented metaverse. They’re keeping us nailed to Earth & out of their hair-equivalent by an endless short-circuiting loop of both built & biological crazy. May I point out that one of their notable recent successes is that the NHS has crashed & burned under the weight of all the people who can’t cope with modern life. Most of them present with excellent cause. Some of them are doctors.
††† Wait. Short form? I don’t do short form.