Happy Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year, & any other random holidays people celebrate at this time & season, these just happen to be the ones that bump up against my life, &, speaking of random, there’s also an important clan* birthday in the middle of all the rest. One could get through a lot of Prosecco if one wasn’t careful. Or possibly because one is careful. Hic.**
One of the things that went wrong this year is that I couldn’t find my ratbagging Christmas cards. I buy them on sale about now every year—except not this year because somewhere there are still the ones from this time last year—they’re probably somewhere in The Attic. The Attic is a kind of overhead R’lyeh. Cthulhu is up there somewhere. I hear him/her/it/them creaking around late at night.*** Ah yes, all the tales I have to tell you about moving to Scotland & into this house. One of them has to do with the attic hatch. Which is among the many things in my life that are possessed by demons.
& so, speaking of possessed by demons, since the onset, or perhaps I mean onslaught, or the BLITZ or the BOMBARDMENT . . . um. Since Genghis arrived I have come to dread holidays even more than I used to. Where did folk wisdom ever get the silly idea that holidays are, you know, restful? That they’re somehow time off? What makes my unreasonable dread about this even sillier is that I don’t do anything—this year I can’t even manage to write a few Christmas cards—I don’t roast a turkey, I don’t make mince pies†, I barely wrap presents any more†† . . . & the ten days or fortnight or so this time of year still crash past in a blur of whazzat?? & exhaustion.†††
But, since the fusillade that is a German Wire Haired Pointer in the house, the grand climax, or possibly the depthless void, of holiday jubilation is New Year’s Eve. Genghis is fireworks-phobic. & I mean PHOBIC. I’ve already mentioned that he has the energy, zest & brio of six or twenty-eight or four hundred & twelve ordinary dogs? This tends to go dramatically wrong when he is unhappy. Fireworks make him extremely unhappy. Extremely. ARRRRRRRGH. I’ve never been a big fan of fireworks myself & had already lost what little interest I once had by the time I acquired this furry four-legged unguided—& unguidable—missile. I’ve also never had a firework-phobic before. I would have been happy to eschew this experience altogether.
The restrictions on fireworks have got tighter, but restrictions only work on the law-abiding, & there are a lot of fireworks fans out there who think that legal restrictions only exist to spoil their fun & should therefore be ignored.‡ So for Guy Fawkes Day & New Year’s Eve we have the occasional firework or salvo of fireworks‡‡ up to about three days before & after as well as the full-blown psychosis of the day itself. It rained on the 1st—thank you Indra—which I assume is why we were spared, & I hope this has dampened general zeal & the whole ghastly deal is over with. Till next year.
Genghis will occasionally ignore the first diabolical popping noise. But as soon as there’s a second or a third he’s galloping around the house, barking, baying, howling & throwing himself at things. He also climbs things. Like bookshelves. Like free standing bookcases. I chivvy him into the kitchen & put the puppy gate up, I having had said gate made when I knew I wouldn’t have Pav much longer, assuming that I’d be raising puppies again soon.‡‡‡ I am very grateful for this foresight, even if it was the wrong foresight. After the gate’s in place it’s just damage control & stamina, & hoping that the fireworks STOP before I fall down in a feeble little heap & burst into tears.§ Most of the time it’s the good kind of amusing being straight uphill from the centre of town, especially when there are bagpipers in the town square§§. It is the bad kind of amusing being straight uphill from the town centre on fireworks nights.
Well we’re all still alive, including the houseplants on free-standing bookcases & perilously low windowsills. I’m a little more beat up from an unguided missile having knocked me over, possibly mistaking me for a free-standing bookcase, we were outside streaming past the town library at the time§§§, but I have nice sturdy bones from all the weight bearing exercise POUNDING after the Mongol Horde. I do, however, now have another pair of jeans that needs patching. SIIIIIGH.
Okay, I’ve got gobs of cards & stationery left over from the eras when we used still to write hard copy§§§§, I might as well write a few sorry-I-didn’t-send-ANY-Christmas-cards-this-year cards.
Happy Something Whatever, everyone.
I am so not ready for it to be a brand new year in which to screw up.
* * *
* clan, for the purposes of this blog, unless otherwise specified, implies Dickinson
** I am SUCH a cheap date. I always have been, but since my health went to hell after Peter died & consequently I’m now nearly as sober as a nun is celibate—that is nearly—just frelling seeing a bottle is almost enough to set me off.
*** Although that may be Genghis. He dreams too. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.^
^ As I was muttering to myself about the perversity of my embarrassing penchant for Lovecraft, who was an undoubtedly nasty piece of work himself, said penchant inevitably leading me into impenetrable thickets of his dingblasted invented language+, it all became SUDDENLY WORTH IT when the Microsnivel editor HAD A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. HA HA HA HA.
+ If there’s more than the basic Cthulhu/Yog-Sothoth/Nyarlathotep~ blitherings I don’t want to know. One invented language proceeding from a febrile & demonstrably loopy brain is enough. I was permanently zonked by Tolkien at a young age. These people who actually speak Elvish~~ . . .
. . . well, let’s just say I don’t.
~ & yes I have to look up the spellings of everything but Cthulhu, every time. Although I usually get Yog-Sothoth right. Nyarlathotep, not so much.
~~ Or any of the 1,000,000,000 other ones. Some people apparently make up languages for fun. Gah. Long long ago when I was a young touring author I used to worry about all the people in my audiences who played D&D, it seemed to me, obsessively. All that creative energy going to waste! thought I. If I’d been one of Tolkien’s drinking buddies, hearing about his latest philological$ excesses, I’ve had exactly the same worries. Okay, so, different people’s imaginations are differently wired. Got it.
I semi-accidentally got a branch of the clan addicted to Magic Cards a while ago & . . . I’M NOT WORRYING. I’M NOT. Okay, I may feel a little guilty.$$
$ All right, I don’t think philology includes making up new ones, but you know what I mean
$$ Have you seen the gazillion add-on packs?? Each one more lushly garnished & garlanded than the last??? It’s a good thing I’m not a games player%. My hoarding instincts could almost make me collect the frelling cards even if all I ever did with them is shuffle them around to look pretty.%%
% Speaking of differently wired brains, I have no wiring for game playing. Blood Dickinsons are super wired for game playing.
%% NOT. NOT.
† Either the little tiny insanely labour-intensive British ones or the sensible full-sized American ones.^
^ There are further comments on this issue. You put a platter of British-style mince pies down in front of the TV with everybody watching something or other+ & said unassuming, hand-sized morsels disappear without anyone ever really noticing, let alone praising the cook. A big stonking full-sized pie you can set down on the dinner table with a flourish while everyone is still trapped by their own inertia of satiation or possibly greed, & they have to pay attention while you grandly slice it & pass out the great, one might almost say majestic, pieces.++
+ I have approximately zero use for the whole royal family & attendant nonsense, but even so I find it surprisingly unsettling that we suddenly have a king instead of a queen giving the Christmas speech & variously wandering around the country doing nothing in particular except costing the taxpayers money.
++ I’m pretty sure there will have been a set piece~ on this same subject back in the old blog. There will be a lot of these revisitations I fear. My rants, pet peeves & various bugbears & bogeys may expand with age & time but I rarely lose any.
~ ha ha ha
†† I spend a lot of time kicking about, well, for example, Microsquishyrotten, but I also send most of my gifts any more via the tech contactless pushbuttonry of amazon & Etsy. Given the state of play with what used to be the postal service, I feel a lot less guilty about this than I might have back when we had a recognisable postal, ahem, service. Although overseas postage & customs charges have something to do with it also. Not only do UK Customs charge you routinely for gifts—so for pity’s sake when you send grandma’s tiara & that 17thcentury Chantilly scarf to your cousin over here+, mark ‘under £25’ on the customs sticker—they charge you on the POSTAGE as well.++ So maybe better hang on to the tiara till you can bring it over in a suitcase. You can post the lace.
+ Most of my readers are American. I cherish the few Brits, & beg your indulgence.
++ Speaking of old familiar rants.
††† Also there usually is what is to me a gang at my stepson’s house, & I positively want to hang out with them. Which is as disconcerting^ as it is tiring.
^ I was reading one of these daft tests for how well you’re doing on the getting-old scale, multi-coloured graphs included. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get out of bed in the morning with purpose,+ I take care of myself, I have a dog. & then in the social-engagement category one of the statements you’re supposed to agree with is ‘I enjoy the company of others.’ I’M AN INTROVERT WITH ME/CFS. GET OUTTA MY FACE.
+ Starting with not falling downstairs on my way to my first cup of tea
‡ Also, at best, ‘restrictions’ does not mean ‘none’. I want none. Or I want the town council to put in a large soundproof panic room where all of us with demented companion animals can retire till it’s safe to go home. Oh, speaking of the town council, the town council that doesn’t plough, sand or grit in bad winter weather? Remember? They sanded all the pedestrian pavements on all the main roads recently! In the middle of a week of weather that never got below 40F/5C. Really on the ball these guys. Whatever ball that might be. Possibly an apple of discord, designed to give their constituents migraine headaches, IBS & stress eczema. It must be the Borg again. I hadn’t realised they were so well up on meat puppetry.
‡‡ & yes, it is not lost upon me that the nouns pertaining to GWHPs & fireworks are distressingly similar
‡‡‡ This was before the first lockdown, so before puppies became luxury items only available to the wealthy elite.
§ I’ve tried all the herbal, homeopathic, Bach flower, whatever, alternative stuff I either know or have asked or read up on. I’m very very very reluctant to drug him. I haven’t decided if drugs or panic are likely to have worse aftereffects long term; it’s not like anyone knows.
§§ I LOVE bagpiping. There isn’t NEARLY ENOUGH bagpiping around here. I’m in SCOTLAND. What is the matter with all these locals? Isn’t the traditional baby present to new parents a set of BAGPIPES?? Why not????
§§§ under the mistaken hope that the fireworks were over. & a dog still has to pee.
§§§§ Okay, yes, I still do.^ Occasionally. I’m still in the top ten world’s worst correspondents list.
^ Possibly as an excuse to go on buying pretty cards. Oooh! Shiny! Well, why do shops keep selling them? There are obviously more retro fruitcakes out there than just me.