In answer to what is, somewhat mysteriously, the fifth most asked question . . . yes I am still bell ringing. The things people want to know.* I went tower ringing last night and handbell ringing this afternoon. But really I’m horribly out of practise. As I used to moan regularly in the old blog, my brain is the wrong shape to learn bell method patterns; and when the ME is bad, my brain is no shape at all. The problem at present is I am also still relearning the discipline of writing every day: my brain is already ravaged on a few pages of DIARY and I take it BELL RINGING? Nooooooo. Let’s sit in a nice corner and knit.** I hadn’t been to Crabbiton in yonks, and when I turned up last night the tower captain fell on me like a plague of locusts and asked what I was doing Sunday afternoon? Having a nap? Writing a blog entry? Listening to the YouTube versions of what I’m going to be pretending to sing that evening at St Margaret’s?*** Um? Not this Sunday. I am ringing an invocation or an insubordination or an incantation or some such item. They’re going to loan me a shirt with the local district logo on it of the correct tower colour, but I have to wear dark trousers. But I haven’t got any dark trousers! I don’t do trousers! I can wear black jeans! The tower captain blinked once and said fine.
And this afternoon we were ringing . . . sort of . . . plain bob royal, and several of us were having trouble counting up to ten.& Next week there’s only going to be three of us so Niall barked at me, Oxford minor! Be ready!
I’m going to stay home more. I could write more blog entries. Like, for example, the one answering Most Asked Questions # 3 and 4.&&
* * *
* A very, very long time ago I used to say that I would answer almost any question but ‘what did you have for breakfast’ and ‘what colour is your typewriter.’ The latter tells you just how long ago that was. It was of course also long before the internet and before a lot of years doing author tours and library visits and finding out just how . . . um, creative reader questions could be.^
^Somewhere I still have my beloved IBM Selectric I. And I still want to gild her.+
+ A few weeks ago—shortly before this blog went live again—I had a spell of having no working laptop at all. I still have the desktop upstairs, Repository of All Things, but I spend practically all my working life down here in the kitchen, next to the Aga, on my laptop, taking up the only half-decent stretch of actual counter space in this tiny kitchen. The desktop serves as a kind of library—you pull something off the shelf and you may curl up cross-legged on the floor while you check that it’s what you think it is and what you want, but then you take it away with you to wherever your workspace is. I don’t remember now how I migrated down here, but hellhounds#, food and a central-heating-sparing heat source were sufficient reason, and Pav has been up there so rarely she finds it WILDLY EXCITING which is not great when the floors are still stacked with tottering piles from Peter’s office. Not to mention knitting magazines and homeopathy journals.
. . . Erm, where was I? Absent a laptop. I’ve had such a bloody sodding awful year with laptops—this last one was the replacement for the mouldy lemon I bought shiny-new about a year ago, and it, the replacement, exploded, which was exciting, especially the part about it doing this without warning while I had DIARY open and unsaved, and hadn’t sent myself an email attachment of it recently—which would then be on the desktop, this is my idea of high tech##—so I did a certain amount of exploding too.###
But finding a replacement replacement took a little while, especially since I have this habit of declaring I will never, ever buy another of Brand X after a more than commonly spectacular feat of technological perversity. Since the frelling industry is monopolised by a short handful of manufacturers, and even fewer of them produce what I want, Raphael was a trifle constrained by the fact that I’d bailed on both the obvious contenders in the last year. As I recall the final conversation about this creature I am typing on now went something like this. Raphael: Here’s one that looks okay. I’ll send you the specs. Me: DON’T. AND DON’T TELL ME WHAT IT IS EITHER. JUST ORDER THE THING. Please.
I don’t quite have the logo taped over . . . but I do avert my eyes.
Meanwhile, I was back to handwriting on yellow pads. Can you still buy yellow legal pads in the States? Apparently you can’t over here. You can at least buy yellow lined pads that are not notebook-hole-punched, which is better than nothing, but the true experience is legal pad size.
And I remembered that first draft written on paper has its advantages. So, I may add, does second draft on a typewriter. So just for laughs I had a whistle around google for electric typewriters. They don’t exist any more.#### However. I’m more than a little tempted by the basic Nakajima: the bottom of the line one, without icky superfluities like memory.#####
# Hellhounds, as some of you may recall, have had Insalubrious Digestive Issues all their lives, and the immediacy of the kitchen door has frequently been a boon, as has the fact that the kitchen floor is lino. At the moment both the hellpair are tucking into goosegrass like the sixteen-year-old me tucking into a Friendly’s hot fudge sundae. I’ve always tended to drag the hellhounds off anything that hasn’t been pathologically pre-examined by me, and probably boiled, sieved and examined under the microscope while I’m at it. But I’ve expanded, or possibly oozed, beyond homeopathy-only into some of the other alternatives, and have read quite a bit, in my random and unpredictable way, and in my copious free time, about herbalism. And suddenly remembered, as I was about to grab Pav’s harness and lift her bodily out of her favourite dense thicket of the stuff, that goosegrass is also cleavers, which is a terrific detox and in fact I’m on it in tincture form. So Pav, whose digestion is rarely nightmarish~, is allowed to indulge with only a little suspicious muttering from my end of the lead.~~ Chaos I watch apprehensively. Because he will come home and throw up on the kitchen floor. At least then I know it was goosegrass he was eating, and not magic mushrooms.~~~
~ But when it is, it’s worse, because she hides it in her crate and BURIES IT IN HER BEDDING. The hellhounds have always rushed to the back door, whether they make it or not.
~~ Because of the WHEN IT IS NIGHTMARISH.
~~~ I do wonder sometimes. Because dogs are nuts. Maybe it’s the company they keep.
## And a lot easier than backing it up on a dongle because modern laptops don’t want you to have plug-in thingies, so you have to have a plug-in port to plug the frelling dongle into AND HAVE I MENTIONED THAT THIS IS ALL HAPPENING ON A KITCHEN COUNTER?
### It’s okay. Raphael, before he was Blogdad, saved DIARY, and took the detestable laptop-shaped object away with him before I broke any more teeth biting it.
#### I only retired Nellie when the typewriter shop . . . by then expanding unwholesomely into computers . . . could no longer get parts for her.
##### And where am I going to PUT IT? On the Aga?
** People are so rule bound. They keep asking me what I’m knitting and I keep saying, I haven’t decided yet and they look horrified. It’s the back, okay? It’ll either be a pullover or a cardigan. I haven’t decided yet.
*** Which is TOTALLY an exercise in frustration since we don’t sound like Hillsong. Not even frelling close.^
^For one thing, all us regulars are old and gnarly, and for another, none of us can sing.+ Although the level of not-singing varies.
+ Okay, the only one who can sing, and who in fact fronts his own band, reads this blog. So I just thought I’d better mention that he can sing? Oh. He’s not old or gnarly either. NOT. NO. THE FRELLING FLOWER OF BRITISH MANHOOD. TOTALLY. And he can play his guitar. And bass. He even occasionally wears All Stars.# ::wipes brow:: Has anyone ever asked any of those unappreciated-in-their-own-country prophets if they minded? Obscurity has its pleasures.
# Not often enough though. And they’re never pink.
& I actually like bob major, eight bells, but ‘seven’ should not have been allowed to have two syllables. To keep your rhythm you have to go ‘sen’^. Or, if you’re agile, sven.
^ silently in your head. Although, like a bad reader, I tend to count with my lips too.
&& Only fair to warn you it doesn’t look good for tomorrow night. I’m going to see another opera . . .