Have you ever had an hour and a half where everything went wrong? No? Allow me to share the one I’ve just had.
Like so many minor annoyances it started with smooth and uncomplicated promise. I was going to set doll’s eyes, a difficult task, which few people in the world do in miniature. Having had thirty years of practise, I thought I might enjoy it.
Moreover the OH was settled down at the computer on a conference call with a load of other old astronomers, which meant he would be quiet for a couple of hours and I could get on in peace.
To start off I had a bit of a health scare. Once you have had plenty of time in hospital and/or under anaesthetic if something drops off, or you have a sudden pain, or there is unexpected oozing, or you feel sick, you no longer expect it to be nothing. Naturally I imagined I was dying (still here, you may have deduced) but decided to work through it.
I have a small tin of doll eyes. The wonderful man who made the incredible hollow blown glass eyes in sizes 5mm downwards (I use mostly 3mm and 4mm) has left the planet, so every eye is precious.
So, of course, I dropped the first eye on the floor.
My knees do not work well at night. I fell heavily about fifteen years ago and knackered a knee. Yes I have a knee that is fit for the knacker’s yard which I am keeping going with highly ineffective exercises. So I got down on the floor and began patting. I finally found the eye. It was looking at me way under the table. Having found the tiny eye it is inadvisable to straighten your back if you are under the table. Neither should you haul yourself up, your knee being knackered, by the chair on castors. Normally these stick and will not go over the edge of the rug, however if you are grasping a tiny eye and your knee will not save you, you could be on the road and up into town in a flash.
Eye setting is a matter of extreme patience. If one goes in, the second will swivel, fall out, get jammed in the neck hole, and when it finally does go in right, manipulated by tweezers which keep pinging off the smooth glass, the other eye will decide that looked like fun, and join in.
They all did that. Then I realised two sets had stalks that were too long to permit stringing, so I took the carefully positioned eyes out again, nibbled a bit of glass off with my scissors, which glass swarf, naturally, I picked up with the empty head and ground into my finger.
Having got all the heads prepared, with every eye stuck in temporarily with sticky wax, I repaired to the sink to mix up the plaster of Paris. I opened the tub of plaster and started opening the internal plastic bag, which, being almost as old as I am, just disintegrated into a pile of dust, right beside the sink. You should never wash plaster down the sink unless you are a plumber, or you are married to a plumber, or in a civil, or uncivil, union with a plumber. I subscribe to none of these but I did it anyway because I was coated with plaster, when the intention had been to fill the dolls’ heads with plaster, not the doll maker.
Then an eye came out as it was having the plaster poured behind it, so I washed all that head off and began again by which time the plaster had set, in the only tiny receptacle I could find, but not before covering the bathroom in a light film of plaster dust. So the second lot of plaster got mixed up in the lid of an evaporating eye make-up remover bottle, which stupidity I shall regret tomorrow.
And rest. By this time the health panic was over but my back was aching instead.
I did wonder, when I began making dolls thirty years ago why no one else was making miniature dolls with glass eyes. Why, I wondered, is no other doll maker doing this?
Common sense. They all had too much common sense. They looked and thought the job was going to be expensive and too difficult to do in any way commercially, so, sensibly, they did not bother.
The only other daft thing I have done so far this evening is sweep the rest of the shattered glass off the table with my hand.
You can’t see the glass in your hand, just feel it.
I shall now go to bed and begin again in the afternoon. That is, if I haven’t clonked the OH with the wok he’d been making his tea in. I told him of my fraught evening and he laughed.
In the morning I am having my hair permed, I do hope that will pass without incident, if you see me with clown hair at the show, you will know.