It’s slowly beginning to dawn on me that if I wanted to work in a glamorous profession, perhaps archives may have been the wrong choice—at least as far as tv and Hollywood are concerned.
When villainous Rutger Hauer shuts down Morgan Freeman’s special research department in Batman Begins, he transfers him to Archives—the implication being, this is a dead end for hope and ambition and rocket-propelled motorcycles.
Now I see in Warehouse 13 that when the special agents are looking for a cover, they tell the secret service they work in … Archives. And the secret service make fun of them for being “filing clerks”, and warn them of the dangers of paper cuts.
You see? Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I can’t help feeling there’s a lack of respect here. (And have you ever had a paper cut? I mean, those puppies can sting.) By a spooky coincidence I got a paper cut only last week, and bled over several old electoral rolls without realising it, leaving bloody thumbprints to make it look like citizens of Caithness in the 1950s were tortured for their names and addresses. (In fact, in the archives world, paper cuts are the equivalent of German duelling scars, worn as a badge of pride.)
It’s officially spring so it’s snowing outside, a bitter north wind sweeping the flakes across the fields under heavy grey skies. It’s just a light dusting—think of icing sugar sieved over a chocolate cake—ah, damn, I just did and now my keyboard’s all wet—but it’s persistent. We went down to the harbour yesterday to watch the wind whip the waves in from the sea—not as spectacular as the great storm of a few months ago, but still pretty good, as the waves exploded against the harbour walls in showers of spray. Spring, eh?
I’ve been in a knitting mood this last week, and have made pretty good progress, for me. I finished one cuff, picked up the stitches around the other armhole and am now about 5 inches down the sleeve. This is partly the result of getting my eyes fixed, of course, because I can now see well enough to knit while watching television—for the last six months it’s been one or the other.
But sometimes I’m just in the zone, and enjoy the knitting as an end in itself. I definitely blow hot and cold over the duration of a gansey, sometimes I can hardly be bothered to lift a needle—other times, like now, it’s fun. You just have to hang in there through the bad times. I suspect Michelangelo felt much the same over the four years he painted the Sistine Chapel; except in his case he had the motivation of a monetary reward for success, or the threat of the Inquisition and excommunication and/or eternal damnation if things didn’t work out—so no pressure, Mike, knock yourself out.
I should finish the sleeve in the next fortnight or so, and then it’s scissor time. I’m still mulling over what patterns to try next, as I do towards the end of a project; whatever I finally decide on, you can bet it’ll be simple, after this one! I keep careful records as I go, so I know that I have exactly the same number of stitches on my needles at this point as for the other sleeve, and am knitting the exact same row of the pattern. You have no idea how reassuring this is!
I won’t get so much done this next week because I’m away in Edinburgh from Sunday to Tuesday, attending my last meeting of the Archives and Records Association Board as Vice Chair before stepping down (so I may not be able to respond to any comments for a few days).
Which makes me wonder—if other people get sent to Archives when they’re demoted, where do archivists get sent…?