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Denim 3: 14 – 20 April

D140420aThere’s a seal in the river, and if you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of its sleek head bobbing among the waves like a black rubber duck. It spends most of its time down by the harbour, but when the tide’s high it coolly swims upriver; it was there on Thursday lunchtime as I was walking back to work, and we regarded each other for a while until it remembered it’d left the gas on and swam away.

There’s a wealth of reproachful sadness in a seal’s eyes, like a dog who’s just watched you eat the last digestive biscuit, and there was something doglike about the way it seemed to be trying to understand what I said. (Talking to a dog always feels like trying to start a conversation with a friendly alien; whereas cats act like they’ve already enslaved humanity and the only words you’ll need in future are “tin opener” and “tummy rub”.)

D140420bSeals look so intelligent it’s not hard to see where the Scottish legends of the selkie, the seal-man or seal-woman, come from; but if the souls of the dead are ever reincarnated as seals, from the look of polite disappointment on their faces I presume in life they must have been English cricket fans.

The gansey’s about 7 inches long now, or a quarter of the length. Hopefully you can see the pattern beginning to take shape: the diamond panels stand out quite nicely against the background of cables, moss stitch and ladder. The colour matches a cloudy day at John O’Groats—I’m hoping I’ve patented the “stealth gansey”, which effectively turns you invisible if the sea and the sky are exactly the right shade…


Dunnet Head

Meanwhile, the plumber has almost finished installing the new boiler and shower. We’re going from a shower that was about as effective as holding your face over a fresh cup of tea to something so lethal it’s probably illegal under the Geneva Convention. In fact it reminds me of a Star Trek transporter pad; I keep expecting to find a confused Klingon standing in the bathtub, brandishing a cake of scented soap instead of a phaser.


Batten down the RSBP shed

We were without hot water and heating for a few days last week, so imagine our delight when the boiler was finally connected on Wednesday afternoon. Then imagine our dismay when the northern third of Scotland was plunged into darkness three hours later, over 200,000 homes suddenly without power. As we sat all evening huddled around our two feeble candles, too dark to knit or read by, no tv and a radio with a flat battery, I gradually realised that the entirety of human civilisation is really just a way to keep yourself occupied till bedtime…

Finally, as it’s Easter—Christus resurrexit, apparently—we’ll be taking a short break while we go to visit my parents in furthest Northamptonshire, a journey not unlike that described in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, albeit with fewer Belgians.

All things being equal we’ll be back on Monday 5th May 2014. Till then, Happy Easter!

7 comments to Denim 3: 14 – 20 April

  • Laura Sibley

    “…..I gradually realized that the entirety of human civilization is really just a way to keep yourself occupied till bedtime…” Good Lord! Isn’t that the truth!

    Have a lovely time with the Northamptonshire folks.

  • Laura

    Well done, I do so enjoy your writing, as I have said I wouldn’t miss it for the world, keeps us all in our place, with a smile. You are missing the kerosene lamps my Mother would use, until the chimney,s blackened. We would sit around and play cards.

  • Annie

    A real pleasure here to read these posts and see the photos. Ah…a seal… oh, my, SEVEN inches on the new gansey…what a blue!…thank you so much from a Stevenson in Colorado.

  • Marilyn

    Hello Gordon, your stealth gansey is looking quite pleased with itself, as well it should. Happy Easter to you and enjoy your get-away. I’ll look forward to your return.

  • Jane

    Smashing gansey, lovely colour, don’t the stitches pop out nicely. Glad to hear about the boiler, nothing like nice hot water.
    Living in my isolated dip, I keep a little stash of batteries and torches, an action based on hard experience! Otherwise so quiet, so dark. ‘I Spy’ is so difficult, but not impossible, in the gloom.
    May you and Margaret enjoy hippy hoppy bunnies and many chocolate eggs in the peaceful contemplation of this weekend, and have a good break.

  • =Tamar

    Lovely gansey! It does look as though it will work as hoped. If the Klingons show up, hope they don’t bring you Klingon soap. I hear it puts the old yellow Fels-Naptha laundry soap to shame for ferocity. Maybe that’s why their culture is so fierce – no decent soap.

  • Pat S

    I came up from a dive last weekend to find a seal a few feet away looking at me quizzically.

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