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Dunbeath: Week 6 – 15 March

I read with interest this week a review of a new science fiction novel, Radio Life, set in the sort of post-apocalyptic future that is all the rage just now. Apparently the story features “archive runners”, who are despatched to scavenge artefacts surviving from our destroyed civilisation. The author obviously not only has a highly misleading idea of the general standards of archival fitness—most of us, far from running, in reality struggle to climb more than one flight of stairs without oxygen—but of what archivists actually do. But then, he wouldn’t be the first SF writer to get us wrong. David Mitchell in Cloud Atlas famously has an archivist whose role is interviewing human clones in what is also, and I honestly didn’t see this coming, a dystopian future, before they’re executed.

Signs of Spring

Mitchell’s archivist records the clones on an “egg-shaped device”—another schoolboy blunder, since the only eggs most archivists I know are interested in come wrapped in tinfoil and are filled with chocolate buttons. The problem is, novelists always assume that archivists are concerned with the truth; whereas in reality Pontius Pilate is our patron saint, and we approach history not so much like detectives faced with a crime scene, collecting witness statements in the hope of one day bringing a prosecution, but more like stamp collectors. Still, I suppose we should count our blessings: when it comes to fictional portrayals we get off lightly compared with poor old librarians. (I was originally going to be a librarian, but I failed that bit in the practical exam where a handsome man takes off your glasses, loosens your hair, and proceeds to dance a tango with you; I never could master the tango.)

Abstract Willow

I haven’t quite finished the Dunbeath gansey, but am within a gnat’s whisker of doing so, having reached the final cuff. I’ve mentioned before that the only picture we had to go on for the pattern was the small, blurry image in the Moray Firth Gansey Project book. So even if you couldn’t honestly say that this was an exact replica, you couldn’t honestly say it wasn’t. I’m really pleased with it, yarn and pattern both, so much so that I’m going to start saving to buy the yarn to make one for myself. Next week, the start of the long-awaited Wick gansey pattern in Frangipani Cordova yarn.

Roosting Fulmar

And I note that it’s almost a year since the UK first went into lockdown. On Saturday Margaret and I had our first doses of the Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine. Both of us had some mild side effects (headache, tiredness, a bit like having a mild cold) but they soon pass. Now I feel rather like a prisoner, who’s been imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, on hearing the governor plans to issue a pardon—not free yet, but feeling that freedom, almost for the first time, is imaginable. Outside spring is impatiently ringing the doorbell, calling us to come and play; and while I may never become an archive runner, I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to walking rather briskly into whatever the future holds…

8 comments to Dunbeath: Week 6 – 15 March

  • Lynne Brock

    I really never thought a heather gansey would be that attractive but that yarn is stunning knitted up. Will you do your own in the same pattern?

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, I’m very tempted because the finished effect is stunning. But I did get lost a few times keeping track of the blisters, when Margaret had to bail me out. If I do knit it again, though, it’ll be in summer when it’s light!

  • Annie

    “I’m looking forward … etc.”

    Thank you for these words and sentiment.

  • Cam Trondsen

    Gordon, based on your enthusiasm, I purchased enough of that yarn to make a sweater (or maybe a vest . . . ), and I’m curious to know what size needles you are knitting on? It’s lovely yarn! Thank you for bringing it to our attention.


    • Gordon

      Hello Cam, it’s lovely yarn and knits up nice and soft. I always use 2.25mm needles, either 80cm circular, or double-pointed. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have, Gordon

  • =Tamar

    I suppose you could try taking a picture of it, making the picture black and white, and shrinking it to the size of the one used as the source. Blur it a little, and if they look the same, you’ve got it.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, luckily, what with the macular degeneration and all, I can achieve that blurry look just by closing my good eye! 😀

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