It’s the end of April, the sun is shining like it means it, the wind has – whisper who dares – dropped, and I’m a whole year older than I was last week. I turned 52, thanks for asking – somewhere there’s a painting of me that stays the same age, pristine and unraddled, while I meanwhile rapidly decay, my once-fine features disintegrating like a Nazi in an Indiana Jones movie.
For my birthday I finally got a Kindle ebook reader, so I spent the weekend doing what all my friends who bought one did, downloading dozens of free books I’ll never read, just because I can. (The complete works of James Joyce, you say? Why, of course! It would be rude not to.) Then there’s the bizarre urge to buy my favourite books all over again as ebooks, even though I already own them in hard copy.
But you can at least download the wonderful novels of Thorne Smith for less than £1 each, so it’s already proved worth it for me. If you don’t know Smith’s work, he was an American writer in the 1920s and 30s, and, according to his rather po-faced Wikipedia entry, wrote “comic fantasy fiction involving sex, much drinking and supernatural transformations” – so a man wakes up to find he’s turned into a skeleton (Skin and Bones), another man falls in with a bunch of charmingly crooked ghosts (Topper, and the brilliant Topper Takes A Trip), or a married couple end up in each other’s bodies (Turnabout). If you haven’t read him I strongly urge you to give him a go – he’s absurd, silly, a little bit sad and very, very funny.
Also this week I’ve been contacted by Yasmin of the Hebridean Isles Trading Company on the island of Colonsay, who asked me to mention her website. Yasmin offers wool and fleeces from her own flock, as well as ganseys knit from it and residential knitting courses. Looks well worth supporting.
My own gansey project is continuing apace, albeit slowly. I’ve settled into a steady rhythm, an hour a night (or 2 rows), more at weekends if I can. So far it’s giving me just what I wanted, a relaxing, stress-free knit, and unless my wind wanders all the way to the cliffs and falls over it’s impossible to go far wrong with such a simple, repetitive pattern. As it grows it seems to get redder, and bizarrely it even seems to get warmer, no doubt by association (red = hot). But the time I’ve finished the body I’ll be knitting with oven gloves.
Finally, I decided to celebrate my birthday by baking some rolls – the first baking I’ve done since last summer. Well, it wasn’t a success. For whatever reason – out of practice, old flour, cold kitchen – I ended up with nine leaden lumps (I started out with 10, but one collapsed under its own gravity and became a black hole). I toyed with the idea of using them as paperweights before running into an old fisherman who took them off my hands; he said they’d be perfect for sinking his deep-sea fishing nets.
Next week: I patent the baguette anchor!