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Inverallochy, Week 12: 19 March

It’s been blowing a gale here for the best part of four days now—constant gusts upwards of 50 mph rattling the windows and shaking the doors. The trees have given up any thoughts of celebrating the arrival of spring by putting out leaves, and instead are focusing just on not being uprooted. Every now and then a gull sails past the window backwards, driven towards Ireland on an easterly breeze, a puzzled frown on its face as if it can’t quite work out why flapping its wings doesn’t seem to be having the usual effect.

I learned a valuable recycling lesson the other day, viz. that if you want to keep your private life, well, private in these sorts of conditions, it’s best to weigh down the lid of your bin with a heavy stone. It’s not a good look to be caught leaping across your neighbours’ lawn like a Victorian butterfly collector after a heavy night on the laudanum, desperately clutching at fluttering pages ripped from Thong Weekly, or the Pencil of the Month double-page centrefold from What Archivist. (Or—*cough*—so I would imagine—er—according to a friend.)

Confession time. Some not great news this week—I’ve been signed off work after experiencing a recurrence of the symptoms I had last year, when I was diagnosed with an anxiety depression. At least this time I can recognise the signs, and I’m still on the antidepressant medication, so hopefully this will just be a short episode. But I feel a bit like Frodo in the Lord of the Rings, who “was seriously wounded and it will never really heal”—except that I’m a lot taller; and whereas Frodo saved the world, when I was his age I saved loose change; other than that, pretty much identical, I think.

In the short term it will give me more time for knitting, which I’ve found is also a very positive form of therapy. I have finally completed the body, both shoulders and the collar (in knit 2/ purl 2 ribbing, casting off in pattern). I’ve picked up the stitches for the first sleeve and have just decreased the gusset out of existence: now for the rest of the sleeve. [Apologies for the quality of the gansey photo this week—Margaret’s on her travels again. Normal service should be resumed next week.]

When I was ill ask year I couldn’t do any writing, my head was too messed up. But when I began to feel better, I wrote some poems to try to articulate—to myself as much as anyone—what the illness actually felt like, albeit obliquely. Some of the poems are, quite frankly, terrible; some maybe not too bad. But with others their quality was neither here nor there—irrelevant because the poems were, in some sense, true. This one still feels to me like the truest of the lot.

The world is folded lengthways,
Turned at a right angle and folded again,
Then again
And many times again
Until it is too tight to bend—
It is all the god can do to hold it fast.

Then he lets go—
It springs apart, writhing as it opens,
Knotted like a broken flower,
All angle and crease,
Twisted so badly out of shape
It can never lie flat again.

15 comments to Inverallochy, Week 12: 19 March

  • Clare Jenkins

    Xxxxxxx all love from newtown, Powys, Wales

  • meg macleod

    dear Gordon..your poem ..I love it..
    but I’m sorry you unwell….out of hurt comes something lovely.
    and your knitting not that bad either!!!!!!!!!xxxmeg

  • Annie

    Yes, “dear Gordon”…from a voice of experience…the world may not lie flat again…but WE ‘hold it fast’…and wait, wait it out…

  • Annie

    PS: from Las Platas, a southern range of the great Rockies

  • Jane

    What a meaningful poem, very good. Have patience and hold hard and things will fall into place again. And the knitting so wonderful, a balm, take care!

  • Judit M./Finland

    Hello Gordon ,
    I am sure that you will heal really. And remember please that above all dark clouds, there is sunshine. You should never give up .
    The pattern is very nice and the light colour shows it perfectly.

  • Roger Hine

    Hi Gordon
    Sorry about the bad news of being “signed off” at work. I love reading your regular column, and you have inspired me to knit Ganseys. I have been knitting for just over three years and I knitted my first gansey for my girlfriend last year. She loves it, and it made me proud. I am now working on a second gansey for myself using a “Filey IX” pattern. I will include pics next time I post, if I can work out how to include them. Many thanks, Roger

  • =Tamar

    The sun is coming back. Hold fast, and knit on. And do keep writing. I look forward to your posts. There’s scarcely a one that hasn’t made me laugh out loud, and I enjoy watching the progress of the knitting as well. Speaking of which, the gansey is looking fine.

  • Gordon

    Hello everyone, and thank you for the good wishes. It’s very kind of you and I very much appreciate it.

    The other image I had was of a shattered mirror, and I was groping on the floor trying to reconstruct it, piece by piece, like a giant jigsaw puzzle. But it was a stranger’s face looking back at me from the shards… (At least it wasn’t demon Bob from Twin Peaks!)

    One day at a time.

  • Lois

    Your poem made me think of the ancient art of origami. And out of all those folds emerges something beautiful. Just as you do.

  • Simon

    Hi Gordon!

    I sympathise, I’ve rediscovered my love for knitting for very similar reasons. Have you seen this https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/knitting-reduces-anxiety-depression-chronic-pain-slows-dementia-research-knit-for-peace-uk-a8254341.html

    • Clare Jenkins

      yes indeed even though i haven’t risked a gansey proper yet

    • Gordon

      Hi Simon, I hadn’t seen that article, though I’ve heard similar things. Very interesting—though I’m not sure whether knitting a gansey to measure 56 inches in the round is likely to cure depression, or cause it!


  • Elizabeth

    Wishing you all the best Gordon. Keep up the knitting & the writing, both are excellent!

  • Gordon

    Hello again—and thanks again. You’re very kind.

    This seems like a perfect opportunity to celebrate the true spirit of Britain by linking to Noel Coward’s marvellous “There Are Bad Times Just Around the Corner”, a song that never fails to cheer me up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCZCv98XKFs

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