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Matt Cammish Week 6: 23 October

img_0833Here’s a useful health and safety tip: when making a cup of coffee for breakfast, especially if you have a bit of a migraine, it’s a good idea not to let your mind wander so that you end up pouring boiling water over the hand that’s holding the mug steady.

Not only that, but when you jerk your hand violently away you should probably make sure your fingers aren’t still wrapped around the handle. This way you avoid sending the mug skimming across your kitchen as though it was a cross between a Frisbee and a muck spreader, liberally distributing scalding hot coffee as it sails through the air.

Sunset in Boston

Sunset in Boston

It’s also a sensible precaution—and I want you to follow me closely here—while you’re hopping around frantically shaking drops of boiling water off your hand, not to have a glass of freshly-poured pineapple juice resting on the edge of the kitchen counter within easy reach. Otherwise you end up with a cascade of sticky yellow fruit juice pouring onto the floor and soaking through your slippers (a sensation not unlike having an octopus trying to mate with your foot).

Yes, all this happened to me this week. Now every time I walk across the kitchen floor it makes a noise like Velcro.

Sunrise at Heathrow

Sunrise at Heathrow

My hand is more or less fine—it only hurts when I put it in hot water, such as when I bathe. I experimented briefly with rubber gloves, since they offer protection in washing the dishes, but I soon realised that they have one major drawback: viz. that they are open at one end. I considered sealing one round my wrist with masking tape, but then I wondered what would happen if I had a heart attack in the bath and was discovered wearing it? The tabloid headlines practically write themselves: Unexplained sex death of rubber glove fetish archivist being the least of them.

No, in the end I decided to follow the example of American Civil War general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and just keep my hand raised out of the water. (In Jackson’s case this was because he believed it would send the blood flowing into his other arm, and so keep his circulation in balance, but the principle’s the same.) Granted, to anyone peeping through the window I probably look like someone swearing a lengthy oath of allegiance to his rubber duck—not a euphemism—but I can live with that.

img_0832Oh, well. Despite finding new and interesting ways to damage my hands, my ability to knit remains unimpaired. I have finished Side B, joined the shoulders, completed the collar and picked up stitches for the first sleeve. I follow the traditional width of neck, i.e., a third of the total width of the body: so, as each side of this gansey is 185 stitches, each shoulder has 62 stitches and the neck 61 stitches. (Remember, it’s important when calculating and picking up stitches for the collar that you end up with a total that is divisible by 4, so that the knit 2/purl 2 ribbing works out evenly.)

Written in Stone: one of the 'Babson Boulders' at Dogtown Common, Gloucester, MA

Written in Stone: one of the ‘Babson Boulders’ at Dogtown Common, Gloucester, MA

Incidentally, did you know that Stonewall Jackson’s arm has its own grave? The man himself, accidentally killed by his own side at Chancellorsville in 1863, is buried in his native Virginia, but his amputated left arm was buried at the battlefield, and even has a monument. (Memo to self: be a little more careful with my hands in future unless I want to end like Jackson, or Voldemort in the Harry Potter books, with various parts of me scattered about the landscape for the curious to collect…)

13 comments to Matt Cammish Week 6: 23 October

  • Gordon

    P.S., Margaret’s just informed me this is my 402nd post on this blog. (You’d think the Queen would’ve sent a telegram or something, wouldn’t you? Or, now I come to think of it, a donut – I’m not fussy.)

    Many thanks to all who’ve stayed the course, and to any new readers, glad to have you on board! Now, about those donuts…

  • Lynne

    You really are your worst enemy, Gordon, at least the cuppa wasn’t in your lap! Wow, 402 blogs, is that nearly eight years? No wonder you’re getting weary, but it’s oh, so entertaining and informative for the readers and you will be sorely missed if/when you decide to go on to other things. Great progress on the gansey – and one of my faves!

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, ach, you’re very kind. Yes, that’s about eight years, man and boy, or rather man and older man. The only consolation I can offer is that at the moment I don’t have any other things to go on to, other than staring vacantly at the wall and waiting for the seasons to change. (Well, that and waiting for the scars to heal.)

      There’s a great quote attributed to British politician Ernest Bevin, who when someone said a rival of his was his own worst enemy, immediately quipped, “Not while i’m alive, he ain’t!”

  • Jane

    Wow, eight years, just so wonderful, I am totally impressed! No mean feat.

    I get through a kettle about every two years, very rare to have one last longer. The water in the pipes, in my geological dip is positively laden with lime. As for the kettles, I have come to feel they are tricky little beasts to be viewed with great detachment! Sorry to hear about the scald.

    The gansey is looking great, a lovely, lovely thing. Take care now!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, I sound like an American presidential candidate, don’t I? (Eight more years! Eight more years!) Not sure I have it in me, but I might manage another eight weeks…

      One thing about living in the far north of Scotland, our water’s pretty good (no need for filters). As for the scald, I can’t blame my tools—it was all my fault, mostly for getting out of bed with a migraine. One could deduce everything back to that point, like a physicist studying the expanding universe and concluding there had to be a Big Bang. Maybe I should just wear rubber gloves when I make a cup of tea in future?

  • Felicity

    Ouch! I hope you have, and have had, a nice salve on hand Gordon. Sudocrem? Though its name may suggest snake oil, it soothes.

    • Gordon

      Hi Felicity, in retrospect i should have held my hand under the cold tap for the full ten minutes, instead of about 30 seconds. It’s mostly stopped hurting now, which is a relief, as I think my screams at bath time were disturbing the neighbours’ puppy, but I think it would be a wise precaution to stock in some salve for next time…

  • Lois

    Gordon, you can find more ingenious methods of self-mutilation than anyone I have ever heard of. I just hope that Margaret gets back while you are still in one (relatively) piece. And look after that hand, we need another eight years.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, just as well I quit my job at the bacon slicing factory, eh? And it’s been a while since I grated any cheese…

      Some of it may be general maladroitness, but a lot of my accident are down to migraines and the short cut to stupid that seems to be an inevitable side-effect, like the time I tried to adjust a bathroom light fitting with a screwdriver and neglected to turn the power off first. I feel like I;m living through some weird “Final Destination” scenario, as if I cheated death somehow a while back and fate is trying to get revenge an restore the timeline one paper cut at a time…

  • lorraine

    Gordon- Ouch- and having to clean the kitchen afterward too.

    The gansey looks great. I am pleased to report that I am almost done the second sleeve on my Filey-esque, having had the lurgy and not being able to knit for a week.

    Very odd about the arm being buried separately.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lorraine, yes, the ghastly prospect of cleaning up managed to drive all the pain away for a brief interlude. (The sight of my slippers when I soaked them, floating in a yellowish-greyish sludge in the sink, like the corpses of two dead rodents drifting down a sewer, haunts my dreams in a Stephen-King-ish kind of way.)

      Congratulations on the progress of your gansey!

      As a way of brightening up my funeral I’m toying with combining it with some sort of treasure hunt, and giving the mourners a set of clues to travel round the countryside to find where all the various parts of me are buried, the one who finishes the course first wins a gansey.

  • Helen Koehler

    Hi Gordon, had a lovely visit with Margaret and Gail. Do you do these self injuries to get her to come Home? We missed your witty commentary and we’re sorry you didn’t get to meet our new puppy. Hope you stay well and uninjured
    Fond regards, Helen and Dick

    • Gordon

      Hello Helen, yes, I’d have liked to come but it’s just not possible for me to get away at the moment. Sorry I missed the puppy! (Hope to catch the dog in due course.)

      As for the accidents, of course, if Margaret had been home chances are I’d have stayed safely in bed with my migraine and she’d have been the one making the coffee—so, when you come to think of it, it’s all her fault…

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