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Mrs Laidlaw 3: 9 – 15 September

ML0915aWell, that could have gone better. I spent part of last week in bed with what I assume was a cold, finally giving in after a couple of weeks of generally feeling like something the cat had brought in and left on the mat for you to discover (usually a fatal couple of seconds after you wished you’d been wearing slippers).

I call it a cold, but if so it was a strange one: I wasn’t congested, or sneezing, just very tired. I simply had no energy at all, and got out of breath doing such strenuous things as brushing my teeth or waking up. It was like being visited by a frugal vampire and having a bit of blood siphoned off each night, like the butler sneaking whisky from the decanter when the master’s back is turned.

Anyway, I knew I was in trouble when I had to stop and set up base camp while climbing the stairs, and hire some local sherpas who knew the terrain to get me to the top. My chest felt like God was gently squeezing it, like someone feeling to see if a tube of toothpaste is empty.

ML0915b So—in case you were wondering—that explains my absence from the website last week. Apologies to those who posted who didn’t get a response, but thanks to everyone who responded to my question about turning the website into books. My current inclination is to go with the majority opinion and release a gansey book that includes all the how-to information from the website, as well as photos and pattern charts for selected ganseys I’ve knitted, about half a dozen or so. That way, the information will always be available no matter what.


Gordon contemplates life on the edge. The new John o’Groats fingerpost, now free of charge.

That will hopefully be out in time for Christmas. But—I stress—all the information will still remain free of charge here on the website.

And then, sometime next year probably, I’ll go through the archive of blog entries back to the very beginning (or in my favourite legal phrase, to ‘Time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary’) and see if I can edit the more interesting ones into a single anthology. This may, of course, result in a very short book!

One thing about being ill, it means that in your lucid moments you can sit up in bed and knit—and so, I’ve made rather more progress this week than usual. I’m now on my third tree, and the pattern is settling down nicely—and so are the stitches on the needles, which no longer want to curl themselves inside out like a gansey entering a black hole, which can happen in the early stages with plain knitting until the pattern achieves its own rigidity (“Look out: those are load-bearing chevrons!”).


Somewhere over the rainbow . . . lies John o’Groats

Oh, and speaking of vampires, there’s something that’s always intrigued me about them: how do they drink the blood of men with bushy beards? Do they still go for the neck and just accept there’ll be a certain amount of collateral follicle-ness involved, like trying to drink a Bloody Mary through a wire brush; or do they select an alternative spot to bite, such as the wrist, or perhaps an ankle, or even—for a be-kilted Scotsman in a strong wind—a knee?

10 comments to Mrs Laidlaw 3: 9 – 15 September

  • =Tamar

    I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better. That exhaustion sounds rather like how I felt when I had walking pneumonia, though I had alternating days of “feel fine” and “hang over the side of the bed to drain.”

    It’s been quite a while, but I believe that Bram Stoker’s vampires would use wrists, for instance; I seem to recall the good doctor checking the wrists and elbows of the ladies he thought might have been attacked. Other locations were no doubt too indelicate for a novel of the era, though if he had any sense he’d have set up an appointment for a close examination along the lines of checking for ticks.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar,

      Well, I was feeling better but getting soaked to the skin in downpours both days this week i staking its toll!

      There’s a funny scene in Roman Polanksi’s film, The Fearless Vampire Killers when someone is found dead in the snow after being attacked by lots of vampires, and when they examine him every article of clothing they lift up reveals more bites. (He’s Jewish, and when he’s a vampire himself he just laughs when anyone holds up a crucifix.)

      You know, I suspect a Victorian parent might have been relieved to see a vampire emerging from beneath their daughter’s skirts, on the grounds that it might have been worse…


  • Mmmm, knees in kilts. Lovely. (Heh.)

    I’m glad you’re feeling better and I hope that our expedition to the Northern Edge of the World didn’t make things worse.

    That gansey’s going like crazy! It continues to look lovely.

    (I’ll be buying both books, of course.)


    • Gordon

      Hi Song, reminds me of one of my finest poems, “I’ve got a sporran and I’m not afraid to use it”. (It’s either a sporran or else I’ve become a surrogate father to a baby rabbit).


  • Marilyn

    Hello Gordon, nice to reconnect. New computer and eye surgery recovery for me, without knitting, so sorry to say. The blue gansey is marvelous, those simple patterns add up to quite a visual treat and the rose looks to be doing really well. I am glad you are feeling better and like Song, would like to add your books to my reference library. Cheers! Here’s to continued improvement for both of us.

    • Gordon

      Hi Marilyn,

      Glad to hear you’re back. Eyes are delicate things, I find, and you have to take things easy. When I had my cataracts, I found i just couldn’t see enough detail to sort out mistakes, even for simple things like dropped stitches, but I just got used to not seeing clearly. Then, when it was sorted, wham! The world became a lot closer, all of a sudden.

      Hope you continue to recover! And thanks,

  • Dave

    Speaking as one who hasn’t shaved since April of 1981 and as one who has never been bitten by a vampire, it seems clear to me that beards are as effective as crosses and garlic for warding off vampires.

    • Gordon

      Hi Dave,

      Your reasoning sounds like the guy in the Magnificent Seven who fell off the top of a skyscraper. On the way down, the people on each floor heard him say as he passed, “So far so good… So far so good…”

  • Barbara Garner

    Gordon, I suggest you get your heart checked. Your description of ailments match my symptoms just before heart failure. Mine controlled by pills.

    I’ve downloaded your ebooks from Amazon, and will definitely buy the knitting book(s). Love your blog and am a faithful reader.


    • Gordon

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for the suggestion. I think it’s as much to do with a fairly intense few months at work – very busy for the summer season, my colleague was pregnant and so I had to do all the heavy lifting & fetching and carrying, then I had to induct a maternity cover person, no holiday between April and August and then a rather disappointing holiday when it came – well, you get the picture! I think my body basically had its own intervention and just shut me down.

      Anyway, I’m feeling better now – I ran up the stairs yesterday! – so I’ll keep a watching brief.

      Glad you enjoy the site – hope you find the books to your taste, but don’t worry if you don’t!

      All good wishes,

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