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Navy Gansey, Week 10: 19 November

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day, as Gerald Manley Hopkins said during his spell as a Caithness weatherman. Yes, it’s that gloomy time of year again: sunrise at 08:10, sunset at 15.45, the window of daylight shrinking day by day. Farmers plough the sodden fields and are mobbed by flocks of seagulls, which has the bonus at least of keeping the little perishers off the streets (the seagulls, that is, not the farmers).

Now, many years ago I read a book about the French and Indian Wars, the conflict between Britain and France in the middle of the eighteenth century for dominance in North America (think The Last of the Mohicans, but with less Daniel Day-Lewis). It was a nasty little war, and I’ve forgotten most of it now, but one incident has always stayed with me.

A View of St Fergus’

There was a battle in some woods somewhere, in which the British and their colonial allies squared up to a French force with their Native American allies. At once the colonials ran for cover and started blazing away at the French. Whereupon the British, naturally assuming that anyone so sneaky as to hide in these circumstances must therefore be untrustworthy, at once opened fire on their American allies instead of on the actual, you know, enemy.

For nearly twenty years this has been my benchmark for absolute stupidity. Every time I come across some eye-watering asininity—and I’ve worked in local government most of my life, remember—I think, well, that’s bloody brainless, but at least it’s not as bad as deliberately shooting your own side. I honestly never expected it to be matched in my lifetime.

Dunnet Forest

But enough about Brexit. Meanwhile, another gansey rolls off the production line; all it needs now is licence plates and that special new car smell (or failing that, washing and blocking) and it’ll be street-legal. I’ve tried it on and, bearing in mind that trying on an unblocked gansey is like attempting to wear clothes you last saw when you were eighteen—to bystanders you look like Goldfinger being sucked out of the plane window, or a film of a calf being born played backwards—it seems to be more or less the right size. I’ve even come to terms with the uneven Wendy yarn; though I’ve never regretted Frangipani’s cones so much as when I contemplated all those dangling ends waiting to be darned in, like alien entrails, or a plate of navy blue spaghetti.

Stone – Sand – Sea

Next week we strike out into uncharted territory, viz. the Johnston Collection of old photographs of Caithness fishermen, with a gansey originally worn by one John Macleod. It’s going to be an interesting journey, at any rate. Overhead, vultures are already circling; unless it’s just more of those blasted seagulls, which are basically vultures without the latter’s innate sense of decency…

16 comments to Navy Gansey, Week 10: 19 November

  • meg

    i also wonder why so few can see the bullet heading for the right toe
    in the blur of last minute `negotiations` while certain foreign others are rubbing their hands with glee..`gotcha`
    lets hope not
    and the gansey looks splendid and very very warm…!

    • Gordon

      Hi Meg, the best metaphor for Britain’s current position I’ve seen compared us to the sheriff in Blazing Saddles, with the nation holding a gun to its collective head and saying to the EU, “Give me a good deal or I pull the trigger…”

  • Jane

    Beautiful gansey, just so lovely. Congratulations.

    I realise the Wendy yarn is a random event, but it does look really, really good. And the Reverend Hooker is a personal hero, and the pattern is a super one, all the more to the good.

    As for Brexit, if one stops listening to the words, and just watches the faces and the body language, on both sides, it is most enlightening and very saddening. Best not to dwell, but get out the knitting.

    I am so looking forward to the next gansey, take care!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, I suspect I’m more than a little influenced in my affection for the pattern by the reverend gentleman’s rather splendid coat and boots! (One day, I tell myself, one day…)

      As for Hrexit, Wittgenstein said it best: that of which one cannot speak without giggling like a loon, one must keep silent…

  • =Tamar

    The gansey is handsome, and while it’s blocking you can invent a new board game.

    I got up earlier than usual today simply to check whether it had snowed, as it didn’t seem bright enough to be actual daylight, but it was just pre-dawn. Sigh. The siren call of coffee is heard in the land.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, coffee is the best argument I’ve come across for the existence of God – it’s just too wonderful to exist by chance!

      I once devised a Harry Potter board game, in which the potions master had to climb to the top of the highest tower in Hogwarts on the outside: it was called “Snapes and Ladders…”

  • Bridget

    THAT’S going to be my new word in the golf language. Asininity! And yes, I worked in government for 32 years.

    The gansey is just my favorite color. Looks great!

  • Gordon

    Hi Bridget, I didn’t even know it was a word until I used it in the blog! Though it still sounds like the name of a town in North America, like it should be “Asininity Pennsylvania” or something…

  • Laura

    Just come across your blog, how I laughed about the Russian prostitutes! Anyway, my late mother and aunt were evacuated to Eyemouth, my aunt married one of the fisherman and I’m going to get out the inherited photos to see if I can find one with a Gansey.

    • Gordon

      Hello Laura, gosh, the Russian prostitutes, that takes me back. They don’t seem to have followed me to Wick, so that’s one blessing!

      Best of luck with the photos- and if you do find one, please share it with us.

      Kind regards, Gordon

  • Dee

    The gansey is very good-looking. Congratulations on persevering and conquering that yarn.

    • Gordon

      Thank you, Dee. Despite all my grumbling, it does knit up nicely. I promise not to complain when I knit the next Gansey with that yarn, maybe in the spring!

  • twinsetellen

    Very handsome gansey.

    Sighing a bit here, as we Americans always seem to think we have to one up the Brits and perhaps, just perhaps, did so with our vote in November 2016, trying to come closer to your definition of “asininity” than the Brexit decision just a few months earlier. I think I have an arguable case that we succeeded.

    That said, I don’t see anyone outshining your gansey knitting talents.

    • Gordon

      Ha, I did smile just after the presidential election followed so closely on the heels of Brexit, and someone made a t-shirt showing the USA pointing at the UK with a slogan, “I’m with stupid…”

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