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Navy Gansey, Week 5: 15 October

Last night we were woken in the middle of the night. There was a loud pulsing noise coming from overhead, a deep, rumbling wom-wom-wom, and flashing lights. I looked at my bedside alarm to see the time but it was dead, all the power out. And still the deep, throbbing pulse of an engine flattened the air, louder than anything had a right to be at that time of night.

What, I thought, could be hovering over our house with flashing lights? Could whatever it was have caused the power outage? It took a few moments for my inner sheepdog to round up my scattered wits: would an alien mothership really travel thousands of light years, vast interstellar distances, only to settle on Wick for first contact? And would it—my ears finally reporting for duty, dishevelled and faintly embarrassed—travel about when it got here powered by rotor blades?

Milky Way and Moonlight

The helicopter—for helicopter it was, of course—slowly passed us, looped round and headed back to the airport. The power came back on. It was 3.00am. I forgave myself my moment of confusion: anything’s possible at 3.00am. Actually, in my case all it takes is the dark.

Once I was driving the lonely road from Llangurig to Rhayader in Radnorshire, mid Wales. I’d given a talk at a village hall, and was coming home. It was a dark, clear, early spring night, about 10.00pm. I was tired, and was letting my mind wander; anyway, the car knew the way. Suddenly I was aware of a similar wom-wom-wom, loud enough to make my fillings vibrate, and my car and the patch of road around me were illuminated by a bright light. This is it, I thought, it’s the Rapture. Finally! Then I thought: hang on a minute, why me? Before I could think of a good reason the light and the noise moved on. And I saw that a vast Hercules transport plane had crept up on me unawares, following the road, flying so low I could have bounced a tennis ball off its fuselage if I’d had one to hand. My rational mind had a good laugh at my expense: but just for a moment there…

Visiting Hour

Meanwhile in the empirical world of ganseys, I’m well embarked on the yoke of the Vicar of Morwenstow Revisited (which is like Brideshead but with more herring). The Wendy yarn continues to infuriate (my last ball contained four knots, which is a bit much for 100g) and delight by turn. I’m trying to knit a bit tighter now I’ve reached the pattern: this sort of pattern can spread if you’re not careful, making the yoke too wide, so I’m trying to rein it in. So far it seems to be working.

Finally, an update on the seals at Sarclet Haven. We haven’t seen all fifty together again but there’s still a lot of them about, black snouts bobbing in the water and a few slumped up on the beach, plus—excitingly—some young pups. There’s a tiny white seal pup on the beach just now, barely able to drag itself along a few painstaking inches of shingle but growing daily, like a slowly-self-inflating inner tube. Its whole life lies ahead of it, the book of its life unwritten. To misquote Rabelais: Go well, little seal; may your ship sail free...

5 comments to Navy Gansey, Week 5: 15 October

  • Annie

    Remind me never again to try to knit with velvet, either (don’t ask) although you seem to be handling your different yarn rather well! And, oh, can our minds try to explain strange things: in a dorm (a colegio there) in Madrid many years ago, a full basin of water slopped back and forth m, spilling,while washing my face. Ah, dizzy from too much vino rojo the night before, I managed to stumble to my bed, only to learn there had been a rare tremor. Still, probably had had too much the night before – ha.

  • Dee

    Morwenstowe’s looking very nice, the texture’s very satisfying in navy.

    I think your mind came up with quite a good explanation, for 3 a.m., even before your inner sheep dog got to work.

    The little seal is very sweet. Just seeing it in the photo made me feel a rather tired!

  • =Tamar

    Awwww. baby seal…

    I once had the black-helicopter-circling scenario, but it turned out to be someone spraying the neighbor’s tree against an infestation.

    Roads do not go the same places at night that they do during the day. So my college Drama prof informed us, regarding matinee performances.

  • Lois

    Ahh, the things that go “bump” in the night! In my case it was a set of quilt frames stored on an overhead rack. Which came rumbling down on my head during one of our occasional tremors.

  • Gordon

    Hello everyone, and thanks for the comments. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to reply – a combination of an intense week of training at work, a cold and my resident post-nasal drip (even less glamorous than it sounds) rendered me pretty much comatose of an evening. Still, looking on the bright side the only way is, er, up, probably…

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