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Robin Hood’s Bay Cardigan: Week 1 – 27 April

Sunlight was streaming through the windows into the breakfast room of 221B Baker Street as I took a seat across the table from my friend Mr Sherlock Holmes. It was week five of the lockdown and the strain was beginning to tell.
“Everything all right, Holmes?” I asked, unfolding my napkin.
“Never better, my dear Watson. Why do you ask?”
“It’s just that when I came in, I thought I heard you saying to the toast rack, ‘Tell me everything, omitting no details, however slight.’”
Holmes coloured. “Possibly you heard Mrs Hudson singing ‘A Wandering Minstrel, I’ in the shower?”

Plum Blossom

The door behind me creaked open.
“Ah,” said Holmes looking over my shoulder, “Professor Moriarty. I’ve been expecting you.”
I turned in my chair.
“Holmes, that’s the cat.”
“I call him Professor Moriarty,” Holmes said defensively.
“His name,” I said, “is Tiddles. Listen, Holmes, he’s a cat, not a bloody Napoleon of crime.”
“Cats can be Napoleons of crime. Look at that fellow Macavity in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.”
“Holmes,” I sighed, “the only practical use for a cat is to stick a broom handle up its wossname and use it for a mop.”

Daffodils by the riverbank

Holmes reached for a croissant. “Look, I’m sorry, Watson. But my mind is a finely-tuned mechanism. I can’t theorise without data! Even that child Wiggins and his Baker Street irregulars are shut up inside.”
“Well, after Mrs Hudson served us that tin of prunes she found at the back of the cupboard that was way past its sell-by date I’ve been something of a Baker Street irregular myself.”
Holmes took a moody bite of his croissant. There was a sound not unlike the cracking of a walnut and a small projectile whizzed past my ear. Holmes gingerly explored what was left of his tooth and gave the bell a violent ring.
A minute or so later our landlady Mrs Hudson appeared.
“Yes, gentlemen?”
‘What,’ demanded Holmes, rapping the table with the croissant and watching the corner splinter off like a disintegrating iceberg, “is the meaning of this?”
Mrs Hudson wrung her hands in her apron.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Mr Holmes. It’s just with the shops being sold out of flour and all I’ve been making do with what I could find.”
“Which is?”
“Well, plaster.”
Plaster?!”
“Mixed with, and I know what you’re going to say, cat litter.”
Holmes groaned. “Well, I suppose we should just be grateful it was clean.”
“Ahaha, well, it’s funny you should say that, Mr Holmes—“
“Er, did I hear you going out earlier, Mrs Hudson?” I interrupted hastily.
“Well, now, here’s a thing. I went to bank wearing a face mask like the doctors say and they thought I’d come to rob the place.”
“Good Lord!” I cried. “I hope there was no unpleasantness?”
“Oh, no,” Mrs Hudson said. “The cashier handed over £1,000 in used fivers, so I legged it.”
And with a curtsey she picked up the cat and left the room.

A Rainbow of Fish Boxes

In the silence that followed I turned to today’s edition of the Times.
“Holmes,” I said, “what’s happened to the paper? There’s only half of it here. You know I’m not myself till I’ve read the latest Peanuts comic.”
“Oh, that.” He said. “It’s this shortage of toilet paper, Watson, after all that panic buying. Luckily for us, the Times lives up to it’s motto, ‘Soft, strong and very long.’”
“Ah, I’m pretty sure it’s ‘All the news that’s fit to print’, Holmes.”
“And that,” said Holmes, pouring himself some more coffee, “concludes the case of the missing newspaper.”
I sighed and reached for a croissant. It was, I feared, going to be a long spring…


I celebrated my 60th birthday on Sunday—celebrated in the broad sense that I was conscious when it happened—which is as good an excuse as any for the above. Now, when I first started this blog as a mere stripling of some eight-and-forty years, I promised myself that this would be the cutoff date, assuming it (and I) lasted this long; after which I would embark on a well-earned retirement. And yet, here we are: I’m 60 and a day, and a new project (which I’ll say more about next time) is already growing on my needles. Promises are foolish things in these uncertain times, so I won’t offer a hostage to fortune by promising to carry on for another X number of years. Instead I’d like to record my thanks to all our readers, especially those who’ve been with us from the start, and hereon in let’s just take things one week at a time…

13 comments to Robin Hood’s Bay Cardigan: Week 1 – 27 April

  • Chris

    When I was about twenty six I told someone in their fifties that I thought 50 was a good point to give up. Buy an automatic car. Invest in slippers and comfy chairs. Stop interfering with the people who still had the get up and go to do something. Twenty two years later I find that as amusing as they did then. I was fortunate my customer was not vindictive. I am even working for the company he was working for.

  • meg macleod

    so pleased you also talk to the toast rack./garden tools/dustbin/dirtydishes. etc..
    my litle dog has been invaluable for converstion also.
    and my learning curve has grown with her infinite patience ..silence can be very philosophical…your story mande me laugh out loud
    a good thing ..thankyou

  • Laura Kinnane-Brew

    No flour to be found around this town, but hah I do have some cat litter, all I need now is some plaster and I can make some bread. Thanks for the tip Gordon and Happy Birthday. I look forward to following the progress of the cardigan.

  • Lois

    Well, happy birthday to you on our almost mutual natal day. I celebrated the day before you. Celebrated is not quite the word, plenty of flour but no yeast to be had for love nor money.

    Ah well, we are both still in the land of the living. And there are still biscuits, soda bread and scones. Not too shabby at all.

  • =Tamar

    Thanks for the laughs but oh, the horror at the end: No more posts? Oh, no! …whew. It’s week by week, but then, isn’t it always?

    Yeast can still be caught in the wild. Just leave some wet dough sitting around, and it will eventually catch a yeast and ferment. Then the sourdough starter can be kept going.

  • Maureentakoma

    Perhaps Roger and Pete can provide guidance on a way forward. And please, please, please don’t leave us in our time of need. You are a beacon of sorely needed joy and mordant wit.

  • Felicity

    Happy Birthday Gordon.
    Thank you for the laugh. Peter says he’s read all the Sherlock Holme stories and this one is pretty good.

  • Aha, brilliant. You should finish the book. Happy birthday Gordon

  • Mollie

    Happy Birthday Gordon, and more to the point, please Many Happy Returns of your posts. By the way, this time next year I think you’ll find it’s great to be back in the small numbers again and far away from those thought provoking zeros.

  • Lynne Brock

    Happy Birthday, Gordon – I remember your dreaded 50th and it sure doesn’t seem that long ago! I can almost see Benedict Cumberbatch in your parody after watching a program last night, you DO need to write another book.

  • Helen Gibson

    Loving the short story – very funny. Happy Birthday!

  • Gordon

    Hi everyone, too many posts to reply to individually – as the man says in Futurama, “What, do I not look like a lazy person?” – so I’ll just say thank you for all the birthday good wishes and yes, I’ll keep on with the blog until I run out of yarn or ganseys to knit (which by the size of my stash won’t be this year, not by a long chalk!).

    Thanks again, Gordon

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