I was thinking this week how the main characters in fantasy literature tend to be larger-than-life figures: warriors and wizards, kings and queens—or Cinderella types like Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter, orphans ignorant of their birthrights. But no one writes fantasy novels about bureaucrats; the filing clerks, or those greybeards in the Gondor archives who are so casual about where they put their candles. (It’s much the same in Star Trek, of course: when did you last see a Klingon accountant?)
Imagine how much more exciting the Lord of the Rings would have been if JRR Tolkien had made it a heroic tale of admin, paperwork and financial probity. Sauron might have been arrested for cheating on his income tax returns (hatching orcs in slime pits not being a recognised tax-deductible expense). Aragorn might have achieved his destiny by becoming President of the Society of Archivists, thus fulfilling the prophecy (From the drawer a sharpener is taken / The waste-paper basket’s not missed / Renewed shall be point that was broken / The archivist once more shall list).
In this version the Riders of Rohan could be a nomadic tribe of document cataloguers, roaming the land in search of records they can sort in exchange for food and a good conditioning shampoo. Here is their moving lament for the old days (my translation):
Where is the brass paper clip and the eraser, and the bald patch showing?
They have passed like mould on a log book, like rusty paper clips in a file,
The parchment deeds have all been eaten away by insects into piles.
Who shall gather the shavings of the pencil sharpening,
Or behold the arteries after the cream cakes hardening?
Well. I’ve finished the gansey, and it’s been washed and blocked by Margaret, and you can finally see the pattern in all its glory. I must say, this really is a pattern that should be better known—nice clean lines and a regular eye-pleasing design, I think it’s a classic; and remarkably easy to knit withal.
My next gansey project will start with the new year; as once again I shall be taking short break from ganseys—though not from the blog—and knitting a sweater or two in Icelandic Lopi wool. (Two colours at once! Who’d have thought? It’s like entering the fourth dimension, as though Doctor Who had taken up knitting…)
[Postscript. The above was drafted before news broke of the appalling atrocity in Paris last Friday—otherwise I doubt I should have head the heart for jokes. As it was written I decided to let it stand; but I should like to add my voice to the rest of the civilised world, and say: Nous sommes tous Français.]