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Seed Panel Gansey: Week 6 – 30 November

Life”, Philip Larkin wrote in one of his sunnier moods, “is mostly boredom, then fear”; then age, “and then the only end of age”. (You can see in retrospect why he had to quit his job writing jokes for Christmas crackers.) But I can’t help thinking, hold hard, Phil old chum, you’ve missed a step, much as I did so spectacularly last week. You left out what I now think of as the “warranty expired” stage of life. The part where a hitherto unnoticed light on your body’s dashboard has started flashing, and you’re frantically leafing through the manual to find out if you really need an oil change before Monday.

Fishing net lines

Well, my sprained ankle is on the mend (and many thanks for all the good wishes received on and offline) and my foot no longer looks quite so much like something you’d see sticking out from under a sheet in a morgue. It still hurts, but that’s mostly the bruising. I’ve been resting it as much as possible, working from home a couple of days; yet still managed to—and you’ll laugh when you read this—strain my back as I leant to pick a laptop off the floor. (Lift with your legs, people, not your seventh vertebra!) As a result my feet seem to have receded, well beyond the reach of my arms; my current technique for donning socks is to hop desperately on the good foot while vaguely waving a sock in the general direction of my toes, and hope the two connect at some point. I stagger about like an actor rehearsing Richard III, or an athlete limbering up for the 100-metre lurch. It’s times like these I think, if I had a time machine, I’d go back to the moment the first fish crawled onto land; and quietly pick the little chap up, turn him round, drop him back in the water and quietly advise him not to bother…

Curlew on the rocks

Sprained ankle notwithstanding, this is the moment when the gansey suddenly comes together: the back and front are finished, the shoulders joined with a 3-needle bind-off, and the collar begun. All that remains are the sleeves; I may even get my wish and finish it by Christmas. I do like these simple uniform pattern bands, they always remind me of islamic geometric patterns—well, that and a cheese grater; but then I always said ganseys were practical garments.

Finally this week, it’s time for the Bookseller/ Diagram prize for the year’s oddest book title. Regular readers will be aware that this is a source of endless delight—after all, who can forget 1978’s wonderful Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice, or 2003’s The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories? The winner this year was an academic work on the use of metaphor by an indigenous tribe in Timor (sensitive readers look away now), A Dog Pissing at the Edge of a Path. The only problem I have with it is that it feels too deliberately quirky to win the award, too knowing. I always feel the best ones are inadvertently odd, like this year’s runners-up, Introducing the Medieval Ass and Classical Antiquity in Heavy Metal Music. Alas, I feel the glory days of odd titles are behind us; for who can hope to match the majesty of 1996’s Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, or 1995’s Reusing Old Graves…?

9 comments to Seed Panel Gansey: Week 6 – 30 November

  • Dear Gordon..on a grey day when exhaustion has reached as far as my toes your humour is uplifting as aye..and regarding the sock dilemma….I am way ahead if you here….just Google
    Soxon and all your troubles will be solved….xmeg

  • Camilla

    Dear Gordon,

    I confess I am a little puzzled by your sock donning issues — have you considered sitting down to put them on? It certainly makes it easier for me.

    Love your fabulous ganseys and your lovely humor! After I finished my gansey, I discovered it is too nice to wear every day, so it sadly never achieves its purpose as a work sweater — maybe after some of the glamour wears off!

    Cam

    • Gordon

      Hi Camilla, I see your point. The problem is, I find, that a bad back merely transfers the problem from a standing to a sitting one – though to be fair, my feet may be as far away as ever but at least I can watch them in greater comfort!

      One advantage to knitting a number of ganseys, it’s easier to think of some of them as everyday…

  • =Tamar

    Is the dress code at work too strict to allow slippers?

  • Lois

    My husband had a complete knee replacement surgery a few months back. So we are quite familiar with the sock problem. Solution as follows –
    Sit in recliner chair
    Raise recliner so leg is horizontal (a slight moan is permitted at this stage)
    Call to wife
    Wife selects appropriate pair of socks
    Wife delicately pulls socks on feet of patient to the tune of muted gasps from patient
    Repeat as needed

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, I like your thinking. In retrospect I can see that my initial attempts to train my neighbours cats to perform this service were doomed to failure, and I should have gone for the human option sooner. Live and learn!

      • Lois

        Gordon, you must know by now that it is impossible to train a cat to do anything. Cats live on an entirely different plane from mere humans.

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