The neighbours are away just now, and Margaret is dropping by to cat-sit. But it’s clearly not enough for the two bored and lonely moggies in question, so they’ve set up a sort of Black Ops operation in the front yard to watch for whenever we open the front door so they can demand attention.
One of them is permanently on guard, alerted by the scrunch of gravel, and gives the cat-signal so that the other suddenly materialises as if beamed down from the starship Enterprise—on the wall, or on the front step, or even, one memorable time, apparently inside my trouser leg roughly halfway between the ankle and knee.
Once when I thought the coast was clear I heard the urgent whisper: “Bravo-Niner-Zero: Smoky, are you reading? The goose is in the nest, repeat, the goose is in the nest, over”—and when I looked round, there Smoky was, lying on her back on the gravel, waving her legs invitingly in the air as though practicing feline synchronised swimming, and mewing like someone trying to tune in to Radio Teheran on an old dial-up radio.
I can tell they’re desperate for attention because they let you pat them without stripping your fingers to the bone—usually they act more like piranha fish that’ve learned to negotiate a cat flap. All the same, there’s a look in their eyes that tells you this is just temporary—like a Christmas truce in the trenches—and that once the neighbours are back I’d better invest in some oven gloves if I plan to indulge in any more of this tummy-tickling nonsense.
Meanwhile—while I still have the use of my fingers—I’m getting plenty of knitting in. I’ve been putting in some serious hours on the gansey, and have just divided from front and back after completing half the gusset. You can see the pattern better now, a good, strong, classic design that works really well in what is, after all, a fairly dark colour.
One interesting thing is that my row gauge for the pattern seems to be 11 rows to the inch, whereas on the body (plain knitting) it was 10. It can’t be that I am knitting more tightly—if anything, the reverse is true, as I’ve deliberately loosened up a touch to compensate for all those double cables, which inevitably draw in the knitting. Scientists are baffled, and I believe the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is currently working on the problem, but it means that my brilliant calculations of last week are now only fit only for wrapping chips in.
Incidentally, I’m writing this on Sunday, which in the Northern Hemisphere happens to be the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. In Wick the sun rose at 04.04 and set at 22.23 but by 20.30 it was raining and it so dark we had the lights on (also the central heating—our high today was 10ºC, which qualifies as a heat wave since it’s the first time we’ve seen double figures all week). To quote PG Wodehouse, we are, if not actually disgruntled, then far from being gruntled…