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Week 2: 7 – 13 December

m12bHere’s a question: which has the better Christmas German market, Edinburgh or Birmingham? Edinburgh’s is better situated on Princes Street Gardens, under the giant Ferris wheel, whereas Birmingham’s is just straddled along New Street near the railway station. On the other hand, Edinburgh’s seems to be mostly trinkets, pretzels and Stollen cakes, while Birmingham’s has the added attraction of doughnuts. On the whole, then, you’d have to say Birmingham just edges it.

I’ve had experience of both recently. At the weekend we strolled down to the Edinburgh German market amid the crowds, and bought some Stollen from the world’s haughtiest market trader. She disdained any banter (which in Northampton used to go, “Carm on darlin’, three f’r a pahnd…”), contenting herself with the contemptuous twitch of an eyebrow and a curl of her lip, as if she’d decided to take her revenge for the Fatherland’s controversial defeat in the 1966 World Cup final by encouraging fatty degeneration of the heart in the people of this island. (A long term strategy, but looking around me, a pretty successful one, I think. Wasted on me, though, as I don’t like marzipan.)

m12cAnd I was in Birmingham yesterday, back at my old employers’ head office for a meeting. It was just a year ago, of course, that I made the pilgrimage there from the south west in a futile effort to stave off redundancy (by applying for what was in effect my own job, and not being successful). So it’s with mixed feelings that I go back now, cloaked in the diplomatic immunity of another nation. It’s still funny though to meet in the corridors the people who turned me down back then, who can’t quite work out how I seem to have got past security…

All this travelling has cut into my knitting time – I can’t knit on the train as my technique requires my elbows to pump rhythmically in and out like a machine for drawing water out of wells, or someone doing an impression of a constipated chicken trying to lay an egg, and anyone unlucky to sit next to me would find themselves severely bruised about the ribs.

But as you will see from the picture it’s still coming along nicely. Today was my last day at work, as I’ve got some leave saved up, and I don’t go back now until January. So I should make better progress for a time, what with Wagner’s Ring Cycle to listen to, and a talking book of Tad Williams’ fantasy epic “Memory Sorrow and Thorn”, and of course England playing South Africa at cricket. And if I get bored I can go down and taunt the German traders with the traditional courteous English football chant to the tune of Camptown Races, “Two world wars and one world cup, doodah, doodah…”

Shaved my beard off, too. Just in time for winter.

4 comments to Week 2: 7 – 13 December

  • Suzanne

    Do we get to see a photo of you sans barbe? More importantly, has your wife seen you beardless before?

    You may remember that I said you bear more than a passing resemblance to my ex. I did not see him without a beard until a year after the divorce. If I had, I would never have married him!

    Perhaps the beardless disguise will allow you a second attempt at softening up the stollen vendor. But you don’t like marzipan.

    Gansey progress looks promising. Enjoy the week of music, audio book,knitting and cricket. It sounds like a great program of relaxation.

  • Gordon

    Hi Suzanne,

    Hmm. I’m not especially photogenic at the best of times, and as PG Wodehouse would say, there’s enough sadness in life without me posting pictures of myself with bare cheeks & chin!

    I read a Dorothy Sayers mystery story a while back, in which a character with a full beard got beaten up and shaved by a bully, after which no one recognised him or gave him any respect, since his bare face revealed a pathetically weak character.

    I have been told I look a lot younger, though – takes me down from looking about 80 to being able to pass for 70 in a dim light…

    Gordon

  • =Tamar

    Now I’m curious about your knitting technique. What requires the vigorous pumping action? I can think of various methods that might, including using hooked needles but the photo shows a quite ordinary circular needle.

  • Gordon

    Hi Tamar,

    My knitting technique is, of course, execrable, and does not stand up to scrutiny. (This is why I have resisted the occasional requests that have come my way to post YouTube videos of some of my work.) I tend to insert the needle into the stitch like someone trying to land a jumbo jet in a video game, loop the yarn around it like a cowboy lassoing a very frisky horse, and then pull the needle back like a trawlerman hauling in his net in which he’s unexpectedly caught a medium-sized blue whale. All accompanied by a sort of galvanic twitch of the right elbow which at parties is usually accompanied by the successful chicken-impersonator making a “ba’kaaark!” sort of noise.

    No, it’s not pretty, I can tell you. (I once caught Margaret watching me and sobbing quietly into her lavender-scented lace handkerchief.) Best to draw a veil over this whole sorry scene, I feel.