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Week 35: 7 – 13 September

9how35aThis week’s question: does echinacea work? This week’s answer – given that I’ve just spent the best part of 2 days in bed knocked out with a wretched cold, with power to add – is a resounding “no”. This week’s blog is therefore brought to you by the purveyors of quality paracetamol and codeine, aka “real drugs”.

And so, before those drugs wear off, here is this week’s record of progress. I’d kind of hoped to get the gansey finished by now, but the weekend passed by in a sort of blur and I wasn’t able to get much done. All the same, I’m only 2-3 days away from the end – literally – of the sleeve. I’ve just got 6 more rows before I decrease into the cuff, followed by 3 inches of ribbing, which is tedious, but quick.

The Maori gansey is looming large in my mind, overtaking the current project like Darth Vader’s massive ship overhauling the princess’s cruiser at the start of the original Star Wars movie. (I’ve just looked this up on Wikipedia – not that I’m easily sidetracked, you understand – and am somewhat stunned to learn that the model ofthe little ship was actually bigger than the model of the star destroyer chasing it, and they used camera angles to make it look much smaller. Not only that, but it was originally going to be the Millennium Falcon, before they decided to change the design of that ship. And – best of all – the model makers decorated the cockpit with a miniature Playboy centrefold as a joke, which, as all the online articles are at pains to state, is not visible in the final film… Look it up, people, if you don’t believe me. I always knew that self-denial thing the Jedi had going would lead to trouble.)

9how35b Where was I? Oh yes, the gansey. I’ve been researching Maori patterns extensively, which is a euphemism for a quick Google image search, which, taken with the designs on my old wooden ruler from I brought with me from New Zealand 150 years ago, has given me something to work on. The next step will be to buy some graph paper, maybe a pencil and then get down to it. I think most of the patterns I end up with will require a fair bit of amendment, as (as others have observed) Maori patterns are usually strongly coloured and starkly contrasted. Whereas mine will all be in white. So there’s a challenge there from the start.

Then I have to grit my teeth, buy a bottle of whisky, develop a taste for it, and then drink enough to summon up the courage to start swatching, if that’s a word (“you better swatch out, you better not cry”, as the song almost says).

But for now I think it’s back to bed with a good audiobook (iTunes in the UK is selling some astonishing value unabridged readings of Charles Dickens’ novels done by the RNIB, the Royal National Institute for the Blind, at an unbelievable 95 pence each. So I’ve downloaded more than a few and am happily drifting in and out of consciousness to the travails of John Harmon, Eugene Wrayburn, Bradley Headstone, Jenny Wren, and Mr and Mrs Boffin. It’s almost worth being ill.)

9 comments to Week 35: 7 – 13 September

  • Kate

    Wow. I’ve been eavesdropping for a long time, but I must comment today.

    I want some of your drugs. This is the funniest stuff I can remember you writing. It’s Great.

  • Suzanne

    Those are some good drugs! 🙂

    I hope you feel much better soon; but not before you’ve had your fill of the audio books. I often turn to Dickens when really ill. However, running a temperature does make it a little difficult to hold onto the beginning of some of the longer sentences; which results in a fair amount of puzzled rereading.

    Echinacea probably is useless. However, Zicam (Zincum Aceticum and Zincum Gluconium in a 2:1 ratio), if taken right at the onset of a cold, really does work. Over the past 4 years, I have dodged the cold bullet on numerous occasions by immediately beginning a course of this homeopathic remedy (and no, I am not generally a believer, but I will make every effort to avoid illness). The only downside is that the product will mess with the taste buds, so the 18 year old single malt that you administer as backup will not taste at all as it should. Mind you, having a head full of snot doesn’t help with appreciating the finer things either. If you cannot get Zicam in the UK, I would be happy to send some for you to try next time.

  • Hi Suzanne,

    I tend to cope quiet well and then get drowsy, fall asleep and lose about 10-15 minutes’ worth. Which is annoying. Really densely written books (Joseph Conrad or Thomas Hardy, e,g.) are best left for when I’m wide awake, as the problem is, as you suggest, that you can’t easily re-hear a sentence on an audiobook. On the other hand, a good reader can even make James Joyce seem like it makes sense. But Dickens is like sinking into a hot, silky bubble bath of fine prose.

    I’ve never heard of Zicam – obviously – but it sounds very tempting. I get a lot of colds these days, possibly because I keep moving around the country – I worked out this morning that it’s 5 jobs in 9 years for 2009. Lots of new germs hungry for a piece of me, the little swine. Today I’m experimenting with very strong coffee as an alternative to pills which is leaving me mentally awake but physically tired. So it’s back to bed in a minute.


  • Hi Kate,

    Nice to hear from you! I discovered many years ago that the weirder bits of my brain rarely need encouragement or artificial stimulation. Sometimes they fizz and sometimes they yawn, belch and roll over and go back to sleep. The curious thing is that when I’m ill, or have a migraine, the conscious mind seems to slacken its guard, and that’s when they sneak out of their room and have a party in the lounge, leaving the conscious mind with a lot of cleaning up and apologising to do when it gets home.

    Best wishes,

  • syndee

    “Then I have to grit my teeth, buy a bottle of whisky, develop a taste for it, and then drink enough to summon up the courage to start swatching, if that’s a word (”you better swatch out, you better not cry”, as the song almost says).”



    I love you

  • e

    do not miss Pickwick Papers, then! read by Dickens’ great-grandson, or some such. it’s unbearably expensive to buy, but audible.com has it on for just one credit, or did late last year, at least here in the US.

  • Funnily enough, syndee, I’m listening to the Pickwick Papers now, or rather dipping in and out as befits the episodic nature of the book (so good call!); not, alas, read by any relative of Dickens, as far as I know. But it’s still a good performance (not entirely convinced by his Sam Weller, though). I think I’d rather listen to a good reading of Dickens than watch a good tv adaptation, for his descriptions are quite wonderful – like PG Wodehouse you lose a lot if you only keep the conversations. (The only exception to this rule being, of course, the splendid Muppet Christmas Carol.) But I went a bit mad last week and downloaded I think 5 Dickens audiobooks from iTunes for less than £5, so I’ve got about 200 hours of listening to get through…

    Oh, and e, many thanks – I’m flattered of course – but you should know I’m already spoken for…

    Plenty more atrocious puns where that swatch one came from, I’m not proud to say!


  • e

    well THAT certainly confused me reading it in the ol’ googlereader! but i came here and found you must have confused US!! whew! i thought maybe i’d formed some sort of out of body liason! 🙂

    but seriously, if you get a chance, do check out the grandson one…

  • Oops. Yes. Sorry. The other way round! That’s the kind of mix-up that would have resulted in an action for breach of promise in the Pickwick Papers, in fact…