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Whitby (Mrs Laidler Revisited): Week 6 – 4 November

And so November is upon us, gales and rain slamming into the British Isles like a Springbok forward crashing into an England flanker (oh, sorry England rugby union fans: too soon?). Let us therefore instead turn our attention to one of the highlights of the year. I allude not to Bonfire Night, nor even to Thanksgiving; neither the Black Friday Sales, nor the terminal awkwardness of socialising with one’s work colleagues at the office Christmas party. No, I refer to the annual Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year.

Riverside trees

Past winners have of course included the wonderful Reusing Old Graves (1995), and Living With Crazy Buttocks (2002), titles strangely absent from the Wick town library. Perhaps the definitive example would be Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers (1996), while my own second favourite is How To Avoid Huge Ships (1992), something I now manage to achieve almost daily. (Some titles I discount as they’re obviously trying too hard, leering as they nudge you rather obviously in the ribs; such as Noah Gets Naked (2019), Nipples On My Knee (2017), about sheep farming, or especially—ahem—Love Your Lady Garden.) No, I prefer my odd titles straight. Highlights this year include How To Drink Without Drinking, and Ending The War On Artisan Cheese, which quite frankly can’t happen soon enough: so many needless deaths.

Dunnet Beach on a grey day

Meanwhile in gansey news, I’ve been making progress down the first (left) sleeve. I’ve finished the pattern of the upper arm, and am now freewheeling down the plain knitting in the direction of the cuff. Now I’m past the gusset I’m decreasing at a rate of 2 stitches every 5th row, and keeping my fingers crossed that it works out. Another week’s work and it’s onto sleeve two.

A walk by the river

The Diagram Prize was famously started in 1978 when publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair spotted Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice; needless to say it won the inaugural prize. Call me a sentimentalist if you will, but at a time when humanity isn’t exactly showing itself to its best advantage I take an obscure pride in belonging to a species that can come up with something like that. There are books I feel I don’t have to read, the titles are enough: such as Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes (2009), People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead (2005), and The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification (2006). Oh, and my favourite title of all? Drum roll, maestro, please, and let’s hear it for: The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (2000)… 

11 comments to Whitby (Mrs Laidler Revisited): Week 6 – 4 November

  • ruan

    we do take requests at the Wick Town Library!

    • Gordon

      “Hello, sir, can I help you?”
      “Hello, I’d like to reserve a book, please.”
      “Certainly, sir. What’s the title?”
      “Er – How to Love Your…”
      “Yes? Your…?”
      “Er- How to Love Your mumble mumble mumble.”
      “I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t quite catch that. Your…?”
      “Er, Your, er, Lady…”
      “How to Love Your Lady, sir?”
      “Er, Your Lady mumble mumble arden … Ah…”
      “How to Ask Your Lady’s Pardon, sir?”
      “Oh, to hell with it. Let’s just go with Nipples On My Knee!”
      “Shouldn’t you see a doctor about that, sir? Sir?”

  • such obscure titles and so giggleworth.where do you spend your days when not attached to your needles?
    lovely knitting ….xxmeg

  • =Tamar

    Halloween is done (though somewhere I got the idea that Halloweek lasts until Nov 5, including Soul Cake Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday). Nevertheless, I continue my annual fuming about Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.

    The sleeve looks good. The scenic photographs are lovely. “Riverside Trees” looks as though it were taken somewhere besides the UK. Where is it really, may I ask?

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, those really are the trees down by the river here at Wick. The photo has been tweaked a little but it really does look like that – and our house is somewhere in the background!

  • Dave

    Hmmm… now I’m going to have to look up the prize. The real question is: which of the books live up to their titles and which are best left on the shelves to admire from afar?

    Winter here was threatening but decided it was too wet and went away to sulk.

    • Gordon

      Hi Dave, I suspect most of them will disappoint if you actually tried to read them – except for maybe the Lesbian Horse Stories. I expect the last line of People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead is, “and now you’re one of us, bwahahahahaha!”

  • About that picture of riverside trees – you don’t fool me anyway. 🙂

  • =Tamar

    That tree picture does look like a trick, with the top half simply turned around and made to be the bottom half, then the clouds trimmed so that it’s less obvious.

    • Margaret Reid

      Hi Tamar – well spotted! It’s a double exposure, with the camera turned 180 degrees between shots. But the description was too long for a caption .

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