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Whitby (Mrs Laidler Revisited): Week 8 – 18 November

There’s a classic definition of insanity, that it consists in doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. And so we find ourselves in the midst of a general election, our third in just over four years, to try to end the stalemate over Brexit. If this doesn’t resolve matters, I think it will be time for Berthold Brecht’s famous suggestion to come into play: “Would it not be be simpler/ If the government simply dissolved the people/ And elected another?”

Willows at Sunset

These days I am nearly apolitical. I’ve said before that my creed is best summed up by that shrewd political commentator, Treebeard the Ent in The Lord of the Rings: “I am not altogether on anyone’s side, because no one is altogether on my side”. I’m rather like one of those ancient Roman patricians who retired to his country estates to grow grapes after a lifetime’s political struggle, only in my case without the struggle or the grapes. When he was asked in the 1970s about the significance of the French Revolution Zhou Enlai replied, “It’s too early to tell”. That’s how I feel about the times we’re living through just now. Are they an end, or a beginning? Or neither? (And how long till we find out?)


Well, the gansey at least is easier to evaluate: it’s near the end. I have almost finished the second sleeve, and then there’s just the cuff to do. (Six inches of ribbing, there’s a thought to gladden a knitter’s heart.) I’ve been concentrating on getting this one done, so I haven’t given any thought to what comes next. All I can say at this stage is that it won’t be in navy…


And speaking of the coming election, I’m going to end with one of my favourite quotes from Woody Allen. When I first read it 40 years ago I thought it was funny because it was so absurd; now because it seems essentially true. It’s the opening of his celebrated Speech to the Graduates: “More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly…”

8 comments to Whitby (Mrs Laidler Revisited): Week 8 – 18 November

  • meg macleod

    dissolving the people….well , i suppose being forgotten and ignored is a start…..
    listening to folk in London answering questions about the `other parts of GB.,Scotland, Wales,NI{.those bits added on to England} ..it appears they know and care little about any of them.It is agreed.we do exist..somewhere in the margins..and one lady did maintain the view that we were`of value`, bless her heart.
    westminster seems to be the centre of a black hole down which we are slip sliding…..

    • Gordon

      Hi Meg, I feel it’s important to focus on the positives in dark political times, the timeless things that politics can’t touch – writing poetry, painting, watching the geese flying overhead, or sitting on the couch eating a dozen packs of Doritos in one go, while shouting at the cats, “Don’t look at me! I’m a monster!”

      (What? Just me, then…)

  • =Tamar

    Would it be worse or better to knit the sleeves from the wrist up, join them to the body at the appropriate locations, and finish with the neck? It’s still ending with ribbing, but not quite as much.

    There are times when I quietly wish I had the ability to send targeted lightning bolts.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, the honest answer is, I don’t know. The traditional method of knitting sleeves makes sense, because they can be ripped out when they wear at the elbows and re-knitted back down to the cuff. But since I’ve never worn one out I’ve yet to try it myself!

  • kirsten

    Thank you for Bertold Brecht, the Ent and Woody Allen – they have all cheered me up after a rough day and all three of them are going into my Commonplace book so that I can enjoy them again and again! As for the definition of insanity…
    Thank you again!

    • Gordon

      Hi Kirsten, I like to think of myself as not so much a well-rounded personality as a rag-bag of miscellaneous quotes held together by a thinning hairline…

  • Deb

    Hi Gordon, if it’s any use for your next Gansey – I have some F’Pani cones at the pre-VAT price. From memory they include Cornish Gold, Claret, Heather, Amethyst, Sea spray, Falmouth Navy.
    I’ve also got a fair amount of Wendy .. 🙂

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