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Wick 15: 24 – 30 March

WK140330a My blood pressure has been creeping up, apparently, so on Monday I was fitted with one of those hi-tech ambulatory measuring devices. It consists of a cuff that goes around your bicep, and a tube that runs up your arm, round the back of your neck and down to a battery pack and monitor that sits on your opposite hip. By the time I was wired up I looked and felt like a member of the Borg collective, assuming of course that the Borg have archivists, or even paperwork to file.

WK140330bEvery 20 minutes or so for eight hours it emitted a series of electronic beeps, like C-3P0 trying to fart discreetly, and then the device on my hip began to buzz and vibrate. The bladder on the cuff would inflate with air, tightening the cuff for about 10 seconds, then after another beep or two deflate with a heavy sigh, as if it had other plans for the day involving banana daiquiris and girls in skimpy beach costumes, and here it was, stuck with me.


Tank traps at Dunnet

I’m told that whenever this happened I stopped talking, my eyes glazed over and my left arm straightened like a very slow party blowout, as though I had briefly been possessed by the ghost of a long-dead soldier and I was fighting to stop my arm from giving a Nazi salute.

Knitting was rather tricky, too. However, despite fate’s best endeavours, as you’ll see from the pictures, I have finished the gansey, and darned in all the ends. All in all, I’d say it took about 900g of five-ply. And, as ever, I’m amazed how much looser I seem to knit when cables aren’t involved.

I was consciously making an effort to knit a little looser this time anyway, but even so I cast on about 400 stitches and it ended up the same size as one of my standard 432-stich ganseys. (It fits me pretty well, in fact.)


Ribes sanguineum

So there we are. I have (another rotten) cold, so it’s just a short blog this week. But as spring is almost upon us I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite poems from the great Ted Hughes, about daffodils and the coming of spring, from his collection for children, Season Songs. It’s very short, and is part of a sequence called Spring Nature Notes:


Daffodils at the Bleaching Ground


A spurt of daffodils, stiff, quivering—
Plumes, blades, creases, Guardsmen
At attention.

Like sentinels at the tomb of a great queen.
(Not like what they are—the advance guard
Of a drunken slovenly army

Which will leave this whole place wrecked.)

11 comments to Wick 15: 24 – 30 March

  • Lynne

    What a nice looking gansey in that traditional pattern, it would sure be difficult to give away! and now we all anticipate the next color and the next pattern.
    Those 24-hour BP cuffs are a real annoyance and, for me, resulted in a totally sleepless night. The redeeming factor was the proof that I did not have elevated readings and only “White Coat Syndrome”.

    • Gordon

      Hello Lynne,

      Apparently they only fit the BP monitors for 8 hours at a time now, not 24, because they’ve realised that people’s blood pressure is always lower when they’re asleep! All those years of training finally paying off.

      Effective as I think this pattern is, I can’t help feeling it’s missing something – no prizes for guessing what that is (answer: it’s cables!). So that’s one clue I can give you about what comes next…


  • Jane

    Great gansey, you must be pleased with it. The traditional detail is very attractive. I love the colour.
    My husband has a family history of very high blood pressure, he has his own BP machine, from the supermarket pharmacy, he finds it very reassuring to keep half an eye on himself. It also makes a wonderful parlour game!
    Margaret’s photos are the bees’ knees, smashing.

  • Jane

    PS. We steer clear of saturated fats and salty stuff, it all helps, but do miss those crisps!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane,

      I gave up crisps, chocolate and cheese a few years ago—not completely, but enough to stop me buying candy bars or bags of crisps—and I don’t know about my blood pressure, but my weight went down. Luckily I then discovered Scottish tablet and I, and my waistline, never looked back…

      I think a personal blood pressure machine could be good if it injected you with valium every time it detected that you were getting stressed. Which in my case would be about twice an hour—hopefully.

  • =Tamar

    I have a personal blood pressure machine (inherited); I find that all sorts of things will alter my blood pressure, such as the angle at which my arm rests on the arm of the chair, muscle tension, random thoughts going through my mind, deliberate meditation with the intention of lowering it… I can change it ten points or more, some days. As a result, I don’t put a lot of stock in the idea. I do know that mine is higher than it used to be and probably too high, but that’s from how it feels when it’s high, not from a relatively arbitrary number.

    Cables do take up a lot of the available width, don’t they.

  • Jane

    Tamar is quite right and our friend the retired nurse would concur. We found the useful bit about a personal BP machine is the ability to build a pattern of personal readings over a few weeks, then ‘white coat’ syndrome can be eliminated and rises and dips stand out. Otherwise we eat lots and lots of fruit and veg and cultivate inner calmness, oh that inner calmness!
    I have not noticed the Saharan dust in the nasty dirty depths of the hedge that fell over in the wet, just grateful for no rain! But, my word, Blackthorn doesn’t half bite back.

  • Gordon

    Many years ago I had a particularly severe migraine that gave me a fuzzy line across my vision and caused me to mix my words up. The doctor cheerfully assumed the worst (“you’re awfully young to have a brain tumour!”) and sent me to the hospital to see specialist.

    The consultant, a harassed Indian, went through a checklist for stress:
    “What sort of work do you do?” he asked.
    “I work in libraries and archives.”
    “Ah!” He made a tick on his questionnaire, while i began to splutter and protest vigorously, ‘no stress there, then.”

    Later research, of course, has caused medical science to change its position on the archive profession. Such is the level of danger and stress involved in such tense, crucial work, it is, I believe, now known colloquially as “The Widowmaker”.

    Inner calmness is something I accepted would have to be sacrificed when I decided to follow the fortunes of the English cricket team. Indeed, it was while supporting India in the Twenty-Twenty Cricket World Cup that the Buddha realised that cricket was incompatible with the Eightfold Path to enlightenment and sadly had to let it go, along with all material possessions…

  • Marilyn

    Hello Gordon, congratulations on another beautiful gansey.
    I agree with Jane regarding the bio-feedback aspects of your device. The numbers: not so meaningful, how it feels: invaluable. Blood pressure cuff, cricket, crucial papers, cables, all grist for the mill.
    I’m looking forward to the next creation. Onward!

    • Gordon

      Hi Marilyn,

      Well, I saw the doctor today and he told me—not unlike someone kindly explaining to a drunk person that the pink elephants he was afraid of don’t really exist, or a parent declining to buy a petulant four year-old sweets—that my blood pressure wasn’t especially high, and I didn’t need to up my meds. Which, since i was only there because the nurse had thought my BP was high, probably succeeded in raising it to excitingly dangerous levels.

      Ha, I just spotted that I typed “BO” instead of “BP” in the para above! oops. (Even my best friends won’t tell me…)

  • Nigel

    This is a cat. Imagine it sitting on you! http://bit.ly/1etbyAM

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