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Wick Fergus Ferguson Revisited: Week 4 – 14 March

The wind’s been wild this week, gusting almost every day between 45-55 mph—March doing quite a lot of coming-in-lioning, and no sign yet of any willingness to go out lambing. It’s lucky we got the roof fixed when we did, and possibly luckier that the scaffolding’s still in place, just in case any more slates decide they want to go off and see the world. Speaking of wind, I was delighted the other day to come across the concept of the Japanese Wind Weasel, or Kamaitachi—a Yokai, or spirit, also known as the Sickle Weasel because it rides the wind and has long claws like sickles. In Japanese folklore they are responsible for the deep cuts people sometimes get when out walking in strong winds. They usually hunt in threes: one to knock you over, another to make the cuts, and the third to apply a salve to stop the cuts bleeding.

Waves near the Trinkie

Now, while I’m always happy to blame a malevolent spirit for any bad thing that happens to me—for instance, I assume there’s a capybara Yokai that nudges my elbow occasionally and causes me to poke myself in the eye with a knitting needle, and a Hospital Parking Stoat that arranges for the last space in the hospital car park to be taken just before I get there—I can’t recall ever having been sliced and diced on a windy ramble. Maybe they only operate in Japan. When I’m out walking in Caithness I’m more likely to be afflicted by the Runny Eye Hamster, which makes my eyes water in a stiff breeze, or the Damp Socks Duck.

. . . and waves on South Head

On the plus side, given we live in a mechanistic universe which is governed by cause and effect (and malevolent spirits), the wind has kept me indoors and I’ve filled my time knitting. This is why I’ve made so much progress this week: I’ve finished the back and joined the shoulders, and have picked up the stitches around the neck for the collar. As I said last week, this gansey is for show, not to be worn, so I’ve stuck to the traditional collar without any shaping (and which also means the centre yoke pattern isn’t truncated on either side). It’s an amazing pattern, and I  should probably retire after knitting it—this feels like it’s about as good as it gets.

Seat with a View

There are of course hundreds of Yokai in Japanese folklore. For instance, it’s believed that inanimate objects come to life and develop into spirits after a hundred years, such as the Kasa-obake, which is an animated parasol. (I’d like to think these creatures get together for jolly musical evenings, like the singing utensils in Beauty and the Beast.) Others are one-trick tricksters: Makura-gaeshi is a spirit that rearranges your pillows while you’re asleep, while creaking floorboards are caused by small demons called Yanari, which, let’s face it, explains a lot. My favourite is probably Teratsutsuki, which is where lingering resentment is transformed into a woodpecker, which would certainly liven up trips to the psychiatrist. I’m less convinced, though, by the Nekomata, which are cat-demons responsible for unexplained poltergeist activity (objects being moved, things disappearing), since in my experience that’s what’s properly called “owning a cat…”

4 comments to Wick Fergus Ferguson Revisited: Week 4 – 14 March

  • Eve

    Which of us hasn’t had an encounter with the Hospital Parking Stoat……… closely followed by a lengthy relationship the Payment App Weasel?

    • Gordon

      Hi Eve, one thing I’m very grateful for living in socialist Scotland is that we don’t pay for hospital parking – so that’s one weasel that can’t get his claws in me!

  • =Tamar

    I think the theory is that all cats are demons. Supposedly they report on you to their masters in hell, and trying to appease them doesn’t help.

    A masterpiece gansey? Well, I suppose so, but they all are.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, as the saying goes, dogs have owners, cats have staff… I’m not sure even their satanic majesties could get a cat to do what it’s told!

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