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Wick (Cumming Bros): Week 2 – 9 December

My old friend Cole Porter once memorably declared that mere alcohol didn’t thrill him at all, and went on to spurn drugs for much the same reason. Me too, actually. I never really got the hang of alcohol: it never made me feel better, but instead made me behave as if I were suffering a mild stroke in zero gravity. And I’ve always found the sensible universe to be so full of wonders that I couldn’t see the point of drugs; reality is usually enough, and more than enough, for me.

Of course, I knew people at university who partook of various substances; and while it all seems rather innocent, looking back from a distance of 40 years—few in my circle flirted with anything much stronger than tobacco, and that but occasionally, though you were advised to bring your own oxygen to a Steve Hillage concert—they didn’t half talk some gibberish while under the influence. Earnest gibberish, too.

Sunset by the riverside

Famously, Oliver Wendell Holmes senior once inhaled a large dose of ether, with the intention of capturing the secrets of the universe which he was convinced the drug revealed to him: “The veil of eternity was lifted. The one great truth which underlies all human experience, and is the key to all the mysteries that philosophy has sought in vain to solve, flashed upon me in a sudden revelation,” he wrote afterwards. “As my natural condition returned, I remembered my resolution; and, staggering to my desk, I wrote, in ill-shaped, straggling characters, the all-embracing truth still glimmering in my consciousness. The words were these (children may smile; the wise will ponder): ‘A strong smell of turpentine prevails throughout.’”

Well, quite. Suddenly “I am the egg man, they are the egg men, I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob” starts to make perfect sense.

Clouds brought down to earth

Moving on. In much the same way that Harry Potter dedicated his life to collecting the scattered fragment of Lord Voldemort’s blackened soul, I have been trying to find the last remnants of Wendy navy guernsey 5-ply yarn across the terraqueous globe. Though it turns out there’s more than I thought, so, unlike Harry, I promptly abandoned my quest after a couple of attempts in favour of watching daytime television and eating doritos on the couch. Deb Gillanders of Propagansey was able to supply me with some vintage Wendy yarn, the prelapsarian good quality stuff of a few years ago; I believe there’s still some left, so if you’re interested I suggest you hurry while stocks last.

Christmas lights

My own Wendy project in aran has set up base camp and is now advancing tentatively up the foothills of Mount Gansey. This is late Wendy yarn, however, so the technique is not so much knitting as stuffing a horsehair sofa. Still, on the plus side, the yarn is light enough to knit with even in the hyperborean darkness of a Caithness winter (sunrise today was at 8.45am; sunset at 3.22pm). Hmm, maybe there’s a Russian proverb to keep us going through these dark times? “In the land of hope there is no winter”. Oh. I guess the navy yarn will have to wait for spring.

But let us not be gloomy. Here are a couple of wintery quotes to warm the heart, from two French writers not widely celebrated for their optimism. One is by Albert Camus: “In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” (Isn’t that great?) And this, from Victor Hugo: “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” Absolutely no drugs, tobacco or alcohol required.

6 comments to Wick (Cumming Bros): Week 2 – 9 December

  • meg macleod

    Totally agree with your sentiments…the world is inspiring ….only a few days till the light begins to creep back……xx

  • =Tamar

    Whooeee… I am now drunk on words. Which is the only sort I indulge in. Thank you for that.
    I have begun my annual personal midwinter celebration, “Hibernation”.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, there are times when I am, as Disraeli put it, “intoxicated with the exuberance of my own verbosity”. Or, as they say of the donkey in Shrek, it’s not getting me to talk that’s the wonder, it’s getting me to shut up…

  • Dave

    Not buying it Gordon- I’ve seen the coffee and cake habit…

    …he gibbered, earnestly.

    • Gordon

      Hi Dave, it’s not an addiction, I can quit any time I like… What? Oh well, perhaps just one more slice of cake… or two. Three, tops. Definitely not more than six.

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