I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been suffering from one of these long-lasting colds. It’s nothing serious, just a cold, but it’s come and gone for many weeks now, not changing very much; to quote one of my favourite examples of bad verse (attributed to the former poet laureate Alfred Austin): “O’er the wires the electric message came / He is no better; he is much the same”.
(This is not the best example of bad verse I’ve come across: that honour must go to James Grainger for his immortal line, “Come, muse, let us sing of rats”. Though Wordsworth deserves a mention for this wonderfully trite couplet: “I’ve measured it from side to side / Tis three feet long and two feet wide”.)
Poetic licence aside, last week the cold did get a little worse, obliging me to take some time off work. I didn’t feel so bad sitting down, but when I stood up I was at once in touch with my inner 85 year-old and started wheezing a curiously high-pitched squeak, like someone inflating a bicycle tyre by rhythmically squeezing a mouse. I keep hoping spring will come and get rid of all this nonsense, but since it was just 4ºC over the weekend with snow and hail—a Caithness heat wave—and today the winds are 50-60mph, that may take a while.
Still, lots of knitting. You may remember a while back I highlighted some superb old photographs from the Johnston Collection of Wick fishermen wearing ganseys. Frustratingly, you can’t see them just now as the website is down; but one of them featured a man called Fergus Ferguson and his highly decorated gansey—a superb example, in some ways resembling a sort of missing link between the Scottish mainland ganseys and those of the Hebrides, and not recorded elsewhere.
I can’t show you the original here for copyright reasons (hopefully the collection will be back online soon) but Fergus’s is the gansey I’ve chosen to try next, this time for Margaret in Frangipani damson. We can’t recreate the pattern exactly, as the sizing and stitch gauge are necessarily different, but after poring over the image we think this is a reasonably close approximation (the chart shown is for the body; I’ll post the yoke pattern next week.)
In parish notices, Judit has sent me a picture of her latest gansey, splendidly modelled by her brother, for whom it was a gift. As ever I am impressed—and not a little envious—of both the execution and fit. Many congratulations once again.
Finally, I leave you with these affecting lines written by the poet George Wither, which I came across in The Book of Heroic Failures, and which have stayed with me ever since. They’re from his tragic poem “I Loved A Lass”:
She would me ‘Honey’ call,
She’d—O she’d kiss me too.
But now alas! She’s left me
Falero, lero, lero.