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Wick (John Macleod), Week 11: 4 February

I’ve been hit by a cold which set up base camp in my chest, so I took a couple of days off work last week while I tried to remember how to breathe. My voice disappeared, my sinuses felt as if they were packed with lead, so that I would slowly lose my balance and topple forwards from a standing position, and I soon learned not to look at the contents of my hankie—some things man is not meant to know—but if they ever need ideas for another Alien movie they know where to come.

Along the path

I suppose I should have gone to the pharmacy, but I must admit I’ve been avoiding them ever since I developed that allergy to chilis a year or so back. I first noticed after a Mexican meal that my lips had puffed up and there were little sores on the inside of my mouth, so I went to the chemists’ and asked their advice. The pharmacist inspected my lips carefully, then gave his verdict: “It’s syphilis,” he said. “What!” I cried, aghast, recoiling like the Blessed Virgin Mary when she found an unexpected angel in her living room. At which the man, evidently supposing my depraved lifestyle had also affected my hearing, cupped his hands and bellowed, “SYPHILIS!”, so loudly that the elderly lady beside me at the counter shied like a startled horse and dropped her cod liver oil pills, and the queue behind me took a cautious couple of paces back. Wick is not a large town and I’ve had the feeling that I am a marked man ever since.

Still, one advantage of staying home with a cold is that you can wrap up warm, prop yourself up with pillows on the sofa, and knit. As a result I have the end of this gansey firmly in my sights, and even though I expect to be back at work this week, I should finish it sometime next weekend. The left sleeve is complete, and note the fancy cuffs: no simple knit two/ purl two ribbing here. It’s a very slick effect, and it’s interesting to see that the knitters of Caithness saw the cuffs as every bit as much of a showcase as the yoke.

Signs of Spring

As for my puffy lips, regular readers will recall that, after months of trial and error—the doctor initially thought it might be a sulphate allergy, causing me to change all my toiletries and diet for several months—we discovered the culprit to be chili peppers. (Which, given that my two favourite cuisines are Mexican and Indian, shows God to have a sense of humour after all.) But I’ve been reluctant to entrust my healthcare to that pharmacist again; fully expecting to rock up presenting symptoms of a mild cold, only to be sent away with a treatment for leprosy, or something even worse…

13 comments to Wick (John Macleod), Week 11: 4 February

  • =Tamar

    I hope there’s another pharmacist within a reasonable travel distance. I wouldn’t go back to that one either. I hear there are some pharmacists that will take online orders…

    Best wishes for getting over the cold quickly. I had a nasty one last month, the worst in years, and finally realized I had run out of zinc (which I normally take daily). It had been about ten days anyway, but when I replenished my supply of “extra” zinc, the symptoms abated wonderfully.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I take vitamin D3 supplements, recommended for people in Scotland and also health-conscious vampires. Despite lots of minor head colds this is my first proper knock-you-sideways-stay-in-bed cold for almost a year.

      I like to think the pharmacist was just like that with everybody. (“I’ve got back pain.” “Leprosy! Next!” “I cut my finger.” “Gonorrhoea! Next!”)

  • Jane

    The chillis, wonderful, Gordon, just wonderful, fell about laughing as did other half. We have had the southern version of the cold, it is indeed everywhere, and needed cheering up badly. Buy your paracetamol in the supermarket like I do, and, if Wick shops have self checking, lead an quiet life! At least you know what caused the rash!

    The gansey is a triumph. I so admire the detail of the design. Could it have been a Sunday best one or one for a wedding, or is that just too fanciful!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, definitely too nice for everyday wear, must be a Sunday or special occasion gansey, I’m sure you’re right.

      There are times when my life feels uncomfortably like an early Woody Allen movie, and I fear my only safe future is never leaving the house and doing everything by mail order…

  • twinsetellen

    I’m looking forward to seeing this modeled, hankie optional.

    • Gordon

      Ha, trust me, the hanky is definitely not optional just now! But I’m still on track to get it done by Sunday. (Whether I’ll be able to squeeze into it afterwards is another matter!)

  • Mollie

    Love the Caithness ribbing, am I allowed to ask how it’s done? My first gansey is just off the needles and nearly dry after blocking, and now I’m feeling bereft, my fingers are jumpy and I NEED to start another.
    So pleased to have found you all yesterday, and to find I’m not alone in loving my knitting so much.

    • Lois

      Welcome! I’m afraid that, speaking from personal experience, ganseys are an addiction from which there is no recovery.

    • Gordon

      Hi Mollie, glad you found us! I meant to post a picture of the cuff chart – it’s a standard Gansey motif, just not one you usually see on a cuff – but clean forgot. So sorry. I’ll try to post it next week – I would tie a knot in my hanky as a reminder, but it’s a bit soggy just now…

  • Lisa

    Gordon, I have only recently found your wonderful blog. You have brightened what was a bad time for me. Thank you. I too want to know how those wonderful cuffs were done, though living where I do, I can’t imagine ever having an excuse to knit a Gansey. I’ll just imagine what patterns I would use if I did knit one. And I want to suggest listening to the audio books of “The Wheel of Time” series if your library has them. Too expensive to buy but wonderful to listen to and might just be long enough to carry you through a whole Gansey. Thank you again from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  • Gordon

    Hi Lisa, glad you found us! And if you go back to the winter of 2016/17, you’ll see that the blog has brightened some bad times for me too, so I can sympathise.

    Thanks for the recommendation- I’ll add it to my wish list!

  • Julie

    A stunner, Gordon. GanseyLand is lucky to have you to knit these treasures.
    Let us know how you got on with your public speaking gig.
    Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

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