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Wick Trees and Diamonds Revisited: Week 7 – 14 February

It’s the Feast of St Valentine, and nothing speaks of esteem and affection like  chocolates a finished gansey. As ever, it’s not until the gansey is completed, washed and blocked that you can see it in all its glory (though bearing in mind the yarn is navy and the season is still, alas, winter, seeing is a relative term here). As I mentioned before, this is the third time I’ve knitted this pattern in little over a year, and I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. But if you think this is impressive, and it kinda is, the original was even finer and way more detailed, and I can only assume it was knit with spiderwebs on piano-wire needles.

Fishing for the next meal

I had an idea for a story the other day. Actually, I have lots of ideas; my problem isn’t so much the initial spark, as the subsequent graft and follow-through. Sometimes I think I should adopt the model alleged to have been deployed by Alexandre Dumas, Tom Clancy, or (mutatis mutandis) certain Renaissance painters: setting up a sort of factory where I start things off, then hand it over to a school of drudges who then write the other 150,000 words. It’s a model followed of course by many celebrities, whose biographies are written by journalists and based on a number of interviews.

Last year’s flowers

I was profoundly disappointed as a child to discover that that’s what was meant by a ghost writer: how much cooler, if creepier, I thought, if your book was written, not by some hired gun, but by the ghost of Charles Dickens, say, or Jane Austen. Though I suppose it would rather depend on whose spirit you ended up with. Get Jerome K Jerome or PG Wodehouse and your life becomes a sort of musical comedy; but summon the shade of Joseph “Laughing Boy” Conrad and you know it’s not going to end well, especially if you’re offered an African river cruise.

Ice on the river

But speaking of Charlie’s ghosts reminds me: I was going to tell you my idea. I was thinking of the end of A Christmas Carol, and of Tiny Tim; who, if you remember, “did NOT die” (something I can no longer read without hearing Rizzo the Rat saying, “Aw, isn’t that swell?”). Well, what if that came true? What if Tiny Tim—or Tim, as his wife probably called him, unless their marriage ended in disappointment—actually lived on, immortal, to the present day? You could make some telling social points, comparing Victorian London with the present day; he could even be visited by three spirits. It’s a concept full of promise. But I shan’t write it, not without a collaborator or the aforesaid school of drudges. Though even that is fraught with risk: the story goes that Alexandre Dumas once had a new book out, and mentioned it to his son. “Have you read it?” asked Dumas père. “No,” his son replied, “have you?”

6 comments to Wick Trees and Diamonds Revisited: Week 7 – 14 February

  • =Tamar

    The trouble with having a Great Author write your life is that you never know how it’s going to end, unless it’s Thomas Hardy in which case, give up now. Of those on offer, I think most are done by Jerome K. Jerome. Austen might be the best… oh, you meant write _about_ your life, not their being the one in control. I think I’d still choose Austen.

    Three ganseys in slightly over a year! yikes!

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I think it’s because I’m in my 60s I tend of think of my life being written retrospectively, there being more to see in the rearview mirror than through the windscreen these days. If I could start out from scratch I think Dickens would be the man, until his later disillusioned phase at any rate—even if it began in poverty and misery, there’s a good chance I’d find true love and meet a rich benefactor before the end!

  • Simon

    Beautiful gansey Gordon looking absolutely resplendent in navy. I have had a hiatus from reading your blog but I am glad to be back and see how you are getting on post lockdowns etc.

    • Gordon

      Hi Simon, well, to be fair there are weeks when I should probably take a hiatus from writing it, but that’s another matter…

      We have survived the pandemic, cancer scares and lockdowns more or less intact, indeed I’ve benefitted from the chance to switch to a hybrid working from home/ going into the office sort of lifestyle that feels incredibly civilised. And of course ganseys continue to be knitted! What the pandemic has reminded me is how precious life is, and how foolish it is to waste it… Having said that, better get knitting again! All the best, Gordon

  • Lee

    Looks absolutely marvellous Gordon!

    I finished the last cuff on my Aran/Curragh ‘gansey’ last night, but in terms of sophistication, by comparison mine looks a little like it was knitted by and for a Dickensian urchin. Still, it was my first and I already have ideas for improving the next one. It doesn’t get addictive this, does it? :-).

    I’ll get a haircut and send in a photo.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lee, your gansey is very impressive—those Dickensian urchins certainly knew their way around a cuff!

      As to being addictive, pah! I can quit anytime I like. It’s just… I don’t choose to. Yet. Er…

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