So there we are: 6 January is past, the Feast of Epiphany and Twelfth Night, and all the decorations and tinsel are packed away; Christmas is officially over, departing like a travelling funfair, and we’re left to wonder if that packet of magic beans was really worth blowing the kids’ college fund on after all.
Epiphany is also the day that traditionally marks the visit of the three wise men to the nativity of the baby Jesus. The wise men were Zoroastrian magi, which is of course where we get our word magicians from. Their names, if I remember correctly, were Caspar, Melchior and the Great Zucchini, and they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and a selection of comedy noses and some pigeons tucked up their sleeves.
Joking aside, I always feel there’s a genuine poignancy in the story of the visit of the magi: for the Zoroastrian religion was one of many that got swept aside by the new faith of Christianity. So the story of the nativity not only represents the manifestation of divinity in the affairs of men: but it also shows the old order giving way to the new. These wise men would be among the last of their kind.
Also coming to an end is the current gansey: I have finished the first sleeve and am almost halfway down the second. With a fair wind I should finish it this week, then will just have need another week or two to darn in all the loose ends (serves me right for using 100g balls). You’ll have to wait a bit to see it blocked, I’m afraid: Margaret’s going to be away for a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, and bear with me here, I wonder if you’ve ever bought any wool that was possessed? It seems to have happened to me. I was cheerfully working my way through one of the balls of yarn on its holder the other day when I happened to turn round and saw a face leering back at me. It gave me quite a shock, I can tell you.
Well, few things are more disconcerting than being sneered at by your yarn. It was rather hard to concentrate: I kept wondering if I was going to be visited by three ghosts and told to mend my ways. But I kept working away, invoking the protection of St Blaise, the patron saint of wool combers, and with every length of yarn I drew from the ball the more worried the face became; until it finally dissolved into a shapeless tangle and the spirit was released with a low despairing moan, probably to haunt some polyester sweaters in Marks and Spencer.
Anyway, in commemoration of Epiphany I leave you with the traditional carol as I learned it as a schoolboy in Northampton in the 1970s (in fact there were other versions: this is one of those best suited to mixed company):
We three kings of orient are,
One in a taxi, one in a car,
One on a scooter blowing his hooter,
Smoking a fat cigar…