Friday, September 19, 2014

An email from Greek Helen this morning begins

When the hurly burly's done
When the battle's lost and won...

I couldn't have put it better myself. Not much sleep last night, huge relief this morning. The No margin was much larger than any poll predicted, confirming, I think, our hopes that the don't-know's would fall disproportionately in our direction.

We had a grand time voting yesterday – now that I can look back on it in tranquillity. Georgia took us. There was a crowd outside – I feared, as we approached, that it was a queue and we would have a long wait, but not so. It was just a party, television, balloons, and a Catalan. The Good Lord provided us with a parking space immediately outside. Inside, all was quiet, no queue at all. A pleasant Indian gentleman at a table explained to my husband that he must mark one box or the other on his ballot paper but not both.

That's me, in the lower picture. I must get my hair cut.

Alexander took this picture of Loch Fyne yesterday as the light faded. It is called “Sunset from Cairndow, U.K.” He will be feeling more cheerful this morning. Cairndow is still in the U.K.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Well, here we are. A grey, damp day.

Alexander stayed up all night to watch the American presidential results, the year Al Gore was elected. All he had to show for it in the morning was a sore head – he was none the wiser as to the identity of the next president.

I wonder if there will be a discernible trend during the night, this time? We won't sit up, but the radio will be on. I passed a pub on Broughton Street yesterday which claimed to have a special license to stay open until there was a result. I expect there will be lots of such pubs.

At least, if it's a Yes vote, I will have the consolation of reading the next chapter, so to speak. If Salmond is right and the Englishmen are bluffing when they say that an independent Scotland can't have a currency union with England, then Scotland won't be fully independent and I have a bit less to worry about, at least at first. Can you imagine the Irish signing up to such a deal, being run by the Bank of England?

But if, as I believe, Salmond is wrong on this point, we will be living in interesting times indeed.

A friend of Greek Helen's rang up yesterday offering to drive us to the polling station. I said no thanks, we'll be fine, but Helen herself just rang up and we talked about it and I have reconsidered. If Georgia drove us, she or I could go in with my husband and try to get them to advance him to the head of the queue, to his irritation and embarrassment no doubt, but he's too frail to stand about for long and everybody is going to be there. So Helen is trying to get back in touch with Georgia.

I blame a lot of this on Fred Goodwin – the man who destroyed the Royal Bank of Scotland.


I've reached the final stripe on the border of Rams & Yowes. On the original 9/11 I was knitting a sleeve of Kaffe's Mini Roman Blocks (I think it's called) for James. I interrupted the pattern to introduce a purple stripe to mark the occasion. Rams&Yowes will be forever the Referendum. Is there some way I could signify it?

Oh, Cat! The hitofude! I knew nothing of it. And it's written for a madeinetosh yarn! Who would like one of those?

And Carol Sunday has a tempting new pattern, for those of us ever in search of the right droopy cardigan.

Well, see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The final polls still put the No-vote four points ahead. My sister points out that the bookies are weighting things heavily in favour of No.

In the debates between Mr Salmond and Alastair Darling, the question of currency kept coming up. What would Salmond do if the rUK refused to sanction a currency union which would allow Scotland to go on using the pound? The Prime Minister and the Governor of the Bank of England have both said rather emphatically that there will be no currency union. We'll go on using the pound anyway, was Salmond's answer.

Mr Darling (once Chancellor of the Exchequer) said, in some exasperation, “You can use the pound, you can use the rouble...” Meaning, I think, that without a central bank to back it up, it didn't much matter what you printed on the paper you used as currency. Establishing a central bank will require substantial funds. Without one, or without a currency union with the Bank of England, Scotland won't be able to join the EU.

Last night, Mr Salmond appeared “live” on the television news. Jacquie Bird (good at her job,but not desperately bright) asked him about currency. He replied, “You heard Alastair Darling say that we can use the pound...”

He's not a fool. One is forced to conclude that he is a knave.


I should finish gaulmogot and reach the final – white – stripe of the border of Rams & Yowes today. Once tomorrow is finally over and the verdict in, I can begin to revel in thinking about what to knit next. I can alternate it, whatever it turns out to be, with the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl.


The persecution from PUP-FNK is as bad as ever this morning, and the pop-up ads are worse.

Beth, thank you for the reading list! I don't know David Mitchell and will investigate. I think the new Margaret Atwood is just what I need.

I've got a new cleaning woman here this morning, a strong, middle-aged Scotswoman. (She's going to vote No, rather regretfully.) I think she will be the salvation of us, after a series of youthful eastern Europeans who have melted one by one into the Scotch mist.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I've now reached the penultimate stripe, gaulmogot, on the inward side of the border of Rams & Yowes. This will one day end. Some knitters have run out of some colours on the inward journey, but I think I'm going to be all right, due, no doubt, to having picked up slightly fewer stitches for the border than the pattern specifies.

Here's what it looked like from the inside a couple of days ago, showing how the mitered corners are folding neatly inwards.

I am now fully engaged in worrying about the wedding on November 1. I think, at the worst, someone will be able to take Rams & Yowes and the wedding present down in a car while I go by train, shivering without a coat.

I am being plagued anew this morning by Potentially Unwanted Program Blocked pop-ups from McAfee – a different PUP, this time, alternating with something whose name begins “Artemis”. The interruptions are absolutely constant, toughening my resolve to go over to a Mac. Archie will be here this weekend and I hope we can go shopping.

It's difficult to think about anything except the Referendum, and I don't think I have anything new to say about that. Half the population of Scotland will be pretty miserable on Friday morning, and it's all Mr Salmond's fault. I think we No's will be more miserable, if we lose – fearing an uncertain future in an impoverished and exsanguinated nation. Whereas the defeated Yes's will have something resembling the status quo, plus a lot more power for the Scottish parliament, to look forward to. That sounds to me more bearable. The turnout is going to be the highest in the history of elections.

Zite produces an account of knitted television -- from a Dutch artist, almost needless to say. And the news that Kristin Nicholas has done a line of sock yarns with Regia which produce an ikat effect.  A somewhat ikat effect, but I'd like to try.


I've finished Middlemarch and moved on to the new Ian McEwan, The Children Act. It's very readable, as he always is, but I was surprised to realise the other day how ill-equipped I would be to talk about McEwan, although I've read a lot of him. It sort of slips out of the mind. I've got lots more Jane Gardam to look forward to – these interruptions were just to avoid OD'ing on her.

Monday, September 15, 2014

This final week of Life As We Know It starts under leaden skies.

Today, at last, I've got pictures for you. Here's the one we've been waiting for,  Mungo in his kilt:

Here's the one from the walk my niece and I took in Glen Roslin recently. This was the moment, in the agonizing outward journey, when we spotted Hawthornden Castle on the other side of the river, and therefore could fix our position on the map. Not as far along as I had hoped, was the answer. The castle is just discernible through the foliage. C. is pointing to our place on the map.

And here are the pictures from Games Day. The best bit of it all is when the baronet, with drawn sword, leads the pipe band followed by the committee across the bridge to the Bannerfield. Here they are marshalling in the garage forecourt:

Here's the procession:

And here's the knitting, in the Home Industries Tent. The categories were slippers and a hat, the latter to be donated to a charity:

Here is a close-up of the hat that didn't win any prize at all. It's the one I would have picked, if I had been homeless and was offered a hat by a charity. I wouldn't mind having it anyway.


When I captioned that bit about Ian Paisley “There'll always be an England...” yesterday, I didn't mean that he was an Englishman. Perish the thought. It's a phrase the New Yorker used to use as a column-stopper over an item which made the difference between American and British life particularly stark. I thought the idea of desperate thugs on a hillside in the middle of the night brandishing pieces of paper to prove that they were entitled to bear arms, was particularly funny. It's not like that in the Ku Klux Klan, for example.

And finally...

The Sydenham Mileses were in Glasgow at the weekend, taking Alistair up for his first term at university. James went to see St Peter's Partick, his first school. He was there for only a month before we moved to Leicester, Alexander for a whole year – or was it two? It was a wonderful school, pretty rough, very Glasgow. It is sad to see it like this.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I found a parking ticket on my blameless car yesterday. This morning I composed a dignified letter of protest, not untinged with irony, and then looked closely at the ticket and discovered that it had been issued to somebody else altogether. So I had to start the letter again from scratch. Do you think the offender was stupid enough to suppose that moving the ticket to another car would let him off paying? I wrote the second letter and sent it off with the ticket, and it all eats into valuable blogging time.

I have nearly finished the third round (of four) of the mooskit stripe on the return half of the border of Rams & Yowes. Three stripes to go. I remember a line of Meg's somewhere, when they knit EZ's famous ribwarmer with a skirt, transforming it into a long jacket: Long Day's Journey into Garter Stitch. I am very negligent about keeping my Ravelry up to date, but I mean to post this as an FO once it achieves that status, with a warning to everyone not to think, when the centre part is finished, that they're anywhere near the end.


It looks as if we will be able to get to Strathardle soon. My husband has been agitating for a visit, although by now sufficiently aware of his frailty to sympathise with my reluctance to be there without support. Greek Helen is coming over for Mungo's first exeat at the end of the month, and Mungo – who I am sure would prefer the bright lights of Edinburgh, since he is at school in rural Perthshire already – has heroically agreed to spend it in Kirkmichael. Archie will join us.

Archie himself phoned yesterday, protesting mildly. Strathardle is boring. But since he has the bright lights available constantly on his doorstep, we don't have to feel too sorry for him. He sounded cheerful. Contrary to what I wrote yesterday, he said he doesn't care what happens to Scotland but will vote No for my sake.

We had a knock on the door from a No-campaigner yesterday. That doesn't often happen here, in any election. My Birmingham friend was surprised to see how little visual evidence there is of what is happening -- posters in windows, that sort of thing; I assured her that we are seething all right.

There'll Aways Be An England...

From Ian Paisley's obituary in the Telegraph yesterday:

“In the Eighties he flirted with the prospect of Protestant 'People's Militias' and once conveyed journalists to a hillside in Co Antrim at night to witness 500 men in military formation brandishing firearms licenses.”

I find that enormously funny. Maybe only American readers will agree. Maybe it isn't funny at all.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I had a grand time with our old friend from Birmingham but ran behind the clock for most of the rest of the day. I've embarked on the mooskit stripe on the return half of the Rams & Yowes border.

Hat, thank you for the tip about Franklin's toddler's brioche sweater in Knitty. I like it, and the accompanying article, as always with him, is a delight to read. He says that the original Weldon's pattern says that the rib can accommodate a growing child; you just have to knit an appropriate length. I did a half-day at a Stitches conference once on Designing for Children with somebody famous – probably Kristin Nicholas. She said the same thing, I remember – children get taller, but don't expand very much.


The Orange Order is going to march through Edinburgh today in support of the Union. That won't help. They're scary. I hope they'll lighten it up a bit, and maybe leave out the open bibles and crowns.

Mr Salmond has been helicoptering about visiting “the seven cities of Scotland”. It's easy to think of six, but I had to google for the seventh. It's Stirling, not Lerwick as I had hoped.

The polls continue to be very tight, with No just ahead. Businesses are becoming more outspoken about the economic dangers of independence, and now one of the more rabid socialists on the nationalist team has threatened that there will be retaliation after a Yes vote.

Roy Bremner (I'm a big fan) was good in the Telegraph yesterday, but even he left my husband unmoved.

Greek Helen says that Archie – we can count on a No vote there – is afraid that Independence would mean higher school fees, to the point where he couldn't stay at Merchiston. There's no danger of that – he has only one more academic year after this one anyway, and it would take a few years to unpick Scotland from the rUK. But it's desperately touching to learn that he is happy enough there to entertain such a worry.


I have begun to think seriously about The Wedding, not just the technical question of whether or not I'm going to try to persuade my husband to attempt it, but also what I'm going to wear. November 1: I'll probably need a COAT. A shawl might do the trick, if I took along a respectable-looking bag into which I could cram it. I'll look in the drawer, but I don't think there's anything suitable. Too late now.

And then there will have to be shoes. This is going to require more strength than I think I can muster.