Little knitting was done yesterday, as often on a Sunday, but I moved a little bit forward with that sleeve. I found the Sirka counter, reminded myself how to use it (the packaging is gone), and embarked on a task right up its street – decreasing every fifth round 24 times. I note with alarm what you say about the beautiful red yarn I mean to use for the inside of the hems, Leslie. The best I can say is that I hope I will take your advice about fixing the colour.
I knit entire red madtosh sweaters for the Thomases, elder and younger, a few years ago. I wonder how they're getting on? It's possible, indeed likely, in both cases that the sweaters aren't much worn.
In other news, James rang up to introduce a scheme my excellent children have come up with – to transport my husband to Sydenham for Holy Week, when I am in Athens. Alexander will drive him down in his powerful, comfortable car. He will be housed, not in the spare bedroom on the mezzanine – it's a big London house – but in the little-used front parlour on the ground floor. You never saw a house with so many lavatories, so that will be all right.
My husband has advanced a number of difficulties – would it be better to fly? To take the train? What would he do all week once he got there? (Take the computer along, perhaps?) And then he'd have to come back again.
We shall see.
Sometimes in moments of gloom I feel I have squandered my talents in a life of incompetent domesticity. But then, on the other hand, there are moments like this. I am the mother of Rachel, Alexander, James and Helen. The mother of the Gracchi could hardly have done better. Being President of the International Monetary Fund would have been trivial by comparison.
Rachel also phoned last night – her son Joe was knocked off his bicycle on his way to work the other day. The police phoned Rachel while she was on her way to work, and she got to the hospital before the ambulance arrived with Joe in it. There has been a lot in our news lately about A&E departments being overwhelmed. Joe was treated immediately, and continued to be attentively monitored even after it turned out that he was essentially all right.
The bicycle came out of it less well.
Rachel and I think that a lot of the difficulty in A&E is caused by people who call for an ambulance when they feel a bit poorly. When they get to the hospital, they are subject to a process called “triage” which gives precedence to people like Joe. My husband says that “triage” means “shunting” in French.
Coding: I enjoyed it a lot, once. No time, now. Learning BASIC was a major intellectual excitement in my middle years. We had a couple of computers in the school where I taught Latin – this was in the days just before the introduction of the IBM PC. The maths teacher had devised a programming course for dull girls, all the books being too complicated for them.
She gave it to me, and I went off and had a go. The first task was to do something or other, and to count how many times you had done it. I could do the task, all right, but how to do the counting? I went back to the maths teacher. She said, put in a line saying x=x+1.
It was an electrifying moment for me – a simple and impossible equation in the mathematics I thought I knew, a whole new way of dealing with the world.