Friday, October 15, 2021


Rachel and Ed are speeding westwards, much missed.

There was some talk of me and the cats moving in with Helen, perhaps temporarily. It’s a tempting thought but not without its complications. I think it might be best to stay here as long as I can, industriously drinking water and walking up and down the hall. Getting back into Drummond Place Gardens is my immediate goal.


I knit a bit of the Calcutta Cup vest, too. Not much, but I think the rhythm is returning.




Thank you for them all, as always. I do agree that my bias against Hillary C. is likely misplaced. She served Obama as Secretary of State very well indeed. If the framers of the 22nd amendment did think of the possibility of a Presidential wife standing in her own right, I think they would have had to allow it. But I’m glad things didn’t work out that way with the present cast of characters. I prefer President Obama’s remark that there were three things you could count on: death, taxes, and the fact that Michelle would never stand for President; to the relish with which Bill looked forward to becoming the First Laddy.


I think I’m going to have to read The Thursday Murder Club. Retirement communities of the sort I expect to find there are very rare here. We have purpose-built apartments for oldies (owner-occupied), often with a 24-hour supervisor available and no other communal facilities: no dining hall, no gym. And we have care homes. My mother lived in a proper American one, Meadow Lakes near Princeton. My sister and her husband live in one just outside DC. I looked around a bit after my husband died, but I think I’m better off here than in anything that was available. I will be interested to see what Osman has imagined for us.

Thursday, October 14, 2021


All well. Rachel and Ed are here. It’s wonderful to have them. They’re going on to Alexander at Loch Fyne tomorrow, then Kirkmichael. This is a sort of Triumphal Progress to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. They started off with the hotel in Cheshire or Northumberland (or some such place) where they spent their honeymoon. It has become distinctly Fawlty-esque in the interval.


Helen still has her cold. She and Archie were here last night, to share a Greek take-away. She sounded pretty cold-y. I stayed well away. I think we’re having another take-away tonight. Perhaps I’ll join in a bit more.


C. with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson (wee Hamish) joined us for a while yesterday. By accident, here's a four-generational picture. Me in the background, much of Rachel in front of me, some of Hamish’s mother Christina to the right (she’s Rachel’s first cousin once removed – I love that sort of stuff), and Hamish, of course, in front.


I’m still enormously weak, but I made some progress towards the resumption of the Calcutta Cup vest today. I found the knitting easily, the yarn fairly soon thereafter. But the all-over colour pattern is a chart in Sheila McGregor’s Fair Isle book, and that I could not find. I got a good deal of paper sorted and thrown out but still no book. Then I put the problem to Daniela, who found it at once, in a pile I had already looked through.


So now I’ve located my particular pattern, and found my place in it, and have knit a few stitches.




Somebody asked where to start with Margorie Allingham – but now I can’t find the comment. I think you might as well start at the top: Tiger in the Smoke. Then go back (in time, to the early war years) to Traitor’s Purse. It has a brilliant McGuffin, that one. I think I read somewhere once that early reviews pooh-pooh’d it as ridiculous, but it turned out after the war that the Germans had had the same idea. If so, I don’t know what frustrated it, in the absence of Mr. Campion.


I’ve finished the latest Serrailler. It ended rather inconclusively, I thought. I don’t know where to turn next.


Thank you for the recommendation of The Thursday Murder Club, Karen. I’ve been hesitating over that one. I adore Richard Osman unreservedly, but it sounded rather formulaic.


I saw Clinton-Penny well-reviewed somewhere this very day. I’m not a fan of hers. She hurt my feelings right at the beginning, with that crack about baking cookies. I didn’t want her to be president – I would prefer the first American woman president to be someone who has made her own name, rather than sailing under her husband’s flag. Also I don’t like the idea of a president who has already served two terms slipping back into the White House through the kitchen door. I’m sure the framers of the 22nd Amendment would have been astonished at the notion, although I can’t imagine what they would have done about it.


None of that has anything to do with her book.

Monday, October 11, 2021

No change. Helen has got a bad cold, so I probably won't see her for a while. The newspapers say that there is a stinker about -- not COVID, not flu, just a bad cold. C. has had it for the last week, but phoned today to say that she is better, so I will probably see her soon.

I have reverted to the new Simon Serrailler. I have read all the others, with great pleasure, but am finding this one rather depressing. The new Le Carre is not getting very good reviews. My hope remains that a weak Le Carre will prove to be better than a first-rate Anybody Else.

I am very grateful for your patience, returning again and again to read these few boring paragraphs.

Sunday, October 10, 2021


I’ve had another day of pretty utter feebleness. Archie came, and we got some useful work done clearing books and paper and sauce bottles off the kitchen table so that Rachel and Ed (arriving Tuesday) will have somewhere to sit down and eat their breakfast. We didn’t just clear the things off, either: we put them, one by one, where they belonged.


I’ve been re-reading Marjorie Allingham, hand over fist. At her best (during and just after the war) she’s very good. A new Simon Serrallier was published last week. I’ve read the first few chapters and have laid it aside, I hope temporarily. And I learned today that we are about to have a posthumous Le Carre. That’s likely to be worth reading.


Written Saturday October 9


Yesterday I had to go back to the Royal Infirmary for a CT scan. It would have done for me completely but for Helen. We went by taxi, so that I wouldn’t have to wait for half an hour while she parked the car and trudged back. The front doors open into a huge atrium from which all public seating had been removed. The more adroit were sitting on the floor. I perched precariously on a rubbish bin while Helen went off in search of a wheelchair. It took her a while, but once she was back with it, all went smoothly.


The phrase “CT scan” sounded so familiar that I thought maybe I had had one before, but the experience was so strange that I decided that was my first one.


I’m still very feeble, as you may gather. I was much encouraged by your comment, Shandy, that thiamine takes a while to get going.


Franklin continues to post on Facebook from gay Paree, almost daily. And today we even had a wee vlog. It’s a brave thing he’s doing. Like me, socks are his go-to knitting in times of stress. I polished off a few more stitches while I watched. And Andrea and Madeleine have posted a travelogue to tide us over until we get the next episode of Fruity Knitting. With Kaffe!


Saturday, October 09, 2021

 I had a blog-let all written for you just now, when my mouse vanished — poof. So I shut down the computer, and then found the mouse by accident with my toes, being in stocking feet. Tomorrow. Nothing much has changed.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021


Am I perhaps just slightly stronger? A week flat on my back except for walking to the bathroom and back (for that is what happened) is bound to have left its mark on one so old and feeble as I.


I tried knitting both the sock and the Poofle sweater today. (Is that what it’s called?) Neither went very smoothly. I have long congratulated myself on having a passion which requires so little energy. Surely I could go on knitting well into the feebleness of old age, I thot. It doesn’t seem to be working out like that. I think I’d better face up to wee Hamish’s Calcutta Cup vest, before Calcutta Cup day is upon us again. Maybe that will go better.


I have been surprised about all this news about the dangerousness of Facebook, and surprised, too (recent comments) that several of you hold aloof from it. I thought it was the most innocent of pastimes. For some reason – and long may it last – I get a notice among my emails whenever Franklin posts (which is almost daily). Occasionally I hear in that way from other “friends” – but they couldn’t post that rarely, not all of them.


Sunday, October 03, 2021


Here I am. I’m still very weak, although at least there have been no more falls. Appetite not very good.


I’ve been enjoying Franklin’s daily posts as he settles into Parisian life. There was a long one – before I went into hospital – about the horrors of trying to open a French bank account. The real trouble, as I think he knew, was the American Internal Revenue, although the French were adding a few Gallic flourishes. 


C. has been looking after her grandson wee Hamish today, and he has been diagnosed with “hand, foot and mouth” disease in the course of the afternoon. She thought he had chicken pox. I have never heard of it. It has nothing to do – the internet assures me – with farmyard “foot and mouth”. That’s good, anyway. But this presumably means I won’t see C. for a while. Archie came to see me today. We walked up and down the passage.