Wednesday, June 29, 2022


Wimbledon, knitting, sore hip. I’ll start with the hip.


Last week it was x-rayed, you’ll remember, and then I had to make an appt to talk to a doctor by telephone. That day was today, and our own doctor rang up (not just a stray body from the practice). He said the hip is badly arthritic, no surprise, and recommended surgery. It won’t get better by itself, he said. We considered the possibility of going private, but his guess at what that might cost was really rather too much for comfort, so he has put me forward for an NHS hip which might, these days, mean waiting quite a while. My sister doesn’t think I’m a very good project for surgery anyway.


But it’s dreadful to think of hobbling on like this forever. I still enjoy cooking; getting around the kitchen with a zimmer frame is very slow and very awkward. I made some panzanella for my lunch today. It was delicious, but it took hours.


So that’s something to think about.


The knitting has inched forward. It doesn’t flow over the fingers like colour patterns of old. I wondered if I’d be happier with a longer needle, at least until the next set of decreases, so I’m trying that. EZ says somewhere I think that 24” long is all you’ll ever need, and that’s what I was using, but it was a tight fit.


Wimbledon continues very satisfying. The final Centre Court match today will be Andy Murray against a man named Isner. In 2018, I think it must have been, Rachel won the chance to buy Centre Court tickets for Men’s Semi-final day. I went down to join her in the enjoyment of them. Isner was one of the players in the first match. Nadal, I remember, was scheduled for the second match. But the first one turned out to be an epic, history-making bore. It went to five sets, and in those days there was no tie-break in fifth sets. It went on to a score of something like 26-24. They’ve changed the rules as a result: nowadays we have tie-breaks in the fifth set. But Rachel and I are unlikely ever to forgive Mr Isner and Whoever-It-Was.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022


Sorry about yesterday – I got swept up in Wimbledon, and then the afternoon was gone and I had had no nap. I have been more abstemious today.


There has been a major cat-induced glitch in the knitting. It has been recovered, but it took a while. I will never leave the room again without pitting it beyond paw-reach. It’s hard to recover colour knitting because, once everybody is back on the needle, you still have to consider the colour of every stitch – is it the colour it's supposed to be, or has it slipped back a row or two? In this case the balls themselves were tangled as well. So, no progress, but I’m back in the saddle.


Wordle: I am pressing ahead with my resolve only to enter words that might be right. I was rewarded with a three yesterday, with which I beat both Thomas and Alexander. I didn’t like the word, and now can’t remember what it was. Ketki also did it in three. Today Alexander and Ketki and I each got five, and their son Thomas had four. Friend Mark has mysteriously disappeared.


Comments: Beth, I forgot which PD James you recommended and have wound up with Shroud for a Nightingale. I will have to go on to the Private Patient.


Tamar, thank you for the meanings of WIELD. I love such words, my particular favourite being CLEAVE which has two opposite meanings.


I got the London Library magazine yesterday. I am a life member. The magazine has Antonia Fraser on the cover which made me wonder, Goodness gracious, am I really that old? (We are much of an age.) I think perhaps, after a bit more PD James, I will read her – Fraser’s – biography of Mary Queen of Scots. It’s very well recommended.

Sunday, June 26, 2022


Archie and his youngest brother Fergus came to see me today. No walking, alas, but they were here when the Waitrose order arrived and got it stashed, under my supervision.


I heard from Rachel, She has just had a birthday, as I told you. She says her son Thomas gave her a Scotland rugby shirt, signed by all the team. Now she will have to figure out how to get it framed.


I have knit on, but not very far. Have I lost my mojo, when it comes to knitting colour? Or is it that DK is intrinsically less fun than Shetland jumper weight? I hope I’ll speed up, as life goes on. And of course it will eventually get smaller and quicker. My favourite blogger, Queer Joe, has been writing recently about the delights of starting at the widest point, where feasible, and knitting ever faster and faster as you near the end.


Wordle: four, today. Both of my guesses – lines three and four – were possible answers, incorporating all four of the brown tiles I had accumulated, each in a new position, and using, for the fifth letter, one I hadn’t already eliminated. It sounds obvious, but I don’t know that I’ve ever done exactly that before. Line three was wrong, line four was right. Ketki and Thomas got it in three, Alexander and Rachel (in London) needed only two. We haven’t heard from Mark yet.

Saturday, June 25, 2022


A long day. Michaela (Daniella’s summer substitute) came early. The rest of the day rather dragged. Archie will come tomorrow (postponed from today) and I think we ought to try to walk – with little hope of success.


That sounds gloomier than I feel. Knitting went forward well. I have set the colour pattern for the yoke of my Lilias Day. When I actually faced up to it, I had a moment of doubt. The basic pattern covers 24 stitches. The whole pleasure of colour knitting lies in symmetry and rhythm. However, despite the long repeat, all is well. And I can tell you that, despite my having done no stitch counting during the recent plain-vanilla stretch which introduced quite a few decreases and established the yoke, it came out perfectly, to the stitch. I was prepared to do a modest bit of fancy footwork, if necessary.


Wordle: thank you for your comment, rheather. I do emphatically agree that part of the pleasure of Wordle is that it’s over and done with so soon. I think a lot of us share your experience of not being able to remember today’s word, even half an hour afterwards. It took me five again today. I was very proud of my third line  -- WEALD. I don’t know what it means, but it met the requirements: A in the third place, a green; E somewhere else, a brown; and none of the already-excluded letters repeated. Everybody else in my little group did better, but never mind.

I've finished my re-read of "Tiger in the Smoke". It's good, all right. I hadn't fully grasped, from previous readings, that it takes place in "real time": the opening scene runs on continuously until the final one. Some characters get some sleep, others not.

Friday, June 24, 2022


Wordle: I got it in three. After my two starter words, I had one green and three browns. As every morning, I struggled to find a word which fit all the requirements. This time, unusually, I found one. It didn’t seem a very likely word, but I typed it in, and it was right! Everybody else in my little group also got three, except for Alexander. That took a bit of the icing off.


After a very considerable struggle, I got through to my doctor’s surgery on the telephone this morning. and have booked an appt for a doctor to talk to me about my arthritic hip next week. The struggle involved dialling again and again, as you might imagine, and as I struggled I thought of your comment, Melinda, and called up Allingham’s “Tiger in the Smoke” from my Kindle library. By the time I had made the appt, I was re-hooked. I think I’ve read it fairly recently, but that hardly matters. It’s awfully good.


As for knitting, not as much as one might have hoped. I’m currently knitting the final plain-vanilla round on the yoke. I had to devote quite a lot of time this morning to putting right Paradox’s well-meant intervention of yesterday.

Thursday, June 23, 2022


Today is Rachel’s 64th birthday. The first day of the rest of my life if there ever was one.


The doctor’s office rang up to say that my hip is arthritic (as discovered by the x-ray) and I must ring the practice early tomorrow to make an appointment for a telephone consultation. What a carry-on!


Knitting has gone forward nicely, except for the times when Paradox tried to help. I have attached the sleeves and have four more rounds of just-plain to do before the fireworks start. It is exciting to have reached this stage. Barring disaster, I'm going to finish this one. A whole sweater!

Wordle: five, again. Today’s word was something of a Wordle special. I had the last four letters but chose the wrong one for the empty slot at the beginning. Judging from the grids, Thomas had the first four letters but guessed wrong for the fifth. He wound up with five as well. The others did better.


Reading: I am happily embarked on Donna Leon, “Death at La Fenice” as you recommend, Joan. (But I am glad to hear that you picked a random one and got hooked, Kirsten.) He hasn’t had anything to eat yet. I haven’t read Dorothy Dunnet – I’m afraid I have an irrational prejudice against “historical”. Perhaps I should try to overcome it. And you are absolutely right (as always), Tamar: Mr. Campion. The trouble there is that I almost know them by heart. Beth, I’ll go back to “A Private Patient” next, if nothing else offers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022


Alexander and Ketki both came to see me today. I haven’t seen Ketki for (literally) years, and it was very nice to do so. Thomas, their younger child, has his last bit of school tomorrow – he is bound for Birmingham University subsequently – so they will happily retreat to the shores of Loch Fyne and I won’t see them for a while.


What with one thing and another, I still have two rounds of the second sleeve of the Lilias Day to do. I hope I will polish them off this evening, and perhaps even get everybody arranged on a single circular for the yoke.


A physiotherapist rang up, and is coming to see me next Tuesday. By then I may have heard about my x-rayed hip and we may be ready to form a plan of action. I have left off exercises recently for fear they were making my hip worse. Perhaps I’ll resume.


Wordle: my usual five. Nobody did brilliantly.


In despair about what to read, I have retreated to an early PD James. I think it’s called “Unnatural Causes” and I have no memory whatsoever of ever having read it before. She definitely got better as time passed, and this one is from her earlier years. Still not to be despised. What a lot of fairly important things have changed: the comfort of a domestic fire, for instance; the ease of phoning people who all have mobile phones. One of you reminded me recently of Donna Leon – Venice! Food! – and I think I may go there. Where to start?