Monday, September 02, 2013

I should finish the second sleeve of Relax2 this evening, and pick up stitches for the neck.

The gauge of the Milano is close to that of the Relax – slightly finer. But the number of stitches to be cast on, in relation to actual chest size, is very similar. So how can it have 20” ease when Relax has only 4? I must do some arithmetic.

Tomorrow we must go to Strathardle. I am frightened. We ordered some plants weeks ago – I have forgotten what category they’re meant to come into. Not “ground cover” – we did that last year. Tough perennials of some sort. Now they have arrived, dozens of tiny plug plants. So they must be planted.

Today’s job, however, is a hospital appointment. Rheumatology, for my husband’s hands.

I’m looking forward to Jamie Oliver’s new cookery series, starting this evening – it’s about cooking cheaply.


I’m reading Ian Rankin’s “Black and Blue”. I’ve never managed to engage with Rankin before, but I’m getting on fine with this one. He came and spoke at Archie’s school, and Archie had a copy signed for me.

It was written in 1994. Inspector Rebus was already a success. They were living in France, presumably having given up the day job, when their son Kit was born. All went well with the pregnancy and birth, but by three months they had begun to realise that something was wrong – he didn’t move enough. At six months, their GP agreed. At nine months, they were driving long distances two or three times a week to have him seen by specialists.

Ian Rankin’s French wasn’t as good as his wife’s – he would come home from these appointments frustrated at his inability to understand fully what the Great Men were saying, and frightened, and angry – and would then take it all out on Inspector Rebus, in a universe where Ian Rankin was God and could make anything happen he wanted. And he wound up with a good book. Kit is very severely disabled.

And thinking about signed copies, I thought of Thomas Lynch. He is an Irish-American poet, essayist, and undertaker who lives and works in a small town in Michigan.

I went to a talk at the Book Festival with Cathy once. We were there to hear a couple of female thriller-writers (this was before Cathy herself had become a member of that category). If I could remember their names, you would recognise them. Sitting there idly reading the program before things started, I learned with a thrill of horror that Thomas Lynch was talking at that very moment, somewhere else. There was nothing to be done.

But as soon as our talk was over, I shot out and found him in a near-by tent. He was sitting alone, as I remember, but memory can deceive. I bought a copy of a book I already owned and presented it to him for signing, babbling about “T’riffic fan; didn’t know you were here; went to the wrong talk”. I may have added something about growing up in Detroit.

He signed it “For Jean, Well met in Edinburgh”. Maybe he signed them all like that, but I like to think it was a brilliant improvisation, for me. In any case, I treasure the book.


  1. GrannyPurple11:01 AM

    I love Lynch's riff, inspired by seeing a golf course from the air, on how it might be possible to combine the two "uses" of golf and cemetery, complete with the etiquette when a golf game coincides with a funeral. He is such a sensitive writer, and can be so funny!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I glad to know you're a fellow Lynch fan. (The deletion above, or below, was made necessary by nothing more sinister than a misspelling.

  2. I haven't read Ly ch, I don't know why. I have enjoyed Rankin, but knew nothing about his story. I recently read The Complaints and likeed it. More Edinburgh. Sometimes I find books set in a place I know well a bit distracting. Or I should say I am distracting sorting out locations in my mind while the tale is moving ahead in another direction.

  3. I returned two of Cathy's novels to the library today (I enjoyed them very much) and came away with the latest Ian Rankin and a Susan Hill. A few days of respite care means time to read!

    When my husband was a postdoc in the US in the fifties, he was in a bookshop with a companion who recognised Aldous Huxley browsing. They both instantly bought copies of Brave New World and got them signed. I believe the book is worth a fair bit now.

    1. I'm very glad to hear of your respite time. And you've got the weather to get into the garden, too.
      That was very quick thinking, about Aldous Huxley!

  4. I first heard of Lynch when watching this documentary. You can watch it online.

    Fascinating person.