Monday, October 14, 2013

Safely home, and we had a grand time. The weather was astonishing, all the more enjoyed because it was pissing down in London. My husband, listening to the forecasts last week, worried about what tasks we could set Joe if the rain kept us all indoors.

It didn’t, and he toiled mightily tidying up and sawing fallen branches in my husband’s little larch plantation. His mother Rachel had forbidden him to use the chain saw, and us, to let him use it. I was just as glad, but he could have done much more with its help. Maybe next summer James can teach him how to use it. James is the only man who can get it started, anyway – it is a fairly new Stihl chain saw chosen for its easy-start characteristics.

I would ascribe the glorious weather to what James calls the Strathardle Microclimate – except that Kate Davies’ blog makes it sound as if the glory was Scotland-wide.

Lizzie (Joe’s younger sister) has been in Texas this weekend with university friends. She sent this, this morning, from Austin. Not only is the street named “Elizabeth”, but there is a sticker there somewhere saying “Brixton” – which is practically where she lives, in London.


I took “Rams and Yowes” along, and didn’t get much done. First of all, the bamboo circular I had taken proved to have the slightest chip in one of the ends, which meant that stitches, effectively, would not slide from the cable to the point. I turned the needle around, no small feat, and that went better – the defective connection was perfectly capable of transferring stitches from the point to the cable.

But the needle was too long. Not impossibly too long -- I could knit without stretching the work, but it involved a constant effort of stitch-pushing. Last night I transferred it all to a better needle and absented myself from felicity a while (=the Milano) to get things going in a better fashion.

Milano: I now can’t find your comment – I hope you’re here this morning. You liked the size otherwise, but wanted to lengthen it and were afraid there wouldn’t be enough yarn. Please write to Carol Sunday – I don’t know anything about her at all, have never dealt with her except for buying my Milano: but the yarn (the blissful yarn!) is hers as well as the pattern. She might be able to help.


Don’t blame me for this. I am trying to report what a young Englishman said.

Joe was in Philadelphia recently – something about opening a sports centre which was somehow connected with his work in London. The sports centre was – is – in a deprived area north of Philadelphia. Shootings are near-daily events, he was told. He was surprised at how rapidly and smoothly one moves between prosperous-middle-class and impoverished-nearly-totally-black areas. And this from a man who lives near Brixton (see above), one of London’s most notorious areas.

But what really astonished him was when the moment came, during the opening of the sports centre, for singing the Star Spangled Banner. Everyone stood there, hand on heart, belting it out. Singing the praises of a country which had short-changed them, Joe felt. They wouldn’t have treated “God Save the Queen” like that in Brixton, he said. How is it instilled, that sort of patriotism? I couldn’t answer. When I was young we had the war to instill patriotism in us. 


  1. We used to "salute the flag" at morning assembly. There were words which went with it (starting with "I am an Australian..."). I suspect present day students would find the whole idea outrageous. Most Australians don't know the words to the national anthem (and some cannot even recognise the tune). It does sound rather like a dirge but, if we are to have one, then it should be taught in school so that it is known. I suspect that at least the vast majority of the UK recognises the national anthem and they probably know the words to the first verse - even if they don't like to sing it.

  2. Brixton has improved immensely since I was a child and is apparently undergoing gentrification. We used to go there to buy our school shoes. A large part of the Afro-Carribean community has moved to Thornton Heath and related areas just north of where I live.

    Sympathy over the chip in the needle, so irritating.

  3. Gerri3:52 PM

    I get what Joe is asking but democracy does inspire hope for change. I have been repeated astonished to look at recent voting patterns in some economically depressed areas. You don't have any choice about the Queen, however.

    There is good in this country, despite the shortcomings. Maybe they were celebrating that.

    Or the singing was a part of the joy of sport, since that is where they probably learned the song!

  4. Anonymous7:39 PM

    Jean, I wonder if Lizzie has gone back to Kansas with a "Keep Austin Weird" t-shirt, a slogan of which Austin residents (particularly college students) are very proud.

    I'm actually surprised that Lizzie and her friends were in Austin this weekend, since it was the annual Texas-OU weekend in Dallas, which features the annual rivalry football game between the University of Texas and Oklahoma University. Probably half of the Austin residents were in Dallas for the game, but the other half left in Austin were also celebrating Texas' first victory over Oklahoma in about 12 years.

    Mary G. in Texas