Monday, October 31, 2016

Bangladesh won the test match against England yesterday. England started out brilliantly, in their final innings – 100 for 0, I think it was. And then collapsed utterly, and were all out for 164. I’ve been re-reading Rosemary’s Baby. That sounds like witchcraft.

A columnist in yesterday’s Sunday Times suggests that Trump might win because this is the year of the improbable – Leicester City won the Premier League, Iceland beat England 2-1. He might have added that Hibs won the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years, and the Chicago Cubs are in the World Series. I’d be slightly more persuaded if Scotland had won the Calcutta Cup, but we didn’t.

The England cricket team now moves on to India, and the first Test Match there begins on the 9th. I’m really worried: Test Match Special takes over Radio 4 Long Wave, and sweeps all before it. But on the morning of November 9 I will be lying in bed wanting to hear the election results. The time difference means that play will start early, GMT. Perhaps by the time play starts, the result will be obvious. Perhaps not. I will have been listening, off and on, all night.

I don’t like all this “early voting” – what for? why? – and I’m sorry that all American voting seems to be by machine. GB is ahead of the USA in many respects, electronic-machine-wise, but we still vote by marking an X in a square on a piece of paper. Counting is a physical operation with representatives of all parties present. The infirm, like my husband, and the necessarily-absent can vote in advance by post.


I hunkered down to the half-brioche yesterday. It moves slowly, since – as with full brioche – a row requires two passes. But I feel back in charge. The other time I used this stitch pattern, many years ago, I knit myself a plain-vanilla sweater. But I didn’t keep the numbers. This time, I’m going to do the pattern as given, shoulder-straps and all, perhaps adding a collar. I read in a magazine once that they are flattering to the elderly face.


I’ve been neglecting you, and many interesting comments have been posted. Shandy, I used to have blocking wires and didn’t really care for them; I gave them away to a friend. Whereas crawling around on the floor with pins, I regard as fun. As does Perdita. I’ll be interested to see your results with the Uncia.

Knitalot, I watched the old film of “Lucky Jim” last night – it has dated badly. But at the end of the initial credits, introducing us to the concept of the Red Brick University, there was a line about how all the students were state funded. As they were. That’s how our four got educated. The sums you mention are terrifying.

Liz, if it’s any comfort, Chart A of the Uncia is one of the very worst. Persevere!

Annette, I read through the Wikipedia entry on Cardinal O’Brien, and it’s pretty damning, but I’m not sure it adds anything to what I already knew. There was much that I admired about him – I’m thinking of an Easter sermon once about Trident. I think it’s a shame that he wasn’t allowed to work in that parish in Dunbar, after his disgrace. As his friend Margot MacDonald said at the time, “He’s lost everything. Isn’t that enough?”


  1. Rachel10:08 AM

    I don't understand why you would think he should be allowed to continue to work in a parish, his victims have to live with what happened for the rest of their lives, why shouldn't he be punished for the rest of his? I grant you he hasn't been found guilty in a court of law but then the covering up by the church has made that well nigh impossible. Granted he isn't likely to be much danger to anyone at his advanced age but after such a massive abuse of trust surely he shouldn't be allowed in a position of trust?

  2. Anonymous10:26 AM

    Dear Jean, I feel compelled to comment on your comment about early voting. I think it's one of the best things to happen in U S voting in years. It allows many to get out and vote at their convenience whether because of illness, work or other circumstances which might prevent them from voting altogether. In the US where there is shamefully such low voter turnout this will hopefully encourage more to vote by avoiding long lines at the polls on election day. Yes, there is still absentee voting but this requires filling out an appication and listing the reason you are asking to vote early. Not really much different but the early voting process just feels simpler and more accessible.

    In my small rural town of 2,000 + we do vote by paper ballot. Its a wonderful process. This year my husband and I took advantage of early voting as he is in the midst of medical treatment and might not be feeling his best come election day. We happened to vote on the first day of early voting and for the first time of having voted in my town for 35 years we waited in a (very short) line! This was because only 2 people at a time could fit into the town clerks office. So, just a slice of voting life in small town America for you. I love the voting process. Such a priviledge.
    (Your Uncia is lovely!)
    Lynda (in Western Massachusetts)

  3. Patience10:56 AM

    This is the first time Massachusetts has had early voting. Reasons people are giving are 1. being able to get to the polls rather than having to take time off work and 2. someone posts they're going to do it and their friends (who may or not have been organized about their own voting timing) decide to go too and make it a social occasion with coffee/brunch after. People have been lining up in long lines in the Boston area for early voting, lines they can't afford to wait in on a Tuesday.

  4. I serve as an election judge here in Minnesota. (Sounds grander than it is. I hand out ballots.) Ballots are paper, and marked by hand, but read by machine. The paper is kept safely locked away in case of recounts. There are always representatives of different parties to witness the locking away of all the tapes, etc.

  5. In my township in Minnesota, we still vote by marking paper ballots. It feels delicious. I would be heartbroken to make electronic choices! I also love the particular musty smell of the old pole barn we vote in -- having lived other places and then returned, I never felt like I was properly voting if it didn't smell the just-right sort of musty. And of course, I LOVE the little red sticker that says "I voted" afterwards! I agree with you -- voting should have some tradition. And ... paper ballots can ALWAYS be rechecked in case of worries, while electronic systems sometimes can't.

  6. New York has paper ballots, hand marked by the voter and then scanned electronically, in the presence of a poll worker titled Inspector Scanner. My husband has had this job for several years now and it is secure.

  7. Washington State votes entirely by mail/absentee ballots. I love it! I sit in my living room, consider my choices, mark my ballot, then drive to a ballot box (in the middle of the street) and deposit my votes. I voted by absentee ballot for about 20 years before it became the state method. This year, I voted the day I received my ballot, deposited it the next day, and shut my ears to the incessant yammering! I've done my civic duty, and can move on to more important matters -- I'm knitting a scarf using the Metronome pattern.

    I am curious as to how exactly the vote could be "rigged," since it is controlled not by the federal government or the state government, but by the counties. Washington's counties vote with paper ballots and a vote by mail system; other counties in other states may have machines, but not the same system across the country. It would require a massive machine of detail-oriented evil-doers to rig every county, or even the most important counties . . . .

  8. About early voting in the US: I voted early this year because I'm heartily sick of the campaign season and voting early makes me feel like I'm done with it. In my state we've gone back to a paper-and-pen ballot.

  9. Here in Toronto we have advanced polls before Election Day which are usually about 2weeks before the official date. One election a few years ago We were going to be away for both the Election Day and the advanced polls so we went to the polling office and voted there. We were so early that the ballots hadn't been printed and we had to write in the name of our choice.

  10. In our small town in western NC we vote on paper ballots which are scanned electronically. Early voting assures that I have an opportunity to vote since my work has the potential of interfering with me being in my precinct on Election Day. There are two Early Voting sites in our county of 80,000 plus residents. The sites are set up the same way they are set up at precincts on Election Day. Normally there are few if any lines here at Early Voting sites, but not this year. The one good thing amid the rancor of this Election is that people are voting in large numbers. The Presidential candidates and their surrogates have been all around North Carolina for months.

  11. I know a number of people who would not be able to vote if it weren't for early voting. Lines can be (and usually are) long, especially in a presidential election year. One can wait an hour and a half or more in our small town. While the law requires that people be given time to vote, the reality is that many cannot take that much time away from a job or home or whatever other obligations they have. With the reduction in polling places and hours, I think we need the early voting option to ensure more people have a chance to exercise their right to a say in who represents them.
    OK, I'm off my soapbox now. But I'll be like you - unable to sleep on the 8th for worry over what the outcome might be.