Friday, October 25, 2019

Crispin Crispianus

My cleaner didn’t come this morning, so the kitchen is not entirely ready for a daughter-in-law’s inspection, but it can’t be helped. I’m feeling pretty end-of-day, as often, and won't do more than lay out towels.

Nor have I done much knitting, and that little, on the new Dathan.

You’re absolutely right, commenters: the book I can’t find is Madeline Weston’s “The Traditional Sweater Book”. Where on earth could it be? It’s not so much that I need the pattern – I need the book. So today, this is embarrassing to admit, I went to Abebooks and bought it again. It was very cheap.

St Crispin’s Day

On Crispin Crispianus in 1952, Sylvia and Ann and I met at her grandmother’s house on East College Street in Oberlin. I think Sylvia’s parents must have been there too. She was about to drop out of college for a year and go with them to England. And at some point that afternoon, somebody must have said, why don’t you join us next summer, Jean?

The first day of the rest of my life.

Olivier’s Henry V was much with us in those days, and much beloved. And the play sort of followed us around. At the end of that summer of ’53, when the others had gone home, I wandered about alone for a few days, and came to the Edinburgh Festival. I saw an excellent Fringe Henry V in a church somewhere, quite possibly the Phoebe Traquair church just around the corner from here.

And then one day in the ‘80’s Ann and Sylvia and I were together in Birmingham – my husband must, mercifully, have been absent. We went to Chatsworth and we went to Stratford and what should the RSC have had on that day but Henry V, with Kenneth Branagh. It must have been relatively early in his career. It was wonderful.

Today I got a Jacquie Lawson ecard from Sylvia. She sends them sometimes. It was all sort of thanksgiving-y but at the end, a message from Sylvia: Happy St Crispin’s day. I burst into tears.


  1. I am glad you were able to find a copy of the book. It is rather a gem

  2. I'm a relatively new follower Jean - literally do not open your page till I have my morning coffee - came here for the knitting, and staying for your glorious life. Looked up Oberlin - 'huh'? Then looked up East College St - 'oh', I say to myself, 'Jean's from America'. Old friends are the best.

  3. And then what? School and met your husband, or the other way round? Happy St; Crispin, indeed. I recently watched Tom Hiddleston's Henry V, very different, but I thought it was good. Perhaps I'll do Oliver tonight, in honor of the day, so I don't think my womanhood cheap...

  4. What a wonderful story, Jean! My husband pointed out that The Times had commemorated the Charge of the Light Brigade for yesterday. Rather a different event.

  5. Yes do tell. I was hoping you were going to reveal the day you met him. You should write a memoir. Really truly you should.

  6. =Tamar6:55 PM

    Rebuying books I know I own - I've been there, done that. Sometimes I even know where it is but it's just buried too deeply to get at easily. What was that old line... I haven't lost it, it's backed up on disc somewhere.

    Don't worry about the kitchen. They love you.

  7. That's a wonderful story, Jean.
    I've reordered books, too. I think I have that book. I better go look. Yesterday I was at Barnes and Noble and I always wander toward the knitting books to see if they have something new. Sometimes it seems their "sorters" do not know the difference between weaving, crochet and knitting. It's snowing today. Maybe I'll browse my knitting book shelves.
    Also, I know just what you mean about preparing for house guests. Sometimes I just don't have it in me (the verve) and laying out towels is the limit. Tamar is so right. They love you. They just want to be there.

  8. My mother used to say "They haven't come to see my house, they have come to see me." Hope you had a good visit.

  9. cleaning out the bookshelves I donated hundreds over the past few years to our library. Now I go to reach for a book to re-read and it's gone, so I buy it again. I now vow to be more careful and will simply buy more bookshelves if I have to. Kindle editions help but I do love the feel of an old book!