The man behind it all…..

Well, after 18 months of daily blogging, I think you all know me pretty well. I don’t hold back here, so you’re getting a clearer picture of who I am than many of my real life acquaintances. But I realised today that Tony is something more of an enigma. He was an anonymous Mr P for a long time, but slowly you’ve been getting to know him. And today, I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about him:

  • He has a superb singing voice, a very powerful tenor, and can do a pretty impressive version of Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma.
  • He’s a fabulous cook, and does most of our cooking. His father was a cook in the Army, and was cooking curries and exotic food long before Britain had discovered food outside of beef and cabbage. Tony’s speciality is spicy food too.
  • He’s a bit of a mad inventor, always coming up with bits of machinery and equipment to make jobs easier. This has been very useful in our yarn business, such as the time he designed a skein winder out of an old bicycle!
  • He seems very happy-go-lucky (and in fact, is a very cheerful person), but he’s also very sensitive and emotional, and easily moved. Bless him, he even cried at the end of Babe.  
  • He has infinite patience and kindness. I think he would have made a wonderful teacher.

People are drawn to Tony, especially children. There’s something about him, that makes you feel better just by being around him. It’s a quality that’s hard to put your finger on, he’s not especially witty, but people smile and laugh more when he’s there. It’s impossible not to love him. And I do, oh so much….. 

Weird Girl

Like the lovely Karen, I have done the Seven Weird Things meme before, but like her, I have more than enough quirks to do it again, and since my mind is a cheerful blank this morning, I’m taking the opportunity.

  • I have a distinct preference for even numbers, and will go out of my way to have things a nice ’round’ number (if not an even number, then a multiple of five). My Bloglines list is causing me some discomfiture at the moment, because there are 21 blogs on it. One of you will have to go…..
  • I see myself as much thinner than I actually am. In my head I’m a nicely proportioned size 12, but in reality I’m more like a size 16. This presents problems in shop changing rooms, as I always insist on taking in clothes that turn out to be too small for me.
  • I have to have a banana before going to bed, or I won’t sleep properly (or at all). This is a fairly recent thing – why was I able to sleep for 30 years without a banana, but can’t miss a night now? Who knows. I’ll swear its physiological not psychological though.  
  • I have to have a stack of books waiting to be read – the thought of finishing a book without several more ready to take its place fills me with complete panic.
  • I’m quite terrified of drunk people. I think it’s the lack of control, not knowing what they might do.
  • I had nightmares almost every night for years, in fact I can still remember some of the worst ones from when I was a little girl. Then suddenly, about 2 years ago, they stopped. Now I rarely have them, in fact my dream life is rather an amusing one nowadays!
  • I have a kind of radar for dishonesty. I can nearly always tell when someone is lying or hiding something. Maybe that’s why I love detective fiction so much! I find dishonesty really hard to tolerate in people. 

Josh, my lovely 17 year old nephew, is always teasing me about how weird I am. Ha. You have my genes in you, boy, so look out….. 

An Old Fashioned Girl

I think I need to create a new category called Opinionated. Because I am a very opinionated person, and the longer I blog, the more my opinions are clamouring to be expressed. I am a grownup, I have learned that not everyone wants to hear my viewpoint on any given subject, and so I tend to keep schtum unless asked. But you seem like such close friends to me now that opinions can’t help but creep in when we are talking.

I must be honest with you though, I’m a very odd person really. You know these personality tests you can do, where they draw out the information that you prefer peas to carrots, your favourite music decade is the 1970s, you would never go to sleep with your makeup on, and your dream date is Heath Ledger, and from that define you as a fun loving girl with a strong sense of loyalty and a hidden desire for a large family? Well, they never work for me (ok, they don’t really work for anyone, but what I mean is, the answer I would choose is never in the list of options). I expect, if truth be told, that few people fit neatly into a pigeon hole, but I have always seemed to be a misfit. Not in a scary way, just in a slightly uncomfortable way.

I attribute this partially to having been born to older parents. My mum was 43 when she had me, which was positively geriatric back in the 70’s. I was brought up around older people, and could never get along with kids my own age. I spent my childhood and teen years stuck firmly into a book. And I rapidly came to the conclusion that I had simply been born into the wrong decade, in fact, possibly into the wrong century.

At 16 I was deeply into L M Montgomery (still am), and decided to makeover myself as an Edwardian lady. I found a book of historical dress patterns, and my dear mother sewed me a couple of authentic skirts, floor length and pintucked, and some high necked lace and broderie anglaise blouses. I wore my hair in a pompadour bun. I read a rather silly article in this week’s Sunday Times style supplement that advised women who didn’t fit the general idea of beauty to play up their qualities in a historical way, dressing as a Fieldingesque doxy with frizzed hair and rouged cheeks, if necessary. Well the world of the early 1990’s was not that inventive or openminded, and this was long before the vintage clothing trend hit the fashion world and made retro dressing the norm. Still, I was happy.

Later on I was to turn this passion for the olden days into a successful business, with a vintage clothing website. That was huge fun, back in the days when vintage was becoming very trendy, but before the general public had caught on, so that you could find divine 1950’s ball gowns in the fancy dress section of charity shops. Happy days. Luckily for me, I’m blessed with such wonderful friends that they thought my vintage clothes were cool long before the High Street made them everyday wear. And with a shops stock to choose from, I had a revolving vintage wardrobe (although at 5’10, very few items properly fitted me).

Nowadays I’m far too lazy to dress up, but when I do, I’m still most comfortable in vintage inspired clothing. And in the other areas of my life, I’m always drawn to the old fashioned. My cd collection consists of Big Band era standards and classical music (the only radio station I can bear is Classic FM). My favourite books, as I mentioned yesterday, are at least 60 years old. I adore old films, Frank Capra’s work, the Nick & Nora series (oh! I bought some wonderful Nick & Nora snowman sheets today off eBay! But I digress…), anything black and white.

It seems to me that the world has lost its sweetness in the last 50 years. You only have to contrast the difference in humour, for one thing. I do not like the sardonic cruelty that characterises so much of today’s comedy, or its vulgarity either (and yes, I know that using the word vulgar makes me very old fashioned). I don’t like the fact that nothing is sacrosanct, that everything in life is open to scrutiny and mockery. I don’t like the cynicism that I see around me, even though I can understand the reasons for it, and I loathe the lack of good manners in today’s society.

And small things too. Why don’t we have afternoon tea any more? Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if we all stopped for tea, and bread toasted on a fork in front of a log fire, and buttered crumpets, and macaroons, in the middle of the afternoon? And wouldn’t life be easier if women were allowed to get older, instead of devoting all their time, money, and brain to looking the same age as their grand daughters? And whatever happened to people reading aloud to one another?      

I’m not denying that there have been changes for the better in the last few decades, but there have been far more changes for the worst. In my opinion. But I cannot turn the clock back, or transport myself back through time to a gentler age. All I can do is create my own little personal timewarp. In it, I sit in front of a fire, drinking tea and eating freshly baked scones. Chopin tinkles prettily in the background, and a clock ticks steadily. A good whodunnit lays on my lap, and my knitting is by my side. Whatever changes in the world outside, the things I love remain. And maybe one day, I’ll be able to persuade Tony to read Pickwick Papers to me as I knit….

September 20th, 2007

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions yesterday, every one of them was much appreciated. And there were some really good ideas for me to try. I’ll keep you posted on how they work out for me.

But onto more serious matters. As you know, we live in a very rural area. Recently, I’ve been taking my sketchbook out and about in the local area, and sadly, I’m discovering that there’s a darker side to country life. Behind those honeysuckle hedges, a storm is brewing. There’s rebellion in the farmyard.

One sheep gave me his opinion on the matter in the frankest of terms. “It’s a matter of respect,” he told me. “For too long now we’ve been viewed as cute little animals, with nothing going on beneath our fluffy heads. But we have feelings too, we have ambitions, hopes and dreams, and we’re getting tired of having our lives decided for us by humans. We want freedom of choice, the right to decide our own destiny. What if I don’t want to be a pair of socks? What if I want to grow my fleece long instead of being forcibly sheared?”

A nearby cow agreed. “There’s a total lack of dignity about our lives,” she said, “and many animals are getting tired of it. Shouldn’t we have a say in our own productiveness? Personally, I don’t even like icecream, yet here I am, day after day, producing pints of it against my will. And what would happen if I spoke up publicly? I’d end up covering a fireside chair or something. It’s a lose/lose situation.”

Her comments really sum up the climate of fear that I noticed while talking with these animals. Many of them wouldn’t comment on the situation at all, preferring to keep a safe distance from any possible repercussions. The pigs, in particular, felt that their position was far too dangerous for public complaint. “Life’s hard enough as it is,” one of them said gloomily. “No one wants to be bacon.”

But for all their anxiety about possible consequences, these animals seem determined to do something about their situation, to take their destiny into their own hands. What will this mean for us? How much of an impact will this have on our own society, and on the rural community in particular? Only time will tell.

(PS. I’m working against the clock to get this week’s update ready, but there will be lots of preview photos on tomorrow’s blog.)

Blankety Blank…..

It might be the late night we had yesterday, due to dinner with friends, but my mind is a complete blank this morning. Actually, it’s rather restful – my brain usually runs at a mile a minute. But it makes for a boring blog. Of course, I could always show you tantalising yarn pictures…….(and I will)…… or I could answer Kerrie’s question: What five things do you wish you could stop doing?

1. Reading People Magazine online. Such a time waster, such a guilty pleasure. Actually, since losing broadband, I have stopped reading it (and I use that phrase loosely, since you don’t read People, you look at the pictures). But oh, how I miss it. Life just isn’t the same now that I don’t know what colour Mary-Kate Olsen’s hair is right now, or who Jennifer Aniston is/is not dating.

2. Buying broccoli. It always goes bad before I get around to using it. And if I only buy it the day I plan to use it, something will intervene. We’ll get take-out that night, or Mr P will do the cooking and forget the broccoli. It’s a conspiracy.

3. Staying up late. I feel so much better when I get a good night’s sleep, and I’m usually sleepy by 10.30. But if I go past that point, for any reason, I get my second – third, even – wind. I get a little manic. I get excited at the prospect of staying up ’til 1 a.m. watching dvd’s. And then I regret it the next day.

4. Picking the skin round my cuticles. This one is a forlorn hope – I’ve been doing it since I was 11, and the only time I ever managed to stop was before my wedding, with the threat of Wedding Photos hanging over me. And if I forget to wear gloves for even a minute while dyeing, the dyes soak into the picky bits round my nails, and no amount of scrubbing or soaking gets it out. Not a very elegant look, green ragged cuticles.

5. Starting new knitting projects. Three shawls, one hoodie, two pairs of socks, one hat, one jacket, and I’m still planning new projects. And we all know, it’s one quick ecstatic step from planning to casting on.

Well, as a reward for reading through that bit of navel gazing, look! Pretty yarn!!

Sophia 2ply in Babydoll

Eva 4ply in Crab Apple

Eva 8ply in Dinosaur

More tomorrow. And oh, did I mention that all the new yarn arrived yesterday? We’ll be debuting it all next week (for now, let’s just say perfect summer yarns), so those of you lucky enough to go to Woolfest this weekend, don’t spend all your money!!