Monthly Archives: December 2013

Take your time


Things to do when you can’t sleep: xxxix


xxxix : Mourn the lost art of the skein-holder

The skilled skein-holder sways the wool before you, adjusting their pace imperceptibly to your winding for a continuous feed of yarn, with no tension in the thread or sudden catches.  They do half the work for you.  The one person in the family who still knows how to do this is not available at 5 am.

Chairs do not have these skills, and the resulting ball lacks the beautiful regularity one can attain when there is an IQ at the other end of the wool.  Today it will have to do.

Baby alpaca and mulberry silk, by the way, for those of you who like to know such things.

Baby alpaca and mulberry silk, by the way, for those of you who like to know such things.

Things to do when you can’t sleep: xxxviii


xxxviii : Hold the annual battle of the Christmas lights

thus giving yourself the opportunity to play hunt-the-batteries, try to work out which replacement fuse bulb goes with which light set, walk on spiky plastic lamp covers in your bare feet, and discover that you have every screwdriver except the correct one.

Not recommended as a way of courting slumber, but I think I won.  Mostly.

Now light one thousand Christmas lights

Now light one thousand Christmas lights

Soames’ black buttons



Five reasons for watching the BBC 1967 dramatisation of The Forsyte Saga in its slightly wobbly black and white.

  1. You can sleep through as much as you like (no explosions or loud music), wake up and the story will still be going on
  2. See Victorian costume interpreted through a 60s prism.  Irene looks particularly odd in her heavy eyeliner and false eyelashes like two lean-to roofs
  3. Enjoy the slow pace in which you can notice servants, dogs and shaky sets
  4. A satisfying set of old buffers and old ladies. The later episodes lose some of their savour as the senior Forsytes drop out.  My favourite is James:  ” … France … Bournemouth was good enough for us … always rushing about … shouldn’t wonder if they caught something …”
  5. Eric Porter’s unforgettable star turn as Soames, a bundle of contradictions done up tight in his fearsome black buttons.


Two bridges


A long road trip yesterday for the wrong reasons, on a dark, dank, foggy winter day.  Two bridges admitted a little light.

One for the morning:  drinking tea above the weir, watching a small tourist craft execute a cautious three-point turn.



One for the afternoon:  the towers of the new Severn crossing rose small and ghostly in the mist, then suddenly unfolded their geometrical grandeur.


30 seconds