Sunday, 26 June 2016

The aftermath

The best thing to happen to me in the last week, is that I went to Fracture Clinic on Wednesday and they gave me a boot!

I can now stand and walk without crutches!  I am mobile again.  Yay!  Can't drive until after my next Fracture Clinic appointment on 20th July, though.

The worst thing that happened?  Well, unless you've been living under a media blackout, you can probably guess what it is: Britain voted to leave the EU.  

Brexit.  What an absolute economic disaster. My fellow residents of the U.K. voted for a recession.  They voted for the Pound to tank against other currencies.  They voted for the price of petrol to increase.  They voted for inward investment to cease.  They voted for jobs and manufacturing to transfer to other parts of Europe.  They voted for food prices to double.  

Woah there!  I can hear my Australian and American friends going "Hang on.... Food prices to double?"  It doesn't sound comprehensible, does it?  The fact of the matter is that Britain has not been self-sufficient in food since before the First World War.  And I'm not talking grain.  Prior to WW2, Britain imported 60% of its fresh produce.  It still does. The vast majority of what goes on most people's tables comes from other parts of the EU.  Another slab comes from as far afield as Kenya (strawberries) or Egypt (potatoes).  Go food shopping in a supermarket in France or Spain or the Netherlands and you'll be hard pressed to find any produce that wasn't grown "in country" - the reverse is true here. 

Well, say the Brexitiers, at least we won't be wasting money on the Common Agricultural Policy, subsidising farmers to produce butter mountains.  It's an expensive waste of money, isn't it? Throughout the years I have lived in the UK, I have heard stories/complaints about the Common Agricultural policy:  the butter mountains; the inefficiencies (keeping small farms alive instead of allowing them to go to the wall and be absorbed into agribusiness conglomerations); the abuses (Italy claiming to have more land producing tomatoes than its entire landmass); paying farmers to leave land fallow (so that biodiversity is preserved), etc...  

I have always thought that they missed the point: the reason the Common Agricultural Policy exists in the first place is food security.  It was devised when the memories of the famines and food shortages that followed WW2 were fresh in people's minds.  People remembered starving. They starved before and during the War too.  Germany remembered the great inflation of the 1920's, when the price of bread could double within an hour.  France, Belgium and the Netherlands remembered starving during the War too, when the occupying Nazis employed the policy of feeding their war machine first, Der Vaterland second and the plebs third.  With starvation fresh in your memory, wouldn't you subsidise farming to ensure food security?

I fully expect food prices to double in the next two years. Mark my words.  It won't just be due to the Pound falling in value against the Euro, either.   Britain is dependent on Europe for most of its foodstuffs.  Right now, the other nations in the EU sell food to us on the same basis as they sell it internally - no tariffs; no additional taxes.  Now, they will have a choice:  sell internally to the other 26 countries, or put a tariff on and sell to the UK, who desperately want your food and are ripe to be milked...

Britain needs the EU far more than the EU needs Britain. 

- Pam

Friday, 17 June 2016

I broke it.

I am a stubborn sod. Ten days ago, I slipped in the ground floor lift foyer at work, twisting my right ankle and wrenched my foot. I can’t walk on it. I spent a large portion of that evening sitting with my foot elevated, sporting a bag of peas while stubbornly thinking “It will be better in the morning”. It wasn’t so I went to A&E in morning. It turns out that I have a footballer’s injury – I have an avulsion fracture of the fifth tarsal (basically my foot muscles pulled a chip off the ankle end of the long bone on the outside of the foot).

The thing is: I knew that I'd broken something within about a minute but I didn't want to admit it. The Thursday  was meant to be a day working in London followed by the T20 cricket at the Oval, and I didn't want to miss that. I was on my way out to dinner with a really good friend who I don't see often enough and didn't want to waste a precious evening in the Royal Berks. (Also, where would I park?). I kept telling myself that it'd wear off; it was only when I put weight on it that it hurt. It didn't hurt to drive; it didn't hurt when I was sitting; surely it would wear off? 

Only it didn't. I knew I wouldn't get to the cricket before I left Reading. Walking from my parked car to the house nearly had me in tears - the deciding vote for A&E. I left it until the morning only because I have worked in A&E and know that mornings are quiet, so you get seen relatively quickly.

While it doesn't hurt much unless I lose my balance and stand on it, the past ten days have been exercises in frustration.  I have crutches but am about as manoeuvrable as a lump of coal with them.   I can’t use them and carry anything.  This turns everything into a production number, when I’m home alone.  Every step has to be thought out.  For example, to make a cup of coffee I have to hop with my crutches to the kitchen cupboard to get a coffee cup, propping one crutch up nearby to free up one hand;  stretch to put it down on the kitchen table; hop with crutches to the other side of the table, where I can reach the kettle without stretching and the coffee;  reach over to get the cup so that I can pour in the water, etc;  push it back to the other side of the kitchen table then hop back round to reach the fridge to get the milk, etc.  All the while, trying to balance on one foot and one crutch because I’ve had to put the other down so that I can hold whatever-it-is while in transit before I can put it on the table.

I'm lucky that a) I have a  portable office (laptop) and can work from home, and b) that I managed to break my foot just at the start of the Euro2016 football championships.  Both have helped me stay sane!  I would die of boredom if my days were just me and the television, waiting for Gerald to get home.  Beyond "Homes Under the Hammer", there is nothing worth watching on daytime TV.  (I have a few things stashed on the DVR but not enough to last me.)  

My ears shut off when i concentrate, so there's no point having anything on in the background while I'm working but when I'm not and there's no football, I'm mainly listening to podcasts from the BBC:  Moneybox; Kermode and Mayo's Film Review; Costing the Earth; Ramblings; Open Book; WS More or Less (who are doing a fascinating series on how statistics are used and abused during the Euro Referendum).  The knitting podcasts I'm listening to include:  Knitmore Girls; Knit British; Caithness Craft Collective; iMake (back-episodes only since she's stopped recording); Shineybees; Stash and Burn; CogKnitive.

I have a fracture clinic appointment on Wednesday.  Hopefully, they will give me some idea how much longer this will go on. 

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Enough is enough

This is the story of a pair of socks....

You may remember the craze for Jaywalkers, at one point it seemed that every knitting blogger/podcaster on the planet were making a pair. ( Ravelry tells me that I knitted my Jaywalker Socks in 2011.  They were pretty:

I remember casting on the 76 stitches and thinking, this is an awful lot of stitches for someone like me with a size five foot (size 7 US/Australian), but the pattern mentioned that there was very little give in the fabric and that someone "with a high arch" (not me) might struggle to get the socks on over their heels.    Little did I realise then that putting the damn things on would be a battle every single time that I wore them.  Since I wear hand-knitted socks to work virtually every day, they became the last-choice-in-the-drawer socks.  Still, I reckon I must have worn them once a month for the last five years, battling to put them on and take them off 60+ times, until this happened last week:

A hole just below the cuff.  A hole that didn't run, even after I threw the socks in the washing machine. (I'd worn them to work that day.).  A hole that, frankly, I've been expecting ever since the first day I wore these socks back in 2011.   You can't blame the yarn, Supergarne Relax Sport Und Strumpfgarn, it knows how to take a beating.  It put up with an awful lot of hauling and stretching over the years, as well as the usual wear and tear from walking and shoes.  

I looked at the hole, today, and did something I should have done back in 2011.  I gave in to the inevitable, and frogged them.  I cut the toe, wriggling the thread through a few stitches

then ripped and ripped.  The yarn has stood up to wear and tear beautifully.  I hadn't realised just how tight the stitches were - it made quite a noise ripping out - and it's definitely more of a 3-ply now than a four.  Am contemplating giving it a gentle soak in warm water before re-balling it up and knitting it into a nicer pair of socks.

Any pattern suggestions?

- Pam