Not a fan, this evening I sat through a whole documentary about Charles Bukowski. As was to be expected most of the film indulged his heavy drinking and it’s influence on his poetic quest. Coincidentally it focussed on his time working as an Indefinite Substitute Carrier at a postal sorting office in Los Angeles. Early mornings, drink and poetry didn’t mix well. He couldn’t cope with the drudgery, quitting in a drunken flourish with a really scathing and abusive resignation letter to his bosses. With a family, an extravagant way of overcoming his own melancholia and in desperate personal neglect he was eventually forced to beg for his job back again. Now relegated to the role of Temporary Substitute Distribution Clerk, he worked there for the next twelve years. By the late sixties he was becoming a nationally recognised poet, traveling across the US to read his work. In 1970 a publisher persuaded him to take up poetry full time, to leave the job that had given him at least a small portion of security. Bukowski sat down and wrote ‘Post Office’, a two hundred page description of his experiences and the characters around him at the sorting office. It was this novel that led to him gaining wider literary appreciation.
Curiously my scanner has stopped working, something to do with the driver? I have had to rephotograph an old snapshot of Tatsumi Orimoto’s Bread Man, performed a few years ago at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London.
Just as I finished my second, less tense square I was whisked away from one knitting circle to tea and cake with another. A machine knitting group that had been meeting for twenty five years. None of them hand knitted, and they admitted that most of them didn’t produce much on their machines now either. The meetings were a good excuse to see each other, to swap hints and tips on different machines and computer operating systems, linux was their preferred option. They showed me Jacquard patterns, a binary code system that has been part of knitting machines since they were first developed in the 16th Century. Explained the wonders of Embelishers and Dry Felting. There were also holiday photos of a trip to see the crocheted coral reef, an environmental statement about Climate Change produced by knitters in Sydney.
As we were leaving the discussion turned toward health. One of the members was due to have a cataracts operation this morning, she was nervous. Everyone else had already had them removed so they told her how simple the procedure was and how brilliant the effect. Instantly fabulous colours, blues, reds and greens, fantastic and so clear. Their eyes sparkled with delight at the memory of that moment.
Re-photographing from the computer screen a small detail of a badly scanned version of WG Sebald’s photocopied image of a photograph of herring fishermen in Lowestoft. I had to dash out for a meeting. It was raining heavily, the first time for a good while. I grabbed someone else’s raincoat. Curiously, when I got back I couldn’t find my camera. No-one had been there. Had I taken it with me? Had it slipped out of the flimsy pockets of the jacket? I didn’t think so. Three days of looking high and low, the workshop was in a shambles. Still no camera. Grrr.
I bite the bullet, trudge over to the Police Station. In the queue ahead of me, a man was attempting to get his passport photograph signed. Kafkaesque logic meant that he couldn’t get his plane back to his home without someone validating the picture. Just as I was to be called to the counter a young mother marched in demanding that the police arrest her daughter, who she had locked in her car outside. This took fifteen minutes whilst everyone signed the relevant paper work and looked for keys to the cells, and then her car. Another person rushed in, couldn’t stop, with a completely different set of keys, found in the next street. More paperwork. More confusion.
My turn. Had anyone brought in my black, shoot and snap digital camera? The receptionist laughed cheerily, tapped the few details I had given. “yes, sir, we have it here, someone will bring it up for you.” Unbelievable. “Fantastic. Thank-you”. When I left ten minutes later I floated through the mother/child/police dispute that was flaring outside. The sun was shining, a lovely spring day was bursting forth.
My First Tension Square. Relatively loose (“for a beginner”), and quite controlled but hardly square. It’s difficult to knit, listen and chat. Regulars at the group say that they save work to bring in, stuff they don’t have to particularly focus on. The source of my tension, some might find it relaxing, but it is a complex series of knots nonetheless. Ten rows of ten stitches leaves me shellshocked in admiration for the person who took up two sticks and a length of string and created those first few stitches.
I thought this might be as far as I would get, but this week I have spent more time than usual in front of the computer working out how to Cast On. It was recommended that I use You Tube knitting videos as a guide. Hilarious. Lots of different ways of casting on, lots of different forms of presentation. Language and terminology I have never heard before.
Braided. Knit Half-Hitch. Standard. Tubular. Double Needle. Chain. Chain Crochet. Turkish. Circular. Magic. Knit-on. Twisted German. Wrap. Backward-Loop. Long Tail. Continental. Single. Double. Cable. Old Norwegian. Provisional. Invisible. Looped. Alternate cable.