Thursday, 30 April 2009

A good haul

My immediate family is small, and reasonably close, as these things go. But going back a generation or two, they're possibly a bit closer than they should have been. My grandparents, on my dad's side, were related (third cousins, once removed, since you ask) before they got married. They were both from large-ish families, so my dad has lots of cousins. They were all at the same school, which, eventually, I went to as well, though I'm a girl so I don't count.

There's an episode of the Simpsons, where Lisa is worried that there's a Simpson's gene, that kicks in when you're 10 and turns you stupid. Not unreasonably, she's based this on her experience of Homer and Bart. But Marge, as ever, knows better, and in a lovely example of experiential learning, organises a party for all of Homer's cousins. The cousins, including the women, are clearly all drawn from the Homer template. Most of the men look like drop kicks, but there's one, in tux, who Lisa figures looks successful (error #1). Lisa approaches him to ask what he does. On closer inspection, his tux is slightly shabby. Turns out, he impersonates rick people at parties. Fortunately, the female cousins are all far more successful, being Pulitzer prize winning novelists and the like. Lisa deduces that there is a Simpson gene, but it only affects boys. Her and Maggie are spared.

Why this is relevant to this post is because of the similarities of Homer and his cousins. When I see my dad with his cousins, it's like that. Even the ones that aren't related to each other, other than as like fifth cousins, once removed. They don't all look like one another, but you could arrange them like a colour chart, and go, via my Dad, from my uncle Peter all the way to cousin Tony. Anyway, the only time I ever see them all together now is at the funerals of the generation above, my great aunts and uncles.

Most of the great aunts and uncles lived in the North of England, in Cumbria, and over the last few years, there's been a nasty outbreak of funerals. I went, when I was pregnant with Child B, for Great Aunt Cicely's. This was catered by the Women's Guild who treated it as a cake competition. I sat on a knitting needle on the train on the way home, causing considerable blood loss, and the first and so far only knitting injury I have sustained. Even funeral's have high and low points. But a trip to one of these funerals inevitably involves staying in Penrith, which is a funny little northern market town. My mum thinks it's Satan's own market town, but I quite like it. We even went on holiday near there a couple of years ago. We went to Eden Ostrich World. They have a zebroid. A zebroid no less. It was brilliant.

Sadly, this year Great Uncle Vernon died, so we all traipsed up again for his funeral. He was in his nineties, and had been a vicar. There was a considerable ecclesiastical turn out at the church, possibly the most men in dresses you get outside a transvestite convention.

Penrith is one of those towns that seems to have a lot of bed shops, and a lot of children's clothes shops. Perhaps because it's so cold and bleak, all there is to do is go to bed. And once you're there, you better make some babies cos otherwise you'd get bored. But it also has a fantastic book shop and a knitting shop with one of the rudest women in I've ever met. So rude in fact I'm not going to link to her. Yeah, that'll learn her. But I did still buy some wool from her, to make some edging for a blanket I think I've made and posted off without photographing. Whoops.

It's a terrible picture, but the wool is lots of pinky purply colours. It became a scalloped edging for a chunky cream moss stitch baby blanket.

But really, the star of the Penrith shopping scene is Help the Aged, where I went on the rampage, coming out with three silk scarves, which I think will embellish skirts I have yet to make, and some beautiful vintage buttons. I had to keep bartering the shop lady up. She was trying to give me three for two deals and all sorts, but I put my foot down, and said I was completely happy to pay 50p a scarf, yes, even for the smaller one. I went into raptures for the buttons, and have vaguely fantasized about going back (it's 5 hours away) for some more. They had a whole shoe box of vintage ones. So, all in all, it was a good haul. Just a shame to bury Uncle Vermin though.

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