MARRYING JAMES McCOY

MARRYING JAMES McCOY

I’ve been experiencing difficulties with my sewing machine (Janome Decor, bought no more than three years ago. Its needle kept falling out in mid seam, and in addition I found it very difficult and time consuming to rethread. I had it serviced at a cost of £50 and for a time it had worked, but now it was back to its old tricks.

I explained the problem to John who responded, Let’s go this morning to John Lewis and buy another one. (This is one of the reasons I married him. He’s generous and decisive.. He doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet. He was just as positive and decisive about me; asked me to marry him on our first date. We were married on the 8th day after he was granted his divorce; you had to wait a statutory 7 days. I told this story to my children and said I had never regretted it, but I could not really recommend it as a course of action!)

Anyway, while I was getting ready he did a bit of research and we decided that we’d probably get a Brother, a Japanese model. I had had a knitting machine of this make which had been entirely satisfactory. A saleslady approached us to offer help whenever we began looking at the machines. I explained about my difficulties and she produced a model that the manufacturer recommended for persons with limited manual dexterity, that was suitable for children over 8 years old, and that was very easy to thread. The lady had said that she herself owned this machine and so I asked her, Was this true? Oh yes, she answered confidently enough, though adding after a short pause – a trifle ominously I thought, – ‘Once you get the hang of it’.

We took it home and John set it up for me. I sat down with the manual – a vast tome. I filled the bobbin and fitted the bobbin thread with ease. You just appear to plop it into the space for it and abandon it. Somehow it manages to link up with the top thread all by itself. I then proceeded to attempt the top threading but here I drew a blank. However I fiddled with it, it didn’t work. I spent two hours painstakingly reading and re-reading the instructions but no joy. I could of course have abandoned the attempt and threaded the needle manually but I resisted this. I was on the point of ringing my friend Alison (she can fix anything) and begging for her help, when I idly turned the page and found the headline saying ‘For Machines which Do Not have the Threading Adaption.’ The diagram at last made sense, and I had the machine threaded in about half a minute. Although I would have bought the ‘adaption’ had I been offered it, the machine does seem to be very quick and easy to thread even without it.

So I started sewing. So far I have made a decidedly hodge-podge affair of pieces of random fabric sewn together and backed and edged with black cotton to make a blackout blind for the young children’s bedroom; a pair of double thickness aprons with their initials for Elisabeth’s boys; part of a pyjama set for Elisabeth, with lace; a patchwork cushion-cover for Elisabeth in colours that she likes. In the pipeline ready to be completed, is a cream cotton dress made from a duvet cover, with dark red butterflies which just happens to go with a jacket I have; a dressing-gown and pyjamas made in white cotton lawn with added white embroidery from an old tablecloth; an alteration to a pair of pyjamas I have already made where the top is too long and the pants too narrow (who ate all the pies?) I also intend to make a Harris tweed waistcoat for John to wear with his kilt, and some loose comfortable trousers and tops in cotton prints for myself for summer.

My previous machine, complete with all its tools and its instruction book is boxed up for Glasgow where I hope in a house with three daughters, at least one of them might be interested to learn to sew.

My mother used to sing a song about a young woman who sewed all day, the chorus of which went, If I didn’t have my sewing machine, I’d have married James McCoy. No chance of that in my case: John was too quick for him!

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IS IT TREASON?

The case against Gavin Williamson, is interesting. It is alleged that he leaked information on the subjects discussed at a meeting of the National Security Council to a Telegraph journalist; and as a result Theresa May has sacked him. I am reminded of the Cat’s speech in Tale of a Mouse in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland:

“I’ll be Judge, I’ll be Jury.”

Said cunning old Fury.

“I’ll try the whole lot,

and condemn them

to Death!”

Gavin Williamson swore, on the lives of his children, that he was innocent of the charges. He did admit (there was a record of his call so he could scarcely deny it) that he had spoken to the journalist immediately after the break up of the meeting. It is possible that he did not leak, but a man of any sense would not have taken the call. Clearly, Williamson is not at core a sensible man I had at first some sympathy for him, stripped of his robes of office, his enhanced income, his power – all in a single afternoon, with no reference to supportive evidence that might endorse his protests; but his face, in my opinion, is a witness for the prosecution and in no sense supports the case for the defence.

Labour’s Tom Watson, an opponent both devious and dangerous urges a police enquiry, but this is fraught with danger for Williamson. If the result went against him, he could face criminal charges, possibly including treason, a crime which the populace despises especially when it is against the country itself.

I was appalled to hear him swear his innocence ‘on the lives of his children’. (Though I did hear some cynic wondering if he had any). We tend sometimes to assume that the swearing of an oath is a trivial matter, but it is not. When I served on a jury, I secretly objected to being made to take an oath, for since I had every intention of behaving with integrity as best I was able it seemed to me to cast aspersions on my honesty. I chose to swear ‘by Almighty God’ and I have to say it made me think carefully before I applied my persuasions to my fellow jurors. To swear an oath on the lives of your children is a terrible oath and one wonders what his children felt about this, or their mother. He has sustained great losses already, but there may be longer term damage yet to come.

I recall feeling much the same chill when I heard the distasteful Jonathan Aitken saying he was taking up the sword of truth to fight injustice and one knew that he was lying. He had also induced his daughter to commit perjury on his behalf. I remember thinking, this will end badly for you, and indeed it did. Anyone taking up ‘the sword of truth’ should be sure he is fit to wield it, otherwise it will turn on him and destroy him.

Did Williamson simply choose a headline grabbing phrase because he doesn’t believe a word about the binding nature of an oath? Is he desperate to realise his ambitions while he thinks he can? Even if he were innocent of the charge, it would be almost impossible to prove, so does he think the extreme nature of his protestations will make them more believable?

Which would one rather be mistaken for – a traitor, a fool or a liar?

Meanwhile, we should perhaps add Gavin Williamson’s children to the body of people we all pray for. I am sure they will be fine. God is not partial.