Search Results for '"bad wool"'

On Flossie Partridge

Though his mighty brain confounded mere mortals, Sherlock Holmes was, of course, a dimwit in comparison with his brother Mycroft. Something similar may be said about Blossom Partridge and her sister Flossie.

Blossom is best-known as editrix of Miss Blossom Partridge’s Weekly Digest, quite possibly the finest weekly digest on this or any other planet. It remains, defiantly, a printed paper publication, though one feels sure that if Blossom ever countenanced the idea of going online, she would wipe the floor with the ghastly Arianna Huffington or with Tina Brown of the Daily Beast. Not the least of the charms of the Weekly Digest is that it is hand-written in Blossom’s immaculate copperplate and the copies duplicated on an ancient and creaking Gestetner machine. Blossom also refuses to acknowledge the horrors of decimalisation and the cover price has been held at 4d. By any measure she is a marvel of marvels among women.

Yet she would be first to bow to the even greater marvellousness of her sister. Flossie Partridge is a balloonist, aviatrix, explorer, inventor, secret agent, government spy, and the Lord knows what else besides. She could serve as a role model for any aspiring International Woman of Mystery, did she not remain almost entirely hidden from the public gaze. What little we know about her is thanks to hints dropped by Blossom in her magazine.

For example, Blossom has written movingly about the rare times the sisters spend together, when “we never walk like other people: we skip and gambol to show how girlish we are, as if we were Goosie and Piggy Antrobus”. She alludes to some of Flossie’s more hair-raising adventures in her regular “Glimpses of Flossie’s Hair-Raising Adventures” column, without ever going into the sort of detail that might compromise her sister’s obsessive, indeed maniacal, desire for secrecy. Thus, we might be afforded a “glimpse” of Flossie inventing a new serum, or in hand-to-hand combat with a giant anaconda, but we will not be told the purpose or recipe of the serum, nor the rationale or location of the death-struggle. Nor, incidentally, does Blossom divulge how one might engage in hand-to-hand combat with a beast that has no hands, though by omitting an explanation she guarantees a bulging postbag of readers’ letters.

Regular readers of the Weekly Digest will be aware that in virtually every issue, the “Dear Miss Partridge” letters page includes a lengthy, demented, and hysterical screed from a certain I. Alfred Pigtosser. Occasionally, Mr Pigtosser might address a topic raised in an earlier issue; more often, however, his letter will be a bitter and venomous harangue, barely coherent, shading at times into outright madness. Blossom has stated that it is her policy never to cut or otherwise edit her readers’ letters, and so there are times when a Pigtosser letter takes up six- or seven-eighths of the entire magazine. Readers complain, but Blossom remains unruffled.

It has not escaped the notice of her more astute readers that “I. Alfred Pigtosser” is an anagram of “Flossie Partridge”. Could it be, they ask, incredulously, that this poisonous invective is the work of the editrix’s marvellous sister? To which Blossom has responded by publishing grainy black-and-white photographs purporting to show Mr Pigtosser as an infant, on a tricycle, in a sailor’s suit, next to a large swan. She does not say how she came by these snaps, nor provide evidence of the (blurred) infant’s identity. On the other hand, Blossom is such a marvellous woman that she would surely not try to pull the wool over her readers’ eyes. It is a conundrum to be sure.

Speaking of wool, another of the regular features in the Weekly Digest is “Miss Blossom Partridge’s Woolly Blather”. Here one might find adventurous knitting projects, crochet extravaganzas, and disquisitions upon good wool and bad wool. Every now and then, the “Woolly Blather” and “Glimpses of Flossie’s Hair-Raising Adventures” columns are combined into one, as a surprising number of Flossie’s hair-raising adventures have involved wool in some form or other. One thinks of the incident when Flossie was engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a giant anaconda which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be an extensive draught-excluding sausage knitted entirely from the wool of a merino sheep. Blossom, with her typical editorial dash, appended a pattern so readers could knit their own. As if to provide fuel for the conspiracy theorists, the article prompted a letter from I. Alfred Pigtosser so lengthy, and mad, that it completely filled the next three issues of the magazine.

As far as is known, Flossie Partridge has never published a single word under her own name. Presumably she is too busy ballooning, flying aeroplanes, exploring, inventing, engaged on secret missions, spying for the government, and the Lord knows what else besides ever to find time to put pen to paper. Blossom has said, however, that once, when she and her sister were skipping and gambolling girlishly o’er the green to dance around a maypole, Flossie let slip that she kept a daily diary. It is said to run to thousands upon thousands of pages, scribbled in Flossie’s mad demented scrawl – so unlike her sister’s elegant copperplate! – and kept in an airtight and lead-lined storage facility in a subterranean cavern somewhere below the Swiss Alps. Who knows what secrets it contains? Marvellous secrets!

Child seated beside table with table cloth holding a black rag doll

Blossom, or Flossie, or someone else entirely, as a child.


If you are a certain type of folk singer, or vicar, or countryside rambler, you will as likely as not be wearing a jumper or sweater or pullover made of wool. It may conceivably be a polo neck. You more than anyone will know that there is good wool and there is bad wool. I would go so far as to say that, in the matter of wool, there is no middle ground, no grey area. Either the wool is good, or it is bad, and there’s an end on’t.

If your jumper or sweater or pullover has been knitted from good wool, you should count your blessings. Depending on where you live, good wool can be hard to come by. You may have had to send away to some far distant woolly apparel concern to have one of their catalogue items delivered to you through the mails, in a packet. The costs of transportation and packaging will have added to the basic price of your chosen jumper or sweater or pullover, but the outlay is justified when it is guaranteed that the knitwork was done with good wool.

But woe betide you if for some reason you are forced to wear something made from bad wool. Bad wool comes from bad sheep. They may be diseased, or repugnant, or unseemly, or all three. That does not stop unscrupulous shearers from shearing the wool from them and selling it on to equally unscrupulous wool merchants, who in turn have it processed and knitted into garments. It is both sad and astounding what reserves of human skill can be deployed into making something out of bad wool. Spotting a garment on a market stall, or for sale from the barrow of a barrow boy, it may not be immediately apparent whether the wool is good wool or bad wool. It may not even become evident when you put it on, pulling it over your head and inserting your arms and tucking it about yourself. But if it is made from bad wool it will contaminate you, as surely as night follows day. That is the thing about garb knitted from bad wool. The knitting was bad and the garb is bad, because of the bad wool. And, disporting it upon your frame, sashaying along the boulevards of your faubourg, it will make you bad too.

It is a wonder that bad wool has not been made illegal. Perhaps there are happy lands where that is the case. Is that not a pleasing thought, a happy land where all the wool is good, and none of it bad? Alas, it is an impossible dream. For there will always be bad sheep, and bad shearers, and unscrupulous merchants, and ne’er-do-well traders and barrow boys.

Hence, if you are wearing good wool, I repeat, count your blessings, count them until kingdom come, and then count them over again. And if you are wearing bad wool, reflect upon the circumstance, ask what you have done to deserve bad wool. It is likely that you have brought the bad wool upon yourself, through your own contamination, for bad attracts bad, in persons and wool as in other phenomena of the boundless universe.

Spot The Woohoohoodiwoo Woman

For many of us, there comes a time when we may need to consult the Woohoohoodiwoo Woman about some matter of psychomagickal significance. We might seek answers to questions such as;

- What is the difference between good wool and bad wool?

- Is “David Carpenter” an appropriate name for my cat?

- Did a part of my tulpa perish when the airship Hindenburg exploded in flames as it attempted to dock with its mooring mast on Thursday 6 May 1937?

But to consult with the Woohoohoodiwoo Woman, we first have to find her, and of course she lives all alone in her magick and dilapidated cottage somewhere in the densest part of the dark, dark woods. So before hiking out there, in the night, without a map, wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow practise seeking the Woohoohoodiwoo Woman in the comfort of our own non-magick and undilapidated homes?

Well, now we can! The new board game Pore Over A Diagram Of The Dark, Dark Woods And See If You Can Spot The Woohoohoodiwoo Woman provides hours of fun and frolic for all the family. Just print out the diagram of the dark, dark woods below, paste it on to a board, lay the board flat on your floor, and pore over it, with both eyes, until you spot the Woohoohoodiwoo Woman. Then, when you eventually need to hike out to the real dark, dark woods, on a real storm-wracked night, to find the real Woohoohoodiwoo Woman, you will be mentally, physically, magickally, and psychically prepared. I think it’s another triumph for the toy-and-board-game manufacturing community!


Picture courtesy of the splendid Ptak Science Books blog.

Woolworth’s Is No More

“Woolworth’s is no more,” said a headline I spotted in a newspaper. I did not quite grasp what it meant – that apostrophe s seemed misplaced – so I ruminated, as I do whenever I encounter something perplexing. My usual method is to stare out of the window awaiting enlightenment, so that is what I did. I felt it would have been of immense help if the view from my window was of a hillside with a lot of sheep on it, but I am afraid to say that all I could see was the perimeter fence of a derelict shopping precinct. Had I been able to see some sheep I could have grabbed a pair of binoculars and examined closely the fleeces of the sheep, assuming they were unsheared, to ascertain why their wool no longer had any worth. In the absence of any useful visual prompt, I was forced to rely upon the cerebral activity buzzing within the confines of my skull – a skull, I should add, that has won plaudits from a number of highly competent phrenologists. Dr Bramblegack described it as “impeccably cranial, with lovely dents”.

After gazing at the collapsing retail hub for a few hours, I reached some preliminary conclusions about wool having no worth. I shall present them to you now, with the proviso that you keep them under your hat until I give the all clear. There is no pressing reason for secrecy, but I find it adds a frisson of excitement to the daily round. For example, when I pop out to buy a pint of milk or a packet of surprisingly delicious vegan pork-style scrapings, I will sometimes pretend that I have been sent on a mission by SMERSH, and loiter outside the shop muttering into a concealed walkie-talkie for an hour or so.

My first provisional conclusion is that wool has gone bad, or become contaminated in some way, and is therefore to be shunned on health grounds. It follows from this that sheep are carriers of bad wool, and must be culled. Few save for the bloodthirsty would willingly slaughter innumerable sheep, so quarantine may be preferred to a cull, if a secure area of sufficient acreage can be found. Helicopters could hover over the site, ensuring no sheep made a run for it after bounding over the barbed wire fence.

My second provisional conclusion is that wool has lost its worth due to a glut. This would not be the first wool glut in history, but perhaps the most severe one. The best way to address the glut is to identify new uses for wool, to stimulate demand. Coupled with an authoritarian approach, the surplus wool would soon get used up. So, step one is to issue a decree that anyone not making conspicuous daily use of the new wool-based products, such as woolly satnav, woolly catnip, woolly bubblebath and woolly fireworks, would be shot on sight.

My third provisional conclusion is a simple one. Wool has had its time, and that time has passed, and we must stride onward to a bright new utopia under the benevolent gaze of the Great Helmswoman, be she Hazel Blears or, at a push, Agnetha Fältskog.

Although I would not wish to prod you towards one or other of my conclusions, it ought to be noted that this piece was typed entirely with a “woolboard”, a thrilling new computer-style keyboard made out of one hundred percent uncontaminated wool.