G is for Mrs Gubbins, obviously

“Bathsheba Gubbins! You have been found guilty of a raggle-taggle salmagundi of crimes, some so heinous that they beggar belief and make strong men break down into convulsive weeping. Now, by dint of the awful and arbitrary power invested in me, do not ask when or by whom, I pronounce sentence. Mrs Gubbins, you shall be taken from this place, by horse and cart, during a rainstorm, and deposited none too kindly in a chamber within the sort of institution appropriate to a crone of your advancing years, and there you will remain, and there you will knit. You will knit and knit and knit forevermore, without cease. When cities burn and the planet crumbles and the sun is extinguished, still you shall knit, Bathsheba Gubbins! You shall knit tea-cosies and scarves and miscellaneous woolies, and at the very instant they are completed, they shall unravel and you will knit them again from scratch. From dawn until dusk and through the cold dark horrors of the night, you shall knit much like Sisyphus hopelessly pushing his boulder uphill. As he gaped to watch it roll down to the bottom of that hill, so shall you see your knitting unravel until all you have to show for your toil is a tangled skein of wool, wool you must knit again and again into a tea cosy or a scarf or a wooly. The only sound in your chamber shall be the interminable clack clack of your knitting needles. Knit, La Gubbins, knit! From now until the end of time, and beyond, clack clack clack! Take her down.”

Crikey! What a revelation! Until now, it has been beyond the most acute of wits to grasp why on earth the criminally-minded octogenarian crone never ever ceases to knit. Veteran of innumerable armed robberies and mystic badger abductions, La Gubbins sits clacking away, occasionally dribbling, staring into the middle distance, seemingly happy in her toil. Only the chance discovery of this dictabelt recording, in a cardboard box underneath a sink in an outhouse in the grounds of a mysterious country pile situated behind enormous wrought iron gates partly hidden at a bend in a bosky lane lined by titanic cedars and larches along which brightly coloured sports cars driven at reckless speed by raffish chaps wearing cravats and goggles zoom past, has revealed the truth of the matter. The matter being that endless knitting, which at last we can understand as Sisyphean.

Where and when the dictabelt recording was made is unclear. It is fanciful to suggest, as Van Spurtbosch does in his recently-published monograph, that it came from the same cache that yielded the dictabelt recording from the police motorcycle of Officer H B McLain whose radio microphone was accidentally stuck in the open position as he accompanied the presidential motorcade along Dealey Plaza in Dallas on the twenty-second of November 1963 and thus picked up sounds and “impulse patterns” which were to become germane to the inquiry regarding the identity of the assassin or assassins of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on that day, and in that place. Waters were muddied in that case by Officer McLain later suggesting his dictabelt was not the source of the recordings, but rather that of one of his colleagues. Equally fanciful is Van Spurtbosch’s wild claim that John McClane, the character played by Bruce Willis in the Die Hard tetralogy, was based on the Dallas police motorcyclist. One need only compare the spellings of the names to see it ain’t so. Had Van Spurtbosch done his homework, much grief, much much grief, indeed as much grief as there is Gubbinsy knitting, could have been spared.

Grief, like Gubbins, begins with G, so in this instalment of our alphabetic postage schedule, you have had double helpings. Remember that, next time you are minded to bemoan your lot.

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