|Des Pawson's Rope display - Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park|
As you know, it has been raining. The roof has been leaking for weeks, too wet to repair, and bowls are being kept close by for emergencies. There have been nights when, as Ted Hughes would have understood, our house has felt like it was at sea. Enough said. However, the lashing down most on my mind has been in relation to rope, and knots and rigging in general. For I have progressed in my upholstery class - and I am loving my class - to the challenge of lashing down springs. And it's quite demanding for someone with weak hands who never was a guide or sea scout and has not a clue about knots. All this is shameful for someone whose birth certificate says she is a ship's rigger's driver's daughter, whose uncles could tie all sorts of knots, whose skipping ropes were so coarse and hairy and thick that if you didn't learn how to jump high enough resulted in lashing of the bare legs, whose father was always proud of his own roping and sheeting skills. Captivated by the lovely line drawings in Annie Proulx's Shipping News years ago, you would have thought I might get a book out of the library and have a go. Alas, no. I'm inspired now after seeing Des Pawson's rope display this weekend at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, located I discovered on land that was once a ropewalk. The scent of those ropes in the dampness of the woods and their romantic connotations of voyages and exotic goods was enough to pull me in. They reminded me of the joyous display of Alfred Wallis's paintings at Kettle's Yard that I saw on a cold, wet day a couple of weeks ago. Heaps of paintings of barques and brigantines and steamers. If you can, or have a choice at all, go there on a rainy day. It will cheer you up enormously.