|For goodness sake, what's with the photo shoot with a hot water bottle?|
Don't for a second imagine that this is a cathedral of calm and learning because it isn't. One or two security guards stand at the entrance just in case people try to sneak off with DVDs, or possibly even books, and beyond that the cafe where a group of elderly women sit and enjoy a long chat and a cup of tea in the warm before collecting their wheelies and pottering off home. The bank of computers to the right is fully populated, largely by goggle-eyed young people, while down at the far end, beyond the sofas for loafers and a solitary knitter, always there with her neon yarn, toddlers hop, skip, jump and squeal in the soft play children's area.
This is all exactly as it should be, for this is how I can creep unnoticed into the stacks containing Dewey Decimal System 746.432, sit on the floor and browse the craft and knitting books. For it's here that I flick through those knitting books that always have an i-phone cover, a beanie hat, at least one, possibly as many as five, scarves, and a hot water bottle cover. One even has knitted pebbles. And I think: does anyone really use a hot-water bottle cover? And whatever is the use of knitting three different sizes of pebbles? I ponder all this until the day I buy a felted sweater at a charity shop sale in Herne Bay and I bring it home and remember that you can make said hot-water bottle covers and phone cosies from such material and skip the knitting. So I get the scissors and cut, for even I can afford to waste £1.50 if it doesn't work, and sew up a hot water bottle cover on the Bernina. Then I thread some yarn into a darning needle and blanket stitch round the trimmed remnants until I have a little pocket that resembles a sampler executed by a five-year old. And believe me when I tell you that my life is transformed. For I discover that everybody should have a hot-water bottle cover because it is the most comforting way of warming the bed without burning your feet and it keeps down the heating bills. What's more the hottie stays warm all night long, thus avoiding that horrible moment in the morning when your feet hit cold rubber. As for the phone cosy, more miracles. The phone does not shatter when dropped and can be found immediately in the bottom of your handbag by touch alone because of its tactile woolly cover. It is, indeed, like having a pet lambkin tucked away, comforting to the touch, and so helps me to cope with modern life in a way that I had thought no longer possible.
I am deadly serious: get the instructions or wing it, make the hot-water bottle cover and the phone cosy or plead to someone else to make you one. Your life will be warm and stress free until spring arrives, possibly longer.
As for those knitted pebbles, they are lined up along the top of the lower sash window in the (ha!) knitting room, just above the gap where an updraught creeps in, made up in the colours of seaside stones - blue, grey, dark yellow. Every now and then I pick one up and press it pleasingly into the palm of my hand. That's how you will find me on a cold, dark day, thinking of Dungeness.