Dan Waddell posted this piece on Murder Is Everywhere.  Off the west coast of Ireland are the Aran Islands where the industries are fishing and the cottage industry of women who make the oatmeal colored Irish knit sweaters.  Each of the sweaters are made of wool pretty much as it comes off the sheep.  The sweaters are worn in Ireland’s famous wet weather because the lanolin in the wool that keeps the sheep dry isn’t removed from the wool before it is used.

Each handmade sweater has specific differences in the patterns, a code of sorts that identifies the knitter.  If I had to choose between a sweater and garlic in any sort of beveridge, the sweater would always win.

The Kids are All Wight

Apologies for the lateness of this blog, but I’ve just returned from a brief family holiday back in time. I say back in time, but I mean the Isle of Wight, though the effect is the same. The biggest island that belongs to this island is an old-fashioned place. When I mentioned I was going on Twitter I was followed by a spambot. But even she was innocent. She asked that I call her on Bembridge 452 for a jolly good time and she’d describe her shapely ankle.

The Isle of Wight was Queen Victoria’s favourite place. It still cleaves to her memory, or at least tries to. The pace of life is slow; there are no motorways; the mobile phone signal is intermittent and one of its main attractions is a garlic farm. I used this often to whip the kids in line. ‘Stop squabbling or we’ll go to the garlic farm!’ It worked a treat. Especially when I told them it sold garlic fudge (true.) Just the sheer ghastly prospect of eating that was enough to draw immediate silence. They also sell garlic beer. I think we have the new alternative to Guantanamo Bay.

There are, thankfully, many other attractions, not least the Jurassic coastline, its crumbling cliffs and glorious windswept beaches. The coastline is being eroded by a metre each year, and each slight fall or storm brings out thousands of fossil hunters seeking prize dinosaur finds. Our children spent many a happy hour scouring the sands for fossils. I will now spend several less happy ones standing on and tripping over lumps of worthless rock. Their guide made the mistake of telling them about a schoolboy who found a fossil worth £20,000. We ended up with bags of stuff, even if the the best find was fossilised dinosaur crap. The metaphor is way too easy.

But from rocks to rock (see what I did there.) While there is something quintessentially old-fashioned about the Isle of Wight, and well-heeled, given that it’s home to the yachting set, it also has its place in music history. The Isle of Wight festival of 1970 is infamous, not least for witnessing one of Jimi Hendrix’s last performances, an incendiary one, before which he was believed to have consumed at least two bottles of garlic beer.

And see what happened next…

Anyway, no guesses for the prize at the next Bouchercon MiE panel…


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