You sit there like a mother hen, all your little chicks around you.
You’re at the head of the circle. Circles don’t have heads, but you are indisputably at it. Maybe it’s the teapot and tray of biscuits placed proprietorially at your feet. Maybe it’s the way that the ‘Tifton United Church’ mural sits directly above your head, like you’re the centerpiece in a postmodern interpretation of the sodding nativity.
You’re surrounded by nattering. The nattering of knitting needles moving with practiced ease. The nattering of grey heads discussing Sunday School politics and clergy-friendly gossip. You’re not at the forefront of the chin-wagging – that would be unseemly – but you’re at the heart of it. Prodding. Prompting. Watching with a half-smile as the chickens peck at the feed you’ve just scattered.
It’s not a contest, the knitting. Except that of course it is, and of course it’s a contest you always win. That’s part of your strategy – get them talking whilst you knit like your life depends on it. Scarves, jumpers, and baby hats all come grinding out from between those needles at industrial pace, enough for every waif and stray from here to the Grampton Maternity Unit. Find a poor, underweight wretch of a child on the wards there, and odds are it’ll have worn one of your kitsch little garments – the final indignity. When asked, you’ll laugh self-deprecatingly. You’ll chunter that you only wish you could do more. You’ll say that it’s the least that you can do, and in this, at least, you’ll be correct.
The chatter becomes disjointed as others in the circle realise what is happening. Tonight, you are not having it all your own way. You smile a tight little smile as you look across, acknowledging a challenger to your woolen crown. The knitting on either side of you slows to a mechanical chug as eyes dart between us. You know you’re in a battle this time, that’s for sure. Needles clack like chattering teeth, plastic sabres darting to and fro, waiting for a mistake.
Your smile falters as you realise that you are not regaining ground. Rings flash underneath the church lights as you rally for one last effort, but to no avail. Your baby hat drops as your gaze travels to my lap. You watch as I place needles inside my knitting bag, zipping it up slowly so as to savour the moment.
It doesn’t take long, however, before that smug little smile is tugging at the corner of your mouth. How did that come about, that little smile? Perhaps it was where the silver spoon was removed. You shuffle forwards on your folding chair, your face filled not with disappointment, but with barely concealed glee.
‘Oh, what a shame,’ you lament, head to one side and lips pressed together in mock sympathy. ‘I think you’ve missed a stitch.’
***As always, I’d be delighted to hear your comments and feedback!***