I came across an old photo the other day which reminded me of Auntie Matilda.
There I was a young boy wearing a multi-coloured pullover. You know the type? Several horizontal lines each a different colour – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and then red again and so on. I looked like a proper walking rainbow.
It was a jersey which Auntie Matilda had knitted for my birthday and hideous as it was I had to wear it all day because she was visiting us for the day.
Thinking back, the main thing I remember about Auntie Matilda was her constant knitting. She always had a pair of knitting needles in hand and a bag full of different coloured balls of wool as she talked and knitted, and ate and knitted, and drank tea and knitted and did everything else imaginable as she knitted. If knitting was an Olympic Sport she’d win medals for England for her knitting.
Every birthday, Christmas, Easter, Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation or other family event was rewarded by Auntie Matilda knitting us something or other. Pullovers, scarves, hats, caps, gloves, mittens, socks, she’d knitted them all in every colour imaginable and in every kind of stitch that it is possible to knit in. She’d even knitted little cosies to keep the teapot warm, and to keep the soft-boiled eggs warm before serving them, and to keep the plates warm before serving a meal and also, would you believe, to keep the thermos flask warm when you’re out on a picnic.
She then diversified into more adventurous items such as knitting a cover for the tables, the chairs, the TV and every other piece of furniture imaginable. We had bed-spreads made of knitting, tapestries on the wall made of knitting, toilet seat covers made of knitting and to cap it all she had a large bag made of knitting to hold her knitting wool and needles.
I guess that if you unravelled all the things she had knitted for us as a family the wool would stretch to Pluto and back several times over.
I remember as a child I’d asked my parents for a fire engine for Christmas. You guessed it … she told them not to buy me one and she knitted me a bright red fire engine!
What’s the use of that? I couldn’t run it on the floor and make fire engine noises as kids do!
As she grew older Auntie Matilda continued knitting. There was no stopping her.
I was once given two Ballet tickets by my boss.
Now let me confess straight-away that I hate ballet. I don’t see the point of a stage full of people walking on tip-toe. Why can’t they hire taller dancers and be done with it?
And I equally dislike the Opera too. It’s so unreal. It’s the only place where someone gets stabbed, or has a sword run through him or takes poison and continues to sing for at least ten minutes. And the other actors, instead of helping him out and calling an ambulance they sing even louder too. What’s all that about?
Anyway … I did not want to go to the Ballet but was coerced to take Auntie Matilda with me because she loved it so. And after all, she was my Aunt and not anyone else’s … she was from my side of the family so I had to take her.
We sat there at the balcony and as soon as the lights went out and the performance started, out came the knitting needles and the balls of wool. I swear she was knitting in tune with the music!
After the performance was over, my boss, who had influence in such circles, invited us to a private party back-stage to meet the cast, choreographers, musicians and so on.
Auntie Matilda was overheard discussing in a loud voice with the producer the benefits of having knitted tutus for the ballerinas. She also suggested knitted trousers for the male dancers!
“It’ll help keep them warm when you’re touring Scotland in winter,” she said “and it’ll also cover the revealing men’s bits … ye ken!”
I put my old photo away and said a silent prayer for Auntie Matilda now long departed.
Remember friends, when you’re in Heaven, should you see Jesus walking around with a multi-coloured scarf and bonnet you’ll know that Auntie Matilda got to Him first!