LIes, damned lies and statistics

It’s an often quoted line, sure. Statistics don’t always tell the truth. But in this case I’m more than a little curious. And yes, I am aware that me posting again so soon is a statistical improbability, thus already proving my argument. But that’s beside the point.

The point is that as a blogger, I use the many WordPress tools available to me to kill time when I’m at my desk theoretically working on other things. Namely, what I’m paid to do. This doesn’t always serve to keep me occupied, so my mind wanders off on tangents. Like how it is that I can have a post with several likes, that I put up earlier today, and yet the stats page tells me that I’ve only had one viewer in the past 24 hours. Clearly, there have been more people out there checking this out, but they’re not showing up. Where does the trick come in?

I know. I’m supposed to blog for the sheer love of it. And based on the fact that an old blog of mine ran for 6 years with only 2 readers that I know about – one of whom was a pretty good friend but became the reason that I discontinued the blog after so long, thanks to their constant email begging for an update on the blog rather than information in real time during our increasingly rare catch-ups – I think it’s safe to say that I really do just write because the inclination – or inspiration – strikes. I would have kept plugging away quite happily if not for my own stubborn unwillingness to provide her with insight into my life. I don’t require validation to write – it’s as necessary to me as reading, sleeping, breathing. That said, it’s nice to know if you’re hitting the mark with something, if there are others who are regular visitors, or if you’re just talking to the walls. If nothing else, it gives me a means to gauge how much of me to disclose. So why is there a gap between the feedback I receive, and the stats page? Where is the black hole?

Is there anybody out there who knows this? Or anybody out there at all? Because right now there’s an insomniac camped by their keyboard waiting for an answer…


It’s the Little Things…


It seems somewhat petty to post what I was doing the day after Anzac Day, Australia’s national day for commemorating war dead. After spending the day contemplating the effects of various battles, of hearing about what happened in Tobruk, at Messines Ridge, Beersheba, Long Tan, Kokoda, Tarin Kowt, Oruzgan and, of course, Gallipoli, I found myself contemplating Gumtree instead. Specifically, contemplating the effects of my Gumtree perusal and bullying of my father. Ethel now has new wheels (which I haven’t yet photographed as Ethel and her wheels are still in two different suburbs. Whole other story). It was while I was doing this that I came to certain conclusions about an article I’d read the day before.

Sam Brito blogs for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. His blog is usually on subjects relating to men’s view of the world and is an often entertaining read. On Anzac Day, he blogged instead about the perceived differences between my generation and that of my grandparents – the ones dubbed the “Great Generation” for having lived through such momentous events. After my initial read, I was quite happy to concede his point. I very much doubt that I would have been comfortable picking up a rifle and trotting along to the western front. It was only later – after starting to fume at the assumption that it was a good thing to blithely accept the declaration of a war on my behalf, and deciding that war would be a very different thing today – that I really gave serious thought to his basic premise, that the current generation are useless and soft. That was when I started the comparisons.

Let’s leave my grandfathers out of the equation for the moment. They played their own part in proceedings, but back in WW2, I would not have been on the same playing field with them (whatever I may think about that today). The only fair comparison I can make is with my female forebears. My grandmothers are very different women. One of them was a seamstress by trade, raised in a large working class family and growing up sharing a bed – not a bedroom folks, that’s a bed – with 2 of her 5 sisters. She was very much what Brito was talking about, able to get down to it and make do with whatever came to hand. The other grandmother is a spoiled only child used to having everything delivered to her on a plate – much like what the current generation are accused of being. Yet she survived the war, and often casts up the hardships of being away from her husband and the general privations suffered as an excuse for her poor behaviour and sense of entitlement today. The other grandmother never mentioned any of it.

You might guess from the descriptions which one I’m most like. So yes, I like to think I would have coped admirably with life as a woman in WW2 Australia. I get by with what I have, make do, and I mend surprisingly well. I can bake – and improvise to get around rationing. I can handle the stress of parting, and I can put up with terrible conditions when I know there is no alternative. I’m more realist than princess, so I think I’d cope just fine. And, as the assembly of Ethel’s new wheels shows, I can turn my hand to many different fields. Sure, i couldn’t pull a Nancy Wake and become a hero of the Resistance – but neither could most people, which is what makes those who can do it much more notable. I like to think I’d at least manage to be a Jessica Mitford, but the truth is that I’m more likely to be her sister, Nancy.

So what is the outcome of all this linking and thought? Well, even my princcess-ish grandmother made it through the war years intact. As did her aircraft mechanic husband. And given that at least part of the “Great” generation was roundly criticised throughout the 20s for their wayward and fast lifestyle (flappers, anybody? Bright young things?), what nobody has looked at is the possibility that the times made the generation great, not necessarily the people. Cometh the hour, and all that. It’s a terrible way to find out what your generation is made of, and not one that should be wished for in any sense.Wishing for a lasting global peace is probably the only thing the critics and I have in common. Huh, who knew that was possible? Meanwhile, I’ll take the best of Rosie, and be on my peaceful way – continuing to refuse to take weapons against enemies and disputing anyone who says there is a need for any conflict.

A Shameless Plug

Yep. This post is completely a shameless plug of another persons’s blog. But it’s an extremely well written and very entertaining blog, so i figure it’s alright. Plus, I haven’t reviewed another blog for a little while now, so I was due to venture forth into the blogosphere. The fact that doing so earns me an entry in a competition to win stuff – free shoes!!! who could say no? – is entirely beside the point.


The Duchess herself, in full regalia

For those who aren’t aware, American Duchess is home to many things relating to historical sewing, re-enacting, and general interest. The lovely Lauren has created some truly spectacular outfits and blogged about them, to share her knowledge with the world. In an even greater triumph, she has also created a line of shoes to match historical periods. Her 1920s shoes are enough to make me squee, and I’m just waiting to see what she comes up with when she hits the 30s and 40s. Her contribution to accurate historical outfits hasn’t ended with footwear, though. She is also responsible for designing several prints on Spoonflower (a website worthy of a post all its own). With all that, it’s amazing that she has time to blog at all, but she does, regularly updating on her current projects, inspirations, and outfits. It’s an entertaining read and well worth a look if your sewing bent leans to the historical.

Plus, she gives stuff away. What’s not to love?

Lost Arts

I was walking to the gym the other morning before work and saw something that made me think of some of Mum’s old tales of her early working life. Admittedly, it was quite early so I might have been mistaken. But I don’t think so.

A woman was walking down the street towards me. She was a bit older, I guess, and one of the regulars that I see in my made dash to get to the gym in time for my session. It’s a busy road, so there’s always lots of people, but some, like this lady, I see most mornings. Her and the workmen on the massive building site who are always incongruously well behaved and polite. But I digress. This particular woman was walking along, bag slung over her arm with the strap nestled in the bend of her elbow, looking quite intently at things other than the footpath. She was knitting. And I’m not talking about a scarf. This was something that required concentration to follow the pattern. Something needing skill, and tension control. Something I would struggle with if I was sitting down in the most comfortable chair in the world.

Very few people knit their own things these days – far fewer than those who sew, I think. Wool is just so expensive, and it takes so much time to either complete something, or get good enough to do it quickly. It wasn’t always the case. Knitting was once one of the essential skills of womanhood. Or, for the more upmarket, crochet to trim lace borders. It’s so much easier to just go to the shop and buy the things, knitted by people paid a pittance in other countries, or by machines. But here was this woman, so enthusiastic about her knitting – or on such a tight deadline – that even the walk to the station was used for it.


Mum used to tell stories about her working life back in the late ’60s and early 70s when it was not uncommon for women to knit on the train on their way to work. This was obviously in a time before the peak hour rush on trains meant travellers barely had enough space to put a book in front of their face, let alone manage needles, wool and pattern book, but it still can’t have been easy. My own abortive attempts at knitting ended up with tangles, dropped stitches, and mis-matched sleeves. Hate to think what it would have turned out like if I was on a train when doing it. Also hate to think about what my fellow passengers would think if I pulled it out. But apparently it’s not so long ago that you’d keep your ball of wool in your handbag and knit away happily for the duration of your trip. It’s not that much further back in time that it was not considered strange to buy a pattern to knit not just a jumper or a cardigan, but an entire dress or coat.

What has happened to the art of knitting? There was a bit of a revival a few years back, famous people taking up needles and making themselves wonky scarves that were never worn, but it never seems to have developed into anything. As the weather cools, I’m tempted to pull out last year’s shot at a cardigan and see if it can be salvaged. Because I need another distraction in my life – something to keep my mind off the looming lack of income if threatened redundancies at work mean I am no longer seeing the knitting woman of a morning.