It certainly came as a surprise, as did the news this morning that just along the south coast in Hastings the pier has burned down. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but there have been a suspicious number of blazes on piers, and at this rate the British coast is going to be littered with Victorian metal stilts sticking out the seabed but with nothing left to hold up.
Surprises have been numerous lately, not least the discovery over the weekend that a certain very good friend can knit. This was quite a revelation, not least because the person in question is only 17 and is probably the last of my social circle who I'd expect to be familiar with the mantra of 'knit one, pearl one' or the sound of clacking needles.
The said friend and her slightly older sister must now be the first to be given blog identities. I decided before setting up this personal site that I would never actually name anyone in these entries, partly because I respect privacy in the same way as I expect it, and also because it is, frankly, more fun to appoint sobriquets. It's a device deployed frequently by columnists (AA Gill, for example, refers to his partner as The Blonde), and is a useful means of populating these posts with the characters in my life without publicly identifying them.
So, let us call these American sisters now resident here in Brighton by the shadowy nicknames of Manhattan Musician and PR Brunette (since the former is a classical musician and the latter works at a PR agency; protecting but not confusing). For those who need assistance or occasional reminders of who is who within these diaries, I'll add a companion page to the site with a list of these protective names and brief descriptions.
And so a final thought that surfaced when contemplating knitting as an improbable leisure activity of one so young. Quite apart from the possibility of a few homemade baby clothes coming my way when Daniel and I welcome our firstborn in March, it struck me that arguably one of the most surreal fashion trends ever devised is the use of knitting needles as hair accessories. Of course it's inspired by the ladies of Japan, but it does look peculiar. It's tempting to entwine my tresses around something equally bizarre just to make a point - a knife and fork, perhaps, or a cocktail umbrella. But the latter would just be silly; I mean, where would I put the olive..?