Nothing ignoble in this comfort blanket

Couch scientific research council to submit TV rerun and knitting findings to Ig Nobel awards. | Wikihow

Couch scientific research council to submit TV rerun and knitting findings to Ig Nobel awards. | Wikihow

Published Jun 9, 2024


Durban — The couch scientific research council is submitting its discovery to the Ig Nobel awards.

We may not have fancy PhD letters after our name, but we’re pretty sure we’ll get the nod.

We absolutely love the Ig Nobels. They are awarded every year at about the same time as the real Nobels for achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think”.

The competition has been running since 1991, so there is an extraordinary list of winning research including (a totally random choice) confirming that swearing relieves pain; determining whether it is better to be hit on the head with a full bottle of beer or an empty bottle; discovering that fleas that live on dogs jump higher than fleas that live on cats; certain kinds of beetle mate with certain kinds of Australian beer bottles; the Theory of Structured Procrastination that says if you want to be a high achiever, you must “always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that’s even more important”; demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with a tank; advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimise the chance of their patients exploding; for parboiling a dead shrew, swallowing it without chewing, and then carefully examining everything excreted thereafter to see which bones would dissolve inside the human digestive system and which would not.

We think the most amusing (and troubling, honestly) feature of the awards is what on Earth made very smart people even think of their subject matter. We are sure our research will be welcomed.

Our question considered whether watching a favourite TV series about 17 times (maybe more) was a dark form of cyberstalking or a sign of mental disturbance. The council was very concerned and embarked on a period of Very Deep Thinking.

The first 10-or-so times gave us the opportunity to examine some clever but subtle scenes and one-liners. It raised a smile at how frequently “move!” and “let’s go!” were used. It still raises a wry, not unkind, smirk.

But almost every day, once fellow couchers are fed, medicated and watered, and after the WildEarth live drive, we all retreat to the couch to watch TV, and knit.

The knitting project was announced in mid-February: all the ocean-shades of blue to make a throw. Having taken 14 years to complete just two panels many years ago, it was a risky venture: would I die before it was finished?

It’s going swimmingly. Five nearly 2m-long, 80-odd-stitches wide (depending on how many get dropped or added along the way) panels are done. Two more colours to go before pondering how to actually join them to make a blanket. It may involve more knitting.

Four months of plain and purl have not provided the muscle memory to do it without looking, hence the endless repeats. I know which bits are the best and when to look up. There is no staying up past bedtime because every episode ends on a cliffhanger and you just have to know what happens next.

And it’s so comforting, like having a gathering of some of your best people in your lounge but without having to actually talk or stop knitting. The only physical interruption is a dog nose nudging for a rub or a cuddle. It’s fabulous for dieting because you can’t eat until “just one more row”. It’s even cut back the vaping.

The council finds that knitting a comfort blanket with good friends saying the same thing and avoiding the turmoil of the real world for a few hours is a comfort thing.

There’s nothing ignoble in that.

Independent on Saturday

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