I used to hate cardigans, and I don’t know why. Maybe it was connected to the dreaded twinset, which I still hate. No idea what this clip is about (and Senta Berger is very beautiful), but it shows the twinset to perfection:

Let’s say I cannot imagine Emma Peel ever wore a twinset.

Now I find my wardrobe full of cardigans, in all sorts of colours: what fun it was to match my cardigan to my shoes (see header), Those days are gone, of course, one spend’s one entire time in leisurewear and nothing matches anything these days.

But I was just chatting (online) to my lovely daughter-in-law, because we decided to share a special offer of Easter decorations – a surprise box, value €40 for a mere €20! We can even choose the colourway: pink (that would be a ‘no’), natural (maybe) or blue/mint (also maybe). Anyway, I asked her if I she would like my share of the cost to be transferred to her account, or if she would like it ‘bar’.

Bar is the German word for ‘cash’, and comes from the idea of bare or naked, meaning you put your money in plain sight. How interesting! The origins of the word ‘cash’ are up for interpretation: some claim it comes from the Asian word for a small coin, Chinese copper coins being called ‘cash’, or is could be connected to the French word ‘caisse’, meaning a chest which money was carried around and kept safe in.

All of that reminded me of how much I always enjoyed the first lesson with new groups, where we looked at the origins of words. English is really frightening for the sheer amount of vocabulary it has, and often several words for exactly the same thing, depending on when the word entered the language and where it came from.

So words like umbrella, alcohol, yacht, assasin, jazz, bungalow and shampoo have only been ‘borrowed’ into English.

Which takes me back to the cardigan.

Cardigan is actually a small town in Wales (Aberteifi in Welsh) on the Cardigan Bay:

And just as there is a Duke of Sussex, there is an Earl Cardigan, a title dating back to 1661. One particular Earl Cardigan is famous for one of the most pointless military actions in the history of the country, the charge of the Light Brigade:

The British were outnumbered and defeated by the Russians, but just six weeks later Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote his epic poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade, portraying the battle as heroic.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

From: The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord… | Poetry Foundation

“Do or die” entering the language as a good way to behave. My Mum often said it when she was doing something she didn’t really want to, such as processing the tons of spinach my dad brought back from his allotment on a Saturday evening for the freezer.

Anyway, that charge was led by Earl Cardigan who had already spent over ten thousand pounds of his own money making sure his regiment had the smartest jackets in the entire British Army. He personally loved wearing cosy, knitted woollen jackets – which became the ‘cardigan‘.

The Trooper is all about the Charge of the light Brigade!

They must all have been madly into knitwear at that time, because along with Cardigan, we find Lord Raglan – who had already lost an arm in battle – who had invented the Raglan sleeve.

The ordinary British soldiers in their camps suffered dreadfully from the cold in the Crimea and when this news reached home, everyone started knitting for them, including special woollen caps to be worn under their helmets and over their faces: so the balaclava was born.

Hmmn, I do have a story I could tell you about a family member and his balaclava, but – unusually – my Lips are Sealed.

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