What we did on our holidays

With the water pipes and electrics sorted, today was the day for building the stud frame for our new wall lining. We had our first entry in the Injury book and contrary to all expectation it was my injury, not his. To be fair, it was not self-inflicted and happened only when his drill made contact with my finger.There was blood and plasters and everything! No helicopter required however and no absence from work granted either.

Building the frame proved challenging, with not a single straight line or right angle to work from. Lunch arrived quite late in the day and in the form of a sandwich. We are were hoping that supper will would happen in the pub. Perhaps tomorrow we shall be successful.

At present I am cooking on a UNO picnic ring, set on top of my disconnected electric cooker. It’s all one-pot stuff, more or less. Yesterday I made the Sizzling Beef Balti in a  wok on the gas ring, with rice cooked in an electric rice cooker. Today we have spaghetti and meatballs. I am going to get bored of this quite quickly!

Documenting the DIY with photographs is proving to be more fun than I had expected and my only frustration is that I lack time and space to  have much more fun with it.

Today’s pic is something that attracted me as soon as I saw it.

Set Square
Set Square

I love tools – proper craftsman’s tools, made of wood and brass and with the patina of age and use, not modern tools with their garish mass produced plastic handles – who could possibly love those. This morning when I was considering making a photograph of this it suddenly struck me how much of an influence on my life my dad has been.

It is quite odd, considering that I always viewed him as a remote figure. There never seemed to be any warmth in him and I don’t remember any cuddles or any un-masculine stuff like that…

Authoritarian and strict and the one to administer any really serious punishment, he had a heavy hand that  hurt  a lot and we certainly feared him right up until the time that we left home. My mother’s punishments were far more frequent because she was ever-present but hers brought less physical pain, her aim being hampered by her blind rage and fury. No, her particular skill was in inflicting mental cruelty.  Not Dad, he’d come home to an instruction to sort us out and he would give us, or more usually me, a good walloping and all was over and done with. Mainly though, he was absent. Back then the working man did five and a half days a week, more if there was overtime. Dad did as many hours as he could get and for much of our early years was on shift work. We saw him rarely. Perhaps my memories of the time that I did spend with him are so vivid because of their rarity, I  really do not know, it was a long time ago.

Dad was always a great DIY-er, his speciality being woodwork. I can remember Saturday morning trips with him to our local DIY shop, “Cliff’s” on Staniforth Road in Sheffield (so I was under 9). The smell of timber and sawdust was wonderful but I had a taste for looking through all the knobs and door handles that held special fascination for me. Just as I “helped” in the darkroom, I would assist with the DIY and hand tools and screws over as needed.

The tools were wonderful. I think perhaps some were handed down to him by his own father. My favourite was the ratchet screwdriver, with its red wood handle that fit the palm so well. The mechanism fascinated me but it was the handle, with its silky sheen that I loved the best. There was also a wood plane that spoke to my heart for the same reason – it’s handles having acquired that special polish that comes from being handled and used.

He had other tools for other tasks, that held equal fascination. I had a great passion for his drawing tools. Dad had worked in a drawing office before we were born and he always made drawings before tackling a project. I never lost my fascination with callipers,  set squares and French curves, compasses and dividers. I was overcome when he gave me his drawing set when I went to Grammar School. It was in a leatherette, velvet-lined box and had interchangeable ink nibs for the compasses and a propelling pencil. How I loved that pencil. I don’t believe that I ever told him how touched and pleased I was to have this gift.

You can always tell a real geek by their love for pencil leads. Somebody told me that at work once when surveying my desk and its array of clicky pencils, in a range of mm lead sizes for all occasions…

… and even now, just looking about me, I can see three different clicky pencils 🙂

Fountain pens too! Dad wrote (though not often) with real ink, mum with her “special” Parker ballpoint. It seems that I can also lay responsibility at his door for my love of fountain pens and inks, in addition to my passion for photography, wood and brass, and woodworking tools.

One thing I have not got from him, or may have, in  a reverse way of thinking – Dad kept caged birds when I was young. Budgies in cages in the attic when I was very young – later on he had a shed and an aviary and bred cockatiels and lovebirds as well as budgies. He had a Mynah bird in the house. I like birds a lot but cannot bear to see them caged nor would I cage them myself. I admit that the only birds I could ever keep are my free-ranging hens and perhaps I should like some free-flying pigeons or doves one day.

Oh dear, I have travelled a long way from the week’s topic of DIY, haven’t I? I apologise for rambling.

Tile spacers
Tile spacers

Anyway, whilst we are on the subject of early influences, I find today’s photograph of tile spacers to be a little Good Friday-ish despite my  strong claims to complete atheism. Something at work in my psyche, I’m sure.

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