An elderly man in a green apron was stood on my doorstep. “Anything to sharpen” he asked.
I didn’t think I had, guessing wit and intellect weren’t part of his repertoire. So I declined his offer and off he shuffled. I heard his footsteps on next door’s gravel path. I went back to my laptop but with a niggle. Maybe I was turning down more than a sharp blade. Through journaling I encourage people to be curious about their lives and other people’s too. So how could I dismiss this provocation.
I chased the man up the street. He hadn’t gotten very far. He was quite lame and making slow progress. I offered him tea but he had work to do – he told me he’d chat over a knife (£1).He’d carry on with his door-to-door enquiries and I was to come and find him when I had my blade. I went to my kitchen drawer. There was nothing for him there. We are managing fine with what we have and sharp utensils with children is not a clever combination. Surly there’s something that needs doing. No response from D’s mobile so I called him at work. The receptionist tracked him down. He wasn’t especially happy to be pulled from a client meeting to talk blunt(ly) with me though he did make a suggestion.
I went to the shed and retrieved the garden clippers. I caught Mr Smithy (the name he gave me) walking back to his wagon. He was delighted with these blades – a pair! He tells me he travels all over with his work – Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. His father taught him his trade just as he has passed on the skills to his daughters. He’s not so busy these days but he’s getting old and he said he won’t complain about business. He gets enough. He opened his van, his workstation, and he started his grinding wheel. Orange sparks flew as he chiselled my clippers. For a moment I was with Elizabeth Walton in the family timber mill. Or was that Laura Ingalls at the forge. Responding to Mr Smithy had taken me back to a time before dispose and replace, where make do and mend held a simple integrity. He thanked me for my custom and gave me a squeeze. “Oh, it’s nice to get a cuddle” he said. For a man that works with sharp objects he’s a real softie. I’m glad that my curiosity got the better of me today.