Spring is just around the corner. I know this because I have an almond tree in the garden and the buds have just started to show. By mid to late July the tree will be full of pinky white blossom and Spring will, in effect, be under starter’s orders as far as I am concerned. Then a month later the plane trees in my suburb will start showing pale green leaves, the weavers will be building their nests and then ripping them up again when they fail to find a mate and summer will be just around the corner.
All of which means that I will have to visit a hardware shop to buy tools. A hardware store is to me what a book store is to someone like Kate Turkington. I love them. But whereas all Kate needs to do these days is buy a Kindle and download books instead of buying the bulky dead tree version, I do actually need to physically visit a hardware store. That way I can wander up and down the aisles and discover all sorts of things I didn’t realize existed for plumbing, electrical work, gardening, decorating and heaven knows what else.
My favourite hardware store has lots of very obliging people who ask if they can help customers. I’ve always thought it a bit wimpish to be helped in a hardware store because it sounds as though you are a bit uncertain about what it is you want to buy. You see, hardware language is a secret code for initiates. If you wander in and ask for a thingy to go on the end of a whatsit to connect to a kitchen sink they’ll know instantly that you are a rank amateur. But if you ask for a twist cap to connect to a flange fitting for a 4301 sluice drainer then you are immediately admitted to a secret society of DIY experts and craftsmen.
Unfortunately I am not a handyman and until a few years ago my home tool kit consisted of a tape measure, two screwdrivers, a hand drill, a hammer and a pair of pliers. I’m not as bad as a friend of mine who has to get the electrician in to change his halogen light bulbs but I am pretty useless around the house. So when I bought a chainsaw a few years ago at the hardware shop my wife was concerned. Fortunately I had swiped my credit card by the time she got to the check out counter so it was a done deal but she gave me a bit of lip in the car on the way home. “What are you going to do with a chainsaw” she asked me. Talk about a dumb question. I told her that I was going to saw things and that’s why it was called a chain saw….DOH! Since it was an electric chain saw I could hardly run around the suburb lopping off people’s limbs. She pressed on with the interrogation “What things are you going to saw?”
Trees and logs and things like that I told her. She then pointed out that chainsaws are very dangerous in the wrong hands (meaning mine I think) and that I would need a leather apron, a protective mask and steel capped boots at the very least. I was just about to turn the car back towards the hardware store when she added the most wounding comment. She told me that I wasn’t competent to handle a chainsaw. And she was absolutely correct. I couldn’t even put the damn thing together without cutting the ends of my fingers off. So I’ve given the chainsaw to a friend and bought a leaf blower instead. Much safer and just as much fun. And a very useful tool if you want to spring clean your garage….. although the resultant dust cloud takes about a day to settle.