I’ve always enjoyed “doing things with my hands ” as they say. Not just sexual things but DIY, fixing, building and creating things. It started with my early bicycles and adapting them to have oversize handlebars, double back brakes and the like. When I started doing the book distribution the joy of putting up shelves became part of my life. I kid you not. When I was working at my first “proper job”, doing mail order and wharehousing at a record label we had to build loads of shelving. The boss brought in a mate of his who “needed a job”. This guy used to be in the early London punk band called Brigandage and now he was going through a mid life crisis and the rest but he was amusing and he tried hard to convince me that he needed nothing more in life than to be building shelves. “More satisfying than sex” he used to say, I wasn’t convinced but I knew what he meant! Anyway back then I was slowly building up a tool kit with special bike bits and pieces and a few other tools I had picked up along the way. After my Dad’s dad died I was really annoyed that his great collection of tools was given away. I had spent working holidays with him and Alice his wife painting and fixing things and had really appreciated all old hand tools that he had. I managed to inherit a caged lamp on a long old cable from him that I both treasured and used extensively for illuminating hundreds of stalls in dingy gigs all over Europe. Twas a sad day when it went missing. One of the few tools I did pick up from my Dad was an old school G-Clamp, a wickedly robust and powerful device that has also been used to secure numerous bookstall constructions. This is one of my favourite tools.
Around the same time my cable lamp went missing I had the good fortune to be associated with PA Rik a squatter electrician who had lots of interesting contacts and with whom I was working on the Emmaz Social Centre project. Rik was going to be big part of our dream music venue and he once told me that he knew someone who might be able to supply us with loads of free equipment. Free equipment always makes my ears prick up. Turned out Rik knew someone at the BBC who was responsible for getting rid of studio equipment every year regardless of its condition to make sure they have the best and new stuff. A couple of weeks later Rik produced a huge extension cable with the thickest rubber cable I’d ever seen for me courtesy of the BBC (unofficially so don’t tell anyone!) This cable has been in use ever since and was used last week when the builders doing my room accidentally took home Marko’s extension cable and it took us a day or two to work out where it had gone!
Vanja, mi amor, has a very generous nature and she bought me a Makita drill far superior to any I have previously owned. This beauty has helped build and dismantle many book shelves and since moving here it has been in almost daily use. Its not heavy, the battery packs are super quick to recharge, it has multiple speed options and a light! I love it!
A drill is of course not much without its “bits”, you could say the same about people I guess. One drill bit I particularly like that I acquired I’m not sure when but think it was at the sadly long gone Hackney Wick flea market is this wonderful (yellow) circle cutter. The joy of cutting a perfect circle to feed wires through instead of making multiple holes and linking them up with a chisel is profound, trust me I know it sounds “dorkish” but once you’ve tried it there’s no going back.
And finally where would be without my newest Swiss army knife. This little beauty has been used all over Barabrith. I lost it for two days back in June and cursed the fact that I had told Vero that the camouflage colour looked cool! Vero was staying in Switzerland with her brother at the time and asked me what she should bring as a present! What else would I want from there? It took me along time to get over the loss of my favourite Swiss army knife that I bought from a store in Switzerland whilst driving a band around back in the early 2000’s. I’ll never forget the enormous range of knives on offer and the fact that the shop was happy to accept any of the various currencies I was carrying at the time (this was long before the euro came into play). I transgress. I spent hours looking for this little knife out in the field where I last remembered using it. Eventually I got a fork and moved a large pile of brambles and other vegetation we had cut down with machetes. There glistening in the sun right under the bottom of the heap was this knife, phew! I would have hated having to tell Vero I had lost it, I felt bad that my Mexican friend had spent so much money on me in the first place, but by now I can truly say that this little knife has justified itself several times over as a useful present. For starters, I’ve picked several splinters out of my hands with the little tweezers which usually I always lose quite quickly.
Thank you Dad, Rik, Vanja and Vero.
If you felt this was geeky just wait for my Leatherman posting!