A bit of a 60th birthday rant in true moany-old-bloke style.
The way that i write posts now is that i do them in draft and tinker around with them for a while and then schedule them to come out one at a time every couple of days rather than having writing binges and releasing loads at once. This one, although i am writing it in February is scheduled to come out on my 60th birhday….even writing that is a bit of a slight shock as it seems a much bigger number than 50 for instance. In another post at about the same time i am going to try and explain a whole load of changes, old things going, new things starting , for example the slightly more serious things that i want to do on the internet which i think will need a separate website and youtube channel.
I was thinking about this a lot just ‘now’ in February while i have been working on project 2 of the year and, sat in traffic again, was preparing some of the profound questions albeit jokingly such as “where is the 10mm socket” and “why does the posh (but angry) lady in the white audi seem completely unable or unwilling to reverse”, but more on that later. Anyone who has anything to do with tinkering with motorcycles, cars or boats will fully grasp the 10mm socket question and i will explain the other one later.
Yesterdays profound question wasn’t about the missing 10mm socket(s) but rather about my very good frame hacksaw, as in, ‘where is the frame hacksaw’ ?. Now the thing is i know exactly where the frame hacksaw should be, it should be hanging on the beam that crosses my workshop roof (holds it all up actually) along with the cross-cut saw, the rip-saw, several tenon and Japanese saws, baby hacksaw and so on…..you get the drift it should be as with any true shedii exactly where it should be even if that place is exactly on the floor. Except that it wasn’t. The problem was a continuation of project 2 which i am really, really, not enjoying and that is working on the little boat. Yesterday , as in writing yesterday, i was so fed up with the jobs on the little boat that i stopped everything that i was doing, emptied the boat of all the tools, bits and kit, washed the whole thing out, put the cover back on and limped off for a hot shower and resuscitation-by-coffee.
The first job of the day should have been simple as it was merely to fit a round Henderson hatch into the forward section of each side tank. I had already cut the holes some time back and spent 3 horrible sessions hacking the rest of the expanded foam out so that the tanks can be used for dry stowage. A previous owner had part-done the job but left most of the messy and degraded foam so i spent most of 3 days in horribly uncomfortable positions hacking away at it essentially by feel only inside the tanks. That was where i left the project last year, Anyways it should then have been a nice completion job to to set the new hatches in sika-bog and firmly bolted in as i had the hatches, had bought enough of the right size and head shape bolts (bit a bit too long) had the bog and i thought the tools. The first stage was simple ie offer up the hatch and dry fit with just one bolt to set the length for all the bolts so that their heads don’t catch on anything inside including hands. Easy enough although the reverse slope of the tank side and the awkwardness of the space between the tank and the centreboard case was apparent. I should then have had a steady if somewhat tedious job of cutting each of the bolts and filing the cut ends but at least inside the workshop with the fan heater on. Except of course when i put my hand up to get the frame hacksaw it wasn’t there and after half an hour of searching didn’t seem to be anywhere obvious even after emptying every toolbox in the workshop !
Now as you are all aware we have been doing project 1 here ie rebuilding the bathroom and i know that i didn’t use the hacksaw but it was feasible that Matt the plumber or more likely his apprentice had used it at some point because we were all using a combination of my workshop, my tools and Matt’s tools. I thought it likely that it had simply ended up in Matt’s van as his apprentice cleared up. So anyway i then tried to do the job with a cheapo baby hacksaw from the toolkit in the car : all that happened is that the blade warped and bent and it hardly even scratched the bolt. I did then what any member of the shedii would do and gave up, put the kettle on, and thought about plan ‘B’ except that with the first few sips of coffee i realised that i knew exactly where the frame hacksaw was, and not just exactly where but really exactly where in a nerd-ish time and space continuum kind of way. Of course the posh frame hacksaw is exactly where i put it and that is in the toolbag in the bosun store space just under where i usually sit aboard the Liberty, not only that but i also know in a time-relatavistic kind of way that it is almost exactly 3 hours in time and space away ie the time it would take to drive there and bring it home…..except that it isn’t quite the case either in a very crucial way.
So let me explain a little bit about where we live and what the problem is. We live in a small nondescript village just inside Cornwall but nowhere near the tourist-y bit (ie the coast). We live essentially between one nice (and useful) town and one that is just on the way to somewhere else. Unfortunately the route to the useful one is only accessible by a narrow, single track bridge , over the river that is the county border, and it is impossible to go that way right now because the bridge, in fact the entire village, is essentially closed during the working day because the whole road surface is being re-done. Getting to work at stupid-o-clock isn’t a problem because of course the road crew are on council time which means that nothing happens much before lots of cups of tea at 0930 and finishes around 5 in the afternoon but by then the useful shops are all shut. There is s way of getting out of the village by wiggling through a series of very narrow lanes an tight junctions that go right past our place. The problem though is that they are very narrow, its not just that they are unsuitable for lorry’s : there is even a sign that says so it’s that they are unsuitable for unskilled or un-thinking drivers of which there are many around here. In fact around here if 2 unusually obese Cornishmen meet in the lane at least one of them has to turn sideways and breathe in to let the other one past. Let me also explain something else…..around these villages there is a very unusual understanding and application of the highway code. Outside our group of cottages for instance is a very narrow lane and that is sloping steeply up….now the highway code does describe what should happen when 2 vehicles meet ie that both should go uphill…..simple. Except that because of local conditions it seems to be locally accepted that it is marginally easier for everyone to move down the hill and that has become the norm except that it has become the ‘norm’ on the whole lane except for the white van drivers who haven’t a scoobie about the highway code to begin with and of course the ‘older’ drivers who just look panic stricken about the whole idea of reversing and of course the aforementioned angry posh (female) Audi driver. You can see where this is going.
So…..its not feasible and even possible to get to the boat and i can’t get down the lane and out over the bridge to get to the useful town where i know there is a Jewson’s , at least one other builders merchant and 2 or 3 hardware shops . I am going to have to negotiate the rat-run of narrow lanes and try to find the hardware store reputed to be in the next village along which is only 5 miles and in normal conditions 10 minutes drive away…..except that of course that it isn’t going to be anything like that today. I don’t even want to describe the trip, it took 5 attempts just to back out of my own drive such that i would be pointing up the lane, it’s not that i can’t reverse out of the drive in fact i do that smartly every day it’s just that each time i tried someone came hurtling down the lane in a high state of ‘excitement’ shall we say (blaring horns and middle fingers much in evidence). Ok let’s leave it there except to mention again the several angry white van drivers, confused and panic-stricken geriatrics and the angry lady in the posh white Audi….who should have been the key to solving the Cornish/Mexican standoff but wouldn’t. I think it took three-quarters of an hour to get to the next village where the mythical mecca of a hardware store was said to exist and when i did finally find it i was fully expecting it to be closed that day/closed for pasty break etc and was amazed that it was not just open but a very shrine to the shedii workshop order……the kind of place where you could ask for ‘forcandles’ and they would know exactly what you actually wanted.
Queue ‘forcandle’ sketch :
The hardware shop, once found, proved to be the one good experience of what turned out to be a frustrating and miserable day. It’s the kind of genuine hardware store that possibly only exists in little out-of-the-way villages like this as most of that kind of selling is mostly done by the huge, faceless and largely ignorant DIY superstores. It was in fact so good that i wandered around happily in shedii heaven almost forgetting that i had come primarily for a new frame hacksaw of which they didn’t just have one but 4 different makes…..such choice. Now : i was there a while because i did think through current jobs and what i would need/might need for them so i spent some time adding stuff to a small pile on the counter. The entertaining thing is that every time i went back to the counter, i had to ask where a couple of things were, there was a local asking for something completely random : the first one was an ‘almost’ as the old boy wanted a pencil sharpener…..feasible i guess. You and i will know of course that generally in a true hardware store a pencil is going to be a big fat carpenters version and the pencil sharpener is otherwise known as a craft (Stanley) knife….so no luck but the pleasant serving lady directed the old boy over the road to the stationer !. The next one , an old lady. i swear asked if the ribbed condoms were in stock yet…….the answer being “no Mrs Trewartha you need the shop around the corner : the one that says ‘Boots’ over the door ! (rubber connection i assume). I actually wondered if there is some weird elderly club here that randomly trolls each business with peculiar requests, its is Cornwall after all and there is far too much weed smoked out here.
All joking aside it isn’t funny at all that this area is rank with petty drug dealing and pot-heads. The aforementioned single track bridge is reputed to be the dividing line in one drug dealing ‘territory’ between rival dealers. I know of at least one former neighbour’s son who has been ‘inside’ for assault and dealing and strongly suspect that another is a petty dealer. A couple of weeks back i was sitting at the traffic lights waiting to get back through the village and just happened to be watching the 3 or 4 teenage lads ‘lurking’ around the bus stop, odd as the bus went through and they didn’t get on it. No surprise then that i saw a plain and in daylight drug and money ‘pass’, and not the first i have seen around here.
Back to the project then ! and after at least another hour went by i finally had the bolts ready to use, had the hatches and the goo, the ratchet screwdriver but where is the 10mm socket ?. Astute readers will now spot the obvious error : that a 5mm panhead bolt takes an M5 nut, in this case a slippery stainless steel Nyloc and doesn’t need a 10mm socket but an 8mm one or better an 8mm ring spanner……so where is the 8mm ring spanner ?……i think you can guess.