Sunday, January 29, 2006

Resolution was no solution

You know, I had hoped to at least make it through a whole month before I gave in. But what can you do? Rust waits for no galoot.

It started with innocent intent. Well I radiated innocence anyway, when I inquired of the transport manager if we couldn't go to Pool Market for the purposes of obtaining a replacement parrot toy of a particular type that Bertie likes. The fact that crisp, cold, but sunny, Sundays have proved to be excellent car boot weather in the past was far from my thoughts. Yessir. Pets get quite embarrassing priority in our household, so yes, we'd go.

We went.

Give me my dues; first thing I did was head straight for "Doggies and Moggies" to look for the afore mentioned toy. They didn't have one. Merde. I may be force to make one myself at this rate. Anyway, duty done, it was back outside; the biting wind coming over Carn Brae hill wafting the aroma of fried onions and old chip fat the length of the car park. Just the desired thing at 9am... With these incentives to linger I did not hang about, but shot round at speed.

Not many sellers man or woman enough to brave both the wind and the market authorities' pitch charge, and most of those need only a glance to see they won't yield anything unless it's bright pink and/or plastic. But there was a lot of activity over at what I call a "box lot seller". You know the sort; buys up every mixed box lot under £X at the local auctions then sells the contents on for pence an item. Sometimes you can get a so-and-so who actually troubles to know what he's got and then it can get pricy, so it's no guarantee of low prices, but all those bees round the honey pot indicated some hope. I approached with caution, "'scused me" my way past the hoardes pawing over the box of clothing he'd just tipped out and headed for the red cantilever toolbox I'd spyed from afar. Braced for spanners and sockets, I peered in.

A hand drill.

Could it be...?

No, surely not a...?

No, it wasn't. Just a no-name, run-of-the-mill model. I put it aside out of the way and looked further. A larger size of Yankee spiral ratchet screwdriver. Chinese? I picked it up and peered at the shaft. What's this? Triangular logo? "Mass."? Why it's a Millers Falls #610A. Don't see many of those round these parts. A bit of finicking and lo, nearly everything that should move does so, except I have doubts about a) Whether the chuck is in working order, and b) What bits it takes. Might be worth a risk, so hang on to it pending the result of the "how much?" stage of proceedings. Despite straining my ears as I dug, I'd yet to overhear what kind of prices he was asking...

Now it's a truth universally acknowledged that a "Yankee" screwdriver must be in want of a bit, and this one was no exception. Obviously the thing to do was scrabble about in the hopes there might be one - or, tool gods be praised, more - somewhere in the box. I duly scrabbled. Gotta love cold weather when you have a pair of gloves to, er, "hand"; makes it so much more pleasant a task. Well, gentle reader, I found one. And then another. And another and another and... well eight screwdriver bits and two fluted drill bits later I was a happy bunny. Of course the crazy thing is they're all for the smallest size of Yankee and won't fit the MF at all. But as it happens I do have a #135 I picked up last year for a quid with only one bit, so they won't go to waste - although at least some of them have come from a Handyman 233 or the like I would think.

Nothing else left worth having, so I search out da man, and do my best "how much for this lot, mate?" giving off as much bonhomie and "we're all chums in this together, friend" ambience as humanly possible. He stops. He looks. He says;


Yee hah! Resolution? What resolution? I'll look at that as buying tool accessories (the bits) with a free screwdriver thrown in. No worries. I went on my way rejoicing, towards the exit and the rogue on the corner who I tend to leave last. Now he does know what he's got, but we haggle in friendly terms and both come away feeling that the other one got a good deal - so it's probably about fair dues. He has a sort of tent he lurks in, erected as protection from the combined elements of wind and rain. Despite also selling the worst "tool tat" in Am-Tech, Blackspur and the like, he has an eye for good old tools which he keeps within the tent, away from prying eyes. The tool tat is left exposed to any wind and rain that jolly well likes to get at it, as nature intended...

Naturally as I entered I have my eyes open for anything I can remotely justify as chair-making-related, but travishers and such my wondering eye fails to behold. Instead it sees a spokeshave. And then another one. Even before this recent excuse I've always had a thing for spokeshaves, so I was doomed really. First up a pretty ordinary #51, Stanley England blade, presumably in a Stanley body, but who knows. Ouch, he's got a fiver on it. On the other hand this has no family or tool chest connections, unlike my other two #51s, so maybe I could bring myself to grind this one? Anyway
round these parts you never get spokeshaves for the sort of figures I hear other people pay - blasted Cornish are too strapped for cash to give things away. The other one was a Stanley #63. Don't laugh, but I've never seen one before and I fell for it. It's a really quite a delicate little shave and something about it said age to me. No price, so an opening for a deal here. Again, nothing else I could make a case to myself in favour of buying, so I search out da man. He's got his sidekick on duty, but at least it's not the one who always, but always, says "Sorry, no Hilka Professionals available today" as a running gag. Well he thinks it's a gag and I just go along with it to keep him sweet... Hilka being the name of a brand of plane that... well let's just say if you want to plane anything harder than cardboard, forget it. Anyway, I proffer them up to #2 sidekick with a business-like "can we do something on the two?". He looks. He ponders. He says;


I pull a face.

"7?" I counter.

"Done," sez he. It's too much really, but like I say, the #63 had got me and I was lost from then on. But I was right about it being a good one; once out of the rogue's tent the blade proved to be a Sweetheart. Cool.

Even as I exited out of one "tent" flap, da man hisself pops in at the other, and I depart to cries of "got another bargain off me, then?". Sheesh, they're a loss to the comedy circuit...

So that's how I broke my new year's resolution before January was done.


  1. Nice tools - I'm also on the hunt for cheap spokeshaves, they go for too much on the 'bay' these days.. good work.

    Excellent commentry too - had a blast reading it!

  2. My old Dad used to say "You can never have too many spokeshaves!". Well I think it was my Dad, might of been someone else. Or I imagined it. Matters not-more is better! Nice work, Alf!
    And congrats on nearly making it through the month. We are all very proud ;)


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