Wednesday, June 17, 2015


There is a chest of drawers in the garage that is more or less inaccessible all winter because the drawers stick fast. AJ – an enthusiastic do-it-yourselfer as long as the doing involved a big hammer and six inch nails – kept his treasures in there. Some of the contents related to his precious bicycles, which had special tools a brain surgeon might envy, but the rest is eclectic and collected over the years.

 It was a terrifying sight to see AJ load an electric drill, press the trigger, and advance on a helpless piece of timber.  He had no truck with the dictum to measure twice and cut once. His idea of measuring something was to flap a tape over it and decide that he needed to drill the hole six and a half centimetres – and a little bit more – round about there. His saw-cuts were never quite straight. There have been more holes in walls in our house than were ever necessary to hang the pictures and mirrors.

AJ’s one-offs are legendary. The house is full of bookcases and tables, all different – that’s why they are one-offs. Few have legs, most have slab sides. Some have shelves. Some do just as well as seats. They more or less stand up straight and are sturdy, even through earthquakes. All are painted with dark brown timbacryl which is really designed for outdoors – fences and the like. If anything got a little scratched and battered AJ simply hosed them down, opened the vat of paint and splashed another coat over them. The word for AJ’s one-offs was “rustic”. He was always delighted with his handiwork, and we were never short of somewhere to sit, or to rest a cup or a plate.

Back to the chest of drawers, which is due for a clear-out. The top drawer is the only one I have really needed access to, because it contains the hammers, the pliers, all the screwdrivers and a few other assorted metal things. I’ve been keeping that drawer well candle-waxed so I could access what I needed. The other drawers have been ignored. Around November last year (that’s spring for northern hemisphere readers), knowing that I would need to start clearing out ready to move, I began to heave at the handles and slowly, slowly over the next weeks each drawer gave up the struggle and let me pull it open.

OMG. Electric things. Gloves. Cables. Plugs. A grease gun. Bits for the drill. Boxes of – what exactly? Jars that rattle. Oh well, seeing that I have had no use for any of them in the last few years, I won’t miss them. Out they go. Nothing like a good clear out.

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