Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Where’s my hat?
We all have labels hanging round our necks and mostly they are not the ones that we’d choose. We live with a selection of identities that have been foisted upon us, like the ill-fitting, cast-off clothing of a gawky cousin. Clownish and uncomfortable we play our roles as best we can until we are able to shrug them off at the end of the day and slide into the fireside slippers—or the leopard skin leggings—that are our real selves.
I have always frantically rebelled when I’ve felt pigeonholed, madly reversing out of any cul-de-sac with a label at the end, home-schooler, alternative, ex-pat, truck driver, gardener, British. With the exception of a few whistle-blowing authoritarians who embrace their roles to the extent of writing parking fines for cars, illegally parked in their dreams, nobody is simply one persona.
A size too small for most of the roles I’m called upon to play I am surprised to find the boatbuilder garb a good fit—although I don’t know that I’ve earned the right to wear it. Add a sailor’s feather to the boatbuilder’s cap and I really feel quite dandy (though I look a bit of a jerk).
At ease in this guise it’s a pleasure to be back in my invisible workshop after a long break. I haven’t done much other than stare at a solid length of lumber, wondering how I should go about converting it into OB’s new mast. I learned a lot when I made the last mast, how to eight-side, sixteen-side and eventually make a square section round, how to achieve a smooth taper along its length and how to install a little pulley in the top. But, like with everything I’ve built, a sensation that I could have done better remained and I vowed that if ever I got the chance to do it again I’d build a mast to be proud of. Trouble is I can’t quite remember what aspects I wanted to improve. I didn’t write them down nor did I record how I did all the eight-siding and tapering.
And as I stood up with an iron oxide-spotted tenon saw in my hand, having rummaged through my box of blunt and rusting tools, I saw that once again I was wearing the shabby headpiece of the corner-cutting constructor of gimcrack shelving that threatens every project undertaken in the invisible workshop.
I decided to postpone the mast building until I remember what I’m supposed to do and have sharpened my tools. And in the meantime I’ll look for my cap.