Friday Woodworkers. 27th. 3anuary 1989

It has been almost 20 years since I last found myself with no money and no means of getting credit. A famous high street bank whose nam begins with B have a guarantee of being given 25,000 when my house is sold and will not lend me more than 6,000, and that only at a very high interest rate and for a 'lending fee' of 50 per six months in addition. So my cheque card is recalled. And as the cheque card is also a credit card I am without. The reason I am telling you this is that it feels as though this is colouring everything I do Just now. And perhaps as a warning not to rely on banks--but we all know this. One of the interesting things about it is that whereas charges ware minimal before when I could repay my borrowings, now that I can't everything they do seems to cost 7.50 or more. This is the cost of being broke. I don't know if they charge 7.50 for clearing a cheque, but wouldn't be surprised.

I am on time, even though I stopped at the sandwich shop to spend my last 1.50p (1. l0. 0p!) on sandwiches. But Peter is first. He has got his cabinet down off the top of a cupboard where we left it last week and it has worked itself out of square. We experiment with sash cramps to see if we can force it back into square, and devise a way of pushing it out of square in the opposite direction and leave it to stand for a bit.

Frank comes in carrying quite a large amount of very fine light coloured mahogany. He's making a fire surround, and this reminds me of the radiator boxes I designed for my friend's Victorian house book. They are very simple to make and fit, and probably make no difference to the output of the radiator if done properly:


So you get full heat convection and a shelf above. Not good for things that might dry out too much, though.

Sandra is saying nothing, but doing something. It must mean she knows what she's doing. She looks cheerful, anyway.

Peter has bought a new (secondhand) car--a Sierra estate, and though very useful it has the problem that there is no vast space at the back to put his large collection of motorist's junk. He takes over a large and ill-conceived plywood box someone else has thrown out and repairs it (new bottom) for the purpose. "I'm getting a new bottom" he announces.....

Frank has bought a router cutter for 2. 37p! It has a 1/4" shank so it will fit our machine, but it is made out of a single piece of sheet mtal:


clever stuff. A bit of a Henry Fordish idea, that. If it is made out of decent metal it will last quite a long time.

There's an awful lot of box-making of one sort or another going on just at the moment. Patricia is not only making a box for her car, but also a cassette box to fit the box for the car and a large compartmented box for her husband's shoes under the bed. Allegedly (he's a solicitor) he chucks them all over the room at the moment. It is difficult to imagine either her or her husband being untidy when one looks at the things she makes.

Bill manages to get a bit too tough with the bandsaw and breaks two blades, bringing us down to our last blade but one. Not a bad effort in one lesson. The council will pay for new ones, but it takes time, so Victoria has a look at the tea money. Frank can get blades for 3 or so each. Things deteriorate. Nobody can remember if there is plenty of tea money because we forgot to give the caretakers a Christmas box. Or perhaps it's just a fluke. Anyway, there's still one more blade. The compromise is that the caretaker gets either nothing, not having had anything at Xmas, or nothing having already had it at Xmas! And we will order a couple of blades. What fine self-regulation this class shows.

Myrtle is till not in, but I phoned her this morning and she says she is getting better and will come out next week. She could say 5 or so words without taking breath. Hugh is not back either, but Peter says he spends quite long periods visiting in Ireland.

Patricia has got pretty daring about the circular saw. She is not only setting it, but operating it with me supervising. I am glad about the supervising bit. It can be a very dodgy machine indeed. Glad I refitted the guard that was missing when I took over.

It's lunchtime, but she won' t stop. I do. I make tea and eat my sandwiches. And then practice a bit on my sax. There is a child (it's lunchtime in the school, too) craning here head to get her ear in a position where she can hear through the glass of the door. She doesn't know I can see her through a mirror in front of me. I play a couple of calypsos because I imagine (probably quite wrongly) they would be something someone like that would enjoy. I stand up and bow. She smiles. But what I really want to play is a pastiche piece I have written. It is a mongrel of several different tunes written in the thirties, and I have a go at it. It is not long before I am fed up with it and trying a Charleston. Do you remember .........? But it is me who remembers the Charlestons, not because I am old enough, but because I played my parents' records when I was a kid and grew to love them. And I know more Charlestons than almost anyone now, having been in and running a Charleston band for the past seven years. Then there are a couple of sad tunes from the late twenties, causing great reminiscence about the stock market crash, depression and so on, and Buddy Can You Spare a Dime?, followed by discussion of wether it was Irving Berlin who wrote it

"Anyway, it was one of the pop composers of the twenties or thirties," I say.

They don't like that. Pop to these people means something they don't like. But I am rescued by David the sewing box saying that Johann Strauss the younger was pop also. Amazing the things you learn!

Both Jim I and Jim II are here. Jim II is most subtle in his supportiveness of Jim I. Elizabeth arrives and flutters a bit. Hers wont go together....can I help? She's a bit pin-happy, and she has put a pin right where it obstructs her from going on. I manage to persuade her to remove it and we continue. The basic job is OK, but it is absolutely riddled with pin holes. Never mind, she is having fun and meeting people.

There is only one Scottish David here today. He has decided that his magazine rack will not have straight top edges after all. He cuts them in the bandsaw. Now they will look like this:


which was what I suggested in the first place!

The other class have done nothing to clear the French polish off the chisels, and I don't feel like doing it for them. "We're not here to maintain tools for them," I announce.

"You'll have to speak to them in French-with not so much polish," says Jim I. Oh. Oh.

David the sewing box has been going through the moulding planes and has found one that does this:


We sharpen it up. It takes hours because someone has not been keeping the flat side flat. Eventually, out of sheer impatience I shape it a bit on the anvil. This speeds things up, but will probably shorten the life of the blade because where I hit it there is a slight dent, which may make that bit unsharpenable when we get to it (in 30 years' time!) He is pleased with the moulding but perturbed by how difficult it is to use the plane. Never mind. Practice makes perfect.

We have not seen David Woody Allan for weeks now, so I call in on the way home. I park across the gate so he can't drive out suddenly! He is in, but...........can't stop...........mother...........other classes ......... intending, but maybe the way.........and so on, in endless rapid succession. I have to let him go because he will be late visiting his mother.