Friday Woodworkers. No. 7. 11th. Nov, 1988.
I woke early this morning, so decide this time I have some chance of being first in. Leaving at 8.45, I set out. As I am approaching the school I suddenly realise I need some screws to fit the new modifications (the ones I want to plate) to my saxophone. I go to every electrical or hardware shop in the street and find none. Having failed to get the screws, I spend my last £1.10p. on a couple of egg salad rolls (things are a bit tight just now) from the bread shop and arrive at the school at about 9.35, to find Peter and Myrtle there with their work out, and Myrtle already working on hers with her own tools.
I am not at all cheerfiul today, the week having been a particularly stressful one, and it is amazing how quickly these lovely friends catch on. Before I have gone from the door to the first cupboard (to open it) they have changed their demeanour to suit the mood I have carried in with me. I hope I have not made them feel bad for feeling good, and I wish I could manage to feel good to stop them feeling bad. I don't really like having such power, but I suppose it may be a necessary part of the job since in some ways I am taking the role of father to the class. We all bounce off each other in this group, and I struggle for a bit to feel (or at least to seem to feel) better, partly because I want to write the journal with some enthusiasm--and give in. VI comes in. Sandra comes in. They both catch it. John comes in. "Ah. You're in trouble", says Myrtle, "they think you haven't paid". This is unusual for her. She is generally a fairly sensitive and helpful soul. John looks a bit worried, and I am ob ged to try to look cheerful and tell him what it's all about. ",,,..,,. computer........... postal strike..,,..,. Ad'i~t Education can't get organised......" etc.
Somehow, Sandra manages to ask the right question to pull me out of the mire. She wants to know how to go on, and I get so confused with all the potential routes she might take that I am obliged to admit I'm so tired I can't think straight. Frank retorts with "I hope......" to which I retort before he even finishes his sentence "furthermore it wasn't anything worth being tired for." Suddenly all seems well again. Things begin to roll. I've laughed at myself, and that eases the tension. Was it real, or was it in my imagination?
David Woody Allan has what appears to be a bundle of sticks. On closer scrutiny it turns out they are the four sides of a very thin picture frame. "How am I going to join them?" he says. T show him how to make four corner blocks with a piece of string round them. He manages to make them. All this tIme Bill has been watching and listening. He lets it all happen, then says "at my picture-framing class we use an old inner tube." Good idea that, but why wait until we'vn done it this way before telling us?
Sandra has moved forwards a bit and is asking me what materials I think she will need for the front of her cabinet. I'm humming and hahing, and every time I suggest something she shoots it down. "Well, anyway," I say "however you go about it, the top bit has to just look like a pair of drawers. People start giggling, so realising I have hit upon an unsuspected vein of mirth I enlarge on the subject. "You see, it needs to look like this:"
Now, quite why this is amusing, I have not understood. But Ifind it amusing too. I think I have normal interests, and do not look upoon a pair of drawers as any great thing in itself. So it must be purely the double entendre that does it for me. Tndeed, one can imagine equal mirth over a pair of feet on something.
David is sharing a bench with Bill, apparently without asking. Yet they are both looking very cheerful. Funny. I always thought Bill was a bit territorial.
Jim who is making the sawbench roller asks me about how to stop holes splintering out on the other side when you drill through. The answer is to have a piece of offcut behind into which the drill will continue without going through an unsupported bit.
Bill is talking to David Woody Allan. He's been working on his toy shop (as opposed to toyshop, see?) and now he's leaning through the shop front and on the bench just like a cartoon of a jolly shopkeeper. He's got both hands on the counter and a demeanour about him which says "and what can I do for you sir?" He's wearing a bib and brace apron, rolled up shirt sleeves, waistcoat, spectacles and a bald head. I eavesdrop. They're talking about oil painting'.
David turns to me and says "You know, I only come here for the atmosphere. It's such a happy class!" There are days when that would bring a tear to my eye, and I am very proud, I have to admit, of just how happy it all seems. Somehow, we get into a small conversational huddle with Sandra. We talk about their (our) boys and what they spend their money on. David reckons that some of them go about with Channel on! That's surprising. I thought only girls used that! We get back onto the subject of drawers and have a bit of a giggle. As David is leaving (early) he says "This place is all drawers and things, so I'm going." More giggles.
At lunch I go along to the model shop in a further search for screws. All I can find is some odd steel ones, but at least they are only lOp. I've found a few 20p's in the car (I keep them for parking metres) and so have enough for a sandwich, having eaten the first lot during my down-ness in the morning. In the sandwich shop an old lady is watching large amounts of mustard being put in my sandwich.
"That's hot stuff," she says.
"I'm trying to do something about myself," I reply.
I walk back. As I enter the playground, Hugh is having a quiet cigarette (at his age!) in a corner with a couple of kids regarding him curiously. "Are you very old?" says one, and the two of them giggle.
Hugh smiles and says "What do you think?"
He comes in and gets out the Thermos.
Victoria is missing. Without Victoria there is no lunchtime friction, and it almost seems a bit flat after recent lunches. Myrtle has bought her tiny but very powerful butane torch for me to borrow to solder the modificattone onto my sax. What a lovely tool! There is so much power concentrated in one place that you can solder pieces on without really even warming up the surrounding bits.
Elizabeth arrives! She came last year, but has not been seen at all this year. She has paid for afternoon classes, but as she has missed so many she wants to know if she can come both morning and afternoon to make them up. Last year, by using some of the components of various bits of dismantled furniture, she made a kind of tall narrow tea trolley:
It is yet to be completed. She takes the secondhand, make-do-and- mend idea further than most. This thing is made from 3 desk-legs, a few rails, and some offcuts of plywood. Even the mortices that are already in the legs have been pressed into use in some cases. Those that are not are disguised in various ways. The edges of the trays are some pieces of offcut from something I was making. The timbers are allsorts, and I think the overall effect when finished will be rather nice. I like mixed timber furniture. It is a rather strange shape and design because it has to fit between two doors (against a wall) in her kitchen. Two of the three legs have casters on, and the third, the front one, has a handle at the top, so that you can lift It slightly and wheel it around. There is currently great confusion over making the tray edges fit.
Cholly comes in and walks about talking to himself. Myrtle complains that I am not helping him as much as I helped her when she started. What she doesn't realise is that there is a different technique for teaching this sort of person. You can only teach the tiniest amount at a time, and if you don't go away and leave them to it they stand there and wait for you to do it for them.
Cholly is a sit-com in his own right, really, even though one would never dare present the public with such a thing. He says he knows what to do, so I believe him. But he rarely does, and one can tell him one or many times and he will forget. Supsrvise him and he resents it. Leave him alone and he needs help. But he never asks for it. Here's a method he showed me for checking squareness: -
1- Put square on job upside down.
2. Look at it.
3. Turn it round.
4. Look at it.
5' Move square till one bit fits against wood.
7. But no. It doesn't fit anywhere else.
8. Swear. Scratch head.
9. Turn square over.
10. Try to make square fit wood.
11. Blame square, plane, vice and wood.
12. Saw end off wood (not square).
13. To correct unsquareness go to 1.
More fun next week.