Yeah, it is just lame pun city round here today.
And despite nerves so bad I nearly puked in my hash browns, it was off to learn How To Make Your Own Tools. And I was remembered and there were hellos and I met a bloke who is a mechanic on enormous coffee grinders five storeys high, and a very amiable guy who works for the MoD, and some guys who are retired teachers who are making their own forge on a bit of land and having beehives and places for kids to come and learn how to make fire and bivvy and generally Living The Dream. (I thought they were a couple, but apparently not, just lifelong friends), and they opened a school off their own backs just for the hell of it, back in the day, and taught anyone they could just get in off the street in order to combat Youth Ignorance; but they said, you can’t do that now, far too many rules.
(One of them also said, you’re a secretary? Whoa, you don’t get many of those blacksmithing! Erm, yeah, thanks. I think.) And so once again, it appears to be me and a load of big burly blokes, who are alarmingly good at this whole Life business compared to me, and oh corks, here we go, Ambassador for My Gender once more, and if I suck, it will be A Sign That Women Suck, no doubt. Oh dear. Prepare to grit teeth and be all determined and noble and try heartbreakingly hard… and have everyone else interpret it as God, That Woman’s Having A Strop.
But no! There is another lassie on the course too, she is just stuck in traffic. So we got set up with anvils next to each other and Peat, who runneth this, said we could sledgehammer together. Oh cool, I hope she is not too much better than me!
Half an hour later, she was still stuck in traffic and I was starting to suffer mightily. Goddammit, I don’t even have the power I had last year (please god, let this tooth nonsense have taken more out of me than I thought, otherwise… it’s age… but hey, there are pensioners here doing better than I am!)
One of the things about doing something difficult with fire and hot metal and lots of elbow grease is it is just you and the fire and the hot metal and the elbow grease and it is all very Zen. Yay! Unless, it’s all going very badly, in which case it is just you and every single thing you hate about yourself, battling it out in a hot, smoky environment for eight hours.
But this other lassie made it in the end and turned out to be super-competent (and we ended up sitting outside having lunch together every day too) and I realised that, hey, she’s now got the stereotype of Woman Who Does Manly Stuff Because She Is Awesome (cue angelic chord) down, and thus I could happily settle into the, Woman Who Does Manly Stuff And Is Mince, But Has A Cheerful And Laidback Approach To It. An important life lesson, because I really hate sucking at anything. (Ooer).
Wow, this blog sure is mostly about stuff that happens in my head rather than real life, huh?
Okay, some real life stuff. On the first morning, I managed to make a chisel (with help) and then Peat took one look at me and we made what was going to be my punch on the power hammer instead of drawing out an inch-thick bar of tempered steel by hand; (we were using mild steel last time, and I am not the only one to notice the incredible difference in how hard it was to work this stuff by comparison). But I got to sledgehammer the other lassie’s punch flat, so that was something (especially because she retained all her fingers after my help). I said to her, I am so glad you are here so I can suck in peace, and she said, I know exactly what you mean, isn’t it terrible to have to think like that. (She does sculpture and landscape gardening and is actually trained to use a chainsaw, as opposed to having just used one, and is going to set up her own forge. Once again, I am underachieving like crazy here!) And yeah verily, I screwed up making my tongs so incredibly badly that they got done for me, and in the time taken by other people to make set after set of bad tongs without any help. Who is learning more here? Not me, for sure!
Although I did learn that for some reason I just cannot get the metal hot enough, this time round. And my hands are shaking more than they should be and that damn huge blister on my thumb, which formed after five whole minutes, is gonna be a nightmare all weekend long.
However. Tools down, thumbs up, stagger back for a shower (in my own room! THE LUXURY!), call the Bossman to tell him how the day was going. Fair play, he has an answer for everything, only in a good way. It is Not Your Strength, merely your technique, he said, and, You Punch Harder Than Any Lassie I Know. (But that was back when I was fitter! You know what, I’ma not mention that in case the compliments become despondent and give up).
I held the door open for a wee older chap on the way down to dinner, and since the place was mobbed and we were both having Dinners For One, he suggested we have a dinner for one together (which I thought would look ‘interesting’ to anyone else on the course who was staying here, which was most of them. ‘Says she’s a secretary, eh, but clearly doing business on the side… and she’s rubbish. It’s a scam!’) However, if anyone did go down that road, I saw no sign of it. I did fear for a terrible fraught conversation all night when he started in telling me the advance food deal wasn’t a very good deal, to which I agreed, but then he started telling me all his woes, which are woeful indeed, but he was very chipper about it. And has had a most interesting life! Ex-para, went into satellite dish business, loves his cars, damn good chap, after the ice had been broken. He said did I want to have another drink with him (not like that, he has a paramour) but I declined, saying I had to go do trigonometry. Which I did, and which I did do, but we met for fags often enough throughout the weekend and wished each other well at the end. So that was very nice.