The Knives Are Out

And thank goodeness for that.

I have always used knives for sensible purposes. They have helped me deal with dinners, diseases, and every hobby I’ve ever engaged in. You might be puzzled to think where they might crop up in photography, but in the dear old silver print days we had extremely sharp little retouching knives that could cut a slice off a print to get rid of spots.

My current thrill – building model airplanes – uses a number of blades, held in various handles. I am at an age when I bleed freely but have learned not to stab myself. I look at all the knives in the hobby shop and am struck by the variety on offer – some seem to have no relevance to any hobby sold in the shop…but they look cool.

I always have a blade with me – possibly to the horror of any British police personnel reading this, but I assure them that I do not draw a weapon readily. My pen knife in my watch pocket is under the legal limit here in my home state, and the other blades clipped into camera bags or storage boxes have legitimate purpose and are not abused. The most useful tool of all is the Leatherman multi-purpose pliers that live in the reporter bag. I’ve wired up farm gates using it, repaired tripods, and even gapped a spark plug.

I know people who make knives – both upon a professional and an amateur basis – and in the case of the better makers it can be hard to tell any difference in quality. Occasionally they present me with one of their works of art – I pay a coin for it – and treasure it from then on.

Kitchen knives are another thing. I share a kitchen with others, and some of them have no idea what to do with a cooking knife. I shudder to watch them handling the utensils and sometimes step in to stop the disaster before it happens. I’ve edited out the worst of the junk knives that they seem to accumulate and have converted the rest to moderately useful ones. I keep my proper cooking tools separate and let the clumsy misuse the ones that do not matter.

I do not imagine that the culture of ban will ever succeed in depriving us of knives. Guns and swords are easy subjects upon which to erect emotional circuses for political ends. But we all need to cut a steak at some stage of the game and you can’t do that with plastic KFC forks.

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