Thursday, 7 February 2008

Mr Waring - an apology

Listening to: Living For The Weekend (Hard-Fi)
Weather: Another good 'un
Surf: so, so tempting, 4ft clean. . . almost worth the frostbite

I've never been a practical person. It's all down to upbringing and education, I suppose.

I'm from solid, middle class, protestant Irish stock. My father was an historian who disappeared for what seemed like days on end, to be found behind a barricade of books in his study. Lovely fella, told a great story, liked a pint and a game of rugby, but he hardly knew what a fuse was, let alone how to change one.

At school, I was 'bright' (apparently), but always let myself down in sciences and practical stuff. Maths and chemistry I bungled my way through, but physics was beyond me and biology never fitted into the timetable with German and Ancient History.

Then there was woodwork.

At the minor public school I attended, I was forced to take either woodwork or metalwork until I was 15. I can't think of anyone who thought it was a good idea, but those were the rules.

So, I would tumble into the workshop with an armful of books (history usually), the sound of sniffing and sobbing from the back room indicating that the woodwork teacher Mr Waring was present and was resigning himself to an hour-and-a-half with 'the clever kids'.

I was bloody useless and even less interested. It took me nearly a year to make a bread board (the little legs were quite complicated). But I didn't make a nuisance of myself, spending most of the time discussing a theoretical Great Britain football team with my friend Mike Kirkman.*

Mr Waring and I just didn't connect. He was a funny little man with a beard and half-moon glasses and he was kind of semi-bald, in that his hair started halfway back on his head and stuck straight up in the air.

Today, I found myself wishing I'd paid more attention. I went outside this morning after a blustery night to find the half-built pig shelter leaning against the fence at a jaunty angle.

An hour or two huffing, puffing and swearing got things on a more stable footing so that it looked at least the right shape (pictured left).

I went around nailing on bits of wood and we're now at the stage where all we need is to put some kind of roof on.

But I've got the bug. I would love to know what those carpenter's joints are called and learn how to do them so that the next pig shelter doesn't rely on 1,397 nails to hold it together.

And Sal watched Jamie Oliver tonight, so wants raised beds for the asparagus we are, so I'm told, going to be growing.

Anyone got Mr Waring's phone number?

* Mike was a strong advocate of Peter Shilton in goal, but I (with an Ulsterman for a dad) was equally staunch in my support of Pat Jennings. I'll still have words with anyone who doesn't think he was the best goalie ever ever ever (Banks included).


Lord Tennisanyone said...

I love hammering away on things all summer long...prolly because we are forced to endure 5 solid months of winter and you get cabin fever.

Actually I prefer screwing, but my batteries don't last as long as they once did.

I need to get a new Drill, one with a longer extension cord.

Virgin Porker said...

Sorry Malc, but I've just had a little chuckle at your expense. Hope you don't mind. When you've stopped snogging, you can have a go at me.

Just one question - why does a bread board need legs? You were taught by a crazy man I reckon and that's why you never learned anything.

VP x

I, still, like the views said...

for a moment I thought the photo was of the "half-built pig shelter leaning against the fence at a jaunty angle" pre-huff and puff

oops. . .

my father had raised asparagus beds in his vegetable garden; cutting the asparagus (at a jaunty angle, altho I can't quite remember which now, but definitely not straight across) was one of my jobs

any woodwork evening classes where you are then?!

have you got one of those steamer wetsuits for the icey surf!?

happy Friday

Steven said...

Hi Malc

I've still got all my sample woodwork joints from the course I went on before we moved to Cotterochan.

I might even be able to remember how to do them. Come round and you can have a look, just don't tell my daughters about Mr T.


Ginni Dee said...

Malc, you've made a noble effort at building a piggie poke. Just remember, if you make something perfect you risk angering the gods. So it's best to not have perfect joints and square angles! I think you're safe!


iLL Man said...

The woodwork teacher at my school was a lunatic. In fact, most of the tech block crew were. hair-trigger tempers the lot of them. I think I made a small wooden boat once. It sank. Somewhere between Plughole Bay and Rubberduck Point

elizabethm said...

Here is an entirely serious question: what sort of roof are you going to put on your fabulous pighouse? Loved the idea of the sobbing of Mr Waring in the back. Have to say we have raised beds (Ian does it, I just weed them) and they are ace.

Anonymous said...

c'mon, you've got to admire Paul Robinson - the man has saves goals despite having a wooden leg (unless you are up on your neighbours characters this will mean nothing to you - I advise nodding, smiling, and sitting me on a stool in a darkened room for a few minutes to calm me down).

The Birdwatcher said...

The joys of a minor public school. The only time I got detention was for messing about in woodwork. Mrs BW is a dab hand at all things DIY and pratical and can be hired out at a very reasonable day rate. She will drink all your whisky though!

mig bardsley said...

Yes well. While you blokes were learning to put legs on breadboards, us girls were learning to put the rocky bits in pastry. And we had to learn how to sew the wrinkly seams into skirts too.
I'd rather make arks for pigs myself, I'm a dab hand at making shelves out of recycled planks and bricks. (actually, my pastry could be used instead of bricks)

Malc said...

Your Lordship

Don't we all?


Why indeed? Probably just to make the whole process more complicated for disinterested children.


No woodwork classes here, sadly.

I've got a wetsuit, but it's 3/2mm thick and suitable only for spring and summer. I need to get myself one of those thick winter jobs


Ok, I'll pop round. I could do with a hand grooming T, volunteers welcome.


No danger of me ever making anything perfect.

Ill Man

I thought captains were supposed to go down with their ships. What's your excuse?


I've got an old door and a section of floor which should do the trick.
We've big plans for the veg garden.


I'm nodding, smiling and trying to remember the last time I watched Neighbours - about ten years I think.


Mrs BW is welcome here any time she likes - competant help always welcome.


Pastry. . . Mrs TPF has mastered that dark art and is turning out the most wonderful pies. Not good for my waistline, but I have cut back on the beer.

Anonymous said...

Anytime, except Wednesday, were off to civilisation, err...mmmm.... Kirkwall.


FirstNations said...

whenever you are building an outdoors structure that will be subject to high winds, ANGLE STEEL is your friend! over here they call these things 'right angle plates' or deck joins' but basically what they are is a simple right angle of heavy steel with holes drilled in so you can hammer a nail or drive a screw through. all my raised beds are built with this, as was my huge (deceased) cold frame and various other year round things.

FirstNations said... took me running into the cold frame with the lawnmower
several times' to kill it, btw. and it was 10 years old at the time and had withstood several hurricane force storms!

oh you get it. get the angle steel.

ziggi said...

I vote for Harry Gregg who always comes to mind at this time of year.

You and Himself both, you should see my ponies' field shelters even they laugh and none are brave enough to go in them less they fall on their heads. Still he's good a Latin which is useful . . .

Anonymous said...

don't bother trying to get back into it (neighbours that is) it's gone all rubbish now. I mean, it was never excellent, but now it's gone rubbish. And it's moving to Five. I rest my case.

Malc said...


OK, get the kettle on. Milk, no sugar.
Try the coffee in Trenabies - very civilised.


Good idea. Don't know why I didn't think of that before. They will be incorporated in the next attempt (I've actually sat down and drawn a plan this time)- and I've got some old windows to build some cold frames for.


Good point - a fine and brave man, and a cracking custodian to boot.
But I don't recall the Brazil team baking anyone a birthday cake, except for big Pat.
A good grasp of Latin always helps when it comes to working out what your school motto is. Ours was 'Aut Vincere Aut Mori' -'Either to Conquer or to Die' (!)


We can't get Channel 5 here (unless I sell out and get a Murdoch dish) so my ignorance of events on Ramsay Street is set to continue.

dinahmow said...

FN is right about the angle iron. It's a bit like the fish-plate joiners that came with Meccano.
I'm glad you further explained the bread board's legs;I was mystified!

Rol Hirst said...

I come from a family of tradesmen. My dad's a joiner, my brother's a builder, nephews are plumbers, joiners and kitchen fitters.

I can't do anything practical. I feel useless in their company... and when they help me out, what can I offer in return? "I'll write you a radio ad"? I don't think so...

Malc said...


The legs were a bit useless. . . and they fell off. but my mum was very nice about them.


Tea always seems to go down well in those situations, I find.

Hannah Velten said...

Valiant effort, Malc. The pigs won't mind as long as they're out of draughts - Humm...perhaps a little more work needed....