There are two things that I am good at.
That’s no small boast either. They maybe my only claim to fame, well on our street anyway, I’m still waiting on my Britain’s Got Talent application.
Looking at it in the cold light of day, a black coffee to hand, you’d think they were mutually exclusive. They are, I agree disparate skills and before that fateful day, never had I had to use them together in anger.
I’m getting ahead of myself though.
Skills? What skills, you may ask? You stack shelves in a supermarket, surely the only skill you have is being tall enough to reach the top shelf. This, I reply, is not a skill but more of a genetic bonus. My Dad was tall, my Grandfather huge, my Great Grandfather not so much – there were rumours about my Great Grandmother, only whispered about at funerals.
It’s a skill and one I learnt at the foot of my Grandad, my other one, not the tall one. He said that knitting had come about from darning his sections socks during the war. One thing had led to another and soon he’d been churning out scarves, cardigans, mittens and bobble hats. I’d been like a kitten at his feet, messing about with the wool balls till I had to be untangled before we left. I soon graduated onto knitting proper, the needles feeling an extension of myself rather than any simple tool. From that point on I never had a hard time with presents for folks, much to my parents’ dismay.
The second skill was a chance affair. Learnt… well found more like… in the pub. There was a dangerous element to it, one that gave me the air of a person on the edge. Would I? Should I? After a few pints ‘would I’ and ‘should I’ became irrelevant. I’d point out random folk and happily guess how much they weighed. The black eyes only hurt the day after.
So, guessing a person’s weight, that was my second.
Now, as you can imagine, knitting and guessing a person’s weight don’t seem to marry up as skills that can be combined, except for maybe eyeing up the amount of wool I may need for a cardigan.
That day though, that oh so fateful day. You’ll have to excuse me for these dramatics. It was, up till this point, the only defining moment in my life.
Gordon had fell out of the window at work. He was a big lad, a rugby player, one of those that mixed fat and muscle to become a mountain; a raving lunatic on the pitch and just a plain lunatic off it. The details of his fall are not required. Just accept that it was due to doing something stupid. He was hanging onto a ledge, out of arm reach from the window and bleating like a new born lamb. An unexpected reaction from a rugby player, I had to admit.
It only took one glance, one estimate, it was my time to shine.
I’d yelled with as much authority as my lanky frame could muster. ‘We need five scarves from new woollens, the 100% sort, the ones with the twisted knot weave, he weighs at least 18 stone.’
Well, what can I say, knitting, guessing weight, you never would have known. Such a pity for Gordon that they made a mistake, wool polyester mix, in no way would that have held 18 stone.