I Am My Father’s Son


I am challenged when it comes to tools. I accept this. But it doesn’t mean I won’t try and bang something together if given the opportunity, which is why Tracey goes to great lengths to hide my hammer.

In fact, I love nothing more than finding a reason to run down to the local hardware where I can check out the tape measures – these are the only ‘tools’ Tracey lets me play with these days. I have five.

How bad am I?

“Can you hear that? What is it?” I asked my wife on the weekend as I stood, Meerkat-like, listening intently.

“l realize it’s not a sound you’re familiar with,” said Tracey, “but that would be one of the neighbours using a drill.”

I blame my dad.

“Look at this!” my father said proudly when I ducked around to see him yesterday.

He’d taken me out to his garden shed, where he keeps all the stuff mum won’t allow in the house: antique shovels, Papua New Guinean spears and his nostalgic collection of barely used whipper snippers.

On the subject of whipper snippers: I think I picked up my habit of buying a new whipper snipper instead of changing the cord from my dad. I didn’t realise I was doing this until we cleaned out our shed and I found three hidden away behind a decade’s worth of flotsam. Dad has closer to six.

I stuck my head in the shed.

“Sorry,” I said. “What am I looking at?”

“My new work bench,” Dad said, pointing to the left hand wall.

And sure enough, a work bench was standing there in all it’s new woody glory. I’m not sure what my father expected me to say, but it probably wasn’t what came out my mouth.

“What the hell do you want that for?” I laughed.

Here’s the other thing about my dad – he has two of every tool but hires people to do the jobs. You know those whipper snippers of his I mentioned? He hires a guy to do his yard.

My father was undeterred by my mocking tone. He simply gazed lovingly at his bench.

“I’ve just always wanted one,” he said.

“Promise me you won’t try use it when you’re here alone,” I said. Dad’s hands shake more than our house when the washing machines are both on a rinse cycle. I was picturing scenes the directors of the SAW franchise would envy.

But I needn’t have worried.

“Oh, I’m never going to cut anything on it,” said my father, looking at me like I’d lost my mind. “I might put a mark on it.”

So I oohed and aahed appropriately. Then I made a little joke.

“You might need to change your will,” I told him.

“Why’s that?”

“It’s such a good looking bench. We don’t want any squabbling.”

He nodded sagely. “Good point. You want me to leave it to you?”

Do I ever! Let’s see Tracey try and hide that sucker.

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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”


  • I was never much of a handyman either, Bruce. Until we had Indy. Now I’ve put my ‘handy’ skills to work modifying his little train set on multiple occasions to extend, widen and renovate tracks, tunnels, you name it, just so everything fits where he wants them too. The best part of that, is how proud of me he feels and how excited he gets when I bring my glue-gun out, and he’s quick to show my handiwork to whoever drops by, he holds it up and announces proudly…”Dada!”

    • I modify lots of things 🙂 Just yesterday I modified a coffee mug into use as mosaic tiles. But then realized I’m not doing a mosaic so threw them out.

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