I used to carry a pocket knife everywhere with me. These days, in a society that has criminalised the carrying of knives, I have to be careful to use them only at home or out bush.
I find it highly offensive that, because of the actions of a minute fraction of the community, I am now considered a potential criminal along with a huge number of other harmless, law abiding citizens. If that is the best our authorities can do to protect us then god help us all. But enough of that, before it becomes a cranky old man rant!
A pocket knife to me has always been a useful short bladed tool and I never carried one with any intent for defence, or offense! Like any knife, no matter the size, it needs to be sharp and I always made sure my pocket knives were honed to a fine edge.
The little Shelham factory knife at the top of the photo I carried for about twenty years. It got a lot of use when I was fishing and hunting. I skinned quite a bit of game with it and the battered brass end testifies to the harvesting of many oysters from the sea shore rocks.
As the blade began to thin from a lot of sharpening I decided to treat myself to a custom pocket knife. I gave considerable thought to just what I wanted in a pocket knife with regard to shape, size and materials of construction. Then I provided the details of that to Peter Bald and commissioned him to make the knife to my specifications.
In the interim, while waiting for the new folder to arrive, I had a serious mishap with the little Shelham. I have been using sharp knives ever since I was a kid and this has been the only incident (so far, touch wood) that required medical attention.
It was my fault completely. I thoughtlessly used the little knife inappropriately and without due care. Kneeling on one knee I used the blade to lever up some carpet on the floor of the boat. I was pulling toward myself and the sharp little blade popped out of the carpet and buried itself to the hilt in my lower left leg.
I pulled the blade out immediately and was treated to the spectacle of an arterial squirt of blood. The boat was on a trailer in the front yard of the house. Like a powerful crimson jet from a water pistol the spurt of blood arced over several metres to splatter the pale coloured wall of the house.
My two little boys had witnessed the event and yelled loudly to their mum that dad had cut himself and there was “blood everywhere!” I jumped down out of the boat and used my thumb to pressure the artery and cut off the blood flow. As I did that I became aware of another sensation. My foot felt like it was being slowly immersed in hot water. The sensation rose up my foot until it reached the wound that was a few inches above the ankle. Then all sensation below that point ceased.
I remember thinking to myself, now there’s a complication, as I had obviously severed all the nerves as well as the artery. I am not worried by blood, my own included, and am not prone to panic, so I quietly told the boys to stop yelling and go inside and get their mum, who obviously had not heard their bellowing, and bring back a towel. Luckily, a passerby had heard the commotion and came in to assist. I did not need any assistance, but it was good that he came in because Kathy came out and on seeing the ample quantities of gore about the place she became faint.
So, the Good Samaritan and the boys attended to Kathy for some time, while I sat patiently keeping pressure on the wound. Once The Bride was over her attack of the wobbles we thanked the passing helper and Kathy drove me to the emergency ward for treatment. My prognosis was confirmed; I had severed the artery and nerves. The end result was a flight to Darwin for microsurgery and some months on crutches. I never did get all the feeling back in my foot either.
The custom knife from Peter Bald duly arrived back in 1996 and I have used it extensively ever since. As can be seen from the photo, it too has now had a lot of its blade sharpened away after eighteen years of solid use. So now I am thinking about a replacement.
In talking about that with the boys, Aaron has kindly lent me his Chris Reeve Sebenza folding knife to use. The Sebenza is an example of a top end factory knife featuring great design and precise engineering in its construction. I like what I see so far and may well be tempted to get one of my own. Time will tell, and I am avoiding any carpeting jobs in the meantime.