"Excuse me Sir, do you happen to have a knife in your luggage?"
It's 5am in St Pancras Station and I'm going through security, about to board the Eurostar to France. Of course I've got a knife in my bag; I'm going on a surf trip. But on Eurostar there's no "checked luggage" and "hand luggage"; you haul everything onto the train yourself so it all counts as "hand luggage". Which means that if they see a knife at the bottom of your surfboard bag on the x-ray machine, then you get pulled up.
"I'm afraid Sir, that you can't take your knife onto the train, and furthermore it's an illegal offensive weapon and has to be destroyed."
News to me. An "illegal, offensive weapon"? It's my pocket knife; the knife that my Dad gave to me when I was ten years old to take on cub-scout camp for a weekend. It's not even that big. And, counting it up, it's been on in-excess of thirty-five international flights (in my checked luggage of course). But no, into the big yellow funnel it went. And to add insult to injury, it fell into a big, clear-perspex fronted bin, so that everybody else can see what's not allowed on the train and what happens to the those things if they find them.
Maybe having a knife with you means something different in the Big Smoke. In fact, I know it does. But to me, having a knife in your pocket is kind of normal; many of my friends and colleagues carry a pocket knife as standard, like a mobile phone or car keys. What happens when you want to sharpen a pencil? Or cut up an apple at lunch time, cut some string, gut a fish or tweak a bit of glass or sea-urchin spine out of the sole of your bare foot? Each time, I'd reach for my pocket knife.
I replaced my old, well worn, lock knife with a multi-knife; one of those red ones with a bottle opener on it (you know the ones), but sand gets in it and it grinds horribly when I open it, and I and I also got myself a short, square nosed thing in an ankle-sheath for ocean-bourne occasions. However I miss having a simple, small, sharp knife somewhere close by for those little jobs that, if it weren't for that knife, I'd spend hours trying to find the right tool for the job.
"Hello Trouble", a short advert created for Gerber by Chris Malloy and the guys at The Farm League.
Clearly, this blog post is about the usefulness of carrying with you, when it's sensible and useful to do so, an effective, multi-purpose tool. Knives are dangerous things and should be treated with and handled with the utmost respect and care. If you're camping, adventuring outside, or in a workshop then cool. If you're walking around town, not so. Be sensible. Don't be an idiot.