I’ve recently upgraded my mobile phone. The new one comes with all kinds of amazing gadgets: a torch, with a slider so that I can control the level of brightness; a compass, so that I always know which direction I’m going; a pedometer, so that I can measure how many steps I have taken each day. It got me thinking about a similarly gadget-laden piece of kit, which I had always coveted owning as a child. A genuine Swiss Army knife.
But, of course, there were Swiss Army knives and there were Swiss Army knives. There was the one with just a simple blade at one end and a strange hook like device at the other, which combined a screwdriver and a bottle opener, was roughly 9cm long and weighed in at a very modest 30g. And then there was the one that boasted 33 different functions, including fish hook disgorger, sewing awl, toothpick, wire crimper, magnifying glass, scissors, fish scaler, wood saw, chisel, and ballpoint pen, and that weighed in at a hefty 185g. No prizes for guessing the one that I wanted.
At the time, the most prized function of any knife was the tool, which was reputed to be able to get stones out of a horse’s hoof. It is a curved, blunt blade, roughly 4cm in length, and is officially termed a hoof pick or a hoof cleaner.
In the end, I could never afford the Swiss Army knife of my dreams. My aspirations were always in advance of the content of my childhood pockets. At the time, it was a source of bitter disappointment for me but, now, I can look back more logically, and conclude that I would have only been wasting my money. After all, when was I ever going to meet a horse that needed a stone taken out of its hoof, and why did I ever think that I was the right person to perform that task? I don’t even like horses. I had no use for a fish hook disgorger or a fish scaler. I have never been fishing. Or a sewing awl. In truth, I can’t even recall a time when I would have needed the simple knife blade.
I am sure the gadgets on my new mobile phone, which I am currently so excited about will all turn out to be similarly redundant. Except… perhaps…?
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree is at 5,632 steps and counting…