THE OLD MAN
The golden thread running through much of this issue of Popular Mechanics is Things My Father Taught Me. From life lessons
to basic life skills, appropriately we celebrate Dadly wisdom – particularly given our proximity to Father’s Day.
As the son of a photojournalist, it’s safe to say that an important lesson I learnt from my old man was to avoid clichés like the plague.
It just so happens that I, too, am a father. In my time, I attempted to teach our daughter many things: how to make a kite, ride a bike, drive a car. Some of my teachings clearly stuck. What we have now is a grown woman who is confidently able to a) tell me to go fly a kite b) order me to get on my bike and the hell out of here and c) drive me insane. When I pointed out that I was trying to teach more a way of thinking than an actual motor skill, I discovered there was something you could learn from your offspring: how to roll your eyeballs until only the whites showed.
The man pictured alongside with me isn’t my father, by the way. On a three-week visit to South Africa, Tim Leatherman swung by RamsayMedia to talk about his eponymous multitools. Our paths first crossed when he visited three years ago and I have his dated autograph engraved on the flank of my Super Tool to prove it. This time around, he engraved the other side to restore the balance.
Look out for that interview with Tim, by associate editor Lindsey Schutters, in a coming issue – and by the way, don’t forget to visit our YouTube channel to view the video we shot of Tim in action. Although “action” sounds a little excessive as a description of a laconic man whose movements are measured and who serves his wit extra dry.
Tim could justifiably claim to be the father of the modern multitool as we know it. The story of how he created the tool out of necessity while on holiday has already passed into legend. The device he created spawned a company whose name has become synonymous with the genre, though the organisation’s reach has broadened considerably into other areas of things that fall into the Every Day Carry category. What a pity that the times we live in have dictated that no longer is one able to carry a multitool on commercial airlines.
Mention of flight reminds me of an unfortunate incident that befell a particularly prized multitool of mine. I’d been helping said daughter install something or other at her flat and was making my way to the lift after finishing up. The tool was one of those one-handed jobs and I was flipping it expertly back into its closed position prior to slipping it into the nifty leather holster on my belt. A kind of Billy the Kid six-shooter twirl, minus the blowing of the gunsmoke off the tip of the barrel. Then, overcome momentarily by my twirling prowess, I somehow lost my grip.
Do you know, there’s a gap between the lift door and the shaft, a narrow gap, just wide enough for – oh, for a twirling, plunging Leatherman. For all I know, it lies there still, in the well five floors down. There must have been a fatherly lesson I wasn’t paying attention to.
Finally, I would be failing in my duty as a father if I didn’t acknowledge, belatedly, that the fine picture of me at the helm in our May 2016 issue was taken by my son-in-law, Craig Appel. Nice one, son.
One of my most repeated sayings is that I wouldn’t recommend parenthood to anyone, but at the same time not being a parent means you miss what is possibly life’s greatest blessing. And of course, if you’re a child, do choose your parents wisely.