Sunday, 5 June 2011

Nunc

Aromas link arms: tanned leather with fish glue, wood shavings with sawdust: turpentine with oil paints. Immediately memory takes me back to my Uncle Fred’s shed, with its open sliding door emitting exciting smells that drew me in as though I had a rope tied to a ring in my nose like a prize bull being lead round a show ring.

His littered work benches, along with metal lasts and vices of varying sizes, held mysterious boxes, tins, jars, bottles and canisters, from which he would extract some item he needed for the next stage of whichever project he was working on.

He had at some time made a square-topped wooden stool, which he used to let me perch on, as a child, so keeping me at a safe distance from his lathe, or sharp knives, while still letting me part-share in his creative processes.

His large hands with their thick, square topped fingers, could work with the utmost delicacy as they shaped the new leather sole to the well-worn footwear of friends or family for whom he played cobbler. I would watch every stage avidly, and marvel at the final polishing of the edges on his noisy, whirring machine.

One push of the starter button, and the lathe grumbled into life. As he used the various discs of the sander, polisher or brush, the pitch of the motor sang its own switch-back song, loud enough to drown out any childish questions I might ask.

Nunc, as I called him, almost always had a cigarette between his lips, which waggled up and down as he talked and sent wreaths of smoke swirling around his head. It made him screw his eyes up, and the action folded the skin of his face into wrinkles.

Now I think about it, I don’t remember him inhaling, as most hardened smokers do. He seemed to use the cigarette more as an adult dummy, a comforting presence between his lips while his hands were busy. Perhaps at heart, he remained nothing but a big kid, playing in his own particular play house.  But I am eternally grateful that he used to let me in on some of his games, too…

I was reminded of Nunc today because of this photo on the right by Rob Hanson, to whom I say 'Thanks for the memory!""
 







And on the left, is my Uncle Fred, dressed for company! 
Now, I think I shall I shall put this in as a late entry for Sepia Saturday.

17 comments:

tony said...

Hail Nunc ! A Wizard At Work.Thank You Jinksy For Introducing Him to Us.

Margaret said...

"His large hands with their thick, square topped fingers, could work with the utmost delicacy" ... What a beautiful description!

Maggie May said...

Loved your descriptive writing.
Certain aromas can take us right back, that is for sure. More than anything else, I think.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Little Nell said...

Lovely little pen-portrait!

Howard said...

He looks much more at home in his workshop than he does in the parlour with his best clothes on!

Jinksy said...

Howard - do I need to point out, they are not one and the same person? Rob Hanson's model is no relation of mine!

Christine H. said...

What great memories. Your Uncle Fred looks so dapper all dressed up there, but that seems a precarious spot for a tea cup.

Lolamouse said...

What a wonderful memory!

Postcardy said...

It must have uncomfortable sitting on theat small chair and trying to balance things on the arm of the big chair.

SG said...

The power of scent has often taken me by surprise by the vivid memories it can evoke. An entire world comes forth the eyes just by the instance of a soft (or sharp) scent. It was lovely to read your account.

Dave said...

Every man needs a workshop of some sort, and jars of screws, nails and odds and ends, electric tools and a store of wood and other assorted odds and ends. I have just that, and if am ever required to repair something I can usually put my hands on suitable replacement bits. Jill reckons its all junk - until she wants something fixed! - Dave

rhymeswithplague said...

Ah, Nunc! And how is Aunt Nell, or as you like to call her, Hora Mortis Nostrae?

This has been a poor attempt at humor and I apologize profusely.

Anvilcloud said...

That's a good memory to have. The picture that inspired you is a very good one.

Carolina said...

As ever your powers of description made me smell the smells, hear the sounds and I could see Nunc being busy and you watching from the safe distance.
A very dapper gentleman. What a nice memory to have.

jabblog said...

Inspiring memories of a loved uncle. To see a craftsman at work is a special gift.

Hilary said...

Oh I loved this. I remember the smells of a shoe repair shop very well. In fact, as I read this, I could easily picture the narrow shop where my mother with bring shoes.. the high counter.. the wheels and lasts.. and the cobbler's polish-stained fingers (minus the one which was missing). I loved that little shop. Thanks for this memory back in time.. yours with Nunc and mine back home in my native Montreal.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

He would perhaps be surprised to know how vivid your memories are of him ! A skilled workman is always a pleasure to watch .