Thursday, March 29, 2012

Evil in the Cutlery Drawer

Singers are hypochondriacs (ah, here I must insert my standard "joke", sorry: I don't know what hypochondria is, but I'm sure I've got it...). They are hypochondriacs about their voices - which is fair enough, seeing as their voices constitute their livelihood. But there is something deeper too; a singer's voice is an extension of his or her being, it's like an extra limb or an extra faculty which defines their essential identity. If you are a singer, losing your voice is equivalent to a footballer losing a leg, or an artist going blind.

If you don't believe me, ask a singer!

In fact, you can ask me...

YOU: Neutron, is it true what is written above?


So, having established, by elementary Socratic logic, that, if all singers are hypochondriacs about their voices and I am a singer, then I am a hypochondriac about my voice, I can then add that, being a guitar and bass player, I am also, and for the same basic reason, paranoid about fingers; cutting fingers, bruising fingers, breaking fingers, losing fingers...

There is a knife, in the kitchen. A bread knife, a very efficient bread knife. This knife knows it is too good to be a mere bread knife. This knife has ambitions. It longs to cut more than just bread. It thirsts. It thirsts for blood. This knife oozes malevolence.

The first time I saw this knife, I knew we were destined to be enemies. And so it has proved.

We had some early encounters, some sparring matches where this knife revealed its intentions to me. It would slip, accidentally, from a thick crust and swish towards my hand, it would slice through a pretzel more easily than I expected, bearing down on my palm.

"Why did you keep on using it???" you ask in perplexity...

Well, quite simply it was the best bread knife and there is that thrill of slicing effortlessly through a loaf of heavy, dark Bavarian bread which would normally need half an hour of sawing with a boring standard bread knife. To quote Herodotus, the father of history, "great deeds are usually wrought at great risks", or, more briefly, "no risk, no fun".

The inevitable happened, about a year ago. I had become less vigilant, familiarity had bred contempt for the bread knife - I was slicing, someone spoke to me, I was distracted, I looked away and it struck! Slicing into my index finger...brown bread and red blood!!

This taught me to be on my guard whenever I was slicing, but meanwhile this knife has become devious. It has gone underground and may have received schooling from Al Qaeda knife terrorist cells.

It's yesterday evening and I am clearing out the dishwasher. Plates here, glasses there, cutlery in the cutlery drawer. I start to put in the knives and forks and notice that the middle section of the wooden cutlery tray has come out. It fits into slots in the other sections. So I press it back into its slots, only to notice that the front side has also slipped out of its slot. I press down on that side with my thumb, waiting for it to click into place when suddenly there is a cold searing pain in my thumb...

The bread knife. This bread knife of evil has managed to conceal itself between the front side of the cutlery tray and the side of the drawer, blade up!!! So, as my thumb presses down on the wooden front of the tray, the steely blade presses up thirstily into the flesh of my thumb and pierces it mercilessly, slicing joyously through the skin and sending a shockwave through my body.

This is one of those moments when time runs s l o w l y and you seem to think a thousand things in a millisecond, "whichthumbisit, isitmyfingeringhandormyplectrumhand, whenismynextgig, whichinstrumentdoIhavetoplay, isthecutinthemiddleorattheside, canIstillplaytheguitarwithaplaster..."

The bread knife is now confined to a separate cupboard, but I sense the final battle is yet to be blade out...