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A Near-Death Experience

Disclaimer: Every part of this story is true. You can choose to believe it or not – I know it is true because I was present when these things happened.

near death ex1Last year an old workmate of mine suffered a catastrophic collapse and multiple fractures when we were doing a job together. Stanley ‘Blacken’ Decker and I teamed up forty odd years ago and we’ve collaborated on all sorts of DIY and home improvement jobs. Over the years we’ve bent every health and safety and common sense rule you can think of and got away with it. Our good luck ran out last year and I felt guilty as hell because I was the cause of what nearly killed ‘Blacken’. At the time I really thought that the injuries were terminal but, after nearly a year of rest and some brilliant surgery that included two transplants, SBD is back in ‘harness’.

When J and I moved to Turkey, ‘Blacken’ moved here too, arriving about three months after we did. It wasn’t long before we were up to our old tricks of pushing the limits of physics, engineering and good old plain common sense! Our luck held until last year when I’d given ‘Blacken’ the job of supporting a huge tree trunk whilst I set about reducing it to manageable pieces with a chain saw. It was an accident waiting to happen and what followed was horrifying. ‘Blacken’s’ spine broke near the top causing the huge trunk to topple down onto the lower limbs which were also smashed. ‘Blacken’ was shattered and the injuries looked terminal. The loss of an absolutely essential workmate and friend left me distraught and at a total loss.

To cut a long story short, and I know this makes me seem a bit heartless, I needed a replacement to help with all the jobs I wanted to do and so I began making enquiries. It was a fruitless search – there was no one here in Turkey who could help. In the end I had no other alternative than to persuade ‘Blacken’ to undergo re-constructive surgery with a view to coming back to work.

The results are pretty amazing – after that near-death experience old SBD will never be quite the same again but, as long as between us we use a bit of that rare commodity ‘common-sense’ and don’t overdo things in the way we used to, there is no reason why we can’t continue our collaboration for many more years.

‘Blacken’ – nearly as good as new

IMG_4314_1home-made handles – a successful transplant

IMG_4315_1spinal tap and splint

IMG_4319_1fractured foot board pinned and splinted

IMG_4320_1me and my workmate ‘Blacken’ – back in business!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps There is twist to this tale. When I was a soldier stuck in some boring place or other me and my mates would send off letters to manufacturers of various products such as Mars Bars and Wilkinson Sword razor blades in which we eulogised the benefits to us poor Toms. You would be surprised how often this paid off and boxes of chokky-bars would arrive a couple of months later or, in the case of Wilkinson Sword, a letter containing a single razor blade and a note saying thanks for the endorsement and ‘please find enclosed a three months supply’. A few others had obviously tried that one!

Ever the optimist I have written to Messrs Stanley, Black and Decker at their head office in the US and enclosed some of the above photos. I have explained the unavailability of the latest Workmate here in Turkey despite it being on their website and in their catalogue. I have praised the stamina and durability of their old product after years of use and abuse and my disappointment at being unable to buy a replacement and having had to make repairs and carry on. I’m awaiting their response and I’m not holding my breath – meanwhile ‘Blacken’ and I have a few jobs to be getting on with!

24 thoughts on “A Near-Death Experience

  1. Hate to say it Alan but I fear that if you did get your hands on the latest ‘Workmate’ model you might be disappointed. Forty years ago they hadn’t got the ‘planned obsolescence’ thing down quite as well as they do today. Your old ‘Workmate’ having undergone painstaking reconstructive surgery will probably outlive the new and ‘improved’ version.

  2. Christ Chummy, I fell for that one as well – good job I’m a speed reader, I was beginning to see you in a different light halfway through – I actually hope you can’t get a Blacken Mark II as I’m always on the side of the “underdog” and hate to think Blacken I will be cast off onto a heap in view of a newer model arriving!

  3. alan! you fool, you fooled me and made a fool out of me! 🙂 I was asking to myself, howcomes I do not know this accident… 🙂

    1. . . getting feedback from folks has been fun – never thought so many would be taken in! ‘Blacken’ has been a great mate for a long time and he’s going to get proper consideration given to his mature years and medical condition – hope he gives me the same consideration 😉
      Alan recently posted..What On Earth . .My Profile

  4. Long live Blacken!!! He’s a real looker even in his re-constructed state. I wouldn’t hold my breath for the Black and Decker company to be sending you a new workmate all the way to Turkey. I also tried stuff like that when I was a kid. We got Breyer’s Ice Cream to send us a coupon for a free quart of ice cream after writing complaining that we had gotten a quart of Chocolate Chip Ice Cream with no Chocolate Chips. I once thought of doing the same thing in Italy when I bought a bag of frozen peas with pancetta (bacon bits) in Italy and there were no bacon bits in the bag– but I am wise enough to know that if such a letter ever did arrive (Italian postal system is not very reliable) to an Italian company, they would just laugh and toss it in the trash.

  5. I re-discovered this post and got taken in a second time which means that I am not only doubly gullible but also suffering from memory loss and that you, Alan, are the ultimate story-teller!

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