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.
Last 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.
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!