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I write occasional daft emails to fellow members of my woodturning club.  As we get new members, some of them are stupid enough to ask me for some of the older emails.  As time passes and the read them, they will learn never to ask again - but meanwhile I have to dig into my email archives and find old items and then send them one by one to the unlucky recipients.

You would think they would find more useful things to do with their lives than read the sad wittering's of this old fool and try to make something of their lives - but no!  Any that appear here will do so in reverse order, there are many reasons for this, but logic is the main driver.  If there is one thing I have - it is logic.  Not much else to be fair - but I do have logic.

I have only recently worked out how to put the pictures in, so many are still missing.  I will continue to work on it.

76 - It may as well (and very nearly did) rain until September

Well hello my shaving covered friends. Kennet Valley Woodturners again - with some very exciting news this month as we assemble online to see a very special demonstrator.

That and other news - so keep reading, be educated, kept awake, annoyed, amused and amazed. (Well some of those at least)

It is Bank Holiday Monday. I was out all day yesterday on the bike - it’s last long run before I trade it in the a brand new one on Friday. All my brownie points are used up. Today I start to pay…

Is it just me, I never make the same mistake twice. I make it five or six times, just to be sure.

So what do we have this month?

  1. Massive thanks to Sue Amor and David Heather

  2. Items still for Sale

  3. Chris Fisher - The Blind Woodturner

  4. October undecided

  5. Saturday get togethers

  6. Sale of wood by Joy Percy

  7. Ramblings

I saw Terry Buckle (or what’s left of him) a few weeks ago when we had our club shop meeting in the car park. Terry is (sorry - was) larger than me - but he has lost a lot of weight and looks very good on it. I should take notice and do something about it myself. He is a shadow of his former self, and has changed so much that he has to wear his cap all the time so that other doggers can recognise him. Keep it up Terry and keep taking that lovely dog for a walk.

  1. Massive thanks to Sue Amor and David Heather

Both Sue Amor and David Heather have very generously allowed us to sell their now unused woodturning tools and wood for the benefit of the club. The funds raised will of course go to good use - but more importantly some very new turners are now enjoying equipment that will get them on the road to becoming part of the woodturning fraternity. I am sad for the reasons behind Sue and David having to move these items on, but want to express thanks from all of us for their wonderful generosity!! Our club thrives on the good offices and generous provision of time from so many people, and I would like to suggest that we perhaps consider some of the funds raised being used to establish a “Lockdown Cup”. Perhaps this could be presented periodically to those who give up their time to help others in the club or carry out some sort of extra-ordinary task during the year - watch this space.

2. Items still for Sale

Following on from item 1. We still have items to sell. These will appear in the shop, and on the website in due course. Much of it will be chisels and wood. We can offer the chisels at the next Saturday workShop sale at Padworth on 26th September when hopefully we will get Brian Collins with us to sell wood blanks as normal. We will not sell the wood blanks we have from David and Sue on that day as Brian has suffered this year with being unable to sell his wood at our meetings so it would be unfair to undermine his good offices when he goes to so much trouble for us.

I will email separately about selling those blanks. They are however available as they currently reside with Ray Brindley at his home in Bracknell.

I forget to mention, recently I've been diagnosed with attention defic - look at those lights!

3. Chris Fisher - The Blind Woodturner

The time has finally come, Chris Fisher is only a few days away. Those of you who were at the AGM earlier this year will remember two things. Firstly - there was bugger all on TV that night, secondly a long discussion about the fact that we were to be visited by Chris Fisher. Well he won’t be here in person - but we will still have the pleasure of his virtual company.

When I very first heard of a blind person getting up close and personal with a lathe I was confused. I saw Chris at Axminster last year - and I was amazed - but also very entertained. I also fell in love with his super guide dog Bamber - and I won’t mention how taken I was with his quite wonderful good lady wife because as I am, as you know - a gentleman. (She is called Nicola and she is lovely!!)

Chris is doing an on-line demo for us next Tuesday 8th September - it is open to all paid up members as part of your annual membership fee and is very well worth the watch. I am hoping we even get to welcome Terry Buckle for his first (some say inaugural, some say premiere) foray into the wonderful world of Zoom. Frankly if Terry doesn’t turn up this time I shall consider sending the boys round!!

I did of course look for Chris on the internetweb - this is what I found!

Not only a fine woodturner - but clearly also a master of disguise!! Chris has an engineering background, he took up woodturning in 2008 after an illness took away his sight. Chris has rapidly taken to demonstrating and does so in a very entertaining way. I am really looking forward to watching him again.

We will open the virtual doors at about 7:10pm The order of events will be as follows…

· Welcome and introduction by Mike Allen.

· Part 1 of the demonstration.

· Tea break including an opportunity to chat with Chris.

· Part 2 of the demonstration.

· Q&A

· Close by Mike Allen.

I am going to find this whole thing fascinating. Depending on your views I am lucky/unlucky because I have interacted with a blind person myself - so I found the following list interesting when I looked it up today.

Not necessarily for Chris (please bear in mind Chris has a wicked sense of humour), but generally, when speaking with a person who is Blind:

  • DO identify yourself, especially when entering a room. Don't say, "Do you know who this is?"

  • DO speak directly to the individual. Do not speak through a companion. Unless they are hard of hearing, they can speak for themselves.

  • DO give specific directions like, "The desk is five feet to your right," as opposed to saying, "The desk is over there."

  • DO give a clear word picture when describing things to an individual with vision loss. Include details such as colour, texture, shape and landmarks.

  • DO touch them on the arm or use their name when addressing them. This lets them know you are speaking to them, and not someone else in the room.

  • DON'T shout when you speak. They can't see but often have fine hearing.

  • DON'T be afraid to use words like "blind" or "see." Their eyes may not work, but it is still, "Nice to see you."

If you see a Blind person who seems to be in need of assistance:

  • DO introduce yourself and *ask* the person if they need assistance.

  • DO provide assistance if it is requested.

  • DO respect the wishes of the person who is blind.

  • DON'T insist upon trying to help if your offer of assistance is declined.

If a Blind person asks you for directions:

  • DO use words such as "straight ahead," "turn left," "on your right."

  • DON'T point and say, "Go that way," or, "It's over there."

If you are asked to guide a Blind person:

  • DO allow the person you are guiding to hold your arm and follow as you walk.

  • DO move your guiding arm behind your back when approaching a narrow space so the person you are guiding can step behind you and follow single-file.

  • DO hesitate briefly at a curb or at the beginning of a flight of stairs.

  • DO tell the person you are guiding whether the steps go up or down.

  • DO allow the person you are guiding to find the handrail and locate the edge of the first step before proceeding.

  • DON'T grab the person you are guiding by the hand, arm, or shoulder and try to steer him.

  • DON'T grab the person's cane or the handle of a dog guide's harness.

General guidelines:

  • DON'T pet, feed, or distract a guide dog. They are not pets; they are working companions on whom a Blind person depends.

  • DO treat Blind people as individuals. People with visual disabilities come in all shapes, sizes, and colours. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, just like everyone else.

Chris is more normal than an awful lot of people I used to work with. He can’t see, but that in no way makes him odd or abnormal. I prefer him to sighted people who are thoughtless or ignorant. Bring it on Chris - I can’t wait!

4. October undecided

Not sure what we are doing yet for October. If anyone has any suggestions let me know - if not I will continue to look for something to amuse or educate us. It should be something online really, as we can’t really meet in the hall. Again - let me know if you have any preferences. I will also see if the Berkshire club have anything planned.

5. Saturday get togethers

As I mentioned above - there will be a club shop in the Padworth Car park in September on the fourth Saturday of the month - in this case 26th September at 10:00am Ray will have the shop there - and hopefully Brian Collins will have his wood for sale - always assuming it will be dry. We will be selling the normal range of finishes and abrasives - but also a lot of used tools as well. Well worth a visit this month as well as the social angle.

6. Sale of wood by Joy Percy

More wood - not so much this time but Joy Percy would like to sell the wood that Robin Percy had in his workshop prior to his sad demise. I think that if anyone is interested they need to contact me and I will arrange a visit. There are only a few cut blanks, but a good few uncut planks including a tall cedar plank at least 12 inches wide and almost 6 feet long.

7. The Toolpost

Most of you will of heard that the Toolpost closes at the end of September. Until then there is a clearance sale in place and people are recommended to go the web-site to find out more. I do wish the Hemsley family all the best for their future - whatever it holds!

8. Ramblings

Ramblings indeed - how to finish? (apart from with abrasives and wax)

I have a new bike coming on Friday - and I am waiting to go out on a motorbike. Also I am having fun at Dunelm (it’s a tat shop).

The motorbike is being traded in for a new one. Having done a part-exchange deal with the selling dealer I have to put as few miles on my existing bike as I can before picking the new one up on Friday. It has already been almost 2 weeks and I am getting withdrawal symptoms, and it is doing my advanced rider training no good at all! The car is wondering why it is being taken out so often, and my current bike is left mostly sulking in the garage.

Friday is a long way away! I did manage a run yesterday - but it went back in the garage again today and I needed to amuse myself. Bank holiday Monday - it is rideable but I had my ride yesterday and used up my spare mileage.

Today I pay.

The side by side American Fridge/Freezer is gleaming - I have emptied, scoured, wiped, polished and disposed of anything even remotely out of date. It is shiny and proud and busily doing the task is has been created for with gusto. My lettuce is crisp!

The 80L Brabantia bin is standing, beaten and overcome with detergent and disinfectant, sulking in the corner knowing that the germs it was considering brewing and nurturing are disposed of and discarded. It smells of sweet flowers instead of anything in mild decay and cleaned into submission.

Have I peaked too early today?

The carpet cleaner is currently nesting at the top of the stairs, silent. It is silent in the way that says "use me at your peril, for I will dampen the carpet and make the rest of your day miserable". I am looking at it in the way that says - "I can use you twice, with no water in the second run to get the carpet as dry as possible"

The carpet cleaner is defiant, it continues in silence however in the way that says "Just you try it mister!!!!"

I am reminded of my old Science teacher saying "Nature deplores a vacuum!!"

I had to go to Dunelm. My skin and blister in Wales asked me to pick up a cushion for her from Dunelm in Newbury. I normally avoid Dunelm, it is full of tat. Two visits in recent months - the second on Tuesday last week conformed my opinion that it is to be avoided.

Visit one - I turned up in the height of lockdown when this sort of shop had first opened. It was a simple click and collect. I drove into the car park and having adopted my normal attractive colourful and attractive pose, I strode to the entrance. It was suitably marked off with red and white striped “DANGER!!” tape to allow everyone to queue together - therefore herding them all into a narrow lane and exposing them to maximum risk. Nice one!

On this occasion, as I arrived - there was no queue. I zig-zagged my way to the door (cursing myself for my lack of foresight as I could have got sponsorship for the distance I was having to walk). As I made my way to the door - I was stopped by a short stout individual (I think it was a lady) “You can’t go in there!”

I stopped short and sized her up. She stood up proudly - displaying every inch of her 4’6” frame, she was adorned with an array of cleaning and disinfecting materials and spray and cloths on what I can only assume is a utility belt she nicked from Batman. (Holy clean up Batman!! - shut up Robin!) Lets call her Pam for no apparent reason.

“Are you closed?” I explored?


I queried - “Then why can’t I go in?”

“You haven’t washed!”

I bristled. “I showered when I got up, I will admit I have had breakfast since, but I didn’t wash the Weetabix as it does make them go soggy and it also makes my toast go limp - but I did rinse my teacup in hot water before I put the…”

“You have to wash your hands”


“You have to wash your hands”

I re-bristled - “OK - do I use the gents upstairs - I know where it is - it’s behind the fluffy cushions - I turn left by the bin liners and slip behind the non-stick frying pans ….”

“You have to wash your hands before you go in”

“Do you have a sink?”

“Of course not “

My bristling intensified “then how do I wash my….”

“Use my hand sanitiser” She pulled a bottle from her belt along with a J-cloth.

I decided that the best form of defence etc… I said “Is it clean?”

“Is what clean?”

“Your hand sanitiser - I mean - you have touched it”

“I have to pass it to you?” she said - not looking as tall as 4’6” all of a sudden…

“But that means you have touched it - are your hands clean?”

It was clear that I had mistakenly passed her the opportunity to bristle - and she did.

“What are you shopping for?” she asked, trying to change the subject to something away from the complicated hygiene conversation which was threatening to go the wrong way.

“I have no idea” I offered.


“I don’t know” I explained

“Don’t be ridiculous - what are you shopping for”

I raised my voice slightly in a manner which one uses to reinforce something to a small child “I don’t have a clue - I don’t know - not the foggiest - I HAVE NO IDEA”

“So what will you do when you get in there?”

“Wash my hands apparently” I suggested.

She now started to get the hang of bristling.

“Why are you here?”

“I am collecting something for my sister from the click and collect” I expounded

“Why on earth didn’t you say so” she whined. (It made a change from bristling)

“I didn’t realise you had to know - what if I just wanted to browse, perhaps I wanted to go upstairs for a coffee?”

“The café is shut!”

…OK - at this point I was really really tempted to break down in tears and lay on the floor kicking and screaming at the general unfairness of me coming all the way here to get my sisters purchases and find that I was not allowed to sprinkle a little joy onto the experience with a medium skinny latte - but I decided I was bored.

“You should not need to go in”


“I can get it brought out to you here”

“Oh - OK - I’ll wait here then”

“You can’t wait there - you are blocking the door”

I turned and was about to say there was nobody else here - but spotted that during the attempted entry qualifications we had attracted quite a queue - it snaked back and forth - and it was smiling at the entertainment.

“Ah - OK then - where do you want me?”

“Just behind me - where the trolley’s are - that is the exterior click and collect area” (Needless to say - there was no sign of course - why would there be.)

I made to go into the shop through the IN door, expecting to come straight out using the OUT door which stood expectantly next to it - and being thoroughly under-used at the moment because to come out people, had to go in.

“You can’t go in there”

“Has it closed again?” Have I told you my deja-vous joke?

“You have to reverse out and approach the trolley park from the rear”

Dear reader - perhaps my amusement at this whole situation is mis-placed - but you might recall the aforementioned queue?

At this point Oberleutnant Pam started ordering them back so that I could re-trace my steps and join the great un-washed by the trolley park. This took a few embarrassing minutes on my part. “Sorry - excuse me - sorry - beg-pardon, sorry - excuse me - sorry-pardon etc.”

Normality (the word is frankly superfluous in this case, however..) returned and I now resided behind Pam who was busy cleaning, spraying, showering, shaving and otherwise generally disinfecting entrants to the shop.

Pam asked me for details of the click and collect - and I responded by offering her a printed A4 sheet of paper.

She eyed it suspiciously. “Just put it on the table” she said - taking two steps away from the table.

I placed it on the table and amused myself as she poked and prodded it until it faced her and she could read it. I wondered if paper was radioactive? Pam then reached behind her - and from the Bat-Belt she extracted a two way Bat-radio.

“Front door here - are you receiving over”

It crackled.

“Front door here - are you receiving over”

This time is crackled in a different way and a voice came back “What?”

“Front door here - I have a click and collect request - over”

“What” - dear reader I shall save you the next page and a half - suffice to say Oberleutnant Pam Had no idea how to properly use the radio - and the teenager at the other end was equally challenged - so lets wind forward 5 minutes when a supervisor popped her head out the door and asked WTF was going on. She grabbed the paper and headed back into the store - resulting in her returning 30 seconds later complete with a parcel, it had been under the desk by the door all along.

Oh how I laughed.

Wind forward to last week. Sister on the phone again. “Can you go to Dunelm and get me a cushion please - I have paid for it - I will email the details” You can imagine that I received this call with joy unbounded.

I did a drive-by this time. I wanted to make sure Pam was not at the front door, nor was she manning a machine gun post near the exit of the lift on the first floor. (next to the café which was still shut)

I parked, and sprinted towards the building, I took cover behind the wheelie bins and snuck in behind the trolley park making it in the building unseen. Looking as natural as possible I made my way to the customer services area by the tills, there was no queue to I took my chance to stand beneath the “Click and collect” sign and wait for someone to notice me.

“Good morning sir - how can I help?”

“Can I pick this up for my sister please” - I handed over the documentation and silently congratulated myself for making it this far unseen by Pam.

“But this is click and collect sir?” said the nice young lady behind the counter.

“Yes” I said - well what else could I say - to be fair - she was right in every sense of the word. “Is there a problem”

“This is customer services sir” she offered.

“OK” I said, but then took a step back and looked above her head at the large sign that said “Click and collect”. I think she missed the point of this exercise.

“Click and collect is upstairs sir” She was polite - I’ll give her that - her manners were impeccable.

“Sorry I said - I must have missed the sign“ I said - and once again fixed my stare at the “Click and collect” sign above her head. She could have reached up and touched it.

“There is no sign sir - people just know”

“No sign?” I continued to stare at the sign above her head. “How would people know where to go if there is no sign” I said - still staring at the sign above her head. At this point I could say this this comment went straight over her head - but actually it really did!

“Tell you what - I’ll ring them for you shall I and save you the walk?”

I was overjoyed - she really was helpful - even if her reading skills were just a tad under par.

She promptly rang a number that was suggested by a list attached to the till and following a response said “Click and collect at the downstairs till” and put the phone down.

I waited. A few minutes passed and I waited some more. More minutes wandered by at their own pace before I waited again. Nothing.

I approach Wendy - let’s call her Wendy.

“Wendy - are they coming down?”


“You kindly rang for someone from the click and collect gang to come and serve me”

“Oh yes - hang on - sorry”

She consulted the list again and rang. “Click and collect. Yes I know you are - I have a customer here. No - the one I rang about - Yes he is still here. Why are you waiting for him, you have to come down. No he isn’t. Yes I told him but he said there was no sign. OK - well hurry up then”

“They are on their way” she told me.

I watched the stairs - after a moment a uniformed figure started down the first flight. Let’s call him Wayne - he looked like a Wayne. Sixteen and covered in spots - long lank hair and jeans gathered at the ankle and barely reaching up as far as the bottom half of his backside.

“Someone waiting for click and collect” he called and theatrically looked around. (I was the only one standing there)

I too looked around - and seeing no-one else said “Me”

He wandered over - oozing teenage angst. “Hi” he said “what are you collecting?”

“A cushion for my sister” I said looking at the printed document.

“Cool” he said - about turned and disappeared back up the stairs.

I watched him go, well only half watched him really - the other half was also looking at the paper I had bought with me.

I know.

A few minutes later he re-appeared at the top of the stairs, saw me and waved. I waved back. He stood there for a moment then started down the stairs and across the floor.

“Have you got the order number?”

“Yes” I said and handed over the paper.

I watched him go, this time he was looking at the paper I had bought with me. That was probably why he fell over. Looking back it was probably not constructive to laugh.

Five minutes later he limped painfully down the stairs and silently gave me a cushion.

I can’t wait to go back again.

Roll on Friday - new bike!

Don’t forget Chris Fisher next Tuesday - I will send out login details as soon as I have them.

I went past the newsagents this morning, I saw a sign in the window under a photograph.

“Recently divorced and hopeful of finding romance again.” Along with a telephone number.

I looked at the picture, a large beer belly, bald, patchy moustache - I don't like her chances

Phil Boulter

Vice Chairman

Kennet Valley Woodturners

M:07836 274345

H: 01635 826009

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