Funny how familiar things are taken for granted. Over the last Christmas holidays, I was down on my sadly neglected allotment plot, doing a bit of digging and tidying. Not as much as I should have, but, still, it was a start. Enjoying a well-earned coffee in my little hut, watching the pale winter sun setting pinkly over the railway embankment, it suddenly came to me that a familiar bit of wood and steel in the hut was, perhaps, more than it looks. The backstory is: 1) I inherited a few bits and pieces when I took the allotment plot over ten years ago. The usual stuff - rusty lawnmower, rusty saw, rusty hammer, rusty wire, and some rust. Among that small treasure trove was an odd sharp-ish thing that I have subsequently used to hold the hut door open. It is this:
About four feet in length, and, apparently home made, being a pick axe handle and a worn down blade:
which was made in the nearby city of Birmingham (famed, once, for its light engineering workshops). As far as I know, this thing has no horticultural or agricultural use, and as I sat there, in the cold, drinking coffee, the number 2) of this backstory came into play. The number 2 is that I have a long standing interest in the British Home Guard . Now, as you will know, it was all a bit sticky for Blighty and the free world back in the late Spring of 1940, and when the Local Defence Volunteers came into being (i.e., the immediate precursor to the Home Guard), keen chaps of all classes had to make do and mend when it came to weapons. So, my sudden revelation was that the pointy stick I use to hold my beloved allotment hut door open is, in fact, a relic of Britain's finest hour. I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure. Oh, how I love the artefacts that surround us!
Idle (uninformed) dream shattered!
In response to the above post, a reader (Tony) writes:
'Think it looks like a very old and worn 'hedging bill' , used to trim agricultural hedges before 'laying' them - but an effective weapon when sharp ! '
Now, that makes much more sense! Being an allotment plot holder I think in terms of digging, pruning, and hoeing, but not hedge-laying. I have also been known to think about the Home Guard. But, thanks, Tony, I'm rather pleased to have such a Gucci bit of agricultural history in m'hut; it goes rather nicely with the seemingly endless pieces of clay pipe I turn up on the plot.