In My Day
the ramblings of Hubert James

In my day it was about this time of year that we would begin to think about Christmas preparations.

Advent was the first time we’d give it a thought, so there was often a certain level of panic.

We were lucky in some ways that, for instance there was a turkey farm on the way to Warkton, so we knew we could get a bird and most folk grew Brussels and spuds. Mind you some things could be a problem.

For instance you’d often find that your carving knife had got very blunt and if your sharpening iron had seen better days you’d be looking for an alternative. Now, in my day you had a drawer full of cutlery which included something called a bread knife. Remember these were times when sliced bread was a rarity. The phrase; ‘The best thing since sliced bread’ hadn’t been invented. We were still getting by with; ‘The best thing since the key on a tin of corned beef’’ which to be frank was a mouthful and not really that accurate.

The keys were rubbish. So was the bread knife which was not invented for turkey. It suffered with serration. We were desperate to get our carving knives sharpened.

So about now we’d post look-outs to see along the A6 to tell us if the Saw Doctors were coming. These were two Irish fella’s called Leo and Davy who travelled the country with a big old grinding wheel made from off cuts of the Blarney stone.

They’d usually turn up in time to sharpen knives or sell you one of their special knives. Their knives were so sharp they could slice a human hair in two, longways.

One year the boys arrived at the last minute. They didn’t realise the urgency of our need. They didn’t understand how important they were to us.

We had to explain what our lives would be like without them. How we’d have to eat chunks of turkey ripped from the carcass. The poor lads were so modest.

Now it happened that we had a writer in the town called George Bailey who along with a friend who I think was called Frank Capri or something like that, wrote up the story of the Saw Doctors and their sharpening exploits and made it into a film that we watch every Christmas.

It’s called ‘It’s a Wonderful Knife’.