Reader and top blog friend David Evans is really cooking on gas at the moment – I’ve received some great guest articles from him, and I’m really loving the writing style. Fresh from his stories of Cecil Arthur Burton and Levi Cooper, this week David recalls the door to door blade grinders, who often used to ply their trade throughout the UK. this is a fantastic piece, and I get the feeling that the author enjoyed writing it as much as I did reading it. This also interlocks neatly with my appeal for information about door to door tradesmen of the area.
Without further ado, it’s over to David…
There were some interesting characters to be seen in the streets in Walsall Wood and the other villages aroundabouts, many years ago. One of the most enthralling was the Knife Sharpener, who, unlike the gentleman in the photo, was a swarthy Irishman who would cycle round and knock on people’s front doors and ask – and I wish I could imitate his wonderful rich Irish brogue accent:
‘Doo Ya warnt anny knoives sharrpnin?’
Then, back in the road , an unforgettable scene ensued.
His cycle miraculously and magically transformed at the flick of his wrist, and of the wedging of a foot into the wheel, and became a ‘mobile technician’s workshop’. He then sat astride this contrivance, and, as the man pedalled furiously, the sparks really did begin to fly. The sounds were those of an imaginary mythological beast being wrestled by some would-be Greek Hero. Both made agonising noises, the beast groaning and lurching, spitting smoke and spark in equal measure, the Man from the Emerald Isle sweating profusely and uttering phrases which we could never find in the dictionary.
The young children stood transfixed, terrified, with big eyes and open mouths! This was not a time blink or run away.Time to stand your ground and face the danger!
Then, as quickly as it had started, the ‘fight to the death’ was over. The breathless, sweating victor had killed the beast with a plunge to the heart with the knife which he held aloft in his hand.
And all that remained was to give him his payment, collect the sharpened, but greatly reduced blade, and go home.
I often wonder what became of this man from ‘across the Irish Sea’?
with best wishes