My Swiss Army Penknife

The Simple Things - - BELONGINGS - by Sarah Parry

He gave it to me on my 41st birth­day. It was the first gift he’d ever cho­sen by him­self and he was giv­ing it me for a rea­son. We’d just be­come friends again af­ter 16 years apart, me and my dad.

As a child, I re­mem­ber him al­ways car­ry­ing a penknife and us­ing it for all sorts of use­ful things in the gar­den, in the house, on hol­i­day. With my im­pend­ing trip to Brazil it’s no won­der he chose this gift.

Since then, me and my Swiss Army Penknife (SAP) have been to all sorts of places but the ones which make me smile (and cringe) are those where we nearly parted com­pany. There have been quite a few near misses over the years, al­ways due to my lax at­ti­tude to air­port se­cu­rity.

On SAP’s inau­gu­ral jour­ney to Brazil he was dis­cov­ered on the way home by an air­port se­cu­rity guard at the bot­tom of my bum bag. I’d been car­ry­ing SAP through the rain­for­est, where he’d been used to cut mango fresh from the tree, scrape paint from a school win­dow frame and open a bot­tle of tonic wa­ter, among many other things. Luck­ily our guide stepped in and SAP was res­cued. In the UK, how­ever, on the way to Stuttgart, SAP was re­moved from my hand lug­gage, popped in a jiffy bag and posted back home.

Sharm El Sheikh air­port ex­pe­ri­enced my near-hys­ter­i­cal re­sponse to SAP’s threat­ened con­fis­ca­tion un­til the scan­ner op­er­a­tive thrust SAP into my hus­band’s hand, or­der­ing him to mount the con­veyer belt car­ry­ing my suit­case. He man­aged to shove SAP into my case with some force and the day was saved once again.

My Dad passed away in 2011, thank­fully af­ter we had man­aged to patch up our dif­fer­ences. When I started to sort through his be­long­ings I found no less than seven penknives in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions – all had ob­vi­ously been very well used over the years. I also found the re­ceipt for SAP. It was dated 1989, the year we’d fallen out. He’d kept it for me all those years, wait­ing for us to be friends again.

These days I’m care­ful not to put SAP in my hand lug­gage. Most peo­ple have a travel check­list: pass­port, credit card, phone… Mine in­cludes “where is SAP?” My hus­band says there’d be an in­ter­na­tional in­ci­dent if there were any at­tempted con­fis­ca­tion of SAP. How silly. I mean, it’s not like he’s spe­cial or any­thing, is it? What means a lot to you? Tell us in 500 words; thes­im­plethings@ice­berg­press.co.uk

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