When the Leatherman was lost, a prophecy was made. A husky, ephemeral voice in my head whispered, “mum will buy me a new one for my birthday.” As with all the great prophecies, something just similar enough happened that I was able to conveniently forget anything from the wording that didn’t fit. It was, in fact, my girlfriend and her family that replaced the device, but I decided that that was close enough and cut myself a little soothsayer slack with the Leatherman’s invisible yet very handy “Figure of Speech” tool. After all, if Nostradamus had got even that close with any of his, then books about him might not all be written by people using tinfoil hats to stop the government controlling their minds.
The new Leatherman is the silver version of my old matt black one, The Wave. I wondered initially how the colour would affect my feelings about it. The black version had had an understated, serious air. “Don’t sit looking at me,” it seemed to say, “just get out there and cut shit to pieces.” The silver version seems more showy, despite presumably being closer to the metal’s original, unadorned colour. I performed the new ownership ritual of opening out every device then putting them back again, resisting the temptation to blindfold myself and time the process with a stopwatch. The silver Wave was pretty slick. Its shininess gave a dashing, dramatic feel to all its many tools, even the tiny pointy thing which was still, as with the previous version, of mysterious purpose.
Soon enough, a job came along that not only called for the Leatherman, but confirmed my sense that the new, gleaming Wave was destined for tasks more creative than destructive, in contrast to its predecessor. Having been charged with printing out tickets for a festival-themed hen do, I found myself with sheets of thick paper, each with four copies of the ticket aligned across it. Instantly, I realised that the main blade was the perfect device for cutting them out. I grabbed a chopping board to protect the floor and, evidently feeling that that was quite enough in the way of sensible thinking for one day, took the glass top off a small table in our room and attempted to use it as a straight edge. If anyone had seen me trying to manoeuvre a 3ft long pane of glass to hold a 6 inch ticket in place on top of a 1ft chopping board, I think the one thing that would have occurred to them was a fervent desire that I should not, under any circumstances, be given a sharp knife.
Taking my sharp knife, I ran it along the edge of the pane of glass, attempting to separate one of the tickets from the sheet. The glass seemed not to balance very well on its tiny chopping-board workbench and the line came out wonky. I sat back and considered the problem. I reasoned that either I needed to make both the tickets and chopping board 2.5ft and 2ft longer respectively or, which seemed more likely, I had not really put a lot of effort into finding a straight edge. I can only be thankful that the first thing I saw when I started looking for one wasn’t my own foot. Next I tried the cardboard cover of my notepad and was amazed to find that the knife I was using to cut thick paper was not adequately restrained by a barrier made of slightly thicker paper. Eventually I discovered a tray buried under the sink that would serve the purpose. The new silver Leatherman was quickly learning the disgust at my abilities that I am convinced had caused the previous one to desert me. When I had finally arrived at a setup that would allow it to work, it performed perfectly, even down to trimming the white paper overlap on the edges where I had erred on the side of caution. I recorded the successful configuration on one of the larger remaining notebook fragments and went to finish the job.
When printing the tickets, I had added a piece of text next to the main graphic, to replicate the terms and conditions that you usually find there. In a fit of boredom, I decided that what the tickets really needed for full authenticity was perforation between the picture and what would then become the stub. For an ecstatic moment, I thought that the day had finally come when the tiny point thing would find its purpose. A series of increasingly less ecstatic moments later, tiny pointy thing had mauled one of the tickets into a pulp, giving rise to my latest theory that it’s actually for making wasp nests. I completed the perforation easily with the tip of the main blade, which is clearly the smug superstar of the Leatherman team, a less shiny Cristiano Ronaldo.
When I was finally finished, I sat back to reflect on the satisfaction, not of a job well done, but of a job done with needless complexity and struggle. Deprived of my Leatherman, I had missed the sense of joyous over-confidence and disregard for my own safety that came from owning something that was so cleverly designed to do absolutely anything. Managing to cram that much danger and stupidity into a task that primary school children would have accomplished safely in an arts & crafts session, was surely what owning a Leatherman is all about. My heart, if not my terrified extremities, gave thanks for the prophecy coming true and to those who made it so.