A Father’s Gift

I know I’m not the son you really wanted: more interested in make believe than mechanics, I’d sooner be a poet than player.

But on my twelfth birthday you were a great father who chose the perfect present. It fired my imagination: those names and pragmatic shapes molded my imaginary worlds that year. Even now I remember the Wrench family: Saltus and Crowfoot were the oldest generation, shoulders hunched and bent backs. Almost every story included my young hero Torx Wrench: afraid and alone and always hoping one day to find his purpose. Mr. Slugger Wrench was Torx’s father: built for dirty, tough jobs he always despised his son’s delicate nature (and was never afraid to express it). They lived together in the top right-hand draw on the toolbox: an airy light place.

In the inky depths of the box lived the British Cousins: a rough bunch of Spanners from the dockyards of Portsmouth. Cone, the oldest, was whip-thin but fast as a striking snake. He was the thinker in their evil machinations against Torx. His brother, Lug, was a brutal fellow: all force and no subtlety. But the worst of them was Rigger-Jigger Spanner, a merciless bully, famous for pouncing on unsuspecting innocents.

So I know this probably wasn’t what you had in mind when you bought that ‘282 Piece Complete Spanner, Wrench and Allen Key Set’, but it brought me such endless joy that summer.

10 thoughts on “A Father’s Gift”

  1. I liked this a lot – a poignant, rather endearing piece of writing, the fantasy elements very nicely balanced against the reality of the father/son relationship. It teeters on that very fine line where it could be funny, but really isn’t because there’s too much pathos there. And the heroic themes of the stories very delicately explore and represent the real-world difficulties of the speaker. Another of those deceptively slight pieces that’s actually doing a lot. Thank you, enjoyed!

  2. This is about a son who feels that he’s somehow failed his father in not being interested in the same things his father is interested in, in the same ways that his father’s interested in them in. A case in point: the gift of spanners, which the son uses as characters in his fantasy life and not — presumably — as the hard working tools they are.

    I enjoyed this. I liked the play between the son’s happiness at having these “toys” to play with, but the sadness that he’s “doing it wrong” for his dad.

    > built for dirty, tough jobs[,] he always despised his son’s delicate
    > nature
    It felt as though an extra comma was needed.

    > Rigger-Jigger
    Woah, that’s a great name.

  3. agree with other commenters – a lovely fantasy about the inner lives of the spanner family (and those are the real names of spanners! I didn’t know! no wonder the main character wanted to tell their stories!), wrapped in a poignant father-son relationship.

    It would have been awesome if there was some way of ending the circle – living out his relatioship with his father, or his ideal relationship, through Torx and his dad, reconciling the two through the medium of modern spanners, something like that (!) – tightening the relatiohship between the two worlds, as it were. But that is not a niggle, only a suggestion for further consideration…

    The choice of “player” bothers me a little in the first paragraph – I don’t quite see how his dad wants him to be a player. I suspect you mean in the sense of actor rather than writer, but in mind mind it talks to “player” – man with many girls, etc, which feels wrong.

    I like the descriptions very much.Inky depths and all the spanner’s personalities. Great stuff.


  4. Really lovely.
    I can’t believe all those names are real! The world is such a weird place. Or maybe it’s just hardware stores…
    Great idea – the stories of the spanners are great and I loved the cavernous, levelled, layered, feel of the box. A world in a box.

    > I’d sooner be a poet than player
    This didn’t quite work for me, but I’m hard pressed to say why.

    > inky depths
    Tiny tweak potential? Inky is classic for darkness, but something more relevant could’ve been nicer? Oily depths?

    The pathos / humour combo is very finely balanced and skilfully employed.

  5. I really love this. Its one of my favourites of yours. It begins beautifully – really like the alliteration.

    I only found it slightly sad. For me it was mostly magical (like ‘the indian in the cupboard’ kind of magic one finds in everyday life and things). I loved the descriptions of the two families – they were so rich and evocative.

    The last paragraph is the bit I like least, but it finished the piece off well.

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