The Journeyman Joiner

Dad’s overalls were a faded shade of denim blue,

held together, over his shoulders, by a silver clasp.

He kept a rectangular pencil behind one ear

and a Player’s cigarette behind the other.

Frank would eat his sandwich at a workshop bench.

For a journeyman joiner, it was catch as catch can,

and he was proud to be a working man.


Frank’s tools were scattered across the shop

and they seldom saw the sawdusty bottom of his bag,

but dad fashioned order, out of this chaos,

he didn't see this mayhem as a problem or a snag.

“Why would I waste my time tidying up?

Here! Go boil a kettle and fill me this cup!”


Frank liked to focus on the task in hand.

 His woodworking projects were seldom planned.

He mentally visualised the end results.

A staircase, a wardrobe, a dining chair,

all built to order, or lovingly repaired.


 A ciggy would burn at the end of his bench

or smoulder, benignly, behind his ear,

as he, laughingly, scoffed at the notion of harm,

“A nice little fire would keep me warm!”

Dad was a veteran from the Second World War,

who knew only too well, what true peril was like,

And he didn’t need a foreman to tell him his job.

Smoke went on rising, as molten ash fell on the floor,

the tinder dry shavings seemed ready to burn.


Yet, his jobs were all waiting, he had money to earn,

and Frank didn’t believe he had lessons to learn.


◄ The Chisel

Heptonstall School ►


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John Botterill

Mon 5th Dec 2022 08:56

Thanks so much for your lovely comment Jennifer. 😀The rectangular pencils were for drawing lines on wood ready for sawing. I tried to capture a time when workmen were valued and crafted original furniture. He was a good man, my father!

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jennifer Malden

Sun 4th Dec 2022 21:01

Lovely! I can remember people putting a pencil behind their ear too. Knew a person like this who could put his hand to anything. The result was always decent and sometimes brilliant.

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John Botterill

Sun 4th Dec 2022 16:39

Thanks KJ and Stephen.
You are so right, Stephen . Dads, in my experience, could turn their hands to anything diy. Where did they acquire the knowledge? And why didn't we? 😀😂

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Stephen Gospage

Sun 4th Dec 2022 10:16

Another fine poem of memory, John. My dad worked in Customs and Excise (London Docks) but he could still mix concrete and lay a patio. Lots of the local dads could do that, it seemed.

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John Botterill

Sun 4th Dec 2022 08:51

Thanks for the likes, Holden and John 😀

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John Botterill

Sat 3rd Dec 2022 15:25

I didn't even get a manual Graham! 😂

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Graham Sherwood

Sat 3rd Dec 2022 08:23

Being a father eh? The most important job you’ll ever have and the one there’s no training course for!

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John Botterill

Sat 3rd Dec 2022 07:55

Thanks for your wonderful personal response, Keith. We seem to have parallel lives! It's funny how much more I understand and value my father as I look back, realising that being a father is never easy and that he accomplished the job so well.
Cheers Keith.
John 😀

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keith jeffries

Fri 2nd Dec 2022 22:13

My father's name was Frank and a veteran of the Second World War. He too was a handyman, never a moment to be wasted and time put to good use in creating no end of household objects. Sadly I did not inherit his skills.
Thank you for this

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John Botterill

Fri 2nd Dec 2022 21:16

Thanks for your excellent response, Leon. He was in the Senior Service (navy) and smoked them too haha. 99% boredom 1% absolute terror (the war, not the fags).

He didn't pass on any of his practical skills at all. I think he thought academia suited me and paid better.
Either that or he considered me to be a motor moron 😉😂

<Deleted User> (34685)

Fri 2nd Dec 2022 21:02

John I would like to know if your brave soldiering skilful dad has passed those skills onto you? if so then I think that you and I would agree that they most certainly should passed on again

if not I think (jesting) that it wood' be going against the grain 😆


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