When you have an idea, like my workbench in plywood, or my computer desk, something like that, there is something about the phasing of processes leading to completion that is more than uplifting, almost peremptory if you like. You cannot detach yourself from it even for a moment for fear of losing the plotted course and the more you develop the design, the more critical your inquisitorial output becomes. In moments like these I think back to when my dad said, ‘What do you want to be when you leave school, Paul?‘ and feel nothing but gratitude that I can capably take raw wood, convert it, dimension it, dry it and make my mind-sketches into useful and beautiful pieces as a direct link to him providing the way for me to become a woodworker. Today that happened, my thinking back and then linking it to today, and I was grateful for the work I have had all of my life. In 55 years of working wood I have never had a day where I did not have work or a job for pay. Such a provision, these woodworking hands. I have so enjoyed my life as a mere carpenter.
I can’t always describe the feeling of designing and making. I’m not interested in the unrealness of nostalgia, reenactment as such, though I do understand people yearning for the past and indeed acting out the parts too. That’s fun. What I enjoy the most is engineering my real, lived days. I like waking to the buzz I felt when I went to sleep looking forward without doubting and planning to the opening of a new day to work in. I always drift off to a well-earned sleep dog tired. I often find myself rehearsing steps for a procedure in my head as I go to sleep. This planning sphere enables me to trace my steps through past projects and so, with great anticipation for the possibility of future problems, I mentally work through this or that piece trying to envisage the needs ahead of time anticipating what difficulties they they are likely to present.
This dream-scheming helps as I move my hands and arms with the imaginary chisels and saws in my mind’s eye. I find myself flexing muscle and sinew according to task and then holding my breath until a fictitious task is completed. Sometimes, as in times past, I have invented a special tool or adapted an existing one that was never intended for such a task and all of this happens either just as I drift away, during my sleep or when I wake up.