Recent published article – The Simple Things magazine August 2017

Things I Treasure

My Swiss Army Penknife – (SAP)


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 and practical things in the garden, around the house, on holiday. With my impending trip to Brazil it’s no wonder he chose this as my gift.

Since then me and 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 and always due to me and 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 in said bum bag through the rainforest using him to cut mango fresh from the tree, scrape paint from a school window frame and open a bottle of tonic water amongst other things. Luckily our guide stepped in and informed the official (who turned out to be not in the slightest bit official) we were doing charity work and SAP was rescued.

In the UK however, ‘rules is rules’ and at the beginning of a long weekend to Stuttgart SAP was removed from my hand luggage, popped in a jiffy bag from W H Smith and posted back home.

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

Are all these dramas really worth it? Do I ever actually use SAP for anything? And the answer dear reader is categorically yes. You see, my Dad had the foresight to choose the model which not only has scissors but also houses a toothpick and tweezers. I rest my case.

My Dad passed away in 2011 and thankfully we managed to patch up our differences. When I started to sort through his belongings I came across no less than 7 penknives in various locations and 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 very careful not to put SAP into my hand luggage. Most people have a check-list which reads – passport, credit card, phone. Mine includes ‘where is SAP’. My husband reckons there’d be an international incident if there was any attempted confiscation of SAP. How silly. I mean, it’s not like it’s special or anything, is it?