“I’m going to dig to the centre of the Earth” said Brian,
“and I need a bloody good spade.”
“That’s a big ‘ole you’re gonna make there Brian” said Chandler,
“You’re gonna shift a lot of diggins.”
“That’s why I need a bloody good spade innit. Now you going to sell me one or not ?”
“Alright alright” said Chandler and he reached for a Hawkins No. 9 Digging Spade.
“The Hawkins No. 9 is a solid old thing, but she’ll shift a mountain without complaining and comes with a warranty says they’ll replace her if she wears out in less than three years.”
Brian took hold of her, hefted her up and down to feel her weight and admired how the grain of the ash handle was so perfectly aligned down the length of her shaft.
He ran his fingers down her. She’d been oiled to make her supple and so the water would run off her. Her blade was clean shining stainless steel with broad, forgiving shoulders that would be kind to your sole as you repeatedly struck into the earth together.
He noted happily that her blade was secured to the shaft with straps, not a socket and he knew with the utmost certainty that this was the one digging partner he would ever need.
Before, he thought he was going to be facing the big dig on his own. Now he knew she’d be with him he felt his confidence soar.
“I’ll give you twenty quid for it” he said.
“Twenty quid !? It’s not a bloody gardening spade. It’s not for planting bloody roses ! That’s a proper hole digging spade ! It’s a Hawkins Number Nine for God’s sake. Twenty quid indeed. Forty and I won’t take a penny less.”
“I suppose I could stretch to twenty five.” Brian shrugged and counted out five fivers, slowly.
One … two … three … four … inhale deeply … fiiiive …
“Oh for God’s sake, thirty quid and you can have it”
… and six.
“Thank you” said Brian, heading for the door.
Chandler muttered “bloody dwarves” under his breath and he opened the till to put away his hard won cash.
Brian walked back to the woods whistling. On the way to Chandler’s his gait had been a solid trudge. Walking back to his clearing with his new spade he floated. His sturdy frame seemed to weigh nothing and he found himself leaping across puddles and playfully kicking pebbles along the path.
Brian arrived at the clearing and took it all in. The planks he had made from the trees he felled to make the clearing were stacked around the perimeter ready to shore up the walls of the hole.
He walked to the very centre of the clearing, to the square patch of bare earth where he had cut a stamp of sod that morning and he carefully lined up the shining blade of his new spade against the grass edge.
“Now then Miss Hawkins, ” he put his foot on her shoulder, “let’s see what you can do.”