"My grandfather, Jim Harris, was a woodturner and when we went to visit I would always listen eagerly for the sound of his lathe as we approached the house. If I heard the lathe then it was going to be a good visit because if he was woodturning then he was making sawdust, and if he was making sawdust then he might, just might, need someone to clean it all up and, when I was a kid, vacuuming my grandfather’s shed was the best thing in the world.
My grandfather didn’t use a normal vacuum cleaner to clean the shed; it wouldn’t be big or powerful enough. So he made his own, an enormous greedy elephant’s trunk that roared and leapt about making all the sawdust and smaller bits of wood disappear. I never knew where it all ended up.
An odd assortment of relics would emerge from the sawdust; long spirals of papery woodshavings, things that my grandfather had been making, broken or split, some almost finished, others barely started. It was like finding fossils on a beach as the tide goes out. The relics would be examined, identified, categorised and set aside for firewood. Then my grandfather would start up the lathe and get back to work replenishing the sawdust, making the tide come back in.”