Sunday, 12 October 2014

Family Business

Weekends were maintenance and balancing the books.
Saturdays we got our hands dirty.
The cab tilted to check tappet clearances.
A crawlboard under the chassis, back aching.

Latching up wheelnuts, a length of steel tubing
slipped onto the torque-wrench
for leverage, knuckles white through the dirt
as it groaned then clicked in confirmation:

did six-hundred newton metres
mean they were good and tight? I don’t remember.
I didn’t have a head for the technical side.
Sundays were my forte: clean hands and sheets

of paper, the columns of figures easy enough
before spreadsheets and look-ups
and pull-throughs confused it.
Now in the office I’m almost innumerate

compared to the whiz-kids, all college-taught
theories and clever equations.
Back then I was fifteen and doing the invoicing
for a one-man-firm with a sixteen tonner,

tapping numbers into an old-school calculator
with a spool of paper chattering out
the profit and loss,a ticker-tape parade
if we weren’t in the red.

Neil Fulwood
Nottingham, England.

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