Tools of a trade are not always obvious

LAST week I saw a man round a corner in a great hurry. Respectfully, people made way for him and people nodded with approval when he had passed by.

LAST week I saw a man round a corner in a great hurry. Respectfully, people made way for him and people nodded with approval when he had passed by.

Others who came after him included clergymen and nuns, elderly gentlemen and old ladies but these had to fend for themselves.

Why, you may ask, was so much respect shown to the first man. It was shown to him for two reasons, which I shall state here.

The first reason was that he carried a carpenter’s rule in his hand and stuck in his hip pocket was a carpenter’s level.

Fair enough. On the surface here was a busy man going about his lawful trade. He was hardly an imposter. Who would have the unmitigated cheek to carry a carpenter’s rule without the authorisation to do so?

It would be almost as bad to sport a doctor’s stethoscope and not be a doctor. But while sporting a stethoscope is punishable, by law, carrying a carpenter’s rule is not.

That, however, is neither here nor there. We are here today to discuss the tools that attach themselves to a particular calling as, for instance, a soldier would have a gun and a uniform, a priest a round collar and so forth and so on, so to speak.

Rather than discuss the commoner tools we will instead discuss the uncommon. This is not to say that the commoner are less important. As I have already wisely shown, there is more respect for a carpenter’s rule than there is for other tools of other trades.

But to press on. Let us suppose you saw a man with unpolished boots, uncared-for clothes and an unwashed appearance, you would foolishly deduce that he was a tramp.

You would be deducing wrong for a tramp’s clothes are rarely worth washing. No the unwashedness, the boots and the clothes are the tools of the trade known as widower. Not too uncommon I’ll grant you, but uncommon enough. But let us move on to another far more unusual trade. Those who have served their time at this trade have their own distinctive tools if one it but willing to look for them.

To begin with, there must be gaiters and good boots. If no gaiters then cavalry trousers and thick socks to the knees. There must be a check sportscoat and a polo-necked jumper.

You already know what the trade is so there is no need for me to go on. You guessed right - a greyhound trainer.

But there are less distinctive tools and it is for these we must research if we are able to identify those of truly uncommon trades like a three card trick man where there is no crowd.

Outwardly, it is almost impossible to find clues which might bracket him. Closer scrutiny is needed. In short we must look beyond the subject himself and search, as it were for his shadow.

His shadow in this case is his assistant and between the two there is a bond of great strength and fidelity. The thing to do then is to follow the crowd until you a notice a man with a bulge in his coat.

Having located man and bulge follow this man’s eyes and you will find that they communicate now and then with an inoffensive gentleman who looks more like a refined schoolmaster than a three card trick man.

But three card trick man he is for suddenly there is an exchange of signals between shadow and substance.

The bulge is gone from the shadow’s coat and in front of him a wickerwork table has appeared. The shadow withdraws and the principal appears with his deck in his hand. If you have money to spare a ten shilling wager is well worth a while.

The money you will most certainly lose but you will be treated to a first-class display of sheer professionalism, breathtaking in its deceptiveness and fluent as the fingers of a concert pianist in full flight.

So, we have shown that the chief tool of this great artist is his fellow man. Worth noting this as others may be identified by similar means.

The thumb and the tongue are tools used by another trade or calling or profession. Sometime you may see a well-dressed man sitting in a hotel lounge or looking in a window. You will be hard put to figure out his trade. Again the old use of wait and see must be utilised.

Time will pass and there will be no clue and the student is inclined to give up in despair. It is always as the student is about to quit that the break comes. This must not be forgotten under any circumstances. Subconsciously, this well-dressed man I have mentioned will, in a thrice, stick out his tongue and flick his thumb across it. Only one man can do this fleetly and unwittingly and that man is a bank cashier.

I hope that the few examples I have cited will be of use to the student and perhaps help him one day to identify himself.