The secret of sharp knives

I HAVE solved the problem of keeping knives sharp.

I’ve bought new ones.

They’ll go blunt, of course, and I’ll have to buy a new set of kitchen knives at least once a month, but it will save a lot of energy. You have no idea how long it takes to beat a tomato to death with a blunt knife.

And don’t tell me I should buy a sharpener and use it. I have a sharpener; and I do use it.

Remember how they used to say that if you placed your razor blades inside a pyramid they grew sharper? Our house works in reverse. Place a blade in our kitchen drawer and it comes out as a cudgel.

I bought a new set at Christmas so we could eat delicate slices of ham and turkey instead of torn chunks. It was very civilised. But they’ve already lost interest. Next week they’ll be downgraded to chopping up potatoes. Then it’ll be the tomatoes. A month from now they’ll be fit for nothing more than inflicting some nasty bruises on the butter.

Why is this so? Is it just me?

I know one or two people whose knives are sharp, but that does nothing to make me feel better… only suspicious.

There’s something manic about people who keep their knives sharp. They don’t keep them merely sharp enough. They keep them sharp enough to disembowel… well, victims.

If you touch their knives they grow nervous and restless. They reach for the whetstone, or the leather strop, or whatever mysterious implement they use for sharpening their knives.

And they never, never keep them in drawers. They hang them up, or wrap them in cloth, or slide them into knife blocks.

And here’s a tip for recognising these budding serial killers: they slide them into knife blocks upside down! So the blade doesn’t touch the wood.

Do I sound jealous? I am jealous! I want knives that cut things. Even if the things are my fingers. I could take some pride in fingers wrapped in Band Aids because of the knife cuts. The knives I own don’t even raise red welts. But I simply can’t apply myself with sufficient dedication to make it happen.

I’ve furtively studied butchers when they perform this witchcraft in their butchers’ shops.

They are solid, ruddy, cheery types who carry a sharpening tool on their belt. Every now and then they stop to sharpen a knife, which they do by waving their arms about so rapidly it’s impossible to see what’s happening. I don’t think anything’s happening! It’s just a trick to preserve the mystery of the butcher’s trade.

I think they go out once a month and buy new knives, same as I do. That would explain why meat is so expensive.

I suppose there’s a bright side. There’s a certain primeval pleasure in eating torn chunks of meat. Or bread.

And my wife is never going to cut my throat.

She says it’s daft to worry about these things at my time of life. She says it won’t be long before the only thing I can eat will be soup, and that comes in tins.

True, but do you know how hard it is to find a tin opener that works?