For years three questions have haunted me but now I am down to two. I still do not know why the chicken crossed the road; I have not resolved whether it was the chicken or the egg that came first (based on Aristotelian principles I am told it is the chicken) but I do agree with the carpenter – it was the same hammer.
I refer here to the reply of the carpenter who, when asked whether he had used the same hammer throughout his working life he said ‘yes’, adding thoughtfully that he had needed to change the head once and the handle twice.
But here the story is about a bracelet. Two years ago my wife and I gave each other bespoke bead bracelets to celebrate out fortieth wedding anniversary. The beads were made of antique cut jade, lapis, turquoise, cornelian and ruby (as befits the fortieth), separated by spacers of silver (my wife’s) and gold (mine). In both bracelets the sequences of the stones and spacers were identical. Both were worn daily and both were treasured.
Earlier this year mine was mislaid, probably stolen. I was bereft and after months of research found a jeweller in Hatton Garden who could to make a copy. I took my wife’s bracelet along as a template, explained the importance of the task and what was needed, chose the stones from which the new beads would be cut, waited till my wife’s bracelet was photographed, had my wrist and fist size measured, and left. Several anxious weeks later, and after a further visit and some phone calls, I went back. I sat down at a corner table, unwrapped the bracelet from blue tissue paper, marvelled at its exactness, put it on, whooped, hugged Emma the lapidary (a first from a customer!), paid and left. I was back to being me.
On my way home both I and the bracelet glowed. I was so excited that I relayed the story to my neighbour in the bus. She listened politely, looked at me quizzically, nodded, smiled, then moved away. At home my wife and I compared bracelets. Mine did not have the maturity of stones cut hundreds of years ago, but it was mine. It was made of the exact same stones and arranged in the same pattern as its predecessor. It had the same beauty, filled the same space, had the same connotation, served the same purpose and to others appears identical. Just as the hammer for the carpenter, it is the same and I am delighted. In fact it never really left me.