Cutting it

I posted before about my ‘grab-bag’ and how I was getting ready for disaster.  (All I’m going to say on the wisdom of putting the gear together is: haven’t you noticed how the weather is changing?  Can you be certain that we won’t suffer some extreme conditions which make our home uninhabitable?)

But I’m not trying to convince anybody to do as I have.  No, today I’m back to an old favourite: intrusive demands.

To go in my grab-bag, I have decided that I want what we used to call a sheath knive.  A fixed blade knife, with a blade around six inches long, that lives in a leather (or plastic) sheath on your belt.

Many moons ago, I had such a knife.  A cheap one, but then I was just a kid.  I also had a shotgun, and the knife was supposed to be for skinning the rabbits I shot.  (The smell was so bad, though, that I usually managed to be otherwise occupied at the time.  Oddly enough, I always seemed to offer to help Dad just too late…)

Now, the law has changed.  It is now illegal for an under 18 to own such a knife.  It is also illegal to carry such a knife in a public place, without ‘good reason.’  Whether or not your reason is ‘good’ depends entirely on the Policeman who finds it…
For what I want, I consider ‘keeping myself alive in the face of disaster’ to be a good reason.  I’m not going to be wearing/using it in normal circumstances, and if I’m on a hill trying to chop wood for a fire after my partner and I got soaked leaving the house when it flooded – I think the bobbies would have bigger problems to worry about.
If it’s the village hall scenario, I’m hoping that leaving the knive wrapped in a T-shirt in the bottom of my rucksack will prevent my being caught…

OK.  I want a knife.  I also want to try and do some bushcraft training.  (And every course I look at lists a knife as part of the kit you should take.)
On top of that, I would quite like to fill some time.  So I decided to make my own knife.

I found a very nice kit online.  It has the blade (the hardest bit to make, especially for me as I have to minimise fire risks – and you can’t make a knife blade without fire) which is already sharpened; it has wood and reindeer antler for the handle; it has leather for the sheath; it has all the little bits; and it has step-by-step photo instructions.
It looks perfect: I can proudly say ‘I made that’ while having the benefit of a ‘put glue here’ kit.

Price is better than acceptable, too.  I’ve seen poorer knives selling for more.

So I go to order it….

‘This item is age restricted – please enter your date of birth.’

No.  Not gonna happen.  I’ll do my usual and tell them 1/1/01.  Only I can’t.  Because they tell you, quite clearly, that they will ‘confirm’ your age, and if you give them a false one the order will be cancelled.

How are they going to confirm my age?  Who with?  Because anybody that does confirm it will have my legal team breathing down their necks!

You know this: I do not give my date of birth to anybody without very good reason, and nobody who has it has permission to pass it on to a third party.

I went to a second site, tried to order the same kit, and was told that I had to give my date of birth, which they would confirm – and if they were unable to confirm it, they would ask me to send them a photocopy of my driving licence or passport!

Further down the page, they mentioned that their primary method of verifying age was the electoral register.  Well, I choose the ‘do not pass on this data’ option every time I fill this in – if I find that my data can still be accessed then I will have to seriously consider breaking the law and refusing to fill it in.

Seriously.  I consider the right to keep my data private is a basic human right, more important by far than having a voting card I never use sent to me at regular intervals.

But I digress.
These sites are using an age restriction law as a sneaky way of getting your data.  They will argue that – as you have to be over 18 to buy a knife – they need to check your details.  This is bullpoop.

There is a much simpler method of making sure they only sell to over 18’s.  It’s called a credit card.

Just make it a rule that they will only sell a knife to those who pay with a credit card.  Or to those who provide alternative proof of age.  Because, you see, you cannot get a credit card in the UK unless you are 18 or over.  (Yes, I know there are cards for under 18’s, but they are not credit cards – the card type will be the important bit.)

So, in one fell swoop, they can save a lot of time and money.  Because it costs them to check your age, you know.  They have to pay an agency, and they have to pay staff to do the work, and it’s a hassle, it really is.  Now, all they have to do is process the order.  Or do all that work if the customer wants to pay in some other way.

That is a simple method that would work.  They would save money doing it that way.  But they don’t want to do it that way, do they?  Because if they did it that way, they wouldn’t have data they could sell.

Ah well, I guess I’ll just have to do without a knife.  Because there is nothing they can say that will make me give them date of birth.

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