Making a change: Lockdown !! Lockdown !!! LOCKDOWN !!!!
Hopefully we are nearing the end of our third lockdown of this Corona-virus epidemic. Anyone remember the smallpox and polio vaccinations carried out for the same purpose – to save your life from those ghastly diseases – as today’s vaccinations should? Those vaccinations took place nearly sixty years ago. Today I had my second jab of the Pfizer vaccine. No problem!! When I enlisted into the Royal Air Force on 27 Nov 1951 I was getting jabs in both arms at the same time, for all sorts of things, for eventual service at any unstated destinations abroad. And I am still here.
OK, so what I am blathering on about is, what do we do with ourselves during these lockdowns. As you may have seen my earlier blogs about Family History, this is a change. Years ago, I had purchased an ‘antique’ Mah Jonng box while on holiday in the West Country. I found it on a Barnstaple market stall. So why did I buy it? I had been the ‘stand-in’ for my wife’s weekly game of Mah-Jongg for several years and we did not have our own set at that time. But what I found was in a desperately sorry uncared for state. So now all these years later I decided that it was time to try and make it a bit prettier. Repair the broken and missing parts and give it a general clean-up. But where to start I asked myself. I would have to manufacture a new front and back. A broken edge needed filling in somehow and a new coat of varnish perhaps.
Using my stand-by phrase of ‘Plan, Prepare, Produce’ I sat down and made some rough sketches and measurements to see what I needed. Cleaning materials, wood cut to 3/16 of an inch in thickness and somewhere I could obtain whatever I would require. Sandpaper and wood glue from the local D.I.Y., no problem. Then a very good friend of many years said he could cut some wood if I had it. Yes, I had a half circular table top, made of what appeared to be mahogany. Ideal. In no time at all my friend cut two pieces that would become the front and back panels of the Mah Jonng box.
After it was cleaned up and the back panel fitted and glued in, it began to look very different. Then I repaired the damaged back edge, put a little handle on the top of the front panel and after it was slotted into the box it began to look much improved. I could not get it perfect because the front panel should have had a 1/16in grooved slot for a similar sized tenon to slide into it. For the moment it will do.
The tiles are made of bone. Originally, the box was well designed with dovetail joints for the four corners. But the manufacture was poor for whatever reason. The brass corner pieces are rough, badly fitted and poorly secured. Its weight is 7 pounds, not something you will want to carry far by hand. Hopefully the final task of improving its appearance will be undertaken before the next twenty years have flown by.