At last year’s Fringe, The Wee Review were relieved to become properly certified in the safe use of cutlery, thanks to expert health and safety adviser Ian Crawford. We were even more reassured to see him bringing his Accident Avoidance Training for Cutlery Users back to Edinburgh this year. After all, in the “anything goes” atmosphere of the Fringe, people can get lax with domestic chores. You never know when a stray spoon may result in an unscheduled hospital trip and you could easily have someone’s eye out with a casually-discarded fork. So, ever concerned about our readers’ wellbeing, we asked Mr Crawford to talk us through the basics of good cutlery use, as a taster for his full workshop. There was one all-important question to start with…
What’s so dangerous about cutlery?
Cutlery is all around us and often taken for granted by young and old alike. From fork prongs in the nose to teaspoons in the eyes and ears, and butter knives where I’d rather not mention. Despite my best efforts, cutlery-related accidents and fatalities are on the increase. Cutlery is dangerous, take my word for it, but if you don’t believe me just take a look at the statistics and the average queue at your local A&E.
What kind of safety techniques will attendees of your workshop learn?
Spoon Sense and Forkfulness (™) aren’t just popular mantras, they are very much a way of being. I hope everyone who attends my training session will leave feeling they have become a more cautious, yet more confident, cutlery user.
Is any sort of preparation advised before attending? Pre-course exercises, that sort of thing? Or is it accessible to the cutlery novice?
I will say the same to you as I say to everyone else, for goodness sake, wash your cutlery, dry your cutlery and tidy away your cutlery before leaving the house. This is especially important before attending my workshop. I always think a tidy cutlery drawer is the best preparation for any important occasion.
I presume you must have seen some horrendous cutlery injuries in your time. Are there any that stick in the mind? Things that with a little #spoonsense could easily have been avoided?
I’ve seen plenty of forks sticking in other people’s minds. Surprisingly, the teaspoon is the hidden danger lurking in the kitchen. Size to injury-wise the teaspoon is more deadly than you might think. Some of the injuries those little beauties can cause are literally a sight for sore eyes.
How did you get into the cutlery safety game?
Something life-changing and horrific happened to me in the 80s involving a teaspoon and a cousin (RIP Francis Marie Turner). I don’t like to talk about it too much, although I do sometimes mention it in my deadly serious cutlery safety training workshop sessions.
What do you see for the future of cutlery? A lot of people these days don’t know their fish knife from their butter knife…
It is very sad to see the young folk of today having such a dismissive and sometimes ignorant attitude to cutlery. I suppose the modern education system and an ecstasy-fuelled 90s parenting style, Simon Cowell and iPads are very much to blame. Despite this, I am still optimistic about the future of cutlery. I see a move away from plastic towards good, honest reusable solar-powered metal cutlery. Remember “plastic is drastic, keep it real with steel”.
And what about more esoteric utensils – kebab skewers, crab crackers, and so on? Are you certified for them?
Sadly the answer is no. My public liability only covers me for the top 73 most popular and commonly used cutlery items. This means I am only certified to go as far as the water-cress knife and the avocado spoon.
Can we tempt you to “reveal” yourself, tell us a bit about the man behind the character?
My name is Ian Crawford, so I’m not sure what you mean about “reveal yourself”? If you are referring to the incident on the Sheffield tram last year, I can only say I have made a public apology and have replaced that pair of trousers. Thankfully it was a cold morning, the CCTV was low resolution and the case was essentially unproven.
And finally, what’s the greatest item of cutlery in your expert opinion?
My top three cutlery related items have to be the butter knife used by Damocles, Occam’s teaspoon and a fork I bought on eBay that was once used by Shakin’ Stevens.