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Tony Deyal and the tools of the trade

By Tony Deyal

In his first book, published in 1994, the great Manchester United goal-scorer Ryan Giggs shocked his readers, especially the younger ones, when they reached page 54 and found a double-page, black-and-white photo of his feet. Worse, despite his football feats, his feet were definitely not pleasant to behold. What many readers did not understand is the importance of the tools of our trade and, in the case of Giggs and all other footballers, their feet are what they use to reach any level of the game, especially the highest.

The “tools of the trade” are items that we use to pursue our occupations. The first usage of the term goes back to 1825. Since then it flourished in words and sentences like, “Giggs decided to put the penalty in the far corner of the goal post, He nailed it.” In this context, the shovel was a ground-breaking instrument and when my wife complains that I compulsively buy computer repair equipment, I explain, “It’s not a big deal. It’s my vice.” Or the captain who handed tools to his soldiers standing at attention and shouted, “This is not a drill.”

Obviously, where there is language there are puns like the one about drunken sailors who just landed and boasted, “We’re getting hammered tonight.” Or when forced to carry huge bags of weapons and ammunition on their backs they dumped the load in anger with, “Screw this!” Worse was the man who explained, “I was so upset when my drinking buddy called me a tool that I got hammered and nailed his girlfriend.”

This is where the plot thickens like a footballer’s feet after years of his opponents putting their heavy boots on his toes. The difference between science and the English Language is that in science everything has a special name that identifies and distinguishes it from all the others. Not so the English language. We have more things than words and thereby hangs my tale today and the tales of many other people who will understand better when I go into detail.

Tony Deyal tools of the trade

One meaning of “tool” (which goes back to the 1550s) is “someone who lacks the mental capacity to know he or she is being used”. In other words, that tool is definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed and, in terms of his love life, caused me to write, “A tool and his honey are soon parted.” If you think that particular meaning of tool creates problems, consider that in English, “Penis” and “Tool” are semantically related.

You can use “penis” to mean “tool” (and if you’re into this kind of stuff) or vice versa or just vice-alone. Since the 1550s, long before tools were tools, “Tool” was a synonym for “penis” as well as “prick”, “shaft” and “wood”. For those who follow the language, that tore it! Additionally, guns are also called “tools”. In fact, the terms “Tool” and “Toolie” have been used by many rappers including Eminem, Young Thug and Playboy Carti.

All this leads to really interesting interpretations. For example, why does Popeye’s tool never rust? Because he keeps it in Olive Oil. Before the additional meanings of the tool came into wide circulation, we had the question “What’s the most effective tool a woman can use to keep away unwanted men?” The answer then was “Detergent.” The answer now would be based on the idea that when your only tool is a hammer, all problems start looking like nails and that includes getting and pounding your pound of male flesh. The only thing that has not changed is whether in the old days or now, a new circumcision tool is cutting-edge technology.

English writer, Sir Phillip Pullman, writer of, “The Subtle Knife” actually showed the increasing subtlety of the word “tool” when he wrote: “The intentions of a tool are what it does. A hammer intends to strike, a vice intends to hold fast, a lever intends to lift. They are what it is made for. But sometimes a tool may have other uses that you don’t know…” I have also got good advice, not just for me but also for my male and female friends, by American author, Napoleon Hill, “Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.” I can’t say that it is the story of my life but compared with Napoleon, the only Waterloos I’ve met so far are in Jamaica, Barbados (an alley near the hospital) and Trinidad, as well as the University in Canada.

The fact is that the different meanings of “tool” make it difficult to understand which tool is the subject or the object. One article said that the development of the first tools were in the stone age and were used for cutting, chopping and scraping. I disagreed. The originators had to be Adam and Eve. The birth of Cane did not stop Eve from being Abel-bodied. Other articles were not just more relevant but also provided great advice for beginners like Adam.

For example, Wallace D. Wattles showed his “wattlessness” with, “It is essential to have good tools, but it is also essential that the tools should be used in the right way.” Jeff Bezos, the boss of Amazon, the company and not the river, made a valid point, “We change our tools and then our tools change us.” And going back to almost the dawn of time, Confucius was on the ball with, “The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”

Ron Kaufman, the American customer service consultant and keynote speaker, put it in the right context: “Giving great service requires the right people and the right service tools.” However, the best comment on the subject is by Thomas Carlyle, the British philosopher: “Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools, he is nothing, with tools he is all.” For those who don’t have the wherewithal to prosper, Aristotle, the Greek Philosopher, found out and preached from very early: “The hand is the tool of tools.”

This leads to the question: “Are Women Equivalent to Tools?” Scientific American confirms that “men cognitively register women as objects they can use or act on, like power tools.” But supermodel-actress, Cara Delevingne, claimed in “Planet Sex”, a book based on her travels throughout the world to explore gender, sexuality and bedroom fantasies, that men lack the “right tools” to satisfy women sexually. This leaves a lot for us to wonder about instead of wandering.

Fortunately, there is hope for all. American motivational author, Louise Hay, made it clear that regardless of sex, size, shape, competence, quality, which side you’re on right now and where the tool of your trade is presently located:  “Today is a new day. Today is a day for you to begin creating a joyous, fulfilling life. Today is a day to release all your limitations. Today is the day for you to learn the secrets of life. You can change your life for the better. You already have tools within you to do so…”

*Tony Deyal was last seen saying don’t wait until “tool late, tool late” will be your cry.



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