Thursday, July 30, 2009

do you think Roger Federer's got one?

More lazy slapdash couldn't-even-be-bothered-to-Google-it journalism from the BBC today: this article about that cornerstone of modern Western civilisation the Swiss Army knife. Obviously it was a slow news day and they needed a story about something to fill up a blank bit of web space before everyone knocked off down the Dog & Badger for a liquid lunch, but this is pretty thin stuff. Here's a bit of clarification that I managed to dig up after all of ten minutes on Google and Wikipedia:
  • The 125th anniversary mentioned in the article is of the founding of the Victorinox knife company in a German-speaking canton of Switzerland in 1884.
  • Victorinox were granted sole licence to supply knives to the Swiss Army in 1891.
  • Depending on how you read the linked article, the knife-supplying contract was split between Victorinox and the French-speaking Swiss company Wenger in either 1893 or 1908.
  • Victorinox took over Wenger in 2005, thereby effectively bringing all knife production back under one banner, although the two companies continue to produce separately-branded products.
  • Also, while the article is about Victorinox, all the links I could find suggest the 314-bladed enormo-knife pictured is actually a Wenger.
Everyone has a couple of Swiss Army knife stories, so here are mine: the first one I had was a Victorinox bought for me by my father, which at some point in my university life I managed to lose. I replaced it with a Wenger which I bought in the L.L.Bean gargantustore in Freeport, Maine while I was over there for my friend Matt's wedding in 1994, and which I still have. It's the standard mid-sized one with the usual attachments (something like the Classic 101 pictured), pretty much the same as the old Victorinox except it has a lockable main blade, which is very handy and helps avoid any accidental finger-severing incidents, and also a can-opener of truly evil sharpness which you could probably take your arm off with if you put your mind to it. I assume this guy used the main blade, though. Incidentally Wikipedia seems to think the story (as related on an episode of QI a while back) about the founder of MI6 hacking his own leg off with a penknife after a car accident is apocryphal.


nicola said...

You say you lost your Victorinox during University days? Just a suggestion, but perhaps Doug nicked it from you and used it to slash Johnny's dressing gown into little pieces before he set fire to it using insecticide which in turn burnt the inside of his oesophagus and he ended up going to hospital. Ah.. memories.

electrichalibut said...

Great days. Doug generally mocks my outdoor activities - sitting in a tree all night waiting for badgers is OK apparently, but climbing up mountains is weird. So I'm not sure he's a Swiss Army knife kind of guy, but then if he was in an insecticide-induced frenzy anything's possible I suppose.