Oh no, I hear you say. Not again! My apologies if you’ve seen this before, but it was a blog post I lost and I think it deserves a reprise … especially for newcomers and is also representative of a type of blog post that I do. I thought it was on here; evidently not.
I remember with affection my childhood days in a small Durham mining village. It was a time (or so it seemed) of endless sweltering summers, snowbound winters and sledging.
Kids then did unusual things like playing over the fields, digging out a hive of white-arsed or sandy bumblers, transporting the buzzing bundle of boundless energy into a back garden wilderness, simply to watch them going about their business. Thus I was familiar with the excruciating pain of a bee sting from an early age and soon became immune.
This was also the time I acquired my first real metal detector. It was called a Jackdaw. Sounds like the name for one of those cheap Chinese imports but this one was super efficient with discrimination second to none. Remember, I am evoking a time when it was not out of the ordinary for children to enjoy unlimited freedom and, like many of the local lads, I kept a jackdaw as a pet.
Jacky (imaginative name) was acquired as a fledgling from the local quarry and ensconced in a rough and ready-made small cree hastily constructed by my father. You could tell the boys who kept jackdaws by the running streak of black and white droppings down the back of their jerkins – for some reason the bird would involuntary defecate when landing on your shoulder.
The jackdaw is known to be a gregarious bird and especially fond of people. I found Jacky easy to adopt and keep as a pet. We had great fun. He was noisy, inquisitive, enjoyed performing amusing tricks and even learned to imitate (in his raspy voice) my calling of his name.
I reckon that if all the birds in the world took an intelligence test, then the jackdaw would top the scores. It is a well-known fact that he will fly off with any pretty little object that catches his eye and Jacky often returned home with spoons, rings and other bright shiny objects that he had stolen. One day he returned with an Acme Thunderer whistle he had snitched from a guy refereeing at the local football match. That was his undoing. An irate fan downed Jacky with a catapult when he returned for a second forage. I cried for a week. You never forget your first metal detector!
Ergonomics – very light, able to fly and well designed, but can be quite messy – 9
User Friendliness – comes when called. Operates better without supervision – 10
Build Quality – rather fragile, I suppose. Avoid catapults and stroppy pigeons – 8
Weather resistance – you’ll never have to put it in the airing cupboard to dry off – almost waterproof – 10
Performance – discriminates well. Avoids dross and other dull crap – 10
Value for Money – Minimal initial outlay – 9
Battery Life – Perhaps its Achilles Heel – needs frequent and constant top-ups of grubs, black beetles and centipedes – 6
NB – the Jackdaw is not available at your usual stockist.
A version of this post originally appeared in the UK Searcher magazine