Toby reacted the same way that I imagine most folks would have done---why has it happened to me? It seems strange that people like Toby should draw the short straw; he has been a very close friend to me and is a first-class bloke. He is one of the few people that I would trust totally---and I know quite a few.
I was the first person he told, and like him I asked the same question. It seemed quite unbelievable; apparently however there is no mistake.
Toby is taking it quite well. He is quite stoical and has retained his amazing sense of humour. His reaction is that he will deal with it, and if anyone can, it will be Toby.
I have to tell you here that Toby seems perfectly healthy, both physically and mentally; the short straw that Toby has drawn is not yet apparent to others. He is very bright and extremely fit. He has always had an excellent job and participated in many sporting disciplines with many successes. You would not hear Toby talking bad of anyone -- he always gives the benefit of the doubt and is also very charitable.
We have sat down together and discussed the situation on quite a few occasions, but there doesn’t seem to be any logical answer other than ‘sods’ law. I can think of many times when things have happened to me quite out of the blue and my reaction has been ‘why me’ ‘why now’? I haven’t done anything wrong, everything is going well, then ‘wham’ it strikes, what do they say? Never become complacent, always be prepared for the short straw. All of you will know what I am talking about. It could be with that last hole in the wall, when you hit that electric cable---the one you checked and knew was six inches away, or when you were just finishing off a job and closing the loft lid when you slipped and put your hand through the ceiling. These last two examples actually happened to me. Of course these are just minor incidents ‘a rite of passage’ I suppose, the trouble is that the ‘rite of passage’ seems to last for the whole bloody passage.
The answer seems to be never take anything for granted --- it matters not how your journey through life seems to be going --- and remember money counts for nothing. If Mr Sod strikes he won’t care a jot whether you are rich or poor. Many a rich man would willingly give up everything to get rid of the curse of Mr Sod.
I really don’t know why I am writing this---I have had much success today, I have just recently bought a new twin tuner digi-box and am just getting to grips with the operation of the beast. I have also today sorted out an ongoing sound problem on my computer which is very satisfying---in fact as I type this I am listening in very high fidelity sound to some works of Edward Elgar---near perfection; but then I think about Toby and what has happened to him, and I am brought down to earth. What right have I to be enjoying my digi-box and amazing sound when Toby has to deal with his problem? He tells me he is carrying on as normal, but then he would.
Some time later---
It is said that in the southern Ghats of India there is a large plateau where the indigenous inhabitants like to keep to themselves. Access is apparently quite difficult and consequently not many people impose on this area. It is also claimed that there are very few health problems; there is in fact no hospital. The inhabitants are said to have the longest life span in the world. These people are said to be expert wood carvers and their economy is apparently based on farming and wood carving.
It has been claimed that there is a special tree which only grows on this plateau, this tree is supposed to have special qualities; it is only carved by the senior carvers and none of these carvings are released to the outside world, indeed they are hidden away.
Whether these claims are true or not is not known.
Toby rang me quite early, he had been away visiting an old uncle (his only living relative) we had been out of touch for a while and it was nice to get his call, he had something interesting to tell me and wanted me to call round as soon as possible. Within the hour I was at Toby’s place and sat down having a coffee.
‘Take a look at this.’ Toby handed me what I would call a walking cane. It was not a walking stick which people would use to aid walking---nor was it a hiking stick which would be used by hill walkers and such---this would in my opinion definitely be described as a cane. It was very hard wood and the carvings on it were amazing. At the top of the cane was carved an Elephant, and the Elephant stood on two Buffaloes. The stem of the cane started below the Buffaloes, and that is where the head of the striking snake was carved. The body of the snake was then wrapped around the cane descending symmetrically to the base of the cane.
The wood was extremely hard yet the cane was very light---this was indeed an amazing artifact, and Toby could tell what I was thinking about the cane by my expression.
‘Okay Toby, let’s have the details.’
‘You know I have just been to see my Uncle Ted? Well he gave it to me. He is moving out of his place into a sheltered accommodation and came across this in his loft. He has had it for years apparently and didn’t want to dump it, which is what he has done with most of his stuff.’
‘Did he know any history?’
‘Yes, I am coming to that. It seems Uncle Ted’s great-great grandfather was in the colonial service in India for a period spanning the beginning of the last century. He brought it back to England when he retired. He told me that there has been various tales told about the cane that has been passed down through the years, but he hadn’t paid much attention to them---he had, it seems, much more on his mind at the time he acquired the cane, the cane got relegated to various places and eventually ended up in his loft. He told me to look after it for sentimental reasons, and to keep it in the family.’
‘Well I think it is quite amazing, Toby, it is a beautiful object and lovely to hold.’ It was indeed lovely to hold, it was so smooth. How had this intricate carving been done? The detail was incredible and it was obviously carved from one piece of wood, this was indeed the work of a master craftsman.
‘That’s not all,’ said Toby. ‘I took the cane to a friend of mine who is a professional wood-worker, he couldn’t identify the wood. He had all his books out, went on the inter-net, asked some of his college friends---in short, nobody could identify it. It seems, according to these guys, to be something new---which is paradoxical because it is so old.’
I was quite speechless by what Toby had just told me---but the bombshell was just about to explode. You remember that Toby had this problem, well he hasn’t any longer. He told me that after handling the cane when he first came home from Uncle Ted’s, he seemed to feel an interaction with the wood; Toby's problem has gone and he feels great again.
We did a lot of investigating. Skin is the largest organ of the human body and has many abilities, healing is one of the major ones, but its power to absorb is equally amazing. Many things it seems can be absorbed through the skin. Why couldn’t some substance from the wood the cane was made from have been absorbed into Toby’s body?
When we thought about it, and the history of the cane, we both began to wonder the same thing. Toby had a major problem which has now gone totally---he is feeling fine again. Maybe, just maybe, this cane has some true provenance.
I had been handling the cane for some considerable time and although I was sure I could feel an interaction, it was clearly of the mind. Toby was intent on doing some tests with his cane, but promised me he wouldn’t reveal any details to anybody, at least till all doubt had been eliminated. My short visit to see Toby had turned out to be a long one---it was one that I would not have missed for anything.
It was not until I was nearly home, with my thoughts never straying from the cane, that I realised that the pain and discomfort that I have had for a number of years, following an accident which damaged my right sacroiliac joint, had completely disappeared; and the nagging tooth ache that had been dogging me for weeks had also gone; I could bite down hard on the tooth without any discomfort---in fact I feel better than I have for years…