John McCullagh September 17, 2004
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Mick was a true spadesman and in his hands that tool acted like something bewitched.  He never put a foot to it. 


He inserted it behind a stalk and, with a jabbing fling made it shudder and out came the stalk.  Flipping out potatoes all the while he levelled the earth in a zig-zag pattern back towards his boot while nudging dead stalks and weeds into his ruler-like row. 

 
Then as if accidentally, his spade clanged against the steel toe-plate of his boot to knock off the clinging mould.  All was as fast and as dexterous as the swerving flight of a swallow or the dart of a trout in a pool.
 
He bought a new spade as selectively as one would buy a horse.  They used to ask him in a jocular way whether he took it to bed with him as well. 
 
For the digging too, when a coat was required, he wore an outsize one that wouldn’t catch him under the oxters.  Two patches were sewn, one on each knee.  A spade-shaft knaws cloth.  When the patches developed ‘kidney trouble’ as he called it, he simply had them renewed. 
 
He would be upset too if he accidentally sliced a potato.  That reflected badly on him.  He was a craftsman of the spade.

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