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What are they on about?

David Newnham gets to grips with a dazzling range of Swiss Army knives.

I am not a climber - not of ladders, rockfaces, ropes or rigging - and at school I dreaded the days when the PE teacher would swing the wall bars out from the wall and order us over the top.

"Just swing your legs over, Newnham," he would shout, before coming up there after me like a fireman rescuing a cat.

So why is my Swiss Army knife called the Climber? Beats me. It's not as if I had the thing thrust upon me. No, I went into a shop, looked through the entire range and selected the Climber voluntarily.

It has two blades, a variety of openers and screwdrivers, a pair of scissors, a corkscrew, and a jolly useful hook which, according to the instructions, is actually a parcel carrier (I think it's meant to slip between the string and the brown paper, which confirms my suspicion that the Swiss are quainter than they would have us think).

No piton hammers or ice screws, you will note. No belay device or adjustable crampon tool. In short, it's about as much of a climber as I am, which is probably why I chose it.

Now it's true that the Angler has a thing for scaling fish, the Timekeeper has a watch and the Handyman has a saw as well as a dainty pair of pliers. But, on the whole, the nomenclature of the Swiss Army knife seems shaky.

Why, for instance, does the Executive have an orange peeler? Don't executives have personal assistants to take care of that sort of thing? And come to think of it, where is the Personal Assistant? There's not even a Secretary in the range, unless the Signature is intended to fill that niche (nailfile, scissors, ballpoint pen - everything, in fact, except toner changer).

To my mind, there's an opening here for a range of specialised knives aimed at ordinary people going about their everyday work. It could be called the Vocational Range, and I see the Teacher heading the list. But what features might such a tool include?

Having failed to come up with anything more pertinent than a foldaway nit comb, I asked a friend who teaches chemistry.

I expected her to come up with all manner of laboratory aids, but her reply was short and sharp. "That's easy," she said. "A stun gun."

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