THE deadly increase in serious knife crime in our inner cities is rightfully a major cause for concern among all right thinking people.

Carrying a knife “for protection” has become a way of life for many young people and it is all too easy for them to lash out with a blade when threatened or when simply showing off.

Perhaps film makers are to blame for glamorising the flashing blade, whether it be Zorro’s twinkling rapier, Rambo’s serrated edged excalibur, James Coburn with his deadly “knife v six gun” duel with Robert J. Wilke in The Magnificent Seven, or Paul Hogan’s “That’s not a knife” epic in Crocodile Dundee.

It has been put to me that anyone who carries a knife should be locked up, with the key thrown away – but if that were to become the law, I would be breakfasting on porridge and slopping out on a daily basis.

For every day, I go about my business with a knife in my pocket, and few weeks go by without me using it several times.

A knife is an essential tool when dealing with horses, for there are always tightly bound bales of straw to slice open, not to mention the sort of gordian knots that only a Scottish farmer can tie to hold a gate closed when a dozen prancing ponies want to be through it.

There is always thick black plastic silage wrapping to hack through, and apples to slice for Shetland ponies.

On many occasions, I have drawn blood with it – but I am happy to say, it is always my own.

It is honed to a razor edge, and if I fold the blade away too hastily, it invariably comes into contact with a finger or thumb, and the claret is tapped.

The medication I take means that I bleed profusely and copiously from the slightest nick, so much so that blood is occasionally spotted running out of the cuff of a glove.

I accidentally laid open the middle finger of my right hand only last week, and went through most of a box of plasters in an attempt to staunch the flow from a cut barely a quarter of an inch long.

It was healing nicely until Mrs Hextol asked me to scratch her back one morning, and ruled that I was scratching the wrong bit of back.

As she grabbed my hand to reposition it for more satisfactory itch relief, one of her talon-like nails unerringly found the weak point in the scab, and accidentally prised it open again.

I am not sure how my current knife came into my possession, but it appears to have been army-issue, evidenced by the arrowhead ordnance logo and a lengthy registration number stamped on the blade.

It is made entirely of metal, with no wooden or plastic handle, and there are instructions on one side saying it should be oiled regularly.

As well as the big thick blade I use, there is a second wickedly curved one tucked into the body of the knife.

I am not quite sure what it is for, as I have never been able to open it, possibly because I never got round to oiling it.

I suspect it may be the legendary tool for getting stones out of horses’ hooves, but I have yet to put it to the test, despite an abundance of potential candidates.

My father always carried a knife, primarily for cutting up the evil smelling block of tobacco he used to stoke his trusty briar, but he kept it scalpel sharp, honing it on a whetstone liberally greased with oil.

He would test it by grabbing the nearest of his offspring, and shaving the finest hairs off arms or legs with it.

My brother and I used to buy a penknife each every year when visited our country cousins, and many trees on his Cumbrian farm probably still bear evidence of our crudely hacked initials deep in their bark.

We also whittled a lot of sticks just for the fun of it, but the main knife related pastime was a game called split the kipper, which involved throwing our knives in the vicinity of each other’s feet.

You had to stretch your legs wider and wider to straddle the knife, before throwing it back while dangerously off balance.

I have never seen split the kipper played for years, but in the many thousands of times I played it, no one ever received even the slightest nick.