When I was a kid people would tell me about how cool their cat was, what tricks their dog could do and how well spoken their parrot was. I had snails and lizards and stick insects. The only trick my lizards could do was lose their tail when stressed, a habit I’m glad I never picked up, my snails ate lettuce and my stick insects were brown and sticky.
I hatched the stick insect eggs next to the hot water tank in the house, but never remembered having left them there, and therefore an army of minute stick insects would guard the warm towels, night and day, before dying of boredom or starvation, whichever came first.
Now lizards don’t come for free in London, as many of you might know. London and Mexico differ in many ways, the most distinctive difference between the two countries being a lack of wild lizards in London, and the fact that Argos UK doesn’t accept Pesos.
All residents of London city have to work for their lizards, and I was no exception. I was the original shop boy. While my sister worked for point horror books and Unibrow Monthly Magazine subscriptions, I enthusiastically put lamps together, knowing that after a month of screwing light arms (not as much fun as it sounds, it’s the bit that sticks out from the middle of the light and holds a bulb), my father would drive me to Hackney to choose a lizard.
What attracted me to Lizards? Everyone knows dogs can’t stand halogen bulbs, but lizards love them. I linked my animal passions to my job, clearly showing my genius at a young age. If I had been running a bone shop, I’m sure I would have bought a dog. However I know dogs are expensive and I would have had to screw hundreds of bones together, I don’t know if I would have had the patience. Food for thought, I’m sure you’ll all agree.
Did my work justify a lizard you ask? Let me give you an insight. To wire a light fitting from scratch , you must first grapple with “The Chain”, the most important tool in the shop. To get cables through the fitting’s arm, you need to tie the cables onto a chain you then dangle it through the arm hole (read that carefully, if you are reading this out loud), until you are able to pull the chain through(followed by the cables) to the other end of the arm. A major part of this operation involved cables jammed somewhere in the light, “The Chain” broken in pieces inside the arm, and tears of frustration rolling down your cheek. No one could deny that this was undoubtedly worthy of a small to medium sized lizard.
At the time, I believed “The Chain” to be a professional tool designed for light construction workers worldwide, and, like me, they were all in their shops swinging light arms over their heads in frustration by their chain in attempts to dislodge it and buy a lizard.
Now, 15 years later, I realize it was the chain used to pull a plug out of our bath. I realize emptying a bath was difficult as a child because the chain was being used to pull cables through an arm in our little light shop. Still, if it meant I could have a lizard, I would wrestle with a plug any day of the week.
NB Find out more about Oriol 'Oli' Benet, a DJ and freestyle rollerblader here and here