You can whistle for it!

Laying on the shingle beach at Las Galletas the other day when I heard a familiar sound that reminded me of something I wanted to mention on here. Have you ever heard a distinctive high pitched whistle here in Tenerife? It’s a long shrill sound that tapers off with a flourish and repeats several times, usually in the morning.

It’s not some rare breed of metal bird, just the sound of an old tradition that lives on. It’s a knife sharpening service sold by old men who travel round, usually on a pushbike but some now use a motorcycle,  sounding their whistle to attract custom. When they park up they either use the motor or the pedals to power a grinding machine fixed to the back of the bike.

Knife sharpener

They are often heard but seldom seen, I spotted this chap in the photo, in Puerto de la Cruz, there is also one operating near me in Los Cristianos. When I worked out of The Tenerife Sun office in Alcala, there was a sharpener there, how quaint I thought, this man of simple means, keping this old tradition alive in a cynical commercial world. Thinking it would make a nice little story, I asked him if I could take a photo for the paper and ask him a few questions, he said yes but it would cost 30 euros, obviously not quite as innocent in the ways of the world as I thought. I declined his offer and passed his number on to Hello magazine, they like to pay for exclusives.

Still, it is good to see these old crafts surviving, I should imagine a lot of small restaurants and bars find the service very useful, and a lot easier than a trip to the nearest ferreteria.