There are some things you just don’t forget how to do, assuming you learnt to do them in the first place: riding a bike, swimming or, in the case that sparked this reflection, using a sewing machine. (If you haven’t learnt to do these things earlier in life it often gets harder to do so as the years go by.) No doubt there are a load of other things that fall into this category.
This was all prompted by my deciding to do a bit of repair and renovation on the curtains in the study. This is a task I have been putting off for some time but finally this week we took the curtains down and I set to work. I used to sew a good deal but on the last twenty years, at least, the sewing machine has largely stayed tucked away in a cupboard in the attic. And, just as when you sit on your bike and have your balance at once, so I looked at the sewing machine and threaded it without even thinking.
Preparation for doing these repairs involved a trip to Oldham’s indoor market to seek out a haberdashery stall so I could buy that tape you put at the top of curtains to gather them and then to attach the hooks to hang the curtains. Time was, I could have popped into the village and bought it from the wool shop but that shop has long since changed into a beauticians and then an estate agents. Most of the other shops in the village have also changed from something useful on an everyday basis – butcher, baker, greengrocer and others– into a cafe, a birthday cake shop (yes, a birthday cake shop, not an ordinary cake shop!) and, most commonly, private houses. But wool shops and haberdasheries, like hardware shops, are the hardest to find these days. When I’m in Spain I find these shops all over the place but in the UK they are a dying breed! Am I alone in missing them?
On the television news last night I heard a discussion about fish. There was an American woman who maintained that fish, like larger creatures that we eat, should be killed humanely. Farmed fish, she said, should be stunned before being killed, as happens with cattle and sheep. She’s even written a book about it. Pressed to consider the wider application of this idea she agreed that it would be difficult to apply this principle to fish caught out at sea but she really felt that it should be possible to develop a system to make that possible.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not at all in favour of making our food suffer unnecessarily. And I am aware that fish can feel pain. However, there is a difference between a fish and a large mammal. And it’s not just that fish are not very cuddly. I’m afraid the poor lady just came across as a crank! Sorry! That’s just the way it seemed to me.
And then there are fashion cranks. One fashion trend for this year is the formal gents’ suit ... with short trousers!!!! Apparently this is meant to make gentlemen who have to wear formal suits feel more comfortable in a heat wave. Really!! I would have thought that it’s not so much the long trousers that cause the discomfort as having to keep the jacket on and the tie fastened up. But I’m just a humble blogger so what do I know? Well, I do know that pictures of models wearing these suits look for all the world like overgrown1950s schoolboys stuffed into a formal school uniform with short trousers. Daft!
Also daft is the fad for lovers to fasten a padlock to a bridge in Paris, the Pont des Arts. Fastening the padlock to the bridge means that the couple can never be separated; their love will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, there are now so many padlocks on the bridge that a chunk of it has fallen off into the River Seine. Maybe these are all the padlocks of people whose love has proved less than durable. You never know!
When we stayed in the city of Modica in Sicily we went up to a viewing spot we had visited before, a place where the road overlooks the city, giving a beautiful panoramic view, ideal for photographs. On the safety barrier up there we came across a number of padlocks, just like on the Pont des Arts. The first time we went up there, about seven or eight years ago there were none. By September 2012 there was the beginning of a fine collection.
I wonder how many are there now.
I wonder if someone should warn the inhabitants of Modica, especially those who live immediately below that viewing spot!