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Saint Billinge

Make-do-and-mend: is it a thing of the past?

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Having just sold a fire surround on E-Bay and car boot sales taking over from jumble sales, I was wondering in these times of austerity whether people repair things similar to the make-do-and-mend era? Taking some garden waste to the local waste centre, I noticed lots of items that could be repaired. Are we now a throwaway society even though recycling is much talked about? I don't hear too much about socks being darned or shoes repaired.

Some say that we are experiencing the worst downturn for many-a-year, but is it really as tough as yesteryear?

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No, how could it be?

I remember my grandad telling me about the great depression. Compared to that, this is nothing.

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Having just sold a fire surround on E-Bay and car boot sales taking over from jumble sales, I was wondering in these times of austerity whether people repair things similar to the make-do-and-mend era? Taking some garden waste to the local waste centre, I noticed lots of items that could be repaired. Are we now a throwaway society even though recycling is much talked about? I don't hear too much about socks being darned or shoes repaired.

Some say that we are experiencing the worst downturn for many-a-year, but is it really as tough as yesteryear?

I bought a Hi Fi rack of e bay for 99p.It was a Target very heavy metal one which in the 80's were quite expensive. It had been in someones garage for 20 years and was a bit of a shed.I had never had a go at a bit of a project before but I enjoyed getting it back to its former glory. I managed to find some brass spikes and floor spike holders for £15 which finnished it off. Very happy with outcome and the fact after a bit of work I've probably saved myself a couple of hundred quid.

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Probably a bit of a mix for me. My shoes go to the cobblers if they need re-heeling, rather than buying new. Socks are cheap; they get a hole, they go in the bin. The raised beds in my allotment are all made from old fencing. Having said that, I do sometimes get rid of things that are probably perfectly servicable, but I prefer to give stuff to charity shops or use freecycle that chuck stuff that still has some useful life left.

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The former yes, the latter not so much. I make do but don't necessarily mend. Until it really needs doing, then I/someone will bodge it.

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With the new Universal Benefit due to be trialled in Wigan, some people will have to make ends meet more so or else fill the pockets of loan sharks. Paid once a month, you have to apply online, with housing benefit paid direct to the claimant!

I do recall in the fifties people repairing their own shoes. Like it was said, the Great Depression was tough going. Today, we see people on benefits buying luxury items, going to bingo and enjoying foreign holidays. Obviously, the debate will linger on for some time as to how many people really are struggling to cope.

As for charity shops, it appears they too are struggling also as less items are being handed over.

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The fact is that electrical goods, shoes, mobile phones, kitchen gadgets and laptops are just as much fashion items as clothes. People chuck them because, even if repaired, they wouldn't get used or worn. If we stopped following this stupid fashion craze, the economy would be in an even worse state.

Under the WEEE Regulations, all waste electrical and electronic equipment has to go through a recycling programme. When introduced, it was thought that the electrical repair trade would be invigorated. In fact, nothing of the sort has happened because it costs far more to repair an out-of0style toaster than it does to buy a made-in-China new one.

Most WEEE items are therefore sent to scrap metal pulveriser plants where the metals, rather than the whole items, are recovered for re-use.

The Labour Party triggered a major unnecessary throwing away of electical items by discontinuing the analogue TV signal.

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Don't believe everything you hear in a BBC News report. Housing Benefit is paid by your local council as follows:

  • council tenants - into your rent account (you won’t receive the money)
  • private tenants - into your bank or building society account (rarely by cheque)

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I was wondering in these times of austerity whether people repair things similar to the make-do-and-mend era?

What and how are we going to mend?

Virtually anything electrical is going to cost a lot more to repair than it will to replace. Our DVD player is broken (it no longer reads discs, I fixed the tray not working a long time ago) - a new one will cost £30. Should I spend more getting the old one fixed or just take it down for recycling?

To an extent the same will be true of clothes. At an extreme: for the cost of getting my suit dry-cleaned (well, la-dee-da) I could buy a new one from Tesco.

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la-dee-da a suit or la-dee-da a clean suit? :)

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la-dee-da a suit or la-dee-da a clean suit? :)

Both, neither, depends.

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My wife has almost got a complex about throwing anything away, and will repair things if possible.

My children, on the other hand, will quite happily throw away perfectly good stuff they don't like any more. I took bags and bags of stuff to the charity shop - at least going there I feel some good will come of it.

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I do recall in the fifties people repairing their own shoes. Like it was said, the Great Depression was tough going. Today, we see people on benefits buying luxury items, going to bingo and enjoying foreign holidays. Obviously, the debate will linger on for some time as to how many people really are struggling to cope.

Do we really see people on benefits doing all of those things, or is it something we are told is happening by politicians and newspapers with a particular agenda to push? :dry:

I'm actually glad that despite our current economic woes we are generally not seeing a repeat of the extreme hardships that occurred during the great depression of the 1930s. That's due in large part to the existence of things like the minimum wage, plus of course the welfare state and the NHS, which are now gradually being dismantled before our very eyes under the cloak of austerity. Hugely ironic considering the welfare state and the NHS were actually created during an era of austerity when, perhaps (no, definitely), our leaders had higher aims and ambitions for us all.

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Do we really see people on benefits doing all of those things, or is it something we are told is happening by politicians and newspapers with a particular agenda to push? :dry:

Indeed. Saint Billinge gives the Daily Express plenty of stick but is guilty in this instance of swallowing its nonsense. Incidentally - and I'm not accusing Ray of this - I saw one of the usual blowhard right-wingers commenting on a Guardian article to the effect that owning 'a mobile phone' is now considered an unnecessary luxury for someone on JSA. Funnily enough, he didn't have an answer when questioned on how someone seeking a job could hope to be contacted by a potentially employer without a mobile. Of course, they could sit at home all day waiting for the landline, but that doesn't seem to fit in with the on'yer bike spirit.

Many of the items we buy these days are deliberately built in such a way that you can't repair them.

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I saw one of the usual blowhard right-wingers commenting on a Guardian article to the effect that owning 'a mobile phone' is now considered an unnecessary luxury for someone on JSA. Funnily enough, he didn't have an answer when questioned on how someone seeking a job could hope to be contacted by a potentially employer without a mobile. Of course, they could sit at home all day waiting for the landline, but that doesn't seem to fit in with the on'yer bike spirit.

Was that the commentators' opinion or is it now a policy? Pay as you go being cheaper than landline rental, I believe.

I did actually fix my mobile the last time it broke. Or rather, I found a dodgy foreign chap to do it for me whilst I watched him.

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That's due in large part to the existence of things like the minimum wage, plus of course the welfare state and the NHS, which are now gradually being dismantled before our very eyes under the cloak of austerity. Hugely ironic considering the welfare state and the NHS were actually created during an era of austerity when, perhaps (no, definitely), our leaders had higher aims and ambitions for us all.

In part but also due to massive economic growth that has transformed the value of the average pay packet, something that the welfare state sometimes interferes with.

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Probably a bit of a mix for me. My shoes go to the cobblers if they need re-heeling, rather than buying new. Socks are cheap; they get a hole, they go in the bin. The raised beds in my allotment are all made from old fencing. Having said that, I do sometimes get rid of things that are probably perfectly servicable, but I prefer to give stuff to charity shops or use freecycle that chuck stuff that still has some useful life left.

Is it actually possible to darn a nylon sock? I'm with you all the way here from raised beds to Freecycle. Being old enough to just about remember rationing it was drilled into me that you only chucked stuff away that was beyond redemption. Hard wired habits are hard to overthrow.

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What and how are we going to mend?

Virtually anything electrical is going to cost a lot more to repair than it will to replace. Our DVD player is broken (it no longer reads discs, I fixed the tray not working a long time ago) - a new one will cost £30. Should I spend more getting the old one fixed or just take it down for recycling?

To an extent the same will be true of clothes. At an extreme: for the cost of getting my suit dry-cleaned (well, la-dee-da) I could buy a new one from Tesco.

I see bicycles chucked on a general skip for landfill as well as other items that could be re-cycled. Why people cannot put them in the right skips is beyond me. I used to make my own bicycles from parts obtained elsewhere. People discard electrical items simply to keep up even though not broken.

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Its all to do with the cost of repairing.

Take the broken DVD example. My DVD player breaks down the only impact for me would be get a cheap one from Tesco for the said £30 and don't have a beer after training on Thursday to cover the cost. Hardly hardship and the new item costs so little its easier to buy new.

As for hardship overall in these economically hard times. My opinion is a hypocritical one. One on hand being proud on the fact that people don't go hungry (unless you read the Guardian), we have a support network and what is seen as hardship today would have been seen as luxury in past hard times. Conflicted with my opinion that the benefit system should not be able to be used to buy booze, cigs and Sky and that it should be a safety net and not a way of life. It is a total conflicting opinion but i am somewhere between it.

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Indeed. Saint Billinge gives the Daily Express plenty of stick but is guilty in this instance of swallowing its nonsense. Incidentally - and I'm not accusing Ray of this - I saw one of the usual blowhard right-wingers commenting on a Guardian article to the effect that owning 'a mobile phone' is now considered an unnecessary luxury for someone on JSA. Funnily enough, he didn't have an answer when questioned on how someone seeking a job could hope to be contacted by a potentially employer without a mobile. Of course, they could sit at home all day waiting for the landline, but that doesn't seem to fit in with the on'yer bike spirit.

Many of the items we buy these days are deliberately built in such a way that you can't repair them.

Not at all. They are simply cheating their readership. As for people on benefits spending as if it has gone out of fashion, I know for a fact that it goes on.

There are people who find other uses for items that are no longer suitable for what they were originally intended. As a matter of fact, some run a business making other items from something that would have ended in landfill.

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I see bicycles chucked on a general skip for landfill as well as other items that could be re-cycled. Why people cannot put them in the right skips is beyond me. I used to make my own bicycles from parts obtained elsewhere. People discard electrical items simply to keep up even though not broken.

When I let my last bike get too knackered I took it to a bike shop to recycle it. I don't have the skills to make my own bike.

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a pedant writes

it's make and mend. A naval term from when sailors were given time to mend ther clothes and equipment or make new ones.

Sorry.

I think make and mend atkes differen forms these days, because there are so many consumer items in circulation. We donate to charity shops, but I also collect vintage clothing such as ben Sherman shirts. Ebay itself is a form of make and mend. Like gazza I recycle timber (see my profile, well not my actual profile but you know what I mean). Peple do old cars up, there are shops selling reconditioned white goods-which people couln't really do up themselves

regarding the idea of people on benefits having a life of luxury: my wife is shortly due home after taking a family of her relativeswho are on benefits to Cleethorpes, where they got a cheap deal on a caravan that they'd saved up for months for and wouldn't have been able to afford the transport. I wish them well, and will pass St Billinge's message on.

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When I let my last bike get too knackered I took it to a bike shop to recycle it. I don't have the skills to make my own bike.

You should have given me a call! :D

Out of interest, in my job as a landscape gardener, I have built a rockery using broken concrete destined for the skip, as well as feature walls made from broken paving stones. My own feature fireplace was built from stone and other materials found in a skip.

One women featured on television made amazing necklaces, rings, beads and ornaments from stuff washed up on shore. Someone's rubbish is a pot of gold for others.

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I see bicycles chucked on a general skip for landfill as well as other items that could be re-cycled. Why people cannot put them in the right skips is beyond me. I used to make my own bicycles from parts obtained elsewhere. People discard electrical items simply to keep up even though not broken.

Spent the last couple of days restoring an old mountain bike that someone didn't want. Stripped it down, plenty of scrubbing, WD40 and lube later and there a perfectly good bike in my shed. The only parts I had to buy was gear and brake cables. We are giving it to a friend of ours, really hope it gets ridden.

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a pedant writes

it's make and mend. A naval term from when sailors were given time to mend ther clothes and equipment or make new ones.

Sorry.

I think make and mend atkes differen forms these days, because there are so many consumer items in circulation. We donate to charity shops, but I also collect vintage clothing such as ben Sherman shirts. Ebay itself is a form of make and mend. Like gazza I recycle timber (see my profile, well not my actual profile but you know what I mean). Peple do old cars up, there are shops selling reconditioned white goods-which people couln't really do up themselves

regarding the idea of people on benefits having a life of luxury: my wife is shortly due home after taking a family of her relativeswho are on benefits to Cleethorpes, where they got a cheap deal on a caravan that they'd saved up for months for and wouldn't have been able to afford the transport. I wish them well, and will pass St Billinge's message on.

In our neck of the woods it was either make do with what you have or mend. As for people enjoying luxuries on benefits, I'm not that bad of a person to think it applies to everyone. There are many decent people out there who scrimp and save to enjoy simple pleasure in life. I would have thought Chris that you knew me better!

Just one other point in that I was brought up in a very poor family, so do know what it's like. I once skipped a family wedding aged 14 because I only had my school uniform to wear.

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