December 15th -16th Harry Eyres' column The Slow Lane in the FT Weekend (p.24) pointed me to the New Economic Forum's pamphlet entitled The New Materialism. Mr Eyres wrote about the The most precious gifts and the fact that things do not last like they used to. Quality lies in things that last, things that are worth repairing and repairable.
The piece prompted me to think back about some of the children's toys. Very gratefully received as gifts, guilt sprung when more of an impulse (impelled) buy: what about the amount of plastic, the oil, the probable lack of longevity in use, the longevity in decay and the some-other-where of waste and disposal?
Recall then the joys of the wooden train set, with non-toxic paint... The toy flung aside as the cardboard box is tossed, turned and crawled into and puzzled about. The reflection took me around a few towns too, the pound shops. It's good when you really can afford to make a choice about what you buy, about quality. The hammer, clearly not ready for hand: unbalanced once home. I'm not saying all 'cheap' screwdrivers are the same, but the slightest amount of torque and the handle is undone. Probably the one cheap find and sometimes free are the watchmaker's screwdriver sets. Eye-saving when the screw on the side of my glasses comes loose and the lens falls out on something soft thus far.
All the mass production and lack of love and care invested in making things - the loss of true craft, as Mr Eyres points out, makes me wonder whether this also pollutes the way we value our health.
Like so much advertising - conditioning - we recognize the true significance of what is happening only when forced to and we ourselves suffer a failure and 'break' in some way, to some degree.
This issue is provoking various responses. An example being Beck's Song Reader, an album released solely as sheet music.