• ODDBITS •

A sporadic blog of comments, moans, occasional images and videos, from the serendipities of life, that I might feel like sharing. Mostly for no particular reason.

Purely personal, some serious, mostly for fun.
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Box of old carpentry tools

Back to basics

I do very little DIY these days, preferring to call in trades people. I trust them to do a professional job, not that that is always a lot better than I can do myself, but they take half the time, have all the right tools, fittings and fixtures and, usually, save me a whole lot of hassle. Especially as I tend to put things off until I'm in the 'right mood'. But this weekend, seeing that everyone is in lockdown, anyway, I thought I'd put up some new solar down-lighters around the decking myself. What can be simpler than popping in a couple of screws per light and hanging the lights on them?

First off, the fencing down one side of the decking is good old timber and so is the screen at the back. And the supplied fixings are long screws and masonry wall plugs. If I use just the screws they'll stick dangerously out the back, ready to gouge my neighbours's fingers, when the tall rose bushes, on the other side, are being pruned. So it's into the shed to see what's there. Tucked amongst the assortment of leftovers from years gone by are just enough short screws that will fit the job. But, fencing is easily split, so it's best to drill a pilot hole first.

I get out the cordless drill, depress the trigger and there's a sorry, weak moan, as it turns the bit at about 3 rpm. Well, it has been in the shed all winter and was last used goodness knows when. Do I wait an hour to charge up the battery? I would have expected to have finished in that time. So what's the alternative? Right at the bottom of the tool box, an old hand drill. And when I say old, I mean 50 years or more. Might even have been my Dad's and he died nearly sixty years ago. It's small, simple. mechanical and works without batteries. Just the job. So that's what I used. And the lights went up.

It got me to thinking how modern day gadgetry is only good when it doesn't fail and the old mechanical methods might be a little slower and take a little more energy to use, but is that a bad thing? Do we always have to be in a hurry? Shouldn't we take time to think what we do and not just race on regardless? I have other tools of my Dad's, too, that I still use. And they work perfectly well for what they are intended. I remember going to buy the spade when I was about eleven, so that's sixty-eight years old. The garden shears and the crescent edging tool date back to the early nineteen thirties, so they're closing on ninety and I have a wood and brass spirit level of similar age. How many of today's alternatives will last that long? Certainly not the electrical devices.

And looking at more modern technology, how quickly do devices become obsolete? Remember VHS? Remember the slide projector? Remember the floppy disc and optical disc formats that you can no longer use. How much information and memories have been lost on those, no longer recoverable by average family folk? Yet we gloriously store our latest selfies, family and holiday pics on phones that, themselves, become outdated and unsupported within four or five years. So we might be making more memories than ever, but they are not going last. Call me a Luddite if you must, but while we're in lockdown it's a good time to reflect on what we really need. Is it the latest electronic gadgetry, the impossible-to-use-everything phone and the holiday it takes two years to pay off? Or should we slow the pace a little and actually enjoy what we already have for a little longer?

We live in a throwaway society, but let's not throw away the best bits of our lives.
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