Lost skills (HLD 205)

13 Oct 2020

I often, around lunch time, sit staring blankly into space, trying to come up with ideas to write a bit of diarrhoea about. Sometimes ideas have come to me as I’m walking earlier in the day, or jump out at me randomly – but sometimes a tiny little bit of panic enters my mind if nothing has jumped at me by lunch time. Often this is solved by a quick look through the online newspaper articles, or looking through rubbish on the internet.

Today’s inspiration came as I gave up reading about politicians – the newspaper is fixated on either Donald Trump or Gladys Berejiklian, and quite frankly I’m sick of hearing about both of them. I had a quick look at Facebook and got distracted by one of those quirky little videos that show you sewing tricks – shortening leg lengths of jeans without showing the stitches, and embroidering little flowers to hide small rips in garments, etc. But I was absolutely gobsmacked when one of the “hey look at this neat little trick you could try” ideas was….sewing on a button.! You have got to be kidding me! It wasn’t any fancy new trick for sewing on buttons, it was just… sewing on a button.

Now, to be fair, I come from an era where my mum had a button tin, or a jar, with spare buttons aplenty for those times when a replacement was needed. There was always a few different colours of thread available, and the sewing needles were more often than not attached to the curtain in the kitchen – where they served double duty as splinter removal devices as well. But anyone was able to sew a button on by themselves. Granted, I don’t think I ever saw Dad sewing on a button – he would be more likely to see if there was anything in the shed that could do the trick instead.

My husband is perfectly capable of sewing on a button – as long as his able bodied assistant supplies him with the necessary tools, of course.

At which age group did the ability to sew on a button stop being something you could all do?

What other useful skills did we have growing up that have gone by the way? Obviously the ability to rewind a cassette tape with a pen or a pencil disappeared when the cassettes themselves did, and redoing the fuse wire when the fuse blew seems to have gone as well. What about other simple things like finding a phone number in the yellow pages, setting the alarm on an actual clock, changing the ink ribbon on a typewriter, using a card catalogue at the library, using a microfiche at a library, use a public telephone box, or check your spark plugs?

We could all remember how to do these things if the need arose, I’m sure – and if not there’s always Google to assist 🙂

What other skills do you have that don’t get used any more? While I wait I will check the curtains in the kitchen to see if there are any sewing needles still there.

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