Roger Scruton, "The Art of Motorcycle
Maintenance," Untimely Tracts
(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1987), pp. 143-145 (at 144):
Repair was not so much a habit as an honoured custom. People
respected the past of damaged things, restored them as though healing a
child and looked on their handiwork with satisfaction. In the act of repair
the object was made anew, to occupy the social position of the broken
one. Worn shoes went to the anvil, holed socks and unravelled sleeves to
the darning last — that peculiar mushroom-shaped object which stood
always ready on the mantelpiece.
The custom of repair was not confined to the home. Every town, every
village, had its cobbler, its carpenter, its wheelwright and its smith. In each
community people supported repairers, who in tum supported things.
And our surnames testify to the honour in which their occupations were
held. But to where have they repaired, these people who guaranteed the
friendliness of objects? With great difficulty you may still find a cobbler —
but for the price of his work you could probably buy a new pair of shoes.
For the cost of 15 digital watches you may sometimes find a person who
will fix the mainspring of your grandfather's timepiece.
The truth is that repair, like every serious social activity, has its ethos,
and when that ethos is lost, no amount of slap-dash labour can make up
for it. The person who repairs must love the broken object, and must love
also the process of repair and all that pertains to it.
Related post: Noble Shabbiness