So I bustled out, after a lovely dinner, in the freezing cold (-3ºC by the little Fiat’s thermometer), venturing down the icy track to The King’s Head for a small informal meeting called by Jane Pryde of Higher Ground who’d been chatting with her dad Andy Morgan for some months about the idea. It was the first attempt in these valleys, that I’ve heard of, to try to put the concept of a ‘Repair and Mend’ event together, to test the waters of the available skill sets, and to see if the idea might make it to a preliminary public event.
Well, along with interest recorded from a few folks who couldn’t make it to this particular meeting, which included a professional PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) tester, a friendly young bicycle repairer, and a craftsperson who loves to repair jewellery and does the odd bit of sewing; half a dozen of us warmed ourselves by the fire. Physically present at the evening were a wood worker/lathesman/joiner/farmer, an electrical expert cum engineer who loves to tinker with broken computers, radio and small household appliances, a seamstress and upholsterer, a person who likes to look at things, especially hoover-type things, clean them out and get them working (err, that was me, so no great skill set there then), a musical instrument maker and wood craftsman with a technical engineering/design background, and Jane who brought us together, and figured she could work as a receptionist/triage person to direct ailing things to the appropriate repair station.
It looked like amongst us, we might be able to offer a set of repair services in the volunteer ‘Repair Café‘ spirit. But there were a few logistics to work out, and the big one was which sort of model to use. Alston has taken up the Repair Cafe model, and passed some very useful paperwork to Jane, who had a view to having a trial day, sometime over the next quarter, to see what the demand might be. Apparently Alston had some 16 broken-down things brought in to their first Repair Café session (which is convened irregularly, so it seems the demand might well be there. Nenthead, as already mentioned in the diary, has a regular monthly Big Coffee Morning, onto which free repairs facilitated by friendly volunteers are piggy-backed. For the Allendale group’s first attempt, under Higher Ground’s auspices, with insurance and liability protection, to be convened in their premises in the Medway block, it looked like a Repair Café model like Alston’s might suit for a one-off anyway.
We did have a lot of discussion about what to do if the ailing thing that might be sitting in front of you was beyond immediate repair. Might a private verbal sort of agreement be made between some one of us who could try to repair it, in their own worshop? Might the client be best advised to find a crucial replaement part (some of us are pretty good at identifying those parts on eBay, for example), and replace it themselves, make an arrangement with one of the volunteers privately, or hope the Repair Day might be repeated so that the thing, with replacement part, could be dealt with by someone maybe more confident? Lots of ideas thrown around, but everyone agreed that documentation would need to be done carefully, so that we’d know what had happened, been recommended. No promises would ever be made, in case they couldn’t be kept, of course.
A few consumables (wood glue, fuses, and more that will doubtless be thought of during the next month or so) will probably be on hand to assist the erstwhile repairers. We’ll all bring our own special hand tools, but there won’t be the capacity to have large equipment on the day. And Jane will keep in touch with us by email, as you do. Publicity, information leaflets, promotions and the crucial social media feeds would be handled by Higher Ground. The tea, coffee and cake on offer could be figured out closer to the actual event. All that remained was to set on a target date.
Jane had a concept of a March date, just to get through the winter, but when it turned out that February 29th will be a Saturday, it was a date too good to pass up. So the Higher Ground Repair Day will be on 2020’s Leap Year Day, perhaps an exceptional date to reckon with.