Friday, 12 June 2009

The Ties that Bind


The trouble with being one of the 1.5 billion web users of the 21st Century is that we have lost all contact with practical, physical and useful skills. If the electricity gets cut off and there are petrol shortages it won't be any good brightly suggesting that you can animate a GIF or insert tables into Word Documents.

I heard David Mitchell suggest recently that most employed jobs are not THAT useful and a large proportion of the workforce have a day comprising:

1. go to work

2. do clicking

3. then go home again.

All the basic old skills of life such as building walls, growing food and making furniture have disappeared (I'm just glad I live not too far from Dave who has made himself responsible for carrying on these practical matters). Even he would be hard pressed to make glass or produce bread from wheat though.

Simple skills such as tying knots in rope have all but died out. Thirty years ago boys and girls would learn dozens of practical knots at scouts and guides, and that ability to knock up a quick sheepshank would stay with them for the rest of their lives, or at least until the injections wore off.

That's why I was greatly encouraged to see the BBC promoting a series of podcasts in which an accomplished American expert in knots had come over to this country to promote knots and knotting. At last! - a practical step to start putting us all back in touch with reality and the essential skills of everyday living.

However, I was let down when I started listen to the Reef Lectures.

12 comments:

Dave said...

I wondered where this shaggy dog story was going to end up.

Actually, I'd have a good go at grinding corn when the world comes to and end. I'm the sort of bloke who has a box of waterproof matches, bits of string, a torch and a penknife on him at all times. I'll be a survivor, you wait and see.

I'll have a lrge brick wall round my self-sufficient plot, mind you.

KAZ said...

I'm hyperventilating now as you brought back memories of my experience in the Brownies.
I left in shame and disgrace after failing to tie a reef knot after many attempts.
Don't tell Dave.

Geoff said...

My experience of the Scouts was British Bulldog with a pervy old bloke. No knotting with us, though I think he went the same way as David Carradine.

Dave said...

Oh yes, I should have said, I used to be a scout leader. Any time you want a bowline tying, I'm your man.

Kaz, left over right, right over left.

Sarah said...

Dave I hope you include condoms in your survival pack.....for carrying water obviously.

Rog you should join the WI they teach all those nesissary (spelling?) skills....not that I would know, just heard...

zIggI said...

it's about rabbits isn't it? They have to go round the tree and then down the hole, or is up the hole and then round the tree?

Anyway I've just tied a fiador knot and bl**dy tricky it was too.

Dave said...

Bowline: the rabbit goes up the hole, round the tree, then back down the hole.

Rog said...

Dave: "bits of string, a torch and a penknife..." - sounds more like a cat burglar than a survivor!

Kaz: "Kaz's Brownies Shame" will probably be the title of my next post.

Geoff: It couldn't have been Dave as you live in North Kent....

Dave: ...er.... Stop showing off to Kaz with your overt display of technique!

Sarah: Dave would make them out of sellotape and a bit of string. You always sound like a pillar of the WI to me.

Ziggi: Have you been drinking already?

Dave: I'm a frayed knot.

john.g. said...

Macrame is the answer!

Betty said...

I thought about knitting a jumper recently after reading a feature in a paper about the way that traditional crafts are coming back into fashion.

Then I remembered that it once took me two years to knit a jumper, and I promptly came to my senses.

Er, as you were.

Christopher Campbell-Howes said...

Knotty was the supreme master of a traditional craft.

[Is this obscure enough?]

Rog said...

John: It sounds a bit too Scottish.

Betty: It's like spending £15 to grow £0.75 worth of lettuces. At least jumpers will have come back into fashion by the time you finish.

Christopher: Do you mean he was master of the sweep and the cut?