I came across a great example the other day, involving a laptop computer of all things. I am friends with a guy who is the village expert on computers. He’s not a professional computer repairer like those you see listed on ComputerMend, just the useful person to know when something happens with your IT – you give him a call, ‘Hi Jon, how are you? How’s Sarah? Good, listen, my screen has gone black, and nothing is happening, what should I do?’ His usual advice, which works nine times out of ten involves, ‘Switch the computer off and on again,’ or, ‘Pull the battery out and put it back again’, or the old favourite, ‘Re-boot your hub’ The other day we were chatting and he told me about his efforts to help a local writer.
Anne is an elderly lady who writes short stories and poetry for the local papers – it’s a hobby and keeps her busy in the same way that some of her friends do painting, knitting, volunteering for the local church or making jam and cakes. She lives on her own and hasn’t a lot of money. She called Jon because she’d had an accident with her laptop – carrying it from one room to another with the lid raised (never a good idea – always close the lid!), she stumbled and bumped into the door frame. This bent one of the hinges on the lid, and she couldn’t close it again. Everything else seemed to be working OK, she could still use it, but it wasn’t ideal that the lid was stuck open.
End of the road?
The laptop was a very old one, and in reality, most of us would have thought it was the end of the road, and gone out and bought a new one – after all IT is soon obsolete. However, Anne had taken a very long time to get used to her laptop, and she used it more or less as a word processor. She never went on the internet or sent emails with it, simply typed out her stuff, put it on a disk (remember those?) and gave the disk to the recipient. Jon suggested buying a new laptop, and the look of panic she gave him told him the whole story. So, what to do?
The laptop was such an old model that spare parts were no longer available, but Jon had a brainwave. He took the laptop apart, and took the damaged hinge and the good one to the local garage, which used to be a blacksmith’s shop. The owner, a rather elderly gentleman himself, was a whizz at keeping local cars, tractors and vans on the road by various means, including metal bashing and welding. He worked his magic on the bent hinge, heating it gently and then bending it back in his vice, until it was back in shape again. Jon put the whole thing back together, the laptop was ready for another ten years of light work, and Anne couldn’t have been happier. How’s that for the spirit of make do and mend?