Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Made to last?

Does anyone else, like me, still live in the past in terms of how long we should expect things to last? By 'things' I mean gadgets, electric and electronic items, household appliances and so on. I hate sounding like I'm continually going on about the 'good old days' (which often weren't), but ... come on!  Kettles and irons etc now don't get repaired because it isn't worth it - we chuck them out and buy new ones. Washing machines, dishwashers and so on  - if they last more than five years you're told you've been lucky. (We've had our washer and dryer for about twelve years and I have no intention of getting rid of them). Some people seem to replace their TV sets or lounge furniture every time they redecorate the room! No wonder they say they haven't got any money!

When we got married in 1970 (here's the 'going on about the good old days' bit), we were given my parents' old fridge, black & white TV set, iron, and hoover - because they were then in a position to replace them with new ones. Mum and Dad had had them for God-knows how many years, but they still served us well for the first few years and we replaced them gradually as they conked out. They also gave us a couple of half-worn-out carpet squares for our first flat, and some old curtains which I altered to fit the windows. I still have the 'curtain' habit - our bedroom curtains in our current home came from our last house. We've been here ten years and they still look fine. A lot of our crockery, cutlery and so on were cast-offs too, and I still use a few things I had new as wedding presents, to say nothing of ancient items I've inherited from Mum and my auntie when they passed away.

We also have a range-style cooker in our kitchen which is over 30 years old. It came with the house - the previous owners had inherited it from the people before them - and it still looks fantastic and cooks like a dream. When we had our kitchen refurbished last year, the boss of the company doing the fitting said if we'd been getting rid of it, he'd have it himself! But we weren't, obviously - in fact we weren't changing any of our appliances. They're still working - why would we change them?

I don't think I'm particularly thrifty - it's just the way we always managed, for most of our lives, without credit cards or loans. I suppose the problem is that technology is moving on so fast, things we buy today will already be out of date next year. I don't really care if there are better versions of my Smart phone, for instance (although I'll change it when the contract's up), and I don't care about having the latest PC, laptop, tablet, Kindle ... as long as the ones I've got do the job I want them to do efficiently. But this situation was brought home to me again recently when I wondered about getting a new digital camera. My old one had a bit of a delay between pressing the button and taking the picture - annoying when trying to capture a baby's smile or getting a toddler to pose! - and everyone told me the latest cameras are much better. 'But I've only had this camera for seven years,' I told the guy at the shop, feeling guilty and extravagant for considering trading up already. 'Seven years?' he scoffed. 'That's a really long time to have a camera.'

I bought a new one. And yes, it is much better. But it still feels extravagant. It must be my age, or my upbringing during the hard-up days of the 1950s. Anyone else feel the same?


  1. There was a time when a pair of jeans would last me a good few years. This morning I put on a pair that I had bought only a few months ago and they split vertically where the back pocket was joined to the jeans. Shoddy?... or writers bottom!

  2. Ha ha! I can relate to that, Wendy! Sometimes I only realise how long I've had items of clothing when I see photos of me from a few years back wearing them - and they're still going strong. Take the jeans back - complain to the shop!!