Posted on: April 5th, 2013

corrugated  smedley

Here, the enveloping countryside is a magnet for cycling, hiking, and driving visitors, folk on their Easter holidays taking in the fresh air may be forgiven for thinking they are getting closer to nature, but they are also getting closer to immensive industry. The indust may have taken place anywhere from the Bronze through to this current Information Age little is spared the interference of humans, and most wild life has had to quick step to the march of time. Whether the progress has been agricultural, industrial, technological or sociological, the scars run deep. The term ‘Native Species’ means little in this valley of export and import, concrete and clay.

Audible sighs go up when something old is uncovered, platitudes pour forth suggesting that ‘they’ no longer build ‘em like they did in the olden days, and I wonder when ‘The Olden Days’ officially kicked in, and whether this date is different depending on our age or the subject matter being admired. The hideously abused word ‘Vintage’ now seems to sit on any piece of old tat, ignoring the fact that being of a high quality was an essential criteria for the use of this word.

Vintage wine is not just wine made a few years back.

Inevitably there is waste when it comes to making things, The Developer may end up with a good hour of music surplus to requirement (all of it vintage – hem hem) Gavin will have tons of footage that may never be seen, and Smedleys get £1.00 per kilo for their offcuts. These flawed and rejected patchworks of merino and cotton are for the chop and go to some far off land for to make loft insulation. I imagine how many limbs of beautiful still-born mechanically retrieved jumpers are currently embracing hot water tanks in distant lofts all over the land.

Once upon a time, when Detroit still made cars, on leaving work each day, a worker smuggled out one component in order to build his own car at home, which he did. I assume the security staff turned a blind eye to him stuffing a bonnet up his jumper, but, because of his know-how and training, he could assemble all the parts at home in his garage. The Smedley assorted limp offcuts are shriveled segments of outerwear, useless without the skill and machinery needed to combine them into cohesive garments. The Developer will put them to good use, perhaps sewing in a DVD of the week’s work – for sale at a later date.

Star of today’s musical soundbed is a Stoll knitting machine from the 1930s running off concertinaed metal punch cards.  After delicate negotiation with its agent it added rhythm by its clocklike mechanism -  careful listeners may also spot the ringing bells of a shift-change and the creaking groan as pipes expand under heated steam pouring through their veins, the Factory has become the 9th member of our merrie troupe.

MP Theresa Coffey – in an ill-judged attempt at single footedly kick-starting the new car market – declared her few-year-old Toyota a thing of the past (no nostalgic sighs) and pronounced “the era of make-do-and-mend’ is over!”  All this at a time when we all suffer (for we are all in this together remember?) from a previous lengthy bout of living beyond our means, like buying new cars when we didn’t ‘need’ one.

Let us all applaud the era of clothes built to last as The Developer wade through the factory shop carrying armfuls of Smedley garments in preparation for tomorrow night’s chilly concert. We shall be both well attired and warm, and the clothes will be passed on to our grandchildren who will once again proclaim (with a sigh) that ‘they’ don’t make them like they used to anymore.

The original 1890 Marching Drum of the Lea Mill’s Brass Band (they turned Silver in 1906 it transpires) was carefully lifted down from its 100 year long slumber. Sighs were offered up, and it was respectfully struck with a beater by John Parish. They make em better these days.

Ghosts were woken, and the distant sound of marching charging feet were heard outside once more…

brass band big drum