We live in a disposable age, in which the machines we most depend on cannot be repaired, only replaced. Without sounding too nostalgic, there was time when we bought an item with working parts and it was built in such a rudimentary way that its user could mend it himself if a problem should arise.
Picture the 1950s man wearing a home-knitted tank-top, wiping his oily hands on a hanky while tinkering with his VW Beetle. Then despair at the thought of a 2015 man drinking an expensive coffee in a cardboard tumbler, fastening the top button of his plaid shirt while tossing his broken iPad in the bin because it cannot be repaired.
So I was proud to buy a Honda C90 (or ‘Cub’) moped earlier this year, a vehicle described by its riders as “bulletproof” and as “the greatest machine ever” by The Daily Telegraph. You will have seen photographs of entire families clinging onto them in various parts of Asia, travelling at a decent speed for a moped that has an engine less powerful than a ride-on lawnmower.
Usually, I try to shirk any DIY duties at home and shy away from all things mechanical, however my Honda C90 is the best mode of transport for my commute from Otley to Armley. So when my back tyre was punctured on the way home, I had no option but to borrow the Library Service’s Haynes manual and change the tyre myself. I should add that I did contact a local motorcycle garage to ask them to carry out the work, but the mechanic laughed down the phone and insisted that I should make the repair.
Despite my shortcomings as a practical man, I did it! All thanks to the Haynes manual – when Stewart Lee was recently asked his thoughts on parenting by a Guardian reader, he recommended the Haynes baby manual, and I can see why. For me, this addresses the broader of issue of why books are so important, whether you read them for advice or for pleasure. I didn’t need a YouTube video or post a plea for help on Facebook, I was empowered by 172 pages that are available to everyone on a non-discriminatory basis. Not a nostalgic idea, but one to carry with us into the future.
Many thanks to Matthew, one of our Assistant Community Librarians for this great post.