Earlier in the year i was sorting through some of my clothes.As i did so i wondered about my clothes repair kit,which i had obviously mislaid.It may have made the propsect of teurning to repair some of my own clothes more likely.
It was only a few days ago,i located it somewhere else entirely.In one sense its too late because i had found another way to do the repairs.Yet finding the repair kit provoked the return of all kinds of memories.
One is simply about my own past and upbringing.I think i was born during a period of quite sharp transition in social etiquette and expectation.Whilst i was of course aware of notion of gender based division of labour in my family and the wider community,amongst my closest family it seemed in some ways an easy, trouble free transition.There seemed to be few lines of division written in stone at home.I picked up bits and pieces of “domestic”skills both at home and at school.My mum intoduced me to bits of”sewing”as indeed,did primary and junior school.Eventually i learned some rudimentary ability to do some repairs.The hippie counter-culture could in some respects be just as sexist adn rigid as the wider society,but part of the bright colours culture included learning to patch my own clothes,so that torn jeans might inlude patches of velvet or Tom and Jerry pictures.I remeber meeting one man who one morning decided to turn his curtains into trousers and di just that.i think i managed once or twice to sew inserts into jeans so that they became flared or bell bottoms.Then years later,when i was living in a collective(shared)household-we did not call ourselves a commune as that seemed far too profound-a then close friend gave me this neat little bag with the needles,pins,cotton and a few other things as my repair kit.Meticulously,carefully and lovingly made and given-it has i admit become important for both its use value and sentimental value.
The gift must go back at least 30 year.It is still in pristine condition.I have lost touch with the giver.When she left our household,she indicated little wilingness to remain in contact with each other,due i think to profound changes in her ideas and outlook.It must be over 20 years since i last saw her,in passing.I regret not being able to catch her eye,let alone catch up with her.As memory flood backs what was manageable regret turns into something more difficult,if only for a few moments,although i know that feeling will repeat each time i catch amemory with her in it,and may never be resolved or closed.Not that it stops me getting on with life,although if i focus even for a moment on those thoughts,there will be an empty silence around me,if not only inside my own head.
By the time i had found this kit,i had in fact had at least 15 pairs of jeans and trousers repaired professionally,and actually in some cases that is both better and would have been impossible for me with my limited meagre skills.This is not a matter of excuses-i would have been able only to do it by hand and my needles and hands would not have been strong enough to go through multiple levels of denim material.Besides which my health problems which affect my blood circulation mean that i have less sensation and dexterity in my fingers amongst other places.The details of the actual repairs in this case are another story for another time.
Indeed,it reminds me that there are not just memories and stories about my local community here,but also stories about politics and communal living and the culture i inhabit.Those anecdotes are for another time