One of my favourite TV programmes at present is called The Repair Shop. Mr B says, darkly, that the extent of my fascination is directly related to the sheer number of precious objects I have dropped, smashed, chipped
or damaged in any number of ways and which I would dearly love to see back in their original state. As usual, he may have a point. He usually does, I have found.
case you have never watched The Repair Shop (and at the risk of turning today’s blog into a TV review) you need to know that it is filmed at the beautiful Weald & Downland Museum, which is almost local to us. Working in the Repair Shop - described
by one of the brilliantly talented craftsmen as “the workshop of dreams” - are some truly amazing people, specialising in the repair of clocks, or toys, of porcelain or furniture. Each and every one is so very humble about their talents as repairers.
I want to hug them when they tell the person collecting their damaged goods, now repaired to their original state, that they have really enjoyed bringing them back to life.
This week a woman brought in to the Repair Shop her toy panda in a sorry condition. He had been a present, she explained, from her father who died when she was only nine years old. Apparently toy pandas were very popular in the mid-Sixties which may
be why my dear Mum and Dad gave the Middle of the Darling Daughters a giant panda, rather than a teddy bear, when she was born. I was therefore already entranced even before the lovely Amanda and Julie (the toy repairers) set about putting Panda to rights.
When his owner came to collect him, looking splendid with a blue bow round his neck as a finishing touch; when she gathered him into her arms, tears in her eyes; when Amanda and Julie hugged her and said how much they had loved repairing him - well, I cried.
I shed even more tears than I do during Long Lost Family. Which is saying something.
Here’s Steve, the horologist, who wears two pairs of spectacles on his
nose all the better to see the intricacies of the clock and watch mechanisms he so carefully mends. And sweet Kristen who takes the shattered shards of many a vase or bowl and puts them back together, piece by damaged piece, matching glaze and paint until
you literally can’t see the joins. Plus the youngest of the craftspeople, Will, who restores furniture, smoothing the surfaces of each chest of drawers, desk or table with loving hands. “It’s been such a privilege restoring this!” they
always say to the owners who arrive to collect their beautifully restored possessions.
Most of the people who bring their treasures to be repaired have kept all
the pieces, just in case they might be magicked back together at some time. I have to admit that whenever I broke a treasured possession (which, sadly, happened rather a lot) I couldn’t bear to keep the evidence, taunting me with my clumsiness
for ever and a day. Out of sight, out of mind I used to think - but maybe I was wrong.
I am still mourning, for example, the beautiful china lamp my brother
bought me one birthday. It featured a little Dutch girl, in typical national costume, clogs and all, striking a cheeky pose with a broad smile on her sweet face. For years she stood on my bedside table, came with me to our first home when I married - but sadly
didn’t survive long in the presence of two lively babies. I’m sad, too, about the demise of the glass elephant my Mum and Dad bought me when I was embarking on my O Levels - an elephant never forgets, you know, what a splendid message when you
are struggling to revise. Why, oh why, was I born so clumsy?!
The lovely people in the Repair Shop never blame anyone for the damage inflicted on the objects they
receive into their care. It might be a rusty toy car to you and me - but it’s a thing of potential beauty to the craftspeople beavering away in the “workshop of dreams.”
It’s no wonder, really, that the programme makes me grizzle - the similarity with Long Lost Family is obvious, now I come to think of it. Both programmes deal with restoration, bringing missing people or possessions back into
the bosoms of their families.
Long lost, like my Dutch girl lamp and my glass elephant. But for the fortunate precious possessions featured on my favourite
TV programme, Lost No Longer...