Traditional skills still have a place in the modern world

PUBLISHED: 10:49 23 November 2006 | UPDATED: 11:14 06 May 2010

Danielle Proud is passing on some of the skills she picked up from her parents

Danielle Proud is passing on some of the skills she picked up from her parents

ONE of the things that seems to be universally regarded as funny is the idea that we all, at some point, turn into our parents. As teenagers this idea fills us with horror, given that our parents are very old and deeply uncool. While most of us come to ha

ONE of the things that seems to be universally regarded as funny is the idea that we all, at some point, turn into our parents.

As teenagers this idea fills us with horror, given that our parents are very old and deeply uncool.

While most of us come to have a bit more respect for them as we mature, we still like to have a chuckle when a phrase pops out of our mouth which our parents used and we swore we never would, something along the lines of 'it'll end in tears' or 'you won't feel the benefit of that coat if you keep it on indoors'.

While to some degree or other the vast majority of us end up with some parent-influenced behaviour, I wonder how many of us boast and - crucially - use skills passed down to us?

Thanks to my mum and my grandma I can cook a bit and used to be able to rustle up quite a reasonable Victoria sandwich when I was a lass.

I can also sew and somewhere in my addled brain I know how to knit, but these are all things done very rarely these days.

It was interesting to chat last week to former Letchworth GC resident Danielle Proud, who has turned skills taught to her by her parents into her livelihood.

From her mum she learnt patchwork and needlework and her dad taught her a range of woodworking skills, including French polishing.

Now Danielle is a home craft guru, with a column in the Sunday Times Style magazine and a recently published book with a host of ideas about how to make and spruce up things around your home.

Generations previous to mine were accustomed to having to be practical.

In the case of my grandparents, it was through necessity, living as they did through the lean war and post-war years.

I suppose my mum inherited these skills and the mindset that making was good and buying was bad, but increasingly as modern life gets busier, even she buys cake from the supermarket.

A generation further on and I just about have time to get up, go to work, cook food, clean my clothes, and occasionally do some exercise, let alone cook food from scratch and make nice things for round the house.

Consequently, despite trying to be as green as possible, I am guilty of being one of many for whom convenience and speed are paramount.

Danielle's book struck me as particularly timely as we are, collectively, starting to realise the wisdom of recycling and reusing, albeit potentially too late.

For too long we've bought new rather than reused and anything practical and crafty has been seen a bit quaint.

Let's hope that people like Danielle can convince us that we do have time to make things ourselves, and it's interesting and rewarding when we do.

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