Quality

My grandmother believed in buying quality: the best you could afford. The idea of buying an item simply for the status of the label would have been completely foreign to her. What she would have said about buying an item simply for the status of the faked label, I don’t know, but it would have been short, sharp and unflattering.

Not a woman to be trifled with (6171317215)

Buying good quality is, to my mind, very sensible, and probably the reason why a lot of what the Caped Gooseberry and I own comes from our ancestors. Not just big things like furniture, but the sorts of things which these days are subject to obsolescence and its more evil twin, planned obsolescence.

We still use my grandmother’s VCR for watching videos. We still use my grandfather’s heater. They’ve been gone for ten and twenty-one years, respectively, but they bought quality, and it shows.

I still wear their dressing-gowns, too. Admittedly, the cord on my grandpa’s wool dressing-gown needed replacing this year, but that’s not bad after more than two decades of wear.

Ladies clothing section, Bell and McCauley's Store, Drouin, Victoria (6173559063)

It’s the same on the Caped Gooseberry’s side. He regularly wears some of his grandfather’s clothes (his grandfather’s been gone more than thirty years now); and I use his granny’s teapot (made in the early ’20s) on a regular basis, pouring tea into my gran’s teacups.

We are still using my gran’s everyday crockery set – despite years of wear it was in much better condition than the set I bought new (and cheap). The same goes for her oven dishes, and my grandfather’s china jugs.

One of my favourite winter hats (très chic) originally belonged to the Caped Gooseberry’s granny. I also have one of her summer hats, which she wore to meet Prince Charles back when he still had hair. Dark hair.

I wrote the entire first draft of my WIP (158k words) with a fountain pen dredged up from somewhere in my husband’s ancestry. I still use it every day. It just keeps working.

The Woodside's cottage, Aylmer, Quebec, May 24, 1909 / Le chalet des Woodside à Aylmer (Québec), le 24 mai 1909

We still use my gran’s lawnmower (with my grandpa’s WWII petrol tin). It wasn’t working so wonderfully well lately, so I took it for a shamefully overdue maintenance visit to the mower man. The blades were not only blunt but actually broken. (I shudder to think what my gran would have said.)

Mercifully, maintenance and spare parts are still available for mowers. The same cannot be said of everything. Time was, you could pop down to the local stationers to have your fountain pen nib sharpened. These days, most of them don’t even sell real fountain pens, just fountain-looking pens with disposable insides (which do not count).

I do worry about what we are going to do when these practical heirlooms eventually wear out or break down. It’s very hard to get things repaired or mended these days – you’re just expected to buy a new one. Where will we find another such heater? Where such a perfectly dripless teapot?

A Customer Can Use the Ration Books of the Whole Family. But the First Thing She Will Want to Know When She Buys Pork Chops, Pound of Butter or a Half Pound of Cheese Is - "How Many Points Will It Take?" 1941 - 1945 (4545457453)

Time was, if you were prepared to pay, good quality was available. These days it is perfectly possible to pay a high price for something which is still of inferior quality, and which will not last. Gran would not be pleased.

I’ve reached the stage in my life where I’d rather pay more for something I know will last – though as things stand in the world today, it’s not looking good for the grand-kids.

6 Replies to “Quality”

  1. Don’t even get me started on finding fountain pens! I managed to get my paws on one in NZ only to find that the cartridges were sold nowhere in the country and couldn’t be ordered in?! Baffling. Good to see someone following in wise footsteps!

    1. Cartridges – more trouble than they’re worth! I’ve given up on them and just use pens that can slurp ink out of a bottle. More flexible for me and better for the environment.
      Penclassicsnz is a decent site if you’re suffering fountain pen deprivation in NZ – I got my TWSBI mini there.

  2. “planned obsolescence” so evil… >:(

    A dripless teapot is especially hard to find. And I, an amateur at best, managed to make one (sadly, it only holds about 2 cups of tea) so I know it’s doable… it makes me sad, and a little angry. When I buy something, I want it to last me decades.

      1. Sheer dumb luck, but yes. I mean, I’m pretty decent at hand-building, but I know zip about making teapots. Nevertheless, the darn thing works. It also looks like a tree-stump (intentional, I promise) so I effectively have a tree-stump that can successfully pour a cup of tea without drips. ^_^

What do you think?