Today's generation, not having lived through the wartime privations and post-war rationing, would merely throw out the lidless saucepan and buy a new one from Saucepan World on the high street. Or more likely these days - buy it online.
Having finished a pot of Herr Lidl's most excellent wild boar paté, my father decided, before putting the empty glass jar into the recycling box, to check whether it couldn't serve purpose as an egg cup. Sadly no - the jar's diameter was slightly too wide for an egg, so the jar was reluctantly put out with the rest of the glass for recycling. My father hates waste. He will use steam rising from the kettle to warm his mug to keep his tea hot for longer.
I watched the first part of the new BBC2 series Back in Time for the Weekend, which transports a modern-day family back to 1950 for a journey through the leisure-time revolution that befell Britain since post-war austerity, and it resonated deeply with me. For the picture of the 1950s British family, in which mum slaved away at the housework while dad did DIY, was eminently correct.
Like the father in the TV show, making pelmets, coffee tables and electric doorbells, my father would - and still does - do it himself. The programme explained that in post-war Britain, tradesmen were scarce and their services expensive, so people had to made do and mend themselves. My father - a civil engineer by profession - installed the gas central heating system in his house - and then did it all over again in my house. Fixing things is in his blood, first instinct is to see whether or not something can be fixed oneself before reaching for the Yellow Pages.
Today's male (me included here) would rather call a specialist than try to do it himself*. The gulf between what I'd attempt to fix and what my father can actually do is extremely broad. I see tinkering as a waste of time, but admire his ability - and determination - to get the job done.
This is a generational thing and is alluded to in the BBC series. As society has become wealthier, so the skills of individuals living within it have become more specialised.
There are differences between the UK and Poland, however. When I was in my mid- to late 20s, I got to know many Solidarity-era Poles who had ended up in the UK after Martial Law. They settled here at first as students, found work and got on with it. They amazed me in that they were far more like my father than me when it came to making do. Janusz, Marek or Darek - all my age or younger - could, unlike me, fix boilers, change the fan-belt on their cars, install bath taps and insulate a loft on their own. Why? Because like 1950s Britain, 1980s Poland was a country in which tradesmen were scarce and their services expensive.
So the can-do approach that was lost in Britain as it became prosperous in the 1960s, 70s and 80s can still be found in the generation of Poles that grew up around the time of Martial Law. The term Polak potrafi, or 'the Pole can'/'the Pole is able to' suggests a Jack-of-all-trades, but there's something here of a practical problem-solver, who circumstances have forced to tackle challenges and see them through to the end. And having said that, whether in Poland or in the UK, this generation of Polish entrepreneur who experienced the hardships of life under communism shows greater resourcefulness, can-do attitude and - dare I say it - determination - than their peers brought up in the West.
Is the generation of young Polish males any different? I'd hazard a guess and say that making do and mend is no longer de rigeur among today's urban 20-30 year-olds. Have we seen the passing of the last generation of Handy Man? The trend to specialise is shaping up, albeit one generation later than in the UK. Let us hope that the will to succeed is not fading too.
Has prosperity made us soft? Have we lost sight of the value of things as their price has plummeted in real terms? If everyone in the rich world had retained the make-do-and-mend attitude, would economic growth splutter to a halt as factories failed to find new markets? It is amazing to look at Cuba, how those amazing American cars from before the Revolution (which happened in 1959) are still going. The youngest will be have been driving around for 57 years. If the world's automotive industry suddenly stopped churning out cars, the billion vehicles on our planet's roads could be kept going for centuries before the last one finally ran its last mile.
* From the book of verse, A Cautionary Tale by Hilaire Belloc (1931):
Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric LightNow, Hilaire Belloc was wealthy enough not to have to trouble himself with fixing electrical faults. And in encouraging his privileged readership to follow his example as the Great Depression began to make itself felt, he was doing society a service.
Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!
It is the business of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan.
This time two years ago:
The A-Z of my online world
This time four years ago:
Life and Death in the Shadow of the El - A short story, part I
This time five years ago:
Transwersalka in midwinter
This time six years ago:
Work starts on the S79/S2 (completed autumn 2013)
This time eight years ago:
Crazy customised Skoda