Driving Time

By Louis Barfe

If an appliance goes sideways, I refuse to admit defeat. A hot glue gun and a soldering iron have saved my bacon numerous times. So, I was delighted to hear a report on Good Evening Wales (BBC Radio Wales, weekdays, 4pm) last week about the EU’s ruling forcing manufacturers to make items easier to fix.  

The item opened with a clip from a wartime newsreel, explaining how young mothers could build a cot from old sacking. I had to listen carefully to work out whether it was a genuine piece or a Mr Cholmondley-Warner sketch from a Harry Enfield show.

The discussion that followed was all very laudable, but it didn’t address a big question. With most consumer durables being imported, will Brexit force us to keep fixing things while parts get scarcer? I suppose the question wasn’t asked because, with less than three months to go, nobody knows what’s going to happen. 

Later, I roared at Anne Reid in one of Jenny Eclair’s splendid Little Lifetimes (available on BBC Sounds) as a mother visiting her son and his pretentious wife Sonya for a weekend. Cathy moans about the provision of towels, the discomfort of the futon and the absence of air fresheners. 

Unable to admit that her granddaughter (‘a rather colourless child’) is called Hero Aphrodite, Cathy introduces her to friends as Helena. Offering to cook, she is told that the household is ‘meat-free’. ‘Even chicken is a problem for Sonya,’ she observes. ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s hand-reared, corn-fed and finished off in a Swiss clinic.’

It was hard to tell who was worse, Cathy or Sonya. However, Reid’s malicious glee made Cathy irresistible. Maybe it was Reid’s voice, but this sounded ever so slightly like Victoria Wood meeting Alan Bennett. No bad thing, obviously.