Here’s a word I remembered recently: to bodge.
Bodging can be a problem, an approach, or a skill. The English word ‘to bodge’ has, as far as I’m aware, three uses: it can used as a short form of chair-bodging, the skill of making chair legs and other items from green wood; it can be used to indicate a repair which has been done badly, as in a bodged job; and it can be used to suggest something in between, something which uses the skill of improvisation to bodge together a functional, if not elegant, solution.
This latter meaning is not, I think, just a skill. It is an approach which takes the skills involved with whatever craft would be needed to do the job from scratch – to bodge together a repair in a piece of clothing, you need a basic level of sewing skills; to bodge a piece of electrical kit to that inelegant-but-functional state which is characteristic of a good bodge, you need to understand the principles of electrical work (but only some of the tools and none of the qualifications. Please note that, although I will admit to bodging myself, I’m not recommending you try this at home!). To that basic level of skill it adds an appreciation of the need to keep things going rather than simply buying new or beginning again, and it requires a few relevant tools (if not the ideal thing) and some relevant materials (if not just the thing for the job).
Some jobs are improvisational by nature. Improv theatre, obviously. Most things which require contact with the public need a level of flexibility, of willingness to assess what is happening and respond in the moment. Teaching, especially teaching as a visitor in a space you may never had visited before and with people you have never previously met, has a lot of this. These things might be good training for bodging, but I don’t think they’re bodging as such. Bodging is more tangible. You end up with an object.
But that object might not look quite the way it would if it had been new or mended professionally. Here’s the kind of bodging I learned from one my grandmothers: the cuddly toy with a glued on felt eye on one side to replace the broken plastic type, which remains on the other side, has been mended by a bodger. The skirt whose hem I turned up so I no longer trip over it, but didn’t get quite neat so that it can’t be ironed to flat, is bodged. (I tackle this situation with a bodger’s solution: don’t iron it.) If you buy a cushion cover, these days it usually has a zip fitted so it can easily be removed for cleaning. When I took a bit of embroidery we found in my other grandmother’s house and made it into a cushion cover with a bit of backing fabric I happened to have in my spares drawer, I didn’t have a zip, so I just sewed the cushion in – I did have to go and buy a cheap cushion pad – and if I need to wash it, I’ll unpick it and stitch it up again afterwards. I don’t have a sewing machine so it’s just done by hand anyway.
There are some tasks where I think about bodging them, but I come up short because although the thing is theoretically bodgable (or bodgible, or maybe bodgeable – eh, that spelling might not be elegant but it’s functional) I either lack the relevant skills or the collection of no-things by which it is possible to make something from nothing. Cushions, yes. Computers, no – although I know people who can.
What do you bodge? Is it even part of your vocabulary?