A Biography of the Repair Man

Surprise find at Norton Library

How Love, Kindness and Community Helped Me Repair My Life


The Norton Shed continues to yield surprises. Graham does not do novels. He tends towards the “factual” and the reference books.

Hardly had he started to browse the spines of books with Sheds on his minds when he read JAY BLADES and MAKING IT in bold text.  Many people are attracted to the Repair Shop programme and the mix of personal sentiment by those who bring items for repair and restoration, the fascination of seeing glimpses of how the work is done by the team of restorers and the personality of the “host” Jay Blades.

Graham bought an M&S Jay Blades thermally insulated cap last November and wore it at the Christmas Fayre at St. Mary’s. Very comfortable and looked the part at the display!! (complete with a forehead face painting of holly!).

The subtitle of the book on the cover and reproduced above was intriguing. Often Whitby Sheds have spoken about restoring people who come and seen it personally and in others. We hope it will be the case with Norton Men’s Shed (for women too!). Why not?! A bit of love, kindness and connection is what it is all about.

So, Jay Blades was himself repaired. The book goes on to reveal his beginnings (in Hackney, London next door to Islington where Graham lived 0 – 10) and the troubled and troublesome individual he grew up into. Issues with relationships and early fatherhood.

The book needs to be read and not it is not for me to summarise it all.  Clearly he ended up on telly (and with money!) through the factors included in the subtitle.  Constantly he was drawn to help people, particularly youngsters.

The BIG surprise

A pale imitation of the real thing.

As I leafed through the book I suddenly saw a reference to High Wycombe where I lived for 40 years. Then I realised the book was riddled with references to High Wycombe. One chapter is headed “Come Hell or High Wycombe”.  WOW. The town and particularly the area on the outskirts called Lane End seem to have been the pivotal place for Jay to return to. 

Jay has shown love  and received love. He has shown kindness and received kindness. He helped build community in the things he did and I believe he has very successfully (and unexpectedly) made these qualities shine through the Repair Shop.

He “did change” which is what we hope the Shed here will do.


I reserve the right to extend this with some quotes as I navigate the book. You don’t have to read it of course!


Garden Railways

A train shed

Two or three books along the shelf from ay Blades’ book was what turned out to be a Haynes Manual. Not for a car but for constructing model railway features.


Graham recalled his youth when he had a OO gauge Triang train set with a tank logo and wagons. He made a number of trackside buildings from plastic and cardboard kits. Fences from matchsticks!

So, maybe a Shedder or two might like making some models? Just collecting ideas really.

Equipment from Preston Park Museum

Included are:-

  • Disc sander
  • Lathe
  • Planer
  • Mortiser machine

and possibly a table saw.

Preston Hall, Preston-on-Tees - Wikipedia

Maybe we should move the Shed to one of the premises there – The Olde Woodshed.

Thank you Preston Park.


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