Craftsmanship has again become fashionable in high places, just as it did in the last few recessions. The concept of craftsmanship has never been as relevant and timely as it is today. Assailed on all sides by among many other tendencies - flexible working, short-termism, portfolio careers, quick-fix training and the cult of celebrity, it has recently re-entered public debate with a new sense of urgency. Why? This series of linked essays by the man who ran the Royal College of Art for many years explores the crafts in education, in history and literature, in the contemporary arts landscape, in the language, in the digital age, and takes an unsentimental, hard-headed look at craftsmanship today. Only when the romantic cobwebs have been blown away, it argues, can the key importance of the crafts be fully understood.