#19 Gifts for the Doley in your life

In Down and Out, Tips on December 21, 2009 at 11:14 am
A few topical gifts for the Doley in your life:
Technically I suppose we should all be either sending charity cards to help other people, or e-cards to help the environment, or better still e-charity cards such as those from Shelter. (I especially like the one where you can click on the reindeers’ noses to hear them whistle Once in Royal David’s City.)
However, these from Manchester-based design group peddling  Christmas by Colour seem to sum up the prevailing mood.  Or at least the red one does. Sadly the C100 M75 Y2 K17 (dark blue) Mayfair and Park Lane card may be more appropriate next year. £3.95 for a pack of 6 or £11.95 for two packs of each set.
And because they are produced by just a samll independent northern design outfit trying to make their way in a harsh world, they could be argued to be a charitable cause.
Mrs Scrooge by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Posy Simmonds (£4.99 Pan Macmillan)

The uplifting little tale of cuddly eco-warrior Mrs Scrooge  that will make you appreciate Christmas and good poetry. Some of Mrs Scrooge’s husbandry might feel familiar to those who’ve also been watching the pennies this year:

‘She hated waste, consumerism, Mrs Scrooge foraged

in the London parks for chestnuts, mushrooms, blackberries,

ate leftovers, recycled, mended, passed on, purchased secondhand,

turned the heating down and put on layers, walked everywhere,

drank tap-water, used public libraries, possessed a wind-up radio,

switched of lights, lit candles (darkness is cheap and Mrs Scrooge

liked it) and would not spend one penny on a plastic bag.’

Make do and Mend. An updated version of the Wartime classic from (who else?) the people’s republic of  John Lewis. I quite like the tips about cleaning your shoes with banana skins, freezing leftover wine (as if) for cooking, keeping tomatoes in the fruit bowl, and using mint as fly repellent, but perhaps the most middle class tip must be :

‘To shift stubborn deposits at the bottom of wine decanter, add crushed eggshells and a little water, swill briskly, turn out and rinse well.’ Doesn’t say whether the eggs should be barn laid or from which bird. Organic duck eggs ok?

Proof that socialist principles are not incompatible with a bourgeois lifestyle. Sadly they’d sold out yesterday when I went to buy a job lot for friends.

Why Not Socialism? GA Cohen Princeton University Press (£10.99)

Possibly the clearest argument for socialism, beautifully and wittily written, especially the chapter setting out the case for socialism in terms of a camping trip. Plus, it allows anyone down on their luck to parade newly-imposed lifestyle choices (such as state education or public transport) and political and ethical badges of honour. It’s a huge loss that leading political philosopher ‘Jerry’ Cohen died unexpectedly  of a stroke in August, just before this book was published. But brilliantly titled works such as If You’re An Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich? live on.

Cuffs, wrist warmers, finger-and-thumbless gloves… whatever you want to call them, these allow you to keep typing through winter without having to give in and put the central heating on. One friend I gave them to says it’s a bit like wearing a long-sleeved studenty jumper, without having to be a student. They are also achingly on-trend (according to a piece I read in the Standard). I got mine (cashmere, pink) for a tenner from my friend Lou who has a Saturday stall at Greenwich Market. See, again selflessly helping the independent designer/maker.

Home-made marmalade, £2. Not made in my home, obviously, but bought at the school Christmas fair. Comfortingly homely with a hint of bitterness – unemployed life embodied in a condiment.

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