JCT

Posts Tagged ‘cheap stuff’

Shoe thrift

In Save cash on September 21, 2011 at 8:47 am

The advantage of this particular shoe-thrift trick is that it combines two of my  favourite vices – hoarding and stinginess – while offering a built in advantage to those of us a bit long-in-the-tooth.

How it works is this:

1) buy cheap shoes, wear for a bit, get bored.

2) stuff shoes that have fallen out of favour into bottom of wardrobe.

3) leave for 3-10 years to allow to multiply  and gather dust.

4) occasionally consider having a clear out and taking to car boot sale or charity shop.

5) fail to get round to having clear out or taking to car boot sale or charity shop.

6) come across years later when looking for something completely different (your notes form when you did Spanish evening classes, the children’s health records, the cat)

7) dust off and wear. Hey presto! ‘new’ shoes at no expense.

This is what I found at the bottom of my wardrobe. I’m hoping some of these are old enough to have come back into fashion. Probably twice. Read the rest of this entry »

#68 Become a killing machine

In home on January 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm

One of the many bad things about 2009 was the death, from old age (cat no 1) and a broken heart (cat no 2) of both my cats.

Obviously I’ve missed them (though enjoyed the vomit-free floors, un-scratched carpets and fur-free jumpers) but the ramifications of their absence only became fully apparent this morning when the British Gas engineer took the front off my boiler and… Read the rest of this entry »

#58 Dad

In Family on September 13, 2010 at 2:14 pm

This week’s post is dedicated to one of the world’s most successful skinflints: my dad. Read the rest of this entry »

#57 Limes in Lewisham

In cheap stuff on September 7, 2010 at 3:20 pm

What is it about street markets that makes an otherwise rational woman impulse buy 13 limes just because they only cost a pound? Read the rest of this entry »

#55 Loitering within tent

In holidays on August 19, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Hey! I thought camping was supposed to be a cheap holiday option.

I’ve just been to kit myself out for a long weekend in Dorset and on a pound-to-use basis, it could all work out quite pricey. Read the rest of this entry »

#48 Life, death and nostalgia at the car boot sale

In Gratuitous nostalgia, midlife, Tales on June 14, 2010 at 11:29 am

I thought a car boot sale was just about getting up too early on a Saturday and making a quick bit of cash; turns out they are a philosophically-charged hotbeds of self-examination, rites of passage, relationship diplomacy, and even life and death.

Having just filed the last tranche of the 40,000 or so words required for the forthcoming book Welcome to Midlife, which I’ve co written with the far more literary than myself John O’Connell, (published by Short Books this autumn), I thought I’d make a bit of much needed cash at the school car boot. (Writing books is a privilege, but it pays bugger all.) Read the rest of this entry »

#39 Paris on a budget

In Save cash on April 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

In our Paris pied-à-terre for the Easter break. We are deep in the garment district, and though the ambiance is artisanal,  the views are less roofscapes of Moulin Rouge! and more Rear Window – straight into the apartments opposite. On summer nights the student on the top floor across the road sits out on her balcony reading what one assumes are philosophical texts; while the family two floors down clear away the dinner and play cards.  Read the rest of this entry »

#32 Pub Quiz

In midlife on February 17, 2010 at 12:11 am

As cheap and cheerful entertainment goes, the pub quiz is king. Apparently quizzes now run a close third behind darts and snooker as Britain’s most popular bar room sport, with almost half the pubs in the country now hosting one. find a pub quiz near you

I’ve no idea whether pub quizzes are a British phenomenon (though it should clearly be a 2012 exhibition sport) and the few sources I can find suggest they didn’t really evolve until the 1970s, but a generation who grew up with Top of the Form, Blockbusters and Ask the Family got given Triv one Christmas and is now lapping up Weakest Link and  …Millionaire. (Or QI and Celebrity Mastermind if you like to think of yourself as an intellectual.)

The pub quiz I go to is less than 150yds from my front door. This is what passes for a Big Night Out for me these days. It is held in one of the area’s last unreconstructed boozers, or at least half unreconstructed: a curious hybrid where the front half is stripped tables and Sky Sports, but the saloon remains exactly how it was 20 years ago – red velour banquetttes, wildly patterned carpet, wonky frosted glass wall lights, mismatched wallpaper, and a nicotine brown ceiling which, bearing in mind the even tone and the fact that smoking has been banned for two and a half years now, must actually be painted that way. Apparently they do occasionally renovate, it’s just that they always renovate it exactly how it was.

It once flirted with a wine list, but soon reverted to its red v white arrangement, though to be fair they did upgrade from the previous house vintage, the worryingly named  ‘Esperanza’. As far as cocktails go, you are looking at a spirits shelf that contains things called ‘Aftershock’ and ‘Micky Finn’. It has even been known, on more than one occasion, to run out of bitter.

This is not a ‘destination pub’, it is a local. If you lived on the other side of London, you wouldn’t choose to come here. If you lived on the other side of the main road, you’d possibly consider nearer options. But I don’t. So I go.

Some pubs boast celebrity comedy pub quizzes, we have a man with holes in his socks. But he’s a nice man who compiles the quiz out of a sense of civic duty, gives £1 of our £1.50 participation money to charity (the rest goes into the jackpot),  and is always smiling. There’s the usual rivalry between two teams who take it in turns to win, but when the top prize is a crate of beer and the second a bottle of wine to share, no one else really minds. It’s more fun just to pick sides and cheer them on.

When the ugly rumour circulated last week that the quiz, or rather quizmaster, might go as the management wanted to ‘try a new format’,  there were strong mutterings on the local gossip forum.

So if you can’t get there before the end of this month, or live on the other side of the main road, you can still replicate the experience by painting your ceiling brown, pouring yourself a Spitfire, arguing over a witty name, and answering these (most of which our team got right):

Who claimed ‘An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.’

Who said: ‘I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.’?

What was the last No1 of the 1980s?

In which city is the Hallé orchestra based?

The name of which capital city translates as ‘I see a mountain’?

Which poet wrote about ‘Matilda who told such dreadful lies’?

Where did the Beatles give their last public performance?

If you were to sail west from Lands End, which country would you hit first?

‘Is it a book you would wish your wife or servants to read?’ Which book?

Which two countries fought the battle of Flodden?

And because there was always a waterways question: What river does the Scottish city of Perth stand on?

The jackpot question,  ‘Which 1980s band had a singer called Fish?’

 

 

 

 

 


ANSWERS

(look away now)

Who claimed ‘An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.’

Agatha Christie

Who said: ‘I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.’?

Isaac Newton

What was the last No1 of the 1980s?

Band Aid II

In which city is the Hallé orchestra based?

Manchester


The name of which capital city translates as ‘I see a mountain’?

Montevideo


Which poet wrote about ‘Matilda who told such dreadful lies’?

Hilaire Belloc

Where did the Beatles give their last public performance?

On the roof of the Apple building, Savile Row, 1969

If you were to sail due west from Lands End, which country would you hit first?

Canada

‘Is it a book you would wish your wife or servants to read?’ Which book?

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Which two countries fought the battle of Flodden?

Scotland & England

And because there was always a waterways question: What river does the Scottish city of Perth stand on?

Tay

The jackpot question,  ‘Which 1980s band had a singer called Fish?’

Marillion

#30 A Colombian-flavoured micro mini break at the Elephant & Castle

In London on February 4, 2010 at 3:03 pm

My postcode-centric lifestyle has induced profound cabin fever. Those who still have jobs may yearn for more time at home, but the daily routine of get up-> take kids to school-> sit at computer  while wondering how long you can stick it out before you have to turn the heating on -> fry up leftovers or pick from fridge for lunch -> computer -> get kids from school -> sit at computer while throwing biscuits at kids to keep them quiet -> make their tea -> start own tea-> get them to bed  while burning own tea -> eat tea-> clear up tea -> sit at computer to make up for time lost throwing biscuits -> bed, is just as monotonous as a daily commute. Read the rest of this entry »

#22 The How to be Unemployed Review of the Year!

In Down and Out, Homeworking on December 31, 2009 at 11:25 am


2009 in figures:

Number of friends made redundant: 13
Number of friends forced to move back in with parents: 1
Number of architects unemployed in December 2008: 680
Number of architects unemployed December 2009:1,595 (down from 2,000+ in August source: AJ)
UK Unemployment 2007: 1.7m
UK unemployment 2009: 2.46m
Number of consecutive weeks with no paid work: 7
Number of pitches sent during April-June: 24
Number of pieces subsequently commissioned: 1
Fee for 400 words on North London for Completely London: £350
Fee for 500 words for Time Out London for Children: £100
Fee for 1000 words for Times Online to promote The World’s Greatest Cities: A copy of Londoners Through a Lens
Number of takeaway coffees bought first three months of year: 14
Number of takeaway coffees bought since April: 6

Alternative careers I’ve considered this year:

Primary school office assistant (purely for the convenience)
Primary school lunchtime operative (ie dinner lady)
Taking over the local stationery shop
Taking over the local bookshop
Working in a deli/cheese shop
Butchery
Setting up a facility/information exchange for the local self-employed, probably selling stationery and books. And coffee
2012 meeter and greeter
Artisanal greetings card maker
Ebay magnate
Local councillor
GLA lacky
Journalism lecturer
Childminder


Best free stuff

Community centre careers workshop with fantastic Caribbean curry laid on for lunch
Local lending library
Swimming lessons at Crystal Palace, c/o swimming teacher training at London Leisure Academy
Food, in exchange for café reviews
Travel for under 16s
Evening Standard
Tate x2, National Gallery, V&A
Fountains in Somerset House
Jardin des vents et des dunes (bouncy playground) at La Villette
Fireworks in Brockwell Park
Trafalgar Square – always something going on
Swim for Life
– free swimming for under 16s and over 60s
Southwark council multisports programme
Walking. Walking from Clerkenwell to London Bridge on a balmy August evening. Walking from Bloomsbury to London Bridge (in heels) on a clement October evening. Walking from Kingston to Hammersmith along the Thames Path.
Cycling proficiency lessons
Wi-fi
State education
Lows

George Osborne saying ‘We’re all in this together.’ I somehow doubt he’s in it as much as some of us.

George Osborne generally.

Closure of The London Paper, London Lite, Observer Music Monthly, Observer Sport Monthly, Observer Women, Arena… too many colleagues loosing their jobs. Who’s next?

The Euro-pound exchange rate. Casual coffees in Parisian cafes now a thing of the past. Packed lunches in parks it is.

The death of both my cats, from old age, months apart.

Petty squabbles with the council over a domed skylight, exactly like the ones on every other house in the area. They won.

Applying for secondary schools.

Getting rained on at Latitude, at sports day, on my birthday, at the end of term picnic, in Manchester, in Hextable (no, me neither).

Embarrassing appearance on CNBC.  The consolation was that none of my friends watch daytime financial TV – until someone posted it on their website.

Highs

Low VAT.

Sunny Paris at Easter. Sunny Fife in May. Sunny Granada in August.

Friends sticking candles in a cheesecake for an unofficial day-after-birthday picnic.

Printmaking classes. The creative outlet and sheer joy of learning something new must be worth the fee. Cheaper than therapy. Find a course via Floodlight.

A publisher returning my email.

Someone reading my blog.

Reopening of Crystal Palace Sports Centre – one of the most elegant buildings in London

Making £75 cash at a car boot sale.

Husband getting dream job. At least someone did so there’s still hope.

Snow.

Things to look forward to in 2010

Van Gogh at the Royal Academy, from 23 Jan. His paintings sell for millions but the man was constantly broke.

In Search of the British Work Ethic – Melanie Phillips meets the unemployed and socially excluded for Radio 4. This I must hear.

‘Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay’ by John Lanchester. The current financial mess wryly explained by the former Dep Ed of the LRB.

sunshine forecast for first four days of the year!