Saturday, 12 December 2009

Bringing you flowers

I would like to start by saying how exceedingly grateful I am to all those terribly kind people who endowed me with the virtue of wisdom in their comments on my last post. I know I am rapidly getting older, and I am sure that old and wise is infinitely preferable to old and foolish, but it is a state into which I had never imagined myself. I never sought to be a Sibyl, but the whole concept of being oracular is rather attractive.

But enough of wisdom for today - I felt that we had had enough of that, and a little frivolity was in order, considering the festivity of the season.

I have started reading a fascinating little book called Scroogenomics by Joel Waldfogel, subtitled 'Why you shouldn't buy presents for the holidays' (he actually means Christmas, rather than going to Barbados, but I think that is one of the linguistic divides across the Atlantic).

And I am afraid, dear readers, I have fallen ... this was bought new from Amazon, but in my defence, it wasn't available in the library, and it was cheaper to buy new. (But I might well pass it on to some poor defenceless soul as a present, so in that case it wouldn't really count, would it?)

I am only on chapter five, but Professor Waldfogel has already persuaded me that I will get far better value for my hard-earned spendidos if I buy presents for myself rather than for other people.  And he quotes all sorts of figures to prove what I have always suspected, that a very large proportion of presents miss the mark by a wide margin.

You only have to look in a few charity shops to discover this (I call it empirical research): their shelves are populated by countless boxed gift sets of bubble bath and other scented accoutrements, myriad novelty alarm clocks with integral bottle opener, and other barrel-scraping 'novelty gifts', which I imagine as travelling on a endless circuit between desperate givers and hapless receivers until the sticky tape becomes too yellow and brittle to fool anyone.

So having justified myself there, I can proudly present a couple of recent acquisitions that are 100% efficient from an economist's point of view, because they are Christmas self-presents with which I am most delighted. The two-dollar earrings (handmade by Silja in Estonia) coordinate beautifully with my new party dress, although unfortunately I lost one of them in the process of shopping for the said party dress, which is why I have decided that two-dollar earrings are the way to go for me, because I lose earrings at a horrifying rate, to the point that I have lots of singles, and not many pairs. I will have to affect odd earrings as a sibylline style statement from now on, I think.

As for the party dress, my sister suggested that such an item was a superfluity in my wardrobe, as I never find myself at a party. Well, I can always live in hope on that front, but the appellation 'party' was not a statement of intent, or even wistfulness, on my part: the dress was hanging plaintively on a rather undistinguished rail in a local charity shop, and on the price label, someone had written 'PARTY' in bold capitals next to the price.

And who am I to argue? If the dress wants to call itself a party dress, I am happy to go along with it - it will give me a party feeling wearing it; just like that bubble bath, things might happen if I array myself in its silken folds (or maybe not, maybe I'll just pretend).

And just because it likes to call itself a party dress, that will not prevent me from wearing it with jeans and wellies, as I told my dear mamma who was with me at the time, when she, also, indicated that a party dress was not warranted for people with a limited social life and an eccentric tendency to underdress, anyway. Her response was that it would not surprise her at all if I did wear a party dress in that way, as it was the 'sort of thing I would do'. (In case you were in any doubt, we do have a very doting relationship based on an affectionate and amused incomprehension of each other's endearing little foibles.)

I am not sure how I have ended up interrogating the role of the party dress in the wardrobe of a country bumpkin, when I meant to extol the virtues of my pesky squirrel from Dottie Angel, which honestly makes me smile when I wake every morning. The squirrel is the first thing I see as I open my eyes when the Head Chef brings me my morning cup of tea in bed, without which beverage I find it physically impossible to rise from my couch.

Tif's parcel was wrapped so beautifully, and so much after my own heart, in sheets of paper which began life as the pages of glossy magazines, and tied with yarn of such a blue that it was totally consonant with my current obsession with shades of teal, duck egg and petrol blue (unfortunate name for an ecowarrior, that, I will have to think of another when it comes to describing yarn and cardigans and party dresses). And there were also buttons - I actually had to sit down for a bit while unwrapping such a heavenly parcel, it was just all too much for me, hence the drunken slant of the photo below.

And Anthropologie catalogues: unfortunately I think the likelihood of finding such anthropological and sartorial beauty in the charity shops of East Kent is infinitesimally small, but one can always dream and travel hopefully.

And a beautiful Japanese magazine called Come Home, which actually moved the General to come down from his celestial plane of teenage superiority and infinite wisdom to comment on the graphic design, which apparently has far more white space than is thought of in his universe.

I have always read magazines from back to front, so that part was quite easy, and I was fascinated by the way that the domestic objets were lined up in a grid formation on the surfaces, whereas being of the Country Living school of decoration I have always favoured artful angles and a certain amount of dichotomous asymmetry.

Now I did want to tell you a tale of a Princess and a pesky squirrel, which is what impelled my purchase from Tif's shop, and ask you the question, 'Is it unkind of a mother to hang by the maternal pillow a picture of an animal with which a child has a vexed relationship, or does it count as graded exposure, and thus a form of behavioural therapy?' but sadly and unfortunately, I feel the sands of time and the stream of words slipping away.

I do, however, feel that a headline which says 'You don't bring me flowers' (and which I have, alas, unintentionally lost, along with numberless earrings), is one of the utmost profundity, and one upon which I propose to meditate for some time.

It might seem to contain a most ineffable sadness, but I hope I have persuaded you of the solution to such disappointment: just buy yourself a charmingly frivolous present, for I am sure that nobody else will.


Menopausal musing said...

I bought myself the most beautiful cashmere cardigan (CASHMERE!!!!!!!!) in a charity shop three weeks ago. I don't get out much but I will feel like a princess when I go out to the wheely bin! ha! ha! :O) Lovely post Pomona. said...

Oh Pomona, I love the image of you in your party dress, jeans and wellies with an lonely earring in only one ear! I have many lonely earrings too, it would never do to get me expensive ones at all! Fabulous post as always, really enjoyed it! suzie. xxx

jennyflower said...

I wear odd earrings almost all the time now. I feel it gives me a piratey air and allows me the pleasure of wearing loved baubles be they single or partnered. I encourage you whole heartedly to do the same, it is very liberating. Anna has nightmares about squirrels and after sleeping on her floor for two nights this week when she is poorly I can almost certainly attribute this to the very noisy mice playing a few feet above her head. I should think a cute embroidered squirrel comparatively knidly! xx

BusyLizzie said...

Lovely post! I am with you all the way about the gifts at Christmas & the sheer quantity you see in the charity shops....... I always think the phrase "unwanted gift" is rather sad,,, but sadly apt! Lizzie x

Sal said...

I was intrigued and so I have just visited Amazon and read the first page of the book! Looks a good read too!
I do hope that you get something you really love this Christmas!!

pebbledash said...

Permission to buy myself lovely presents? Thank you! Love your goodies from Tif.
Happy rest of weekend, Pomona.
Diana x

Lola Nova said...

Hurrah! What a charming post. I shall take your (and the professor's) advice, and next week being my birthday week...I will indulge in a little frivolity of my own.

blackbird said...

One of my chief delights of the season is to shop for myself. I'm quite good at it and it's good to know that I'm being financially efficient as well.

All that a dress really wants to to be worn with enjoyment and a little love. I'm sure that it will bring you great pleasure- however you wear it.

Karen L R said...

The party dress/jeans/wellies/mismatched earrings is a look I embrace wholeheartedly. Comfy, practical, affordable and a bit of "what are you going to do about it?" sassiness all rolled into one.

It beats stockings that bunch and run, heels that kill and styles that defy the shape of women!

Carry on, Pomona!

TheMadHouse said...

What a lovely post, I like to have money to buy myself things, although MadDad is an excellent gift giver. What a lovely parcel too

Sarah said...

How sweet it was called a party frock! There is nothing wrong with looking fabulous whatever you are doing. Imagine how glorious you are going to look weeding the garden in such a dress? You never know who might be looking - you could end up cover girl for some fashion mag!!

Lululiz said...

I shall follow your advice and buy myself some charmingly frivolous presents, yippeeeh! Off to make a list......

Gillian said...

Oh yes, buying little (or indeed, not so little) presents for oneself is definitely the WTG!
That Japanese mag looks extremely cool, and your Dottie Angel purchase is heavenly.

Country Bliss said...

Thankyou, I will indeed go out and buy a charmingly frivolous present for myself today. I always find it quite sad seeing all the unwanted gifts in the CS's. Yesterday my OH bought my Christmas present from a CS, not someones unwanted gift but something quite old, which has been on my wish list for a long time.
Yvonne x

Angela said...

Just discovered your lovely blog [via Floss, of course!] and much of it resonates with my thinking.
Now I am off to ponder one the whole concept of The Solitary Ear-ring. I just need someone to finance me for a PhD thesis on the subject!
Advent Blessings xx

...Miss...Maddie's... said...

So I see that most have confessed to the pleasure of shopping for oneself... after all who other than moi would know the perfect colour or size or fit or deepest desire.
Besides if we are to keep the economies of the World going(are you not tired to being referred to as a consumer) going green and making sure stuff stays out of the landfill is not purchasing a gift for oneself not the perfect way to go?
And if you didn't live so far away I would join you down the lane in my wellies and my favourite new pinnie to greet the day...
x Susan

Michela said...

Hi Pomona, thank you for your lovely cooment about my Poinsettia..I'm sorry, but I can't imagine you with different earrings! xx

Mousy Brown said...

I have always believed in giving gifts to oneself (especially ones from charity shops) but it is lovely to hear that there is actual documented proof this is a good thing - I will definately continue!! Thanks for such a lovely post :)

elizabethm said...

I love the idea of presents for oneself - I often see things when I am shopping for others that I would like and find the easiest shopping is that for those who are like me! My daughters, my sister, my mother, anything I like they are likely to want to. I think I might indulge myself with a small gift for me now, might even be the book!

Kelly said...

I'm always buying myself gifts! I'm a one for you one for me girl when it comes to buying gifts! I think sometimes I even buy gifts for others from shops I know I will find something for myself in!!!
I may have to read this book!!!!

Indigo Blue said...

A freind of mine accidently went to work with one black shoe and one dark navy blue shoe. She is a teacher and no one noticed but it has given her much fun re-telling the story. My husband never wears matching socks on principal. Wallet under construction delayed due to a few Will send off before I go away at the weekend.

Tabiboo said...

Odd earrings and a party dress is definitely the way to go - a most wonderful look for any country bumpkin though I completely know what you mean about the 'East Kent CS's!!'

Kate said...

Thank you for that post because now I can fully justify those "little" presents I find the need to buy myself. Another thing I''m guilty of is buying two identical things when gift shopping, purely because I can't bear giving it away!!

On another note, thank you so much for your lovely, wise and very kind words left on my post - they are VERY much appreciated x

Kate x

Sarah said...

Great post - I may well buy the book (for myself!).


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