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February 20, 2008



I thought I was being terribly fashionable wearing my scarf in that way. I hate the snowman way and the draped way, as I usually end up either with my arms bound to my sides or treading on the end of the scarf and choking myself.

My daughter had to start me off, mind you. I had no idea I was buying into Sloanyism.


I was wondering, with your interest in housing, if you've read Estates by Linsey Hanley? I'm halfway through it. Though I don't like everything about the way it's written, I am reading it with a kind of ecstatic feeling that someone has finally attempted to tackle one of the big topics that define Britain's social fabric.


I finished it on Saturday and have already passed it on to a friend! It's interesting and, I think amazing that no-one has already written something similar. Some of her conclusions on how to make things better are a bit simplistic but she's spot on in relation to class. I have decided that the fact that we use the term "chav" is something that a lot of us are going to be ashamed of in years to come. I also think her point that, of the three great planks of the welfare state, only living in council housing now marks people out as failures which is not the case in relation to using the NHS or state education.

Let me know what you think of it when you've finished it.


I had read that the scarf thing was originally a Sex and the City invention, but I couldn't give you a reference. No matter - it must be a good idea because everyone's doing it.

And the chav thing - yes, people should be ashamed. It's just another way of making oneself feel better by putting someone else down, and it's one of the most depressing aspects of the UK at the moment (as seen by someone on the outside).

Did you know that the largest landlord in Europe is now Vienna city council? (In the 60s and 70s it would have been Sheffield I think). Most people who live in Vienna live in public housing and I haven't heard anyone calling them chavs. I'll have a look for that book.

Sorry for the hijack - I do love popping in to your blog every so often. Always something to think about, very well written and amusing. Thanks.


Jayne thank you for your comment and please don't consider it a hijack. I didn't know that about Vienna being the largest landlord in Europe. The largest landlord in the UK for a long time was, I think Birmingham Council, and in London it was Southwark. It is hard to predict what will happen over the next few years as more and more people here can no longer afford to buy. Nothing is ever quite how we predict.

I am rather obsessed by the scarf thing now and find myself counting them on the tube. Madness lies this way.


I’ve finished it now. Of course, my appreciation of it is a personal thing. I’m an estate boy, albeit from the home-owning side, but growing up in outer London and later in an Essex new town, estate life was the norm, as it must have been for huge sections of British society yet conversely there was hardly any reflection of that lifestyle in the media or public eye. I can’t recall a single Enid Blyton story set in a council house. So therefore it’s a great book just for opening the debate to a wider audience. I can identify with so much of what Linsey Hanley writes and I share her idealism that council housing was supposed to, and generally did, serve a good purpose. But I also completely identify with her loathing of the stupefying, monocultural lifestyle of many estates. That’s why I knew I had to leave, but unlike L.H., I sought out a different kind of environment that I actually liked, rather than another estate in another town. As one reviewer put it: why’s she being so hard on herself? Why doesn’t she look for a nice house in a village?
I can see that my assessment contains a lot of I’s. I can’t react to the book in any other way. Her portrayal of housing history, problems and future planning is plausible but I’ve no idea if it’s any good on an objective level. However, it was certainly interesting to compare her personal reminiscences to the Robert Elms’ book that you recommended to me. He solidly identifies with his council estate roots and portrays it as a vibrant community with its own culture and traditions. I’m sure he’d hate her aspirations to Guardian-reading enlightenment.
On a closing note: over here in oh-so-sophisticated mainland Europe that scarf-knot thing is on its way out. And Burberry is worn in blissful ignorance.


Thanks for your comment David. I think there is a lot to be said for personal experience. A few years ago I worked on a project with a couple of young architects who had grown up on estates in central London and their approach to dealing with residents was very different from a lot of the other "professionals" involved. One thing that both of them said was how much fun it was as a young child to play and mess around with other kids on the estate. I know as a child I was quite jealous of people who lived on council estates but thinking back the estates where I knew people were tiny and nothing like the frightening, intimidating places that estates became in the 80s and 90s (naturally I blame Thatcher for this).

I will be spending the weekend trying to think of a new way to wear my scarf.

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My Flickr

  • www.flickr.com
    ganching1's photos More of ganching1's photos

Films 2015

  • Carol
  • Steve Jobs
  • The Lobster
  • Suffragette
  • 45 Years
  • Mistress America
  • Touch Of Evil
  • Slow West
  • Force Majeure
  • Mommy
  • The Imitation Game

A Thousand Things

2015/16 The List Of Stuff

  • 234 - Walking Trousers
    I ripped the knee out of my trousers when I tripped on Boxing Day.
  • 228 -233 6 X Books
    One new and five second-hand
  • 227 Jumper from Toast
    It was in the sale and exactly what I was looking for.
  • 226 - Small kitchen bin
  • 215 - 225 Assorted Christmas Presents
  • 215 - Wooden Box
    I am easily influenced.
  • 214 - Sink Protector
    My new sink had a little rust mark on it!! Not good.
  • 213 - Dish Rack
    Suitable for a wooden worktop.
  • 212 - A Coat
    I have spent two days deciding whether or not to buy this coat. Decision made and coat is now hanging in the hall cupboard.
  • 207 -211 5 x Balls of Wool
    I am knitting some very small Christmas presents.
  • 206 Winter Weight Duvet
    Given to me by TB. Too heavy for him and just right for me.
  • 205 - Book
    Another lifestyle book about simplifying one's life.
  • 203-204 IkeaFreezer Bags
    I love these.
  • 202 - A very expensive blanket
    I justified this by making the decision not to buy a new winter coat.
  • 200 - 201 Two Bottles of Essential Oils
    See previous entry.
  • 199 Epsom Salts
    I am very suggestible.
  • 198 Shirt
    I needed something new for a party and this was in the sale.
  • 194 - 197 Selection of Books
  • 193 Packet of plastic envelopes
    I bought these while on holiday but forgot to list them.
  • 192 Coasters
    I bought four but counting as one item.
  • 191 Book
    I bought this a couple of weeks ago but forgot to list it.
  • 190 Pinafore
    I bought this online from Toast.
  • 189 - Jars
    I am counting these as one item as they are so small. Jars for decanting toiletries into.
  • 188 - One Fitbit
    I have wanted one of these for ages.
  • 186- 187 Two Bars Soap
    I bought myself a present
  • 185 - Small Suitcase
    Carry on luggage here I come.
  • 183-184 Small paintbox and paper
  • 182 - Print
    I got another Peter Yates print.
  • 179-181 Three Books
  • 178 - Black Dress
    If you go shopping in the sales you end up making unplanned purchases to state the bleeding obvious.
  • 177 - Pillow
  • 176 - Skirt
    I needed a summer skirt for work or that's what I'm telling myself.
  • 174-175 Two Small Glass Bottles/vases
    Very cheap and one has some very realistic imitation flowers in.
  • 173 - Denim shirt dress
    I bought this from Toast and it was far too expensive but I justified by telling myself it is a dress for all seasons. (I also bought a pair of PJs in the sale but as I threw away a pair they don't count)
  • 172 - Tee Shirt
    This was a freebie which I had to wear for a work event
  • 171 - Small Rucksack
  • 169-170 Two Books
  • 167-168 Two sets of pastry cutters
  • 166 - Pair of shorts
    I think I must have been having some kind of temporary insanity fit when I bought these. They were cheap and from M&S.
  • 165 - Pair of Red Shoes
    These remind me of the type of shoes my mother wore once she was over 70- ho-hum.
  • 164 - Water Spray Bottle
    I bought this rather than buying a new iron.
  • 163 - Packet of Coloured Pens
    I may be doing some colouring in.
  • 160 - 162
    Three books.
  • 158 - 159 Two Teeshirts
    I bought these in TK Maxx and both are from the sports range.
  • 155 - 157 3 Books
  • 154 - Large Kitchen Book
    This was given to me by the company from whom I'm going to buy a kitchen.
  • 152 - 153 Two Small Succulents
  • 150 -151 Two Bras
  • 149 - Stripey T-Shirt
    I will get rid of two t-shirts to make up for this.
  • 145 to 148 Shirts x 4
    OK this is not how a minimalist behaves but I have got rid of so many clothes I actually need to start buying stuff. All from Uniqlo.
  • 144 - Hornsea Coffee Pot
    Charity shop find although was not particularly cheap.
  • 143 - Book
    I went to a book launch so I had to buy the book.
  • 142 - Cashmere Cardigan
    I bought this last month and forgot to list it.
  • 140 - 141 Trousers and Shirt
    I bought a pair of quirky and v. cheap trousers from Uniqlo and a less cheap shirt also from Uniqlo.
  • 139 - The Duhks CD
  • 138 - Box of Candles
    It's hygge all the way here.
  • 136 - 137 Two Books
    I got quite a lot of tokens for my birthday so I bought the latest Marie Kondo and a novel.
  • 129 - 134
    Assorted birthday presents
  • 128 - New lamp
    I have needed a new bedside lamp for ages.
  • 127 - Plain Black Trousers
    Sensible trousers for work.
  • 126 - Pair of Shoes
    Sensible (the only kind I every buy) shoes for work.
  • 110 - 125 Assorted Christmas Presents
  • 108 - 109 Two Storage Jars
    Kilner jars are always useful.
  • 107 - Large Jug
    A present I gave to my mother that is now returned to me.
  • 106 - Framed Photo
    This is a picture of me that hung on my mother's sitting room wall.
  • 105 - Vintage Cake plate
    Cake plate - some stuff from my mother's house which has been stored at my sister's flat.
  • 102 -104
    100 tealights and two boxes of candles.
  • 99 -101 Three Books
  • 98 - A Pair of Slippers
    My Christmas present to myself.
  • 97 - Large Roll of Brown Paper Wrapping
  • 96 - Rita Hosking CD
    The first CD I have bought this year,
  • 95 - New Curtains
    I have had the previous curtains since1997. I stopped liking them in 1998 but have lived with them ever since.
  • 94 - Television
    My television was 9 years old but the freeview box stopped working and I decided it was time to upgrade.
  • 93 - Postcards
    I have bought a lot of postcards this year.
  • 92 - Leggings
    I have joined a yoga class and realised that I had decluttered my old pair.
  • 91 - Cashmere cardigan
    I have been planning to buy this for ages. Hello winter.
  • 90 Book
    This is the book by TNMA that I have been meaning to buy for ages.
  • 88 Print
    I bought this last month and forgot to list it. I am very pleased with this purchase.
  • 87 Fridge Magnet
    Present from Japan
  • 86 - Perfume
    L'Eau d'Issey from duty free.
  • 85 Large pine cone
    Picked up on the camino close to Santiago de Compostela
  • 82 - 84 Portuguese Camino Momentos
    Shell, credencial and compostela.
  • 81 Grey Cardigan
    I tried to buy a skirt while I was on holiday and ended up in H&M which is so cheap but did not sell skirts.
  • 80 Sake Cup
    Gift from Japan
  • 79 Small Notebook
    I really didn't need this but I want a new notebook for my camino journal.
  • 78 Guidebook to Portuguese Camino
    Getting excited now.
  • 76-77 Two T-shirts
    I have disposed of so many old t-shirts I needed to buy some new ones.
  • 74 -75 Two Paintbrushes
    I bought these because I'm sure I've thrown away the old ones.
  • 71 - 73 Three cardboard boxes
    I brought these home from work as I have to empty some cupboards while work is carried out in my kitchen.
  • 67 - 70 Four glasses
    I bought these from the museum shop at Louisianna in Copenhagen. They were very cheap and lovely.
  • 66 - Wooden Dog
    Small Tim dog from Bojesen. I so wanted this.
  • 61 - 65 - Packet of Plastic Folders
    I bought these from Hay.
  • 60 - Selection of postcards
  • 59 - Fridge Magnet
    Very tasteful.
  • 58 - Tourist leaflets from Copenhagen
    I am counting this as one object and I don't care if that is cheating.
  • 57 - Book
    I got a nicky french from the telephone box library.
  • 56 - Raincoat
    My raincoat is around 12 years old and very tatty. This one is very plain and hopefully will last I will not be buying another one for at least ten years.
  • 55 - Book on Running
    As one of the authors is a long time blog friend I had to buy this.
  • 54 - Foot Cream
    My heels are in serious need of pampering.
  • 53 - Dress
    I bought a dress in the sale in Cos. I shouldn't have but I did.
  • 52 - Papers From My Mother's House
    When I was in Ireland my sister gave me a little bundle of papers which my mother had kept - postcards I sent her and photos.
  • 50-51 Two books
    I am collecting virago books and there were two in the telephone box library this morning. I will need to make a deposit to make up for this.
  • 49 - Chanel No.5
  • 48 - Art Fund Book
    I was expecting a card but it came with this book.
  • 47 - Pair of Stan Smith Original Sneakers
    OK I admit it I'm weak. God knows how long this list would be if I wasn't trying to restrict the stuff I bring into the house.
  • 45 - 46 Two White T-Shirts
    Essential items of clothing which need replacing every year. I don't feel guilty about these.
  • 43-44 Two Tops From Uniqlo
    I blame That's Not My Age and Belgian Waffle for reminding me about what good stuff you can get in Uniqlo.
  • 41-42 Two Kilner Jars
    They were cheap and there might be some jam making in the offing.
  • 40 - Book
    Old, slightly damaged book.
  • 39 - Poole Saucer
    I bought this along with a book for a pound. How could I say no?
  • 38 - White Cotton Top
    This is from Muji and reminds me of the kind of thing Mrs Watts, our PE teacher wore in the 1970s.
  • 34-37 Four Books
    I went a bit mad in the LRB bookshop.
  • 33 - Small basket
    This was very expensive but I believe it is a work of art. I used the money I earned doing the count. At least I will have one positive thing as a result of the election.
  • 32 5 x Postcards
    I couldn't resist buying 5 postcards at the Ravilious exhibition - counting this as one item.
  • 28 - 31
    Four novels. I went a bit mad in Waterstones. I will have to donate some books to the telephone library this week.
  • 25 - 27
    Stuff from walkthewalk - t-shirt, hat and bra. All a bit tacky but for a good cause.
  • 23-24 Two Books
    Another copy of Time Out Book of Walks - my fourth copy so far? I also bought a book about walking which was a mistake as it involves very little reading but lots of fey nonsense.
  • 22. Packet of AAA batteries
    I didn't need to buy so many but they only came in packets of 12 and my television remote controller had stopped working and I didn't want to be restricted to watching only BBC2.
  • 21. A Hand Brush
    I know I shouldn't have but I did.
  • 20. A pair of shoes
    I also bought a pair of really expensive shoes in M&S. Pale blue loafers which are either a brilliant buy or a terrible mistake. I haven't decided yet which it is.
  • 19. Shoes
    I have to go to a work event next week which involves a bit of dressing up so I had to buy some dressing up shoes. I bought a mega cheap pair from M&S. I resent having to do this.
  • 18. Fridge Magnet
    The only thing I bought in Istanbul. Fridge magnets are the only kitsch objects I now allow in my flat.
  • 17 St Matthew's Passion Programme
    Given free at the concert at the Barbican.
  • 16 Denim Skirt
    I did want to buy a denim but I hadn't planned to buy a mid calf tight one. Oh well.
  • 15 A Pair Of Trousers
    I didn't really need these but I was in M&S and I tried them on and they were very flattering and well, what can I say?
  • 14 Dress
    I feel quite guilty about this and must dispose of 3 items of clothing to make up for it. Another very plain dress but, but it was so cheap and will be very good for work.
  • 13 Charcoal filters
    See 12
  • 12 - Mould Cleaner
    Rock and roll! I went mad in Lakeland.
  • 11 - Packet Of Large Plastic Envelopes
    I bought these to parcel up the items I am planning to sell on eBay.
  • 10 - A packet of 100 tea lights
    This is one item. I don't care what you say.
  • 7 - 9 Three small containers.
    What can I say? I went to Ikea and everyone knows if you try to leave without buying something they send you back to go round again.
  • 2 - 6. Kenwood Chef
    I have wanted one of these for at least 20 years. I bought a second hand one which died after a few weeks. This was in a sale and was less than half price. I now have the problem of getting rid of the second hand one. I am counting this as five objects; bowl, mixer and attachments; spatula; spanner; recipe book; and blender.
  • 1. Pot of Chrysanthemums
    I thought these were better value than a bunch of flowers. They cost £3.50.

Films 2008

  • The Changeling
  • The Baader-Meinhof Complex
  • Let's Talk About The Rain
  • Hunger
  • Gomorra
  • The Duchess
  • I've Loved You So Long
  • Sex And The City
  • Persopolis
  • Some Like It Hot
  • In Bruges
  • The Orphanage
  • Garage
  • Juno
  • Still Life
  • Four Months, 3 Weeks And Two Days
  • No Country For Old Men
  • Lust Caution

Things I Have Bought In John Lewis In 2007

  • 1 x shelf divider
  • 1 x packet of tea lights
  • 1 packet shower curtain rings
  • 1 x shower curtain
  • 1 x dish rack
  • 1 x duck and goose down pillow
  • 2 x chopping boards
  • 1 x slice piedmontese gateau
  • 1 x cup earl grey tea
  • Groceries - assorted
  • 1 X Liz Earle moisturiser (dry/sensitive)
  • 1 x Liz Earle cleanser with 2 muslin cloths
  • 1 x slice coconut cake
  • 1 x latte
  • 1 bag Kettle Crisps Cider vinegar flavour
  • 2 x rolls
  • 2 x tomatoes
  • 1 x Skein of grey tapestry wool (for darning purposes)
  • 4 x 50g balls of 4ply wool assorted colours
  • 1 x pot of earl grey tea
  • 1 x slice coconut loaf cake
  • 1 x 50g ball pink merino wool
  • 1 x pot Chanel concealer
  • 1 x pot of Earl Grey Tea
  • 1 x slice coconut cake
  • 1 x replaclement glass 3 cup cafetiere beaker
  • 1 x slice coconut loaf cake
  • 1 Earl Grey tea
  • 3 x cotton dish cloths
  • 1 pair of oven gloves - navy with white stripe
  • 1 Dualit Hand Mixer
  • 1 cup of earl grey tea
  • 1 slice of spicy apple cake
  • 3 pairs of tights
  • 1 Bottle of Ecover Multipurpose Cleaner
  • 1 can of easy iron spray
  • 1 slice of coconut loaf cake
  • 1 Pot of Earl Grey tea
  • 1 x pedometer
  • 1 Tub Cinnamon and Ginger Body Scrub
  • 2 LR44 Batteries
  • 1 x Toshiba Laptop
  • 1 x cappucino
  • I slice vanilla cheesecake
  • 1 organic lemonade
  • 1 camisole pj top
  • I large tub of beeswax polish
  • 1 blue wooden handled dish brush
  • 1 Ecover Limescale Remover
  • Ecover Laundry Liquid
  • 1 Pair of pjs
  • 1 camisole
  • 1 pair of black leather gloves
  • 1 cappuccino and I slice of coconut cake
  • 1 pair grey knee length socks

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