I’ve just entered a competition to win a VIP trip to the Festival of Thrift in Darlington at the end of the month and now I wish I hadn’t. There is no quicker way to make a recession seem less scary than to celebrate homespun frugality.
I love a jumble sale and a vintage frock as much as anyone, but I just don’t think I could face an entire weekend of make do and mend. I’m sure if I did win a ticket, VIP or otherwise, to the festival of frugality I would meet some lovely people and have a great time, but, I’ve done the same at threshing fairs and steam-engine shows and never been tempted to become a farmer or don a Casey Jones overall.
As soon as I saw the faux fairground typeface on the Festival of Thrift website I knew I was in for a spot of posh bunting and badly-dressed children but good grief the programme of events takes the carob encrusted biscuit.
How about this as a way to spend an autumnal weekend? Should I sign up for a workshop on ‘a can and a conscience’ (fresh ways with tinned sardines) or a ‘paper vase workshop’ – aka how to rip up a book and turn it into vases?
Thankfully the ‘kitchen cupboard books’ workshop was sold out, otherwise I might have had to shell out £5 to learn how to make a book from packets of “iconic brands such as Yorkshire Tea”.
Then again I could also sign up for the ‘manor garden’ workshop and learn how to make a hand-tied bouquet with that “just picked from the garden look”. The trouble is, it’s not mastering the “just-picked from the garden look” I have the problem with mastering, it’s the manor garden full of native British flowers itself I’m short of.
And that really is why these sort of events wind me up tighter than a piece of greasy lambswool on a hand-turned bobbin. They might be designed with the best of intentions and be dedicated to saving money and the environment, but at heart they are simply encouraging relatively well-off people to boast about how frugal they can be. That’s absolutely fine, but please, do not ask me to encourage or admire it. And don’t dare expect me to make anything out of an old box of tea bags ever again. I have seen four children through nursery and still have one in primary school and I have had my fill of empty teabag packets. If I ever see another upcycled cereal box I may have to crush it mercilessly.