Saturday, August 25, 2007


The word economy is derived from the Greek word for a household manager, a far cry from this “global” economy stuff. Those of us who were brought up in post-war England learned economy from the masters of household management—our mothers. They learned how to stretch everything. And if you couldn’t stretch it, you did without it.

My mother was a fantastic knitter. When she wasn’t actively engaged in housework, she always had a pair of knitting needles in her hand. I am proud that Kate has taken up this hobby with so much skill. My mother knitted sweaters galore and the most exquisite matinee coasts and booties for babies. I still have one delicate, snow-white coat she sent for Al. It is knitted on the smallest gauge needles imaginable, with blue smocking. There was no way I was going to put it on a baby! Though I must admit that some of the other garments she sent came through the wash pretty well.

As we grew, the sweaters and cardigans grew too small. Was that the end of them? Not for my mother, the household manager. The garment was taken apart, the wool was carefully undone, made into skeins, washed and re-knitted.

Were all her garments successful? I do somewhat question the swimsuits. We all had them, I think. I have photos of me and my brother wearing one, and one showing her in a suit identical to the one my brother is wearing in this photo, taken at Clacton-on-Sea. I can't tell from the photos if my dad escaped the Madame Defarge of beachwear. Surely they got waterlogged, saggy and uncomfortable pretty soon? I don’t remember, but I do think Brian looks pretty adorable in this photo.

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