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Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

G What?

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Another What Do You Think? post. It just happened to fit with world events…

When you grow up in Northern Ireland especially during the 1960 -1980s, you instinctively learn a certain diplomacy when abroad …when meeting strangers (or visitors) for the for time DO NOT talk about: religion, politics, racism, apartheid, bigotry, sectarianism, equality,  feminism,  football teams, horticulture, annual holidays… kinda leaves the conversational topics a little light – hence the reliance on the weather to initiate and sustain conversation and thus avoid offence!

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A very long time ago, in another life,  I was once married to a guy from South Africa. Separately and unbeknown to each other, we moved to London at about the same time and fate intervened. We got jobs at the same company, we worked the same night shift. Instead of dinner we went out to breakfast at the best hotels in London. We had a laugh.  Both of us away from home, alone, both from very  segregated communities that we weren’t particularly comfortable with. We bonded. We fell in love and one day we were sitting in a pub at London Bridge doing the tourist thing and a guy sat down beside us: in his typical “Hi, I’m American”  you-should-talk-to-me-thing, we introduced ourselves in rather simple terms; “Hi, I’m from South Africa” ( height of apartheid), “Hello, I’m from Northern Ireland” (1980s Troubles). The poor guy just looked from one to the other, to the wall and thought ‘ Why did I sit here?. Can’t talk about religion, can’t talk about race, can’t talk abut about…..???’ Conversation stopped. Poor guy. Oh the irony, we did laugh about the pub incident later but I was reminded about it earlier today.

Sometimes, when blogging I feel the same restrictions – and probably rightly so – this is not a political arena, it’s all about sewing.

WARNING This does not make for easy reading – there’s conscience, guilt and developed world advantage – quite possibly some politics……

This week the world’s most powerful nations met in Northern Ireland – ya ya big deal.. and what’s this got to do with sewing and stuff? Wait and see…

This afternoon, totally unrelated to the G8 Summit, which let’s face it, turned out to be a damp squib thousands of FBI, CIA, police and security personnel – 2 arrests! Count ’em 2!

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Anyway, while the 8 richest, most powerful countries in the world did their thing, I sorted out my summer clothes. Fearlessly I ventured into the attic to replenish the working wardrobe with cottons, linens, T-shirts, short-sleeved dresses etc; put away the suits, the trousers, the wool jackets until next season. I do this every season, what’s different? Well there just seems to be more and more stuff every time I do this. Some stuff doesn’t even make it out of the attic and lives in boxes in the dark permanently; this time was  gonna different.

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The rule was simple – if it isn’t in the wardrobe then it goes out! No more storing for another year in a box.

No more – maybes..

No more – when the sun shines…

No more – what if”s….

I was ashamed to photograph the clothes I sent to the Cancer Charity shop today. So much! So Much!  I actually have so many clothes that I can wilfully discard, give away, and not worry if I never see them again – and I will still not be naked! And I know I am not alone… so many of us could do what I did today and really, not notice the impact.

Whatever happened owning to a good dress, a good pair of shoes, a good coat. Notice the singular?

After ruthlessly cleansing and sorting – and I really mean ruthlessly, I was brutal today,  I still happen to have: 14 dresses, 16 skirts, 15 trousers, no idea how many shirts/blouses, untold tops & T-shirts, a few jackets and miscellaneous jumpers/sweaters.

What’s scary, is that I gave away 4/5ths of my summer clothes today and it will not impede me one ounce in my everyday life. I have not suffered physical nor psychological harm – in fact, I might actually have emphatically benefited from the activity and no doubt helped someone else along the way too.

I’m so glad I was born and raised in the Western world; actually, you have no idea how grateful I am to be born as a woman when I was. Sometimes I could weep with gratitude: I have had access to free education; to do as I wish without prosecution (within reason); to worship whatever god I wish (or not); I have access to open and transparent justice; I can vote and more importantly it counts (thanks Emily); free and uncensored access to the internet. I have freedom of speech and protection from harassment. More than anything, I’m so thankful to be alive at 50, to modern medicine, because, really, I should have have been dead by now.

And I worry what I wear……..! OK,  maybe a glass too many  – in vino veritas.

So.. How important is a a summer wardrobe?

How important is it to have stuff? How much stuff?

What’s more important in the grand scheme of things?

Did G8 solve world hunger? Did they think about this when eating rare steak with artichokes?

Did they think by taking off their neck ties they’d look like one of us?images

East or West; developed or developing; obesity or starvation; rags or fashion;  Hard and uncomfortable questions, I’ll admit to that. I don’t have the answers – Hey, I’m a girl of the western world and from the 20th century to make it worse – no consideration for the world at all for those 100 years!

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Good ol’ Vivienne has not discarded her desire to help the world – God luv ‘er.Vivien 1 vivienne_westwood

Being photographed in rubbish tips with designer bags at £430 each and the people that live there scraping a living from what they find – equality? This is not charity. it’s work.

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And tomorrow, I’ll be on Vogue’s website buying up patterns before the $3.99 sale finishes.

I have some beautiful birthday presents to enjoy and wear and spend – that’s my world.

But gosh aren’t we lucky?

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25 thoughts on “G What?

  1. I think we are very lucky.
    I do wonder what would happen if we were not so lucky. Would we be able to survive. Would we have the know all to live without those items we regard as necessary. At lest e know how to sew!!!

  2. Yes, we are lucky, but what are we going to do to make a difference?

  3. I choose to make loans on Kiva to other women, mainly to buy sewing machines and thread, so they can feed their children and school them. I can’t go to rubbish tips but by staying home, making bridal gowns, I can pass along my good fortune in $25 loans. Being 60+ is a good feeling too…wisdom has visited me, I have good children, grandchildren, a (second) good husband and freedom to decide so many things and share with others. I don’t think a blog has to be politically correct all the time…powerful men taking off their ties does not bring them any closer to my dinner table.

    • Well said, both of you.

    • I do exactly the same. Almost all loans to women and sewing related projects. Every month I try to add some more loans and reinvest any repayments. I do feel powerless to make any change for good in the world and I have no ideas or solutions to offer. But I try to live a good life, I live without too much excess, am careful and considerate, say no when offered a plastic carrier bag, do a little charity work. It’s the very least we can all do. I wish our governments could be braver to do more.

      Here is the link to Kiva – http://www.kiva.org/invitedby/nigeln1531
      If you make a loan using my link, I also get another $25 to loan out too. Thats $50 to help a person in need.

      • Deby, thank you for joining the debate. In the UK (mostly, except England) we have to pay 5p for carrier bags. In 2 months on this tax being introduced there has been a 90% drop in plastic bag usage in Northern Ireland. It works! Actually, I’m rather pleased about this as I can now carry my ancient wicker basket without ridicule!

    • Oh, I just knew you would be be doing your bit already.
      http://www.kiva.org/start …..for those of you who haven’t started yet…….

  4. You write such interesting posts that cause me to think. My first thought when reading your post was that I give away pieces of my wardrobe yearly so that it’s never that much all at one time. But honestly, we live in a time of excess – just like in many civilizations before us. However, I hope that we’ve learned something from history and remember that we need to continue to give to those who aren’t where we are – through education, aid and charity. I know sometimes it seems as if our leaders are the blind leading the blind or the little boy with his finger in the dam. But they are like the lions at the gate…with the intent of protecting us. Me, I choose to believe that and I choose to believe that every little thing that we do (even giving our clothes away) helps our planet and the people on it. Again a very thoughtful post!

    • That would make an interesting idea Carolyn, I didn’t quite get round to it this time , but what if you gave away your entire summer/winter wardrobe? Would you just go out and buy new, or try and make do?
      And I agree, every little thing has to count, no matter how small.

  5. this was a very thought provoking post and I have put a link to it from my blog . Like you I feel we have far too many clothes, predominately because most of them I make, however I do try and sort through them periodically and always give them away to charity along with anything else that I think someone can find some use out of.

    • Oh I forgot to mention, I think that VW’s photo shoot (the first time I have seen this) is the most distasteful thing I have seen – lets only hope that in return for this that those people benefitted in some way.

    • Kind Pauline, thank you. We have way too many things bit I think we are now at the stage where we do not know how much is too much and how much is enough.

  6. We are indeed lucky. I sometimes forget that all women in the world don’t have the same luxury. When I paid a visit to our local library there was a small exhibition about violence against women around the world and it was very appalling and I left the library with tears in my eyes. I am very lucky to live in Sweden.

    • Yes, it’s not just poverty – violence, abuse, harassment, equality, our struggle will be endless. Is this what’s makes us strong?

  7. Very thought provoking. Lucky indeed to have been born into a generation that has not had to experience some of the things our mothers and grandmothers have had to face. Sure this generation comes with its own set of obstacles, but when you compare them to those of the past they become molehills.

  8. Ruth, let’s be honest here. I am VERY lucky. I live in a wonderful country (America) and I have freedom and privilege most only dream of, or maybe can’t dream of because it is a concept unheard of. But every day, I do what I can to make this a better place. I am extremely nice to almost everyone I meet. I treat everyone with as much kindess and manners and I wish to be treated with. And at work, I educate some of the most vulnerable children in our society, children who have disabilities and who are considered disadvantaged due to poverty who also happen to be of minority races.

    No, I will never influence world peace, but I always say if everyone cleaned up their corner, then most every place would be clean.

    I know we don’t always do it right, Americans, that is, but by golly, we try hard.

    • I once read one of those management thingys that I usually ignore – you know ‘blue sky thinking…’ anyway this one said…
      “Work hard and be nice to others”
      Really that’s all it takes… as you say, cleaning up our own corners and being nice to each other.

  9. Yes, we are privileged, and we live in a time of excess. I try to make a small footprint when using energy and resources, and I try to share what I have. I also am pretty vocal on social media about equality and poverty and responsibility. The world is no longer run by politics, I believe, but by Big Business. Time to vote with our money.

  10. Dee Willuams, a proponent of the Tinyhouse movement, gave a Tedx talk in which she double-dog-dared us to access what it means to be human as we move forward with our days and to cultivate grace, humility and gratitude each and every day. It really struck me and seems to fit with your feelings here. Grace, humility, gratitude. Double-dog-dare.

  11. For those of you who don’t know, Tedx, is a company who organise ideas worth spreading – whether its education, social issues, politics, whatever…. http://www.ted.com/tedx… they will help set up internet chat rooms, real time conferences etc.

    Thanks Susan, what a perfect question – what does it means to be human?

  12. I just found your lovely blog…I don’t sew, but I’m turning 50 soon and I love clothes. I also LOVE what you wrote here….you put it all in such simple, human terms and your eloquence was heartfelt. Thank you for sharing it. Perspective is a valuable thing and yours hit me dead center.

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