Posted by Tania Kindersley.
There is a sad day tomorrow: a memorial service for a fine and good old gentleman, who shall be missed by all those who had the pleasure to know him. So today, in defiance of all our mortality, I am going to focus on the entirely frivolous.
I don't often write about actual physical things on this blog, although not out of any finger-shaking principle. I am not one of those people who is radically anti Stuff. I have a house full of it. I have been a rabid consumer of books, photographs, Burmese betel boxes, and entirely unnecessary decorative objects (a large perspex cube filled with moss might win the prize of most pretty and most useless). I once bought myself a jewel because I knew I would never be given one, inherit one, or be sent a free one: I had sold a book, and instead of putting the advance away for a rainy day, I took some of it to the charming Mr John Joseph in Grey's Antique Market, and chose a beautiful sparkling Art Deco brooch, and managed to convince myself that this was a tremendous feminist act.
But lately, as the credit crunch snapped me in its slavering jaws, and money was revealed inexorably to be both as ephemeral and as vulgar as I had secretly feared, I stopped acquiring objects. It seemed wrong, somehow, to be shopping, when jobs were being lost and houses reclaimed, and financial titans tottered to the brink and stared into the abyss. It was time for tightening of belts and good old British stoicism. I had bills to pay and standing orders to keep and all those old extravagant chickens were suddenly coming home to roost. 'At least you didn't spend it all on drugs,' said my friend the political operative, comfortingly.
So I stopped shopping, about a year ago. It ached for a little while. But the odd thing is that not gathering objects soon becomes as much as habit as the old getting of them. Occasionally, I would get some cash for a piece of work and think perhaps it was time for a treat, and go into Aberdeen and stare at the vitrines filled with tempting baubles and bibelots and not want one single one. The best I could do was to buy a beautiful soft aquamarine blanket for the dogs. The days of jewels were far behind me, but I felt no sense of deprivation. I looked instead at the things I was so insanely lucky to have bought, when the going was good. I keenly appreciated the Lartigue photograph I found in a little gallery in Great Newport Street, before his prices went stratospheric. I looked anew at my first edition of Don't Tell Alfred with its Cecil Beaton cover, a steal at £20, back in the nineties. I felt a surge of enchantment for the purple velvet jacket that I bought fifteen years ago, even though I could not quite afford it; I wear it still, although the sleeves are about to fall off. My shopping sabbatical proved the quickest way to fall back in love with all the things I already had.
Which is a long and winding explanation of why I don't write much about stuff. But I am not a puritan. Once the new book deal is signed, and I have made the last never never payment on the jewel, do not fear, I shall shop again. The recession though has thrown the question of value into shining relief. I always found it quite strange that people should pay hundreds of pounds for shoes that will clearly hurt, or very ugly coats, or those perfectly hideous bags with fat buckles all over them. I thought there was a combination of Emperor's New Clothes, and lemming/sheep/other small herding mammal of your choice about it all. I assumed that once the entire capitalist system almost went off a cliff, people really would no longer spend stupid amounts of cash on fleeting things. I understand investment; I understand something that will give pleasure for a lifetime. I do not understand a pair of shoes going for over £17,000, even if the heel is actual gold -
Nor, come to think of it, do I understand any earthly reason why anyone should want to totter about in heels made of gold in the first place, whatever the price tag.
But there is currently one glorious object of desire out there which is making me a little yearny. There is strictly no call for it; it is all folly. I know that I should turn away and go and ponder proper subjects like what the hell is Sarah Palin going to say next, and why it is that Quentin Letts is so threatened by the atheists, and what the Hadron Collider will reveal now it is chugging along again. I'm just saying that if I did have £395, and if I was feeling so frivolous that my ears were about to fall off, and if I did not already have several perfectly respectable bags, THIS is the one thing in the shops that I would currently buy:
There. Observe the lovely red patent Hillary bag from Lulu Guinness. It is also devastatingly chic in black. Santa baby…..