Guilty Pleasures

As a post-war baby, I was brought up in a home where nothing was wasted and frugality was a virtue.  Sweets were still rationed and allowed only on Saturdays.  I dreamed of having shop-bought clothes instead of dresses made by my mother. (I didn’t fully appreciate her skills until later, eventually following in her footsteps by making clothes for my own children.)  Saving up our weekly pocket money, supplemented by the odd half-crown for washing the car, was a good grounding in budgeting, but there were always things just out of reach.  I used to walk three miles home from school, spending my bus fare on illicit sweets and comics.

As an adult, married and bringing up a family, buying things for myself, other than absolute necessities, was a rare event.  I think it was much the same for many of us, feeling guilty about any kind of indulgence.  We talk about ‘treating ourselves’ and justify new shoes by having bought them half-price.  We go shopping and splurge on clothes from well-known retailers, knowing we can always take them back.   I think it’s time to get over our inhibitions about buying ourselves nice things.  Most of us are better off than when we were younger and have leisure time for browsing and choosing clothes, bags and shoes.  I know – not everyone likes shopping. I love it and have a couple of like-minded pals who share my passion for a good look round the shops -from TK Maxx to Harvey Nicks.

My mother did buy herself nice clothes.  I have a receipt for a dress she bought in Daly’s in Glasgow in 1938, possibly with her first pay cheque.  It was about £30, equivalent to £130 today.  She also spent money on skin care and make-up (Lancome) and going to the hairdresser. I do have similar priorities.  I get my roots done every four weeks. And, thanks to Sali Hughes, Guardian beauty writer, I have recently learned to love browsing the beauty counters in the big department stores (I used to be really intimidated by the over made-up consultants wielding spray bottles) and have actually ended up with good products in the right colours.  Full marks to Bare Essentials and MAC.

Apart from shopping, there are lots of ways we can indulge ourselves a bit.  Younger women are better at this; they go for spa days and they have hen nights, which didn’t seem to happen in our day – we had ghastly occasions called ‘The Show of Presents’.  I have be honest here and admit that I did actually have two hen nights when I got married two years ago.  I’m off to one this weekend (I suspect I’ll be the old broiler) – we’re all taking food and drink and I think there will be karaoke (Yay!) Not everyone’s idea of fun, I know, but there are other fun things to do on our own or together.  I love going to the cinema with popcorn/fizzy drink/sweeties;  afternoon showings are cheap (especially for pensioners).

One of the barriers to this sort of thing is the cluttered diary: hospital/dental appointments, family support/visiting/babysitting/volunteering/partner’s activities, as well as the routine house and garden stuff which in our working lives was accomplished within the time we had available.  We were good girls and have grown up to be good women who spend their lives doing useful things.  My husband and I have a shared diary, in which we each note our appointments.  I realised recently that I write my entries in fairly large capital letters, compared with his modest script.  Not sure why I’m telling you this……..maybe just reinforcing the idea that what women do counts?  I have to say that he always encourages me in whatever I do.  (I actually feel he needs to treat himself more.)  I’m thinking about highlighting my ‘fun’ activities in pink.

I can’t finish without a mention of food and drink.  Eating what you fancy is one of the great things about being a grown-up.  Yes, we know all about healthy eating, but isn’t there always a place for liquorice allsorts, dark chocolate caramels and Cadbury‘s flake with ice-cream (I’m home alone and about to have some)? I also really love a proper ice-cream soda, with Barr‘s limeade and a straw.  I’m sure you have your own list. Share it here?  Feel free to comment/email. I’d like to hear about your guilty pleasures.

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