Dee Chadwick
17 Mar 2019
Today, we live in a society which seemingly, for many, puts great store on acquiring ‘stuff’. Designer label clothes, bags, shoes. New cars – regularly. Big holidays – regularly. Meals out - frequently. I’m afraid that this doesn’t sit very easily with me.


I guess that as a post-war child coming from a family that didn’t boast many ‘valuables’, my mind set from an early age was one of looking after things, not wasting anything, and very much saving what few precious things we had for best.

The messages from childhood stick and it seems I have continued through with much of this throughout my seventy years. I hate waste – and will always freeze or soup left-overs; peelings, scraps all go towards making compost for my garden. I have endeavoured to look after my things, especially what I consider to be ‘precious’. By precious I mean things that hold memories for me, rather than having a high monetary value. Part of this looking after means that these things were displayed, carefully dusted and washed occasionally. There for me to look at and to remember.

One day, I had been working with a client who put herself consistently bottom of any list that she had. We had worked together to enable her to be able to recognise just how much worth others showed that she had; how important it was for her to see this in herself too. To show herself that she cared for herself ... as well as all of the other people for who she cared – physically, and emotionally.

As she left I went into my kitchen to make a cup of tea in one of my ‘every day’ mugs. I was about to put milk into said mug when – ‘sod it’ took over and instead I reached for a lovely cup and saucer that had been a gift. One of a pair that I would use if a friend popped in for a coffee. It made no difference that it was only me, because it certainly wasn’t ‘just’ me. You know, just like my client, I too deserved to be top of any lists that I make. I have always said that I learnt from the children I taught – I also learn from the clients with whom I work.


In my twenties, I lived in Cyprus for a couple of years – bliss! Even more blissful was the fact that I was unable to get work so had to struggle to spend quite a bit of time by the pool of a newly opened hotel – even greater bliss. Of course, I got chatting to lots of visitors. One was a lady on a holiday by herself. She found it hilarious that if my husband was away, I would have a bowl of cereal for my evening meal. When he was around, it was always cooking nourishing meals with cereals strictly for breakfast.

She then described her evening meals under similar circumstances. She would have a glass of sherry as she prepared her dinner, which was always three courses. Wine accompanied these and then she finished off with a brandy. She used the best china and glasses too. Wow. I have a feeling that I would be sozzled as well as gaining weight if I followed her example. However, did she have a very valid point – did she, in fact, have it right? She didn’t allow the absence of her husband to affect the way that she was – the solo holiday was evidence of that. She also didn’t allow a lowering of her dining standards if he wasn’t there. Good for her – so I guess, silly me. She was showing herself that she was well placed on her list, but what message was I giving to myself? It wasn’t that I was lazy. I just couldn’t be bothered to make the effort just for me, so where was I on my list of important to me people, if I was on it at all that is. Not a good message for anyone to receive, especially when they are the one responsible for the giving.


I admit to having plenty. As a child, I had my school uniform and a summer and a winter dress or two. I grimace when I see photographs of those childhood holidays with me wearing my school blazer! When married, I used to have my leg pulled in school about my three outfits. In fact, the leg pulling hurt. In fact, my salary went to pay school fees for my sons who had both fallen foul of the 11-plus exam. No spare cash to fill up my wardrobe.

However, when I was solo, with sons flown the nest, a friend with a clothes shop and a tendency to phone me if she had a delivery including things I would like …. I rest my case. But, I still couldn’t kick that habit of saving clothes for best. Having said that, my casual clothes were and continue to be gradually re-cycled and finish up being my gardening kit, but absolutely finally, my decorating kit. As I tend to get as much paint over me as the walls, doors etc, their final demise tends to be as a rather more colourful version of their original self. I admit that when I am gardening I look anything but smart, but that’s because I always get stuck in and end up filthy dirty pretty quickly.

I always shout ‘hello’ to people passing down my lane when I am out gardening and will often pause to pass the time of day. I love this social aspect of my toils in the garden, but had given no thought to what people may think of how I look. Some time ago, I was helping at a charity event, so was ‘decently’ attired. I saw one of these neighbours approaching with a friend, so automatically smiled and said ‘hello’. The greeting I received in reply was somewhat stilted. A couple of minutes later, she returned and apologised for not recognising me – as I didn’t look scruffy!!! A prod in the ribs from her friend accompanied by her saying that she really couldn’t say that led to us all giggling. Guess I was firmly put in place for my appearance when doing a poor impression of Alan Titchmarsh.

At the other extreme, I went to a friend’s hen party some years ago. It was winter, on a narrow boat, on a canal in Cheshire. It was entitled ‘A Caribbean Cruise’ with appropriate dress. I dressed to kill – a long dress, as much OTT jewellery as I could get on, a seldom used hair piece, best perfume, plenty of make-up, and to top it all my (not real) fur coat. I looked the somewhat tarty, bee’s knees. No problem, except that I realised that I needed petrol. Bad planning there Dee. I sort of lurked until the forecourt was empty, then put in a few litres of petrol and headed for the pay desk. I was amazed when the guy leapt out from behind the counter to open the door for me. As he did so, I mumbled an excuse for my appearance and mentioned the hen party. His reply …. ‘Cor, I was just thinking how bloody fabulous you looked!’ Maybe, just maybe I should do this sort of thing more often – or maybe not!!!


This, I admit, is my biggest problem area as far as the good stuff goes. What stops me from being like that lady in Cyprus?

In the past, there were lovely childhood family holidays. Then came the family holidays with my sons and husband. How I loved all of these times. However, for me, the biggest element of my enjoyment was the sharing. The sharing of sights, experiences, meals, simply the travelling be it in our small caravan or further afield by air. Since being back to being single, I have travelled to meet up with people and was perfectly happy getting myself out to Hong Kong, to Indonesia, but then to share with people that I know and love. Sadly, I am no longer a part of family holidays; my friends are married, so holiday with their partners.

(Spookily, literally as I am writing this, a flyer from SAGA just popped through my letter box. Am I being sent that kick in the pants I need? …)

What is preventing me from doing this, am I using my like of sharing as an excuse? I do look online at holidays, then click through and see the big hike in price for a singleton. I look at singles holidays, but still haven’t taken that step to book one – even a week-end not too far away. Maybe one day ……


So what of that ‘some day’ – the day that those special things are saved for. Maybe a special occasion, as my friend’s wedding at which I was able to wear one of my special outfits. I do admit that maybe that really did require a special occasion for me to wear. I reckon I would get some strange looks if I wore the outfit whilst pushing a trolley round Aldi that I would get some strange looks. However, I do wear previously considered ‘best’ outfits for very ordinary days, just because I choose to. For me. And that is more than a good enough reason.

Whilst I’ve taken active steps to resolve my ‘some day’ and ‘using of best’ scenario, what concerns me is that, for whatever reason, I haven’t done some of my ‘some day’ and ‘best things’ still. OK, I no longer choose to wait for a man, a family member, a friend to be present for me to bring out the good stuff or wear my best clothes. I remain hopeful that once I’ve made an initial crack in the wall that is stopping me making those solo trips, having those holidays, I will be in total control of saving for some other time. Then I can tick Petra, a safari holiday, seeing Japan at blossom time, off my bucket list – my ultimate saved best.

The problem with saving for some day is that I never know when that day is going to happen. That special day may slip by unnoticed or may not happen in time. I know for sure that my son won’t have the same affection for my china. A couple of years ago, I had a complete kitchen revamp – because I deserved it, and had saved for it. On his first visit, he did his usual checking through things and found my best dinner service. I like its simplicity, and the fact that the original collection was a wedding gift from my aunt and uncle. His immediate response – why didn’t you bin that and buy new?? So, it’s not likely to be re-located to his kitchen when I am not around any longer. All the more reason for me to have the pleasure of using it regularly now.


Not as far as things are concerned – they remain special even though I am wearing them or using them. You know what the main difference is – that I feel special too. Even if it’s only a dull Monday morning and all I am doing is going to the supermarket or making myself a coffee whilst I write. And you know what – I reckon I deserve to feel special as I have always worked hard, cared for others and did the very best that I could in loving and supporting my family and raising my sons.

I reckon that most of us could say exactly the same. So, go on, allow yourself to be special and use that best stuff. You DO deserve it because you are important and life is too short to go on saving things for a day that may not happen.


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Thanks for the kick in the butt I needed to stop saving and start using the good stuff.
Glad to be of service Mary. Dee

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