Common People

OK, time to get back in the saddle, as David Cameron would no doubt say.

A snippet to start with… something that caught my eye in the Guardian last week. You will remember the story of how an obviously not very bright undercover police officer tried to recruit an environmental activist named Tilly Gifford from the Plane Stupid campaign to act as an informant. (She was called Tilly for God’s sake – doesn’t that tell you all you need to know about the likelihood of her turning grass?)

Anyway, Ms Tilly has now given her account of her traumatic week, which culminated in the indignity and shame of having to pose for Vogue magazine. “I found myself posing in a fashion studio for Vogue, along with fellow Plane Stupid activists. None of us imagined – or desired – our activities would ever lead us to feature in Vogue, among the plastic-faced models and adverts. I lamely tried to dodge the make-up-wielding “groomer” with bleatings of allergies.”

This ‘I found myself’ reminds me of when young women say ‘I fell pregnant’ or even, so I’m told by one of my northern colleagues ‘I caught pregnant’. It’s quite easy to avoid appearing in Vogue if you object to it that strongly; you just say no. And it’s a bit silly to turn up for a photo-shoot with the world’s foremost fashion magazine and then make a fuss when they try to put a bit of make-up on you. I wonder if Vogue would have been quite so interested in featuring Tilly if she’d been called Chantelle or Jade or Shanice?

I happened to glance through a copy of Vogue in the hairdressers the other day, which had some surprisingly useful hints for making it through the economic downturn. One suggestion was to raid your mother’s vintage Chanel and crop the jacket to give you this season’s look. Another was to borrow your boyfriend’s silk Prada pyjamas and dress them up with heels. I also remember an article by Nigella Lawson a few years ago, with suggestions for stocking fillers, including a silver lid to put on your Marmite jar for £75 which I think I recall she described as ‘a must have’ or something along those lines.

Which leads me nicely on to Smythsons, and to ponder just how a £39 ‘Recessionista’ notebook fits into David Cameron’s new vision of an ‘Age of Austerity’? It’s conveniently described as ‘portable’. Well at 5.5″ x 3.5″ it would be, wouldn’t it? A bargain and available online now.

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