It’s not, necessarily, that I have any difficulty in spending money, just that it is rarely on clothes. I’m just not that bothered, and I never have been. If in the mood or sufficiently desperate for something suitable, I might buy several outfits in one go, but that might not happen for a couple of years at a stretch.
My mother was extremely interested in clothes and took great care of them, always changing as soon as she arrived home, carefully hanging garments up and being quite unbothered by large dry cleaning bills. When I was a child, she chose my clothes, partly because I didn’t care and partly because she did. When I was married with young children I had little spare money – I once, unwisely, did a rough calculation of our household income and expenditure and was gratified to find that they matched pretty well, until I noticed that I had allowed nothing for my and the Sage’s clothing. I allowed for children’s clothes and for books, and this seemed more of a priority. As a result, I simply didn’t buy anything unless I had to, and was quite relaxed about wearing my mother’s or my sister’s cast-offs. In fact, the youthful photos I put up of myself a few weeks ago, including ones taken at Miss Fitt’s 100th birthday 28 years ago – the ones I didn’t post of my mother, she was wearing a black and white dress that she later passed on to me: I still wear it once in a while.
It’s not that I don’t care at all what I look like – for that, look to the Sage. I once, completely exasperated by the dreadful garments he was wearing to a reasonably smart occasion, told him quite snappily that, if I were dressed as scruffily as he was, he would be shocked and not want to be seen with me. The Sage was quite hurt, although it was quite true, although not hurt enough to mend his ways, or sew on any buttons. I aim to be appropriately addressed, and am gratified if I seem to have got it right, but I’m not sufficiently interested to spend a minute more time than I must in shopping.
My hair costs me about £5 a week, so I must care enough not just to have a chop twice a year, but I rarely give an opinion on its cut to the hairdresser. “Whatever you want,” I say to her. A request not to cut my fringe too short, because I like it to hide my wrinkled forehead, is as far as it goes. I can’t be bothered to hide the grey, let alone enhance the colour. Although, actually, that is something I would be fussy about. If I coloured my hair, I would not let the roots show. I’d be so rigorous about that, it would be far too much effort. I seem to have the idea that it’s far better not to go to enough bother and therefore fail, than to go to *too much* bother and it show.