Monday, 7 October 2019

Names. Arts and crafts again. Sustainability.

What’s in a name? It seems that a little controversy is going on because of a proposal to change the name of the Welsh assembly from Senedd to Senedd Cymru. The advantage of adding Cymru means, apparently, that it can then be translated directly to Welsh Parliament. Some people, including the newsreader Huw Edwards, are getting a little stressed about it.

Surely even if the Welsh language name remains as Senedd it can still be referred to in English language documents and reports as the Welsh Parliament. Or the English could simply talk about the Welsh Senedd. After all it is quite usual to talk about the Irish Taoiseach, putting an English adjective with an Irish word.

I would have thought there were more important things to get worked up about at the moment. But then I am not a Welsh nationalist!

Yesterday I went on a bit about disappearing practical skills. Today I have read about “therapeutic respite”, in other words people signing up for craft classes as a way of relieving the stress of modern living and as “a way to sidestep untrustworthy, unethical and unsustainable manufacturing.” Which last is all very fine, except that it can cost rather more to knit your own jumper than to buy one ready made from Marks and Spencer.

There is a lady I read about called Michelle who teaches lingerie-making and admits that making your own knickers is not an cheap option as they use high-end fabrics such as silk and lace in her classes. Her students also are usually surprised at how much work goes into making a pair of knickers. They obviously never made dolls’ clothes as children.

But there are now more than 7,500 craft classes across the country. The oddest I read about was making paper from mushrooms. The man who runs the mushroom-paper-making days in a village hall in East Sussex describes Ashdown Forest, where presumably they find the mushrooms, as a “paradise of fungal opportunities”. At £70 per person I think mushroom-paper-making is also a paradise of money-making opportunities.

There is also Farah Merahli who is opening a craft-themed cafe (does that sound like something I mentioned yesterday?) where people can learn all sorts of skills, “from how to make a baby’s turban to creating reusable facecloths”. Aren’t all facecloths reusable? Don’t they call the throwaway things “face-wipes”?

But, bring on the craft classes, say I! Goodness knows, we might need them after Brexit. How many of us can really claim to be self-sufficient? If we ever find ourselves in a post-apocalypse situation, there is a whole lot of stuff most of us cannot reinvent.

And maybe the craft classes can teach people to recycle and reuse materials. In a fashion article about tights I saw tights described as “the single-use plastic of the fashion industry” by one Daniel Clayton, who set up a company to sell “sustainable hosiery”. “Exactly the same polymer raw material goes into hosiery tights as plastic bottles and bags,” he tells us. “They will meticulously recycle their household waste, but wouldn’t think twice about throwing a laddered pair of tights in the bin.” He estimates that there is in excess of 103,000 tons of hosiery waste created every year around the world. Who knew?

I feel quite smug that I only ever wear opaque tights these days and have worn the same ones for years and years, not without washing them, I hasten to add. However, now I have also to feel guilty about micro-bits of plastic coming off them when they are washed. Oh boy!

Meanwhile, the weekend newspapers’ magazines continue to offer us information about stuff we might like to buy but probably don’t need. This used to be called advertising but now seems to be style advice. Here is a link to some pictures of some very nice plates!  As with clothes, so with stuff to have in the home, the Guardian, like other newspapers, goes over the top as regards price of the stuff they feature. That was my first reaction when I saw that feature, especially as I spotted one plate which sold for £88 for a set of four. But then there is a Habitat plate at £6, and a nice mushroom-picturing plate for £3.99. So I over-reacted! It doesn’t happen often. And the plate I like least does cost £27.50. But I do wonder when style features really expensive stuff (coats that cost going on £1,000, for example!) what the aim is.

 Are they trying to make us all aspirational?

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