Christmas Countdown | 17 | Measuring wealth

“Wealth” isn’t only measured in money. Time is a commodity that you just can’t buy back. Time to reflect, time to love, time to think, time to live. I intend to become rich in time. Who knows what the fruits of that may be?

Thomas Rogers in the TES

This month, I’m again attempting to blog every day to turn this corner of the internet into a sort of advent calendar. Posts will be tagged ChristmasCountdown2015 or you can look at the calendar in the sidebar ⇒


On houses

Frances Mayes quote

“To buy is to choose where the future will take place” – Frances Mayes on houses.

This quote comes from ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’, which has wise words for anyone moving house (as we are hoping to do next month). 

What if you did not feel uncertainty […] Are you exempt from doubt? Why not rename it excitement? […] Think: What if the sky doesn’t fall? What if it’s glorious?

“Fashion on the Ration”

“A decline in clothing standards may be accompanied by a decline in self respect and a consequent slackness of the mind.”

– Memo from the Women’s Group on Public Welfare regarding the Make [Do] and Mend campaign, as displayed at the Imperial War Museum London ‘Fashion on the Ration’ exhibition, which is on till the end of the month. I visited earlier this week with my Mum – a rare chance to get away.

December Eighth – the detox myth

There’s something you should know: detoxing – the idea that you can flush your system of impurities and leave your organs squeaky clean and raring to go – is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things.

From an article on by Dara Mohammadi.

Deep down, I think we all know that there are no short-cuts. But eating healthily, taking alcohol in moderation, getting some exercise and drinking plenty of water all sound so boring! So we’re attracted to the magic pill or elixir or cream that claims to do the job for us in half the time – especially in the run up to the Christmas party season.

My party prep this year involves swapping fatty lunch time sandwiches for vegetable soups and trying to be sensible about alcohol – for instance actually ordering the glass of water with every alcoholic drink instead of just thinking about it!


Sometimes I come across a quote which expresses an important idea so simply and concretely that I find myself wanting to hang on to it. So I’m starting a collection – a sort of online commonplace book – of these quotes and stories.

In this quote, the author is remembering a photograph seen in a Berlin museum in 1990:

Long after I had returned home, I was turning over the components in my head – the victim, the executioner, the audience – haunted by the thought that, as much as I wanted to imagine I could only ever find myself in the place of the kneeling man, there was nothing in my DNA, my Glenn Patterson-ness, that absolutely guaranteed I could not end up playing either of the other roles. The only safeguard that I could see was vigilance, against any ideology that reduced human beings to the one word for which they could be murdered (Jew, Commie, Prod, Taig, Brit, Mick … or fascist, come to that); and against yourself, that you didn’t just shrug such language off. By the time the onlookers have gathered, the victim has been made to kneel and the soldier is pointing his gun, it is far too late to ask how you got here.

From an article on by Glenn Patterson [emphasis added].

This makes me think about the labels which are routinely applied to people by the media and by politicians (‘immigrant’, ‘addict’, ‘scrounger’ for example), the importance of vocabulary and how extreme ideologies could start to gain a foothold in a society.