My Dad has the endearing habit of sending friends and family appropriate newspaper cuttings. My son receives all the news on the latest sports car; my husband reports of successful business ventures - and my latest offering? 50 WAYS TO BE MORE FRUGAL. (Daily Telegraph 12/9/07).Nothing personal, he would claim…just thought it would be of interest…so why then do I feel the need to justify my weekly expenditure to him in writing?

So the cutting disappeared to the bottom of a drawer with a mere glance at the contents. I was reminded of it yesterday however, over a cup of tea with a friend, when she admitted being attracted by the idea of giving things up, doing without, rediscovering a more simple lifestyle. Not dissimilar to the pride I still feel at living without a microwave for the last six months.

I sense a bit of a trend in this direction amongst certain groups…a kind of “We’ve done materialism, acquired every gadget imaginable and still don’t feel satisfied. Maybe a return to simple living is the answer” philosophy. In the Guardian Weekend magazine last Saturday, Elspeth Thompson writes in this vein, extolling the virtues of the walk-in larder. With the environmental benefit of a smaller fridge and the stockpiling necessary for flood preparation (!?!), this ‘dream room’ sounds idyllic, although not many modern houses are built with a cupboard appropriate for such a conversion. Where do you salvage marble slabs anyway? And who honestly takes time to make ‘homemade produce’? All part of the dream, I guess.

Anyway, back to frugality. Even the word sounds unattractive. A few random comments.

1. Apparently, conkers make good mothballs. But who suffers from moth damage anyway?

2. Who would risk rubbing the inside of a banana skin on a new pair of patent leather shoes to see if it works?

3. “Tights last longer if you freeze them overnight before you wear them” You’re kidding me. How on earth did they discover that in the first place? How unbearable would that making getting dressed on a wintry morning?

4. Why on earth would anyone brush their teeth with bicarbonate of soda when toothpaste is less than 40p a tube in Asda?

5. Moreover, does anyone really use vinegar dissolved in water as mouthwash, smear honey on shaving cuts, chew beeswax instead of expensive nicotine gum or use egg white as glue?

6. A great one for my coffee addict: baking used coffee grounds in the oven enables you to reuse them. That should curb his addiction!

7. How desperate would you have to be to use an old calendar page as a piece of wrapping paper?

8. And my favourite, word for word: “The best bird-scarer is free, biodegradable and very, very quiet. First, obtain a dead bird. Attach one leg to a branch with a piece of string, letting the wings and head to flap gently in the breeze.” Sick. And very, very minging.

Surely, such tips can do nothing to encourage frugality. Sorry, Dad, I am a million miles away from saving the pennies, if that’s the way to do it.

There are some more sensible ideas mixed amongst the wacky, which I will share with you another time, but this kind of article would lead many to throw the baby out with the bath water and discount it all as complete claptrap.

However, I am about to go and line the salad drawer in my fridge with newspaper to see of it really does make the vegetables last longer. After all, unlike many of the other distasteful suggestions, what harm can it do?

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