Monday, March 1, 2010

Mr Foodie: a virgin (no more)

During my 'dry spell' last week, Mr Foodie offered to write a guest post on my blog. So I thought today would be the day for him to take his first tentative steps into the world of blogging. So here goes, Mr Foodie's first ever blog post.

Hello all.! As Miss Foodie has already said, this is a guest post by Mr Foodie (Me). As you are aware from her post last week, she was struggling with her blog mojo and I was trying to give her some ideas. And then, it came to me: I can do a guest post on her blog. And I even had an idea of the way the post could go. I do enjoy to read her blog just before bed and give her my opinion on it (so far I don't think I've given her a negative one). Well, anyway, enough about that, I've come here to blog. And please, this is my first blog so be kind, however please leave your comments good or bad. And if I get a more good than bad, who knows I could return.

I've been thinking a lot of late about how the country has gone and how, when I was younger, my parents coped with it all. Then it hit me, they didn't spend as much as we do, and that is because they had recycled, or used the age old hand-me-down method which seemed to have worked. Now being an 80's child, some of the clothes, when I look back, were unreal and I'd never dress the girls the way I used to be dressed but then, it was the fashion at the time. I remember when my brothers (I'm the youngest with 5 years between my older brother and I) were about 11 and 9, my mum used to say 'I'm not throwing that out. That will do James in a year' and she was right, it did. However, the clothes in a year would not have been that much out of fashion, as they would be today. She would always do this, as she would have done with her sisters before her. I think it's how they were raised and, to be honest, it's how we were raised until that tiger roared like a mad cat swinging from a roof fan. We have all forgotten our childhood, I think, and the struggles we had growing up in working class Ireland. I was never in the hand-me-down club from my brothers. But I was from my cousin's and sometimes even neighbours who, any Irish person would tell you, were always a close knit bunch. I remember my neighbour calling to the door one day, and saying to my mum 'I've this lovely jumper for your little fella which ours has grown out of. He's only worn it about twice'. I remember thinking this: 'Great, I hope it's the superman one he has, or the he-man one.' But how wrong was I, it was a black jumper (hand knitted) with a ski slope, snow falling and a little man skying on it (yes, you're thinking what I was thinking at the time, no F&*$ing way am I wearing that!) but my mum said: 'Oh, that's great!'. And the next day I was sporting this around the streets of the North Side of Dublin.

Now thinking back, was it done because they were close knit in the area, or because the clothes were that nice we had to pass them on? And I've come to the answer: it was neither. It was because they just didn't have as much money as we would today. It's not sad to think about it that way, because I think they were happier times. Then came a slight hint of a boom, where people were paid more, people had nicer houses and more and more people had cars on the road, and this way of life started to disappear. We had forgotten our roots, so to speak. People had more money to spend on the clothes their kids wanted. More people wore Nike and Levis rather than the Dunnes or Penneys brands we had become used to (for non Irish, both of these would have been the cheaper side of the market jeans and runners or trainers for the Americans out there). We had started to become a country of snobbier people I think. Some of us had the 'I wouldn't dress my kids in other people's clothes' attitude. And, if given something and a tag wasn't on it, then we'd think: 'No way! He/she is not wearing that'. I think most of us would have been guilty of it, and I'm talking about people in their 30s and 40s out there, and some of our parents.

Then forward to when I was about 16, I hung out with mates who all had the same taste (as you do at that age). The same taste in clothes, style, music, hobbies and girls. We were the Oasis/Verve/indie semi long haired, battered old cord jeans, looking guys. We used to go into shops and see the new Levis on the rack and think: 'Jesus, I'm not wearing that!' And then go to the many many 2nd hand shops around the city centre, in search of tattered old flares, shirts which would have been worn in the late 70's and jackets my dad would wear on a date with my mum back in the day. I would have never classed these as hand-me-downs as I had paid for them. But thinking back to my mum receiving them from family or friends or vice-versa, they would always say: 'I'll get you a drink next time we're out' or drop them in something in return. So, in a way, the clothes were bought. So was I then, reverting back to the mid 80's, while buying these 2nd hand clothes, the only difference being that I didn't know the person who had owned them previously.

I loved shopping in shops because not only were the jeans, tops and jackets cheap but they had a story to them, much like the clothes we had received as kids.

But having said all of the above, I sometimes doubt whether the whole hand-me-downs had ever gone from society. I mean, the clothes side did but, during the Celtic boom, we still did it, without even knowing it. We would always hear of a sofa, or a chair, or table someone had and wanted to get rid of it for various reasons. 'Oh, it doesn't go with the new kitchen'. Or: 'Well we got that new 42inch flat screen telly and we have nowhere to put it. So do you know anyone who would want it?' And the answer was mostly the same, YES. There was people out there (myself and Miss Foodie included) who would have said: 'Yes we will have it' or even say 'No, but we know someone who will take it'. But, at the time, we didn't see it as a hand-me-down or whatever you would like to think of it as. Because the first thing we said was: 'ahh, I'll get you a drink for that or we'd give something in return for it'.

Since Noelie was born, we had got present after present, most of which were 0-3 months. And it was just impossible to use it all without letting her wear one outfit a day. And then leave it in a drawer, gathering dust. We used a lot of clothes for her, and had used some of them just 3 or 4 times before they had to go in that dust gathering drawer because she had outgrown them. And then, one day, we cleared out 3 drawers of clothes, some of which had not even been worn with the tags on them and thinking what are we going to do with them???? Shall we throw them out? 'NO, came Miss Foodie, we can keep them up for the next one'. Ive 3 girls already at home and no way will the next be another girl. I'm getting a boy. Hold on a minute. What do you mean next one !!!!! Yes, she said the next one, although we just had this one here! Brand new, only a few months old. Then it came to me, we can keep them up and speak to my mum who knows the world and its mother. She said she would take them and see if she knew someone she could give them too. Then we heard the news, my oldest brother's partner was expecting.Then came the call from mummy: 'Hold on to them clothes till we see if it's a girl or a boy'. Then 6 months later ,we found out through the wonders of scans, it was a girl. So we had them packed and said that we would drop them over some time. And today was that time, when Miss Foodie came out of the shower, dressed and ready to go, she was faced with an almighty sight on the sitting room floor. All the clothes, booties, changing mats and even the baby bath, all sitting there in front of her. 'Baby, what are you doing? We just cleaned up the place'. To which I replied: 'I'm sending these to mum's for my brother's partner'. And her face suddenly turned into a happy one. Then tonight, after we got home, my mum called and said that she had given my brother's partner first pick of the clothes and the rest had gone to a neighbour's niece who had just had a baby. I was thrilled she had managed to give the clothes to people, not only because we had more room in the house, but because I had, in my old little way, helped bring the age old tradition of hand-me-downs back to life.

I'm not sure what people will think of this post. I'm not like Miss Foodie when it comes to writing or reading books. I'm more of a music and DVD man myself. But I hope it brings back memories to some of you and that most of you will like it.

Mr Foodie
Virgin Blogger (or is that now ex virgin blogger?).

So what do you think? Did you get hand-me-downs? Do you think we have become too snobby about it? Feel free to comment! Mr Foodie would love to hear your views. And how about getting your significant other / best friend / other virgin blogger to write a guest post?

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