Guest Post by Angrywoman of Newark

August 19, 2013 at 9:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Sometimes it’s the little things that make you feel like letting off steam. Here’s the ever-excellent Maureen Bell, expert on book history and emerita of Birmingham University’s English Department, triggered by a chance, indirect, encounter with Kirstie Allsopp, of TV fame.


Scanning today’s TV listings in the Guardian (I know – anything to avoid leaving the breakfast table) I spotted a new treat:

9.0 Kirstie Allsopp: House Proud

New series. Crafty Kirstie Allsopp

makes a personalised doormat

using a vintage font.

I confess to a certain property-related Kirstie-and-Phil habit in the past. But it’s all getting sickeningly out of hand. Was the writer of this potted description on top satirical form? Whatever. The result is a perfect distillation of our lives and times, ladies!

The Allsopp name, of course, speaks for itself. Having extended the franchise from house-buying to home crafts and make-do-and-mend, the Kirstie brand guarantees the fun to be had from home-making. It’s especially useful at present to have a titled Tory Lady Bountiful on hand to cheer her less fortunate sisters. With paid part-time work (on anything other than zero-hours contracts) having disappeared, today’s women need hobbies. Kirstie’s contribution to the Big Society is to keep us happy in homes we can’t afford by giving us skills to keep our hands occupied. Otherwise we might venture into public spaces and use our hands foolishly and unproductively, e.g. to make and hold placards on anti-cuts marches. Crafty Kirstie indeed!

But what a bravura display of précis we have here. Every word counts in this tempting little description. Remember Rebecca West’s quotation? Perhaps you, too, had the postcard in the 1980s:

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.

Well, now we can make doormats for, as well as of, ourselves. That’s the spirit for make-do-and-mend in austerity Britain. And a personalised doormat at that! Modernity’s fixation on the individual (I’m worth it) knows no bounds. Best of all, we can use a ‘vintage font’. Is that paradox or oxymoron? Or just moronic? ‘Vintage’ gives us all a boost of warm cup-cakey feeling and sends us into a nostalgic haze. China teacups, anyone? Remember that lace doillies, cake stands, pressed linen napkins and cake forks mean more work for those idle female hands. Bake, make, iron, smile. It’ll take your mind off it, dear. What’s not so frequently referenced in the world-of-vintage, however, is the army of servants who – in the olden days – made the graciousness of the drawing room possible. Let’s remember them as we sip the tea. They might have been treated like dirt, but at least they had jobs.

But what’s this word ‘vintage’ doing, coupled with ‘font’? Ah, ‘font’ is the modern twist. You, ladies — Britain’s makers of personalised doormats — aren’t only Victorian angels in houses, but also modern gals with computer skills. You not only know what a font is, but can tell the difference between Palatino and Dingbats. You can use the internet, visit Kirstie’s website, shoot through to M&S and buy a Kirstie Porcelain Tea for One set (£15). Transferable skills indeed!


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