Tuesday, January 27, 2015

There's a difference in living and living well

For Christmas, I received India Knight’s book, In Your Prime. I suppose I was given it because ‘prime’ is a euphemism for ‘past your prime’. (Actually I was given it because I asked for a copy, but there’s no pathos in that version.) The book is targeted at women in their late forties and beyond, and focuses rather more on foot care than I was expecting. It’s less about prime in the Miss Jean Brodie sense of running away to fight in the Spanish civil war, and more about prime as an excuse to buy things to make life easier.

Now India Knight is a well-heeled woman who lives in a very smart part of London (I have in fact seen her house, but I am NOT a stalker, as I explained to the police), and so her list of essential items, in the chapter called ‘Living Well’, includes a bed which costs in the thousands, goose-down pillows, personal trainers, laser-surgery, Botox, a ‘good’ handbag (meaning Louis Vuitton rather than Debenhams) and so on.

This got me thinking about the things that help me live well. Few of them are the most expensive things I’ve ever bought. Some of them aren’t even actual purchases, sorry India, I know I’m letting the side down. Most of them, of course, are items of stationery. First amongst these, the King of Living Well, is envelopes. How often have I gone to get an envelope to send something important, like a complaint letter to the school, and only found one ratty square red envelope, its glue no longer tacky. Well, now I have a whole stack of envelopes, in C4, C5, C6 and the sad outsider DL. Get me knowing the official sizes. 

More must-haves: a proper sellotape dispenser so you don’t have to waste time finding the end; Pritt stick that hasn’t dried out (tricky, as Pritt dries out overnight, like a mayfly), non-perished rubber bands, pens that work; gloves paired up in a box near the front door; reading glasses in every room (not a massive expense, these things are cheaper than chips); zips that don’t stick. 

A brief survey revealed some other people’s essential ‘Living Well’ items to include swimming goggles for cutting onions (see photo, posed by model - by the way, I’m sparing you the lengthy debate that accompanied this suggestion, about how none of the other so-called tricks work); a penknife about one’s person, for all those cutting/mugging emergencies, and a homemade dispenser for a ball of string, or twine, as we call it in Lewes (the instructions for this involved a lemonade bottle and were rather complicated).
I’m going to write this up on a DL envelope as a proper list, and next time I’m passing India’s house - once the restraining order’s lifted - I’ll pop it through the letterbox. In my opinion she needs to focus less on Botox, and more on envelopes, if she’s really going to have a happy prime.

Beth Miller


  1. Personal trainers: shoes you don't share with anyone else. Then again, I don't live in Hampstead ;-)

  2. Yes yes yes yes yes yes YES
    A proper sellotape dispenser.

  3. Hilarious Beth as always. Coincidentally, I've started to call our Patina Ditch the Detox party on 7 Feb "Ditch the Botox", to be more inclusive of any skeptics who feel detoxing is just another a big wellbeing mass conspiracy... :) Caroline

  4. Love the post Beth, though I'm not sure which size DL is so must check and make sure to add them to my stash. For me, the things that also make life simpler: bite-sized chocolates always on hand (to avoid that hasty too-full mouth when someone is just about to ask you a question), a steering wheel warmer / cover for winter, and the best invention of all time: toast tongs! Like a glued together bamboo pair of chop sticks but slightly fatter. They have saved me from years of electrocution at the hands of a demented toaster! Perhaps I should buy a new one of those too...

  5. My three essential items are all surprisingly similar in shape. In size order: my really really good pair of tweezers, most efficient at plucking even the hint of a wisp; my teabag squeezer (my friend Julia would shudder that I continue unabashedly to squeeze my teabags); and my long, flat wooden tongs, used to extract burnt toast from the toaster, thereby saving me from instant electrocution.

    1. Ooh that's spooky that Liz and Carol both have chosen wooden tongs for the toaster as an essential item. I really should introduce you two to each other.