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Anne Diamond on TV sofas vs. her own three piece suite

PUBLISHED: 10:21 29 August 2014 | UPDATED: 10:21 29 August 2014

Archant

Anne's been seen on some famous TV sofas but, she admits, her own treasured three piece suite has had many incarnations with some DIY work over the years

Anyone who’s ever met me, and visited me in my home, will have unknowingly sat on the same sofa for the last 30 years. In other words, I’ve never got round to buying a new one.

I’ve re-upholstered and re-covered, tearing my hands to shreds with staples, tacks and upholstery tools because I cannot justify throwing an entire three piece suite on the tip, just because it’s old, tatty or the wrong colour.

So my lovely old sofa (which was inherited in the first place) has been everything from beige hessian to green velvet, red corduroy to cream chintz. And I’m just now working on a new incarnation for it… Which is why I was fascinated to hear about a ‘Say No To New’ campaign.

Started by a Berkshire woman, it is urging us to buy no new clothes (except undies) for a whole year – but to instead purchase second hand or pre-loved items. Or hold clothes-swapping parties. Victoria Lockhead, who runs her styling and dress agency business (called ‘Frankie and Ruby’) from her home in Newbury, is also passionate about dressing people sustainably, sourcing her clothes from charity shops, recycling centres and vintage fairs.

At least she’s doing her bit to redress the balance with our profligate modern lifestyle. Did you know, for instance, that half the average woman’s wardrobe doesn’t actually suit her? And anyway, she’ll only wear 20 per cent of what’s hanging there.

We are all so wasteful. A million tons of textiles go to landfill every year, and every minute, a hundred thousand new outfits are bought that will never be worn. I confess I am guilty of a wasteful wardrobe – I wear probably only a quarter of what’s there and never throw away a thing – just in case. In case of what? In case I’ll slim into it, usually. But at least with my frugal furniture, I don’t feel too guilty!

The garden name game

According to my old Pebble Mill friend, Alan Titchmarsh, we are a nation of snobs when it comes to gardeners. We look down on people who work outdoors, making the lazy and patronising assumption that anyone working on the land is simply there because they’re not brainy enough to do a desk job.

All of the gardeners I know, love and interview, agree. They say our attitude utterly changes once they start calling themselves horticulturists or landscape designers instead of just plain gardeners. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Since nearly all of the gardeners I’ve ever met seem to be happier and healthier than their desk-bound alternates.

Scarily, they’ve also found out that you can predict someone’s age by their name. There aren’t many Annes around in primary school these days – the majority are over 50. Susans are mostly in their 60s, and Gertrudes, Dorothies and Bettys are at least ‘70 something;. Myrtles and Ethels are definitely 80 plus. I guess it’s something authors and scriptwriters have always known. No coincidence that The Golden Girls were called Dorothy, Rose, Sophia and Blanche!

And what about the boys? Most Hermans, Harolds, Harveys and Herberts are well into their 70s. They say names go in cycles, every 100 years, so can we expect a rash of Thelma and Joes in Berkshire nursery schools in the next five years?

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