Thursday, 4 August 2011

Day 35: Handkerchiefs

Oh dear.  I was without internet access for a few days there, as my holiday base changed to Oxford.  I shall try to catch all the posts up at some point (completion being important here), but if I stress too much, I will just fall further behind.  So now that I am home again, I figure that it is best to leap ahead a few days and plunge back in with the day-to-day stuff - which is of more practical relevance anyway.

Today's topic is handkerchiefs.  Initially, the paper variety.  These are nice and handy and clean and disposable - and can cost over £2 per box.  I can easily go through a box every two to three weeks, so this is a nasty expense, and one which I always resent.  Loo roll makes a cheap alternative, but it is not something one can really use in public without a certain loss of professionalism.  It is hard to look competent while pulling a trail of tissue paper from your bag like a conjuror hauling on a chain of sausages. 

Yet I can recall a time in my childhood when we knew of no such thing as a paper hankie.  Instead, there was a drawer in the kitchen in which was kept any amount of neatly ironed and folded handkerchiefs, from my father's mansize sheets to dainty little embroidered affairs.  They were also a common gift from aunts and grandmothers, and occasionally made rather dull appearance in a Christmas stocking. 

Obviously, the cotton handkerchief has considerable disadvantages compared to the paper version.  With apologies for grossness, I do recall them becoming a little crusty from time to time.  Also, soft though they were, they were not soft enough to avoid a sore and cracked nose when in the throes of a headcold.  (The 'balsaam' paper handkerchiefs really do work when you have a cold, and are well worth the investment on such occasions, even though they are heartbreakingly expensive.) 

But otherwise, the cotton handkerchief is much the superior product.  Not only is it washable and reuseable, but it doesn't fall to pieces at the bottom of your bag, and besides, is so much more elegant.  One can even add a dab of scent, or some menthol when the tubes are blocked.  A pack of a dozen plain white ones can be found on Amazon or ebay for around £10, and if you don't mind a slightly twee design, you can even buy a dozen for £2.99 (though look out for postage and packing).  This is a cost that will pay itself back very rapidly indeed.

Alternatively, do what I am currently doing, and keep an eye open in charity shops.  People still get them as presents, and then seem to have no use for them and give them away still in the box.  (Even in the throes of the most enthusiastic frugality, I would not stoop to buying second hand handkerchiefs!)  I picked up a couple of very pretty ones in Oxford for £1.75, and intend having a good look for more tomorrow.

So I shall save the paper handkerchiefs for times of real need, and enjoy the return to the proper recyclable hankies of my childhood.  I may even keep one up my sleeve!


Jan said...

Hi, coming across from being on board! Three months ago, I moved into my own place after living with son and his wife for 3 years. When unpacking I found two large boxes of tissues in with my stuff. I almost never use the things but unpacked them.. I use cloth hankies when I need them and have some in the two bags I use most often. I go through bags every use and put used hankies in the wash and replace with fresh. Usually I haven't had to use them.

Two weeks ago I came down with a truly terrible cold which led to an even worse sinus infection.

I have used one roll of paper and both those large boxes of tissues. I will replace at least one because I find that with a cold, it is far more hygienic to dispose of a tissue and then wash my hands than it is to have a grotty, sodden hanky to use and to have it in my bag.

Jan (Loth...)
Sometimes I just need to spend money on stuff like that.

Fran said...

Hi, Jan. Welcome aboard! I'm sorry to hear you haven't been well. Sinus infections are truly nasty. I agree with you, that there are times when the usual frugal rules have to be suspended, and a nasty cold or flu is one of them. I hope you are on the mend now, and that you get to enjoy your new home. Fran x