Virginia Barton

31 March 2017: Things old and new

31 March 2017: Things old and new


31 March 2017


So there’s nothing new under the sun, eh? However, there are a dozen new uses for old things, are there not?

7690fc5f99a539175f29bf926d98c05dOn Mother’s Day, which was the same day we were all discombobulated by the clocks changing, this particular mother was given a milk bottle and a lunch box – two presents that truly surprised me. In fact, I didn’t recognise the milk bottle until it was pointed out that it is now an object on trend. It took me back to Junior School when each of us was given, by courtesy of HM Government, our daily half-pint in just such a bottle, only rather smaller, with a paper lid and a paper straw. The same bottle is now a must-have for flowers, grasses, sticks or what have you.

Trollius, thistles, and little yellow feathery gorse-type blossoms are gracing my bottle, far more interesting than milk.


The lunch box was, in fact, a tiffin tier, each section packed with delectable eats including a large helping of my favourite jazzed-up spinach. It took a few minutes to connect this hi-tech version of a tiffin box with the ones I remember from our Good Old Days in Hong Kong. This modern one was a vivid pink, a colour much favoured out East these days – think “Hello Kitty”.

In the ‘Fifties and ‘Sixties, tiffin came in round bamboo lidded boxes, with the hot or cold food wrapped in leaves inside. Multiples of them were stacked and carried on poles over the shoulders; the carrier then broke into a sort of swinging gait that was almost a run. (I have him in mind exactly, but no means of drawing him for you…) Street vendors and restaurants prepared the tiffin boxes, employing an ever ready queue of men or women to deliver them in good time for a hot lunch.


I challenge you to devise an on trend object from at least one of the following items, thereby converting them to must haves:


The winner will be awarded a gaily-painted door stop made from three bricks.





  • Jack L says on: March 31, 2017 at 1:07 am


    Having never worn spats, gaiters, or a pilch, nor having ever used a mangle, I am at a loss at how to reimagine these.

    A klaxon? I’d channel its noise in a different direction, suspending several together from a tree for a dandy wind chime.

    And the colander’s drainage is ideal for plants: paint one in a bright color and use it as a hanging basket.

    • Ginny says on: March 31, 2017 at 11:44 am


      Oh Jack! Where did that wonderful milk bottle with its useful slogan come from? But I will have to point out to the webmaster that I fear it has a metal top…

      As to the klaxon wind-chime, it’s an inspired thought! Deafening, but definitely inspired! Same goes for the colander — worthy of the on trend pages of the colour supplements.

      Am quite relieved I haven’t see you in a pilch — I take it you are over 21? Ginny

  • Coal-Filled Wellies says on: March 31, 2017 at 4:41 am


    Ginny, I’d never heard of a pilch until today.

    Pilchard = someone who wears a pilch into adulthood?

    • Ginny says on: April 1, 2017 at 1:51 am


      Dear CFW: I remember my aunt (not The Ancestor, who only ever did hand-stitching, but her sister) knitting a pilch for my son when he was a newborn. But the concept of a pilchard worn into adulthood is worthy of Lewis Carroll.

      Or imagine introducing your French friend M. Pilchard…

      Enchantee, Virginie

  • Mary says on: March 31, 2017 at 10:47 am


    Great Commonplace, Ginny. I remember the mini quarter-sized milk bottles from the 70s. Golly how things have changed.

    Unbelievably, coincidentally … my husband recently revamped a Victorian mangle in a thoroughly “on trend” way! He was given the mangle — a huge wrought iron affair with tired, rotten wooden rollers — to bedeck our tiny courtyard garden in London. Our daughter, who is rather artistic, whooped at the sight of it and asked him if he wouldn’t mind cladding the rollers in a rubber sleeve so that she could use the mangle for screen printing her t-shirts. He of course obliged (always encouraging the artistic/entrepreurial in our last born).

    So there you go Ginny! “On trend’ and functional!

    I’m wearing one of the said t-shirts with a beautiful hippy swirl on it.

    • Ginny says on: April 1, 2017 at 1:52 am


      Oh Mary! Could really do with a pic of your ancient mangle — do test the patience of the webmaster and send one. What an imaginative child you have! Andy Warhol did wonderful screen prints; d’you suppose he started his career with a mangle?

      My myopic sister caught her very long hair in an electric mangle… no damage done, fortunately. Ginny

  • Coal-Filled Wellies says on: April 1, 2017 at 9:27 am


    Coming back to pilchards, if my failing memory serves me correctly, during the canonisation process for Thomas Aquinas there was a hunt for miracles worked by the great man. None could be immediately found, so an obliging confrère of his stepped into the breach. He said that he had once served Thomas some trout — he liked his food, I think — and received the reply that it was delicious pilchard. Thus proving that he’d turned trout into pilchard! In the end I think his works were declared inherently miraculous (quite right too).

    I do hope I’ve remembered this correctly — that I’m not making it up, or that the person who told me this wasn’t having me on.

    • Ginny says on: April 2, 2017 at 2:50 pm


      A marvellous story — and why not? Although personally I would never turn anything into a pilchard; it would have to be salmon every time: poached, smoked, cold, or at an extreme pinch, tinned. Thanks for that! G

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