Friday, 15 October 2010

The artful borrower.......

Lately I’ve been wondering what happened to borrowing, maybe it got lost under the bed or at the back of a cupboard? Or did we lend it out, forgot about it and never got it back? I’ve been pondering this for a few reasons – I had to ask a favour of a friend, not the life threatening kind – I just needed a duck down jacket tumble dried. If you wash them yourself and try to air dry them – they end up looking like a teddy that someone’s stolen the stuffing from. The other reason I’ve been thinking about it is that we have a family wedding soon, and I may need to think about ‘borrowing’ the odd frock, pair of shoes and bag from various chums. I don’t really want to buy a new outfit so my borrowing skills will need a bit of a polish up!

Now, I don’t own a tumble drier – part of the frugal lifestyle of not wasting resources part bloody mindedness on my part – (excuse the cursing). I was told once – ‘you’ll never manage a family without a tumble drier’ – typical of me – heels dug firmly in ‘Oh yeah? Watch me?!’ I blame my red hair and Celtic colouring for the need to do exactly the opposite of anything I’ve been told. Which leaves me now with a jacket that looks like it’s been robbed of stuffing; not great. I called a friend and asked if I could have my jacket re-‘ploofed’ up with her drier, essentially ‘borrowing’ her equipment. As it turns out of course she was happy to help and it offered an opportunity for lunch and a catch up, jackets re-‘ploofed’, lunch scoffed, vegetables handed over from the patch – the universe set back to rights. I’m so glad I asked about borrowing her drier, rather than going to the local dry cleaners, they don’t even offer lunch in there anyway and the chat isn’t up to much............

It felt a bit odd to ask a favour though – I wonder when I last borrowed anything? As a culture we tend to ‘buy’ what we want and have oodles of gadgets, books and so much ‘stuff’ – I think maybe somewhere along the line many of us (myself included) have lost the notion of ‘borrowing’ rather than ‘buying’. I’ve not often heard myself say ‘I must borrow....who’s got one?’ I’m more likely to say ‘Oh I need one of those where can I buy one..............?’ I’m often on the internet ordering a book I need, until lately I’d never have thought – ‘um can I borrow that from the library?’, nope credit card out, couple of clicks later, bobs your uncle I’ve bought the book and I feel smug when I get free postage. Hmm, not as clever as getting it for free from the library though..............I’ve think I’ve almost lost the art of borrowing!

The thing about borrowing is that it maximises resources and those things we do have can be useful for ourselves and those ‘borrowees’ whom might benefit from them. Isn’t it how it use to be? As a child, I don’t remember owning absolutely everything needed for life, if we didn’t have something – we borrowed. Maybe, it’s a deeper reflection of society as a whole and the isolation we often feel in our own homes? Like many people I live far away from my family, I can’t say I know all of my neighbours either. But, when we first moved in I needed a saw to do a quick job – all the tools were still packed and in transit from the other house – so we borrowed one from the neighbour across the field – gave an awkward opportunity to say hello too. Now we occasionally are greeted with a ‘How are you, do you have a...........that we can borrow?’

When I think about it – as a borrower, I’ve got a goodly lot to offer – if you want a loan of a garden tool, many bigger garden machines or equipment – kitchen equipment or a book on anything botanical/gardening - I’m your girl – my hard earned finances were generally recycled into everything needed for the garden, kitchen or a book. However, if you’re after a handbag, pair of heels (although, I do have 2 pairs) or the latest fashion magazine – I’m maybe not a great bet – most of the shoes I own are wellingtons, I might have a hand bag *somewhere* but I doubt it. But if I’ve got it and you need it; I’ll happily lend it. Now I’m off to ask my friend if I can borrow one of her handbags for the wedding – I tell myself it’s not so much about being a skin flint by not buying something I’ll use only once – it’s about saving resources and rekindling an old's kind of like recycling but not quite.


  1. I read an article a while ago which stated that "ownership is nothing but access is everything" , sharing resources is a great idea :) I'm with you on hoarding garden stuff , kitchen equipment and books but happy to lend my stuff out as long as it comes back safe and sound for when I need to use it again.

  2. I couldn't get buy without borrowing stuff from those around me! I got most of my garden renovated thanks to borrowing tools from a helpful neighbour. It's also amazing how much people want to help you out and lend you things. Good luck with future borrowing!

  3. We have a pair of long handled garden loppers which various neighbours have borrowed - we're in flats, so nobody actually has a garden, however there are trees and bushes which occasionally need attention.....far more sensible for one pair of loppers to be available communally!

  4. You are all so right! I love the quote Dreamer - and you do need to keep any eye and be thoughtful of other people too - Dannie I'm glad the garden is going well - well done you!!
    Robyn one pair of loppers seems very sensible! Well done you lot! My daughter has just informed me she will borrow a dress for the wedding at the weekend from her stepsister - I was really pleased to hear it!