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Faith, hope and charity shops

My mother once came by a second-hand winter coat for me. As I put it on she made me solemnly promise that I would not reveal its dubious origins to anyone. (Sorry, Mother, I just have!) Family honour was fine with sibling hand-me-downs but not with the receipt and use of goods which had been worn by people who were not blood relatives.

Esme Shirt

Those days and attitudes are long gone from Britain’s middle classes. Wear your second-hand coat with pride. Schools have jumble sales; churches have clothes swaps; and there never was a better time to frequent the charity shops. While the chancellor reduces VAT in order to persuade us to spend more money and thus kick-start the economy, many of us would like to find ways of spending less.