From Another Correspondent
Here is yet another article from a correspondent living in London. It sounds hard work, to make ends meet in this home. How many of us would have the courage to do our own housework, washing, cooking, dressmaking and marketing and earn enough for two to live on? Yet our correspondent finds time to read and take iexercise and amuse herself.
After reading this account who can complain that the life of a modern woman is dull?
I cannot lay claim to having contrived, by my own ingenuity, a comfortable, perhaps 1 urious, home with furniture chosen with discrimination from the barrows of econd-hand dealers, a whitewash brush, a few nails and other things, like your flit correspondent, although I can imagine he pleasure and satisfaction such a home Iwould give, but I can lay claim to help* to run a home for two people on little] more than half of the salary your second correspondent enjoys. 1 have a " stable-companion" (hereinafter called my S.C.) who, owing to illhealth of a chronic nature, is unable to follow any occupation, and our problem was howl to run a home for both of us on my salarY. The net amount of this, when office insurances are deducted, is 17s. 3d., per week, which may seem princely to some until I show how it melts every Friday evening.
Housekeeping on £1 week
We have a three-roomed flat for which we pay 17s. 6d. per week rent, we scoured the neigthourhood for something cheaper, but unsuccessfully. I keep 10s. a week for my t wn expenses, which has to cover fares, lu ches, a daily paper and all incidentals, and their name is legion. We have to put by 6s. a week for insurances, these are admittedly heavy, but there is a special reason. We also put by 4s. a week for gas, coal, electric light, and the small amount of laundry that we put out. We wash everything at home except heavy things, and these we find impossible, since all the washing must be finished before I leave for the office. Thus We are left with, roughly, a pound a week for housekeeping, etc., actually we spend an average of 16s. a week for food. and we have not yet found out how to live on less.
My S.C. has to have good food; what meat we have must be mutton and must be English, tinned food is taboo, as also made up dishes and cheese in any form; nevertheless, our meals are interesting because we have the best of all sauces—a good appetite.
What We Eat
To say that we quite often have chicken on such a small housekeeping allowance may sound fantastic, but it is true. A small fowl may be bought for Is. 6d. to 2s. (Is. 6(1. if one goes to Farringdon Road market, as I do in rny•lunch hour, 2s. if bought locally) and if it is steamed gently for about two hours 'On a bed of vegetables, with only just enough salted water to " swim" them, a small cupful of rice and some potatoes added during the last half hour, the result is a delicious meal, and enough left to Make us] two more dinners. A rabbit costing front 10d. to Is. 6d. (10d. in Farringdon Road, Is. 6d. locally) cooked in a similar way again gives us three meals, always with the addition of green vegetables. A breast of mutton costs about 9d. or so, and roasted with potatoes and again some green vegetable, makes us two dinners. Like Jack Spratt my S.C. can eat no fat, so she has the lean end and I the other. We have fish about twice a week and although we cannot afford soles, salmon and such like, with the particular sauce already mentioned we enjoy the cheaper kinds, which are usually just as nutritious. Thus we ring the changes and find meal-times very interesting.
We make our own bread, this may sound arduous, in practice it is very simple and when all costs are worked out it is cheaper by a third than baker's bread and in addition we have a purer, more nourishing and satisfying bread. We bake once a week and the last loaf is as good as the first. We generally manage to make a few pounds of jam for appreciative visitors.
Then we make all our own clothes, including coats and costumes (we flatter ourselves we do not look home-made) we are great believers in getting good materials and in having things cleaned to give them a new lease of life. We are both wearing winter coats which are four years old; and they were made of good materials and in a fairly plain style: they do not date, in fact they carry their age very well.
We make our knitted jumpers do double duty for when they have been washed once or twice and are getting a little out of shape, we undo them, make the wool into skeins and wash, shaking it often while drying to restore as much of the original fluffiness as possible, and having rewound it knit what are, in effect, new jumpers. A good deal of trouble? Maybe, but then one cannot be economical without taking trouble.
About once a fortnight my S.C. goes to market, this time Caledonian market, and buys apples, both for eating and cooking (these figure very largely in our menu) fish, and anything else she can carry.
Although the fares amount to 4d. we save a great deal more than that and it is well worth while. Fish, fruit and vegetables are very fresh and very cheap.
Concerts for Pleasure
For our pleasures, there are many and various, we are both keen on good music and hear it whenever we can. The gas, coal, etc., fund sometimes reveals a small surplus and then we thoroughly enjoy a good concert, although it is possible in London to hear an excellent concert for the sum of 6d. Nays are rather beyond our purse, since neither of us is able to "queue." We have one pleasure that is unfailing; on my Saturday " off," we pack our lunch and take a 'bus to the fringe of the country, then take the footpath way and " merrily hent the stile-a " a good round walk (we are not hikers in the strict sense of the word) and home to tea with large appetites and beautiful sights and scenes to recall.
We have an excellent public library in (Continued in next column.) the district, thanks be, which provides us with all the books we have time to read and will always get us any books we want for special study.
Thus we live happily and busily, not passing rich, but lives full of interest to ourselves at least, we balance our budget, with a good deal of contrivance certainly, but it is all-great, fun and we even manage to support a cat.