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Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Attitude or Gratitude?

by Theodore Dalrymple (April 2009)

A recent Dutch visitor to my house in France was observant enough to notice that I disliked wasting food. He told me that he was very much of the same mind.

It occurred to me then to try to find the cause and justification of our dislike of such waste. Where did it, this dislike, come from? What reason could we give for it? (These are not the same questions, of course.) more>>>

Posted on 03/31/2009 5:46 PM by NER
9 Mar 2010
Miriam Helbok


I discovered your essays through and am glad I did. I enjoyed the ones in the archive very much.

Quite coincidentally, the day before I read your essay about waste, I took the wooden egg (analogous to your mother's mushroom) from the drawer in which my 96-year-old mother has kept it for decades and started using it myself to darn my socks. (I am a 66-year-old native of the Bronx and have always darned my socks!) My mother can no longer do such work. Years ago, when she sewed often, she reproduced in needlepoint the words "Make it do, wear it out, use it up, do without" and hung the result on the wall next to the chair she sits in while eating, although she certainly never needed such a reminder. My paternal grandmother, born in Poland/Russia in the late 1800s, stopped taking care of her five children when the youngest entered kindergarten, but she never stopped darning her children's socks and prided herself on her skill at weaving patches. Once, I took a class with an artist whose living room contained a mountain of socks. He bought new ones instead of laundering the ones he had worn . . . 

With best wishes, Miriam Helbok 

30 Apr 2009
Send an emailViola Jaynes



Alan C.  I've seen this clip before and I love it.  Glad you shared it here. :-)  vj

30 Apr 2009
Send an emailViola Jaynes



Mr. Dalrymple,  as always, your writing is wonderful.  Growing up in my orphanage in Germany, we had a sowing lady come in once a week, and I also remember her mending our socks and sowing in name tags for our clothes.

Being a mother of a 9 and 11 year old, I see a lot of waste.  I do am not above waiting though I despise it very much.  I tend to cook too much food and after my family does not eat it as left overs, I simply put it down the garbage disposal.  Every time I do it, I cringe.  '

I sat and laughed about the accident your wife got into and how you chose to handle it.  You are indeed a gentleman and your wife is lucky to have you. :-)

Great writing as alwasy.  You make me think.  You make me want to become a better writer.  Btw:  I am writing a book and am almost to the point of turning it over to an editor.  It is about my life in the orphanage and then coming to America.

Thank you for writing each month.  I always look forward to visiting you here.  I also mention you on "twitter."

Best to you and please tell your wife to be careful!

18 Apr 2009
Ien van Houten

Ïn my long ago Dutch childhood the words my mother used to bemoan  waste was "Wat zonde!" Only recently did I twig onto the deep significance of the expression. Zonde is sin. The word for waste was SIN.

Great article.

11 Apr 2009
Send an emailJerzy Wawro

I walk out of the pastry shop. I have a box of cakes in my hands. I stop on the pavement and take the first bite, it feels like heaven, and then desperation returns, and guilt. I have refrained from eating cakes for almost three days; and now this, failure of will, total wast and surrender. My will has failed yet again. I am over 100kg now. I feel anger rising; I fling that damned box with its cakes down onto the pavement.....

No pidgeons about; pity. The lonely figure of the Intellectual approaches. He instantly recognises a food for thought.

3 Apr 2009
Send an emailRobbit

...... or as Immanuel Kant said somewhere: "Ingratitude is the essence of vileness".

1 Apr 2009

Another (less eloquent, but more humorous) way of putting it: