Saturday, August 09, 2008


Trade justice campaigners will sometimes ask us to pause and think about the question, ‘If your clothes could tell a story, what would that story say?’. And we know that if we shop at Primark the story probably isn’t likely to be a happy one for the producer of the garment. But just the other day I was presented with a new twist on this. I’d taken a day off work to go and visit my elderly Gran over in Yorkshire. We don’t get to see her very often and she likes to see how quickly Izzy is growing up.
When we got to her little council bungalow she was sat outside the front door on her electro-scooter thing (she has very bad arthritis in her feet and can’t walk very well). We went inside for a cuppa and there as usual was a pile of knitting on the sofa. Gran is always knitting, there’s lots of great-grand kids appearing on the scene at the moment so she’s kept busy. But just in passing she said, ‘Oh, they’re for the kids in Darfur.’ I was pretty stunned. Gran has never to my knowledge shown any interest in any sort of charitable work, she’s not churchy either. But there, in her lonely little lounge (Granddad passed away 5 years ago) she is quietly doing her bit to make a difference in the world.
If only those little hats could tell their story. Soon, some tiny little refugee kid, displaced, disconnected, will be given a little wooly hat to keep out the cool evening breeze. And in a strangely cosmic way that kid becomes connected to my aging Gran. That's cool isn't it, 'One World - One Dream', as the Chinese were so keen to stress as the opening ceremony of the Olympics yesterday. Except none of the kids wearing my Gran's wooly hats will ever know about her, which is a real shame. And she'll never meet them, which is a shame too. 

Clothes really ought to be able to tell their story. 

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