Jam today, tomorrow…

And yet more jam the day after that…

The news footage of a woman calmly trying on a pair of trainers in a looted sportswear shop before making off with them has been preying on my mind all night. I can’t imagine she would have shop lifted quite so blatantly on a normal Sunday morning, nor do I think she would consider such nonchalant theft if she was out with her mum. At what point did she consider her world had become sufficiently upside down that she could justifiably turn into a thief without it troubling her conscience? And how bad would it have to be before I got there too? Where do you draw the line? Lobbing a brick through the window of Argos and making off with a widescreen  TV would be a clear no-no, but what if I was just walking along the pavement and tripped over a box of trainers, size 4?

Some commentators have tried to explain (not justify they add quickly) the looting by focusing on the effect of the cuts in the areas of the riots, but I think linking criminality to lack of cash is always a dodgy argument. Quite apart from the fact that little old ladies who’d lost their day centre, meals on wheels, and weekly subsidised cab drive to the shops, were conspicuously absent from the looting gangs, I  think, risk of starvation aside, honest people do not turn into feral thieves just because things are getting a little tight at home.

Talking of which, I was planning to do my bit for self-sufficiency this week by turning our plum harvest into jam and chutney. Our single plum tree, planted when our second daughter was born 15 years ago, is thriving in our pocket handkerchief city garden and has produced 15kg of plums. (We used an Ikea bag and that gadget you use to tell whether your luggage is too heavy to accompany you on Ryan Air, since you ask). As we picked I could picture a sweet-smelling kitchen, bubbling pans and jars of home-made pickles lining our shelves waiting to be wrapped in sprigged muslin for Christmas.

Then I realised we had one empty jam jar in the house and half a crusty bowl of sugar. Two trips into town later I’d spent approximately £30 on hexagonal jam jars from the pound shop at £2.29 each and another tenner on sugar . It was at that point my husband pointed out that Sainsbury were selling jam in their Basics range for 30p. I now have twelve jars of Sainsbury mixed fruit jam in plastic takeaway boxes in the fridge and twelve empty jam jars in my dishwasher waiting to be filled with yet to be made plum jam.. Is that what they call home economics?


Deal of the day:
Accessorize are giving you 4% back for your kids on All Purchases until 14 August (usually 3%)

Scary statistic of the day:
A study by the Institute of Public Policy Research reports that the cuts in working families tax credit and the rising cost of childcare mean that more mothers are finding it makes more economic sense to give up work rather than try to keep up with the cost of childcare