Monday, February 12, 2018

To splash out or not to splash out?

This year here in Edinburgh, Scotland, we are celebrating the centenary one of our most famous novelists, Muriel Spark. In 2008 the Times newspaper named Spark as No. 8 in its list of "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945." She is possibly most well know for her novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. However, Spark is quoted as saying her favourite of all her novels is The Driver's Seat. The Driver's Seat involves a killing and is often referred to as a “whydunnit”, so I think I can legitimately sneak Spark into the Type M for Murder blog ;)

However, I'm not writing about Muriel because of her writing but because of her dress. You see, in 1951 and very early in Spark's writing career she entered a short story competition run by the Observer newspaper. She came first out of 6,700 entrants, including many from well-established writers. The win changed the course of her writing life. Now at this time she was also struggling financially. But instead of being sensible and using the very considerable prize money of £250 to pay her gas bill or buy food she treated herself to a very expensive, beautiful blue velvet dress and a complete set of Proust's 'A la Recherche du Temps Perdu'. I saw the very dress she bought this weekend in an exhibition about Muriel's life and writing at the National Library of Scotland. It is indeed a very lovely dress (as you can see from my photo). My question is this, was it a crime for her to have splashed out like this when she was so close to the breadline? What would you have done with the money – £250 is probably worth about £5500 in today's money? Would you have been sensible or splashed out on something special. If you had splashed out, what would you have bought?

I think, like Muriel, I may have treated myself to a posh new frock 😉

1 comment:

Sybil Johnson said...

I probably would have been sensible with part of the money, then used the rest for a splurge.