The Loop: Us and our spoons

  • 10 May 2013

Welcome to The Loop, the Magazine's letters column, including the best of your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.

There's no accounting for taste in art, taste in cars and taste in spoons, as we've found this week.

The portrait of the Chinese Girl, by Vladimir Tretchikoff, came about after the artist met Monika Pon-su-san in her uncle's laundry in Cape Town, where she was working. She told us that she has a copy of the painting in her lounge. She's not the only one.

Lee Aaron Camfield wrote on the BBC News Magazine Facebook page: "We had one on our wall when I was young. We called her the blue lady, obviously a copy."

Grahame Bredbere added: "There were loads of 'knock-off' painting like this one in same style. My grandparents had one on their living room wall."

Andrew Graham said he "wouldn't pay a fiver for it". But it was its omnipresence that stuck in many people's minds. Ralph Goddard wrote: "It used to be on the stairway in Boots Swansea in the 1960s." Snudge emailed us from Christie's Beach, Australia, using the form on this page, to say he (or she) could never understand why Boots gave it such a prominence.


The question of why some people splash out on personalised number plates was one which puzzled many readers. Long-time correspondent Basil Long, from Nottingham, emailed: "I have a cherished plate. It isn't a personalised number plate because it doesn't relate to me, but is rather a smutty pun. I also didn't 'buy' it - it was the number my car was originally assigned but I enjoyed it so much I kept it. The only problem is that I don't currently own a car to put it on."

Amid the calls of "waste of money" were some confessing their own plates, including a vicar.

Graham Gillings wrote: "The wife, me and the daughter all have private plates. Just something special to make the car stand out. The wife is a vicar so she has her initials and a REV plate. I drive a Ford Racing Puma, so I have a FRP plate. The daughter has her initials KLG. The most paid was £300 for mine. Bargains all of them."

Ian Connor says: "Personalised does not mean it's your name. It can be almost anything. Mine is my amateur radio call sign which is recognised by other radio amateurs but to most people means nothing. Not everybody's motive is the same - it's not always about 'vanity' or disguising an old car."

But that might be what Sheena Parry had in mind. She writes: "I had a oldish Mini convertible, which I wanted to shift for maxi money. I knew I wouldn't get more then £3,000 for it - book value. I 'mod'ified it by sticking some mod targets on it (£45) then bought a number plate with the word MOD (£250) for it. Auctioned the car and got a cool £7,500! The guy that bought the car said it was the number plate and my mod decorations which sold the car. You will be amazed what a right number plate can do. I am selling my black checkerboard-decorated Mini with the words SKA next month! LOL."

Finally, Phil Taylor (@pstni) tweets: "Much cheaper just to change your name to match your existing plate."


Image caption Barn the Spoon's spoons

Our film of Barnaby Carder, the spoon whittler who sits in a Hackney shopfront making spoons for £12 a piece, inspired some readers to think of a change of career, not least because of his attitude to life: "I'm a massive cynic and spoons are cool. I really believe in them." But he does add: "Sometimes it feels a bit like I've sold out."

Dan Brixey tweeted that he was "strangely envious of this man".

Tristan Watson said the story of Carder was "one for the 'do one thing well' list". But at heart it's just a simple story - as James Scholey says, "This guy really likes spoons."

Other contributions

In other contributions, Jon Barnes from Bridgend took issue with Paper Monitor's historical accuracy in pondering the Daily Express's question of what we did before the 1957 invention of bubble wrap. "The twist?" suggested Paper Monitor. No, says Jon. "Let's Twist Again was released in 1961."

Jason Auburn asks why we link to items in the Times when it has a paywall, meaning readers will have to pay to read the article. Our policy is that we link to sites purely on editorial merit; some newspaper sites charge, others don't, some allow a number of free stories before charging... it's complicated, so we stick to thinking about the words they are using.

Readers' insights into living on a budgetprompted Steven Green to coin the phrase "salary controlled diet". One unit of kudos to Steven.

Ben Hill, from Cardiff, writes: "In Pictures: The Queen's Speech - missing the point, surely?"

And our favourite email of the week, which at first looked like spam but isn't, came from Alix Henley, from "Baa-Zuhl": "Lovely, beautifully and wittily written, thanks very much. I will print your article and wave it at visitors! Merci Vielmals! (as they say in Basel)."

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