18 JANUARY 1957, Page 16

Consuming Interest

• • • . . Carpets on the Cheap By LESLIE ADRIAN ARPETS are quite the most formidable item in the budget of those setting up home, or even keeping a home presentable, today.

I speak from experience, for during the past eighteen months I have attempted to furnish a six-roomed flat without too many demands on capital or without taking on too much hire pur- chase. It has been a pleasant preoccupation, and Saturdays spent searching junk shops in places like Bermondsey and Brixton (where, incidentally, a small Flea Market has sprung up in the Jamaican quarter) have produced enough second- hand furniture. But this is no solution to the carpet problem. I soon discovered that prices of good wool carpets (still the best) were far top high; so I began to investigate whether it was possible to find a carpet made of substitute material that would give satisfactory wear.

For those with the minimum amount to spend there are the new rayon carpets. I noted when I visited Blenheim that the Duchess of Marl- borough has solved the problem of re-carpeting some of the long corridors there with a rayon carpet in dark blue. Today there are both tufted and cut rayon carpets on the market and both types are bonded on the back with latex or plastic. They cost about £1 a square yard less than woollen carpets, and they come in excellent colours and widths up to fifteen feet.

Cheaper than rayon is needleloom felt. But, from the experience of friends, I would stress that it is only suitable for bedrooms and rooms where there is not a great deal of traffic. These carpets have one great advantage : they are very simple to lay, and can be cut with scissors without binding. One which has just recently come into the shops is made of a mixture of rayon and nylon with a sponge rubber back.

Also very much in demand—one firm has at least a six-weeks' waiting list—are the new 'mixes' made from wool blended with man-made fibres such as Ardil or nylon. These are only a little less expensive than wool, but they are hard- wearing and come in excellent colours.

The disadvantage about all these synthetics is that, although they have the wearing qualities of good wool carpets, they do not have the spring and resilience. After a few weeks they flatten tinder foot and they do tend to mark easily. But they clean well.

Haircoid carpet is fairly well known as a hard-wearing floor covering. Although it has not the luxurious look of a thick pile carpet, in neutral shades—in a room with brightly-coloured rugs— it can look very attractive. For nurseries and bed- rooms the Belgian cotton carpets—often at less than £10—are now being made in attractive colours and patterns instead of those hideous mock-Persian affairs.

And for those who have the time, there are at least two firms in London who hold regular auc- tions for secondhand carpets. There is a 'view day,' when all carpets are opened out..

* * had been mystified by the appearance on the butter counters a several shops of brands of 'creamery' butter at around 2s. 8d., or approxi- mately the same price as New Zealand butter today. Apparently this new product, which con- jures up visions of lush pastures, dairymaids and bowls of rich cream, is nothing more than a euphemism for 'processed.'

'Creamery butter is a blended butter,' a man in the trade tells me. 'It can be a mixture of New - Zealand, Danish, English or Dutch, and the price is kept down by adding a legally permitted amount of water and salt by a factory process.'

I have tasted `creamery' and find in flavour I do not like it as well as New Zealand or Danish butter; and when I fried an omelette in it, the egg stuck to the pan. It is, of course, a great deal easier to spread than other butters.

But this is just the kind of thing that seems to me deplorable—these factory cheapenings of good basic food. Good butter is, of all things, one of the most important—particularly if you care about good cooking.

I am glad to see the Sainsbury group agree with me and are not stocking `creamery' or any of these blended butters.

'We believe butter is at its best straight from the dairy to the counter and that the name "creamery" should not be used. It frequently de- notes only a mixture of the best and the worst quality butters,' a member of the firm told me.

Have you heard of chincherinchees? These de- lightfully spring-like South African flowers have become so popular here for their long-lasting properties that they are now being grown in England. They should be in the florists by May or June.

Some London florists still have some left from a consignment that arrived just before Christmas. They cost from 9d. to Is. a bloom and are pre- served by waxing the stalks. Once the wax has been removed, the chincherinchees will last for from six to eight weeks in water. They look rather like a shaggy version of the white hyacinth and are at their best mixed with dark evergreens. A bunch I had from South Africa early in December are still in good condition.


have had a letter from a correspondent which gives a clue to why it is becoming increasingly difficult to find bakers who bake good bread.

In his district in the south-cast of London, he says, there is a baker—one of the few remaining— who makes superb bread, similar to the type obtainable in France: yard-long `sticks,' or light crusty Vienna loaves sprinkled with poppy seed, of a flavour and texture completely different from the factory-made loaf.

Furthermore, the bread stays fresh for several days; and the crust, though it soon loses its crisp- ness in the damp English air, can quickly be revived in an oven. The baker also makes an excellent coarse but light wholemeal by blending Canadian with English flour; and he has been doing so for some forty years.

Imagine my correspondent's surprise, then, when he went into the shop last Saturday for his usual supply, to be told that the baker had sold up his business in order to buy a restaurant. The weekday trade, apparently, is no longer enough to justify his staying in the business in competition with the factory-made bread : `We do a good trade on Saturdays, but it isn't enough : people don't care about good bread any longer.'

But of course plenty of people do. The trouble is simply that few of us know where to get it. And whereas the big firm can advertise its products, telling us where to look for them, the small baker —for obvious reasons—cannot advertise. Isn't there any way, my correspondent asks, of bringing the good bakers and people who want good bread into contact before the few remaining good bakers have passed out of existence?

This, it seems to me, should be the main object of a column of this kind. It would, of course, be impossible to give lists and grades of bakeries, or other such establishments, after the manner of the Guide Michelin on hotels and restaurants (it is surely time, by the way, that that excellent • institution was imported into Britain). But it should be possible to help foster a new climate of i consumers' opinion, in which we no longer tamely accept mass-produced goods.

But more of this next week. . . ,