'Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin./ Each vict'ry will help you some other to win.' This is one of the good old Nonconformist hymns of my childhood. My sisters and I were in the habit of singing it if we caught each other with a hand hovering over the biscuit tin. And how I needed a bit of Nonconformist soul-bracing today, as I went round the charity shops of Leamington Spa, resolutely not buying myself any clothes.
I was not, of course, adopting a bold naturist approach to shopping. It was cold, so I had some clothes on. Usual winter gear: treggings, boots, big jumper, big coat, rictus grin of the half-frozen. I can now confirm that the best way of not buying stuff is not to look at it. Do not pick up that pair of interesting black ankle boots in order to satisfy yourself that they are, old, made of PVU, not your size and ridiculously over-priced. Never do that. Because you will find yourself holding a pair of nearly new black leather Clark's ankle boots in your size, with fashionable buckle and strap detailing, for £7. AAAARGH!
A weaker woman without a good Nonconformist upbringing might have sidled up to her husband, boots in hand, and mentioned that it was almost Valentine's Day. But no. Get thee behind me, Stan! (as the chancellor once typed). Reader, I walked away from those boots. And then I walked away from a little black fur jacket in my size for £6, perfect for those chilly annual dinners when you are required to wear an evening dress--and I go to more than my fair share of those.
I am so in touch with my Baptist roots right now. Mind you, I would also be in touch with them if I'd gone ahead and bought the boots and jacket. I would be riddled with Nonconformist guilt. Trust me, our guilt makes Roman Catholics look like a bunch of lightweights. We can't even get Mary to put in a good word for us. So forgive me if you hear me wandering round Lichfield singing: 'Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue;/Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through!'