Articles

On the virtues of frugality

In People on Thursday 11th January, 2007 by Guy

From an interview with the inestimable Bill Bryson, a truly great man:

[Bill] Bryson doesn’t consider [frugality] a shortcoming. “Cheapness,” he says, “is a great virtue.” Part of his appeal, the reason why reading him confers such pleasure, is his sensitivity to small gain. His pecuniary cheapness allows for a sort of extravagance of experience, an appreciation of the value that can be wrung from insignificant things. He still, for example, gets a jolt of pleasure every time he enters a hotel room. “I don’t know why, but I go in and I look around and say, this is my new home and look at all the lotions and shampoos… ooh, this is Molton Brown, and really have a happy minute or two.” The day before the interview he was walking through South Kensington, past the Victoria and Albert Museum: “And I had a moment where I thought, God, I’m really lucky that this is my life, and I’m not just a tourist here and I get to live here and see this stuff all the time.”

A legend of our time. Despite the nonsense that is the honours system, I’m glad he got an OBE, which is technically honorary due to his not being a British citizen. [The linked-to article claims that his Short History of Nearly Everything is partly about the English language, when it is not at all. Oh dear.] Why don’t you get ye olde British passporte, Bill? Is it because it now costs £66? Good on you. Thanks for the plug, by the way: it fits the sinkhole perfectly.

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