Interesting report from Kim Willsher at

On a Frenchman’s attempt to live exclusively on French-made products.

In his summing up of the experience, Benjamin Carle said:  “A T-shirt is more expensive in France but I can be sure it has been produced by workers who are correctly paid and have good working conditions. I cannot be sure about a cheaper T-shirt produced in Asia or Morocco.”

A sentiment we would all like to share but one of the striking elements of Carle’s experience was the price of a pair of French underpants – 26 Euros.  The Guardian does not record the  cost of the matching T-shirt.

It would be interesting to look at the likely costs of a similar experiment here?

Same Guardian had Angela Monaghan reporting, unsurprisingly, that average full-time earnings  for British workers have not risen in real terms for more than 10 years:

Like everyone, I suppose, I have always been interested in markers which illustrate the changing relationship between money and labour and I’ve just found a cutting to add to my collection, from the Guardian of 14.1.03 , at

with an extract from Polly Toynbee’s book, Hard Work, relating her experiences in a cake factory.

She recalled:

When I worked in the Lyons cake factory in West Kensington researching A Working Life, the book I wrote 30 years ago, I was paid £14.25 for a 40-hour week. It wasn’t much; the other women on the production line were poor. I asked the Institute for Fiscal Studies to compare my pay then and now: they said £1 in 1970 should pay £16.80 today. My weekly wage in the cake factory now was at a rate of £164, but to keep pace with my pay back then, it should be £239.45. To be sure, a large, brand-name factory would tend to pay more than a hole-in-the-wall bakery. Even so, as I found time and again in the jobs I returned to for this book, in real terms I was being paid considerably less than I had been 30 years ago. That – the real meaning of growing inequality – was my most shocking discovery.

Previously blogged by me, some notes on wages and prices in history at

More on that another time.

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