THE COTTON-REEL KID
Letter to the Daily Telegraph, October 2000
Although I am not a Tory supporter, I feel that William Hague has had some unfair publicity of late. First there was scepticism about his claim to have drunk 14 pints of beer a day as a teenager while delivering pop for his family’s soft drinks firm. Now people are ridiculing him for his role in the 1969 Blue Peter appeal for Africa.
It’s true that most children sent silver foil, as requested by Valerie, John and Peter. But Mr Hague’s donation of cotton reels was not as daft as it sounds.
I grew up in the same village as Mr Hague, and attended the local primary school. In those days, most children did not receive pocket money – they were given cotton reels instead. I don’t know how or why this practice began, but all my friends were ‘paid’ in cotton reels for household chores and so on. We used to collect them and swap them with one another, and because we couldn’t spend them in the shops, it encouraged us to get into the habit of saving.
I clearly remember William asking for cotton reels for the appeal, and we all dug deep. The total was about two thousand in all – a credit to Yorkshire thrift and big-heartedness!
Bottomley, North Yorkshire