Throwback Thursday: Pineapple? Fineapple!

A post in which I find out whether it's possible to give someone a serious pineapple-themed gift.

 

 

When I was in America earlier this month, my friend Laurie asked me for gift ideas for her friend, Sarah.

The only thing Laurie told me about Sarah was that she liked pineapples and wore silk kimonos.

An actual pineapple was vetoed and novelty pyjamas were out.

This was the ultimate test of my gift-giving abilities. As I was out of my natural environment, I couldn’t suggest any shops in San Francisco that would sell something both pineapple-y and desirable. We went to Jonathan Adler on Fillmore Street but a trip there proved fruitless, literally.

My suggestions fell short. I was a fish flopping about on dry land.

I failed.

In idle moments since getting back to London, I thought about that challenge. Could a chic pineapple gift be done? Was it ridiculous to give a pineapple-themed gift to someone?

I wondered why I thought so much about pineapple-related gifts and then it hit me.

CHARLES II.

I remembered seeing a painting of Charles II receiving a pineapple.  If Queen Elizabeth II commissioned a painting of her receiving a pineapple, you'd raise an eyebrow. But in the 17th Century, it was a mark of wealth and privilege. 

When pineapples were first available to buy in the 1700s, a single fruit cost the equivalent in today’s money of £5,000 (about $7,000).

Pineapples weren’t a ridiculous point of inspiration for gifts! They had a noble provenance!

And like the comeback you deliver too late, one month later, here are my pineapple suggestions.  

Book gifts for children

I wanted to put together a recommended reading list of books that help equip children for life.

Still not being fully equipped myself,  I asked my friends which of the books they read as a child influenced them the most and would recommend as a gift.

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame 

£10.99

Recommended by Guy: ‘I read it as a child but influenced me more as an adult than as a child. It is beautifully written, and captures a kind of England that has a great appeal. But it is also about discovery and escape - Mole finds a whole new world. Friendship, the river, picnics, Christmas, the country house, the past, freedom, spring.’

“It'll be all right, my fine fellow," said the Otter. "I'm coming along with you, and I know every path blindfold; and if there's a head that needs to be punched, you can confidently rely upon me to punch it.” 

“It'll be all right, my fine fellow," said the Otter. "I'm coming along with you, and I know every path blindfold; and if there's a head that needs to be punched, you can confidently rely upon me to punch it.” 

LITTLE WOMEN by Lousia May Alcott 

£7.99

Recommended by Natasha: 'Little Women was one of the first 'classics' I read when I was nine and I was hooked. That book now gives me a special connection to my mum as she was the one who suggested I read the book in the first place. It taught me the importance of family, and the importance (and difficulty) of following my dreams. I was brought up with those ideas and so the book really resonated with me. I still love the story, and parts of it still make me cry!'

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."

 

A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE WORLD BY E. H. GOMBRICH

£7.19

Recommended by Grace : I read this book an adult and since then I have bought three copies to give to my little cousins as gifts. It ought to be recommended reading for every child in the world. The tone is clear without being patronising. Its aim isn't to make children feel like they ought to know names and dates. It encourages children to enjoy history, and if anything, teaches children about equality and that every culture is valuable. The book was banned by the Nazis for being too pacifistic, which is a very good sign.  

"One can be attached to one's own country without needing to insist that the rest of the world's inhabitants are worthless."

"One can be attached to one's own country without needing to insist that the rest of the world's inhabitants are worthless."

THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER by A. A. Milne

£6.99

Recommended by Ben: At the end of the House at Pooh Corner, Christopher Robin has to leave his animals at The Hundred Acre Wood and go to boarding school. It's a sermon on the impermanence and contingency of all relationships, especially in childhood. And that growing up involves loss. 

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.  "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”

 

ABSOLUTELY NORMAL CHAOS by Sharon Creech

Recommended by me: A teacher gave me this book when I was ten. I started reading it at the beginning of the long summer holiday, the same point at which protagonist Mary-Lou Finney starts her diary. Absolutely Normal Chaos book contained all of the themes I sought and enjoyed in future literature: humour, the confessional, trying to do the right thing, Americana, situations which could not be resolved (and that being ok) and boys. And in a not-too-forceful way, introduces Homer, Dickens and Frost.

"But the party was the stupidest (I know there is no such word as stupidest) thing I have ever seen, with the girls all giggling in the middle of the room, and the boys all leaning against the walls...I keep forgetting to reflect on things. I will reflect on these parties. If I was a boy, I would wish they would plan something interesting, like maybe a game of basketball."

"But the party was the stupidest (I know there is no such word as stupidest) thing I have ever seen, with the girls all giggling in the middle of the room, and the boys all leaning against the walls...I keep forgetting to reflect on things. I will reflect on these parties. If I was a boy, I would wish they would plan something interesting, like maybe a game of basketball."