7 March 2009


Simplicity is a quality that is sometimes tinged with negative connotations. Hence - She's a bit simple - He's a simpleton - It's so simple anyone could do it. Simpleness may suggest plainness, a lack of style and sophistication.

I want to speak up for simplicity. To me it's something that we should often both seek and treasure. With simplicity you know what you are getting - it is clear and honest and true, unadorned and pure. Four examples...

Food. Turn on your TV for nouvelle-cuisine and complicated recipes with multivarious ingredients - making cookery into some kind of high art. But what is better than an honest slice of freshly baked bread or a freshly picked apple, a piece of tender steak with a little salt and pepper or a plateful of grilled sardines. All that complexity can be tiresome. Very often pure and simple food is the most satisfying.

Cosmetics. This isn't a subject I would normally reflect on but it has occurred to me that in this modern world there are many women who have been sucked in by the subliminal messages of the cosmetic and fashion industries to such an extent that they feel they have to wear "masks" of foundation creams, eye shadow, lipstick etc. before they can venture out into the world. It's tragic. How much better to opt for simplicity - clean and healthy skin and a face that is radiant either with a sparkling zest for life or the wisdom and contentment that the passing of years should bring to us. Most men I know positively hate the painted doll look behind which so many modern women hide their true faces.

Language. I suspect that there could be cynics reading this blogpost who could find examples of a lack of simplicity in my use of language. I don't think of simplicity as being expression that is limited to round about a hundred everyday words, I think of it as being a quest to say things more clearly, without unnecessary adornment. The Campaign for Plain English has done excellent work in combating the gobbledygook of officialdom but all of us can strive to use language more simply and purposefully - to ensure that our communication fulfils our intentions both in speech and in writing.

Design. Simple design in architecture, household objects, motorised vehicles and fashion is usually preferable to design which drifts away from its prime purpose. The humble paper clip is a beautifully designed, enduring and entirely functional item which we take for granted. Film actresses attending Hollywood galas in simply cut white or black gowns will generally look more stylish than those who have gone for outlandish designs by self-important fashion gurus.

Simplicity... walking on a beach as the sun goes down, stroking a cat that is curled up on your lap, the innocence of small children's questions, bulbs pushing through the earth in springtime, a solo piece on just about any musical instrument, uncluttered rooms, paintings that speak directly to you, poetry that is so condensed you can see the bones sticking out, a pint of best Yorkshire bitter, from a good night's sleep waking refreshed with the dawn, holding another person's hand with affection, cupping water to your mouth from a pure mountain stream, watching the stars on a clear moonless night... Simplicity is something to seek and to cherish.


  1. 'they feel they have to wear "masks" of foundation creams, eye shadow, lipstick etc. before they can venture out into the world.'

  2. Totally agree with you, about all of it. Mind you, it's possible to go to extremes. The last time I wore make-up was before I got married, and I got married in 1980 (I was VERY young, obviously).

  3. A wonderful treatise on simplicity. I agree 100% on all your issues.
    The photo is beautiful - did you take it?

  4. That last paragraph is pure poetry and just what I needed this week. Thanks!

  5. Absolutely YP. Great post.
    I suggest you turn the TV off. That helps a lot.

  6. MOPSA Keep It Simple Son?
    JENNYTA And...??? I'm not sure what you mean by that. I was trying to say that women should have the confidence to be who they are - without plastering stuff on their faces.
    DAPHNE Were you a child bride and was it an arranged marriage?
    DELWYN Thanks but no, I didn't take that photo. I just wanted a picture that spoke of simplicity.
    MS GEORGE Yes. The lives we lead -rushing and doing and tying ourselves in knots, meeting this obligation and that target means we sometimes find ourselves far away from what is fundamnental and true.
    KATHERINE You are right about the TV - I wish I'd covered that in the post. I am a news junkie and you know that regular news fix only serves to add a layer of complexity that all of us could well do without.

  7. Jennyta. AND...venture into bars wearing far too much scent and ruining the wine.

  8. YP, well said, good show, and other expressions of agreement tinged with envy and admiration...

  9. agree, agree, agree. but am the worlds worst waffler.

  10. As someone once said 'any damn fool can get complicated, it takes genius to keeps things simple'.

  11. First off let me apologise... I've only gone and tagged you in my latest meme!! Sorry - perhaps it'll inspire you... perhaps it'll annoy you.... either way, don't feel obliged to participate.

    Secondly - Who you calling simple?

  12. Hi YP - great blog.

    I've got a show on Community Radio (Sheffield Live) - and could do with a hand if you don't mind.

    I've been looking for an email address for you all over this blog and I can't seem to find one - could you drop me a line if you get a mo - yfosundays@gmail.com



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