Through The Eye of a Needle

Tony Rollinson | Monday, 3rd August 2009
Tony Rollinson is charmed and educated by John-Paul Flintoff's practical handbook-cum-investigation
Author: John-Paul Flintoff
Publisher: Permanent Publications
Publication year: 2009
RRP: £7.95

Through The Eye Of A Needle is a whimsical, illuminating, enchanting, and funny testament to one man's attempt to survive economic meltdown, tackle climate change, and enter the kingdom of heaven – by making his own clothes. Journalist John-Paul Flintoff takes us on his spiritual and cultural journey away from designer clothes and corporate life. There is no one single epiphany, but a series of encounters that lead him to explore how clothing influences the way we look at nature, the economy and life itself.

His encounters are humorous and enlightening by turns. He meets BBC tv's Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson, Hollywood superstars, spiritual teachers, artists, Transition Town head honcho Rob Hopkins and many others. We follow John-Paul as he learns how to repair and make his own shirts, trousers, hats, even Y-fronts. The move towards do-it-yourself clothing uncovers the fashion industry's real cost to the planet and us as individuals.

Throwaway fashion

He examines how wasteful our clothing habits are and tries his hand at terrible, and appallingly paid jobs. He meets people working in sweat shops and at landfill sites. Being face to face with the realities of how our clothing is actually made (and dumped) spurs John-Paul on to explore the alternatives like permaculture, wonderful small scale community projects and how to 'grow' clothes using hemp and nettles.

John-Paul's journey from witty observer to passionate advocate of reusing, making and even growing our own clothing is an engaging story. Watching as his wife, family and friends respond to his sometimes odd ball thirst for self reliance is by turns funny and touching. I am, however, pleased to report that it is a journey that ultimately makes him happy – and that has to be one of the great gifts of this delightful book. John-Paul shows us that we can almost literally re-make our future and we can do it with a smile on our face... Now, darn it, where did I put those old socks? :-)