Jamie Oliver’s pukka poverty

It’s Wednesday afternoon in Preston, the Lancashire city with some of the highest rates of unemployment in England. Looking for food on low- and fixed-incomes in Preston is not easy, and the results are less salubrious fare than “25 mussels, 10 cherry tomatoes, and a packet of spaghetti for 60 pence” as Jamie Oliver says he wants to “teleport” a poor family to see.

Besides Preston’s covered markets, in which you can buy from a wide selection of fruits, vegetables, South Asian and East Asian ingredients, Caribbean and East African foods, tripe, black pudding, fish and pigs trotters, stands the city centre branch of Iceland. The city center branch is rarely empty, and when I potter round for my usuals, it’s pretty much packed from the checkouts all the way back to the vacuum packed value bacon. Outside the entrance is a circular seating area based around an “inspirational” mosaic which has been hacked, scuffed and ignored from the day it was installed. Chain-smokers and women eating Greggs from the packet sit around watching other Prestonians go about their business. From the seating area outside a pub, men of a certain age consider the world through their pint glasses.

Inside Iceland the world of Jamie Oliver is far from peoples’ minds. A mother and her exuberant bundle of hyperactivity stop-start along the aisles, picking up or putting down the various in-house prepared meals Iceland proudly advertise as being a step above the kind of value meal cost-cutters which were involved in the horse-meat scandal. There are other mother-with-children grouplets all over the store, bagging multi-pack crisps, cartons of £1 orange juice and yoghurts. Everything the man in front of me puts out onto the checkout are in cardboard boxes: a Sunday roast, a pasta-bake type affair with sausages, Yorkshire pudding filled with beef slices. I stock up on pasta meals too, and a pork pie, and Yazoo milkshakes.

Oliver has skirted around the realities of poverty and poor living in Britain, though only with a camera crew or researchers around him. His most often quoted remark this week – concerning the couple eating cheesy chips in front of a “massive fucking television” – is typical of his comfortable ignorance. The poor are predominately proud as a rule, who want to show a brave face and nothing of the feet flicking madly underneath the water. Suggesting the aspirational route – eat pasta! make your own pasta! rustle up some ricotta fritters with tomato sauce! – is only throwing the map down from a very tall height, and that map probably doesn’t show the best route to travel. In the middle are jobs which can’t be found, money which is almost impossible to save, demands from banks and utility services that cannot be ignored, and food which has to be affordable, often for anybody but the person buying it. The low- and fixed- income families who want to show their children that they, like any other family, can sit down in front of a television aren’t trying to put TV over nutrition; it’s wanting to carry on as normal with as little negative judgement from strangers as possible.

Eating pasta with mussles in front of a moderately sized television may well be an option for some on low- and fixed-incomes, Jamie, but not from where I’m looking.

Affordable food is not necessarily healthy food. It can be, and indeed really should be if supermarkets had any morals about them. There are options but they’re shrinking. The price of chicken, once a fairly safe option for cheap stand-by meals, has gone through the roof. Most other meats have seen similar price rises. Fresh fruit and veg, so often packed into bags of 6- or more, cannot always be stored away for long amount of times, and they’re not as cheap as they used to be either. Faced with mounting living costs or the need to visit a foodbank, the low- and fixed income poor can’t count as an option the dozen or so ingredients required to make the “cheap” foods so many middle class TV chefs assume just lie waiting in the pantries and fridges of the nation. I wonder if Oliver knows this, deep down, and refuses to accept it.

There are moments of sense and reason in the Oliver interview, given to promote another of his social-conscience television shows. He is right to point to local markets and more sensible purchases, but has gone about it in the completely wrong way. The little dictator attitude is that of most typical Tories and small-c conservatives, who have provided a generation-and-then-some-long soundtrack of tuts and moans from the sidelines on most subjects under the sun. Education? Not as good as it was for the poor or those Northerners, don’t you know. Jobs? They’ve got no grit, those poor and unemployed folks, that’s the problem, need to bring National Service back, I say!

Let’s not demonise the low- and fixed-income poor. There’s ingenuity with that pride and sense too. It makes good copy to draw attention to cheesy chips and expensive unhealthy options, but that distracts from the real economic hardships facing millions across the country.  Maybe the best recipe for Jamie Oliver is not to brag about 101 solutions to national poverty whilst preparing yourself for another lucrative television programme. Come to Iceland or B&M Bargains without a camera or researcher to watch the reality of those people who can’t just be marched into a market for a swift transformation into people who could pick up dozens of fresh ingredients and all the necessary herbs and spices without denting their weekly budget.  It’s not “poverty” as our grandparents or great-grandparents might have known it, but whatever we’ve got cannot be fixed with theatrical gasps at the sight of a Greggs pastie or Bird’s Eye fish-finger. If you want people to see the Sicilian fishermen with their mussels and pasta, Jamie, you’re going to have to pay….

all change, please

Many moons ago, my blog about the railways drew very strident conclusions from broad-brush assumptions. Hey, it’s a blog, and that’s not exactly uncommon.

My default position has always been largely in favour of competition and private investment in the railway industry – since John Major’s government pushed through the Railways Act, there has been a notable and undeniable increase in investment for rolling stock, track repairs and new stations. Commuters on the rat-race to their office-spaces may still be cramped in their carriages, but it’s against the backdrop of record customer numbers overall, healthy profits for all those from management level up, and occasional splurges in engineering work and stock renewals across the country. British Rail was not utterly useless; neither did it cost the taxpayer so much money as the fragmented privatised industry we endure today.

This is not a complete U-turn. Maybe a slight reverse; the fabric on which the initial privatisation model was sewn clearly put the long-term health of profits over the long-term needs of passengers. Today, the TOCs which do least are rewarded most: highest fares, highest subsidies, lowest customer satisfaction. And yes, “customer”, having long since stopped being “passengers”.

I’m a lifelong fan of the railways – young frequent user for wanderings and now older commute to work type. Those weekends I choose for groundhopping and the like rely on trains taking the strain (or in the case of the away trip to Howden, trains and buses and Metros, though that relaly is another story). Consequentially, bemused doesn’t cover my reaction to news that fares will increase again for most passengers, especially the increasingly rare ‘walk-on’ customer. Neither Labour government, nor Coalition today, dare tackle the £4billion cost of keeping the railways running. Phillip Hammond, current Transport minister, struggles to maintain any kind of credibility with his “investing in the future” drivel; when Northern Rail’s faithful are forced onto 1984 spine-shakers for the want of any kind of investment in the future, every additional four-quid on fares a week is keenly felt. Labour are going on record with their “too far, too fast” cuts agenda rubbish. I’m taking no lessons in pious hand-wringing from the Party which pretended to put aside £500 million for station improvements which didn’t exist.

Little wonder the age of the “walk-on” passenger is all but gone. Like the airways before them, TOCs now see no profit (and therefore, no point) in attracting people who can’t afford to book tickets in advance. Romantic ideas of a modern railway fit for all, affordable to many, seem depressingly delayed. Presumed, cancelled. Wrong kind of governance.

Whilst train companies enjoy bumper profits, massive salaries, and huge packets of money from the taxpayer, the other big ticket item in the news rolls silently off the running sheet and down the agenda. England’s riots will cost a mere £100m to repair. The quantifiable cost of the troubles is one serious hit – the cost to peoples lives is anyone’s guess.

This makes the effect on peoples attitudes all the more important to gauge. So why are politicians goading judges into showboat sentencing? Is it important for the United Kingdom to have prisoners whose crimes would barely trouble Iran’s religious elite? Using the Serious Crime Act to throw in gaol the organiser of a water-fight? Or the Facebook users whose arranged gathering may not have existed? For four years?

If Theresa May – whose stock is now falling rapidly – has any kind of legitimacy, she would tip-toe back into the Home Office for some serious one-woman-against-one-keyboard interaction time. Area-wide curfew? Increased powers of arrest? Of detention? I thought all this had been done away with, after the great LibDem successes against IT cards and the DNA database.

What the apolitical riots represented was the desire to break away from relentless police-state mentality – Labour’s stock in trade. More CCTV! More PSCOs! No hanging around in groups of 3 in the light of the chippy window, SCARPER! To increase and tighten police presence in assumed known trouble spots will only make those sick of society even less willing to co-operate. May has made the same mistake every authoritarian predecessor would receive the warmest applause. She is failing to remember the difficulties inside the most tricky department. Fighting disenfranchised youths with thousands more police officers hanging around makes me – us all – feel far less comfortable, far less safe.

Both the ‘talking points’ down the Crickerer’s Arms – the railways and police reform – centre eventually to the persons view on their own Englishness. As a rule, we don’t complain. Unless, of course, our tolerance and patience were to suddenly snap over the injustices on both sides of these commonly discussed controversies. Let us not be priced out of our own public transport (would that it were, etc.). Let us not exchange the British way of consensus policing for the unjust politicised State Uniformed Brigades of our closest European neighbours. “The French take their police’s behaviour and attitude as a given,” said one man on the radio over the weekend. “Britain has always enjoyed a public face to their coppers.”

Indeed so – but let us not forget the issues with cost, with caution, with due process. The railways cannot justify big-ticker, Beeching-creep, small lines closed when the profits don’t add. Let’s not allow May to introduce the kind of civil liberty hate so enjoyed by the increasingly right-wing Blairite sect

Tomorrow, I will walk to work, the full 6 miles, as I have been doing knowing that my monthly wage is taxed out of all reason every day, and that it’s still possible for our politicians to see just the wooded area of ‘headline justice”. Oh for a platform alteration there…

We Will Never Surrender

Fabio Capello has delivered cryptic assurances to straight forward questions relating to his future as England manager. I noticed a bod from the FA – sorry, “Club England” as they seem to be branded at the moment – was hastily filling in blanks and putting forward his own opinion with all the urgency of a jumpy husband at a RELATE meeting. So begins, depressingly familiar as it all is, the tabloid-led blame game and leaked managerial suggestions in the diary columns.

We’ve been here too many times. To borrow a phrase from the coalition government, we can’t go on like this.

Many branches of the “Club England” tree – ugh, sorry, “Club England”, it’s like “Centrica” all over again – are need of urgent surgery. It is not enough to offer a few “frank” analyses of the Germany thrashing before moving on to the next round of qualifying games. With only two years between the Hungary friendly and Poland/Ukraine 2012, there is a loud ticking clock above the entire structure of English football.

In his excellent (and 5 year old) article “Football Fans are Idiots”, Sean Ingle outlined a blueprint which seems just as relevant today. Certain sections of the football fan base are gluttons for punishment, and as the England campaign from the Mexico friendly onwards showed, those Premiership players who demand respect in the Premiership sure don’t know how to earn that respect on the international stage. Wayne Rooney’s “emotional outburst” was very much his real feelings, doubtlessly shared by many of his team-mates.

But the mindset of the players internationally is only one part – and a small one – of the English disorder.

Capello must be allowed to stay on as manager until 2012. The merry-go-round has to stop. There are players who could find a place in a younger, more experimental England side leading up to 2012 (which, to be very radical, we concede as not an achievable winnable aim to calm down the England Flag brigade)

Names like Jack Wilkshire (currently being toughened up at the Reebock), Danny Welbeck (given time to mature at North End), Joe Hart (topping up his tan these past two weeks), Micah Richards, James Milner, Aaron Lennon….There are possibilities and probabilities, but under the constant and instant pressure of the “Three Lions” tabloid culture, slowly-slowly long term planning seems far harder to promote.

No need to look to the Americas; across the Atlantic there are the Dutch and Germans showing intelligence, quick-thinking and fluidity; and there are the French and Italians creaking along in slow-motion soap operas. Or /real/ operas, I suppose. England resemble the latter far more than the former: under Capello, it really shouldn’t be that way. From the “player index” mess through sex scandals and the own-goal assisted Japan ‘victory’ to the Emile “Turning circle of a whale” Heskey, it has not been England’s finest hours.

But changing players and formations, and ditching the hoofing up-and-under strategies, all involve the team at the stage of adults facing the limelight. Someone somewhere in “Club England” needs to spend months, if not years, at schools and junior levels finding out exactly what is wrong with football at grassroots level. Is it Government funding, school teachers, scouts preferring “traditional” types to “continental” skills in the young talent they recommend, the fact that England has only 2,000 registered football coaches, far behind almost every other country in UEFA.

There are too many questions about the lack of funding at lower league and Non-League level, the lack of support from the FA and Premiership clubs for smaller sides often in the same postal code as the larger, debt-ridden names. It would be brilliant for the men in charge, so easy, so easier to ditch Capello, give the under-performing England stars their limelights back again, ready for another overhyped throw at Poland/Ukraine. It would be lazy, too, and another lost opportunity.

Let us get out of our system the “goal that was”, the apologies and the tabloid rants. Let us stop this managerial witch-hunt. There are plenty of English sportsmen and women who are far more deserving of our praise – the cyclists, swimmers and indeed our cricketers (whose achievements on Sunday were completely overshadowed) – football should work from the bottom-up before it goes totally tits-up.

Sky’s Own Goal

News that Sky Sports News is to be removed from Freeview should come as a bodyblow for, among others, fans of Jeff Stelling (in general), Dean Windass’ inability to describe what just happened on the pitch behind him, and Chris Kamara (in full).

This decision – financial, natch – leaves people, pubs and smaller clubs stuck with the inferior Final Score. Yes, Garth “Ribena Mascot Head” Crooks and his meandering sentences and forced metaphors. Remember how Kevin Keegan struggled commentating during the World Cup 1994? That’s what we are left with. Him and Gaby “I’m a sports presenter, me” Logan and Jake Humphries, the walking yet barely talking Top Gear presenter job application.

It’s enough to force viewers to the nearest stadium to watch a match. Which is exactly what I intend to do.

And now, of course, *that* Chris Kamara moment….

Chicken Supreme Court

The United Kingdom Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the banks in the on-going saga (there is no other term, really) on the right to reclaim the value of charges on such things as overdrafts.

Attention is drawn to the seemingly done-and-dusted phrase;

The Supreme Court unanimously held that the charges for unauthorised overdrafts fell within this exclusion. They were part of the price
paid by the customer for the banking services provided.

“This exclusion” refers to the notion of “value for money”, that is, are the fees or charges for going into an overdraft authorised or not a fair swap for the service of having an account with a banking institution. As the ruling says, “The charges were not concealed default charges designed to discourage customers from
becoming overdrawn on their accounts without prior arrangement”

This ruling should be viewed from all sides. Most people accept that banks are businesses and as such must find a way to make profits and secure themselves from losses. Fees and charges are one way in which this can be done. If an ordinary member of the public finds themselves in an unauthorised overdraft, are they in effect relying on other customers to supplement their lapse?

It would appear that the era of free banking could well be coming to a close, not as though this judgement has made this situation any more likely. Banks are finding “sneaky” ways to charge customers any way possible. Is it too much to ask for a watchdog – or even the government – to investigate whether the punishment fits the crime?

Clearly it IS too much to ask. The Supreme Court ruling has done a banking industry with its already tainted reputation not much good at all, with the long run consequences surely more distrust and distaste for an industry happy to soak up government aid while being rather unwilling to allow customers some reasonable boundaries. I don’t expect banks to allow unauthorised overdrafts or bounced cheques to go without any punishment whatever, although there must be surely some perspective in this age of all ages?

Not all customers in serious debt did so through splurges and irresponsibility. Banks may now have been given the right to punish low and fixed-income customers with even more disdain than before. I accept the principle idea behind keeping banks solvent and taxpayers’ money safe: however this ruling does nothing to encourage customers to trust the institutions in which so much ordinary, daily life is secured.

cabbages and kings

This is how it must feel for Gibraltar’s young new athletics hope, having saved up his own money for the trip to Beijing, only to finish last in the only qualifying heat in which he was to take part. It would take self flagellation on a Catholic scale not to feel some sense of achievement.

So, anyhoo, knowing that self-praise is no praise at all, I am happy to report nonetheless that people at work are giving me that kind of congratulations-mixed-with-bemusement on news that, somehow, I have stretched £13.48 across the four weeks of November. By a muddling together of colleagues’ generous donations, late night perusal of reduced-to-clear shelves, and walking the 5 miles to work (and back), in addition to a 40-day “dry spell” without any booze, the money has made it all the way to pay day week with 45p to my name.

As I made clear in the other posts on my temporary financial flux (see below), throughout this period I have not wanted to appear as some “poverty tourist”. At times this period from mid-October to this week has been very humbling, difficult, tiring, but not once did I feel as though mine was the worst lot of all. That I could walk three streets from my front door to people whose financial situations are far deeper and far more permanent than mine impressed upon me just how lucky I am that, in time, my situation would be resolved.

In my experience, the talk-show cliché “you think it would never happen to you: and then it does”, has had its truth shown in the weeks where so many previous months of easy spending and impulse buying seemed to have no consequence at all. I cannot claim to be immune from future foul-ups, although I dare say I will never again fall into such deep problems. However I wonder how many people are out there, possibly on no more significant take home pay than me, who assume the national economic mess is of no consequence or significance to them?

This weekend, my temporary struggle against budgetary constraints will come to a close. Just in time for Christmas, too, well done Fate, good timing. I have the proof that my bank took three days before taking out the one final big spend from October, the catalyst for all this mess. I will take a lot of lessons from this. I don’t know quite what will happen after not having any booze for 40 days: maybe my next series of posts will focus on the scientific proof that one pint can knock a grown man sideways…

Previous posts on this subject –
*no money, no excuses
*Climbing out of recession

Climbing out of recession

Previous posts – No Money, No Excuses Pennywise

Like Earl Hickey, I have made a list. Topping the list is my usual November pay-day wage, a four-figure sum. From there is subtracted the final installment of the Inland Revenue’s required payment, various bank charges, rent, and utility bills. As currently calculated my budget for the remainder of this month is around £50.

As described in the earlier posts on this subject, I am acutely aware of how this financial situation, tough as it may be, is a temporary measure. That it involves such an extreme drop from one figure to the other is unusual but not unique.

It is one resulting from earlier errors now rectified and learned from.

There are people possibly no further from my house than two streets away whose financial state is far deeper and harder than mine. However if something has really come to the centre of my mind these past few weeks it has been just how easy it can be for a person to remain at the foot of a steep financial mountain despite their best efforts. I am more aware than I was last month, on a three-week budget of seven pounds, of how best to make the money last; and I cannot ignore the words from my boss who reminded me how her generation often had to make very little go a very long way.

What has angered me more than usual during this period is the continued availability of ‘easy money’, even with the recession so deep and long-lasting, and the nation’s banks under such scrutiny. Plans to tighten up credit card terms are to be broadly welcomed although any forced increase in minimum payments must, surely, take into consideration the ‘death spiral’ into which people fall when forced to pay more than they can afford. Again, I have to make clear that the depth into which people fall is largely their own fault – “guns don’t kill people, people do” – however it does not take long to see how the banks and credit card companies encouraged quick loans and easy credit when times were good with little regard to the long term consequences.

One particular consequence from banks having to almost stop the availability of loans and easy credit is the continuation of loan companies advertising and door-knocking to entice the already vulnerable into contracts they cannot possibly afford. This really gets to me now that I can appreciate just how easy it can be to fall from a complacent attitude to spending into a very tight and tough financial hardship.

One company I caught advertising during a daytime cookery show yesterday – I won’t name them – used a plain looking model pretending to be a housewife talking in glowing terms about getting same day “top ups” to her wages, in easy to afford amounts for paying back at her convenience. The terms and conditions printed in very small text along the bottom of the screen confirmed nothing more strenuous than a valid e-mail address would suffice for identity. Its APR – the rate of repayment, a good indication of the relationship between the end amount you pay with the amount originally loaned – was quoted as 2,356%. Two thousand, three hundred, and fifty-six percent.

I am confident that my attitude to money and spending will be all the better from my experiences last month and this. I remain, however, concerned and indeed marked by this period as a time when I could see far clearer than before how much must be done by government, banks, and financial institutions, to stop the culture of cheap money and spending without consequence. The financial meltdown will not end at the behest of bored journalists looking for a new scandal to type up: people who remain at the bottom of the pile because of our deep, dark recession may be suffering for decades to come, leaving that as the real legacy of our elected representatives’ drive to “end the era of boom and bust”.


Thatcher’s children turned 18 with the country on an economic high and confidence soaring. Blair’s children turn 18 at a time of deepening recession and unemployment touching 3 million. Such are the circles of history and the echoes which come from whoever is writing the great story of life.

Okay, yes, I know that things are not so simple, but try arguing with ultra-loyal Labour supporters about the real reasons behind the current economic problems faced here and world-wide. They deny that £800bn debt (and climbing) is of any real concern. Gordon Brown was looking somewhere else, doing something different, it was the Bank of England really, nothing to do with anyone on the Government benches. It is such cowardice from Labour and their more vociferous supporters which makes their certain defeat in 2010 all the better to look forward to.

As I wrote some weeks ago this month has turned out to be the complete opposite of what I was expecting. To have only around £7 to stretch out across three weeks is entirely my own doing. How I have lived, and what I have experienced, puts the national politics and economic headlines to one side. I do not want to come across as enjoying these past few weeks, acting like some kind of “poverty tourist” doing it for show.

It has been rather humbling, if nothing else. My 9o’clock or 10o’clock jaunts to the “reduced to clear” aisles as Tesco reminded me how much food waste there must be in this country, and how many people must live without the spare cash available to impulse buy or stock up on expensive treats. “Invisible poverty”, the reality of life behind closed doors, is something which affects thousands of people across the country. Thousands of pensioners who have to choose between heating and eating; a growing number of millions who cannot find a place back on the job ladder.

The first week following the discovery of my less-than-a-tenner situation has been something of a struggle. Entirely my own doing, I have to stress how much I realise this. I have become quite the fan of cut-price hotdogs and sell-by-date skimmed milk. Walking to work – five miles each way – is still hard to master. At Bamber Bridge I start something resembling a hurried trot: I must resemble a sit-com bridegroom late for the wedding after a list of “hilarious misunderstandings” and “you couldn’t make it up” situations.

I had to bite my tongue whenever a beggar asks “Do you have any spare change?”, as strictly speaking I actually don’t, which is different to the times I shake my head and mumble something indistinct about having ‘nothing to give’, whatever that means. As I type this – free Internet!, such things now become welcomed with open arms, thank you, thank you Lancashire County Council! – my bank balance is around £2.70. This should be fine, though, I’ve stacked up on Aldi Shredded Wheat and cup-a-soups. People from work are being quite generous with left overs and unwanteds.

But it’s not a situation I want to repeat. This is a window into another world; of actual poverty, of real life for thousands in this country and millions around the world. Unlike my temporary inconvenience, a lack of money and no guaranteed access to food is the reality for those in developing countries and so-called developed Western superpowers. It’s a bit much, I admit, taking one man’s overspending into the context of starvation in the poorest countries on Earth, but it takes a little of “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone” to put things into context.

However – and it’s a big “however” – having said all this, and with two weeks of struggle and lack of food still to go, this pay day weekend will be marked by a night of spending money with some abandon. It is surely my right to acknowledge the achievement of living this way by having one or two swift ales and the best darn foodstuffs So! Noodles has to offer of an evening…

…isn’t it…?

no money, no excuses

“You have insufficient funds in your account”

Not the blog I was expecting to write today. In times past I have suffered the same display message as above and crumbled like a character in sci-fi kneeling at the feet of a robotic overload. Now I reacted with the heavy sigh/simple nodding combination popular amongst reality-television stars fired or danced off or eliminated or however disposed.

The truth, then. From today, 11 October, to pay day on Friday, 30 October, the total amount of income available to me is £6. Six. I will spell it like the BBC “Final Score” vidiprinter. Although I will be checking my bank statement when it arrives, the financial final score is highly unlikely to be the result of identity theft (although I will hold out a little hope for this.)

In times past my reaction has been over-theatrical, almost hysterical. I have run to my savings accounts to keep me in milkshakes and bus-fares. This weekend has been completely different. Through my own actions I have suffered a rather unfortunate and difficult penalty.

Each wave of consequence to this hit me like being at Victory Park watching goals go in at the wrong end. Not being able to visit the (usually belting) Continental beer festival, not being able to replace my broken digital camera, and perhaps with a bit more vital importance about it, not being able to guarantee eating something every day for 21 days.

The change in my reaction is one-bit maturity, one-bit pride, a lot of helping of lack of alternatives. So walking to and from work every day – 2hrs each – should be a pain in the lower legs while doing a little better work on the beer belly. And I will not fall into the trap of starving myself for the sake of it: even with something around 20p per day (technically) I will find ways to keep hunger at bay….

I cannot feel sorry for myself too much. Okay so maybe the water rates should not have been paid in one chunk; maybe I should found alternative (cheaper!) means to travel to Horden, maybe the white-with-tartan hoodie was a purchase too far. The consequences will flicker on until payday; my luck is having a moment of relative “poverty” – and I really do use that for want of a better word – which is temporary. Unlike so many in society my lack of cash is not permanent. There are lessons to be learned – and indeed, yes, having been here before, those lessons should have already been revised somewhat! – starting with a lot of chores to be carried out with no connection to saving spends.

So this is the truth, then. Six pounds to last three weeks. A consequence of personal financial cock-hoopery. Here’s to payday, when I think (even with all things considered) I deserve spending quite a bit on celebrating.

What?…..Oh wait, I see…..


Right – LibDemmery in a general sense, paying the bank something, anything, getting the High Voltage profiles written, packing for next month’s holiday, getting some food in the house, working out how much monies I have for the next week, reminding myself never to drink “Tennis Elbow” again, work out why someone from the Isle of Man visited this blog recently, remembering where and when I’m supposed to be covering the Tringe, working out when I can get the gas meter changed, working out when I can try BT again for the internets, sorting out a bit of a piss-up next week, sorting out when I can get to Frickley for the first away match of the season as well as Bury for the first FCUM meeting of the season…

I /think/ that’s everything…