It is Monday morning and the post has just arrived, bringing with it four ominous looking letters. Something about them said bills, actually everything about them said bills, bills, bills. Debt and more then more bills. (Moneys too tight to mention she thought in a Mick Hucknall sing songy way). The mother, by now could recognize a demand for money from 50 feet away. Although one company had made a tenuous effort to hide its source by using a font that looked like handwriting, that didn’t fall her. Ha! Like she was ever going to fall for that. She hadn’t had a hand written letter in two years!
Now there wasn’t anything particularly unusual about that day, but something made the mother say to herself enough is enough. She needed to sit down and sort out all these debts. Perhaps you’ve had a moment like this in your life too. Your crisis might not have been over money, or the lack of it. Perhaps it was do marriage or work. Maybe you live flows easier than this and the problem was just where to place your new coffee table.
When you’ve sat down and thought somethings got to change. Maybe you’ve reached a point in your life where you’ve lost track of how much debt you’re in. Then you need to take a long hard look at yourself, your lifestyle also ideally your credit cards statements too. This shouldn’t take too long thought the mother, picking up her phone.
Moneys too tight to mention
The mother is on the phone making a very important phone call, sadly, she has been on hold for so long she cannot remember who she has called. Fortunately, a recorded message reminds her at 30 second intervals, else she might slip into a coma. It is reassuring to know that the council value her call and know she is waiting. At least it was twenty-five minutes ago, now she is beginning to question their sincerity. Also, her phone battery is the red, like every fucking else. If she has to wait much longer, there’s a good chance she’ll get a bit sweary,
Upstairs she can hear her children playing loudly in her bedroom. There is a lot of laughter and the sound of something repeatedly banging against the wall.
“Keep the flipping noise down, you two. I’m on the bloody phone,”
That’s ok, isn’t it? you can say that to your kids, it’s not really swearing. Unfortunately, although said with great gusto her message does not seem to have reached it’s intended target. The laughter is gradually getting louder and now there is screaming too. It appears her advice has been lost in the abyss. It’s probably laying there next to her favorite Gossard bra and her passport Jesus thinks the mother, why did her day of reckoning have to coincide with an inset day.
The mother is beginning to wonder if she might have a stroke before her phone call is ever answered. She often thinks about premature, stress-induced death when she her blood is boiling and rushing into her brain.
WHAT THE FXXK!
Suddenly there is an almighty bang, it sounds as though the headboard might have actually smashed through the wall, and into her Neighbour’s house. Christ wouldn’t that be embarrassing. Still clutching the phone, the mother storms upstairs and into her bedroom. Now she must compose herself before speaking to her children. If she doesn’t, there’s a good chance that when she opens her mouth flames will come shooting out, ignite the room and burn the house to the ground. She counts slowly to 10 to calm herself down, well she almost counts to 10.
“Stop jumping on my bloody bed will you, your gonna break it.”
Her daughter immediately looks upset, a bit humble even, her son however just looks angry. This is because he is a teenager and so is never in the wrong. Sorry is a foreign word to a teenager a bit like hygiene and thank you. Aaron says something inaudible and then cuts his eyes at her. The mother does not like it when her son cuts his eyes; she tells him not to do it as it really pisses her off. Obviously, she doesn’t use the word pisses, she chooses a much nicer word but one which conveys an equal amount of anger. The teenager says he doesn’t know what cutting his eyes means, so how can he be doing it? He has made a very point, but has chosen completely the wrong time to make it, silly boy. Can’t he see his mother’s eyes turning red?
Cutting your eyes
The mother is getting a bit shouty now. she tries to demonstrate what cutting your eyes is, by doing it herself. The mother often cuts her eyes at people but now is finding it very difficult to do on-demand. Maybe it is like smiling for your photograph thinks the mother.
She is still trying to cut her eyes when she hears a strange sound, a man’s voice seems to be coming from nowhere, oh, Christ thinks the mother it’s my phone. Her call has finally been answered, I mean in a real way, not in a kind of spiritual way.
The voice belonged to a man named Gareth. “Ah,” says the mother, “My ex-boyfriend was called Gareth.
“OK, replied Gareth, “I’m not sure why you’re telling me that.”
No, I’m not sure either thinks the mother, she doesn’t say this though, instead she tells Gareth that she is really struggled to pay her council tax. Gareth say he feels sure they’ll be able to work out a way she can pay it, I wouldn’t put money on it thought the mother, but still, let’s give it a whirl
Gareth asks her for her council tax number. The mother has so many numbers in her head, it’s hard to remember them all. She blurts out the first one that comes to mind, which is her daughter’s date of birth. That doesn’t sound right thinks the mother.
“No, not that one, sorry, I think my council tax number might begin with a seven,” says the mother.
“That’s helpful,” says Gareth
Yes, she thought so too.
After a couple of minutes, they firmly establish that the mother did not know her account number. Instead, Gareth suggests that she tell him her address and date of birth instead.
“Do I have to tell you my date of birth?” asks the mother
“Yes,” says Gareth, “You do.”
Once Gareth has found her account details, he then asked asks her to explain her current financial situation,
“I can do that in one word,” said the mother.
A life time later
After much discussion, and after the mother had listed every bill, credit card and debt to her name they came a stale mate.
“I did warn you,” said the mother, somewhat depressed “You trying finding paying another 150 quid on top of all that, I mean…”
“It’s 300 pounds you owe, last month’s payment has still not been cleared yet either.” That’s helpful thought the mother, it’s always nice to be reminded how much debt your drowning in.
Nice work, if you can get it.
Now, It feels important at this point to mention the mother’s current employment situation if you could even call it that. She was currently employed through an agency and working as a Nursery Nurse, three days a week. To say things were tight was an understatement. I’m tempted to throw in a metaphor here about my size 10 pregnancy jeans, but feel the situation is depressing enough as it stands.
A moment of weakness
It was then, perhaps said in a moment of weakness or perhaps despair that Gareth made a regrettable mistake. A mistake that he would pay dearly.
“Perhaps you could ask your partner to pay the bill, that would be a solution, wouldn’t it?”
Are you fxxking kidding me.
Asking Jason was out of the question. He was already paying all the rent, the water bill, the gas, the electric, the car insurance. Plus, the phone bill, the kids’ dinner money, the home insurance, and the Virgin TV package. On top of all this, he had also been stung this week for the school photos and a mammoth vet bill. Christ that cat had more ailments and issues than a hypochondriac with a drug habit. All she was currently contributing to the household right now was tea bags and toilet roll, and this was only because she could blag them from work. She explained all this to him and more, poor Gareth.
Finally, and fortunately for the man from the council, she stopped talking, well almost. She finished by saying
“You see my problem Gareth, if I also asked him to pay the council tax, on top of all this, he may well leave me”
She wasn’t sure if she actually needed to share all this information with Gareth, but she definitely felt better after she had. Plus, it’s always a good idea to be open with the authorities, isn’t it? After this moment of oversharing there was silence, no Beethoven, no discussion, just silence. And then it came!
“I could give you the number of an organization that helps people like you manage their finances,” said Gareth.
PEOPLE LIKE ME! The Mother didn’t know whether to laugh or rip the guy’s head off.
Given the proximity of herself to Morley Street, ripping his head off was going to prove more difficult. Learn to manage her money! Jesus Christ as a fully signed up member of the working class, that particular skill was in her blood.
There was nothing the mother did not know about saving money and doing things on a budget. She knew which supermarket was the cheapest and which was the most expensive. She could also probably rank every other one in-between. She knew own brand was less expensive than known brands and that loose fruit and veg was always cheaper than packaged. The Mother could pass an avocado off as a potato at the self-service check out and a pain da chocolate as a bread roll.
On days out with her kids, the mother had learned early on to arm herself with a pack of Capri sun and homemade sandwiches. By the age of 5 her children knew they were never to set foot inside a souvenir or gift shop, unless accompanied by their grandparents. Her transport of choice was walking, next the bus, the underground if she’d just been paid.
SAVE, SAVE, SAVE
She knew about high-interest rates, low interest rates, credit cards, loyalty cards, discount cards. She knew exactly which shops allowed you to buy now, pay later an was more than familiar that she cared to be with PayPal credit and was a begrudging but regular seller on eBay. Even as a child she’d been savvy, taking back the Corona glass bottles for the 10p refund from the shop. God bless the seventies.
The mother was also well-practiced in the art of kicking a cigarette box; to determine whether it still contained cigarettes. Although she’d given up smoking years ago, ‘the dole queue kick’ had proved difficult to drop.
Help manage your finances” indeed. Jesus, Grandma and suck eggs didn’t even come close!
Of course, the mother did not say any of that, she just didn’t have the energy. Nor, it turned out, did her phone. Although it took another long bout of silence before she realized this. Now you’d think after she’d twigged what had happened, she’d be glad to put the phone down. But for a minute or two she sat clutching it and thinking, Well actually clutching it, thinking and listening to the sound of her bed clanging against the wall. This has to be a sign she thought. A sign that today was not the day to sort out her debts. Some celestial being was telling her to postpone the matter, just for a while. Afterall, she’d waited this long to open those bills, a few more weeks wouldn’t hurt, would they? I mean it couldn’t make matters any worse, could it?
The mother had often felt like she was drowning in debt, but maybe all that was needed was a positive slant, perhaps she should just lean into it. Yes, not drowning in it, but bathing in it. Christ, she felt better already.