Ginny (not her real name) left her job and wrote to me “Am I worried about not being employed ? Yes. Am I worried about money ? Yes. Am I glad I am out of there ? Hell, yes…” in spite of being fully aware that the accepted wisdom is that you don’t leave a job except to go to another one.
But sometimes travel, mismanagement (usually but not exclusively) above you, the day to day erosion of your digestion, your sleep, your temper, even your skin shows you that this is more than just a warning amber light – it is a stop sign, it’s RED – and while those you live with may need your monetary input, sometimes the money comes too high.
Family budgets, whether for two or more, are rarely based on saving. They are based on earning. And I have real sympathy with this because I can remember having to face that I couldn’t earn any more. Ever hear of the Beating Friars, men who wandered the country in the Dark Ages, chained to each other and beating themselves often to excess while bemoaning their sin ? Don’t enrol.
Yes, it would be wonderful if we were all practical about money. But money and family, money and feelings, money and self image and learned patterns of behaviour don’t always lead us anywhere we think very much about till we are there.
In the first couple of months of any new year, we long for something to reinvent us, to lift us up, up and away – from the bills, the aftermath of Christmas and New Year, the dark days, the pounds gained, the pounds spent …
The first couple of months of any new year are what the drivers of black ie licensed cabs call “kipper season” – there is not much work about hence modest suppers. The first couple of months of any new year are the thinnest time for the fashion pages. Clutching the 21st century edition of a crystal ball, fashion writers try to predict trends. Don’t sneer. From crops grown to material processed, to garments made to garments sold to garments deconstructed for recycling, fashion is one of the biggest industries in the world. And I look with weary affection (rather them than me) at what experience tells me is nearly always a throwaway – handbags I wouldn’t play with as a six year old, ditsy blouses, colour blocks (come back Piet Mondrian and Yves St.Laurent and show us how to do it, not forgetting that neither of these men had to contend with mass production as it is now), tartan, the Wild West (mock skin, mock fur and fringes, mock turquoise, mock First Nation – nothing new there then) and the Deathless Duel of the Drainpipes ie are skinny jeans over ?
Last week, cynical old cat that I am, I visited more for exercise than purchase a venerable London emporium which has closed or rationalised the departments dealing with kitchen goods and carpets and hiked the price of everything else through the roof where I had the following experience in applied capitalism : a pair of gold earrings, made by a named jeweller for the store nearly 50 years ago – hence three lots of inflation – the store, the brand (ie two lots of brand) and vintage = £5,700. If the earrings are still there at the end of the sale, I could get them for -gosh – £4,500.
I didn’t make this up. It’s written down. Thank you George Vargas, for teaching me all those years ago that jewellery is only worth what it’s worth to you.
There is a photo feature in one of the colour supplements on the new jeans – all on suspiciously slender Oriental models with an average hip measurement of 32 inches – the most “wow “ of which retails for £430 – that’s right, denim in a different shape, probably harder to pattern in mass production.
Welcome to the new snobbery. The new snobbery is not whether it suits you, is the latest thing, will give you credit among your peers, will reflect glowingly on the family fortune, is beautiful or even becoming: the new snobbery is this is what you can afford to waste. Like £20 million allocated to teach Muslim women the language of the country in which they reside. I’d rather save the Margaret Pike Centre : it does quantifiable good and costs less.