I have not had any nice post for ages. You know, people sending gifts of chocolates, free optical samples, that kind of thing. The only things that have landed on the mat have been in brown envelopes. Brown envelopes always signal doom. The accepted method of dealing with brown envelopes is to leave them on the kitchen counter unopened and hope they go away. They don't, they just stack up. I've let ours stack up for a couple of weeks now. The crunch came yesterday when a child presented me with an envelope fresh from their school bag. Guess what colour it was? Gah! My own children giving me bills! What have I done?! What have I forgotten to do?!
It was a bill for cello lessons. I've only just paid for three lots of school dinners for this half term, even the school is bankrupting me. I decided to get it over with, and opened the envelopes on the counter. They came to a four figure sum, and are all due now. And it's not like that's it either. The good ship Eco One needs taxing again next month, which also means it needs insuring again. That's another whopper right there I expect. Bills, bills, bills. Basically everything becomes due in either January or February, which is straight after Christmas, not a period known for frugality. But it doesn't stop there. The start of the year is also when you start planning stuff, so today I also booked a flight to Shetland, paid a deposit on a self-catering cottage on Mull, and booked a CalMac ferry ticket. If you're going to be left with beans, you might as well do it properly.
I was just recovering from that by soothingly working out how many decades I had left on my mortgage when an email arrived. It was from the electricity company. Please read your meter, it said, as we would like to send you an enormous bill. If you don't, it went on to say, we will estimate your usage and send you an enormous bill anyway. Win.
Now before you all start sending me cheques, or small wads of used fifties, I am able to pay these bills. I would have been very foolish to have signed up to all the various things that the bills relate to if I could not, though note that this has not stopped many many people from spending wantonly and sucking this country into a large hole, along with the good financial people who encouraged their borrowing. No, it is all OK, just about, and though it pains me, we are not on the street just yet. It's just when it comes up in one lump that you actually notice quite how much normal living actually costs. We are not extravagant people (except for Mrs L's obsession with buying obscene quantities of optical equipment almost constantly), we live well within our means. My car is twenty years old, and we have not heard of flat screen TVs. Most of our kitchen cupboard doors hang on one hinge, and we have instructed our butler to only feed the tropical fish twice a week. My point is that even if you only stick to the basics, which by and large we do, the cost of living is simply ridiculous. Take my council tax for example. Monumental - over two thousand pounds!! Imagine the holiday we could go on?! Imagine the left-hand barrel of a pair of Swarovski SVs! Included within that (since about 2006, and until about 2018)is of course my personal contribution to the 2012 Olympics. The same Olympics that are two miles away and that I got no tickets for. The same Olympics that are going to build a fuck-off police megabase on Wanstead Flats mere yards from my house and prevent me birding Jubilee pond. The same Olympics that are between me and work, and where the transport bosses think that a wait of half an hour to get onto the tube at Stratford is "reasonable". Talking of which, getting to work costs me almost six quid - it's about five miles away. Eating lunch is another four or five, and don't get me started on coffee. At the Spanish Sparrow twitch a bacon roll and a cup of coffee cost me £1.50. In Canary Wharf, where my best bird this year has been a measly Blackbird, I'd be looking at a fiver. London is sickening, and I'm led to believe that there are plenty of other places that are equally as outrageous.
You know what, I am all whined out. Typing this has been very helpful, and I now know what to do. Pour myself a drink. I'll try not to think about 60% of every sip being tax.