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Our Hero’s Predickament

July 10, 2012

Here’s the situation.

My rent goes up next month by £20. Not a great increase but one which, given I can’t really afford it as it is, will not easily be absorbed. Every estate agent I’ve ever had dealings with has told me I don’t earn enough. Thank you, I want to say, I’m glad someone’s spotted that. But no, they mean they don’t think I’m earning enough to afford to live in a one-bedroom flat in the Home counties. But who is?

So my big spendings are rent, council tax and other bills, payments on loans (taken out to pay off previous overdrafts) and the stubborn purchase of food, to prevent death creeping in. There is also a large misty area where money just somehow leaks away, which has been examined by scientists who remain baffled. Yes, I did pay for two hotel rooms last week (and chose not to visit one of them), but this doesn’t happen often. Okay, something similar happened a couple of months ago, but on that occasion I slept in every bed I paid for, and besides, expense doesn’t count when you’re on holiday, more so if it’s your birthday. Just as calories don’t count on a Friday. My commute to work costs me nothing, and I save on entertainments by never having fun under any circumstances.

As Oscar Wilde said: ‘Only the unimaginative live within their means’ [note to self: look up the correct quotation, if you have nothing better to do]. Maybe my greatest extravagance, that which tips me over the edge, is beer. This could have been included under the heading of food, but it’s arguably more important than that. Yes, food may prevent your cells eating themselves or merely suffocating, but it will never become your best friend on those long and lonely nights when it feels like the town is deserted and the sun might never rise again. Were I possessed of a soul I might claim a certain spiritual significance for Sergeant Beer which casts mock over the (roughly) £20 a week I spend on it. Unless I go to the pub as well, in which case double that.

So the one indefensible extravagance then is rent, which is about twice what I can afford. It is this which keeps me almost perpetually overdrawn, my overdraft limit – a sickly child of £1300 – frequently suffering a battering, if not being completely trampled, by the end of each month.

But this is the price I pay for living alone, for freedom, for independence. And I consider it worth paying.

(The fact that I live alone is entirely a choice and nothing to do with my personality, a fact which I hope to prove in the future by means of a series of well-chosen anecdotes which will cast me always in a good light).

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