International Writers Magazine:
wife came back from the supermarket with a grim look on her face.
I knew what was coming. Breads gone up, milks
gone up. Hell! There isnt an item on the shelves that hasnt
a new price tag. I was too busy looking at a letter Id
just received from my pension suppliers.
Due to unforeseen circumstances related to our investments, particularly
in offshore stocks and bonds, we regret to inform you that your annuity
will be reduced by 30% as from the 1stof November, 2008.
Although we hope that the financial situation worldwide will appease
by the end of next year, we do not anticipate any increases in the near
nor distant future.
Secureworld Insurance Broker, London.
Poor dear! During all our married lives Id acted like a mail chauvinist
pig. Money was my affair and nobody elses. She never understood
my investments during our lifetime anyway despite the number of times
I tried to explain the basics. Nor did she really care. After all, I
always tried to please her with a constant supply of monthly pocket
money. She has two credit cards but hardly uses them. If she needs anything
extra, dear hubby comes to the rescue with a pocket full of cash. Not
OK, I replied. So the cost of a shopping basket has
gone up 15% over the past two months. I crumpled the letter and
threw it into the dustbin. Havent you been watching the
news lately? Seen whats happening to the stock markets the world
over? Cant you see all these bloody politicians from Merkel to
Zapatero running around the world chasing their tails not knowing what
the hell is going on? Or are you just worried about
showing unnecessary anger at her simple remarks about the price of bread
and milk. I stopped short. She was crying. I held out my arms to hug
her; a small gesture of consolation took place. My fretting continued.
First thoughts came to mind. The credit crunch was affecting everywhere
but I already had debts of my own. Hell! Wherell I get the
lolly to pay for my new car? I still owe the bank for the last one?
I released my wife so that she could buzz off to the kitchen to store
the still available food that shed brought back from the super.
I went over to my desk, switched on the computer. Shit! Ive
still got to pay the store another six months for this piece of useless
I switched it off. I just sat there staring into space. Relief arrived.
Dear wife brought me a coffee. At least this one didnt cost 3
Euros at the local coffee shop. Jesus Christ! Im comparing the
cost of one of my small vices every day when I trot down for a small
cup plus a bit of gossip with the locals. What next? I pulled out my
cheque book. I began to cry! I was nearing the end of a positive monthly
Calm down James, I said to myself, its not the
end of the world. I paused for a few seconds. Lets
start with the monthly outgoings. I began to list all the extras
that I could cut back on. Ill resign from the local yacht club.
I dont have a yacht or a boat anyway. My wife and I go there occasionally
for dinner as weve been members for years. Thats it! Cut
out some dinners. I treat my wife to at least four outings per month.
Well cut it back to one. Next on the list was the golf club. Ive
being playing this ridiculous game for centuries. Ill just stick
to a couple of rounds a week. After all, the doctor did advise me to
do exercise and I couldnt think of a better way anyway!
Next, I again said to myself out loud. Im going to
replace all the light bulbs in the house, get rid of the fixed line
phone (already have a mobile), cut out my subscriptions to all those
benefit agencies. Yes sir! No more monthly dole outs to the poor. I
reflected! No! Im not that badly off after a 40% in cut to suppress
a simple contribution to the needy. I backtracked on this one. My wife
came in; cheerful as ever; no signs of despair. She wanted the coffee
mug. Hell! Id forgotten to drink my coffee!
So? Whats up? Should I tell her outright or wait till
the evening? Her monthly allowance! Thats it. I can work my way
through the torture of explaining our predicament and future tightening
of belts by simply giving her less income. Lets see now;
what excuse can I give. Increase in car payments? She has a full wardrobe
already? How about telling her Im going on a diet and therefore
can cut out my wine with the meals. No way Jose! I live in a good wine
producing country with plenty of plonk to digest my food. I aint
giving that up!
Just been checking the pension, dear and looks like we may have
to cut some expenses, I said sheepishly.
My wife is a very calm, cool and collective character. I know
were in for a rough time, dear. I was at the hairdressers the
Thats one area, dear, I interrupted.
I hadnt thought of her weekly visit to the beauty parlour. Youll
have to do something to reduce your visits
That did it. As I was saying! she said, hands on hips, my
hairdressers husband has just lost his job after 30 years. She
was in tears. A lady next to me butted in and said that she had to close
her bookshop as the banks no longer gave her credit to buy stock. I
know whats going on! You dont have to patronize me. If we
have to make sacrifices, well? So whats new? Weve been through
rough times before. I calmed down.
I began to think about all the other things that would affect us apart
from money; jobless humans out in the streets; hundreds of bars and
restaurants closing down in fun loving Spain; riot police out in brute
force to control the angry mobs. It wasnt only the personal cutback
that would affect our lives. It was everything else around us would
slowly begin to collapse. Dole lines, cues at the hand out dinners,
hundreds of new beggars on the street; you name it the gloom would gradually
settle in around us.
I was about to switch on my computer when I felt a hand stroke the brow
of my head. I opened my eyes. It was my wifes. Alarmed she said,
youre sweating dear? Had a bad night? I was also soaked
with perspiration. I looked around and eventually focused on the alarm
clock on the night table. It was 8 oclock in the morning. I just
stared into space. Eventually I muttered something like, nothing
dear, just a bad dream.
After breakfast, a stroll around the nearby park and the purchase of
my daily newspaper I returned home to write for Hacks. Before taking
the lift up to my apartment I emptied the letterbox. Apart from a bank
statement, a letter for my wife and some junk mail was an envelope with
a UK stamp.
I was from SecureWorld insurance brokers.
© James G. Skinner. November 2008.
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