Friday, 5 December 2008

Brother Can You Spare a Dime, well, a Pound Coin or two actually?

It was when I was looking up the AdSense site, in the desperate search for wealth, that I began to cogitate on what it is like being skint. Yes skint! Broke, penniless, impoverished and insolvent. (Insolvent does NOT mean I have run out of glue by the way). Now for some of you this is an experience you cannot understand having been born into opulence, wealth and gracious living. Your purse (or his wallet) has always been a bottomless pit with servants aplenty to acquiesce to your every craving, or at least most of them that are allowed. This is not, and never has been my experience. This is where the idea of placing 'Google Ads' and an 'Amazon' widget comes in. My dream was to obtain sufficient funds to buy a refill for my ballpoint, with possibly a potato or two for my tea. Investigation however, reveals a paltry $23 in the account so it looks like a pencil stub will continue to be used for some time, especially as nothing will be paid until $100 worth is reached! Now while I am happy to wait, (Oh yeah!) the overdraft is somewhat less so and again I return to pondering the nature of poverty.

Like Charlie Chaplin in those old films I have discovered that eating old shoe leather does not satisfy the inner man. And as I wander down the street, head bowed in case there is a coin or two lying about, I have a tendency to keep my hand in the pocket where my money used to reside.This constantly reminds me of the paucity of my situation. I miss the slight jingle you sometimes hear when coins clash together in the pocket, and then I find myself dreaming of the old days of pound, shilling and pence! Ah L.S.D. (not that kind) l loved how those big old coins would jingle-jangle as I strolled along, head high and not a care in the world. Young, handsome and rich, what more could a girl want? Actually, now I think about it, they were not slow in letting me know just exactly what they wanted, and who they wanted it from! However I digress, the fact that coins made a lot of noise did not of course indicate a lot of wealth. When decimalisation came in (on the 15th Feb1971) I was probably on £9 a week! This may have seemed a lot at the time, but when we went to that 'disco' (That's 'Club' to younger viewers, and 'dump' to those that remember it) we had to buy the girls a drink. (and one knows how much Edinburgh girls can drink!) Now pints of lager were two shillings and sixpence, the lassies,naturally, wanted 'Brandy & Babycham' at five shillings a go, so a round cost fifteen shillings! As you know there was a mere twenty silver shillings in a pound so we made sure we only bought one round each! Those girls were never grateful enough to make it worth our while either. So much for 'Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker!' Ogden Nash was clearly earning more than £9 a week when he came up with that! Anyway, any chance of success with those lassies would have brought on a recession far too quickly for my liking!

Today we specialise in small change.The five pence piece is so small it easily falls into any hidden recess and brings joy only when fingers are used to prise the things back into the world. Excuse me while I rummage around a recess or two. I days of yore I found a small coin when removing pews from a church. (legally honest). This was a 'Groat,' a coin worth fourpence, and was circulated in the middle of the nineteenth century. It had lain undisturbed for over a hundred years! Similar to many folk sitting in church pews today I must add. The first thought was the discovery of great treasure, but the condition was such that it was actually worth about six pence today! An elder (a loving, caring, honest man) 'borrowed' it from me and I have not seen it these twenty years! I must say pound coins have also shrunk in similar manner to the value it represents.Today the shape is hard to distinguish from ten pence pieces and old folks, like my friend Mike S, easily confuse them, but not when with me for some reason. As for pound notes, it is possible the Clydesdale Bank in Scotland still issues them but I don't actually know for sure. No one else does these days. I do have a 'Bank of Scotland' five pound note on my wall that has 'Use in case of emergency' written on the front. However the 'emergency' arose long after the note itself was withdrawn from circulation. Typical.

However it is possible for handsome young men like me to cope with poverty, and even in the coldest winters one can thrive. A day spent in the library not only keeps the fingers from developing frostbite but gets one an education also. Many hours can be filled by looking through the shelves at the young ladies on the other side, or at least until that menopausal old bat comes from behind the desk and throws you out. Wandering around supermarkets, and other large shops (not Woolworth's as their going bust brings ones own pauper state to the fore) can keep warmth in during winter, and wandering around the park in summer can be beneficial as the small kids tend to drop sweets quite a lot, (at least if you come up behind them suddenly they do), and lunch is served!

I was chatting to a man next to his 'top of the range' Landrover (£60,000) quite late on, at the far end of the darkened car park, about the nature of poverty and how to deal with it.In the course of our discussion, shorter than I expected I am sorry to say, I indicated that while he had a large five bedroom house, several acres of land for his horses, a wife adorned in expensive fashions, holidays in Guam and Hawaii, and a wallet inside his 'Saville Row' suit stuffed with twenty pound notes, all I had was this meagre carving knife! I showed this to him, I placing it just above his belt so he could see it properly int he poor lighting such places possess), and he was so touched by our discussion that he very kindly 'lent' me the contents of wallet! A very nice gesture I thought, possibly resulting from his kind heart and realisation of my desperation I suppose. He was a nice man, but I was a bit surprised at his speed when leaving the car park.

Of course many are worse of than me, and I survive with the help of such donations, but even in the west folk struggle to survive. In the USA some 37 million are in poverty, and they have jobs! The wealthier a society the more we want, and the more advertisers inform us of things we really do 'need!' The 'credit crunch' will bring home to many what life is really like. For fifty years we have developed a constantly growing economy, with occasional concern for the 'poor starving elsewhere.' Maybe this will shock us into a better comprehension of the value of money? But somehow I doubt it, human nature being what it is.


Mike Smith said...

I am but a mere youngster compared to you auld yin!

Da Old Man said...

I continue to be amazed when I hear of those living in poverty, and notice the toys possessed by them and their children. We have "Giving Trees" for those less fortunate. Many of the items requested are very expensive games, which are already a part of a very expensive gaming system.
Toys, particularly video games, are so far own on a "needs" list it gives one pause as to what values we are imparting to kids.

dani c said...

Wow, we have that many people in poverty ? You'd be surprised at how many of them drive better vehicles than me !!! Damn, I must be doing something wrong.

1st Lady said...

Wasn't it awfully kind of Mike to offer the first and second round of drinks when we all get together? Unfortunately, when it's my turn to buy, I'll only be able to purchase soft drinks (it's against my religion to purchase alcohol you see).

Anonymous said...

You know, I've been one of those "fortunate" ones to have received a good education, had a great career and had no worries with money.

Until a couple of years ago, as you well know by now.

Being put into my current situation has taught me and my wife much -- we have learned to trust the Lord and His goodness, and begun to re-start appreciating the simple pleasures of life that we've vastly forgotten.

You have my clicks. ;)