Posts Tagged ‘money’

The contents of my purse

My purse is a constant puzzle to me. There is absolutely no logic to the things I have in there. I can think of far more useful things that should be there which are instead on a shelf in the house somewhere. Let me demonstrate my point.

In my purse, there is:

An Unpaid Fare Notice from 06.06.10 at 05.57am for £2. I promised the kind bus driver I would go into a train station and pay it. I didn’t. I just kept it. Rude.

A raffle ticket with the number 56 on it. No idea.

A business card for a barrister. Do you call it a ‘business’ card?

A library membership card for Croydon Libraries. I do not live in Croydon.

A loyalty card for a frozen yoghurt place with one stamp on it.

10 air mail stickers.

A business card for a Swimming Development Manager. I’ve never contacted her.

A handwritten recipe for truffle sauce from the chef at Polpo.

A loyalty card for Waterstones with 5 stamps on it. The card expired in December 2012.

A card receipt for £52.40 for a meal I had in May. Another receipt for a haircut I got in May, one for my electric piano and one from the Post Office for a letter I posted in July. What is all that about? Why am I keeping them hanging around?

A Holland and Barratt reward card. I’ve never activated it or taken advantage of the rewards or anything. And still I carry it around.

An interesting little leaflet entitled ‘What Must I Do To Be Saved?’ that I picked up in a restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. My favourite part is about what will happen to people who commute sins of a sexual nature. The punishment will be guilt, moral destruction, heartbreak, pain, devastation… And STDs.

11 passport photos.

A little card thing saying Lawra that Ella wrote for me when she first started learning to write. She also write me one saying robt, which I think means robot. But I’m not sure why. I keep it anyway.

A peice of paper with a name and phone number that I’ve never used. I’m not even sure who Sian is.

A loyalty card for Paper Passions with 3 stamps on it. I can guarantee I’m never going to fill that up.

Three notes of Vietnamese money that I think equate to about 45p.

A cashout ticket from a casino in Arizona for the grand total of $0.01.

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A small Vietnamese flag badge thing.

Three letters from friends.

A room key card for the Rodeway Inn in Northern Houston.

A business card for Livingston 350 Cab Co.

My ticket to the Paralympics.

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A business card for an estate agents for a place I lived in four and a half years ago.

Two more loyalty cards to coffee places that I rarely visit. I’ll never fill those up.

My National Trust membership card.

My student card from law school that has now been invalid for a whole year.

Two locker tokens for the swimming pool.

£1.30 in 10pences.

A Canadian 1 cent.

1 euro cent.

What is all this stuff for? All these stamp cards and receipts and air mail stickers? I think I’ll just shut the purse, put it away and wait for it to sort itself out….

Stuff and money

Well, it had to come up at some point, didn’t it? You can’t put an advert like that on TV and think that there wouldn’t be some discussion about its ridiculousness here. Anyone not living in the UK, thank your lucky stars that you have not been exposed to this advert.

There are plenty of awful awful things about this advert, it’s hard to know where to start. I guess we should start with Barbara Windsor, AKA Peggy Mitchell from Eastenders, or ‘Stenders, as it is *lovingly* known. I say *lovingly* with undisguised overtones of sarcasm. O god, she’s awful. If you don’t already know who she is, picture this.

She’s a bit too old for the bright blond piled-on-top hairdo that she sports. She’s small and, typically of small people, she’s very loud. And very rough-London. Her laugh is her most awful feature. It fires out, at five billion decibels, violating your ears with its machine gun fire-esque sound.

The advert in question is the latest in a series of adverts in which she wears brightly coloured court jester-type clothing and laughs a lot. “AH AH AH AH AH AH AH AH!” Loud and insistent. Maybe she says some words too, I couldn’t tell you. I’m too busy recoiling from the TV in horror.

In this latest advert, maybe they’ve realised that no-one is listening to her words actually, because the whole advert consists of a song with two words.

The words are STUFF and MONEY.

And the song goes like this, are you ready for the inspirational genius-like work which must have gone into creating it?

Verse 1
Stuff stuff money money stuff stuff.
Stuff stuff money money stuff stuff.
Stuff stuff money money stuff stuff.
Money money money.
Stuff stuff!

Verse 2
Stuff stuff money money stuff stuff.
Stuff stuff money money stuff stuff.
Stuff stuff money money stuff stuff.
Money money money.
Stuff stuff!

Inspirational words, hey? From the song, I have concluded that it must be a betting place telling you what you can win if you give them all your hard earned cash. While this song goes on and on, SillyBollocksMachineGunLaugh sits on a big throne thing, grinning maniacally and kind of arm-dancing along with an audience, who are all up on their feet, clapping and cheering. There are also an array of strange inexplicable things and people on the stage with SillyBollocks, as though there’s a gameshow happening.

Now I don’t really know anything about the advertising world. Maybe approval is only needed from the boy who fetches the tea in the office, which explains how this awful advert made it into my front room. But I was under the impression that there are more levels of approval needed before it could be broadcast.

Someone must have thought it up, pitched the idea to their boss, taken it to a brainstorm meeting where all the ideas were presented, that one idea must’ve been picked (the ingenious idea to make it consist of just the words ‘stuff’ and ‘money’ must have been too persuasive), they must have had to get it approved to film and made it and watched it back and gone, “Yeh, this is really good.”

I just can’t understand why no-one stopped them at any point in that process and said, “Guys, you can’t make this advert, it’s crap.”

An open letter to the Rich And Famous

To The Rich And Famous,

This letter has been prompted by Jessie J’s song, ‘Wild.’ I heard it at the Chime For Change concert for the first time and I thought, “You know what Jessie J? Shut up. Just shut up.”

And why, all you Rich And Famous, would I think this? Well, forgive me for overreacting in this post-recession climate, but if I’m going to scrape together the £10 or so that it costs to buy your album or single or whatever (and rest assured, I’m not, but if I was) and I know I’ve splurged a bit and there’s a little bit of residual guilt lingering in my mind about the fact that I should have paid that off my overdraft/credit card/loan and then I get home and I put it on and I sit back and I get ready to listen to you, Jessie J, and enjoy the music…. And then you go, “I just can’t believe that this is my life… It feels so crazy when you scream my name…”

Translation: You all love me and now I’ve got an amazing life.

O, you’re welcome Jessie. You’re very very welcome. It’s nice to know that you’re having a nice time from all the pennies I scraped together to get your album. I guess I’ll just go back to my menial task job again in a few hours and try and earn some more money so I can buy even more of your records and listen to you tell me about how fab everything is for you.

Isn’t it just wonderful to be you? Wonderful. Thanks for reminding me.

And you, Fergie. You’re not much better. Glamorous?! What was that about? What a fucking insult. You wear “them gold and diamond rings” but you still go to “Taco Bell.” What a comfort to me. I’m glad you reminded me of that. You know where I go? The kitchen. My own fucking kitchen. Because if I ate out every night I’d be broke.

Imagine that, Fergie! Being broke! O wait, you can’t. Cause you’re so fucking loaded… And real. We mustn’t forget that! O god, you’re so real “no matter how many records you sell.” Well, thank god for that.

And, you remind us, before you were “flyin’ first class,” you just had “a Mustang.” That must’ve been tough, Fergie. I can’t even imagine how you’ve suffered, just having a Mustang. You must’ve been so fucking poor.

Guess what I have, Fergie? My feet. My own two little feet. And when I need to go somewhere, I use them. I’ve also got this way flashy thing called an Oyster card. You put money on it and you can go on public transport. You should totes get one…. O wait, excuse me, of course not. Public transport! For a Glamorous first class flying lady like you. Pffft! What am I thinking!?

But yeh, totally real. I totally dig your realness, Fergie.

And you over in the corner there, J.Lo. You have not escaped my rage. This song has stuck with me for years, way before I had worked out that you were talking utter tripe. Because you, “Jenny,” you are still “from the block.” And in my sadness or my money worries or the trivialities of my comparatively mundane life, paying rent etc, I have always found strength from the fact that you, Jenny, you understand me. You understand my worries and concerns, a bit like Jesus really. Because you are like me, J.Lo, and you, like Fergie, are “real” and you have stayed “grounded as the amounts roll in.”

I’m sorry? The “amounts roll in”? So you’re loaded? Fuck off. Just be rich and stop going on about it.

I’m glad you’re loaded. I’m glad your shoes are worth more than I earn in a year. I’m glad you have a diamond encrusted mobile phone cover. That’s all fab and great. And I like to see pictures of beautiful people singing or acting well. That’s nice. It keeps me entertained. It gives me ideas for my next hairdo. I don’t need to know so much about your private life, to be honest. A bit of glamour and mystery is a good thing, I feel. But to show I like you’re acting/singing etc, I may part with money to experience it. Not often. But sometimes. Maybe.

But, for fuck’s sake, do me a favour and don’t sing at me about how fucking rich you are and how amazing your life is. And how my pennies spent on a record have helped you buy yourself a million billion pound mansion castle thing.

Just. Don’t.

I don’t need to hear that nonsense. Just sing your songs about love and make them sound nice. That’s all I’m asking of you.

And now, Rich And Famous, I shall leave you with a version of J.Lo’s big hit, adapted by my friend Cilla, when we were 17 years old.

“Don’t be fooled by the rocks I haven’t got,
I’m still, I’m still, Cilla from the block.
Used to have a little, still only have a little,
No matter where I go, I’m still where I came from,
Don’t be fooled by the rocks I haven’t got,
I’m still, I’m still Cilla from the block.”

Let that be food for thought, all you Rich And Famous.

Sincerely, Laura (from the block)

The pub quiz (part 2)

On Tuesday last week, Danda and a friend and I decided it was time we went and won the pub quiz cause the prize was £490. So we went. And we won. And they gave us some drinks vouchers and kept the money. Apparently the way they do it, so you have to get picked from a hat to win, is called a ‘snowball’ prize.

We did not get picked from the hat so we didn’t get a chance to answer the question or win the money. We were gutted.

So, three days ago, with new resolve, we decided it was time to go and win that money. Off we went, to the pub quiz, to get that money.

We were answering the questions really well. The inventor of something or other was called Birdseye… True. What was Fred Flintstone’s favourite sport? Bowling. What did the Earl of Sandwich create whilst gambling? The sandwich. Et cetera. Et cetera.

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We missed a few more than last time because there wasn’t a customer from the deli helping out after having a few drinks, like last time. But overall, we ended up with half a point more than we had the previous week, when we won.

The quizmaster came around to collect the papers and we looked at him, hopefully. He looked at our score.

“Is ours the highest score?” we asked.

“It is, yeh.” He only had one more paper to collect so we were hopefully we could win.

“But you know you get docked five points, right,” he said, as though it were no big deal.

My face fell. Danda laughed at my devastated face and described me as “a kid who’s had all her sweets taken away.”

“Why?” I asked, in confusion.

“Because you won last week.”

So now we are to be penalised for being clever?! We’ve answered those questions and we’ve got that score. Stop bullying us! Give us our 96.5 points!

It’s hard being penalised for having a massive brain and winning at everything.

So when he added everything up and read out the scores, we came second… Rude.

And then we didn’t get picked out of the hat to answer the question to win the money. We didn’t actually know the answer anyway.

We’ve decided that next week is our week. We’ll win the quiz then we’ll get the question and we’ll get the money and then we’ll be loaded and I’ll go off and buy a farm. That’s right. A farm. With my one third of the £510 prize….

The time we went to the pub quiz

I’ve mentioned my need to win the lottery before, in passing. It’s recently become quite essential that I win, because of my need to become a beekeeper/farmer/chef. The only way I can really pursue this is to not be constrained by small irritations like paying the rent.

About ten days ago, my friend and I saw a sign for the local pub’s pub quiz. The prize was £470!

Amazing, we thought, it will be like winning the lottery. Only smaller. Much, much smaller.

And so the plan was made. We would go to the pub quiz, Danda and my friend and I. And we would win. And then we would each have a third of the £470. And we would be rich. And be able to quit our jobs and keep bees.

Off we went, last Tuesday, with our brains in gear. We have four university degrees between us and a whole host of varying life experience. We were going to smash this!

And it got started. Where is the PM’s Buckinghamshire residence? Chequers! Boom! We were on fire (actually, Danda was the only one on the team who knew that but never mind).

Next question. Who sang Dancing In The Moonlight? Toploader! Boom!

Where does the Council of Europe sit? Strasbourg! Boom!

We stumbled on a few but a lovely/drunk customer from the deli enlightened us with his Star Trek knowledge and on we went, getting a surprisingly large amount of the answers right.

It took forever to read the answers out and mark them, then announce the winners. He started with the last place team… Not us! Fab.

Seventh place… Not us. Woop!

Finally he got to the second place team….. And it was us. Gutted.

First place team only got one and a half points more than us. But wait! What’s this?! They had too many members on their team so they’ve been docked two points!

So we’ve won! Yessssssss! YES! YES YES YES! WE WON! AAAH! We’re rich! Bring it on! We sat back, grinning from ear to ear.

But then something was happening up front. Someone’s name was being picked out of a hat. Someone from a different team. He was asked a question to win the money… Wait a minute. The money is ours, surely?

No, the lady at the next table explained. Winning the quiz doesn’t mean you win the money. You just win vouchers. To win the money, you have to get picked out of the hat and answer the mystery question right.

Erm. Excuse me. This is two hours of my life I can never get back. Where’s my money?

Anyway, the guy who got picked out of the hat didn’t get the question right so the money rolled over to next week.

And us? Well, we won vouchers. And respect. Obviously. But the problem with the vouchers is that Danda is teetotal and I don’t really drink at all either. And the quizmaster couldn’t find the proper vouchers so he hand wrote us two vouchers each.

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Fair enough, it was tons of fun and I’d definitely go again and we got free sandwiches afterwards. And now my friend had six drinks vouchers and can get drunk at the next quiz.

But I’ll guess we’ll keep playing the lottery.

Wimbledon Hill and I

Wimbledon Hill has meant many things to me. It has defined my relationship with my bike. And with myself. There are hills that are difficult to get up… But I manage it most of the time. There are hills that only super-fit triathletes would attempt. One of these hills is on the cycle route from London out to Reading. I like to call it The Hill Of Resting because all you can do is get off your bike and rest.

But Wimbledon Hill is different. It is difficult. But not too difficult. If you get into the right thought process, you can just about get up it. If you think you won’t do it, then you might as well not try, because you’ll give up so quickly. But if you can talk yourself into believing you can do it, you’ve crossed the first hurdle.

There are a few things which need to happen to get up Wimbledon Hill.

1. You need to believe you will make it.

2. You need the traffic lights at the bottom of the hill to be on green.

3. You need to look down at the road and not look up to check your progress until you go past the second drain and are in sight of the Cath Kidson shop.

4. You need to stand up to approach the hill but sit down after the first drain.

5. You need to keep your speed up.

Once you have worked this out, you can attack the hill every time, because you have a method. But all it takes is the slightest inclination that your legs ache, or you feel lazy today, or you’ll never make it… and off you climb, feeling like a let down and convincing yourself that next time you’ll do it.

Life is a bit like Wimbledon Hill. Occasionally it is like the Hill Of Resting. Realistically, I will never alleviate world hunger single handedly. It is more than likely that I will end up pushing my bike up the hill, making small efforts here and there where I can but unable to attack the whole thing alone.

But sometimes it is like Wimbledon Hill. It’s hard but going for it and having a method could see you through, so long as you don’t hop off with a faux injury, saying you’ll do it next time.

My efforts to be greener have so far been a little more like a gentle incline, the long slow hill in Richmond Park from Roehampton Gate to Richmond Gate (minus the steep bit at the end, of course). I quite like Richmond Park and a gentle incline is at least heading in the right direction.

But the other day I decided to jump in with both feet and attempt a little Wimbledon Hill. I put my money where my mouth is. I went looking for things I care about, causes and projects that I feel passionately about. While I couldn’t be at the abolitionist march in Austin today, I donated some money to the organisation leading it. I also read up about the British Red Cross and, remembering someone in my neighbourhood who needs help, gave them some money too. I bought two books from the Friends of the Earth website. And in town last night, meeting a friend for dinner, I saw some street musicians and emptied my purse into their guitar case.

I may be a little short at the end of this month but I’m going to ride it out. I felt poorer financially but better for it. Lighter. Like I’d emptied my pockets and now I was more relaxed. The money had been given wisely and I was absolved of the responsibility of spending it.

And that was also my Wimbledon Hill, being ok with giving money away again. I used to do it loads when I didn’t have much, because I didn’t have anything to lose. But then after a while, the bank and the government wanted all that money back. And you have to keep hold of it. Think before you spend. Withhold frivolity. Watch the pennies.

And this past few days, for my one good thing every day, I have given money away in a useful way. And it has been fun. Try it.

GIVE ME THAT TRUFFLE!

On Tuesday, my manager and I spent the morning at the Speciality Fine Food Fair. It was fabulous. There were tons and tons and tons of stands where producers had little tasters of their product and you could chat to them about the possibility of stocking their product in your shop.

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It was in Kensington Olympia, which is massive. It took us about four hours to walk all the way around it and see every stand. There were these fabulous chocolate sculptures at one end…

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… And beautifully crafted Italian pasta at the other…

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…and Brie in the shape of the Eiffel Tower…

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We went up and down the rows, up and down, up and down, nibbling on anything which was held out to us. The order that we nibbled was something like this:

Pannetone
Pasta
Chocolate
Truffle honey
Crackers
Ice cream

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More ice cream
Salmon
Cheese biscuit
Parma ham
Bread dipped into truffle oil
Chocolate
Biltong
Granola
Brie
Chocolate
Cracker with chutney
Walnut and apricot bread
Strawberry yoghurt sweets
Freshly made pumpkin ravioli

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Italian pastry with ricotta cream
Ice cream
Parma ham
Black truffle butter
White truffle butter
White truffle butter
Black truffle butter
White truffle butter…..

After this point, my memory becomes blurry because this truffle butter was A. MAY. ZING.

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Let me explain my position on truffles, prior to this day: “Truffles are ok but if anything, they’re not that tasty. They don’t taste of much.” I had had truffles a few times in restaurants, where they were just shaved onto things that didn’t really do anything to showcase its fantasticness. “What’s all the fuss about?” was my general opinion of truffles.

And then I went to the Fine Food Fair. And everything changed. There were SO many truffle stands so I tasted eveything that it is possible to do with a truffle. And I have to say, I am definitely on the Truffle Bandwagon. This truffle butter…. I can’t even explain. It was phenomenal. I was spreading it onto the plainest cracker in the world. A Jacobs water cracker thing. Boring. But with this black truffle butter spread on it, it was the food of the gods! I bet that Jacobs cracker couldn’t believe its luck when it got to sit on the truffle stand.

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After a point (when I’d been munching crackers and truffle butter for a tad too long and the people on the stand were looking over at me warily), we had to walk away…. And suddenly I knew that if I had any children and the truffle butter producers asked for one in exchange for a stick of the truffle butter, I would make the swap without a second’s thought.

“Push that child in front of the bus,” say the truffle men.
“Yes, truffle men,” I say, salivating at the truffle butter in their hands. I push the child in front of the bus and hold my hands out for my prize.

“Give us your house,” the truffle men say. “Go and live under a bridge somewhere.”
“Yes, truffle men,” I say, handing over the keys and taking the stick of butter. That night, I am found in the exact same spot, hugging my truffle butter while it slowly melts and smiling to myself as I lick my fingers.

“We want all your money,” the truffle men say.
“Yes, truffle men,” and I hand over my bank cards and pin numbers.

I’ve thought about going online to look up the company and do a bulk order of truffle butter, to see me through the next few months but I’m worried about opening that Pandora’s Box. I already have quite an obsessive nature. It could get silly. I’d be putting it with everything. Cereal, cups of tea, ice cream, fruit. I daydream about eating crackers full of it but am worried about the reality.

What should I do? I’m having a truffle dilemma here! I so want the truffles, but it could be a dangerous road to start down….