Topic: Casino Avenue
Some of the older, forty plus, women at work were comparing their lifestyles to those of their mothers. Marvelling at the fact they could remember washing done on a washboard, and then put through a mangle. At how their parents did without dishwashers, yet they've become essential timesavers in their own lives, to the extent that none of the women present could imagine doing without them.
I thought about how quickly things from previous decades date. We got our first trimphone in the eighties, but only had two people to phone with it. It was years before we got a (VHS or Betamax) VCR, because we thought it was a passing trend that wouldn't last. The finger crushing agonisingly stiff typewriter that you typed letters to the bank on, or the treadle table that the engraved Singer sewing machine fit into. I remember that you got taught to beat eggs with a whisk not a machine, to rinse hair with beer or orange juice, to cross out a mistake neatly, to use your carbon layer twice, and make puddings with leftovers.
I listened to the conversation, sniffling slightly in my four sweaters, my chair carefully positioned nearer the heater than theirs, but I didn't say anything. I couldn't contribute to the wonder at how far we've come, because your perspective switches incredibly rapidly if it's taken away. It's not the march of history or inevitable progress, because it only needs one or two little changes for you, here, now, to lose a lifestyle that you really made assumptions about.
As they talked about their dishwashers and washer driers and SUV cars, it brought it home how far removed my life has become from convenience and dishwashers, from yuppie smug success and that feeling of entitlement - in one fast month.
I was stopped from speaking out by a combination of poverty (the bank has cancelled my debit cards, I have lost my cheque books), cold (my flat's 'economy' heating system means it's warm at four in the morning, the rest of the time I have to sit here in scarf, hat, gloves, hoodie and blanket, and still my nose goes numb), pain (my car's still broken and there's no money to fix it, or to get transport, so I have to walk everywhere, which - being a delicate flower - means my feet have metamorphosed from lily white soft callouses into bloodied, blistered, raw gaping messed up wounds, and walking anywhere hurts), stench (no hot water to bathe in except at 6am, no washing machine to clean clothes in), and hunger (no money for food, have to fast at work, and eat the furry sprouting potatoes I brought from the last flat at night).
I didn't speak out - why? Was that shame? (and there I believed myself to be shameless) It's not exactly my fault this stuff is happening - living in two different places, paying two sets of bills has it's price.
Meh, cold does seem to make your brain work slower. It took me two weeks of sitting indoors under a blanket to figure out I could just go and buy an electric heater.
Cold, hunger, and pain make you sniffle and sleep with a hot water bottle stuffed up your sweater for longer than you should. I feel ill. In fact, that's my excuse for such a whingey rant of a post. So you'll have to make do with a crappy whining post. Hey, I tried to hold off on the Oliver Twist overtones, here.
Interestingly, yesterday, when my feet were bleeding, and I took four hours in the frost to ride the cheap buses up East to switch the heating on in the old flat, because the estate agent said people viewing it felt chilly, which was a psychological disincentive for them, I 'spent' more money than I've ever spent in my life. I dropped the price of the flat by ten thousand pounds. Oh boy, was I in trouble for that one. But dammit, I can't live a long time like this, I need a rapid sale, and that won't happen if the place is overpriced.
It's odd, being poor after years of being fairly rich. I mean, I was poor twice before - as a kid in the seventies, before moving south, when we lived on factory land and thought everybody couldn't afford puddings (by eck, it were bitter in our cardboard box) and during four years as a student, when pride wouldn't ever allow me to go to my parents' house for a single vacation. But it's different being poor and, well, old. In a way.
Old as in, I'm not seven and willing to believe that the second hand colour telly we waited years for makes us millionaires. And old as in, I'm not twenty two and there's no way I'm doing ten crappy jobs shovelling the shit from someone else's poor service skills just so I have enough money for a travelcard.
And you know what else? Old as in, I have a credit card.