“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” (Mr Micawber, Dickens)
Yes, kind of. But it’s more complicated than that.
There are two kinds of people who live in the Country. They are called Rich Countryfolk and Poor Countryfolk.
Rich Countryfolk live in mansions with acres of polished ash flooring, antique armoires (whatever they are) and expensive twisty things known as ‘sculpture’. They don’t call the local tradesmen when they strike a household problem or need to renovate – they run a tender process.
Poor Countryfolk enjoy disintegrating bed linen, cracked toilets, rotting verandahs, stained china and plastic ware that’s been around so long it’s almost part of the ecology.
What they share is the two constants of country life: dirt and isolation. BUT…
When you’re cleaning for rich countryfolk, you better not leave a dust mite prancing on the marble benchtops, or a stray thread on the Axminster. And yes, if you’re rich you can pay for company.
When you’re cleaning for poor countryfolk, the word ‘clean’ is relative. If you scrub too much of the mould off, the floor will probably come with it. As for company, visitors tend to shrink from the general odor of rotting food scraps and wildlife-infested weatherboard.
Poor Countryfolk, in my line of work, are usually Old Countryfolk., and if you’re poor when you’re old, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. You are not going to make it big with an internet startup. You’re not going to pay your credit card off with next month’s bonus salary check. When I see someone in their eighties sticking it out at some shack in the bush that’s falling down around their ears, with rumoured invisible children who live on the other side of the country/world, eking out the potato stew they made a week ago and wearing clothes that are held together by dirt and holes…I admire their bravery and pity their situation.
Although maybe I shouldn’t. There is a sort of twisted pleasure in poverty. I’ve recently developed an unnatural interest in the (mainly downwards) fluctuations of our bank account. We’re what you call asset rich but cash poor, so I’ve taken to scrooging on my weekly shop- do we REALLY need more butter?…oh look, there’s toilet paper for $5.99 a dozen! When I get to the register and they say ‘that’ll be $59 please’ I just about have an orgasm. I’ve beaten last week’s record ($67.52)! Oh yes, yes!!!
This is known as an STD (Shopping Tightfistedness Disorder. Far from suffering, I get a perverted thrill from using up the last cruddy vegetable in the fridge, or sticking the discarded ends of stuff in the garden to see if it makes more stuff (yes, it sometimes does). Using ripped bedsheets as mulch (oh yes!), foam boxes as planters (more, more!), cheap spray paint as instant glamour for old plastic garden furniture (don’t stop!). I like being in straitened circumstances, as other people might enjoy handcuffs. It’s a sort of challenge. Make those ends meet, baby! How low can I go!
Course, as STD junkies go, I’m a newbie. There are some people out there that make me look Trumpishly extravagant – see http://www.smh.com.au/money/planning/meet-the-extreme-budgeters-who-save-nearly-everything-they-earn-20160608-gpefoe.html!
Are you a budgeter? What do YOU do to shrink our national economy?