Pennies From A Gin Bottle

It is 10:46 on the day of my column deadline. I am writing this while eating toasted tea-cakes in bed. I feel like some kind of bohemian slattern bashing her confessions into a gilt typewriter with a wonky ‘S’ key while a naked man grunts beside her. But in this case, the man is a dog, and the typewriter is an iPad.

That’s right mofos. I bought myself an iPad, and I am in love. (I would insert exploding heart emoticons here if I thought they’d get loyally reproduced by the print staff.)

I feel a bit swish. Tip tap. Tip tap. I know there are fancier technological purchases a girl could make, but they’re not as cute. I have been putting off buying one of these bad boys because I felt it was a luxury when I already have a laptop – but when my laptop started to whir and delay displaying the words I had just typed like my thoughts were being reviewed by some sort of logic council, I thought to myself “The only practical thing to do is buy something pretty. That is what a hard-working girl needs to operate efficiently in a modern world.”

It is 11:08 on the day of my column deadline. I just paused in writing my column so I could perform the important task of assigning the features editor ‘VIP email status’ and a noise which makes me feel professional and productive when he emails me to see where my column is. It’s quite time consuming, having this much means of efficiency. I’m not getting much done. I might need another tea-cake…

I finally gave in and bought this beaut when I found a cheque I had forgotten to pay in. I figured it was like bonus money, so not naughty at all. I don’t know why it should feel like such a luxurious purchase when I spend most of my waking hours typing; why feel guilty spending my money on a thing which is totally functional?

The answer is I have never been comfortable spending money on big things. I hardly ever spend more than ten pounds on an item of clothing because it feels like a silly waste. Sometimes I wish I was the kind of girl who could stand swooning in a shop window at a pair of sky-high Jimmy Choos then go in and proudly blow £300 on a credit card… but if I did that I would probably die. If not out of buyer’s remorse then certainly because I’d tumble to my death in the heels. I am a clumsy oaf who should not seek to raise herself above 5’7″.

I suppose I am so uncomfortable with big spends because we never had much money when I was a kid. My mum pretty much raised us on her own and for many years she had that awfully common single-parent’s frustration of not being able to quite afford to earn her own money while raising her children. I paid for my school lunches with tickets, and milk and bread was bought by counting out coins from a huge Gilbey’s gin bottle. Finding a fifty pee in there felt dead fancy. I thought all families did this.

I went to a funeral of an old man named Charlie Jones with my mum a few years ago, and during a hymn she casually turned to me and said that when we were little he used to go to the butchers and bring us back huge bags of meat because he knew we didn’t have much. I didn’t quite know what to do with that. I just thought he was a nice old man we saw occasionally; one of the motley peripheral characters that made up our strange patchwork family. I felt like I should get up and sing some epic gospel number about braising steak to thank him. But I didn’t.

So I’ll never buy designer heels and this iPad only made it back from Currys to my bed because I found a forgotten cheque in an old broken bag with some stale gum and a lipstick I will never wear because it makes me look like  a dead prostitute. I’m glad I feel swish typing on it. I’m glad I don’t feel like expensive things are an entitlement in an age where under-10s feel like Dickensian waifs if they’re not at least on a waiting list for the new iPhone. I’m glad I know what it’s like to count twenty pees out of a gin bottle and that a man named Charlie Jones was kind to my mum. It makes things feel a lot more special, and makes me even more determined to try and make a living from tapping away on this pretty pretty thing.

It’s 12:26, and I’m going to toast all that with another tea-cake.

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