Anyone who knows me even slightly will be aware that I’m not much of a consumer. I buy what I need, and apart from such items as food and underwear, I prefer it to be second-hand. This is primarily for ethical reasons, but the financial savings help, too.
This morning I went out to buy sandpaper, and I saw a box with the words ‘Magic Bullet’ printed across it. Does the whole world know what a Magic Bullet is? I didn’t. It’s nothing special, just a multi blender. My blender packed up around about the time all my money was stolen, over two-and-a-half years ago, so I couldn’t afford to replace it, and ever since then I’ve felt so insecure about my finances that I’ve done without one.
I like to stuff mushrooms and tomatoes with nuts and seeds. I have various recipes which require fresh breadcrumbs. I enjoy my own hummus far more than the shop bought variety. I have a long list of foods which would be simpler to make with a blender. Because I didn’t have a blender, I rarely have those foods.
I bought the Magic Bullet, because I could, and because I wanted it, and when I got home I realised that it is the most expensive item I have purchased for myself in over two-and-a-half years. It cost £17.99.
£17.99 isn’t much, is it?
On the way home I dropped in to see my daughter Claire, and left my cash and bank card with her. It’s an inconvenience, but I think Paul is going to be harassing me for money any day now – I can see the signs. This sounds pathetic, but the only way I can stop him getting my money is to have no access to it. If you saw him in action you’d understand. Every fortnight he pays me back £60 of the thousands he owes me, and this only serves to exacerbate the problem, as he always wants it back a few days later, which results in us falling out. He has a talent for making me feel like a horrible person.
I refused to return it to him a few days ago, and he got money off his dad instead, then his dad wanted the money from me, and I thought “like father, like son.”
I was excited when I got home with my Magic Bullet. It was the first new toy I had bought in years, and I planned to stuff and bake some mushrooms. Before going to the gym I checked to see whether I had enough nuts. Unfortunately I’d almost run out, because I’ve been taking the advice of my gym instructor, and snacking on them. I’d dumped my wallet only a couple of hours earlier, and already I needed money. I rang Claire, but she was out. Then I remembered I had a pound coin on my table – I keep it there as a symbol – every evening I look at it and smile, because it hasn’t been stolen from me. I also had £1.40 which I kept back in case I stupidly let Paul in. It’s the cost of a busfare back to his dad’s.
I went into town and managed to buy a pack of nuts on special offer, but then I remembered I had wanted to buy some Carnuba wax polish for my dining table. It was less than two pounds, but it will have to wait.
By the time I got to the gym I was feeling rather less exuberant. I lived like this before Paul went to prison the last time, and I hated it. I feeel resentful when I see something I would like to buy and I can’t, because it’s not safe for me to have free access to money. There’s a strong danger that if I was in charge of my money I would soon be destitute.
I’m not greedy. I have lived on very little for a long time. It’s hard to put a figure on it, but I estimate that Paul has stolen and bullied upwards of £20,000 from me over the years. He’s watched me shivering from the cold because I couldn’t afford heating, and still he has taken what little I have for food, over and over. I banish him from my home, but still he wangles his way back in. It starts with phone calls and it ends with me on the floor, shaking, too broken to cry.
Something is twisting inside me. It’s not just about money – it’s his whole attitude towards me. I hope that he misses his appointment with the probation services on Friday, because if he does he will be arrested and sent back to prison until September. Meanwhile I will have to ignore all phone calls and not answer the door, in case it’s him. I mustn’t see his face or hear his voice. I wish I could erase him from my mind, but I can’t. He’s my son, and however much he hurts me, I love him.
I rarely talk about my poor, lost daughter Laura these days, because the pain and the fear are both so deeply embedded that there are no adequate words left.
©Jane Paterson Basil