Monthly Archives: February 2010

No.46: Do ‘Optimism Sums’

You never have any money.

Now, ignore this phrase and read on in a state of vehement denial. 

Welcome to the financial existence of the flancer.

If Flancerland existed, it would have no capital. That will be only funny if you have just opened your bank statement and are feeling hysterical.

However, now is the perfect time to do some ‘Optimism Sums’!

These consist of the sort of mathematical spin-doctorings that would  make Le Chiffre from Casino Royale’s eye bleed and which miraculously make cash appear after a series of complex equations written on the back of an old Tesco receipt.

[PC] – IE (fDD) + MNSR/4 =  A (- R)

This, dear work*-free readers is a highly sophisticated algebraic formula that, whomever the flancer might be, will have been applied to their finances at some point. Usually after a big cry.

[Purse contents] MINUS Imagined Expenditure (forgetting all direct debits) PLUS money not spent on a round DIVIDED BY no. of people in the pub = Assets. (Minus Reality.)

Not exactly NASA standard in it’s accuracy but the flancer rejoices that things are not as bad as they seemed and continues to believe in the old Buddhist adage that:

 “If the letters OD appear after your account balance but you never open the statement envelope, does it really make a sound?”

 ‘Right.  I can sell my liver on eBay for…seventy quid…and I didn’t buy that bag I liked from And I bought the Value range raspberry jam this afternoon. So I am actually one hundred pounds in the black and therefore needn’t worry about my financial state for another month. Ah Ha! Take that Natwest**!’

The bank however, has other ideas based on the reality of, well, reality. Which is a bit of a spanner in the works for the flancer who is puzzled as to why, after working out that they have only actually spent twenty pounds this month on their fingers on the bus fifteen minutes ago, the hole in the wall won’t put out.

They go storming into the bank before a navy polyester-wearing individual explains why, using a calculator and some proof. 

But they didn’t incorporate the back of a Tesco receipt.  So it doesn’t count, of course.


*Substitute any of the following words: money, pride, new-clothing, thrifty.

**or whichever organisation looks after the space where your money should be.

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No.45: Knit

Knitting. Fundamentally it’s swearing with wool. But flancers love it because (a) it takes ages and you’re historically obliged to sit down with a cup of tea and Custard Creams while you’re doing it.  (b) Some glossy weekend supplement once stamped it trendy. So, even if you’re unemployed, depressed and covered in weeping malnutrition sores you can be trendy.  (c) You can make money by selling your knitted hell-forms to other flancers. Flancers LOVE peddling home-made shite to other flancers (see: jewellery that appears to be made from the contents of the local Toys-R-Us Hoover bag, greetings cards with fluff on or adventurously flavoured muffins) and thus contribute to a beautiful, self-sufficient micro-community, borne unsteadily along on guilt-purchasing and resentment (‘thirty pounds for one earring made out of a mini Weetabix and a Kinder Egg toy? I know she was in The Times magazine but really…’)

Knitting is quite hard.  One generally sees old people knitting because they are actually flancers who started the bobble hat they are working on twenty-seven years ago, devolved into Alzhiemers and forgot to stop.

On a side-note we must distinguish between this ‘trendy knitting’ lark and actual, proper knitting. Done by people who make their own clothes. Done by people who have an inner need to be at one with wool.  They eat oats and wear their spectacles on a chain.  True knitters  wear things they have knitted themselves and are also slightly mad. They resemble an alarming fusion of Sue Pollard, a drama teacher, a social worker and Grotbags from the Pink Windmill. They have a catty, house-planty aroma wear earrings with parrots on and also enjoy patchwork.

The difficulty of knitting does not deter the flancer.  They love a challenge. Indeed, a challenge that is something other than trying to avoid being caught out sniffing around the Tesco trolley park looking for rogue pound coins left hanging out of the anti-theft mechanism.

Knitting is supposed to be very soothing. The clack-clack of the needles, backdropped by gentle expletives issuing forth between spittle-flecked lips as you, once again appear to have knitted another hole into the very slowly progressing strip of mangled mohair that has been sitting in your lap for the past 17 days like a kitten from an animal rescue centre .

Also known as ‘a scarf.’

After day 18, the knitting will be abandoned (see post: 6)