Tag Archives: Accounts

No.50: Fear your future as a Homeless Old Person

So, one day you’re in the bath eating toast or (if you’re on a real low, eating a chicken leg), and it hits you. No, not the stuffed faux-moose head* above the bath you put up whilst drunk four days ago (see posts no.26 and no.43) but the fact that you haven’t ever, ever, ever put away some money for that proverbial ‘rainy day’.

Or, to put it in a rather less clichéd and rather more urgently relevant way: you’re going to be a skint old person, alone, homeless and a  known regular round the wheelie bins at the back of Greggs in a moth-eaten sheepskin car coat waiting for the moment they bin the leftover white rolls at six o’clock.

“Christ alive”, you think, as you sit amongst the floating toast debris/chicken skin – “I haven’t got any work now let alone in a few years when I should be placidly wandering in a smug, middle-class daze around Notcutts the Garden Centre staring at potted shrubs, safe in the knowledge that my pension** will sustain me through the twilight years of my life”.

A chicken bone floats by. You consider a little cry.

 Bath-based contingency plans are then rapidly considered and discarded:

1. Find, (dupe) and marry a rich partner.

Downside: Really? You eat toast in the bath for frig’s sake.

2. Sell everything you have on eBay to start an ISA fund

Downside: £12.34  will not alleviate the immediate panic of a future spiralling downwards towards being wrapped in newspaper and wool, pushing empty coke cans around in a Seventies pram yowling about daffodils.

 3. Get your adult children to look after you. 

Downside: (a) as previously established – who going to pro-create with you, bath-eater?!  (b) admit it: you have already secretly decided to abscond to the Isle of Man when your parents need full-time care, heartlessly leaving that shit to your richer, more successful sibling. So the old Karma isn’t looking too good for you, is it?

My plan?  Join a commune in Calcutta and become a mellow, dreadlocked granny honking to Shiva and inhaling lentil buns until I breathe my very last flancer breath.


*Grand Designs was on and you’d just finished a whole pot of really gnarly coffee.

**Unless, of course,  your local bank or building society has already spent your pension on bailing out another floundering bank or building society.

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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 topshop.com. 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.34: Try and Find A Bank Card That’ll be Accepted at The Supermarket

Flancers have two life dreams: (1) to be published. And (2) that the first card they pull out to pay for anything will actually work. Not especially in that order.

Non-flancer-writey people seem to have this gargantuan misconception that people who freelance make enormous mountains of money.  So mountainous in fact, that they probably also believe that the flancer regularly empties it onto the bed and rolls around in it in a gold bikini drinking Champagne from a unicorn’s hoof.

This may in part be due to Carrie (Bradshaw, the cake-deficient designer-draped mammal. Not the blood-soaked, telekinetic Stephen King one) or any other Hollywood cinematic flancer character  flouncing out of C. Dior with an elbow full of designer truck, jumping in a cab to go home and poke at a brand new ibook for five minutes.

In reality?  Carrie would be a potty-mouthed cynic, sweating out Nescafe, dropping crumbs from a Nutella and bacon sandwich all over a vintage Dell that takes forty-five minutes to fire up (see post.27).   Her biggest daily concern would be whether to bother washing her filthy hair as she’s unlikely to go out for at least another two days.* She would only wear Jimmy Choo footwear if he did slippers.

When I bemoan the echoing chasm of doom that is my monetary fund, my friends make this sort of ‘pffft!’ noise adding, ‘but you’re a writer!  You lot are loaded!’ Granted, most days I resemble the millionaire, Sir B. Geldof.   But I am willing to bet that he doesn’t stand at the cash point on the verge of tears every other day or get that vomity feeling when he hands over his card in Tescos for a shop of tampons and milk  totaling a mere £3.75.

Warning: A distressing reconstruction follows.

If you have never stood behind a flancer in a supermarket who is suffering from a nasty case of skint, here’s what usually happens: the nice till lady will look at the flancer with motherly pity** and convey the news with funeral directorly regret that the card hasn’t been accepted. The flancer will look aghast and, shaking their head, will say something like ‘oh! That’s funny, there’s plenty of money in there.***’ 

(As if the other customers care. They just want the poor person in the pyjama bottoms and Primark Ugg boots to get a frikkin’ move on as they have casseroles to get home and put on.)

There will be lots of sighing and huffing from the flancer, who will pull out another card and hand it over in desperation like an under-qualified magician fluffing valiantly though a failing trick.  To which the nice till lady will shake her head like a surgeon conveying news of a death to a family waiting anxiously in A&E.

Having only a Blockbuster Membership card left (which is only to be handed over in the event of full-mental breakdown) the Emergency Credit Card comes out.  It was signed up  for  in order to deal with serious emergencies – i.e. needing to fly out of Columbia if a war starts or something when you’re travelling.  But it is regularly used for other emergencies like, buying milk or Christmas party shoes.  

The Emergency Credit Card works, their gut relaxes and the flancer slinks away, red-faced clutching their booty of Nutella and smoked back. Which has ironically just cost them £126.78 after bank charges.

In the car park, the flancer resolves to go and give the bank a piece of their mind for this gross mistake and their subsequent embarrassment. They storm to Natwest, print out a mini statement and suddenly  realise that their complaint is as valid as Ratner shares.

They decide to go and buy themselves a coffee with their Blockbuster Membership card as consolation.


*This could just be me. Apologies to any hygienic flancers reading.

**regional supermarkets only. If you live in a big city they just look at you with scorn. They may even laugh in your face like a panto baddy.

***IE. twenty pounds left of the overdraft.

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No.30: Consider Organising Your Accounts

Every flancer has a brown A4 envelope under their bed. This envelope contains precisely 34,583 receipts. And its name is Depression.

Every year at around about April-ish, the flancer panics and considers running away to Aruba because the envelope calls (just before the accountant does. For the ninth time). Every year around about June-ish there is Olympic-Standard Procrastination. And every year around about September-ish there is lots of sobbing and entire boxes of wine drunk to try and stamp out the treacherous brain cells that insist on reminding you of what could happen if you do not sort your shit out.

Sometimes though, after a head-blow or some seriously A-Grade boredom, the flancer thinks, ‘ooh, I might just give next year’s accounts a preliminary tickle…’  A gallon of stomach-chewing coffee will be brewed and some Kendal Mint Cake eaten in order to fortify the flancer against the contents of The Envelope. ‘Rather start now and reduce the horror come May,’ thinks the flancer smugly, buffered by the escape-hatch-thought* that they can sack off this madness whenever they want because it’s only November.** Flancers, incidentally have and use so many escape-hatch-thoughts throughout the course of the working day that the thought-escape-hatch hinges are wafer-thin through constant deployment.

But the gaping flaw in this ‘plan’ is that flancers are  the most disorganised creatures ever to spring forth from the hands of the Lord.

Flancers are just not programmed to get things done in good time. In good time means: ‘before I suffer serious comeback for repeatedly putting this off.’ And so, whilst truly intending to begin ordering their accounts, the following scenario will occur: A Facebook status of ‘Am starting my accounts!’ will be posted in order to crow to other flancers that you are indeed a paragon of organisation.  This will then be Tweeted. The search for The Envelope will commence (cue small internal fanfare – or if like me you spend quite a lot of the day alone and thus talking to yourself – external fanfare)  but first you happen to unearth your cuts book. You will read your cuts book with a nostalgic half-smile, realise an hour has gone by and re-commence the search. You will then find a photo album of your student days and then a copy of Vogue from 1997, both of which will distract you for a further two hours.

You are now up to your nipples in dust bunnies and decide, hey – you may as well clean your room. Then, why stop there? Clean the house. Stop for a coffee. Hem some curtains. FB and Tweet something spitefully witty about H M Revenue & Customs.  Answer some emails. Maybe start knitting a bag to keep The Envelope in when you find it.

You then remember The Envelope and why you started looking for it.  You will also remember that The Envelope means sitting there, head in hands for hours thinking: ‘what the chuff did I spend £15.46 on in Argos on the fifteenth?’ Cue the silent workings of the extremely well-oiled escape-hatch-thought hinges.

And then the phone rings and interrupts you. It is your accountant on your case. Because it’s now actually April. 


*Escape-Hatch Thoughts: ‘I have plenty of time for this and will do it later.’ ‘This is totally good enough.’ ‘They will never know I made that up.’ ‘I deserve a break – hey, I might burn out if I’m not careful.’ ‘A long walk and a coffee is good to recharge creativity.’ ‘I think I’m ill.’

**Unless of course you decided to sack off this year’s dealings with your pushy accountant for online self assessment and are now seriously considering how ‘doable’ prison is rather than going anywhere near The Envelope.
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