Tag Archives: desperation

No.74: Put Off Doing Something Until It Becomes A Crisis

From calling off a wedding to having a poo, there’s nothing like a brazen IGNORE to allow initially insignificant business to escalate into full blown nightmare, just to give your day (by which of course we mean life) purpose.

Deadline of three months? Drink coffee and watch Only Connect until you suddenly realise you have 37 minutes in which to research, interview for and write up a 2800 piece on the history of the Lathe for Machine Tool Weekly (and if you’re wondering why you’re doing this in the first place, see post No.31). There is no better way to imbue your extraordinarily dull commission with all the immediate magnitude of a haemorrhaging eyeball.  Every PR you frantically telephone will hear the rabid urgency in your voice and the assumed significance of What’s Going Down Here will blow up like ankles on a long-haul flight.

Because urgency is acutely catching, people. Others want in on the sense-of-purpose gig.  Lathe-experts are literally being physically hefted out of their beds by ruffians employed by PRs for specific from-bed haulage purposes and onto the phone to offer last-minute Lathery comment because this situation is now SERIOUS. An APB goes out on all (three) Lathe-operator organisation websites. Emergency Lathe-spokespeople are mustered. Families of Lathe-operatives risk starvation as machinery lies abandoned, such is the stampede to contribute before time is up! Soon, forty-six people are swept up in your shit storm. And loving every moment of it.

At pains to further labour this point, which of these conversations is more interesting?

(a) I switched the iron off and went to Tesco


(b) I thought I’d leave the iron on until I’d returned from Tesco. And unpacked the shopping. And written a sonnet. I  burnt the house down and am now as homeless as …well, the two people who live with me, actually. Except the one that died of his injuries.

Ladies, isn’t it just vastly more satisfying to shave your legs when they look like something pulled from Mumford and Sons’ plughole? Leg shaving is a faff and doesn’t feel necessary until it starts feeling *medical*. 

On a daily basis, leg shaving can never be classed a bona fide crisis situ until you are in a taxi with a recently-met Handsome Young Man  you spontaneously decided it would be ace to have sex with. You’ll suddenly remember that bristling beneath your 40 denier is the sort of thatch that would give Richard Keyes’ forearms an inferiority complex. At this point plotting how to discreetly dehair or incorporate keeping your tights on into some hot sex stops being vanity and starts being a character-building situation to be passed onto the grandchildren. Anyway, your soon-to-be-naked comrade probably isn’t noticing that behind your pouty, sexy exterior the words: ‘fuckfuckfuck I seriously hope he’s got a Bic lying on the sink or his ex left some Immac knocking about’ are going on, as he at this moment is urgently planning how to hide the Nicklebackrecords he left on the side before going out this evening.

Nickelback: crisising all over your record player

People in soap operas have long understood the power of the last-minute, crisis-engendering reveal. If you can avoid sharing the fact that you used to be a man from your 19-stone, balding mechanic, Australian fiance until, say, the honeymoon night, things prove way more invigorating than if, at the end of date two, you decide to divulge the  information that a Serbian doctor rather than your DNA provided you with your vagina .

Important information. This practice of crisis-generating avoidance is not ever applicable to: administering mouth to mouth, injecting Insulin, addressing your financial situation if you are the country of Greece and turning off Robbie Williams.

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No. 71: Get Your Hopes up. About Anything.

Rejection and disappointment can’t even be referred to as ‘large, unavoidable parts’ of flancer life. It would give them a pointlessly disproportionate amount of column space.  A bit like saying ‘Crikey, breathing, eh? My week is literally riddled with it.’  It’s a given. IT. IS. Pointless.

Nope, for flancers R&D are par-for-the course. The day-to-day. The NORM. Once, in the early days, dismay at their omnipresence may have been given supplementary airtime, back when enough Reality hadn’t yet occurred to usurp  positivity and optimism. Which, once dispensed with, left holes that were swiftly and expertly plugged by cynicism and pint glasses of rose.


The work is out there. Somewhere. And thus, hope can never truly die for the flancer – it simply languishes in a hospice surrounded by undrunk Lucozade.  And as any scientist that has placed electrodes on a rodent knows, the eternal promise of possible reward keeps intelligent life forms endlessly anticipating them.  Although it is arguably much easier overall to eventually obtain Red Leicester from a maze than obtain a commission from The Guardian Life&Style section. I know. I’ve tried.

Let’s stick with the laboratory analogy. The bell is traditionally Pavlovian and ironically it is with this that flancers associate with potential reward.  Email, front door, telephone, mobile: excitement ensues because all of these bells could mean WORK or MONEY. Or that you are a Labrador.

Hazards include:  the microwave, someone on the telly ringing a bell, your budgie’s mirror toy, the local landlord calling time (if you have phenomenal batlike audio capabilities)  or a person going past on a bike wishing to alert pedestrians to their presence. None of which mean work but will set off hope fuelled adrenaline and possibly the need to cry afterwards.

When it is one of the former, however, there will be much whooping and running out to the shed to see if there is a rifle you can fire into the air like an Afghan rebel. Or failing that, a car you can drive to the local Tesco car park for the executing of tarmac-burning joy donuts. Or perhaps a hairy mammal you can sacrifice on a fire to the Goddess of Professional Interest who has been too busy washing her hair and watching X-Factor lately to stop by much. She should by all accounts be omniscient, but The Goddess of PI just prefers directing her infinate attentions  away from you and at her leave-in conditioner and Gary Barlow. Which is fair enough really as he was always in charge of the boring end of the Take That stick and deserves a bit of Divine interest. Yay!  

Unfortunately for him, this is all made up in my head. If you’re reading Gary, sorry.*

Barlow: Only interesting to made-up, preternatural Divinities. And his accountant.

But  within seconds your hopes are shattered. Rather like Gary’s were just then. The doorbell  will have been that mad woman in all the mascara who owes your dad money because her mother backed her mobility scooter over the dog. The ‘phone was your nanna who thought she was phoning the hospital for a repeat prescription on her diabetes tablets (hours wasted due to her deafness and that deeply ingrained suspicious nature of the elderly convincing her that you were not her grand-daughter at all but a deliberatley obstrictive receptionsist. ‘Because the NHS are like that’.)  The email was notification that ‘@hotpants99  is now following you on twitter!’

And the person going by on their bike didn’t have a commission for you either. You checked.


*These somewhat eccentric examples of epic celebration are not definitive and may vary from flancer to flancer

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No.70: Help a family member

When there’s nothing else to do except eat and cry your way through your perpetual lack of employment sabbatical, it’s sometimes a relief to do things for other people that would usually make you go ‘JESUS H. CRUMBS CAN’T YOU SEE I’M BUSY!?!’

Right about now however, even Stevie Wonder in a backwards balaclava can see that you haven’t been busy for about 18 months and so assisting in your father’s removal of rotting leaves from the conservatory guttering and backing his car into the garage offer a welcome escape from listening to politicians talking about how ‘disgusting and unacceptable’ the London rioting is. And other variants on the words ‘disgusting’ and ‘unacceptable’. This is why they are doing absolutely nothing. All their physical energy and time has been channelled into ferreting through Thesauruses 24/7.

‘How about ‘we cannot countenance?’

‘Nah.  Boris used that yesterday.’


‘Too coarse.’

‘Beyond the pale?’

‘I LOVE it.’


I digress. One of this bloggers favourite things to do when otherwise doing shit-all, is help out in her sister’s excellent hairdressing salon. As luck would have it, she owns an old-school-still-offers-perms type salon as opposed to those shiny chrome-and-house-music heavy ‘studios’ called ‘KUTZ’ or ‘STYULZZZ’  where all the aphonic staff are given pay rises based on a pout and weight loss sliding scale. And can only cut your hair so that you look like the drummer from an emoband.

Directional: but ridiculous on a 3-dimensional human

Sweeping up bits that have been shaved off other people is satisfying and slightly sickening at the same time. Like squeezing out ingrowns from your bikini line or sitting though a whole episode of ‘Police, Camera, Action.’  But better than that is What Old Ladies Talk About. One, a 68 year- old woman, feared getting fag ash on her i-pad and  her online Solitaire habit (“I only smoke menthols though dear, they’re not so bad for you, are they?”). Meantimes,  her 74- year old husband – renamed Mr Teak due to his year round Menorcaised hue – is bemoaning how long it regularly takes to load his Facebook page from behind the latest copy of Reveal.

The one-liners you catch whilst passing through en route to the kitchen for yet more tea are superb. Honestly, you couldn’t make them up (and believe me my dear readers* – I haven’t.)

‘Oh yes, the end of her nose is fake. A Jack Russell bit it off’

 ‘There were 4 lesbians in here last week. It wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds.’

Lady 1: ‘He’s my best mate you know.’  Lady 2: ‘Except that time he sent you a text , saying he wished you were dead.’

‘She fell in the gap between the bed and the wardrobe.  Paramedics needed a sling to get her out. She was there until 4am. Literally wedged.

‘My grandad drank all the Sambucca and started harping on about his sex life’

Lady1: ‘My mate did this tattoo for me at home.’  My sister: ‘Ooh lovely. It’s a flower!’  Lady 1: ‘No, it’s a red indian’s head.’ My sister: ‘…would have been my second guess.’

And so on. I was especially fond of the fierce middle-aged woman that worked the Debenhams perfume counter and saw off a serial flasher by squirting his nob with CKOne.  ‘I hope it stung’ she snapped from underneath a magnificent crown of highlight foils.

Add to this the chap with 5 strands of hair and a crush on the junior stylist who pops in to book in a trim once a week and then runs away when anyone speaks to him. Oh, and the man who regularly pops by wearing nothing but a tee-shirt. Even in winter. Much to the concern of the ladies who – despite the fact there’s a bloke there with his John Travolta swinging free – care only about the pneumonia risk.

Once he’s back off-of his holidays (and so on), David ‘extra from a televised Jilly Cooper adaptation’ Cameron could do with visiting the nation’s hairdressing salons for a bit of policy inspiration. Therein lies the sort of  blue-sky thinking you’d pay middle-aged men who would like to pro-create with a whiteboard, tens of thousands of pounds a year for. The London riots, the NHS, care homes, the death penalty (most wouldn’t hesitate to erect makeshift gallows for the teenagers continually kicking their footballs against the side of the garage during Emmerdale), how to manufacture dog poo bags your finger won’t go through. All of it is covered amongst the roar of dryers and Radio 1.   

Actually, they should scrap the whole Tory party and just move my sister’s clients into parliament. Food for thought Mr Rupert Campbell-Black,  food for thought indeed.  And at least they’ll all have Newsnight-ready ‘dos.


*I am aware this plural is a little optimistic.

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No.65: Visit the Corner Shop

For the flancer, ANY reason to exit the house is a viable reason.  The smoke alarm won’t stop bleeping because the batteries are low. A pigeon spontaneously catching  fire in the garden. An in-progress mugging that demands intervention – anything really that means you’re not sitting in front of that laptop deciding whether tearfully inhaling another crème egg before 8.30am constitutes a borderline emo-psychological eating disorder.

As most people don’t really know what to do with a burning pigeon* (or for that matter, what to do when standing between a youth wielding something they found in a toolbox and an old person who still hasn’t twigged that this isn’t someone trying to help them cross the road) the corner shop constitutes a safer option. A nice, straightforward getting-out-of-the-houseness that doesn’t give rise to third-degree burns or an eyesocket full of Phillips screwdriver.**

The Corner shop is a Godsend. It’s a journey short enough to  make in house slippers. There’s never anyone there you recognise and therefore have to communicate with (despite having lived in this area for ten years) so you needn’t put a bra on.  It also provides a quick fix of what you need so you can get on with your day feeling more alive, without having to get out of your Florence & Fred work wear (ie pyjamas).

There are only a limited range of essentials on offer, so you are also exonerated from the guilt of being a bad person who puts bad things into their ruined body because – hey – is it your fault if all there is here are E-Numbers, high fructose corn syrup, nicotine, aspartame and salt? Would a drowning human turn their nose up at a Tesco Value life buoy?   This is an emergency!

On second-thoughts, the Corner shop’s not really a Godsend is it? It is a Crackhouse.

Feral faced, teenage guttersnipes lounge around outside smoking joints and sitting on stolen bikes. Your paranoia heightens as you pull your outsize belted cardi even further around you and clutch your front door keys to your chest. You suddenly remember that you are braless under that 1996 charity fun run tee-shirt. You feel horribly vulnerable.

Once inside, to blend in, you shuffle over the peeling lino under the flickering strip lights. You feel dirty but excited. After all what choice was there? Tescos is at least a half hours drive away and that would mean getting dressed and removing the scrunchie. You slink past the ancient hair-dye, the long plastic tubes filled with Kiddie-Madness powder, the packets of Skips (only Corner shops still sell these along with Discos and spicy Nik-Naks) and toilet roll with a thick, grey layer of dust on the top.

The chilled counter houses what can only be described as items you might find if you go poking about in the local hospital’s amputee ward wheeliebins.  It is lit like a scene from a David Lynch film in which they hang someone up and do horrible graphic things to them with a Ladyshave and simply being near it is hugely depressing.

Your pupils dilate as they settle on that gigantic bag of orange-coloured cheesy snacks that glow in the dark – which you know are going to be like chewing wool –  and a treacle tart by some baked goods consortium that has Mr. Kipling up at night screaming. No, even a devoted Greggs fan would not touch that de-devilled treacle tart.

You pay, you leave. You hear Genesis playing gently on the corner shop radio.

No.  No-one must know of what happened here.


*Gordon Ramsey might.

**Unless you live in Clapton, E5.

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No.53: Go Slightly Mental

You know, like that time where you’re sobbing so hard, spittle is dripping out of the sides of your mouth simply because you opened the cupboard above the sink a little too quickly and it bumped you on the head…. and that act of gross clumsiness reminded you that your life is worthless and that you have no talent or else why would you be sat here drooling onto your dressing gown rather than sat at your keyboard tapping out something for the Times, eh?  This prompts you to email all the people you’ve never really liked and tell them exactly why. And all the feature editors that never bothered (the BASTARDS) to even email you back a ‘thanks but eff off’ after you’d repeatedly sent them your best pitches.  Then you change your mind and don’t send them which makes you bitter AND spineless.  Then you go on Facebook and delete all the smug employed/married/”still-good-looking-despite-now-being thirty-and-ooh-don’t-they-know-it-from-their-posed-FB-picture”  people you know and maybe even go through your mobile phone and bin everyone who you haven’t spoken to in a month. And then you have another cry as your mobile phone book is now empty.  And perhaps you’ll even tackle the bank, who decided to shave a chunk off your overdraft without telling you and now you have to pay £69 in charges. I’ll teach them, etc…until they tell you that, no, they sent you a letter to inform you that they were going to shaft you for nigh-on seventy quid’s worth of spurious fees and promptly charge you another tenner for the administration cost of dealing with your phone call. Then, you eat everything you can find, whilst playing The Prodigy really, really loudly. And you wonder what would happen if you  just, you know, sacked it all off and buggered off to America – no, wait – INDIA, where you could find yourself and NatWest couldn’t. Then you might even contract Malaria *take a small moment to imagine your funeral and spend at least quarter of an hour choosing the playlist* and everyone that never called me or hired me will be sorry….then go and get in your car to drive somewhere ANYWHERE away from here and then give up on that plan and sit crying again with your head on the wheel because at the moment you are virtually a character from a Mike Leigh play and because your needle has been on red for the last week and a half and besides you’ll probably only drive to Tesco and bulk-purchase cream horns…perhaps then you go and stare at yourself in the mirror and decide that you’re getting old as well and who would ever want you…then wash-up and tidy-up and vacuum-up like a maniac, at which point you will catch yourself on the ankle with the vacuum cleaner and collapse into a pile of honking self-pity…then eat some more toast, try on everything in your wardrobe and decide you’re also getting a bit chubby (as well as old) before wanting a nap but feeling guilty about it (see post no. 49)

And then you look at the clock and see that it’s only 09.12 am.*

This might all just be me.


*Today’s post was sponsored by James Joyce.

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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.44:Read Magazines

If you have ever flanced, the act of reading magazines for pleasure is cruelly snatched away and replaced with bitter misery.

You’re slightly sickened by the sight of what’s in front of you, but cannot tear your eyes away – like seeing really badly applied highlights. Reading a magazine to which you have not contributed is a curious, horribly addictive and depressive practice that makes the flancer feel subhuman and guilty.  In this sense it is very similar to stuffing thick slices of discount Cheddar cheese smothered with Ezysqueeze mayonnaise into your face before you collapse in a weeping heap of dairy.

First; the feverish scanning of the gutter, terrified that you might discover that the sniffy, bone-idle workie who used to make you coffee that tasted as if it had been filtered through a roadie’s sock,  is now, apparently features editor.

Then comes the absolute conviction that the magazine has seemingly ‘stolen’ an idea that you sent them (in 1986) and got someone else cheaper and (obviously less skilled) to write it. Just to spite you, the flancer. You seethe. Perhaps you swear at the saucepan rack. Perhaps you write an email pulsing with vitriol and hate – smearing the keys with cheesy mayonnaise as you go.

 And then you delete it when your reason returns from its short holiday, leaving you vibrating with an unexpressed frustration that shrivels your very kidneys. You seek out more cheese.

Then!! Betrayal above all betrayals!! You spot a byline… and it’s one of your flancer friends, who swore she was as jobless as you! And she has two – TWO! – pieces in said magazine.

The betrayal bites deep and you will hold onto it for at least 7 months. She may as well have murdered your mother.  You don’t – of course – avail her of your feelings but simply but make all future interactions slightly chilly. You will meet her for coffee, but she is essentially dead to you.

At least this sort of extensive emotional session can waste many beautiful hours. Arguably, those hours would have been better spent coming up with new ideas to send to said magazine.

But anyway, their content has really gone downhill lately.  And Murder She Wrote has just started.

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No.41: Read Junk Mail

Junk mail was invented for people to move from their doormat, to the place where the phone lives, to their coffee table/kitchen table where it will still be found two years later.

For some bizarre reason it never makes it into the recycling. Perhaps only God knows the answer to this.  But even he might have to ask Jeremy Paxman.

People just tend to keep hold of it, despite a professed loathing for its unimaginative content, inanity, and desire to sell you large plastic items you might find useful in the bedroom. It is much like the young gentleman’s publication Nuts in this respect.

Perhaps an unsettling fear exists that the instant they throw it away they will need to urgently discover how much a Y-Shaped, microfibre banister duster is. Or where they can get a leather and fabric corner sofa ‘at super-crazy-knock down prices.’

Of course, the answer to this second concern is DFS, as their sale began in the Late Elizabethan period and has been on ever since.

Flancers, though, end up reading junk mail, as it acts (the parallels with Nuts magazine now positively piling up) as a mildly distracting, brain-numbing agent.  Such literature is marvelously suitable for short periods of waiting accompanied by mild nerves ie: dentists waiting rooms, in the company of people you don’t wish to make eye contact with but it would be rude to outright ignore, and putting off something that you know you have to do but could result in deeper misery. Like pitching an idea or waiting to hear if you have work this week, say.

There is something innately comforting perhaps about staring at ugly items that you didn’t know were so cheap (at a risk of stretching the Nuts analogy to it’s limit).  Key junk mail topics tend to be: stationary/office items, furniture, revolutionary kitchenware (like insulated gravy boats and things that cut a cucumber to look like the Eiffel tower), different sorts of chairs for old people and fashion lines no one has heard of. All with an easily detachable strip or pre-addressed envelope for some reason or other.

There are however, joyfully kitsch junk mail moments that truly break the monotony for the flancer. For example, those Faux Faberge eggs on a 22-carat faux gold stand, that rotate, open and play All Things Bright and Beautiful upon which you can have the name of your ‘dead loved one’ etched on a faux silver plaque on the front.

Or a plate with a Weimaraner painted on it (‘a limited number of 200,000 ever produced.  Only fifteen payments of £35.99!’)

Junk mail’s one plus is that it gives flancers something other than their old portfolios to flick though and feel depressed about.

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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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