Church on the Corner

Church on the Corner is an Anglican church in an old pub in Islington, London

£10 in my pocket

Well not sure what happened, but it is Friday night, and I have still got £10 in my pocket to last until Sunday. I have been a bit ill this week, just an annoying cough & cold, so rather easier to just lay low. Doesn’t feel like such a bad week though, my Starbuck quota was not particularly low but I guess I haven’t been to the pub much. Wierd that saving money comes down to coffee & beer – two of the most common Lent sacrifices for people. Visiting my folks today, means a low cost day off. And little chance of clubbing in Wokingham, so should be a cheap evening too.

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2 thoughts on “£10 in my pocket Well not sure what happened, but…

  1. sjm says:

    Day 12 – Sunday 20th February

    Well you can try and ignore God but He won’t let you ignore Him. After writing last night’s blog I was reading Amos chapter 8 and here’s just a selection of what he was saying to Israel:

    “Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land … skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales”

    And if you cast the mind back to Isaiah last year you get a very similar charge against the people of Judah. It’s probably a measure of how much I’m influenced by my society that I’m amazed that God’s charges against Israel and Judah include injustice to the poor along with turning to idols and false worship. But I need reminding again and again that God’s law for his people was designed to be perfectly fair and just to all and to ensure that it helped out those who needed it most. Do I, as a supposed imitator of God, share that same concern and heart for the poor?

    If that wasn’t enough then tonight’s sermon included the rich young ruler and Chris’s comment that the rich are spiritually handicapped really struck a chord.

    Hmm, God really isn’t going to be let this purely be a game or an interesting academic exercise.

    Returning to an issue raised in a previous blog I would like not just to get by on £50 a week but also to try and live the experience more. And so this weekend I started to take a few steps in that direction, admittedly small steps but longest journey and all that.

    First, if I’m not just sitting in and watching the DVDs I already own or listening to those CDs I’d like to try and use this as a chance to see what you can do in London for free. First up today was the Natural History Museum. Never been in over 5 years and so what better time was there than the present. I was originally going to see the Wildlife Photographer of the year but that cost £5 so a hasty re-think was necessary. Not sure why it’s taken me so long to get there as it’s fantastic. I could bang on about it all day but I won’t bore you more than I have done. As a scientist it is superb, it’s all housed in the most amazing building and it’s got a Diplodocus skeleton cast in the entrance hall. Enough said.

    And you don’t even have to go out, there are many great programmes on TV, all available for free. Yes if we do use it just to watch trash it will be rubbish but that’s like refusing to read a book just because most of the bestsellers are airport trash. (Sorry, as the people on Monday night know I am a bit of a TV evangelist in the less common sense of the phrase). Anyway here are some highlights to entertain yourself with over the next few days:

    The Ten Commandments – All week Channel 4 is running a special series of shorts on them and a longer show on Saturday. Always good to see what “the meja” thinks of our beliefs and how it portrays them. Although I think from previous programmes I’ve got a fairly good idea how Channel 4 will portray us…

    Dispatches – And in a similar vein a program about Blasphemy vs. Freedom of Speech. It includes Muslims and Sheikhs as well as Christians so will we get a fairer hearing?

    Bowling for Columbine – Michael Moore can be a bit too shaky on hard facts for my liking but he’s superb one on one. Worth it just for the interview with Charlton Heston at the end of the film.

    Champions League football – what more do you want!

    Anyway I’ll finish by sharing one of my proudest achievements with you – I finally braved the supermarket this weekend. As I’m on a budget I swapped Sainsburys for Safeway as I know from work that it’s cheaper, especially if you stick to the promotions. For the first time since I was a student I knew the price of everything in my basket. And so I got half a week’s meals for the tidy sum of (drum roll please) £5.36! Woo Hoo! Top buy was a pork pie for 9p. Granted I had 4 hours to eat it before it went off but you’ve got to be happy with that.

    I think I better leave it there otherwise I’ll start waxing lyrical about the special offer I got on cheese or the price of frozen oven chips.

  2. sjm says:

    Day 10 & 11 – Friday 18th & Saturday 19th

    Good to see a couple of responses to my question. I’ve been having a few thoughts about that but that’s a blog for another day.

    Just for now I wanted to put down, on whatever the hi-tech equivalent of paper is, some thoughts I’ve had about things so far:

    1) I have to keep track of expenses – The only way I can do this thing is if I keep a record of everything I spend, to the last penny. I’ve even gone so far as to set up a spreadsheet (if you’re reading this no comments Poley!) of all my outgoings so I can see exactly what I’ve got left for the week. As you’ve probably seen from some of my earlier entries I had no idea where most of my money goes I just have a rough idea of what I spend each month. Having money can be a great liberator in NOT having to think about it. But is that really true for us or do we just more?

    2) I have to plan in advance – Again about being organised. I know that I’m going to go out on Monday play football and, budget permitting, have a pint after the match. That all costs money, and so I need to live frugally over the weekend to be able to pay for it. You can’t just think, go on, why not, let’s go out for the evening. Which leads nicely into the next point…

    3) Nights out are expensive! – Now I know why as a teenager we always went round people’s houses, because it costs money to go out. A couple of pints is a fiver, cinema and theatre are ridiculously priced and don’t even think about eating when you’re out. Why do we waste so much money going out? I’m rubbish at going rounds people’s houses as they live all over London and it’s a right kerfuffle to get there and back so we usually take the average and go for central London. Perhaps need to start offering my house more for parties! And because nights out are expensive…

    4) I have to tell people I meet up with I’m doing this. There’s no shying away otherwise I’d blow half my week’s spends in one go. How soul-destroying must it be to do this for real and not just for a Lent challenge and a bit of a game?

    5) Work costs money – This may seem particularly ironic coming from me given the free fruit, toast, coffee, milk, hotels in Brussels and occasional nights out I get from work but it does cost you! Two of my biggest expenditures so far have been dry cleaning and that baggage strap. If I didn’t work I wouldn’t have spent money on them. And each day I just buy lunch from the canteen or go out to get it, way more expensive than if I was at home and could make myself something. These are specific ones for me but I’m sure each work place has it’s own costs. If nothing else you’ve got to pay for your travel costs there and back. Never has the old phrase you’ve got to spend money to make money seemed so true.

    An example that I remember from my youth was a friend of mine who worked in a shop on Saturdays. This was back in the day before there were rules about employing people under 16 and before minimum wage. So basically the owner paid him a pittance, something ridiculous for half a day’s work like £3 (I really am not exaggerating here). Now he couldn’t leave the shop unattended so never really got a lunch break or a tea break and had to pay for whatever he used in the shop. And so the ridiculous situation arose where his lunch would consist of him helping himself to some biscuits and a drink, costing about £1.50 of his wages. Net result – half a day’s work, junk food inside him, £1.50 in his pocket. Hmmm.

    6) Big payments – Now here’s the real killer. You can plan and budget for all of the above but I find myself putting off certain things because I can’t afford them. For example, I have another suit at the dry cleaners I can’t afford to pick up this week, I can’t get my hair cut for another week and I’m trying to avoid some people I owe money to until Wednesday and the next £50. I think I can just about juggle all this but what if one of them goes wrong, then you’re in trouble. Or, as happened to me this week, what if something unexpected happens (that baggage strap again) and you’ve got to fork out for that. It’s all very well for us, we can just put it off until after Easter but that’s not true in the real world.

    This is the one that’s really hit home to me this week. As Mark said earlier, eventually we’ll give Daddy a call and end it all and go back to being Middle Class Islington types. But people on low incomes really are only one or two big surprises away from things spiralling out of control. Recently I saw an article:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4263395.stm

    about a credit card with 70% interest specifically aimed at those with debt problems. This Lent challenge has made me even more enraged than when I first read it. Here are firms deliberating exploiting poor people to make themselves even richer. They know these people are so desperate for cash, no-one else will give it to them so they offer it to them with rates they could never hope to repay and thus the circle becomes a vicious one.

    And it’s not just me that has been thinking on these lines. In response to my last post Garmon sent me this website, pretty much saying the poorer you are the more it will cost you to get credit:

    http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/socialpolicy/0065.asp

    I certainly don’t have any answers here but there is a Commons select committee looking at this exact issue so is there potential for lobbying?

    7) And here we are mid-way through week 2 and I have yet to mention God in my blogs. Hmm. Has love of money overtaken love of God? As I said earlier this experience has to change my behaviour so what could be more practical than prayer. If this doesn’t at least influence my prayer life it will be a complete waste of time.

    Also want to mention “Christians against Poverty” here as well, a charity which is co-run by a mate of the Polehills and one that cotc support. In our ever-changing congregation there may be some who don’t know much about it so could be time for a recap of their good work in a service? Basically they offer practical help in terms of advice and liasing with credit firms for people whose debts have spiralled out of control. As a result of this demonstration of God’s love many of the people they help have become Christians. Truly amazing stuff and very relevant at the moment!

    8) I quite like blogs. And I enjoy reading other people’s comments; they’re a great encouragement. Keep typing your views!

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