Proposed Budget: £2.50
Balti pan £15.00
Electric grinder £14.99
Wooden spoon 35p
Two chicken breasts £1.98
300g mushrooms 79p
Coriander seeds £1.29
Fennel seeds £1.29
Cumin seeds £1.29
Ground ginger £1.95
Bay leaves £1.40
OH GOD, FORGET IT.
PGNI FIRST BANK VISA 7 Camel Square
Liverpool L1 5NP
Ms. Rebecca Bloomwood
Flat 24 Burney Rd.London SW6 8FD
6 March 2000
Dear Ms. Bloomwood: PGNI First Bank VISA Card No. 1475839204847586 Thank you for your letter of 2 March.I can assure you that our computers are regularly checked, and that the possibility of a “glitch,” as you put it, is remote. Nor have we been affected by the millennium bug. All accounts are entirely accurate.You may write to Anne Robinson at Watchdog if you wish, but I am sure she will agree that you have no grounds for complaint.Our records inform us that payment on your VISA account is now overdue. As you will see from your most recent VISA card statement, the minimum payment required is £105.40. I look forward to receiving your payment, as soon as possible.Yours sincerely,Peter Johnson Customer Accounts Executive
OK, SO PERHAPS THE Cutting Back didn’t go that well. But it doesn’t matter, because that’s all in the past. That was negative thinking — now I’m seriously into positive thinking. Onward and upward. Growth and prosperity. M.M.M. It’s the obvious solution, when you think about it. And you know what? Suze is absolutely right. Making More Money suits my personality far better than Cutting Back did. I’m already feeling much happier. Just the fact that I don’t have to make any more grotty cheese sandwiches, or go to any more museums, has lifted a huge weight off my soul. And I’m allowed to buy all the cappuccinos I like, and start looking in shop windows again. Oh, the relief! I’ve even chucked Controlling Your Cash in the bin. I never did think it was any good.
The only small thing — tiny niggle — is I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do it. Make More Money, I mean. But now I’ve decided to go ahead with it, something will turn up. I’m sure of it.
When I get into work on Monday, Clare Edwards is already at her desk — surprise — and on the phone.
“Yes,” she’s saying softly. “Well, it’s certainly been a wonderful first year.”
When she sees me, to my surprise, she blushes a faint pink and turns away slightly. “Yes, I understand,” she whispers, scribbling in her notepad. “But what about the future?”
God knows why she’s being so secretive. As if I’m interested in her tedious life. I sit down at my desk, briskly flip on my computer, and open my diary. Oh goody, I’ve got a press conference in the City. Even if it is some boring old pensions launch, at least it means a trip out of the office and, with any luck, a nice glass of champagne. Work can be quite fun, sometimes. And Philip isn’t in yet, which means we can sit and gossip for a while.
“So, Clare,” I say, as she puts the phone down, “how was your weekend?”
I look over, expecting to hear the usual thrilling account of what shelf she put up where with her boyfriend — but Clare doesn’t even seem to have heard what I said.
“Clare?” I say puzzledly. She’s staring at me with pink cheeks, as though I’ve caught her stealing pens from the stationery cupboard.
“Listen,” she says in a rush. “That conversation you heard me having just now. . could you not mention it to Philip?”
I stare at her in bemusement. What’s she talking about? Oh wow — is she having an affair? But then, why should Philip care? He’s her editor, not her—
Oh my God. She’s not having an affair with Philip, is she?
“Clare, what’s going on!” I say excitedly.
There’s a long pause, as Clare blushes deep red. I can’t believe this. A piece of office scandal at last! And involving Clare Edwards, of all people!
“Oh, come on, Clare,” I whisper. “You can tell me. I won’t tell anyone.” I lean forward sympathetically. “I might even be able to help.”
“Yes,” says Clare, rubbing her face. “Yes, that’s true. I could do with a bit of advice. The pressure’s starting to get to me.”
“Start from the beginning,” I say calmly, just like Dear Abby. “When did it all begin?”
“OK, I’ll tell you,” whispers Clare, and looks nervously about. “It was about. . six months ago.”