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The Reluctant Consumer: stay on the sofa & cancel the Direct Debits

Some days seem to cost me a hundred quid.  Not all fortunately, but even a quick shopping trip to feed the family rarely sees me parting with less than £30.  We don’t eat smoked salmon all the time either.

There was a day in the summer holidays where I thought I’d stay in and save a bit of money, because leaving the house with two kids seemed to cause a cash haemorrhage on a daily basis.  What happened?  I’d booked a mobile hairdresser got the date wrong and wasn’t expecting her until the following week.  She duly knocked on the door for her money (I didn’t have it and had to hop off to the cash point leaving her to answer the door to me in my own house…)  I let her cut my hair anyway sort of in passing.  That seems to be the role of us consumers these days; even when we are lying low, trying to stash our limited cash and pay off the global trillions of debt (that is all our fault obviously), we are still consuming en passant.

We are locked into mobile phone contracts, direct debits for insurance policies (see my Swinton outburst), utilities, parking charges, council tax and most things come smothered with VAT like one of those cheap fake ketchups watered down with vinegar.  I sit in my front room looking at the relaxing fish relaxing but I am noting their innocent consumption of electricity.  Ok they aren’t eating it, but their pump and anti SAD light are and they are chomping on fish flakes and the occasional constipation-inducing bloodworm treats.  In short, they cost.  Everything costs!  But we are constantly told: consume less, stop costing the earth and yet that electrically run screen or box in the very same room incessantly blasts out the message that we need to buy more of more things.  No wonder I’m conflicted.

Today I should get my road tax.  Actually I should have got it last week.  Instead I have parked my car on the ex-front garden (not my doing, an area of hardstanding that probably contributes to localised flooding but handy nonetheless) and am having a bit of a protest.  I don’t fancy taxing my car.  I don’t want to give the government any money today.  I think I’d like to see how much they do or don’t owe me in the great tax code debacle first.

I am going to sit here, and do some work and enjoy holding on to my virtual money for a few hours longer.  I’ll have to give it up eventually, if I don’t no doubt (like the mobile hairdresser) someone will knock on the front door and demand it, but sometimes I think we should all just be a bit more awkward.  A bit less compliant.  Make these people (the I never knew about no phone tapping government, those licence to print money utilities, and those not far off evil Murdochian type firms) appreciate us and our ceaseless munificence just that little bit more.

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