But what? you say. Can this be? Can there be space in a frugal lifestyle for trips to the cinema?
The short answer is yes, if one's mother is paying. She forked out the £7.20 I needed so that she might have the pleasure of my company. Which has sent me on something of a guilt trip, because one of the regrettable side effects of the whole frugality drive is that I have become a sponge.
I don't mean to be. I am determined to pay my way, or at least to barter my services. But people are nice, see, and they don't like to see me do without. And so they buy me stuff. I'll treat you to a coffee. But I'm buying the pizza anyway. This round's on me.
I think it was Wittgenstein who said that there is no such thing as a free gift. He argued that all gifts are part of a complicated human interaction of value and barter and exchange. If I give a gift to you, I expect a gift of approximately the same value back. Even if I think I don't think this, I soon know that I do when you present me with a fridge magnet in exchange for my chocolates and roses. So even though my friends and family are being so very kind, nevertheless I am finding it impossible in myself to escape the rules of gift-giving. For I am now in that terrible place - I am beholden to them.
I am really struggling how to solve this one. Maybe I need to insist more on the frugal options - no, I can't come to the cinema - but that means that they lose out too. The Rowntrees foundation was right. You need money not just for the basics, but to participate in society. Society doesn't like you if your don't participate.
But I did repay my mother's generosity by buying her a cappuccino. She loves cappuccinos. Cleverly, I sent her to grab a table while I ordered it at the bar. It was clever, because at the same time, I ordered a glass of tap water for myself. The barmaid did not see my mother, so she thought both drinks were for me! She even put ice and lemon and a straw in my water, so that when I carried it to the table, it looked to all the drinkers round about like a long G&T. If my mother thought about it at all, she also probably thought that it was a G&T. All potential social embarrassment thus averted!
Perhaps I just need to relax and let them enjoy being bountiful. Buy them the occasional cappuccino. Bake them a lot of cakes.
Total Expenditure: £1.90