Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Day 25: Sponging

Well, it was only to the cinema with my mother.  But we have seen every single Harry Potter film together since they began ten years ago, and there was no way we were going to miss the last one.  It is part of my on-going attempts to keep her abreast of popular culture.

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.

Wittgenstinnian Angst

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


Anonymous said...

Orange Wednesdays are a good way of doing the cinema cheaply - find a friend with an Orange Mobile contract and they can 2 for 1 cinema tickets on a Wednesday (and 2 for 1 at Pizza Express).Just ask if you can be their Plus 1.

Fran said...

Orange Wednesdays are such good deals, aren't they. Unfortunately, not one of my closer friends seems to use the Orange network. I have wondered if it would pay for me to switch, but confess that I find the whole technology thing a nightmare at the best of times, and tend to stick to what I know. I currently have a Vodaphone pay-as-you-go deal, which suits my fairly minimal use, but have no idea what it might cost to change that.

Julie said...

I'm on Orange!!! And have never used Orange Wednesday cos I didn't have anyone to go with.... xx

Fran said...

I never knew, Julie. We shall definitely ahve to arrange a night out :)

Nik said...

I once heard an excellent sermon commenting on the fact that sometimes it is more blessed to receive than to give.... You are one of life's givers, o currently frugal one... think of this period in your life in more of a 'what goes 'round comes 'round' kind of way. And relax and enjoy :)

Fran said...

You are very kind, Nik, and also very skilled at making people shed a little tear. Thank you.