I am poor. I have been poor for quite some time. This is because I am hopeless with money when I have it and so very rapidly I don’t have it, although I am getting better at holding back.
For some reason, more recently, all my friends have started offering me money – offers of going halves on train tickets so I can go and see them, offering me meals out and nights out on them, even offering bald cash with dubious justifications as to why they may or may not owe it to me.
I am not that poor. I can stick up for myself. And I’m quite happy to accept that there are times when I may have to miss out on things because I can’t pay for them, or times when I’ll have to drink tap water all night so that I can pay for my bus fare or entry fee or whatever. It’s just the way it is. If I had enough money that I could sub other people then yes, I’d be happier about having things bought for me because there would be some kind of equality there, the idea of reciprocality at least in the vague future, but no – I have little enough that your cash handouts and free meals are not likely to be paid back, or paid forward, for a long while yet, and so the idea of you basically giving me money is, actually, a little insulting, because it suggests (and I know none of you mean to suggest this) that actually I’m so poor that I can’t even provide for myself – and I’m not. Yes, I do some fairly inventive things with lentils and oats and I’m not averse to filling up at church on free tea, coffee and biscuits, but, well, this is my life, and don’t you dare pity me.