A rat in the kitchen, my end of year tax form and paying the tax brought January to an anxious end. In fact, I was so disturbed by the rat that I couldn't even go out the night of my birthday, although a lovely walk along the seafront during the day with Li Mills compensated. And she bought me lunch at Maroccos, when really I should have bought her lunch, she's been such a star helping my son with his Brit School audition.
A couple of years ago at Tribe of Doris (our annual August pilgrimage to the Blackdown Hills) I did a session searching for my spirit animal. It was a rat. I wondered, then, about this creature turning up in my kitchen the day before my birthday and why it affected me so much. I'm not squeamish. I've shared my house with mice before, but it was the speed the rat shot across the kitchen when I was in there, with my daughter, a long dark line, that made me scream and then kept me awake that night. Each time I went to the kitchen I stamped my feet. I really didn't want to see it again. But I was working in the front room just before my walk on my birthday, the kids at school, it was very quiet and I had slippers on....I wandered towards the kitchen and saw it again. Sauntering this time.
Was that the message I needed? Maybe very appropriate - saunter, don't rush. It would be lovely to slow down to a saunter. Winter doesn't seem to allow it. Twice, sometimes three times a week in the mornings now I'm trying to pound the pool, work off some of the anxiety that winter induces. Mostly anxiety about money. Oh that is such a boring obsession. I hear myself, all the time now, turn off lights, don't have a bath, don't waste food, turn down the heating. Something's lost and the calculator switches on in my brain, what's that going to cost? My daughter's shoes, another old chestnut, seem to last under a month before they're growing holes.
Everyone I know agrees that everything's gone up. Price fixing everywhere. We live in a society where competition's the mantra but hollower than a blown egg. Stuart Rose seems to be the only voice of dissent - mouthing off, rightly, about London being the home of the international super rich and the rest of us, outside the M25, watching the wealth gap widening. Forget north south divide....when did we stop talking about haves and have nots? When did it become the role of the chief executive of a multi national company to point out what politicians have forgotten, in their London of four wheel drives, restaurants, taxis, clothes and comfy salaries? Well, good for him. I think we should be applauding M&S and I never thought I'd say that. I like their new ethics and I like the fact that Rose has the confidence to put those complacent politicos to shame.
I'm not alone in my money worries. Most people I know live with a calculator in their mind at the moment. No thoughts but pound signs. Reminds me of Dylan Thomas's letters - jam packed with money stuff.
Would the super rich like to swap for a week? Or my local politician?